Archive for July, 2011


Renovation Report: The Ballad of the Kitchen Ceiling

Self-portrait while removing the kitchen ceiling.

June was definitely a productive and overwhelming month. As mentioned in my previous blog post, for the past several months we have been in the midst of our kitchen reno with the cabinets and wallpaper stripped, floor to be tiled, and kitchen ceiling to be renovated. However, when the electrician came over to re-wire the hideous pull-chain florescent ceiling light he pointed out there were structural problems with the plumbing from the upstairs bathroom that had cut out supporting ceiling joists.

The exposed ceiling joists which reveal the upstairs bathroom plumbing and needed supporting beams.

Unbelievable! This is a major structural problem. To make this clear, years ago when a plumber installed the upstairs bathroom they cut out parts of the supporting ceiling planks to put in the tub. This caused the second floor to sag and be structurally unsound. How did the housing inspector miss this? It was covered up of course- the previous owners who patched up the ceiling must have known about it and irresponsibly chose to ignore a giant accident waiting to happen. As we did not want our tenant Don to end up in our kitchen while having a bath we decided to have the ceiling jacked up and repaired with new supporting beams.

The new ceiling supporting beams that are in the process of being drywalled.

Repairing the ceiling has been a huge job. I pulled down the original ceiling to help save on the cost of labor. It was one of the dirtiest and most difficult things I’ve ever done. Imagine 100 years of plaster and mold falling all over you. The process revealed that the kitchen had three ceilings that were just put up on top of each other to save time/labor.

The old kitchen ceiling which hid the structural problems and had the ugly pull-chain florescent light.

The kitchen ceiling in the process of being taken down.

In addition, what made June an overwhelming month was that the neighbors complained to the City of Urbana and I received a letter stating I was a “Public Nuisance” for my ceiling waste which was temporarily put outside on the back porch and lawn. As it had only been four days I could not beleive it. Thankfully Illini Recycling removed the waste and I was not fined.

Mom and Dad were superheros and moved our furniture from Montreal to Urbana, Il.

Here Dad and Mom stand in front of the 16 foot truck.

While the folks were visiting we had some beer at ‘The Blind Pig‘ a local brewery and pub which has been rated one of the best bars in the USA.

A photo with Dad.

Boxes!!! The place was overflowing with them. Here is the spare room.

It was very overwhelming to have to unpack and re-organize all the boxes on my own.

The living room. There were so many boxes that I could not even open or access the front door.

However, I had to find a roommate and unpack the boxes to make room for Nicolas a graduate student from Chile who is completing his Master’s degree in Commerce. Nicolas moved in last June.

Portrait of my roommate Nicolas Navarrete Hernandez.

After spending a month working on the house a lot of progress has been made.

The unpacked living room. It feels great to have the leather couches and my beloved Structube Vega coffee table back.

But there is still so much work to do… At the end of June I left for Taiwan after the structural beams were put in. However, it has been two months and the ceiling is still not finished. My dream will be to…. have the light fixtures installed.  What a happy day that will be….

Our 8 light track lighting from Lowe’s. Can’t wait to see it when it’s finally up in the kitchen.

The kitchen ceiling in the process of being drywalled with the exposed beams.

Now that I am in Taiwan the renovations will continue and our contractor Richard Rhoades will instal a new roof and re-tile our bathroom and kitchen. It would be wonderful to come home and have all the tiling done by Rich and the bathroom renovated. We’ll have to see what time and our finances allow.


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