Framing the Cottage: Part 2!

Following up on one framing post with…another framing post?! I shouldn’t have!

No, really, I probably shouldn’t have because I know this stuff is kind of boring and technical and the pictures are crap, but here it is anyway. I guess I like that sort of thing. I promise I’ll show you something pretty soon to remind you why you are even here.

framingbefore

The framing situation on the second floor was even more insane than it was on the first floor, so I’m so glad I had Edwin and Edgar’s expertise on my side. I mean, take a quick gander at that photo above and you might get a sense of what I mean. The huge gap on the right (next to the stair banister) of that wall in the foreground was the old bathroom doorway. The gap to the left of that was the old bedroom doorway. The only thing that really needed to be done was have the new bedroom doorway basically shift to where the old bathroom doorway was, enclose the old bedroom doorway, and call it a day. But look at that wall! The original top plate is missing a huge section in the middle, meaning that the original rafters beyond are pretty much floating in space and held together with collar ties that are…also just floating in space. One of the other big goals with the upstairs was getting the ceilings as high as possible, and vestiges of the original roof were in the way of that…ANYWAY, it doesn’t take somebody with a lot of construction experience to look at that picture and know that something ain’t right.

bathroom1

While the first floor was being framed in, sections of the second floor were temporarily supported by upright 2x4s. This is because of the balloon framing—the remaining studs that you are seeing in that first shot extend down through the first floor, too, so before they were cut out down there, the load had to be supported up here so everything wouldn’t collapse.

bedroom1

One of my favorite moments during the whole 10-day framing event was when so much of the old framing was removed but before the new stuff was put in…it was just so weird to see the house like this! This is the view from the top of the stairs into what will be the “master” bedroom, which is going to be such a great space. I’m SO glad I removed the closets on either side of that bank of windows—they really provided so little storage and the room looks and feels so much more open and large now. Remember, new closets are getting built on either side of the doorway, which will provide a TON more storage and be out of the way, too.

bedroomwall1

Edwin and I talked a lot about exactly how things were going to go upstairs. My original plan was to vault all of the ceilings up here, but it quickly became clear that because of the crazy angles of the roof (and the amount of framing required to properly support everything), the best plan was to vault only the ceilings in the two bedrooms and leave the future-bathroom and hallway area with flat ceilings. The problem was that the ceilings in that middle, original section of the house were only about 6’8″—super low! So the goal became getting maximum ceiling height while supporting the weight of the roof and all that.

Edwin and Edgar started by cutting out more of the original top plate on either side and then started building a wall within the opening. The new wall is higher (set in from the outer edges because of the angles of the roof above), giving the bathroom/hallway space a new ceiling height of 7.5 feet! It’s still cozy, for sure, but it really is fine in this house. I think it’ll feel very sweet as opposed to oppressive or claustrophobic.

oldandnew

Here you can kind of get a sense of how the new framing is interacting with the old. Sorta cool, right?

raftersawing

Fast forwarding many hours…studs are in place, toe-nailed into the top plate and sole plate, so the wall is rigid and strong and the top plate is supported. The wall opposite (between the bathroom/hallway and the smaller bedroom at the back of the house) was rebuilt the same way. Next, 2×6 framing lumber was run between the top plates of the two walls and secured—hello, higher and level ceiling joists!

The original rafters got nailed into the new ceiling joists, so now the middle section of the roof is actually supported! Fancy that! After everything was nailed into place, the excess length of the original rafters could be trimmed down with a Sawzall, which is what Edwin is doing in the photo above. Higher ceiling, a-go!

rafters2

For some reason I don’t seem to have any pictures showing how things got totally finished up, but this is pretty close to the end! The closets in the master bedroom still needed to be framed in when this picture was taken (and the bedroom doorway isn’t framed in yet), but hopefully you get the idea. Edwin is standing in what will be the large hallway linen closet. I didn’t have them do anything other than leave a big space for it—I think I have a pretty simple plan for how to build it out without too much additional framing work, but I haven’t quite solidified it. It’ll probably be one of those things I have to figure out a little bit as I go.

That about wraps up the framing posts! All in, the framing came out to $5,700 plus materials (which I haven’t fully tabulated, but framing lumber is pretty inexpensive). So it definitely wasn’t a small expense (and more than I’d originally factored in to the budget, so I’ll have to compensate elsewhere…I like a challenge!), but it was pretty necessary. And considering that we re-framed the kitchen floor, added entirely new basement steps, rebuilt every interior wall, framed in two bathrooms, raised ceilings, took out a load-bearing wall, added closets, raised collar-ties, and reinforced an exterior wall…I feel good about it! This house is probably more solid than it’s ever been as a result, and it feels so good to embark on the next steps with such a strong foundation.

Now c’mon, heat! It’s coooolllldddd out there!

Diary!

Day 30: Edwin and Edgar worked on second floor bath, hallway, and master bedroom. I went to Lowe’s for more lumber, back at noon. Spent rest of day cleaning and clearing crap.

Day 31: Built fence in backyard. Filled hole in basement.

Day 32: Made two dump runs and a scrap metal run in John’s truck. Cody worked on pulling nails from trim lumber. Worked on putting backyard compostable waste into yard bags—filled around 20 bags.

Day 33: Dump run in John’s truck in morning. Spent afternoon sorting, de-nailing scrap pile and loading into John’s truck for storage in my garage.

Day 34: Edwin and Edgar finished framing and I worked on cleaning up. Huge mess inside! Must borrow truck again to haul lumber crap and make another dump run.

PS—If you’re working on a renovation project in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region and need a contractor, feel free to shoot me an email for Edwin’s contact information. He’s a delight to work with.  


60 Comments

  1. Those vaulted ceilings are going to look great.

  2. Daniel-

    Love the blog and the beautiful work you are doing on these homes. I’ve been gawking at this gem for years and it’s finally on the market, but way out of my budget. You should think about working in Chicago ::wink wink nudge nudge:: http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/06/heres-a-few-interior-shots-of-the-crumbling-oscar-mayer-house.php

    • WOW. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor…that place is unreal! The midwest really knew what was up during the early 20th century. Hot damn!

      I think that’s just a *tad* out of my price range, too! Maybe if you lopped off a few zeroes…

    • Haha, the sausage king of Chicago? REALLY? That is awesome. Did Abe Froman succeed him?

      This is almost as awesome as that time I asked my husband to hand me my phone at 11:45pm, and he said, word for word, “Who you gonna call?” I have never answered any question more enthusiastically in my life.

      P.S. That bathroom is SO beautiful, even in its decrepit state.

  3. Your next car should be a truck.
    House is really coming along, I’m eager to see each installment of its progress. Especially once drywall goes up, fixtures go in, and it starts to look like a real house again.

    • I know, I think I need to bite the bullet and find myself some old rusted truck just for this kind of thing. My poor friend John is so sick of letting me borrow his!!

  4. This is shaping up nicely. Maybe it was originally a small stable for a horse or two with a small and low-ceilinged hay loft above. What’s your theory?

  5. I want to watch the TV show of this renovation.
    And at the end of this episode would be a close up of you, sitting on the the front steps after everyone has gone home telling us about how much you really appreciate having a great contractor like Edwin and at the end of the renovation, all the guys on the team stand around you and present you with your very own Sawzall or an engraved hammer or something super campy like that.

  6. So what you’re saying there at the beginning is, bits of the house were just held up by nothing, defying gravity? ;)

    • More or less, yeah! Stuff can stay surprisingly stable just by virtue of being attached to each other (like those “floating” rafters were also nailed to the original sheathing, which was also attached to rafters that were supported…that kind of thing), but definitely not a recipe for longevity and safety. Now it’s very solid!

  7. Edwin is a BEAST!!!!

    • He really is! He works so fast and seems to genuinely enjoy what he’s doing, which is such a pleasure. I love him!

  8. So excited to continue to watch this house transform! I love all the natural light coming in from those windows!

  9. C’mon your posts are never boring !
    DIY is in the details….

    • I appreciate that, Gaia! I usually have no sense of what people will find more or less boring, so I worry a lot! Ha!

      • To be honest, I don’t think I’ve read a single post of yours that I thought was boring. That either makes me really nerdy, or you really good. I suspect it’s mostly the latter. Please don’t worry about being boring — just keep blogging, even if you can’t post every 2 days!

  10. That seems like a totally great price considering everything that was done. I need these magical construction elves!

    • Yeah, I agree. Considering how quickly they got it all done, they still made out pretty well (if you broke it down hourly, you know?), but yes—way cheaper than it could have been, for sure.

  11. Another post, so quick? Thanks!
    Again, applaud your efforts to stabilize/shore up the cottage. Sounds like it’s getting more love & consideration than it ever did.
    Glad you were able to get a bit more height in the midsection; avoiding claustrophobia but allowing for coziness.
    I want photos of the backyard/fence (even if it’s a blank & teeny space)…probably covered in snow @ this point.
    Best of luck with the heat situation. It’s back to typical weather in Buffalo; UGH!

    • I’ll probably save pictures for the spring! It is covered in snow, there’s not a lot to see at all! The backyard is a whole other project…it’s small but needs a lot of love, too!

  12. It’s really interesting to see this basic step by step renovation close up–but it is so much work. Could you please title your next post “Something Pretty?”

  13. Aaaaaaah another post so soooon!!!

    You continue to amaze.

    Hey we installed a ceiling medallion this weekend inspired by you and it looks amazing!

    Thanks Daniel

    • Oh, that’s great! I’m glad to hear that! Don’t they look shockingly authentic when they’re up and caulked? Ours fool everyone.

      • it’s so true…it looks like it’s always been there…which is the whole point when you are adding things to an older home…I love it!!

  14. I for one *love* the “boring and technical” posts. I am incredibly jealous of your renovation. I can’t wait till I move to the US (from Australia) and buy a little house of my own to play with!

    • I’m glad to hear that, Kirsty! I always liked this stuff, too…honestly I wish I could be even more detailed and technical!

  15. Let me guess – Edwin can boogie around on that bucket like whoa?

    • Edwin can do anything. :)

      • You should have him do a guest post. “The Real Kingston Cottage Story: A Man, A Plan, A Whole Bunch of Other Men, and Several More Plans After the First One Didn’t Work.”

  16. Most renovators guard the name of their contractor like their ATM pin. Either because they believe they are going to be big stars soon and will need their contractor all to themselves or because they don’t want anyone be successful except themselves. You sir, are super classy and humble. Can’t wait until you get a TV show.

    • Hear, hear!

    • Aw, that’s kind of you to say! Edwin is so great, if I had more money and could give him more work, I would! I’d love to pass some business his way.

  17. I love looking at these pictures of the framing. Not boring at all. I could watch this kind of work all day long. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Oh I love the idea of a tv-show, or rather something on youtube so I could watch as well! Lumber is pretty, and men with sawdust in their hair does not hurt one bit… I am so impressed that your are not cutting corners for a house that you will sell, it is most honorable. I wish I could buy a house where the reno was fully disclosed like this!

    • Video content scares the crap out of me! I’m so camera-shy. :)

    • I wish I could buy a house where the reno was fully disclosed like this!

      I agree! I hope you let your buyers know of your blog so they can watch the transformation of their “new” house, even if it’s after the fact. I think they’ll appreciate their house all the more knowing how much thought and effort you put into it for them.

  19. I hope you got a quote beforehand and are not paying by the hour. In any case, less than 6k for two men working 10 days would be a steal over here, you’d end up paying at least half more.

    I do remember that feeling of openness from back when we removed all framing from our attic (http://townhousehome.com/cleaning-attic/), it suddenly felt a lot bigger and brighter (and now with all the roof windows we put in, even more so). That reminds me, I still need to take some decent pics of that.

    I’m glad to see things are done thoroughly now, instead of an easy fix. Given that you plan to sell or rent, a lot of shady people wouldn’t do what you’re doing now, so respect!

    • Yes! Big jobs like this I like to know exactly what I’m getting into financially. Smaller stuff I sometimes do hourly + materials. It just depends!

      Wow, your attic space looks like so much fun! What’s your plan for it?

  20. Amazing seeing all that…kind of mind-boggling to a construction newbie.
    Sooo jealous of your contractors…getting quotes around $5500 just to redo front house steps….
    I think flying E + E here and having them do the work might be worth it!
    : /

  21. My thoughts on the two framing posts are that the house is already beautiful. Compared to the before this is already such an amazing improvement. All of a sudden you can see it all come back to life, it is a testament of your love and dedication and it truly does show.

    Keep up the good work, some day a family who will live here is going to be safe and warm and they will never have to worry about the roof over their head or the ground beneath their feet. And they will have you to thank for it. That is a pretty amazing thing you are doing. As a parent, knowing I’m putting a safe roof over the head of my little girl and having to not worry about it is worth its weight in gold.

    • That’s such a nice comment, Kelly—thank you! I’m glad you can see where it’s going, too…it’s hard for me to tell if these pictures are really showing anything discernible if you haven’t been in the space!

  22. Hey.
    I really like posts like these.
    I really, really like posts like these.

    Shush. Let me enjoy your posts about LVL beams and framing!!

  23. your exercising your right to work alongside such a talented contractor is very inspiring. as is the work of framing itself, and how much these guys know. real props to all of you.

  24. I teach 5th grade and have two students named Edgar and Edwin, respectively. As I read through these posts I keep picturing a couple of ten-year-olds working alongside you. It makes for entertaining reading.

  25. I really, really want Edwin and Edgar to name their business “Ed^2”. OR Ed(win + gar), because then you can get all mathy with it. There’s a lot of potential there…

  26. It’s so great to see the new spaces coming together! And the future master bedroom already looks 100% better without those tiny closets.

  27. These posts are really fascinating. I wish you could make a schematic and show us what a top plate, sole plate, collar ties, etc, etc are. Also on the first floor you fixed something that lies on top of the foundation. You are educating tons of people here. I like it.

  28. You can find out about this cottage going through old census records on Ancestry.com. They did the census by the street, so you might be able to find out if a real family lived there, or it was attached to another property. The 1890 census was destroyed, but 1870 and 1880 are intact. I think that New York state might have had their own census also. I love the way you are opening up this place. It seems very zen to me. I can’t wait to see what trim you select.
    Nicole Curtis might want to work on the Oscar Mayer mansion in Evanston with you. She’s done with her LeBron James house. Take care of yourself, remember you are still recovering.

  29. Love this new habit of sharing your diary! I reminds us that we should do the same and it really helps looking back at our accomplishments. Especially in renovations, when you feel overwhelmed and like nothing is getting done!

  30. It is so fantastic to follow along with your progress! I’m an architecture student and it makes me so happy to see proper framing and the like, since it’s really the bones of the structure that make the space. Though I am, of course, very excited to see the finishes too!

  31. Happiness is following a renovation project with the right vision, the right planning and design, the right contractors and workers and the right journalist.

  32. Daniel, I took a screenshot of an ad that appears in the body of your blog. How can I send it as an attachment?

    • Nevermind… I found the contact info on the homepage and mailed you the screenshot.

      On another topic… Don’t you just love that old framing lumber? It’s usually of a quality that is only used for finish work now days. Those clear, straight, unplaned 2x4s, make our modern lumber look pretty spindly. Best of luck and fingers crossed for warmer weather!

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