Sunday, August 12, 2012

Progress in the Attic

When last I mentioned the attic renovations, the place was gutted to the studs and waiting to be built up new. Well, now, after some months of on-again, off-again work, things are pretty far along and looking rather presentable. Here I provide a whole slew of pictures, with captions, because relating the whole project in narrative form would take forever.

The plumbers came along and started roughing in the new drains for the bathroom and kitchenette. You can see the existing vent stack against the wall - the massive black pipe. The new vent/drain parallels it.
This hole goes all the way to the basement, where it meets the main drain to the sewer.
The grey fluffy stuff between the floor joists is cellulose insulation that was recovered from the ceiling during the demolition. Some went to the 2nd floor exterior walls (yay, balloon construction?), which have essentially zero insulation. The rest went into the floor.
The water lines are PEX, and color coded!
Brynna was so impressed the day they came to deliver the framing timbers!
You can see here the framing for the new bathroom. The wall on the right (not yet fully framed) will be a wet wall between the bathroom and kitchenette. On the bathroom side will be a linen closet, vanity, and sinky. The kitchenette side will have cabinets, microwave, sink, etc. Immediately to the left of doorway into the bathroom will be the shower. The toilet will be next to the (south-facing) window.
Sizeable step-in shower. No bathtub, but this leaves plenty of space next to it for the toilet. This is in contrast to the other bathrooms in the house, where the tub takes up so much space that sitting on the toilet is like backing into a closet.
vent pipes for the bathroom and kitchenette tying into the main house vent.
Rough-in for the water and drain for the bathroom vanity and kitchenette sink.
This massive pile of 2x4s frame the linen closet. It isn't that the closet is meant to be especially robust and load-bearing. I think it is just how things worked out with framing the surrounding walls. This closet will be the perfect place to store my free weights!
Under the eaves on the western wall will be a large set of pull-out drawers. Unlike the pieces of shit that used to be here, these will have proper construction by our general contractor, who is a finish carpenter by training. There will be three rows of drawers, with the lower drawers being deeper than the uppers.
The dormer got a little bit of new framing - much cleaner than what used to be there. Good thing they brought along a compound mitre saw.
The exterior studs each received an additional two inches of new lumber. I am not sure if this was necessary to bring it up to code, or to provide more space for insulation. In either case, I am pleased with the result.
What you see framed here is a new walk-in storage closet. This will have floor-to-ceiling shelves, a hanger post, and lots of boxes stored to the eaves.
The new plumbing and electrical runs couldn't easily be squeezed into the existing structure of the house without opening up a lot of walls. Instead, they just made a new run alongside the existing vent stack. A logical solution, I suppose, but it has intruded into the already cramped space beside the toilet of the other bathrooms.

The plumbing for the shower.
The plumbing for the vanity and kitchenette sinks is coming along

On the whole I have been impressed at how tidy the plumber and electrician have made their runs. I probably took a few hundred shots of the runs when everything was still exposed, because eventually it will all be covered with foam insulation and drywall.
Each dormer gets two PAR20 recessed lights. These were put in on the assumption that these would be reading nooks, sitting areas, or desk spaces.
The living and bedroom area get PAR30 recessed lights.
A dedicated 12-gage run was made to the west dormer, with the GFCI outlet, specific for powering an air conditioner. We considered some sort of permanently installed AC unit, perhaps tucked up in the north gable. But it would have been a serious line item in the budget (several thousand dollars, installed), and it turns out to be hard to find such units sized small enough for this space. A decent window unit, or a roll-around, should be plenty for cooling the attic once the insulation is in place.
The electric code hates, hates extension cords. As a result, you need to have an outlet every six feet or so along all the walls. I'm not complaining.
The bathroom vent and plumbing vent stack, as seen from up in the rafters.
Also up in the rafters: a dedicated outlet and coaxial run, in case someone ever puts in an antenna or dish.
It is well that I took a lot of pictures of all the wires and pipes, because that is all completely covered now. Six inches of spray foam provides an impressive R-value, something that has been sorely lacking in this house. I look forward to seeing the difference come winter. The flat of the ceiling will receive 15" of blown cellulose, which can be easily raked aside to access some of the wiring and the recessed lights.

I did not know exactly which day the insulators were going to be coming. I just came home one day and found the attic completely sheathed! Whatever formulation they are using seems pretty good - no offgassing that my nose could detect.
When I was in my teens, I spent part of a summer doing the drywall in half of my parent's attic. Wielding drywall single-handed is not particularly easy. It is especially difficult to haul 4x8 sheets up two flights of stairs. These guys brought a lift truck, and delivered this load of 4x12s in about an hour through the third-floor window.
I consider myself handy, drywall is one of those things I have decided is best left to professionals. It isn't that I can't do it, it's just that these guys are so damn fast! It would take Hilary and I a month of nights and weekends doing what this two-man crew did in two days (i.e., the whole attic).
And that does not count the taping and mud, which was finished in another two days. The whole place the primed a day or two later. It's a lot more echo-y than it was before, but the results are pleasing to the eye; it is beginning to look like living space.
Next up: flooring. For the not-wet areas, I chose this bamboo composite.
Look at that: a laminate floor that has real wood underneath! The bamboo is prefinished and really tough: it ought to hold up to the expected foot traffic for a loooong time.
And it looks rather pleasant in sunlight.
With the flooring in place, the baseboard heaters (hydronic) can be reinstalled. In its previous condition, the attic had baseboard radiators along almost the entire perimeter of the floor. This was a good signal as how abysmal the insulation was. With the insulation that is in there now, I expect that very little actual heating will be required to keep this floor at a comfortable temperature. Plus, by sealing up the top of the home's envelope, I expect that we'll use a lot less energy heating the rest of the house going forward.
Several of the older windows had broken seals. This was evidenced by a dusty cloudy appearance between the layers of glass. Aside from the cosmetics, this means that their R-value is almost nonexistent. May as well replace them now.
Each of the four windows received new trim, as well.
The kitchen cabinets!
These were made by a local company in a fairly simple style out of a lovely clear pine.
The bathroom vanity is done in the same style.
We were very concerned that framing in the bathroom would block the light from the south-facing window. However, it appears that good light will still shine through when the door is open.
The framing for the under-the-eave drawers. The face frame is done in poplar. The drawer fronts will be done in a fairly simple style, too, to match the other cabinets.
The door leads into the storage area. The large hole in the wall will be filled in by a set of built-in bookshelves. The hope is that this dormer at the top of the stairs will become a reading area.

That's a gist of what's been happening over the last two months. Flooring for the kitchenette and bathroom is forthcoming. Other next steps include painting, lighting, and completing the electrical.

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