Monday, June 3, 2013

Electricity

We've not mentioned it before, but we do have day jobs that we are very passionate about and plan to keep. Lafayette Flats is an extra-curricular activity for us. Thus far we've been able to do most of the planning work in the evenings, on lunch hours and on weekends, but once we close on the building (hopefully in about 3 weeks) we'll have to be in Fayetteville a lot. With this in mind, we've banked as much vacation time as possible with our jobs and we will be staying in Fayetteville on weekends as soon as we can get one of the flats ready to occupy.

The current electric situation.
The first thing that has to happen to the building before we can start staying there regularly is to install a new electrical service. In 1906, electricity was a newfangled idea that almost certainly was considered a luxury even for a bank - and so we're not certain if the original building plan included any electrical facilities. We know that when the interior of the building was rebuilt after a fire in the 1920s, electricity was added but it was no doubt minimal and very light duty - providing only enough juice to power a few light bulbs. Unfortunately, as the building's electrical needs increased, the 1920's system was never replaced; new circuits were just added on from time to time. The result is a pretty sketchy network of fuse boxes and breaker panels that are in bad need of replacement. To support four modernly equipped flats and to supply adequate power to the offices on the first floor, the whole shebang is going to have to be upgraded. From new meter bases all the way through to the outlets, Lafayette Flats will have a brand spanking new 2013 vintage electrical system.

One side benefit of replacing the electrical service is that the power company's service wires can be moved to the rear so they won't have to run awkwardly across the Court Street façade, so this new system will help us to recapture the old look of the building.

For the occupants, the benefits will be greater. Right now there are very few outlets in the building. We'll be installing a bunch of outlets in every room so there won't any shortage of places to plug in your gadgets, and some of the outlets will have a built in USB jack to make charging cell phones and iPods more convenient.

As we've written before, the old plaster walls are in pristine condition and so instead of cutting into them to run a lot of wire, we've decided to use surface mounted wire mold. This is actually the more historically accurate way to run the electric since the original construction had no wires concealed in the walls and some wire mold is already in use in the building. We'll be using the Wiremold Series 500, which has been in production since the 1920s and could very well be the exact same product that is already in place. Our 100 year old home in Charleston has much of its wiring installed this way and we feel it will be perfectly suitable for Lafayette Flats too.

Of course we'll be adding cable TV and WiFi Internet as well, but more about that in another post.

So anyway, as soon as the new electrical system is installed we can move ourselves into one of the flats and stay there on weekends and vacation days. We're looking forward to be able to burn the midnight oil - or rather, electricity - after waiting so long to get started. There will be a whole lot of labor intensive preparation that we'll be doing to get ready for the plumbers and other subcontractors, and after crouching at the starting line for so long we are more than ready to get to work.

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