Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


My morning with the contractors

I got to the house right at 8am and George, the electrician was already there. But my realtor wasn’t, so I called his cell and left him a message. I had a feeling this might happen. With his newborn son waking every few hours to eat, he and his wife haven’t been getting any sleep at all. The electricians were very patient and I finally got ahold of him and he said he’d be there in half an hour, he’d completely forgotten with all the craziness of having a new baby.

So they waited and we talked about everything about the house that I know and they gave me ideas about what the work will involve and everything. Once the realtor showed up and let us in they got to look around at everything. Here’s an overview of our discussion:

These older houses often have something called fireshield inside the walls behind the plaster and lathe. That means the walls are not hollow, in fact you have to drill through that stuff to fish wires through it. He’s not certain ours are like that, but it’s something they were putting in the construction of these old houses.

He measured the house to be about 1000 square feet, 1200 if you count the attic (which, incidentally, was exactly what I guessed!). And he’ll use that number to estimate how much wiring will be needed.

We talked about what it would take to put wiring up to the ceiling and run wiring for the existing ceiling lights. Because those all have knob and tube, they have to run it all through the ceiling, they can’t just fish it up through because there’s not a big enough hole for modern wire to go through. They’d have to cut notches in the joists to put the wire through. Regardless, we’re looking at ceiling patches and probably re-doing the texturing on the ceiling in the long run. If the crown molding is wood, the best solution may be to take that down so it can stay in one piece, strip the paint and texturing off it while it’s down, and once we fix up the ceiling, put it back.

The may be able to access the bedroom lights and the kitchen light through the attic crawl space, though.

The meter will have to be outside, probably right under the bathroom window. The circuit box will probably still be in its present location.

He agreed we should wire for 200 amps to prepare for a garage. I asked him about how to wire the kitchen and he said the garbage disposal and dishwasher go on one circuit, the countertops go on one, the fridge and stove go on one, and the lights may be on one with the lights of another room. That seemed to make good sense to me.

He wasn’t able to give me a firm bid today, but he’s going to get that to me tomorrow or the next day. He did generally ballpark it for me at around $7000, but I really want to wait to see what his actual bid is before I go with that number.

I learned a lot from Dan the fireplace inspector. He showed me all the specific problems with the fireplace and chimney. He had a diagram of the insides of the whole system and showed me how it all works. He recommended this kind of flue damper since ours is totally rusted out and it isn’t the best design for that to begin with.

I did get a firm bid from him with stuff specifically itemized. His bid was $5000 exactly for the whole job to make it a working fireplace. It takes about a week to get the whole chimney done and ready to use.

The tree service gave me a $400 bid to clean up all the trees close to the house and wires, clean off our roof, and haul away the cut debris. I told him I’d take care of the brush in the back and along the alley myself. I need a good excuse to buy a chainsaw anyway, and I know Brandon will LOVE that. 🙂

So that’s what we’re looking at right now. I did finally get everything done and then switched off the circuits and locked up the house. It took me just over half an hour to ride downtown, find a place to lock my bike, and get to work.

There’s just so much work that needs doing. I just want to get started already!

[tags]chimney, contractors, electricity, fireplace, trees[/tags]

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