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2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Well, I finally decided to make this project thread. Looking over the description of the forum, it just states projects and not specifically a car, so why not? Also, figured this might be something people would like to see.

I bought this house in North Jersey with my wife in July 2014.

I have about 200 pictures of some of the progress and changes we've made since then. I will post them probably about 1 post per day.

191 Posts
That looks like a nice place. What mods do you have planned for it? How many square feet? It looks like you'll have room to grow, plus a nice shop.

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
So far, planned Mods:

Unfun mods:
1. Remove popcorn ceiling in 3 rooms.
HEres my wife having started

2. Brand new floors on the first floor
Going over the original, these look good but not as good as you think

3. Refinish floors on the second floor
SAme as first floor

4. Refinish Original Wooden Doors and Handles
5. Repaint
Here's an example of one of the paint choices along with one of the doors

Fun mods:
1. Basement is being turned into a home theater. Full 3D 1080ip all that jazz projector with 7.1 surround sound and movie theater seats.
HEre's the temporary 64" from the living room in the basement since that's where we're living.

2. Add power to the garage
They put in two skylights but NO Power?!?!

3. Add wired ethernet throughout the house

---------- Post added at 09:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:26 PM ----------

So for a first update:

The first project (removing the popcorn ceiling from the first floor foyer) was a complete and utter disaster which you will see has spanned the course of several months...

We started out by scraping the ceiling rather than knocking it down because we were just going to scrape the popcorn off and then sheet rock over it.

If you look closely on the far right, you can see some damp spots. Some damp damage and we remove it. Which an inspector didn't find because the ceiling was popcorn style and hid everything. Bathroom upstairs had also been redone with brand new appliances and knobs and such so we assumed it would be fine.

Needless to say, we ripped down the Plaster and you can see in the far back the rotten lathe

Ripping down the lathe

We find out that the previous owner (who told us that all of the knob and tube was removed was full of it... (and this is why the main foyer light didn't work. Not because of a dead bulb as was claimed)

Knob and tube visible here

Knob and tube also visible here.

So much for removing it all...

So I remove the knob and tube and get some simple romex in there... at this point I need a break and take a couple days off

After this the plaster goes in 32pack beer boxes from the local liquor store and I call it a day out of frustration.

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Nice pad man, cool idea for a build thread also. Now drop the camera and help you wife :)

So two big things

I come home the following day and find this in the spare bedroom...

Apparently my wife got sick and tire of that spare bedroom too.

Now mind you, when she tears the ceiling down, the hack job of electrical work which is a mess comes swinging down, so I literally have to remove everything and re-run and restaple the wires on the house.

In the meantime, I added an overhead light to the living room

When I started digging into the center of the ceiling with a sheetrock knife., turns out there was a light there in the past because I found more knob and tube puttied into a bunch of spackle. SMH

This is what I found after digging. I added the wire caps mind you...

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I figured I would save this post for a night when I was alone and had a lot of time to type.

So, at the behest of several family members and friends, I decided to have my plumber friend take a look at the pipes that were exposed in the foyer under the bathroom. I could not have been remote prepared for what he said.

I don't have a close up picture but basically the pipes were so rotten and corroded that the plumber was surprised water even went down the pipes. There was also a 2 square inch hole in the drain from the toilet. He wondered how we didn't notice using the bathroom upstairs and I explained that we weren't living in the house yet and all of the work was being done on the first floor.

Anyway, he lets me know that it's great that the foyer is open but I'm going to need to expose the wall upstairs behind the wall and under the toilet. Fine, he leaves. In order to knock some of his man-hours down, I decide I'll do the demo myself, can't be too hard right? wrong... Apparently in 1920, they were building bathrooms in preparation for nuclear fallout because my bathroom had not mortar or grout, but actual rebar and concrete holding the tile on... 2 solid inches of concrete. Since we're tearing down parts of the tiles, we decide the whole bathroom is going to need to go because we're not paying a premium to match 100 year old tile.

2 hours into the bathroom with a 10 pound sledge hammer, 2 husky hand hammers, a weighted mallet and a chisel...

Went to homedepot, rented an electric hand held jack hammer and 72 hours later:

By the way, fyi, a wrought iron tub weighs 6,010 lbs.... or at least felt like it as I moved chunks of it out of the room.

Over the course of the several days after that I lowly removed the ceiling plaster and rest of the plaster and lathe from the walls to get the room down to the bare bones. Here's a couple of the in between pics. One thing to note is that the original floor in the bathroom is the same hardwood floor through the enter house. The house has NO subfloor, the wooden planks exposed on the top simply laid and nailed perpendicular to the joists and you can see them exposed underneath on the first floor and the second floor

Found this live behind the shower wall

Door Frame eventually got removed

4 small planks straight up missing under the tile

And be careful on Re-Bar, I now have a 3 inch scar down my right forearm where it slipped and basically sliced right through... (pic may follow if I'm not lazy later).

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Upon getting the plumber in to take care of the plumbing he and his crew used tools and, well I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Onto some of the new stuff

Insulating so it never freezes AND stays quiet

My wife and I also splurged.... a bit and got an 800 whirlpool tub. Only big enough for one unfortunately, but the bathroom is only 7'x5' so whatevs.

Built the half wall and wired it up all myself


Hardcore Enthusiast
1,578 Posts
Wow love this thread. My wife and I just purchased our first home March of this year. I've slowly began fixing a few things here and there and I got to tell you it brings damn near as much enjoyment as working on my car. Good luck and I look forward to progress.

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Ok guys, sorry this took so long.

A LOT has happened since my last update.

I passed ALLLLLL of the inspections.


For the electrical inspection, the inspector was in the house for only about 30 seconds on his phone the entire time. I either did a very good job on the electrical work so he didn't nitpik anything, or he just didn't care. The plumbing inspector walked through and made sure that the drains were angled properly and the vents were angled properly but that's about it.

Building inspector just wanted to make sure there was something called a fire catch (or something of that nature). Basically, in old houses, between the studs inside the walls, there was nothing separating one floor from another (like a horizontal plank of wood) . What this allows for is fire to shoot up burning the oxygen from one floor to the next and your house literally burns down in 10x less time. So I basically added wooden planks as shown below.

Here's an example of where you can see the fire spread right through.

Here's an example of where you can see I added the blocks (look along the bottom of the insulation)

At this point, realistically, the inspections have passed, insulation is in, so bathroom is on hold for a couple months. (Or until my wife gets sick of going downstairs to the bathroom in the middle of the night, once we move upstairs.)

By the way, here's another example of the popcorn ceiling in the bathroom.

So moving on...
Here's the work on the "green" room which will ultimately become out master bedroom.

In this picture, you can see where I had to build an extra beam because, as I recall, you cannot let sheetrock hang more than 6" at the wall due to strength.

Here's the ceiling being prepped with wood shims.

Sheetrock going up

Here't the beginning of the "pink" room (office)
So with this, you can see something important. Rather than insulating between the ceiling on the attic, like my parents house is done. We decided to insulation the attic ceiling. So I merely insulated the portion of the house which is the exterior wall between the ceiling studs. By doing this we allow the heat to also transmit into the attic without letting cold air fill the spaces between the second floor ceiling and the attic floor.

Here's the foyer getting done.

Then my wife and I make, probably the most expensive mistake we could have during this process. Our hubris caused us to think we could do the finishing spackling so here's the work getting done.

Don't get me wrong, we did a really good job, or so said several people we had come in to look at the work. The whole problem, I will admit came from me. The first quote I got from a friend was "a couple hundred dollars." The inner man came out in me and said, hell no, I can this on my own. Well since it's only my second spackle project and it's my first ceiling project, I get a bit "in over my head" and it is just not coming out the way I want it to. I find this jack-of-all-trades type guy who I hire to do the work who has done some work for my mom. Well, I make the fatal mistake of hiring him by the hour and $1,000 later, and only the small pink room done, his ass was out the door.

I found another guy who strickly does ONLY spackling and let me tell you this guy was damn good. Anyway, he charged by the job and $600 later he was completely done.

This looks weird because it's still a bit wet but upon drying looked way better

Despite having an empty house we decided to still celebrate the holidays with

2013 5.0
2,983 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Sub'd. This is awesome.
As a reward for those who subbed, here's another post:

Here's the pink (office) room with the first coat of primer:

Now, for those of keen eye, in the picture above you may notice something.

If you haven't noticed it's that the trim around the window has been sanded. With the fact that we've gone through so much, we decided to go the extra mile and sand all of the original 100% oak wooden trim.

A couple things to note:
1. First pass was 60 grit
2. Second pass was 150 grit
3. Always, always, always sand with the grit, not crossing the grit.

You can see the dust and sand on the floor from sanding

This shop vac died... idk why, but as I was using it, I smelled burning and as I approached it, it slowed down and died. Won't turn on when it's plugged in. If you guys know how to fix this, let me know. But I assume it's burned out and shot.

Pink Room

And this is a perfect example of the **** up job that the previous owner did.... don't ever ever EVER use a rotary grinder or sanding on small trim... just don't do it, because you end up with this **** clear as day.

New time's coming soon!!!
3,008 Posts
Carpentry work is probably the only thing enjoy doing more than working on my car. Idk why but I've always enjoyed it. Looks like you've made so good progress. Those pipes are a prime example of why you do not pour grease down the drain. The ones I've had to replace because of grease smell worse than sewage. Keep up the good work man.
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