Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Victorian Farmhouse - Days 8 & 9

This post covers some of the work done on days 8 and 9 (April 10th and April 15th). Before I start, however, a few words:

I actually haven't been to the farmhouse since the 18th (around 2 weeks ago). This is due to Angie and Pierre taking a weekend off, and then Pierre being sick this past week. We're hoping to head back to the farmhouse soon, since not much has been done in the interim. It's possible that the new roof is now done, which will be exciting to see (new black tin), and apparently Pierre has also sanded some of the freshly skim-coated walls, and the old textured walls in the hallway and staircase while I was working (at the upholstery shop).

In the meantime, I have a current backlog of around 60 photos which will be made into two or three additional posts covering days 10 to 12.


After another trip to the 'big orange box' to exchange some electrical boxes and pick up a few other supplies, work continued on the electrical. Pierre was really excited to see what the fixture would look like in the office, so he shortened the chain, and we hung it temporarily. The light hangs low, but there will be a desk under it. Otherwise, it looks pretty good! A quick side note: the ceilings at the farmhouse are around 100-102" which means they are about the same height as mine.

Pierre wasn't able to help me too much while I was just tacking wires (in the basement), so he tackled the 1970s paneling in the upstairs hallway/staircase. He called me up to show what he had discovered:

Apparently the other half of the triangular roof had been covered-over. We're not too sure why, but it was likely done simply to make it easier, as the far corner and ceiling are very far up and hard to reach. Pierre loves the more open look and feel, so we'll just be removing the framing, loose wallpaper, and installing new drywall over the ceiling.

Parts of the paneling went under the framing, so it's not very clear what order this was done in, or if/when it was modified.

There are at least 8 layers of wallpaper here (in the entire upstairs hallway all the way into the bathroom). It must have been really fun to do up into that corner.

The stairway wall has plaster up to the sloped roof (and ending at the window). You can see some other old wallpaper patterns here. This one is light blue and purple on an off-white background. The light grey with water stains (in the centre-right of the photo) is raw plaster, while the white in the lower right is a painted and textured drywall over the plaster (which we are painstakingly sanding down smooth).

Unrelated to anything going on in the house, I wanted some more photos of the loft area over the kitchen addition (in the barn). This photo shows the staircase opening, leading up 2 large steps into the area over the kitchen.

This spot has the one single window (over the kitchen door), and you can see that the arrow points to the farmhouse's roof which projects into this addition.

This section of the roof is fascinating for several reasons. One of the first things you'll notice is that the original roof had cedar shingles! This is probably not what I would have guessed. Cedar roofs are not that common in this area, and I would have thought it would be metal.

The second interesting thing is that the entire thing is completely unfinished. No paint, no stain, no varnish. It is just raw pine or cedar.

Another detail I noticed is that the loft area over the kitchen area has squared timber trusses while the other half of the barn (the portion not on the foundation) has round log trusses. This proves that while the roof has been stitched together into a continuous piece, the addition was two different buildings.

Back inside, work continued on the electrical in the office. To make things easier (and because the floors will be sanded, all the original baseboards were carefully removed. This exposed a lot of mouse nests and debris. The majority of the walls, crawl spaces, and attic are all full of similar traces of mice. The house has been far from weather tight for a long time, so this isn't too surprising. We vacuumed and cleaned everything as we went. There are unfortunately a lot of places we'll simply never be able to get into.

Something interesting is that the plasterers were quite lazy with the interior walls. No laths were installed behind the baseboards, so the plaster only goes as far as the very edge of the baseboards. There are simply small spacer blocks behind the baseboard to make up the difference where there's no plaster.

This one spot in the office floor was by far the worst area in the entire main floor. There is currently a very large stone under this board which seems to be causing the problem. It's possible that the exterior wall has sunk, which has curved the boards over the edge of the stone foundation.

This gives a bit of an idea of how bad this hump in the floor really is. At the very least, the problem stone will need to come out.

As I was cleaning, I randomly decided to start chipping out and loosening the old chunks of filler that had been added into the floor gaps. I'm 99% sure that what they used here was window glazing. I could smell the old traces of the linseed oil as chunks were removed. Pierre joined in, and in maybe an hour or two, it was all out.

With all the old filler removed, we got a better look at the actual condition of this floor. Blue arrow is the bad hump.

Now, I don't MIND some floor gaps, but some of these were RIDICULOUS. This one here is about 1/2" wide. The gaps in a lot of places were so wide that you could see straight down into the basement, and many of the tongues no longer fitted into their corresponding grooves. This made for a very flexy and bouncy floor. Especially given the fact that the log beams are on 3 foot centres (1m).

We like the original floor, and the plan was to sand it and refinish it, but in this condition it seems like a bad idea. Our new plan is to rip-up the floor (carefully) and re-lay it to tighten-up the gaps as much as possible.

Here's one of the spots where you can see through. The arrow shows the basement window peeking through the floor boards.

Later in the day, Pierre had finished removing all the framing and plywood. This is looking up the staircase. You can see where the plaster wall finishes part of the way in the window, with the rest of the wall being the barn boards (originally covered with wallpaper.

Back to electrical, this was some of the completed work in the office and front hall:

The two plugs on these two exterior walls were run behind the baseboard due to the stone foundation (near-impossible to pass the wires).

This is the new circuit for the front hallway light (2-way). The first switch is the new circuit (front hall), the middle is the porch light, and the third is the staircase (upstairs) light.

This is the other 2-way switch for the front hall, as well as a new outlet for the hallway.

So far, I think this will be one of the only holes we'll need to do in the wall to pass wires (because we had to drill through the top plate in the wall). This will be patched and blended-in. The blue arrow points to one of the original casings removed so that Angie could bring it to get a match from a moulding company.

More soon!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update! I've been enjoying watching this project progress. It's really interesting to see the details of a more simple country home from this era,.

    The wiring is looking good. Having done quite a bit of "old-work" electrical as we call it here in the US (running circuits in finished walls), I know how much of a pain and mess it can be.

    Looking forward to the next update!