One of the challenges of living in an ongoing rehab is waste management. I don't usually have enough time, outside of when I take time off from work, to generate a big mess quickly enough to warrant having a dumpster on site as often as I could use one. As a result I make lots of little messes over the course of week or months, do my best to contain them, and when there are enough little messes than I can't hardly move around the house or yard anymore, and when I have a long weekend or some time off, I get a dumpster.
So...having a week off for the holidays, and having enough piles of demo'd nonsense all over the place to start irritating me, I got a dumpster. Plus, I wanted to start in on another round of brick repointing as part of the porch project but I told myself I wasn't going to make a new mess until I'd cleaned up some of the existing messes.
The game plan was to start by getting rid of the busted up sidewalk that used to run up to the old porch:
I didn't quite get rid of all of it - I didn't want to max out the weight limit on this alone - but I came close. Then I got rid of the piles of scrap brick and off cuts leftover from all the porch brick repointing work:
The piles of brick don't look like much, but they're time consuming to get rid of because I have to load them by hand into the wheelbarrow, roll the wheelbarrow to the top of the steps inside the front gate, transfer the bricks into small buckets, walk the buckets down about 5 stairs to the dumpster, and dump them individually. It was a small price to pay, however, for being able to see the brick pavers underneath the scrap brick piles for the first time in months.
After that I did a little basement cleanup, which will be an ongoing thing for the entirety of the rehab because no matter what the project is, all roads lead into and out of the basement. Even on its own, there's plenty of stone to repoint down there so there's always a few small piles of raked-out mortar and old plaster from the repointing work. I don't like having that much dust just laying around in big piles but there's no way to inconspicuously haul it out to the residential waste dumpsters in the alley; if and when I rent a dumpster, I always try to get some of that dust hauled out.
The last few rounds of repointing I need to do in preparation for the porch build is the interior brick where the porch's ledger boards will attach to the house. Wait, the interior brick? And what's a ledger board?
Lemme answer those questions. I'll start with the ledger board.
The ledger board is the chunk of lumber that provides support for one end of the porch's floor joists and, more importantly, keeps the porch attached to the house. It's a critical component in the framing and, as such, super important to get installed just right.
Then there's the issue of installation, and why I'm repointing interior brick.
In modern, wood-framed construction, homes have a wooden rim joist that runs around the perimeter of the structure, usually something like a 2x12. That rim joist is what the home's floor joists get attached to and is usually a pretty secure piece of lumber. Attaching a deck or porch to the house would call for pre-drilling some slightly undersized holes for lag screws (fat screws with aggressive threads, for all intents and purposes, with a bolt-style head), and then running those screws through the deck or porch's ledger board and into the home's rim joist.
But my house isn't made of wood, it's made of stone and brick, which means lag screws won't work. Instead, I have to use carriage bolts, which requires drilling holes, running the bolts through the holes, and holding everything in place by way of nuts attached to the bolts on the inside of the wall. This means that the interior brick needs to be just as solid as the exterior brick otherwise the porch could 1, pull away from the wall or 2, pull away from the wall and take the brick with it.
I don't want to deal with either situation, so I'm going to make sure the interior brick is plenty solid. And because the porch will have 4 ledgers (2 for the floor, 2 for the roof), I have 4 areas of interior brick to repoint.
For better or worse, that means cutting into the kitchen drywall (it was going to get torn out sooner or later anyhow) so I can access the brick where the roof ledger will be, and trying to keep my mess to a minimum so I don't lose the functionality of the kitchen. Some spots are easier to get to than others, like this one, which is right out in the open:
I didn't get around to repointing that little area yet but I did make a couple neat discoveries while I was poking around that old doorway.
One of those discoveries was the jamb side hinge halves from where the transom was above the door. When somebody demo'd that door and transom I guess they left the transom hinges behind; I figured I'd salvage them - even though they're only half of what you'd need for operable hinges - because they're very clearly original to the house. After letting them bathe in a little boiling water for a few minutes, they came out looking (almost) brand new. Who paints over cast iron door hardware?!
Unfortunately, the brick between the two areas I initially opened up is hidden in a giant soffit, and the only reason I can see for somebody building it was for architectural purposes. It's horrible and I hate it. There's zero excuse for dropping an 11' ceiling to under - that's right, UNDER - 8'. I suspect whoever did it would have made the entire back half of the house that way if it weren't for the big windows; the soffit stops short of the windows in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
The point is, that soffit had to be accessed to fully repoint those upper ledger areas. But it's nasty up there, and I don't trust the framing to hold my weight if I'm up there crawling around, so I decided to just cut out soffit drywall and ancillary framing as needed to get to the brick.
Sorry for the vertical, grainy video but there's zero light up there and at the time, I wasn't thinking about putting any soffit vids on the blog. I shot this video from the big access panel in the soffit before cutting any drywall to get in there, and really just wanted to spend a few minutes sizing up the filth and debris laying/hanging up there. Sure enough, once I started vacuuming out what I could reach ahead of drywall cutting (wanted to keep as much crap from falling out as possible) I sucked up a LOT of plaster, spider webs, mouse poop, and in what will be a shock to nobody that's followed any of my rehab endeavors in the house, this:
However, once I cut a hole in the bottom of the soffit, in that section just behind the mouse bones in the pic, I scooted a ladder underneath the soffit and climbed up into the thing through the hole I cut and got a better look at the space. Know what I discovered?
Wallpaper. On the ceiling of what's now the kitchen.
I don't know if it's on the walls too, and while the space had a fireplace in it at one time I have no idea what the room was used for originally, but there's wallpaper on the ceiling. Old stuff, I'm guessing, but I really don't have any idea.
So that was kind of a cool find; the stars are silver and kinda reflective when the light hits the paint just right.
But then it was back to more soffit drywall removal. I went back to the side I started repointing, cut out some drywall so I could reach into the soffit, and finished repointing what I needed to on that section of wall.
It's not the cleanest repointing work I've done but access is complicated and the goal is strength, not aesthetics. This freshly repointed portion of the kitchen wall should now hold up one of the roof ledgers just fine.
Today I ran to the masonry supply place and picked up another 320 pounds of dry mortar mix, and with any luck, I'll get the section of wall just around the corner repointed this week. Then it's down to the basement for the same type of work, albeit with a whole different set of access challenges.
Someday I'll get around to actually building the porch, but there's no way it'll take even half the time to build as all the prep work has taken.