playing house. (part two).


This is a continuation of my previous post, in which I explain how we’ve spent all our “free” time this winter turning a metaphorical rusty old Ford into a Lexus. We seem to have accomplished this by (metaphorically), jacking up the key, and rebuilding everything around it.


Below, is a picture that sort of shows what the place looked like before we started working on it.  Except that the space wasn’t actually as light-filled as it appears in this picture. Here, natural light is streaming into the space because we’ve removed part of the wall on the other side of the room to add a new window.It is difficult to tell from this picture, but the floor consisted of the world’s lumpiest concrete, painted grey.  When the former owners poured the floor, they clearly had no idea how to even screed a concrete slab, so they just made a half-hearted attempt to smooth it in a few places, and then left it to harden into a horrible mess.  In the interest of expediency, we considered just leaving the concrete floor as it was, and living with its gross-ness. However, as is usually the case with our building projects, “expediency” was quickly thrown out the window in favor of trying to make the place nice.

At some point, I was sort of annoyed at myself for not being a more skilled/dedicated photographer and taking picture that accurately illustrated the lumpiness of this floor before we covered it up, so that I could share it with all 6 of my  blog readers. But then I realized that maybe you didn’t need to get the full picture. I mean, I wouldn’t take a picture of my vomit and post that on my blog, would I? Okay, so I did share some pictures of Fluffy with you, but I have to draw the line in the sand somewhere. So– no close-up pictures of the concrete horror: you’ll have to use your imagination.

We spent a long time discussing how best to cover up the lumpy concrete floor. We flirted with the idea of  pouring a new concrete topping over the slab, but eventually decided that the best way to deal with it would be to frame a new floor over the concrete one.We used up a bunch of reclaimed 2x4s that were clogging up our yard, found the highest lump on the floor (thanks to our trusty rotary laser), screwed ledgers to the existing studs, and installed framing in between.  Unfortunately, the highest lump was higher than we’d really anticipated, which meant that we raised the floor level more than planned– effectively lowering the window heights enough to make me discontented. But I was held back from renovating them AGAIN by various family members trying to speak with a voice of reason.  


As an aside, before we could frame the new floor, we had to remove all the junk from the building.  Generally, this meant cramming more stuff into the garage, but one immovable object was not so easy to deal with. A year or so ago, we acquired a workbench that I like to think of as “the revenge workbench.” You see, I have a sister who owns a piano and also has a propensity for moving every 6 months or so. Since I have married a man who has a genetic predisposition that enables him to move very heavy objects without complaint, her moving seems to have increased in frequency, and we have moved the piano many times. I figured that if we acquired a piece of furniture that is just as heavy as her piano, she would be under obligation to help move it at our convenience, and would therefore be intimidated into moving less often herself.  So we acquired a beautiful handmade workbench that is 8’9″ long and made up of cast iron legs and a 4.5 inch thick solid maple table top. However, when it came time to remove the workbench from the building in order to frame the new floor, all my plans for revenge back-fired, as she was not available to help move our incredibly heavy piece of furniture (having–ironically– recently moved away). So we took the legs off and Jim rigged up a shelf to hang the table top off the wall. Below is the workbench top, suspended above the floor. (It is also visible in the background of the previous image.)

After we framed the new floor, we installed shims between the new framing and the lumpy concrete every 2 feet or so. This was a nightmare of tedium, quite frankly, and even drove me to distraction.  But it made the new floor very solid. (The shims can be seen on the right side of the picture below.)

After framing the floor, we insulated it using rigid foam left over from our large house project. Then we began installing a subfloor, which consisted of the tongue-and groove (T&G) boards that had previously served as roof sheathing on the kitchen we tore down, and subsequently served to choke our yard with construction clutter. Although it took longer to install T&G boards than it would have taken to install sheet goods, it worked well in this non-square building, and also helped to shrink the massive pile of boards in our yard.

Above, Luke installs subfloor.

The half-completed floor project. 

After the new subfloor floor was installed, we moved on to the walls, and the task of installing new doors… but I’ve run out of time, and will have to finish the tale of building our “practice house” at the next available opportunity. Thanks for reading!


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