Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Renovate Brooklyn! Day Three: Holy Moly.

We've just survived Day Three of our genius plan to renovate our apartment, one night at a time... I think I still have chunks of plaster dust and drywall blurring my vision as I type this entry.

It began ordinarily enough--"Let's take down the wall between the living room and the old guest room," we said, so casual and cool. Ha! Little did we know. We had already peeked inside this wall because there was a 18" wide hole near the ceiling where we'd removed the defunct central air duct months earlier. Inside we had discovered a different kind of construction than the first paper thin wall we'd removed- obviously older and made with lathe and plaster construction instead of regular drywall panels. (Lathe and plaster means thin strips of wood running horizontally across the studs, which is then covered with this messy mixture of plaster and horsehair and water. It weighs A TON!) In order to get this concoction down, we were going to need our oldest but most trusted of tools, the claw hammer.

Looking in the hole near the ceiling.
Who came up with this idea?
 And so, like rhinoceros in a china shop, we pushed forward, and down came Wall Number Two... Well, almost.

See- lathe and plaster! (John the surgeon, drywall saw in hand.)

First, we had to remove the layers of horrible paint and plaster to get down to the lathe slats, which basically involved hitting our wall with a hammer and then prying great panels or tiny pieces off the wall, one bit at a time. This was an unspeakably dusty process and it's possible that John has acquired some form of ashma from the ordeal. (I'm too tough to be phased by a little dust.) Next, we popped each one of the horizontal slats off in a very satisfying and speedy process, and- voila! We revealed the framework of wooden beams and studs.

Our latest realization about demolition-- the actual work doesn't take that much time, but the clean up... Holy Moly! Taking down this wall, which was only slightly larger in width and height that the guest room wall, produced extraordinary amounts of rubble and garbage. Bag upon bag accrued in the kitchen as we tried to maintain some kind of order in the apartment. Bags of wood slats, bags of drywall panels, bags of plaster rubble, more bags of plaster rubble. And the real issue is this stuff weighs A TON, so you can't just pop it onto the curb along with your banana peels and funky chinese leftovers. No, you must dispose of this waste properly or get a big fine from the City and then we'd really be getting complaints from our neighbors.

We contemplated a little illegal dumping- there is a construction site behind our building that has been dormant for months and seemingly everyone in the neighborhood is utilizing their dumpster- but that actually seemded pretty difficult. How would we even get all of this trash to that dumpster 1 1/2 blocks away? Literally dragging each bag, one bag at a time along Bedford Avenue seemed less than stealthy and would take forever. Driving it there seemed easier obviously, except that we'd risk killing the suspension system in our car under the weight of all of this trash. That seemed more expensive that trash should cost. And it would be the second time I had killed a suspension system under the weight of something stupid, so I thought better of that plan.
Our trash in their van!
In the end, we caved and hired someone from Craig's List to come and pick everything up. (I know, I know, we totally lack the adventuresome spirit for illegal acts. But seriously, there was so much garbage in our house at this point, I started organizing the garbage to try and make it seem less chaotic.) A quick plug for the people who came:

Find them on Craig's List, or their contact info is: 646.203.3497 
Same day trash removal, super fast, pretty cheap, really friendly fellas. 

And then, like it was all a horrible dream, the trash was gone, the walls were gone, and we were lookin' at studs. (That sounds more suggestive than it was.) The next step, taking the studs down and totally opening up the living room to the old guest room... That's for tomorrow! 

Good night! 

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