Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What else I've been working on

Imagine having a wonderful trip to the Hari Mandir Sahib and spending some quality time in Anandpur Sahib. Imagine going to India to see one of your best friends get married. Imagine 4 weeks without work and just spending time on the sacred land where the Guru's walked. Then imagine you come home to this:
This is (was) my brother's laundry room. While in India we both had pipes freeze and burst at our homes. I had about 6 leaks which had to be repaired, but none were inside. My brother had several leaks as well, but his were inside and his leaks flooded two of his rooms. One room (pictured here) grew a lot of mold. Since we've been back Hari (my brother) and I have worked (in the cold) on his house at night after work and on weekends. After this weekend, the rennovations still won't be done, but at least we'll have finally made Hari and Sita's house livable again.
The best part of this whole ordeal is that Hari and Sita have been living with me. My place feels like a home now!
The back door. There are some pipes that go from the hot water heater (pictured here) up through the attic and to other faucets in the house. The main leak came from a pipe in the attic.
This is a door to a closet inside the laundry room that doesn't exist any more.
Half way through the destruction of some built-in cabinets. Since these pictures were taken, all the walls have been taken out, the ceiling has been taken out, all of the insulation in the attic has been removed, the floor was taken up, the place was cleaned, we've installed a new ceiling, fixed the plumbing, done some rewiring and put in new fixtures.
A picture from the bathroom where the walls have been removed.
This was once a shower stall.

My brother has done the majority of the work on his house, but myself and my Dad and Sita have helped a lot as well. Our friend Akal Singh did the plumbing for my brother. It' s convenient having a plumber as one of your best friends!
The hard part about working on this house is that it has been extremely cold in there. We've worked so many nights late into the night at around 32 degrees or below (0 or below in Celsius).
My brother was planning to do new insulation in his home when he got back from India, but we couldn't do this until we put new ceilings in, which we couldn't do until we did rewiring and prep work of the attic, including installing vents and baffles, and cleaning the attic and installing new light and fan (ventilation) fixtures. This weekend we will probably finally finish the last new ceiling (in the kitchen) and then spray in the new insulation which will mean Hari can turn his heat back on and move back into his house. I'm excited that my brother and Sita will get to move back into their house, but I can't say I won't miss living with my family.
Also this process has given me an appreciation for my job and education. When I was a teenager doing construction was fun (which it still is in many ways), but I'm glad it's not my job now. Working in the attic was painful! You could never stand up and you always had to balance yourself on 2 inch wide joists that were 12-16 inches apart. You had to wear goggles which would get fogged up and masks to deal with nasty fiberglass insulation (so old it still had asbestos) and if you slipped because you were tired or cold or just lost your balance you could fall through the ceiling. I fell twice but landed on the joists. I have a 6 inch scar on my right leg, from a fall where I was prevented from going the roof by scraping my shins against a diagonal joist. Only once did somebody's foot go through the ceiling. That's why were re-doing the kitchen ceiling, which uncovered some bad wiring. Part of the house was probably built in the 60's and then it was expanded later. This weekend we'll start by finishing the new wiring and getting the last new ceiling in. Then we'll probably get the insulation in. Hari and Sita will be able to move back in, but they will still have two rooms to rebuild. There were built in cabinets and drawers in the bathroom, which had to be removed along with all the fixtures, the shower, sink, and toilet. Also the walls, ceiling and floor were removed. Maybe later on the blog I'll put updated photos. I should have got photos before were started doing the work. I could get photos of our current status, for an update.


Hari Singh said...

Hi Prabhu,

This used to be a common problem in England until they brought out these new boilers which automatically turn on when the temperature goes below 4 deg C. I wonder if you have the same thing in the US. That damage looks seriously expensive and the inconvenience while for perhaps $50-$100, you could install this "frost protection" facility.

Just a thought!! May come in useful in the future. I feel sorry for you to have to do all that building work. May the Guru help you along!!!

Prabhu Singh said...

Actually my brother did have heat tape at the source of his water, but it was extremely cold. And the insulation in his attic was not adequate. He was planning to do some serious insulation in his attic when we got back from India, but then all of this happened.
At my place I mistakenly believed that I had drained my pipes when I left for India, so I went ahead and turned off the heat tape. There was still water though and it froze and burst my pipes in several places.

sat dharm said...

Gosh! What a way to come back from India. I feel sorry about you guys, thankfully, here in Mexico we don't have to go through this kind of hazards. Though here where I live can get really chilly in the winter (-5 ºC to -10 ºC).

By the way Prabhu I didn't know you could understand written spanish (well, I guess you and Hari have learnt many things in spanish from Sita.)
Take care ji, and good luck with the reconstruction work!

pavandeep said...

You're like a Sikh version of Mike Holmes!

upinder kaur said...

This looks so dreadful! We in India don't have such low temperatures so I could never imagine such a thing.

Anonymous said...

The damage looks a lot like the inside of homes we saw in the aftermath of Katrina. There are still blessings to be had. You are a great brother.

Sikhi Seeker said...

The one thing that stuck me through the reading of this post was a jaw-dropping awe on your gesture: "My place feels like a home now!" :) It's so sweet ('so' being a small word that can't do justice here:P). I'm sorry that you guys were caught in such situations. I can only imagine how hard it is to work on something like this, that too after work and to make it worse in cold weather. I know you have Satguru's Chardi Kala and no goal is too hard for you to achieve. Sorry about that cut on your leg too. Gosh, this is hard. But I'm sure it's all for good. You got to enjoy time with your family, that house got it's long overdue repair, and you got just one more opportunity to help those around you. God has blessed you with opportunities, tough ones, but opportunities indeed :)
God bless you!

Vicky Singh said...

OH man.. tough homecoming.. I was in similar situation too.. but nothing with the house instead it was with the late bills and.. i think i paid 3 late fees. Auto-payment option didn't worked at all.. never trust computers haha.. But glad you all set :)