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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Facade Project

One of the many obstacles we ran into when trying to purchase the Coat Shop building was that it Words that the banks used to describe it includes "blighted" "neglected" and "deteriorated." Ouch.
We knew when we bought the property that one of the first things we needed to rehab was the outside. The rehab tasks include:
  • Recreating the original Coat Room sign
  • Replacing the broken storefront windows with safety glass
  • Rehanging the entry door
  • Adding reclaimed wood framing to the windows a la the Hopkins-Finley House (below)

Our friend Mark came out to give us some advice on the wood framing project, and proceeded to sigh and grimace and

bust out the frown lines. Fortunately, we're getting used to this reaction when people first see the Coat Shop. They seem to be saying (or in some cases, are actually saying) "Holy crap. I don't even know where to begin."

We're getting pretty good at responding, "Here. Start right here."

Once we got through that phase of our conversation with Mark, he made a very astute observation. While he liked our idea of adding reclaimed beams, he pointed out the difficulties in creating a waterproof seal and affixing the beams to the exterior frame. Then he said, "ou know the framing you have right now is redwood. Under all that beige/salmon paint is probably some really nice wood." Brilliant!

Gentle readers, as you may have read in previous entries, there are are many things I do not understand about this whole rehab process. But one thing I DO know how to do is strip paint. It's painstaking and gross, but it's not rocket science and it's very satisfying. I'm thinking of getting started on Sunday. I'm planning on using chemical strippers. I've heard great things about using heat, but our local tool rental shop doesn't rent heat guns and I'm not quite ready to invest in my very own. But we'll see what the hardware store guys have to say about that.

If anyone out there has any thoughts on this, I'm all ears.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Our variance application was unanimously approved by the Eureka Planning Commission, meaning we can officially live in the Coat Shop Building.  One of the Commissioners even name checked our blog during the proceedings.  Word.


Dressing the Part

Here is our contractor, Jason of Configurations Building.  This was just before we climbed into the attic to measure the height of the ceiling to figure out how much headroom we can get out of the building.  Amy and I love rough industrial unfinished looks so keeping the space as bare as possible is key for us.

We also have fire repellant on the walls, which has asbestos in it, so we are being real careful not to disturb that area while wearing masks.  Jason went full HASMAT on us!  He looked real professional and safe.  We completed the measurements in one hour.

After seeing Jason in his suit, Amy and I thought that we should have suits too.  She dug up coveralls, I bought a used pair, and we went to town on a second demo night.  The picture here is grainy because there is a lot of dust in the air from our drywall demo.

Amy and I are gearing up for a MAY pizza, beer (keg), and work party day that will highlight:
- roof demo
- installing plywood sheets supporting basement walls
- exterior paint stripping
- sanding | stripping
- dump runs

And finally, just as we were ready to leave we decided to test the structural integrity of the ceiling beams by me hanging on them.  Amy took pictures and, from the look of it, ghosts of Coat Room past were whirling around.

Thanks for reading,
Jon + Amy

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Demolition Derby

Location: Back Room. Second Story.
Ingredients: Crowbar. Hammers. Shovel. Respirators. Coveralls. Beer.
Time: 2 hours
Experience: Joyous
Last night I discovered the intense satisfaction of the destructive process. After work, we ripped away layers of crappy drywall and green shag carpet, revealing beautiful redwood walls and cedar floors. There is really nothing like wielding a corwbar, working the angles to get the best leverage possible so that the drywall rips from the wall in glorious sheets instead of a thousand plaster cloudbursts.
The room is beginning to open up as we strip it down; we can begin to see what we're working with. The phrase "gut" now makes sense to me- the process of stripping a building down, layer by layer, until you can get into its guts and operate on the ciritcal systems like wiring and plumbing. It is so satisfying to be working towards the guts, to be slowly liberating our bulding from years of poor upkeep and half-assed handiwork so that it can breathe again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Up Stairs Demo #1

Step 1: Buy tools: crow bar, bad ass big hammer, respirator, 25 foot smooth measuring tape, his and her gloves, & 2 cookies

Step 2: Wow, $90, deep breath

Step 3: Open the windows

Step 4: Demo for 2 hours and try not to break anything structural

Assessment: Close calls with falling wood/drywall/metal.  Need first aid kit on site.  Need to bring rock climbing helmet and safety goggles that don't fog up.  Will need a dumpster if we keep this up.  

Useable cedar floors, exposed ceilings, and maybe redwood?


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Layout and Plans, circa 4-4-11

These are the current 'draft plans' that were produced last weekend after a visit from my sister Laura and brother-in-law George (plus my niece Maddie).

Laura and George are working with us on design and planning for the project (including the CAD drawings above).

Laura and George live in Long Beach, CA.

Parking Space Variance Sign

We have a two week public comment period where the community and the planning commission decides if we can have an Old Town Loft apartment without a designated parking space.

Wish us luck and come to the planning commission meeting on April 18 in Eureka if you want to voice your support.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

I am a smart person.
I have read a lot of books.
I listen to NPR.
I know the basic rules of grammar and I can do long division and my taxes.

Buying this property and trying to renovate it has made me feel dumb.  Real, real dumb.

We have spent many hours in conversation with realtors, contractors, engineers, designers, and city planners.  And in most of those conversations, I find myself smiling wanly and nodding because I have absoluely no idea what we're talking about.

I-beams?  Tax abatements?  Variances?  "Oh, yes, " I say, earnestly.  "Of course."  Of course I cannot put a window here because the flashing needs to extend X inches in either direction.  "OK."  OK, we will need to sheath the diameter of the basement in plywood sheets to improve earthquake resilience.  "That makes sense."  I have no idea if that makes sense.  But when an idea is presented with authority by a man carrying a very, very large level, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It's not that I don't know things.  As I've mentioned before, I can do long division (slowly, with a pen and paper).  And I know EXACTLY how the bathroom will look once I can get in there and rip out the shower stall, tear up the flooring, and cut out the drywall.  I've never gutted a room before.  But I know what I'm going to do in there. 

On that day, I will be smart again.