Monday, March 19, 2007

Planning is the time-taker

If we ever are to farm, we'll need to figure out how to rise with the sun. Until then, seven o'clock on a Saturday will still seem pretty damned early. Layered against the crisp winds, coffees in hand, Erika, Dad and I rode the interstate over the Blue Ridge into Waynesboro for our first big materials purchase. The morning was so clear and the mountains looked typically beautiful, dusted by snow and ice.

PVC pipes and connectors, primer and glue, brass tub drain kit, hundreds of feet of pex tubing, pipe cutters, nails, joist hangers, circuit tester, romex wire, boxes, pine planks, and so on. We had to stop shopping so as to not overload the van - we had to get back over the mountains.

Picked up some sandwiches on the way back through town, ate 'em up at the house, then got started. Almost 1 o'clock. Unstoppable, Erika was in the crawlspace with the crowbar, prying out the original wood forms that the concrete foundation and chimneys were poured into. The crawlspace is loaded with termite food like this...unbelievable.

Meanwhile, Dad and I started the tedious task of measuring lengths, heights, slopes, and angles for the plumbing system. This would include the tub trap and drain, the trap arm, and how and where it connects to the main vent. Tricky business, especially when the location of the actual drain opening in the bath tub is measured to fall over what is currently thin air - how do you measure from there?

Well, we sank a nail in the nearest joist so that the top of the nail was the height of the proposed subfloor (and consequently, the tub drain) and then sunk a stake into the dirt to mark the lateral spot at which the drain would line up. Attached a level to a line of string, and marked the height on the main vent. We calculated the length of the run and the necessary drop (1/4" per foot) and marked that spot on the vent. Compensated for the offset caused by the actual pvc fittings, and we were ready to glue our first piece of pvc into place.

By the end of that day (8 o'clock), we had the new vent in place as well. Pretty much, we had taken the plumbing about as far as we could. What's next is to actually place the tub in the room so we can finalize gluing and drain positioning, but we can't do that until we have the subfloor on, and we still need to frame the floor.

We decided to use the reciprocating saw to clean up the edges of the floor where the original floor planks were still sticking out from the base of the walls. Dad sawed while I followed behind, chiseling and crowbarring what was left behind. With that completed, we have a nice flush surface to nail our new subfloor to and it should slip under the existing walls nicely.

We stood around outside in the gloaming, listened to stories from when the house of my childhood was built, and drove home. Mom had been cooking for half the day! The house was warm, the table was set, a St. Patrick's day feast of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and beets was ready to eat - and there was her famous spinach and artichoke dip appetizer as well as dessert! Hooray!

- John

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