Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Day at the Hall

The wreaking Crew
Day 12 (7/31/16)

Today was a really big day of construction at the hall. Yesterday had been pretty much of a wash since it was Holland Fest weekend and we always spend that Saturday at our son and daughter-in-law’s watching the parade with our grandson and a bunch of friends. Our friend Nelly, Mark Nelson, had come over to spend the weekend and work on the hall. It was a fortunate weekend to have some help because I needed to lay the floor in the loft which meant horsing some ¾ inch sub-floor panels up into the loft area. My son had already agreed to give us a hand so after a hearty breakfast the whole family and Nelly descended on the Town Hall. It ended up going faster than I thought. With one person nailing and the other two cutting and lifting by 1 o’clock we had the floor laid. Of course we would have never been able to do it without the help of our three year old grandson who had the time of his life holding tape measure's and generally just being everywhere at once. After we had bid Mark farewell Eileen and I went back to the hall to try out our idea for how we were going to handle the windows in the gallery area. Right now there are huge single pane windows that are in need of repair. Since we need the wall space for art we decided to cover most of the window and only allow the top quarter to let light through. The bottom part we covered with the same paneling that we are using for the other new walls and filling the cavity with insulation. It is actually exterior siding but it has the look of a thinner car siding which goes well with the rest of the building. On top we are using a poly-carbonate panel that will allow in light while offering insulation capabilities. We learned a lot from our first one but are really happy with the results. All in all it was a very fun and productive day.
Nelly nailing sub-floor

Measuring and cutting

Wade supervising 

View from the new loft

Pounding the nails with mom

Surfing through the job

Getting it together

Crew at work

Wade holding the tape in place. A very important job

The force is strong with this one.

Testing our window idea

New floor in the Loft

Ready for a couple coats of white paint

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Day 12 (7/27/16)

We went to the hall twice today. Once in the morning with our grandson Wade and once this afternoon to actually get work done. As it turned out we were very lucky to have gone this morning and dropped off our trailer of lumber because when we went back this afternoon it started pouring on our way there. It was kind of fun to spend some time in our new digs with the rain and see how everything reacted. It was a blast this morning watching Wade and Grandma pounding in nails and then taking them back out. Wade loves what he calls “Grandpa and Grandma’s Belgium House”. In the afternoon I managed to finish my wall with Eileen’s help and install the door. We are also putting a window in my spray area so I can see if anybody comes in while I am working. I am waiting to install that however. Tomorrow will be another big day and after that I should be able to install the loft sub floor. 



Welcome to Building

More Building

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wall Building

Day 11 (7/26/16)
First wall section in place

I finally got to start building walls today. It actually went pretty well. Whenever you do a project like this you have to make decisions and compromises. Today I had to make a decision on whether to make the work area ceiling lower to have more height in the loft or leave more room in the studio space. From floor to ceiling is fourteen foot. The 2X6’s and flooring will eat up about seven inches of that. To complicate things even more there are windows to contend with. I decided to go a little higher in the work space which gives me a healthy seven foot ceiling. The loft however will only have a six foot four inch ceiling in the highest area. For the most part that should be fine. As I have said before, even during construction we have an open door policy and enjoy it when people drop in to see what is going on. The one exception is the “I Would’s”. These are the people who come in and immediately start telling you what they would have done or even what they think you should do different. We are kind of flying by the seats our pants so it is not that I mind advice. It is just that often it is something obvious or something that wouldn’t work for our application. We also are limited on how much money we are willing to dump into a studio. I have had a couple of these “I would’s” lately. I have never seen them before and will probably never see them again so I guess I got that going for me. I should be able to get the studio all roughed in tomorrow and then it will be time for more decisions. 

Section Two

Some floor joist

Done for the Day

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Out With The Old

All ready to start building walls
Day 10 (7/23/16)

The first general rule of novice renovation is that everything takes longer than you think it is going to. I like to believe that what I lack in skill I make up for in preventative measure. The window replacement that I thought would be finished in a day took the better part of two. That being said they are probably the most air tight part of the whole building. The last two days have been more deconstruction. Thursday we made our big order of materials that we would need to start building the walls to get going on the inside. Before we could build our wall in the back however we needed to pull out the railing and remove the carpeting. We wanted to keep the railing to use in the loft so it took a little longer taking it out without breaking anything. We had no idea what to expect when we started tearing the carpet out but it actually went a little better than expected. It was definitely a dirty job since the cushion underneath the carpeting had started to break down in the heavily trafficked areas. Before we could pull up the carpet in the northwest corner we had to move the fireproof file cabinets that have to weigh 400 pounds apiece. Once the drawers were out it wasn’t too bad. I may try to sell them on Craig’s list. Apparently people like them for gun safes. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that all this was going down in some of the hottest weather we have had all summer. I’m not surprised though when we remodeled the Legion Hall we had one of the warmest summers in recent history. 
Gratuitous cute artist picture. 

Grandpa putting on new hinges

The back finished for now

Pulling up the railing

Look Mom, no railing


Hot day in July

Close the back door, done for the day

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Ready for a coat of Paint
Day 9 (7/19/16)

Over the last couple of days I have been replacing windows or Winnows as Wade calls them. There were two small ones on the north side that were pretty much rotted out. I found out how rotten when I took them out. We purchased some low E double pane windows at Menards. I had never really installed windows before in anything other than an old shed so I went on line and of course there were any number of videos showing how to do it. In the videos the windows all had nice framed in areas to install in but when I got the old windows out, low and behold, no frame. They had just been floated in the wall on the ends of the two by sixes. I decided to spend the time to build in some new frames. I was not surprised to find no insulation in the walls but I was surprised to find seven inch wide airspace in there. When I get around to blowing insulation into the walls it should be quite cozy. The one thing I took away from the videos was to insulate all air spaces and caulk, caulk and caulk. Right now the most airtight area in the whole building is around those windows. Last week I had poured some concrete footings under the center beam beneath the building. Yesterday I ran out of window trimming materials so I climbed back into the crawl space and set three new floor jacks in place. For the next couple weeks I am supposed to crank them one half turn until I get them where I want them. Today I finished trimming out all but the outside of one window when the plumber came. It looks like the next couple of weeks are going to really be hopping around the hall.
Pulling out the old Window

The new frame

Putting in the new window

One down, one to go

Ready to Trim

Time out to install floor jacks 

Lots of insulation and caulk

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tombstones and Bees

Something to ponder
Day 8 (7/12/18)

Today the glamour continued. Yesterday I had managed to clean out about the first 10 feet of junk under the town hall. We got an early start because I wanted to get it finished today. Eileen had came up with a system where I pulled a tarp under the hall with me and then when I got it full she could pull it back out. We had hoped that perhaps we would find older and better garbage today. We did find what appear to be broken off head stones, one with the initials A.D. and the other with A.M.P.. They are very small and when Eileen posted them on Facebook there were lots of theories as to what we had found. Other than an old boy scout camping shovel there was very little in the way of other cool stuff. After we had loaded the trailer the first time I noticed that the tire was almost flat. We walked to the hardware to get a can of fix-a-flat so that we could get the trailer emptied and taken somewhere to be fixed. As soon as I started airing it up I noticed that it was leaking around the valve stem. At least we hadn’t picked up a nail. We made it to the recycling center and then to the “Belgium Service Center” were they offered to fix it while we waited. Who does that anymore? We were thrilled. After about ten minutes we were all aired up and ready to go. Since we were right by McDonald's we decided to grab and go so that we could stay late if we had to. In two days we ended up taking four trailer loads of trash out from under the hall. All day Eileen had been seeing bumble bees and figured they must have a nest under there somewhere. On my way out I decide to pull out some rotting plywood that I had neglected before and I found the bees. Fortunately we were all finished and except for taking some measurements we were done. I was filthy but happy to have one of the dirtiest jobs finished.  
Getting started

Look I can sit in here now

Swimming in garbage

Action shot

Some of our booty

Filthy but happy

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Glamorous Life of a Purveyor of Culture

The glamorous life of a Purveyor of Culture
Day 7 (7/11/16)
Be a purveyor of culture they said. You’ll like it they said. An artist friend of ours, when he heard that we had purchased the Belgium Town Hall and were going to make it into a studio and gallery, was so excited that we were going to be as he put it “Purveyors of Culture” which made it sound kind of glamorous. I thought of that today as I was laying on the ground digging out the half a ton of garbage that has collected underneath the building over the last hundred and twenty two years. I am not really sure why there is everything from a children’s swimming pool, various pots and pans and a cool old booze bottle buried under the hall but that only scratches the surface. After most of the day and two trailers worth of trash we are now clear about ten feet back. Our hope is that like an archeological dig the further back we go the older and cooler the junk will become. So far it has been mostly old wood, metal, cans and bottles. My plan is to clean out underneath so I can beef up the foundation and do some insulating. I will also need access for the plumbing and some of the wiring. Mostly though I just couldn’t imagine all that junk lying under our building. We did have a bit of a respite today when a past student of mine showed up with her family because I had posted that it was a Pokémon hotspot. It is really neat that people are already curious to see what we are doing. It is after all our intention to make it a place where artists can hang out show their work and socialize. Eventually we want to start including workshops and open canvases. At some point, although I won’t go as far as to say glamorous, it should be a cool place to hang out and do artwork.
Where to start?

Not bad yet

Couldn't help seeing the symbolism

First load ready to go.

A little something for when we finish