Ulmer: Adventures in 'unmodeling' the cabin remodel

Ulmer: Adventures in 'unmodeling' the cabin remodel


Either of my loyal readers might want an update on our cabin’s water damage, but before I get too far here I’d like the record to show that I have taken the advice, given to me by a solid majority of my coffee klatch, to turn off the water before leaving our cabin. It’s off until spring.

In the meantime I’ve hired Ben Ulmer Carpentry and his loyal assistant, me, to dry the place out and fix the damage. For you novices the fixing in this fiasco only involved replacing the bathroom kitchen, living room and bedroom floors along with the paneling in the bathroom and bedroom, replacing trim, mopboards and anything else that got wet.

Anyone who’s remodeled a home understands that before you can remodel you gotta unmodel, which means you have to tear out the old stuff before you can even start with the new stuff. A huge part of this tear down involves emptying the aforementioned rooms and jamming it all into other rooms.

To add misery to this process, think about what you have to do to dry out a flooded dwelling. The quickest solution would be to just torch the dang place and start over but insurance doesn’t like to pay for a dwelling that you intentionally set aflame, so this isn’t really the best solution.

In cases like this, one learns a lot more about dewatering than he ever wanted to know because that’s what we did for a bit over the first week of tackling this here situation. We had to put fans in the crawl space because interior floors leak and a muddy crawlspace would be solid proof that water seeks a water level it can get to.

So between ripping up wet carpet, wet underlayment, wet paneling, wet tiles, moving a kitchen island, cabinets, sinks, stove, fridge and way too many objects that haven’t been moved for the last 40 years like bookshelves, desks, trunks, pot belly stove, couch, dining table and beds, we saturated the whole place with mold killer. In addition we kept the heat on, adjusted fans and ran a couple dehumidifiers 24 hours, seven days a week. Each morning we’d dump the dehumidifiers, tear out something else and wonder what we needed to do next.

A really frustrating part of tackling a job like this is just finding the tools and getting organized. Invariably one doesn’t know what tools they need until they need them. Ben has a tool trailer for his business so we have most of the tools needed for just about any job, but many times other projects/jobs cause many of these tools to get spread over a broad area, like the garage at the lake, or the garage in town, or someone else’s garage, and wouldn’t you know we’ve been busy with a whole bunch of projects and since this is our first flooded dwelling our tools inventory was not in its usual alphabetical order, thus began the process of unmodeling so we could remodel.

The hope of all remodelers is that if you’re incredibly vigilant with your unmodeling your remodeling becomes a piece of cake. The trick here is to pay particular attention to the phrase "incredibly vigilant" because all sorts of hidden obstacles will intrude into the remodel if you don’t.

So after a daily 120-mile commute over the past three weeks, we now have reduced our cabin to its skeletal remains and are now in the process of putting the place back together.

Actually the finish line to this debacle seems to be in view and if this perception is close to reality Grandpa Dan can once again get back to his town routine of doing nothing all day and not being done by bedtime.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.


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