Thursday, May 26, 2011

Surprises along the way: part 1

One of the fun things (at least to me) about renovating an older house is the archaeology: what did this place look like when it was first built?  (Can you tell I'm a recovering historian?)

P cut into our kitchen floor last week to give himself easier access to the crawl space for utility work:



Here's his temporary access hatch:


 Better yet (from my point of view) this allowed me the chance to find out what the original flooring in our kitchen had been.  See that green layer there?


We're pretty sure that's our kitchen's original linoleum--looks like a bright blue-green.  Probably full of asbestos--most linoleum was in that period.  (And that's why P's wearing his respirator while cutting in the above picture.)  

The last people to renovate simply covered the linoleum with another layer of subfloor, and then laid vinyl on top of that--a perfectly respectable and safe way to deal with asbestos-laden linoleum.  We'll have to think about what our approach should be to the problem--that technique probably won't work for us, since we're opening up the floor plan and, ideally, would like the kitchen floor to transition seamlessly (read: at grade) into the original hardwoods in the living room.

Speaking of asbestos, here's the house's original siding, which P found when cutting a hole to vent our new gas-fired water heater:


Pretty sure this was painted white at a later date--again, it looks like blue-green was the original color.  Our builder was consistent! 

This fiber cement siding used to cover most of the houses in our town, and is newly back in fashion (at least in building magazines--not in our town) as a fairly attractive and really durable style of siding.  In fact, the word 'cemesto'--a brand name for fiber-cement siding made of asbestos--is used by the old-timers here to describe a style of houses in town (built about ten years before ours).  Again, the previous owners just slapped the current vinyl on top, and left the asbestos underneath.  And happily, this is one toxic problem we won't need to touch.

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