Week 01 – Palimpsest

The first week of demolition was a short one, starting on Wednesday with getting the dumpster and porta-potty set up, installing a dust partition across the hallway, and ripping out the kitchen cabinets.

Our contractor, Charles Welsh, set the cabinets, counter/sink, and pantry shelving out front in hopes that someone would take them home, which is a common occurrence in Cambridge. Unfortunately, there were no takers, and the next day, he had “the Kid” Tommy break them down and placed them in the dumpster. It turns out that the previous owner had purchased and installed those cabinets around 2007; his name was on the backs. They were of such poor quality that they were falling apart by the time we purchased in late 2011. Kind of a shame, really. By the end of the day, most of the kitchen wall was opened up where the cabinets had been. See the Day one: done post.

On Thursday, Charles and his number one, Craig, continued work on the kitchen, fully opening up the west wall and removing the oak flooring. It turns out this flooring had been installed over what appeared to be perfectly good solid fir plank flooring, but we are committed to the Forbo Marmoleum tile. More waste for the dumpster. The Kid, meanwhile, opened up the basement ceiling in preparation for new plumbing and electrical work. The team did an amazing job cleaning up at the end of each day.

This series shows what we came home to on Thursday. You can see a lot of the original 1901 construction. Lots of interesting patterns found in the layers of construction.

On Friday, we had our first glitch. I had noticed some water around our boiler and the hot water heaters in the basement, and it turns out that our condensate pump had failed (easy fix) and one of our neighbors’ hot water heaters was leaking and approaching the stage of “catastrophic” failure. Fortunately, Charles’ plumber had a cancelation and was able to replace the heater within an antediluvian timeframe. Relief. We remain in a state of grace. Now the original kitchen subfloor is exposed in preparation for the new hydronic radiant heat system. If we can find an easy way to deal with some minor ridging in the center of the room, we will be able to have the finish floor flush with the hallway, which would be ideal.

This series from Saturday morning shows the exposed subfloor in the kitchen. You can see the ridging in the first photo, where the boards are popping up a bit in the middle of the room.

I’ve been telling Charles and Craig that the kitchen keeps looking better each day. Seeing the old construction is fascinating. You can really see the logic of how they built these buildings.


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