By Tom Metzgar
It’s November 6th, and the caves are closed for bats. Dave Field had a hankering to go caving, so he suited up and slithered into the crawlspace under the downstairs bathroom. Here, he’s dumping a bucket of 1A gravel on top of the newly-installed vapor barrier over what had been a bare soil floor. We used locally-produced Loyalhanna Limestone gravel so that the crawlspace smells and feels like a real cave. In the background is a layer of 1” thick foam board added to the inside of the crawlspace basement wall, well sealed with spray foam.
Three months earlier, during a hot August day, Phil Gowaty took the opportunity to cool off in this same crawlspace by laboriously cleaning out debris discarded during the 100 years since the building’s back porch had been enclosed and converted into a bathroom.
Thanks to Phil and Dave for their backbreaking labor, and to Tom Metzgar, who donated materials.
Whether you become overly excited when you find key information about your secret cave project, and almost crap yourself, or you’re just piddling around, you now have a modern downstairs restroom. A hands-free motion sensor activates the light when you walk in, so you don’t need to grope around for the light switch. The new fixtures are water-conserving, with easy-to-clean surfaces for low maintenance.
The MAKC hired a highly-recommended local plumber, Walt McGann, who removed the old bathroom’s leaking century-old terra-cotta, black iron, and copper pipes, and replaced them with modern materials. Walt also replaced all of the kitchen pipes as part of this same project. Additional professional plumbing services included installing a hose bib so that we now have outside water, removing dozens of feet of abandoned hot water heating system pipes, adding a new back flow preventer compliant with Blairsville’s regulations, adding a water heater expansion tank, and complete service on the building’s boiler, water pump, and radiators.
WHAT’S IN OUR FUTURE?
Now that we’ve upgraded most of the interior infrastructure, we can start on something highly visible. We got two estimates on a roof, soffit, fascia, gutters and downspouts. Both estimates are within a few hundred dollars of each other, and they’re both from highly recommended Amish contractors who specialize in durable and attractive metal roofs. This will be our most expensive building renovation. Fundraising is underway.
Other smaller projects in the works include replacing the plumbing supplying the upstairs bathroom and repointing the chimney.
Completed projects include remodeling the upstairs bathroom, replacement windows, new, thick attic insulation, and remodeling the upstairs bathroom. The building’s electrical infrastructure has been completely replaced with modern wiring and energy-efficient fixtures, so our monthly electric bill now ranges between $22 and $23. Volunteers are always needed. We have a list of small “handyman” projects that one or two people could complete in three or four hours.
We’ve modernized the landscaping so that it only takes 20 to 25 minutes to cut the grass—another volunteer opportunity.Prospective volunteers can contact Tom Metzgar.