My house is level, y’all! I’m so pleased with the results, and so excited that that last obstacle standing between me and my vision for this house has been removed.
The whole house leveling process was very interesting. (I shared a bit more about it on Friday.) I had hoped to ask lots of questions along the way so that I could pass on the info to you, but the only English speaker among them left after they got everything set up because he was overseeing several jobs that day. So the crew that actually stayed and did the work on Friday consisted of four non-English-speaking men, and to say that my Spanish is rusty would be a huge understatement. My Spanish went from being rusty about 10 years ago to being almost nonexistent today. But here are the basics…
They started by enlarging the scuttlehole to get under the house. Yes, they asked permission, and I was happy to have them do that since to date, the only person who’s been able to fit into the original scuttlehole is my plumber’s very small assistant.
And then they used several of these hydraulic jacks to lift the beams in areas that were low….
And they used these metal plates (about the size of a 4 x 4 tile) to shim the area. Some areas only required one shim, others requires two or three shims.
They also dug this hole on the outside of the house that went right underneath the outside footing (the concrete “wall” around the perimeter of the house) to have easier access to the crawl space.
That picture really doesn’t do justice to the size of that hole. You can get a better idea of the size in this picture, showing one of the men crawling out of the hole. And he’s actually standing at the bottom, but hunched over just a bit as he crawls out.
Anyway, the process is really pretty straightforward. They start in an area of the house that’s actually level and work out from there. In our case, they started in the master bedroom and worked out into the hallway, then Matt’s game room, then my office, then the entryway, living room, music room, and finally the kitchen. Here’s a view of the floor plan for reference.
(Note: That wall between the entryway and music room doesn’t exist yet. That’s one of the main projects I’ve been waiting to do until the floors were level.)
One of the men was inside the house with a really long level, and he would go from place to place, checking the level of the floor. When he would find an area of the floor that needed work, he would tap on the floor with the end of the level to let the crew underneath the house know where to go. Then they would jack up that area and insert the shims. The guy inside would just yell instructions to them through the floor to let them know if they needed to raise it more, or if they had raised it too much, to reach level. Once that area was level, they’d move on to another area.
The strangest part of the whole process was hearing my walls creak and pop as they were using the jack. I was sitting at the dining table (which currently sits in the music room) using my computer while they were working in the entryway (the area of the house that had the worst issues), and as they were jacking up the beam under the entryway wall, the creaks and pops got so loud that it actually made me nervous enough that I got up and moved to another room…just in case.
But all ended well. My house is still standing, and my floors are now level. I can tell a huge difference just by walking through the house. I also had areas in the floor that felt “bouncy” before (for lack of a better word), and now everything feels solid. I’ve also noticed that my floors don’t creak nearly as much when I’m walking through the house.
I can also see a big difference in areas. Remember how my fireplace was against the wall at the bottom, but leaned away from the wall at the top?
Now that that floor is level, the fireplace sits flat against the wall all the way up.
And in the entryway, the feet of the console table used to sit about an inch away from the wall, while the top back edge of the table rested against the wall.
And now it sit about an inch from the wall from the bottom to the top.
Sorry for the horrible pic! That wall is kind of crowded right now since I have the console table and the credenza sitting there until the drywall in the hallway is finished.
So that was my house leveling experience. Very well worth the money, in my opinion. I generally hate spending thousands of dollars on things like that, but considering that so many of the pretty, decorative things I want to do hinged on those floors being level, I was happy to pay the money.
And how do you like that layer of dust covering the table in the picture above? Everything in my house is covered in a layer of dust right now, ever since we removed the drywall from the ceiling in the kitchen and hallway. It got worse when I sanded the kitchen floors, and even worse yesterday when I started putting up the drywall in the kitchen. I’ll be glad when all of the dust-generating parts of this kitchen remodel are finished so that I can let all of the dust settle and get it all cleaned up for good!
But speaking of drywall, here’s my progress so far in the kitchen. I got this one wall finished. (Obviously I still have to do the taping and mudding.)
Please be so kind as to overlook the gaps at the top. I stink at drywalling, but thank goodness I’m a wizard with the taping and mudding.
And yes, I’m installing the drywall vertically instead of horizontally. I’m working by myself, and there’s no way I could have done it horizontally by myself. I’m certain this way will be just fine.
Okay, I know you’re thinking, “Ummmm…Kristi? You missed a spot!”
I’m actually not going to drywall that area on the left (and I need to cut off that little piece of drywall at the top), and you’ll also notice that I removed a stud. (No, this isn’t a load bearing wall.) That’s where my fridge is going, and I’m hoping that having that extra 4.5 inches will allow it to sit back enough so that it looks like a counter depth fridge. If not, I’ll end up cutting that area out completely and reframing it so that the fridge can sit back far enough to look counter depth. All of that area will be hidden once the cabinets go in and I build the box around the fridge, so when it’s all finished no one will ever notice that it sits back that far. And on the other side of the wall, I have a plan for hiding that bump out (if I need to create a bump out). But I’ll save that for later.
I also got one piece of drywall hung on the other side of the room.
I’m still trying to decide whether or not I want to tackle that wall to the left today or not. That’s where the wall ‘o cabinets will go. The issue is that the original flooring will have to come out before I put up the drywall on that wall. (Obviously I don’t want to put drywall on top of flooring that’s about to come out.) But my subfloors aren’t solid pieces of plywood. They’re 1 x 10′s with spacing in between.
I do have my new flooring, but I can’t begin installing it until Thursday at the earliest since it has to acclimate to the room.
So that means that if I take up the old flooring today to do the drywall, I’ll be living with flooring with big gaps that go directly under the house for at least three days. Seeing that I’ve been living with some rather large holes in my floor for several months now, I know it seems strange to now be concerned with gaps in the floor, but for some reason it really makes me nervous. I should probably just get over it, though. It would definitely be the smart and efficient thing to go ahead and remove the floor boards, get the drywall finished, and be ready to go with the new flooring on Thursday morning.
Things are finally starting to progress! If things work out the way I hope they will, my goal is to have my cabinets installed by the end of next weekend. Is that too ambitious? We’ll see!