Back Door Man

The back door needs to be replaced. M is lobbying for real wood; I’m lobbying for fiberglass. She wants character; I want something low-maintenance with good insulation that doesn’t warp in humid weather. So, we’re going door shopping this weekend. Therma-Tru or salvaged antique? Stay Tuned to Money Pit and find out!

Tonight, on Haunted Money Pit: The Structural Engineer Visits

Last week I met with the contractor, structural engineer, and architect all at once. Structural Engineer Dan B looked in at the joists and pronounced them quite sturdy and not in need of any modifications. So, that’s good. The oddities that had been seen in initial demo were, it turns out, related to something else entirely.

Then we went into the downstairs neighbor’s unit and we got slightly less-good news. There are three places where we need to put posts made of quadruple 2x4s so that our unit can transfer its weight all the way down into the basement and foundation and ground, rather than, say, directly into her living room. These spots are all inside of already existing walls, but we do have to open her walls up to get to them, then close them back up and paint them again. Downstairs neighbor is, fortunately, OK with this disruption.

Next time on Haunted Money Pit: Choosing appliances, paint, kitchen sink and faucet, tile, and molding. PLUS: Is decision fatigue a real thing? Eh, I don’t really care anymore, let’s just assume it is.

Setbacks and Spending

Setback: The joists in the 2nd floor – that picture right below this – don’t do quite what we’d thought they would. This means that we’ll need to open up the ceiling more, both so that the structural engineer and architect can see exactly what is going on there, and so that we can put in recessed lighting that’s up to code. It’ll cost a little more of course, but “wiring up to code” is important and that ceiling was pretty nasty anyway.

Spending: Placed order for all the bathroom goodies: Vanity, sink, faucets, tub, shower. Delivery to be scheduled for next month.

Creepy Basement: Now with Fewer Cobwebs!

There’s a set of shelves built into a sort of alcove in our basement. For some reason they’re made of old doors. Before being made into shelving they were pretty nice solid wood doors. But they’ve been shelves for a long time and they’re absolutely filthy, with just years of dirt and dust and cobwebs.

After about half a bottle of Simple Green a several absolutely blackened rags this afternoon, they’re… not exactly clean, but less filthy. It’s progress.

The permitting process is still ongoing, so actual construction can’t begin yet, but we’re hoping it’ll start next week.

Roof status, plus how to replace a doorknob in 8 simple steps

Most of the roof now looks like this, with double-layer asphalt shingles:

The gutters aren’t back up yet and there are various bits of fascia and trim and woodwork that need to be replaced, but it’s come a long way.

Meanwhile, this week we decided we really ought to get a new front door lock and doorknob. At some point before we got the house, Banco Santander or their agents deliberately broke the lock so you can only enter the house from the back door. This isn’t malice on their part, of course, just standard procedure with foreclosed properties with lockboxes- they just pick one door for entry and make the other exit-only. But it does mean we need a new lock. So, off to Lowe’s, which is slightly further away from our house but carries prettier doorknobs, which should go nicely with the huge old solid-wood front door.

Of course, this turns out to be less than simple. This old door has a mortise-lock doorknob, not the cylinder type that’s used in most doors nowadays. Those are kind of a specialty item, and they’re a little tricky to size because you need to know the exact width of the slot they’re inserted into as well as the usual things like the backset (distance from the door edge to the key slot).

So, I called the local specialty key and lock place, Commonwealth Lock. These guys are good, and very well reviewed. Sure, it’ll cost a little extra to buy hardware there, but it’ll help us preserve this awesome old slab of door, and it’s a local business which I do like to support.

When I spoke with them they confirmed that they do carry a line of mortise locks, although we’ll probably have to special-order one to fit exactly. Their advice is to take the lock off the door and bring it in so they can figure out exactly what should replace it… and also they’re only open on weekdays. Apparently if you shop there you either have the sort of job where you can take time off to shop for doorknobs, or have the kind of money that lets you send your architect over to select doorknobs for you. Maybe this is going to cost more than a little extra.

Anyway, the procedure to replace our doorknob and front door lock is now turning out to be:

  1. Take a day off work.
  2. Remove the lock set and doorknob from the house.
  3. Leave the house unlocked while we go to the lock store.
  4. Select and order a new lock and doorknob.
  5. Return to the house and re-install the lock and doorknob
  6. Wait for the thing to arrive.
  7. Get out of work early or arrive late to go get it.
  8. Install the new lock.

And there you have it: Replacing a doorknob in 8 simple steps.