This week (a little late) at the firehouse – 4/27

I’m not sure where this last week went! I don’t even have a good picture to share… except for this image of bacon jam.

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Yes, BACON as a jam. I insisted we take the evening off on Friday and we hit up The Block for a happy hour smorgasbord. He deserved a real night off because he as been working his butt off and taking advantage of every minute we have left with the lift.

  • The studio walls got one final coat of paint and they look awesome! Whew! All that’s left is the floor.
  • Aaron installed 2/3 of the new track lighting.
  • He also built a 14′ utility room from scratch!
  • We realized that the “Awesome” bathroom (which should really be renamed to the “seriously, why doesn’t anything in here work!?!” bathroom) has more serious plumbing problems than we realized at first. Sad face.
  • Aaron installed 18 receptacles in the studio.
  • He also finally changed the locks on the doors. Technically the handles were swapped out when we closed (par for the course on a foreclosure, apparently), but we wanted brand new lock sets to ensure there are no extra keys floating around.

 

Studio floor hole patching

In the list of “Dangerous holes at the firehouse” the pole closets reign supreme, but the massive hole in the studio floor is a fitting runner-up. The placement and foot-sized shape of this hole made it particularly treacherous for firehouse newbies who get caught up in the size of the space and stare up and over instead of down. We’ve saved loved ones for countless (OK, like 5) twisted ankles… or worse. It doesn’t look bad from afar.

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Close up, it’s a bit scarier. Hello broken off pipe in 6+ inches of concrete. When the former owner stopped by last week, Aaron confirmed a bit of history about this place (post forthcoming when I can rustle up some images for it). One thing he learned is that when this building was a community center, it had to have handicap accessible bathrooms. These were constructed in the former garage space – basically to the left of the arrow in the picture above. This pipe was originally a drain that was connected to the lateral sewer line, making it ideal for a bathroom waste pipe. The former owner eradicated the bathrooms, save for this hack job.

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Aaron opted to call a professional plumber to remove this cast iron beast rather than purchase a snap cutter (which I’ve been informed is the proper tool for that job). It amounted to just the price of a service call and it was well worth every dollar.

When it came time to fill the hole, Aaron used tapcon concrete screws to fix a piece of plywood into the ceiling of the basement.

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Then it was just a matter of mixing up some Quickrete per the instructions on the bag and troweling until smooth.

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Hole? What hole?

Tarring the roof

We bought a firehouse with a leaky roof. It’s a typical story, I’m sure. Old firehouses turned community centers (we really need to give you a rundown on the firehouse’s history), turned residences, turned foreclosures just don’t get the regularly scheduled maintenance they deserve.

We had an inkling that there was a problem we toured the place. The brown spot on the ceiling tiles of the awesome bathroom was a clear sign that something bad was lurking in the rafters. I recall a baseball-sized opening that let in light on sunny days and became a waterfall during rainstorms. Aaron assures me that water was simply leaking through a bad seam. Who’s to say, really? The point of the story is that we added a layer of hot tar to the roof, which should give us 4 to 7 leak-free years.

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Inky, rain-repelling goodness…

This was not something we wanted to DIY and looking at these pictures makes me so glad that we called in the professionals. Me + hot tar = disaster waiting to happen. Has anyone out there worked on a roof – tar-covered or otherwise?

This week at the firehouse – 4/19

This week was full of water woes.

  • We started off the week by sneaking away to Kansas City for a little R, R & E (Rest, Royals and Eating – most notably this, this and Aaron’s mom’s cooking).
  • Of course we felt a bit guilty and high tailed it home on Sunday to get a few hours of work in. Power washing the walls was on the list. Sadly, it didn’t make a dent in the years old grunge on the wall. It took labels off the new conduit, but not the caked on dust! This was the start of the water woes and required Aaron to wipe down the walls BY HAND.
  • We also realized that the sump pump was broken. Not a big deal… until later in the week.
  • The primer went up on Tuesday and Aaron channeled some sort of freaky clown, super hero, alter ego:

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  • Wednesday he painted, which should have been a massive achievement, but the paint didn’t dry… like 6 hours after application it was still completely wet. Turns out it was far too humid, especially in the studio, and we spent a very frustrating night as our paint sagged off the wall. Water woe #2.
  • Thursday we decided on a paint-drip-mitigation strategy, which involved a toothbrush and some tedious labor for Aaron. The paint STILL isn’t completely dry. Maybe by next Thursday…
  • Water woe #3 reared it’s head on Thursday when the non-working sump pump and full drains nearly caused a flood in the basement. Luckily Aaron checked the basement in the nick of time, used a bucket to buy himself some time and hightailed it to Home Depot to grab the parts he needed. Crisis averted, but not without a little extra stress.
  • Oh and Aaron met the previous firehouse owner. That deserves it’s own post!

I’m officially declaring this week over. The water woes stop here! Next week has to be better… or at least drier.

Creating a faux apartment

One month in at the firehouse and we’re actually starting to feel settled. I figured you deserved an update, lest you think we’re still in the odd state of limbo. Rest assured that we no longer stare at each other in the evening and ask “Do we really live here.” We’ve stopped flinching at every noise during a rain storm. I even walked into the master bedroom last week and thought “I’m happy we’re here.”

This feels like serious progress for just 30 days. I owe it in part to the faux apartment we’ve carved out of the upstairs. (P.S. I still find it very odd that we live in building that is so large that we can live in less than half of the square footage and still have too much room.) In case you ever find yourself “in between” or living in a semi construction zone, I thought I’d pass along some helpful tips on creating your own faux apartment.

Step 1: Set up a work station.

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This is especially critical if you’re a small business owner. Re-establishing a connection to the world is key. For us, that meant plopping our computers on our two smallest desks and running the world’s longest network cable. The floor lamp sans shade or electrical hook up is totally optional.

Step 2. Make sure your pets/kids are comfortable.

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For as much as we’re settled in, Mojo is not. The change from her fenced-yard, let-me-out-as-much-as-I-want (no-seriously-let-me-out-and-in-and-out) life to one where we stand guard while she does her business has totally thrown her for a loop. So far we’re three for three on weeks that she’s gone number 2 in the house. (She’s also managed to hit a different floor, basement included, each week. I shudder to imagine how she’ll make it to the roof to deliver this week’s gift. And now you officially know way too much about our dog’s bowel movements.) I’m sure she’ll figure it out and before long we’ll have a fenced yard again. (Woot!)

Step 3: Find a sanctuary.

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This is actually the most important step in faux apartment creation and one we discussed at length before we moved. We knew we needed one space that was livable. It’s surely not done, but it’s a place where we can relax. For us, that meant our couch and TV. The chairs and arc lamp give it a bit of a finished feel.

Step 4: Unpack the essentials.

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Our media center doubles as a bar. In it’s current state, the TV is totally blocking access to the booze storage. So we grabbed a few shelves that lived at the studio and set up a bar. It also served as a fun, totally free, totally easy way to add some life to the space.

Step 5: Organize the clutter.

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We will be living out of boxes for the foreseeable future. This is not ideal for an organization freak like me. I combat my OCD twinges by making sure I know where things are, even if that spot is “the third box in the stack in the back in the captain’s bedroom.”

Step 6: Work with what you have.

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I really never thought “a crappy half wall” and “moving box” side tables would ever fit into the realm of “work with what you have.” But these two things have proven to be surprisingly functional (and free and easy.)

Step 7: Don’t be to hard on yourself. You’re redoing a 5,000 square foot firehouse. Not everything has to be perfect at once.

Those are our learnings from 30 days as firehouse residents. Have you ever lived through a renovation or at some point you would call “in between”? If so, do you have any other tips for us?