I wandered into the kitchen, turned on the lights, grabbed a pan, rinsed it off, turned on the gas to medium low, broke open a couple of eggs easy up and cooked them for a few minutes while gazing nonchalantly out the window.
Well, actually there’s a bit more to it than that… and I think all master chefs will want to know the precise recipe.
In fact, you too may find this recipe for cooking eggs hmmm, useful? Perhaps not, but … let’s say enlightening in the way bad art is enlightening.
The first thing was I hired a really great contractor. This was a guy who was smart, engaged, precise, but liked to have a lot of freedom, and was between projects.
We also brought in an electrician who recommended that we up the entire house power to 220 with a new junction box and rewire the whole house.
Moved gas line
I then called the gas company and moved the gas line I had just added a couple of years earlier when the oil furnace had failed (another story). It was a couple of feet too close to the proposed power junction box.
Built a shed
The house had things in it. Those things need to be somewhere that was not the house.
That also required moving all the bricks away (I’d torn out the chimney that was inside the house — but that is a different story).
The shed came up quickly. You can see how old and beat up the house is on the other side of the shed:
You can also see the new fence I had put in when the last one fell down (that is also a different story).
Moving doors and Windows
The kitchen was sad making because things were in bad places with bad feng shui. It made sense to go ahead and remove an old window and kitchen door and take the opportunity to move the entire kitchen door so that there would be a 2 foot wall gap where a counter could then go.
We also found significant damage to the wall interior at this time which had to be corrected.
Also, there was an annoying portcullis that that was too close to the proposed new electrical service. Also it was sad making. I could not suffer the continued existence of this object in my life.
It felt very good to start smashing the house. It had made me sad and and that was not enjoyable. It was much more enjoyable to smash.
Also it seemed like a good time to replace the distressingly old kitchen windows. As we took these apart we could see through the edges. They had been built so badly in the first place that they were basically air vents between the inside and outside.
Re Wrap and Re Sided House
And then we rewrapped the house — directly over the old siding (which was a single sheet of slat without any underlayment. I researched this quite a bit and it seemed like it was identical to modern methods of a sheet of plywood with underlayment followed by siding.
Then we resided that. I went with hardiboard because it is fireproof.
And hauled off many truckloads of debris.
Correcting the Yard
I had already removed the back deck and hauled it off to the dump (yet another story).
Then, since the yard was all dirt, and dirt is really kind of dirty, we decided to wrap the house grounds with a patio. This required 6 trips to the gravel pit where a huge claw would drop loads of sand into the pickup — weighing it down almost flat on the springs and several hundred trips to carry the gravel up steep flights of stairs to the back yard. Absolutely back breaking.
This sand was spread out to form a patio foundation. This was utterly mad.
Played with sod also. And ripped out tree stumps; leveling the yard.
The patio massively improved the feel of the house. It was starting to “feel” good. I started to sense a flow.
And the feel of the back yard improved.
Then we removed all the walls and re-ran electrical — starting in the basement — covering up a temporary kitchen I had built there (another story) and running new LED lighting.
And removed the kitchen walls upstairs and re-ran electrical and re-ran plumbing from scratch — with permits. This chore was like holding a firehose and spraying money at a fire. I became very good at electrical.
And put in a water master switch system in the basement to control water routing. Water is my friend and my enemy.
And re-ran electrical to a sub-junction box; mapping out better power distributions (which I did in tiltbrush in 3d so I could understand all the subtle power routing).
And lifted the kitchen with mechanical support and replaced a rotted beam, and rotted flooring that had been damaged by a century of water leaks.
Since I had to redo all the plumbing anyway, we ripped out the bathroom that was directly above the kitchen down to the studs and rebuilt it.
And swapped out front and side exit doors with large glass doors that let in light.
The plumbers were the only people who really screwed up. Their mistakes cost me several thousand dollars. They routinely did things like swap hot and cold, or built non-legal stuff that I then had to rip out and hire somebody else to redo to get approved by the city.
Putting it back together.
New drywall came in and new lighting. The ceiling was raised 3 feet so it felt much larger (previous owners had dropped the ceiling to hide fire damage which I fully corrected).
Incidentally prior to this I had had an animal control company come in and seal up all pest access to the house, remove all pests and then I removed all traces of rats and vermin that had attempted to be roomies over the last century. It turns out that rats, squirrels, hawks and cats had been fighting over the territory and I had luckily been in a cat/hawk winning era. Nevertheless the previous flippers had stuffed the ceiling with blankets as insulation which were — 30 years later — rats nests full of disgusting rat poop (the coprophagia of being rained on in rat poop confetti as I was cleaning out the ceiling will always remain with me as a special memory of those days — I’ve never felt so dirty).
We started mopping up small electrical and detail chores. This door still slightly bugs me because it clips the edge when it closes. Crazy making.
So much of our time was thinking about bathroom designs and design in general… we had all these ideas we had to choose between.
My friend and previous roomie who had left earlier had made sketches of idealized bathroom styles which we fetishized endlessly over.
And we reminisced about having rebuilt the deck a couple of years prior. Old houses are actually sailboats. My house was built in the 1900’s by a sailor in fact (one of twin brothers who built twin houses side by side). Understanding how water flows over a house in Portland is critical.
Kitchen Walls Up
Basement walls up
Evaluated tile for kitchen. I was captivated by the new wood like tile and torn between pure white and wood look.
Basement kitchen back up
Upstairs kitchen back up
Power subjunction boxes cleaned up
A quick trip to Costa Rica
Watched some people catch a fish. It was hard to leave home because everything would stop if I was not there and it made me anxious- but friends brought me down for a break.
I tiled this very very carefully, and it was funny that when I hired some folks to do the last tiny bits and the grout, that I could tell my work was better than theirs. Tile is actually quite hard to do right.
Turning things on.
Obviously not 100% done but reaching the point where it is now a home again.
Light at the end of the tunnel
At the end of the day these are art projects. I will never get back the time or money I put into it. It has to be seen as art.
Also these are inspections of identity, and how we are trained from childhood to want a home, to crave that concept. It turns out that home is where your friends are — but I had to rebuild a house to find that out.
In any case, dear reader, that is how I make eggs.