Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Where I grew up in eastern Oregon, there are thunderstorms -- incredible to watch in the sagebrush-covered mountains and plains because you can see so far -- and there are what we called "thunder-busters".  The colloquialism conveys the suddenness and severity of those certain storms that make you want to hide under the bed.  Well, last night New Orleans had a thunder-buster on a scale unimaginable by Oregonians:  Three inches of rain, inch-round hail, several tornadoes, street flooding, and at least two cases of hiding under the bed that I know of. 

An opportunity for me to lecture all you homeowners who:
-have water seeping in under doors or around windows this morning
-have rivers or puddles underneath your house
-have not cleaned your gutters recently
-parked near a street drain
-keep putting off signing up for that termite contract, or checking that your existing termite company is doing their job regularly
-habitually leave tools, crawfish pots, old leaves, or debris sitting around outside
-have not examined the underside of your roof recently
-have not checked the flashing around roof penetrations like chimneys and plumbing vents
-are not planning for / saving for an eventual roof replacement
-I repeat, if you have not cleaned your gutters recently, DO THAT PLEASE!

In this climate even small leaks and seeps can stay wet all summer.  Termites won't take that long to cause thousands of dollars in damage to your house, and if I'm not mistaken, it's almost the time of year when jillions of those little devils swarm the night air looking for mates and new homes of damp wood in and under our homes.

So unless your house is built like the old Pitot House above -- large overhangs and porch all around, masonry columns and patio on the ground floor -- please take last night's thunderstorms as a warning to address any water-related issues your home may have. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The beginnings of a master suite

Having done most of the demo and framing downstairs, we've moved on to the upstairs portion of our current big project.  What used to be the kitchen, laundry, and back balcony in the upper apartment in Simone & Michelle's house will become a master bath and a pair of walk-in closets.  A bedroom across the hall from the former kitchen is getting expanded to incorporate the hallway.  Here are a few "before" pictures:
The former kitchen.  A tub will go under the window.

The same kitchen, facing towards the master bedroom.

The existing master bedroom, facing towards the previous photo.

The hallway dividing the kitchen (L) and bedroom (R).

And now a few "afters":
The hallway from the other direction, bedroom (L) and bath (R).

The former kitchen, half removed.

From the bedroom, looking through the former hall into the former kitchen.

Looking back the opposite direction into the enlarged master bedroom.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Weather

Jackson beginning work on an entry restoration last spring.
Ours is a dirty job, a sweaty, dusty, messy, smelly, chilly, noisy, sticky job.  Some of those things aren't always bad: sometimes the smells are of aromatic cedar sawdust, and sometimes the damp dirt under a house is the coolest place on a hot day.

But this time of year, when the forecast predicts a straight fortnight of sunny days, highs near eighty, lows just under sixty, we forget all our complaints.  We pity every working person who doesn't have our job.  Take your conditioned air, your clean workplace, your swivel chair.  Ours is the best job.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The beginnings of a new kitchen

Now that the hard work of planning and administration has been done, we have started the dirty work on a large remodel project for Simone and Michelle, former clients whose house is featured as the "Portico Addition" in our Project Gallery.  The house has been divided into separate first-story and second-story apartments.  This project involves joining the two into one family's home, making a master suite to envy, and giving the kitchen a much-needed expansion and update. 

The original kitchen, ca. 1940, featured built-in cabinets, a ribbed tile counter, and three layers of linoleum floor under a thick mud-bed tile floor.  
After protecting unaffected areas of the house from dust and damage last week, Monday we donned dust masks and began disassembling the old kitchen.  In this corner we are expanding the kitchen into the hallway. 

Dante, the newest member of Kerby & Company, applies leverage to remove the subfloor.

Once the old subfloor was removed, we installed blocking to give the floor added rigidity (the floor joists were spaced too widely at the time of construction, so that now the kitchen floor sags in the middle somewhat -- a challenge we'll deal with later), and installed most of the new subfloor.  We'll leave a hole to the underside of the house as long as possible, so the electricians and plumbers have easier access. 

In the photo below, Jackson and Michelle discuss placement of the range and fridge while Simone looks on and Jeff documents Michelle's superior balance.