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wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/25/18 5:12 p.m.

   In what is becoming a time honored GRM tradition, I'm starting a build thread before taking possession of the subject. So, this could still all potentially blow up in my face, and be relegated to internet obscurity. Our offer has been accepted, we have secured a loan, as well as insurance, and been told our loan is being processed. Our closing is Oct 8. Hopefully nobody condemns it before we can move in.

   What you are looking at is a house, built in 1943, as part of the Manhattan Project. 2/3rds of the houses we looked at here in Oak Ridge (the Secret City-don't tell anyone) were built in that year. The government came in, gave local farmers 30 days to get off their land, and set about building a city with one purpose. The A-Bomb. There were a few types of floorplans , A through D, made to house the folks who came to work on the bomb. You guessed it, cemestos were a composite of sugarcane, cement, and asbestos. 

   Houses are on the cheap side here.

   As my special lady friend and I are middle aged, have no children, and believe in global warming, none of that matters to us. What's a little asbestos among friends?

   This thread will be a house restoration, definitely on a budget, and, hopefully, a learning experience for more than just me. I plan to conquer plumbing, structural, electrical (OK, I'm going to hire this out, because I'm scared, but I will be present), and much more. Can I test and repair a gas log? We'll find out. Am I able to cheaply D.I.Y. a column and beam situation while busting down walls, preserving hardwood, and generally sweating like a lady of questionable morals in church? Can I get the damned garage door to work?

   I have contacted codes. I have talked to the guys at the dump one mile away (they are very agreeable). I have a truck, and various implements of destruction. 

Note: Images intentionally misleading to a street view so I cannot be so easily tracked. All work to be done with tin foil hat, 3d glasses, and a healthy disregard for personal safety. (That's really grandstanding. PLEASE stop me if I'm doing something stupid)


   Above is the deck. I am told I can put new planks down, and tear down parts I don't want to keep, without permits. I can also pull down popcorn ceilings that may or may not contain asbestos (I have read Mezzanine's thread concerning asbestos abatement-Thanks, Man, the laws are loose enough I could get in trouble. Thanks for sharing). 

   Basically, I've been given plenty of rope, but I trust those in the know will help me keep from hanging myself...


Dusterbd13 MegaDork
9/25/18 5:19 p.m.


And i see the basement shop: mine is as well. Plan for cross ventilation to keep fumes from the main part of the house, and your wife speaking to you when you spill a full bottle of limited slip additive.

karplus2 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/25/18 7:42 p.m.
Dusterbd13 said:


And i see the basement shop: mine is as well. Plan for cross ventilation to keep fumes from the main part of the house, and your wife speaking to you when you spill a full bottle of limited slip additive.

This. My garage is under the main living area of our house too. I can't do anything in there without stinking up the house. Burning some old bushings out of control arms got me banned from doing anything in there for a week.

ShawneeCreek GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/26/18 10:13 a.m.

Or is that a shop we see hiding out back in the first photo?

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
9/26/18 12:52 p.m.

Nice looking place.  There is a lot of sag in that porch/deck, so there may not be a lot that can be salvaged.

Mezzanine Dork
9/26/18 3:03 p.m.

Ooh, I could smell the Asbestos from all the way out here, and I'm so happy I wasn't disappointed. Thanks for the shout-out; I'd be happy to discuss the topic with you further if you'd like.

TJL New Reader
9/26/18 3:26 p.m.

Nice piece of history. My grandparents both worked at Oak Ridge. They were from alcoa and maryville. They sadly both recently died and are burried next to each other in Maryville. Beautiful area for sure. Ive heard some interesting stories about the place. My grandmother worked the night shift. Was told to NEVER ask questions. You did exactly the process you were told to do and that was that. Never ask why, what or anything. There was a explosion there after her shift one night. Blew a whole exterior wall out. It was fixed by the next day with zero sign of repair.  Freaky place. 

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/26/18 3:29 p.m.

Thanks for the positive vibes, everyone. Here's some feedback:

The pool table will go in the room above the shop. There is a door and concrete wall between it and the basement. The basement will be the "clean" shop- lathes, mill, drill press, Tig, etc. The rest of the basement is "finished"- carpeted, moldy, PINK drywall, Not good. Once we get in there, I'll post before pics. There is a reason we got it cheap.  Still, duly noted on smelly stuff. Kind of an inevitability, really.

    Where you see the garage door, is technically, a two car garage, but it has a post dead center. It is small. This will be the dirty shop.       The shed peeking around out back will be a potting shed, place for shovels, rakes, the lawnmower, and motorcycles. You know, stuff varmints can do little harm to.

The main deck is straight and true, but framed improperly, as well as attached directly to the house over the siding. I'm considering my options. I think some custom hurricane braces by yours truly, getting it attached to the house properly, and re-decked, along with a splash of paint MAY do the trick.                                                                                                                                                Pictures do not adequately show how badly it is sagging above the garage door, and wrapping around to a side entrance. It is terrifying, and another reason we got the house cheap. All that crap will be removed, and not rebuilt. 

Mezzanine, I have to get some stuff tested. I'm mostly worried about the popcorn ceilings (hate!). The exterior cladding may be okay to leave. I hate vinyl siding, so that has to go and make way for hardie boards, but that is a ways off. Just making the place livable is job #1. This is all a long way of saying thanks, I may well call on you for advice. I love your post and countertops (really, your whole kitchen).

So, yeah, I've given notice at my crappy, fully finished apartment, and plan to more or less, immediately move in to the construction zone. 

SlimShady218 New Reader
9/27/18 9:18 a.m.

In TN you can remove and dispose of asbestos materials from your residence without any permitting, once you start paying someone to remove it is where the laws kick in.  For the most part, anything friable, especially exterior siding, keep it wet, try and remove the fasteners and work from the top down to remove it in the largest pieces possible and toss it in the dumpster.  Probably want to wear a mask though.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/27/18 10:07 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :


frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/27/18 10:09 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

Please don’t be afraid of doing the wiring.  The safe smart way is to start at the outlet and run the wires to the box.

If you want,  leave the connection in the box to a licensed electrician. Who will check your work before actually making the connection. 

That way there is no electricity in the wires to hurt  you.  You do the time consuming stuff, the fiddly fussy stuff where taking your time and doing it neat and tidy pays off.  

Always use a sharpie  to write on the wires what that circuit goes  to. Bath, Bed, Liv, Kit etc   You can’t write it too often.  

When you get to the box or where the circuit breaker is going to be, again make sure the wire  is well marked and leave a good 6 extra feet.   

If  you want I’ll walk you through what you need to buy and which wires to hook up where.  Modern parts make it reasonably simple and if you do it right you are completely legal to work on your own house.  

Now any pro electrician will check before making the connection in the box but if by then you feel up to it you can shut off the main breaker and work inside the box safely.  

The only things  difficult  are two way switches or three way switches  and maybe the hook up for 220 volts  ( most will indicate which wire goes where ) 

Don’t try to work off the pole or where power enters the house.  That really is a job for the pro.  At the same time have the pro install the box.  There are rules about how and where it’s mounted.  Same with the meter etc.  

I’m sure electricians will make sure I’m right.  Since there is a shortage of them I doubt too many will be upset about losing work.  

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/27/18 2:48 p.m.

More responses:


Yep, weird place. To this day there are places you just can't go. I accidentally drove up on a security gate to the labs, and didn't want to turn around in sight of the guard, so drove up to the gate to explain I was turning around. He said he had to take a picture of me, my car, my license plate, and write it up. He also said, if I had just turned around, it would be no big deal.

The majority of folks who work at the labs commute, so there is a massive influx/outflux around working hours.


Slim Shady:

Thanks, the advice is appreciated, and the fact that the owner can just rip this stuff down is where I may need Mezzanine's advice to keep safe. I worked at a garage in the 90's, and we did exactly what you said, water em down. I'm not afraid.


  Thanks, I was being slightly coy. At work, I have wired everything from 440 on down. I am not really afraid of wiring, and 277 is the norm at work these days-live 277.

I have some $ set aside to add multiple 220's (welder, compressor, move dryer, drill press, etc), and the existing wiring is all good copper. The drop is good, and it is a 200 amp service-woo hoo! It has fuses, and both the insurance company and I want breakers. There are a ton of professional electricians around who like side work. The plan is to pull a permit, do the simple stuff myself (grounds, replace switches/plugs, etc.) myself, and hire out the heavy lifting. I could do it, but some things, I want done fast, and well, so that rules out cheap. Also, the quicker I have wiring up to par, the quicker I can get back to making cool E36 M3. Besides, plumbing will keep me plenty busy. It leaks, and not the supply, either.

Angry, and all other well-wishers, thanks, I appreciate your support.

For any interested, here's a floorplan. Type-Ds were either like this, or a mirror image.

And the stock outside photo of the same.


frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/27/18 7:56 p.m.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
9/27/18 8:05 p.m.

I can't wait to see what sort of weirdness you uncover. Houses are fun. And horrible. But mostly fun


Cotton PowerDork
9/27/18 11:22 p.m.
frenchyd said:

Is that your house?  Looks pretty cool!

Cotton PowerDork
9/27/18 11:24 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

I love wrap around decks.  Will be great for hanging out one you restore/replace it.

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/28/18 10:06 a.m.

In reply to Cotton : Thank you, yes it is.  I wish I had  better picture of the tuck under but maybe I’ll take one tonight  

You’re in an area where there are a lot of hardwoods and very few people commercially harvesting them.  That’s a great opportunity for you. You can buy hardwood cheaper than regular wood, cheaper than plywood, cheaper than Sheetrock. All you need to do is find out how and where.  

Can’t get it at a store, even a big box store.  Gotta get it from the source. Scattered all over are small commercial sawmills. They survive by making pallets,crates and selling their wood to consolidators.  

From the sawmill to the store there may be as many as 10-11 middlemen each adding overhead and profit to the cost.  

Incidentally I bought 55,000 board feet of hardwood like Black walnut white oak hard maple cherry etc etc 

and paid only $25,000 for it.  That’s about 40 cents or so a bd ft.  

Right now black walnut sells for about $12.00 a bd ft and I only paid 17 cents!   

If you are interested I’ll talk you through where you can find it and what to look for etc. 

this is no  pie in the sky, get rich scheme. It’s work and takes effort.  I’ve always had the ambition but short of the money and I know there are plenty of sawmills out there willing to do something similar for others. 

APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/28/18 10:59 a.m.
frenchyd said:

Hey!  You figured out how to post pictures!  The house looks great.  I'd love to see a build thread on it.

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/28/18 12:15 p.m.

In reply to APEowner :


I’ll start one tomorrow.  My phone is acting up and I think it’s got a virus ? SWMBO is too busy right now to look at it so I’ll need to wait until tonight for her to look at it. 

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/28/18 12:49 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

It may sound silly to talk about getting wood this early in the process. The reason it’s not is first it will take you a bit of hunting to find great deals.  Second all the prices I’m talking about is green and rough at the mill . In other words you have to haul it home, sticker it up, and air dry it. Before you can straight edge it, plane it and  get it ready to use.  

How dry depends on a lot of stuff, how green was it when it was harvested? Wet summer? Heavy snow winter?  Spring? 

How dry do you want it? Anything under about 18% moisture won’t mold but it can sure move around, warp, curl,  twist, and cup. 

Normal is sticker it up in the fall someplace warm and dry.  Under the bed is great if you only have a few hundred board feet.  In the utility room if it’s big enough.  Downstairs in a dry shop?  

Releasing all that moisture will help with winter dryness. Your skin will appreciate it. You’ll get fewer colds because your sinuses won’t be so dry. Clothes will feel softer and you’ll feel warmer. 

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/28/18 2:06 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :I'm honored this was your first picture posting on GRM (if, indeed, it was). I'm trying to avoid buying anything until after closing. I need a 1/4 impact for deck work. I'll need paint, lots of materials, etc.

The one thing I did buy:

The P.O.(s) smoked. A lot. Endless scrubbing is the first order of business, after pictures, of course.


frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/28/18 2:40 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :Unless you are really lucky it’s libel to take months if not more to find the right fit with regard sawmills. A starting place just to get hooked up to the network is 


unlikely anyone they connect you with will be  your source but that’s one way to find  some of the back country sawmills.  


wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/28/18 7:51 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Excellent, Thanks!

 And sweet house by the way. It even looks like a Jaguar aficionado's house.

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/29/18 11:12 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

If there is any additional input I can suggest it’s that make the garage as comfortable as you can.    I furnish mine with upstairs cast offs. Chairs, TV’s  sound systems etc. or visit your local Goodwill, heck now-days it’s common to see items like that hauled to the curb with a free sign on them. Turn it into your man-cave.   Have easy  access from the living quarters electricity, water and drains!!! Yes I know but a drain will allow you to wash your car during bad  weather. Plus whatever projects you come up with that need water.  Oh and melted ice for your drinks can be tossed in the drain rather than hauled upstairs to be disposed of. 

If connecting to the sewer system is too difficult  you can put in a French drain. PThat’s where you dig a big deep hole in the floor and fill it with rock.  Bigger rocks towards the bottom, medium and smaller size on top. The water fills the space between rocks and soaks into the ground slowly. Run a vibrator over each layer to settle and the a drain with the cement sloped towards the drain. Oh and if like me you’re getting old and the idea of digging in hard dirt turns you off? Don’t worry, those little mini excavators will make quick work of the task.  Leave the garage door open and have a big fan blowing out to control the fumes.  

You can do that in heavy soils like clay but clay etc demands a bigger well.  If you only wash your car once a week you can get by with a smaller well.  Not something needing immediate consideration but put it in the back of your mind.  

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/7/18 8:50 a.m.

So, time has passed, drama has come and gone, and to make a long story shorter, closing has been pushed back.

Here's how the story goes: The bank wouldn't loan the money because the appraiser didn't like what he saw. They wouldn't tell me what he had issue with, and demanded the seller fix "it". Remember, I had concern for the plumbing, wiring, and deck. Also, the house was listed as is, and I have been very clear with everyone on that fact, and my understanding and acceptance of what that means. Finally, Thursday, the bank told me what the hold up was-The Deck. 

This is exactly how every closing I have ever had works. It seems like they just want the drama. 

The up side is that tomorrow I am meeting with a contractor who will fix the (20X30!) deck. We will confer on design, and everything will be nice and legal. The cost will be added to the closing cost, and spread over the 30 year loan. Result.

Please note the above picture has nothing to do with the deck on the home in question, other than the fact that it is, in fact, a deck.

Also, as a side note, the locals seem to favor calling this a Type-D, rather than my reversed nomenclature. Silly me.

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