You know…The Wall?
I tend to run long on these and it’s not necessary, so let me get to the point and still include details that are relevant, or that I find interesting. Sucks to be you, doesn’t it?
About two weeks ago, we applied for the permit. The wording of the permit work is “Add door and modify window.” We’re going to cut a hole in the wall in the back of the kitchen and put in a door to the patio. Meanwhile, we wanted to replace the 72-inch wide kitchen window with something smaller and more subtle, which would also give us more wall space for cabinets.
A week and half later, as promised, the permit was approved and ready. Detroit picked it up Thursday, and Saturday, I would begin work on it.
I had a plan. I love plans. I love writing things down, making lists, making plans, planning the order of business, figuring out what I’m going to need and how I’m going to do something. If you plan it properly, hardly anything can go wrong.
If you plan really well and something still goes wrong, it’s usually something BIG.
Saturday afternoon I went out to the garage to pull out the door we bought over a year ago for just this event. The Habitat for Humanity Restore (Check the internet for a location near you!) has a lot of used shit pulled out of houses from remodeling and demolition, but they also get some new stuff donated to them from manufacturers and so forth. We found a beautiful pre-hung exterior door, full glass, still the plastic–for 175 clams. It was probably a four or five hundred dollar door if bought in the store.
It’s been sitting in the garage for over a year, waiting for this moment. It sits in the back corner against the wall, out of the way. I go back there and move various shit out the way–chairs, the boys’ musical equipment, my sawhorses, some wood–and I finally get to the door. It is propped up behind a one-piece shower that I have sitting there, also for the future. One day, I’ll put it in the basement. I get a grip on the door and pull, and finally I slide it out to where I can take a look at it.
The wood is in good shape, the glass is wrapped in plastic, holes are pre-drilled for the door knobs. I measure the door again, to make sure it is the same as when I put it in storage a year ago. As I do that, I look at the framing around the door. Slowly, a terrible realization dawns on me. “Oh…F…uh….” I shook my head and finished my sentence. “Uck.”
Let me explain. Most construction that normal people are familiar with is done with 2×4 framing. I love framing. I can frame up 2×4 walls all day long…or half a day, and then I get tired. So, in general, doors and windows are made to fit into a 2x 4 frame. The depth of 2×4 framing is the “4” part, so that’s actually 3 1/2 inches. Add a half inch on the inside for drywall, add another half inch on the outside for plywood, and you got yourself about 4 1/2 inches.
The frame on this door was 6 1/2 inches deep.
Several things occurred to me. Like, I think I heard of this before–in an era when some construction tries to find ways to cheap out on things, like setting studs further apart, using thinner drywall, and things like that–some proud craftsman decided to buck the trend and make things sturdier, more solid, and frame up the exterior walls of a house with goddamn 2x6s instead of 2x4s.
I’m sure that I should have known to at least acknowledge this possibility when I bought it. Fuck me. Now what?
Here again, I witness that my new dosage of ADD medication is working wonders. I know that something like this in the past would have knocked the wind out ofmy sails and I would put off dealing with it for days, possibly weeks.
Or, you know, months.
This time, I put it off for approximately the length of time it took me to have a smoke. Kim and I took action. And by “took action” I mean we sat there on our computers and scoured Craigslist. I actually found a door, and sent the guy an email with my phone number.
Kim was looking at other things, like sinks.
Oh–before this–we had just returned from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in St Peters. I didn’t know there was one out there. But we needed to find a window for the kitchen as well. What I wanted–what would have been ideal–is a 24 wide by 30 tall. I thought. Could not find one of those in the store as an off-the-rack item. We checked a few ads on craigslist, but nothing was close. One was, but it was gone before we contacted him.
So that afternoon we figured to check out the Restore. Like so many other things in our quest, we found not what we were looking for but something we were willing to compromise on. What had we compromised on so far? The backsplash tile, that we were dead set on–but price changed our minds. The appliances–maybe we didn’t have a color picked, but price definitely made us realize white was what we wanted. We didn’t compromise on the floor because we hadn’t made up our mind yet–but price made the final decision for us.
I measured before we left, and it turns out that my memory is faulty, because I could have sworn it was only 30 inches high. Turns out it’s actually 34. Well, that opens up some windows for us, so to speak. Gives us a broader range to look at.
Still, we weren’t finding anything narrow enough–we wanted a 24 wide. “How about this?” I showed kim. It was about 31 tall, so it would fit in the opening. But it was 40 inches wide. About 16 inches wider than what we wanted–we would lose a wall cabinet.
However–the searching we had done had convinced me that we weren’t going to find exactly what we wanted and we had better be ready to compromise on this or we would find ourselves SOL. And maybe, I thought, maybe 24 wide is too narrow anyway…
I showed Kim. There were two windows like this. They had been rescued from a remodel, I’m sure. Oh–and they were wooden windows. And they had cranks to crank them open, something Kim and mentioned that she wanted, that I actually thought she was nuts for thinking she could have.
But they were used, and they were wood, not vinyl replacement windows. Kim and agreed, however, that thematically, a wood window would actually go with the schema for our kitchen. The mind’s ability to rationalize has no end.
It did not hurt at all that the window was 25 bucks.
I brought the window up to the counter and told the guy we were going to look around some more. This store was cleaner and better laid out than the one down in the city, but not as big. Ten minutes later, I was done. I had just looked at some locksets, but didn’t see any for exterior–
Kim came walking toward me, with a lockset box in her hand. We had looked at the same thing, and she found one. Ten bucks.
Twenty-five bucks and ten bucks. When I paid, I noticed that my total was thirty-five. No sales tax. Curious–
Back at home after that was when I made the discovery about the door. We had been out twice that day already–earlier that morning we had gone to Kim’s boss’s funeral. The poor man had died in a car accident. The funeral took a lot out of us both–Kim was close to him, and I was projecting my own fears onto this event.
Kim heard back first from the lady about the sink. A cast iron enamaled sink for the kitchen? Thirty-five bucks? You betcha!
Then the guy called about the door, for sixty-five dollars. He was down in the city, and the sink was in Kirkwood. From where we are, essentially the same direction: south.
After making arrangements and getting directions, we head out.
Of course, I left the directions behind. Thank God I wrote them down, though, because that helped me remember them.
The lady with the sink had other materials for sale as well, which was good. The sink a bathroom sink, not a kitchen. We both thought the same thing: “I don’t think we can compromise on this–”
But she had trim that I liked, and also a bifold door. Kim wanted that for the wall when we redo the closet. She also had a storm door. I didn’t hear the part about “storm,” so I thought it was just a door. She and Kim were explaining to me how it worked and I was trying to understand how it would work if there was no pre-hung frame for it to go into. Finally, I got it.
“Oh…Ooooh.” What a dumbass I am. And it would fit a 32 inch door, which is what we were on our way to get. If it worked, we should get this storm door. It was very nice, heavy duty, and full glass, like the door we were getting. It also had a screen we could put in. Hmmm. For fifty bones, I think we’ll be back.
The young guy down in the city had me meet him at “The Shaved Duck.” It’s a BBQ restaurant near Arsenal and Grand, and it smelled good. He said it’s really popular, and people come from all over for pick up.
The door was everything he said it would be. It looked good. He helped me load it onto the back of the truck and we were on our way.
So, finally, we were home. With what I hoped would be both a door that would fit and a window that we could use. And some other stuff.