Getting underway, finding some surprises

The view south into the kitchen from the dining room. Offending pipes in remnant of wall to the right.

After just 2 days, we’re up to $1950 worth of unbudgeted surprises. Ouch.

Here’s to hoping that the next 2 days aren’t filled with another $2,000 in surprises or we might have to leave the appliances out of the kitchen entirely and just cook on a fire pit in the back yard for the next few months.

Surprises are obviously going to be a little front-loaded whenever one is taking down walls and opening up things that have been closed for nearly 90 years, so we were anticipating a little of this. (Our house turns 90 sometime next year.) All sorts of unknowns are lurking in the dark behind ancient walls that are coming down. Fortunately, we’re not opening too many more walls.

These 2 surprises are really one surprise, namely that there were drain, water and radiator pipes running up a wall that we previously thought was empty, serving the upstairs bathroom and two separate radiators. The longer side of the wall separating the kitchen and dining room had nothing but electrical conduit inside for a switch and socket, and we figured that the shorter side of the wall (about 25 inches or so) was also empty.

That was not the case.

Some of the pipes are so old (and galvanized) that they need to be replaced with new copper pipes to serve the radiators upstairs, which also means draining the system and pressure testing it afterward. (Cha-ching!) And then there are the drain/water pipes for the bathroom. Basically, all of these pipes have to be re-routed in the basement to come up the same channel against the wall in the kitchen where the master drain and vent pipes are currently located. Then, to run them across the ceiling underneath the bathroom to where they need to enter the second floor, we had to tear down the entire ceiling in the kitchen.

That was really a blessing, even though it cost extra money, because the ceiling was plaster and wasn’t anywhere close to even or level. There would have been no way to make it look much better than it did now with any amount of spackle, mud, tape or paint, so the upside is that we’ll have a nice, new, level, drywall ceiling in the kitchen. (The bad news is that this is only one ceiling out of 6 or so.)

On the upside, our contractor thinks we’ll be done by November 17th. At least, he hopes so, because he has another project starting the next day. Our target day all along has been to have the house be habitable (or least to have the kitchen done and usable) by Thanksgiving. The wife’s family is going to be here that entire week, helping us out with some of the work, but we’d like to have it habitable and the kitchen suitable for cooking a Thanksgiving meal.

Here are some pictures from the end of Day 2. I’m headed over later today to get some Day 3 pictures. Electrician and plumber were due to come today, and the beam should be installed in the opening by now.

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