June 07, 2018

June Building News

by Alan Beatts

May was one of those months when things just don't line up quite right -- at least where our building on Haight St.  was concerned.  As a result, we had a bit of a slowdown this month, but things should be picking up shortly.  The first delay was getting the final details of the structural work sorted out.  It wasn't anything major, but fitting some of the beams around the existing stairwell required a bit of back-and-forth with the structural engineer.  Once that was all sorted out, I realized that there were some details for the I-beam in the basement that needed to be clarified, too.  Once all of that was worked out, the welder who is making the beam went on vacation for a week.  By then, it was almost the end of the month.

But, that's all sorted out now and the beam should be ready this week, and I'm very pleased to be working with Ricardo's Welding again (they did some very nice work for me on my motorcycle last year).  We'll be putting that in place and then marking out the foundation locations in the basement for both that beam and the beams upstairs.  Once that's done, we'll be able to start work on the bathroom in earnest.

Despite all that, we made some good progress in the back yard.  The fences are almost done and are looking good - thank you again to all the volunteers who came to clamber about on my scaffolding (I've never built one before! Could you tell?) to construct the frame and then put the redwood boards in.  It looks fantastic, it's very strong, and more importantly it will age well.  We've just got the last bits of the west section left to do and once we're done mucking about on top of the walls we can get started on building the planters.

The other big thing we're waiting on is tearing up the floor.  We had a bit of a nasty shock last week when Joseph found tile beneath the particle board covering.  As anyone who has renovated can tell you, old tile ranks up there with popcorn ceilings in terms of Things You Do Not Want To Find.  Asbestos was a popular building material back in the day (including in floor tile).  Since asbestos is basically made of cancer bullets, I'm having samples of the tile tested and, 'till I hear back from the lab, I'm not messing with that stuff at all.  Adding offense to the possibility of possible injury, the tiles are a pukey-avocado green and black.  I literally cannot wait to make them go away.

But, if they do turn out to incorporate asbestos, I'll have to have a big think about it.  The inexpensive way to deal with asbestos is to encapsulate it.  In this case that would mean a heavy coat of paint on the small section we've exposed and then putting down a new layer of floor covering (probably plywood). Then we put some sort of flooring on top.  The problem there, although it's safe as houses (asbestos is only a problem if it can get into the air), it does make the floor a bit thick and might mean we can't have solid wood (because of the thickness).  The alternative is tearing up the existing floor all the way down to the joists as part of an asbestos abatement job.  That job would be expensive all by itself, but then we'd also need to entirely replace the floor.

Like I said, it's going to call for a big think.

We'll be back in the full swing of things this month, and thank you again to all of our volunteers.  We definitely could not do this without you.

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