Sunday, August 12, 2007

Porch Tales

I've been promising some pictures of the house addition in progress. Trouble is, if I'm not out there running one of my dad's power tools (which I use because he has them, and he buys because I can use them . . . sigh), I'm in here doing the bare minimum to keep folks fed and clean-ish, or maybe flitting through the garden pulling the biggest of the big weeds and making mental notes (soon to be forgotten) about what needs harvesting. Oh, I'll confess there are other times, too, times when I just sag into a chair, or rare times when I get out my bike and try to get as far away from work as possible. And yes, I must confess that I still spend a fair amount of time at this computer screen, but something seems to stop me from working on those pictures - ah, working - that must be it. Work aversion again. If I told myself I'd be "playing with" the pictures, perhaps I'd get at it.

Where to begin? Good thing I have Dad working with me, because he doesn't waste much time worrying about that. I could spend the whole summer trying to plan the exact sequence of every task, and never get started at all, but Dad asks a few questions, makes sure he won't be doing harm, and starts.

The porch had to come off. While I fussed and fiddled about, rerouting the electrical wiring that ran through it, Dad took out the door and windows, broke away the tiles and pavement around the base of the walls, and started in with his chain saw. He left the corners intact until last, and broke them with a sledge hammer. With some jacking and prying, the whole thing started to come away from the house, but not without some binding at the eaves.

Nothing some timbers, a chain, and a truck couldn't fix.

With some old round fence posts underneath the side walls as rollers, we got it moving. The walls were quite solidly built, with ship-lap inside and out, but it was never intended to serve as a rolling surface. Dad kept nailing and re-nailing heavier lumber on the sides, but it kept twisting off and then the rollers would cut into the shiplap and an edge would meet the ground and the whole thing would come to a swift and sometimes alarming halt. We wanted to move the porch to the side of the yard where it could serve as temporary shelter for salvaged bits of building materials, but after a full day of intermittent dragging, we decided we had moved it far enough to get on with other things.

So we started digging to make way for some new concrete slabs, and Dad, always looking for a faster way, brought his tractor into town. Somebody got the bright idea that there might be a faster way to move that porch.

Yes, this might work.

So far, so good . . .


Well, it's nothing a front-end loader can't fix.

There! Good as new, right?

Well, maybe she looks a little rough around the edges.

That bright strip in the shadows inside is the reflector on my bike trailer, originally purchased for hauling small children on joy rides, but still in service a decade later as a grocery hauler. The trees make a nice back wall for our new shed.

All this happened back in June. Yesterday I rescued a charming wild kitten from the roof of that porch. The little one was mewing up and down, back and forth, while mama yelled encouragement from the ground. When I approached, the kitten hid in the hole at the right, between the two layers of the roof. I put a ladder up against the wall, and mama kept up a low growl in the background. Once I backed off, though, that kitten didn't hesitate. I wish I could come off a roof onto a ladder so boldly - though the change of speed and direction at ground level looked a little sharper than I would like, if it were me. But the subsequent run across the yard to mama with tail straight skyward told me that the kitten was quite content.

Much has changed where the porch formerly sat, but that will have to wait for another day . . .


Jim said...


"The trees make a nice back wall for our new shed."

I'm glad you got to that part because I was just thinking what a nice little shed that would make.

Also, the siding on the old porch looks very much like it might be that old Raybestos cement and asbestos tile. If that is the case I hope you have been extremely careful about not breathing the dust from any broken pieces.

Below is a link to info on asbestos siding removal. You'll probably need to copy & paste it to make it work.

arcolaura said...

Thanks Jim - that's an informative link. Our province takes a much more relaxed view of asbestos hazards, starting from the perspective that "Outside the workplace there is no documentation to support that environmental exposure to asbestos occurs at levels that induce asbestosis." Their brochure about disposal methods is here (pdf).

From what I understand of the mechanism of harm from asbestos, I would tend to take the view that there is "no safe level of exposure," but I also feel that there is no safe level of exposure to automobile travel, and yet I still use it. So, we have been somewhat careful, avoiding cutting or drilling through the tiles, minimizing breakage (within reason, but obviously the tractor bucket broke some), and bagging up the tiles we remove for later disposal. Garth recalls some much less careful work with similar tiles when he was a youngster, with no ill effects, but I know that's just luck of the draw and I recognize that we are taking on some risk here. Where possible we intend to leave the tiles undisturbed and essentially build a new frame wall over top of them to support extra insulation and new siding, attaching the wall frame top and bottom to avoid any drilling or cutting through the tiles.

And if any local listener is thinking of raising a fuss about us releasing asbestos fibres into the town environment, perhaps they should wander into the mayor's place of business downtown and look up at those aging, splitting bags of Zonolite up on the second level of the lumber shed. Not complaining, just pointing out that there are probably many other sources of asbestos contamination around, and there is only so much you can reasonably do about it. I am fairly confident that, overall, we are substantially reducing the asbestos hazards from this house, and that's good enough for me.