'This Old Crack House' #35: "This wasn’t Martha Stewart’s Kitchen"…

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Blog entry by Dusty posted 04-19-2007 08:32 PM 4346 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 34: Call 911 my ego had been mortally wounded…Plumbing 101 for dummies... Part 35 of 'This Old Crack House' series Part 36: I needed to win the lottery … and see Dr Phil… »

The plan was to gut out all the areas of the house that were inhabitable and where repairing would not be feasible.

The first priority was to find the smell in the basement. The source of the smell was the plumbing pipes located beneath the concrete.

All the plumbing had been removed and reinstalled. The next step was to mix cement and repair the large sections of the floor that had been removed to gain access to the plumbing.

I delayed repairing the basement floor for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sure whether the main stack that came from the kitchen had to be replaced. Second, until I opened up the walls of the old kitchen and adjoining bathroom I didn’t know how much, if any, of the old plumbing would have to be replaced.

I had a few inquires about my plans for the house. Most wanted to know if it would be fixed up and then sold.

One party was very interested in this house. He was a real estate agent and had previously purchased two other houses from us. He was very familiar with my work and had easily resold them at a handsome profit.

I simply wasn’t in a position to know what the end result would be. It was way too early in the remodeling process to make such a determination.

It was imposable to determine a selling price until all the problems and costs associated with them, had been identified and completed.

At this stage of the remodeling, I was proceeding as if I would be making the necessary repairs and selling the house. I currently co- owned the house across the street in which I had done extensive remodeling. I wanted to avoid making two mortgage payments for an extended time.

Certainly the budget had changed as the result of the unexpected plumbing problems.

I knew that I would have to modify some other portion of my plans for the house as I simply could not afford to go beyond my budget constraints.

I began the demolition process in the old kitchen.

It was so small you had to go outside to change your mind.

It wasn’t functional, needed major updating, it had only one set of cabinets and a counter top that measured less than six feet.

Apparently, the sink had been leaking for an extended period.

The kitchen was long and narrow. It measured only six feet by thirteen, with a cramped bump-out in which the refrigerator sat. This area was only four feet by six and shared a common doorway.

The floor was in very bad shape having been covered with cheep press and peel tile which had begun to curl up at the edges.

A booth that had been part of the original design of the house had occupied the four foot by six bump-out area with a windows located on one side of the booth. The booth was in rough shape, provided very uncomfortable seating and not infrequently delivered a sliver or two to its occupants. The wooden seats and backs of the built-in benches were covered with the carved initials of previous inhabitants of the house.

Making the decision to demolish the kitchen and start from scratch was a easy one. Frankly, there wasn’t anything worth saving.

The real question was, what would be found inside all the walls?

What I found wasn’t pretty.

I clearly remember thinking, “Oh no, this isn’t good!”

I got a sick feeling.


Copy write all rights reserved D. Jerzak 04-16-07

-- Dusty

15 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4314 days

#1 posted 04-19-2007 08:37 PM

How bad could it be?

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4122 days

#2 posted 04-19-2007 09:06 PM

You sure took some many good pictures to tell your story. I am looking forward to your continued story.

I’m wondering if in the end you wished you started all from scratch? It is amazing you did it in the end!


View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4400 days

#3 posted 04-19-2007 09:38 PM

Keep them coming Dusty.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#4 posted 04-19-2007 10:13 PM

Ouch. On the edge of my seat, waiting for the next one!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4299 days

#5 posted 04-19-2007 10:27 PM

Atta Boy Dusty !!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4085 days

#6 posted 04-19-2007 11:57 PM

When you bite into an apple and find half a worm, you may as well eat the rest ; ) Keep’m coming.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4160 days

#7 posted 04-20-2007 01:17 AM

(Dan.. did you get a sliver??)

one thing after another..
sounds like my married life! sigh

ok Dusty.. what did you find?? !!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4155 days

#8 posted 04-20-2007 12:04 PM


”quote” I’m wondering if in the end you wished you started all from scratch? It is amazing you did it in the end!

In a lot of ways I did start over. What I am referring to in this statement its I pretty much gutted the house to the studs, exposing the bare walls, and blocks in essence starting over.

I ended up replacing all the plumbing and wiring, and insulation. I had to bring the house up to current code requirements.

I have said several times that this house was in process of being condemned. Almost everyone wanted it including me at one time torn down.

We live in a throw away society. That is a fact. In some cases I understand why it is better to demo a house like this. For example, if a house is so infected with mold or a structural defect or other life health safety issue.

I am still a strong supporter of preserving our history. Recyclying when its feasible.
The argument could be made that even though all the labor was done by myself and some friends who I exchanged work with or some clients who had me build some furniture or do a project in exchange for tools or materials, you still have to account for that cost.

Not to take into account something for your labor is not only unrealistic but sending a message that your labor isn’t worth anything.

That simply isn’t the case.

The experience I gained doing other remodel jobs, and certainly this challenge was priceless.

I believe there was no better training for me to learn how to build furniture building.

I found the challenges in rehab work to be a great trainer.

I have often said that I feel woodworking is really nothing more than problem solving with the use of both power and hand tools.

If you practice using the tools and the rules of the craft, over time you will be come a proficient woodworker.

One last statement if you will indulge me just a little bit. If everyone could do the work of one of the following trades , then it wouldn’t be a craft or have associated with it a profession.such as”carpenter”, “woodworker”, “electrician,”“plumber”, and so on

The only difference in my mind between a pro and a non-pro is one is better at covering up there mistakes better as a result of more experience, and they more than likely derive most of there income from their trade. One other factor maybe a professional designation or certification.

I know a number of outstanding, and gifted craftsman who never had a day of training and only do it as an hobbies. A lot of these friends and colleagues would put to shame some so called “professionals”.

All these crafts are so much more than a title.

Passion and heart have as much to do with it as a title or name.

-- Dusty

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4077 days

#9 posted 04-20-2007 03:02 PM

Continued good luck Dusty!

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4087 days

#10 posted 04-21-2007 04:50 AM

The word is “copyright”. If you want to protect it do it right.
(I’m giving free legal advice to a former paralegal?)

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4087 days

#11 posted 04-24-2007 04:32 AM

Hey. It’s been four days.
I’m having withdrawal pains.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4155 days

#12 posted 04-25-2007 11:23 AM


I know it has been that long. It seems like several weeks because I have not been able to log on.

I have the next chapter done and will post it later this morning.

Its good to be back on.

-- Dusty

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4236 days

#13 posted 04-25-2007 05:16 PM

Actually Dusty, the only difference between a professional and an amature is one of them gets paid. Doesn’t mean that they can cover up any better. I saw a set of kitchen cabinets that were done by a professional and i could have improved them with 1 stick… a match

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4155 days

#14 posted 04-25-2007 05:42 PM


I agree.

I also am still amazed what people can pass off for “being professional”.

Not to mention what they can charge for this.

-- Dusty

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4326 days

#15 posted 04-27-2007 04:01 AM

That just isn’t (or wasn’t) a kitchen… I’m sure it was something back in it’s day, but I couldn’t even imagine surviving a weekend (let alone a holiday with family) with only a 6 foot countertop!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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