The Campsie Project

An account of the renovation of The Neglected House on the Wonderful Street in Wonderful Downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dump Day!

Oh, the anticipation... Lucy and I have both been learning that home renov instant gratification takes different forms. For instance, ripping up carpet tacks was lucy's thing. One of mine earlier today was peeling the chicken wire off of the inside on the side french door. Ahh.. But we both had ancipated the joy of the arrival of Todd's dumptruck to cart away our stinking (but relatively dry) pile of carpet in the driveway. We peeled it up about a week ago and have taken turns wringing our hands about when the dumptruck would arrive. Well, today was the day.

Todd couldn't be any prouder to be a dumptruck owner, I'll say that. Our Contractor MC pulled up in his red Ford DT, with the kind of paternal beam unique to contractor parents, and of course we were into that. But after the great cardio of flinging carpet into the truck, the real wonder ensued when Mick got to go to the Dump! And I'm just sayin' wow. The dump. Here's a thought I've had before: Be thankful—down-on-your-hands-and-knees thankful— that the trash truck comes by and takes your shit away every week. Because, the volume, man, the volume! More to come.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sunday scrapin!

Sunday was my rebound day from Sick Saturday. Sidenote: I try not to call in sick to work hardly ever because you end up paying for it by being sick on the weekend eventually. I can't remember the last time I called in sick for work, but it must have been sometime.

I was happy to get out of the sick thing and back over to Campsie for some action. Lucy spent the day doin' this and that. She said she hadn't been upstairs, and when i asked why, she said she was a-skeered! girrrrl... shee-it.

Our house isn't haunted, I don't think. I've never had a ghost. When I was a kid our furnace made this noise like Frankenstein's Monster lumbering around. It could be kinda scary, so a ghost is never really something I've wished for, historically. Anyway, if Campsie is haunted, it's haunted by the ghosts of technology gone by. Things like: hot water heat. knob-and-tube electricity. giant TV antennas.

Today we scratched out heads some more over the lock situation. Who would have thought this could be such a fiddle-faddle? (I don't have any idea where that came from.) Still mystified by how you get all the locks on a house to use the same key without calling a locksmith and without buying damned Schlage locks, which are just as ugly as any of them, but three times more expensive. Once I'd thrown my hands up over that, it was time to draft our new tool into action: the cast iron floor scraper. Ah, yes! Now, this is the warrior that we got to help with ripping up linoleum in the upstairs bathroom and downstairs in the kitchen and the hall. After a few tentative strikes here and there, I was thinking, "this is going to be an incredible bitch." I took a deep breath and headed into the upstairs bathroom, put my back into it, and made some very satisfying noises of destruction. This is a violent process, fabulously loud and... an incredible bitch! But verrrrry satisfying. After tearing through 3 layers of linoleum (layer two was pretty cool, kind of bachelor pad Louis IV), I hit this grimy skuzzed-on layer under which was—surprise!—hardwood. Unfortunately, it's kind of soaked in filth (I mentioned this is the bathroom, I believe), and the floor may be hosed. There's some evidence of water damage around the toilet, which could explain our mammoth water bill. Just add this to the "wait and see" list.

On a momentary bleak note, right before bed, Lucy read to me from Mr. Fix - It, who says that knob and tube wiring is cause to run away from a potential house purchase. Well, too late for us.

Today's destruction brought to you by: Cast Iron Scraper, Flat Crowbar/Claw (always a favorite), and my new rubber kneepads. they were $15, but I think I'll get my money's worth and my knees will thank me.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

My Turn

So here's my first entry. I won't be stepping into this too often-no fancy new laptop, no cable modem. Lucy+computer=disaster. I just went to touch this thing and the signal disappeared! My virgin entry shall respond to Mick's comments thus far.

I'd like to start by saying that the picture below is NOT Todd, our carpenter friend. This is a random guy demonstarting the claw action of the channel-lock pliers. Mick refers to them as the nippers. I discovered their real name as listed on the tool itself when spacing out in the midst of extreme fatigue yesterday afternoon. I looked down and there it said-channel lock.

Mick was, in fact, officially sick. Must admit I doubted it for just a moment but when he missed the bellydancing extravaganza last night I knew it was real. Esther's "work party" was just that...a work party. Those present (just 6 of us) chatted and hummed whilest lugging many dirty pounds of stinky rotten rusty nail ridden wood. We cleared a pile about 5' tall X 15' long. Needless to say-I'm sore in places I never knew I could be sore. My HANDS are virtually useless today. (Word to ma mutha-DON'T WORRY). I think today I'll work a little less intensly. Perhaps a trip to our neighborhood home improvement stores will be in order. I hear tell from my fellow home improvers that I will settle on one vs the other (Lowe's/Home Depot) as our "relationsip" grows. Comments anyone? They BOTH give lotsa money to the republicans so don't give me THAT reason.

It's true-I can't wait to go to IKEA.

I'm really stumped on the door hardware thing. I'm sure we're beating a dead horse...no-we're at a dead end...no-it's a red-herring. I think I'll sleep on it some more. There really isn't anything to steal. We're better off without the wine.

We're almost finished with the project of removing the former inhabitants floor coverings. It's proving to be an amazing unveiling. The floors are beautiful.

It's true-I may have found my purpose! I think this is just what Mick and I needed-hard manual labor and a learning process.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

For the Lack of a Lock

Spent some of the day surfing for locksets (a new term for me) for the house. Also, I kept incorrectly spelling "locksets" as "Laptop Cases." Back to the matter at hand—Yeah, there's a variety of folks out there with keys and I suppose we need to change the locks. We're still at the point where there's really not much to steal in the house, except my ukulele and some bottles of wine. Wait-- I guess that means there's really quite a bit to steal, then isn't there?

I think Lucy and I overcomplicated things, just for practice. The locks just need to be re-keyed probably, but we went shopping and found that it seems possible to spend between $15 and $300 on a "handleset," which all seem to come in brass, brushed nickel or brushed brass nickel. And did I mention that they all look like they came off of George Washington's house? Yuck.

Seeing as how I like making lists, this house is a great project. Certainly lots of lists to be made. Today, I was hoping to do some hard work, but I woke up with a nasty cold and stayed in bed, while Lucy pulled nails and stacked wood for Esther. I drank water, though. What's that buddhist proverb, "Stack wood, drink water?" So I was doing my part. Okay, maybe I'm wrong...

Friday, February 11, 2005

You've Got Nails!

The best tool, the most gratifying tool, the most almost orgasmically satisfying tool so far is the nail/staple pliers or nippers, as they're sometimes called.They've got a curved head (ohhh!) that allows you to grab onto staples from the carpet in the hardwood and just roll them out.. You just want to do one more. Just one more...

Rehab starter kit


the other day, i went with Todd, our patron saint of renovation, to get "the tool kit." this was just a few tools that we, the rehabbers would need. It actualy only amounted to a few things. I'm sure we'll find things we JUST GOTTA HAVE pretty much every time we walk into Home Depot or Lowes. I'm going to concede that I may not have to have a table saw just yet, but I'm still looking for an excuse—i mean—a reason to get one.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Can't Wait to go to Ikea

Lucy says: "Gosh I can't wait to go there. we're gonna get a lot!"

Let the Destruction begin


Let the Destruction begin
Originally uploaded by mrtoastey.
We had this party for the house. We decided it would be good to have a thing where we invited lots of friends over to the empty house and everybody could just kind of bless it with their good juju. I think it worked. I've posted pictures here. Just click "view photos" You don't have to log in. Be sure to click SLIDESHOW!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An email from a friend

Sonya had lived in my house for a year while I was in NY. I don't know if it's requisite for a Dental Hygienist (which she is), but she has one of the world's winningest smiles and is a dear sweet person whom I've always adored. Enough so that I entrusted my house to her, as my first tenant, while I traipsed off for Manhattan and the Internet Wars. While I was gone, I was especially happy when she left what seemed like an unfulfillng relationship and got hitched to Todd, an inspired renovator/contractor who treated her with more the accord deserving of such a delightful soul. Never mind that her new man ended her tenure as my tenant. Anyway, I took a bit of notice (just a bit) when I got this CC'd email from Sonya, at the end of October 2004:

Hello all,

Sonya here. We are looking for good neighbors through networking.
Campsie is the coolest street in my neighborhood. If you know
someone on the search, please pass this onward. Send out the Word

  • 239 Campsie Place
  • $89,900
  • approx. 1860 S.f.
  • Living room is 30 ft wide..could be 2 rooms
  • Dining room
  • updated kitchen..dishwahser and old range stay
  • law foot tubs 2 full baths..one on each floor
  • 3 bedrooms on first floor and 3 on second floor.
  • one bedroom on second floor is open..could be home office or family room
    also could make into owner's suite..small bedroom could be walk in
    closet..second bedroom could be sitting room/office.
  • Lots of possibilties for living in this house.
  • basement has washer and dryer hook up
  • house appears to be solid.
  • really neat covered side porch
  • nice back yard
  • I think it has hot water boiler heat but could not bet to it to see.
  • 37 years of stuff to be removed
  • according to pva the house is 64 years old.

Getting a foot in..

I'm still trying to understand how to post pictures, but in the meantime, here's the link to the Ofoto album of prelimary shots of the Campsie house. This will give you some idea of what we got goin' here.

I'm going to share some history of our purchase. Hopefully in digestable chunks.

Lucy and have played with the idea of buying a house for a couple of years probably. but it seems like such a herculean task, that it always unraveled before it could even get started. There were so many questions. and then questions nested in questions. things like (but not limited to): where? what style? duplex or single-family? how much do we spend?

I already have a house, my duplex on Bassett, and have enjoyed the challenges of a tenant/owner occupied house. But lucy wasn't so keen on this. And so it was a constant stumbling block, the main one, I think. In fall 2004, I got an email from my friend Sonya, who's husband Todd is a historic home renovator. I'd been somewhat aware that the two of them had been laying careful seige to a sort of ghetto inland of downtown lexington, the Martin Luther King area.

Monday, February 07, 2005

this is the campsie project

this is my first blog message. it's kind of just put one foot in front of the other, I guess. I still don't really understand how this works, but wanted to see.

this is about 239 Campsie Place, a 1920's house in Lexington, Kentucky. the house was bought on January 31, 2004, by me and lucy. It's a project and it needs help. it's what is known as a "fixer-upper." This is something that I've wanted to do, in theory for years. Just to see, you know, if it's the kind of thing that I want to do. do home renovation. they say that the average person in modern america will switch careers, um, oh, i don't know how many times. anyway, i'm wondering about this. and i've always wondered about switching to some sort of hand-intensive job, like fixin' stuff, or buildin' stuff. years ago, i remember hearing that a casual acquaintence had moved away "to go to ship-building school." this is a guy who owned a restaurant. I've never forgotten that for some reason, and sometimes when I wonder "what I'm supposed to be doing," I think "I'm going to shipbuilding school."

Well, that hasn't happened yet.

but i think renovating this house with lucy might be the equivalent, as well as many other things.

I've told people this and now I'll say it again: I just want to know for a fact that I hate remodeling houses. THEN I can stop thinking that I want to do this.

So we'll see.