At 3pm yesterday Husband declared it was time to remove the layers of kitchen ceiling in preparation for the installation of the new tin ceiling. Old house renovations are like Gordian knots: you pull one thread and it looses all kinds of other tasks that are interrelated and sometimes unexpected and almost always mean more work.
Case in point. Although a multitude of more pressing jobs trump the installation of the tin ceiling, we have an almost-full dumpster sitting in the lane. One of our overall strategies is to get as much junk and old materials out of the house so that we don’t have to keep renting a dumpster every time we work on a job. So out came a non-load-bearing (closet) wall in the master bedroom, and a major clean-out of the top and bottom of the carriage house, basement, and unfinished attic space ensued. Just a wafer-thin bit of room in the dumpster remained for the old kitchen ceiling.
We started in the bright afternoon sunlight, tearing off the multitude of layers and do-it yourself fixes that have occurred over the years. The first layer of drywall came off okay; we worked from the exposed hole in the centre of the room where we discovered a leak from the upstairs bathroom a few weeks ago. Out came the pot lights and the pendants with no issues. As we began stripping a very thin veneer of t&g pine, the dirt showers began. I rushed to install some 6 mil on the doorway to the pantry and to the dining room, but it was akin to closing the barn door with the cows already out. The sunlight streaming through the windows revealed the powdery cover on the floors and everything in between. Crikey. This would mean washing every dish in the floor-to-ceiling open shelving in the dining room and dusting/mopping every surface in the family room, not to mention vacuuming up the stairs. This would never happen in a client’s project; I wonder why we put up with our own foolishness with our own?
As the original board sheathing was worked free of the floor joists one hundred and ten years of dirt, insulation, old bathroom tiles, pipe bits and other various debris cascaded onto the kitchen floor. Rolling clouds of dust floated out the open door. But we were both surprised by the lack of mouse poop, considering we are a popular autumn B&B for the rodent set.
As darkness fell it became obvious we needed a Plan B. It had to be 6:00pm, the family was unfed and we still had a few hours of work to complete. With only two of the four kids at home, I walked down the street to my neighbour’s and asked for a big favour: would she take my kids and feed them dinner and keep any eye on them for the next few hours? (She said yes). I grabbed the portable electric light from the workshop and hung it off the key rack, wiped a dusty knife across my pants and we devoured hunks of fresh olive bread spread with wild boar pate, washing it down with cold cider. Another sexy Saturday night in the Rapids.
Husband continued whacking away at the ceiling as I wheeled loads of debris to the dumpster. We switched positions as I shop vac’d every nook and cranny in the ceiling joists and picked out the last of the plaster at the wall intersections. Just before nine I recovered the kids and sent them off packing to bed. By ten the tarps were gone, the kitchen was vacuumed and I was physically spent. The follow-on cleaning would have to wait, probably for several days.
“I didn’t think it would take that long,” commented Husband as we slowly climbed the dusty stairs. I was reminded of the first commandment of project management: estimate a project, then double the time and double the cost and you have a pretty good picture of what you are in for.
And next time, I would add, remember to start early.