That old house #1: Old house - new kitchen

Blog entry by BillyJ posted 08-19-2011 03:55 PM 4003 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of That old house series Part 2: Out with the old and in with the new »

I began this project a while ago and just now had some time to start writing about it. This is one of those projects that hold a surprise behind every swing of the hammer. Here is what I have to work with.

It’s an older home. Built in 1939, it started out as a three-room house. Owner after owner left their mark. Unfortunately, almost all of the additions and renovation jobs were done by people who owned stock in fastener or plaster companies. The plaster is that good stuff – about 1 3/8” thick. My first few swings of the hammer revealed the extent that I would be dealing with multiple additions.

This is a design as we go project, so we have nothing like change-orders. The owner wants to keep the galley kitchen, but looked to open up a kitchen-nook for a small table and two chairs. Good enough. I’m doing the remodeling and cabinetry. I’ll be popping in a 36” x 72” window so she can enjoy coffee and look out into her backyard. Because we’re talking “new” everything (except the floor), she wants all new appliances, along with additional “stuff” she never had (hot water on demand, dish washer, TV in the kitchen, etc.).

In these two pictures, everything looks innocent enough. Sure, I have a vent showing in the first one (oh, the closet also had the telephone line and a switch in it). The next pic shows a switch for the fan and an outlet. Do you see anything else?

Like Gomer Pyle would say – Shazam! Now we have ducting, electrical, and water lines all over. Well, didn’t you look in the basement first? Sure – as much as I could see without ripping down the ceiling (which I finally did, just to make sure there were no more surprises).

Notice an electrical line and vent (next to the vent in the first picture!).

Then the water lines for the upstairs bathroom! Why didn’t they run the lines next to the stack? No, instead, they ran two pipes TOUCHING the switch. Nice.

Oh, did I mention the electrical problem? It seems that everyone was too lazy to run new lines. Instead, they tapped off of the closest available line. No wonder when she was using more then two things at a time, 25% of the house would go black. The kitchen, breezeway, sitting room, living room, stairway (both going up and down), both bathrooms (up and down), bedroom, and half of basement is ALL on one line. Oh, did I mention this was OLD wiring? I was looking at 14-2 (without ground) that looked like 10-3 w/ground.

Time to call in the electrician.

I’ll bring you more of the adventure as I go. Until next time, be safe.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

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5 comments so far

View chief101's profile


21 posts in 4764 days

posted 08-19-2011 09:16 PM

Oh those hidden secrets! I’m sure they will be fixed. Good Luck.

-- Dale J. Struhar Sr.

View Grandpa's profile


139 posts in 4395 days

posted 08-20-2011 09:49 PM

Good time for an electrician and don’t cut corners. Your life could depend on it.

View BillyJ's profile


253 posts in 5043 days

posted 08-26-2011 03:16 AM

Grandpa – I’m actually more concerned with the client’s life. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing that harm was done through negligence on my part. There are always situations that warrant expert involvement. I’ll work on my personal electrical problems, but not customers.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

View garypr's profile


20 posts in 4414 days

posted 08-26-2011 11:58 AM

This is exactly why I quit working the trades. It’s either this or the big pay cuts one of the two. I worked on a big addition with a 6 car garage and a large guest home that had change order after change order. I think I was just shy of moving in when I had enough. Good luck, I can tell you know what your doing. It sounds like you are doing very good, but I am in no way envious of you at all LOL.

View Jim Reeves's profile

Jim Reeves

29 posts in 4852 days

posted 08-28-2011 09:54 AM

I understand l am pulling my hair out trying to renovate the house my wife’s mother/father gave us a huge mess years of neglect due to my father in-law being very cheap.
I hope you will post finish pictures when done.

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