Monday, November 8, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
I don't know what this stack weighs but I know the city better bring one of the big trucks to pick it up. Scooter very graciously agreed to pose on top to show how big the pile is. Actually, she found herself placed on top and when told to "sit" could not really see any alternatives anyway so she sat there.
The excavation of the back yard yielded a variety of artifacts. Dog toys, a rusty drill bit, numerous tennis balls, pop cans, pieces of old china and Ducky's ID tag were among the treasures unearthed beneath the cement. The downside, it has left a huge hole in the yard which today's rain turned into a massive mud wallow which the dogs romped through before coming in for supper.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The deck boards were removed today, yet to come is removing the deck from the house. Still no sign of a contractor so who know, I may live the winter in plastic wrap. Since the siding is cement, installation could continue into cold weather but painting opportunities will soon be past for the year.
An end to this outside work wouldn't be all bad, a nice long nap in the afternoon, instead of demolition work, would be welcome but reality is, there are enough inside projects to last the next 1o years. Five rooms of flooring needs to be laid, finish the paper and paneling in the library, trim out the inside of a half dozen windows and the list goes on.
If I hold out for living until I finish all my projects, I should make at least 100. Hmm!
Monday, October 18, 2010
I considered hiring someone to come in and take out the cement but the only company in the area with the equipment to do this is difficult to get out for "little" jobs like this. I'm still waiting, 8 years later, for them to return to repair my basement wall, a job they started then never returned to finish. Fortunately, they started by stabilizing the wall so it wouldn't collapse when they started digging out the basement and that has served to control the problem with the wall bowing inward.
Change was needed and it appeared the only way to make it was grab a hammer and take out the cement so this is the latest job. Of course, I was aware of the fact that cement is generally hard but I was feeling confident. I've broken cement before. About 15 years ago I took out an 8'x12' slab before putting the deck on the house. What I didn't account for is how 15 years has treated me.
Now on the third day of cement removal, I have removed about 1/3 of the cement and stacked over half of it out at the curb, hoping it will be picked up when city clean up day comes next week. Getting out of bed this morning went much better than I expected but during the day I found that if I sneezed or coughed, all of my ribs hurt. I actually think swinging the hammer tonight eased the soreness but I may think differently in the morning.
What I found interesting during this project is that when I started taking out the sidewalk, I dug down to remove some dirt from under the slab to make breaking easier. About a foot down I discovered another sidewalk. At the end of the first day's work, I had a 3 foot square hole with a cement slab in the bottom of it. Obviously, at one time the yard was lower than it is now. Hmm! Maybe I could just fill it with water and toss in a couple fish.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The inside isn't trimmed out yet. The inner glass, which I added shortly after moving into the house, had to be removed to clean the space between the glasses. When I originally installed this glass, I did not seal all the tiny gaps as well as they needed to be so over time, spider weds developed between the glass panes. Besides sealing the space well, that space was reduced from 2" wide to 3/4" wide by the removal of one set of stops, leaving just the one thickness. This was painted white so it would resemble the vinyl windows through the rest of the house.
The film for the window arrived Monday and was installed Tuesday. It is interesting, up close it is not so impressive but when you stand back several feet, it has a nice look. Definitely provides privacy from that side, there is no way to see anything but light through it, which is what I was hoping for. The size of the window just did not lend itself to curtains or blinds. I had no interest in making it look like a wider window as that would mean forfeiting valuable wall space. This seemed like a good alternative.
The night view from outside is pleasing, the chandelier creates a pleasant golden glow in the upper window. Once the inside of both windows are trimmed and the curtains rehung on the big window, I can spend my winter evenings in my library, writing more blogs about my house project.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I added a new bookcase, one of those inexpensive, put together yourself types, in black so it matches the computer armoire. Instead of using the cheap cardboard back provided, I used pieces of the wall paneling from window holes to back it. This makes it look like open back shelves against the wall. I also added a "crown" to it so it would match the old bookcase I already had in the room. This was such a simple little project, I was surprised at the difference it made in the look of the piece.
When I went to school and really learned to read, the die was cast, I was destined to love books for the rest of my life. Being an introvert by nature, I relish my private time and need seclusion regularly to replenish my spirit. Books have always fit into this time, being companionable without expectation. When I discovered the public library, I was in awe. To see an entire building devoted to books was amazing and over the years I spent a lot of hours wandering among the aisles of books. Now I am going to have my very own library, complete with a crystal chandelier. Very decadent!
Friday, September 17, 2010
I think this pleases me. It isn't perfect, a good eye will quickly pick out the errors but the overall look isn't bad. I'm more than half way through the stripping and wrapping portion. I'm actually rather proud of myself, although I am in my third summer of renovation, completing as much as I have was no small task. The best part, all the work has met a standard that I consider acceptable. Some of it is just plain good!
The house should be significantly more energy efficient when I finish everything. The first step was putting new windows all the way around, replacing old, wood sash, single glass windows, many of which had gaps where the sashes met. Aluminum storm windows helped but were not enough to stop the cold winds of a northwest Kansas winter. The last few years I resorted to putting plastic over the inside of the living room windows and when the wind blew, the plastic would "breathe" in and out with the gusts.
The other big factor should be the house wrap I am adding. Over half the house had no wrap at all or totally useless wrap. This shield long ago lost all it's protective properties, looking and feeling more like a child's construction paper that was soaked then dried out. I have occasionally kept my bill from the gas company, which lists fuel consumption for the prior 12 months so this coming winter I will be able to compare to last year to see if the difference is obvious.
On a positive note, I have actually encountered very little termite damage, although there are definitely termites in the area. I have found them from time to time when a log or board is left lying in the yard for some length of time. Apparently, much of this old yellow pine which is used almost exclusively on the original part of the house, is not very tasty to the little bugs. I have found a few boards that they have attacked, probably less than a half dozen, but no active sites.
The front of the house is starting to look naked now, with over half the siding removed. The trim is off the window and will have to be rebuilt as I did not get it done the way I want it the first time. There won't be much time to work on it during the week since days off will be severely limited in the next month or so. Two other workers are out on medical leave now so it will be hard for anyone to take time off unless it is an emergency. Of course, if it starts snowing, THIS could be an emergency.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
This is why I have a problem with hiring someone to work on the house. I absolutely hate when I hire someone to do a job for me and find that I could have done it better. This happened the first time I hired someone to roof my house. The job was poorly done, there were places that leaked, they did not replace decking that had deteriorated, just went over it so there were soft spots. I did learn a lesson about checking for references with that and when I had the roof done the next time I was satisfied with the job.
Perhaps I should not be so picky about these things but when I pay someone a few thousand dollars to do a job, I expect to be happy with the work. I also find it rather offensive when the advertise themselves as experienced at something yet do a shoddy job that I could improve on. Oops! Got on a rant there. Personal annoyance there, easy to get going on the subject. Enough of that.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
With work done on the south side it made sense to move tool world to the north side. Actually, getting the canopy out of the south yard was past due, the grass has suffered from being covered for 3 weeks. Having 10 gallons of sawdust sprinkled over it didn't help either.
The canopy was moved today, along with the scaffold/ladder but the tools will wait until tomorrow. The rest of the north siding needs to be removed but the project is complicated by the fact the phone boxes and connections are on that wall. They will have to be carefully detached and suspended so the wires are not damaged while the siding is removed from under them. The process will then have to be repeated when applying the new siding as the boxes cannot be left detached in between.
A week later and tool world is in full swing on the north side. Being a pop-up, the legs of the canopy pull out after the cover is on to get proper height. This has worked out so I can drop the tent down to about a four foot height for the night, providing better protection for the tools.
The goat next door enjoys the activity when I start popping the canopy back up. He starts butting the fence when I start work. His "mom" has been gone for about 3 months, visiting kids. Someone comes to feed the goat and the macaw but I think they are lonely. The bird will squawk and today it sounded like it was trying to imitate the sound of the sander.
I find myself talking to the goat when I work. I've been feeding him pears that fall from my tree and he gets excited when I toss them over the fence. He stands on his hind legs then lunges at the pears. If they are green, he will smash them with his horns so he can eat them. I think he is starting to look forward to my arrival, he will trot right over to the fence when he hears me.
With dark coming earlier every night, work time in the evening, after I get home from the paying job, is getting limited. A couple hours is about all the time available now so things aren't moving real fast. I was to have off most of this week to work on the house but the real job infringed on it so today was actually the only day I stayed home and I took a couple hours out of it to write a letter and make several phone calls.
Oh well, tomorrow is Saturday, no work pressure. My dad will come visit but he may find himself set out under the canopy to "supervise" while I finish trimming out the windows. I should be able to finish that portion tomorrow then will move to the front of the house. I may spend some time tomorrow checking on possible workers to help get the siding up when I finish with prep. For now, I think the dogs have the right idea. They are all sacked out on the library floor.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
My hope, as I renovate my house, is to give it as much of the folk Victorian look and character as possible, within a budget. I replaced the windows with modern, vinyl, double pane windows but I'm trying to recreate an "older" look in the window casings, giving the impression of original without the cost.
The challenges are varied and many. For some windows, I reframed completely and used new construction windows so there was no existing casing present. Some windows were replacement windows which slipped inside of the existing frame after I removed the old sashes. A couple of these had existing casing, including sills, although the style was not consistent as these windows were trimmed in brick mold rather than wide, flat boards.
Others of the replacement windows were trimmed but the previous owners destroyed portions of it in order to apply 4'x8' sheets of masonite siding. Since they wanted quick & easy installation they apparently beat the sills and drip caps with a hammer to knock them out of the way. These pose the greatest challenge, trying to make the remnant of the sill into a smooth surface which will allow for grafting on a new sill extension and creating new drip caps to take the place of those smashed to bits.
The first two efforts at building sills went well. These were not damaged, they were new window sizes and no sill was there after the reframe. Basic theory for the remaining sills is the same though, so I do not foresee major problems but only time will tell on that.
Poor old house has weathered a lot of years and they have taken a toll on it. The old cedar siding is in surprisingly good condition, termites never touched it, despite having made a few attacks on the sheathing beneath it. I hope to "rehome" the siding to someone who can use it as it seems a terrible thing to send beautiful, resiliant wood like this to the dump. On a small application, this siding could be brought back to usefulness and serve even more years protecting structures for someone.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The old part of the house was built in 1936 and in keeping with the time, the sheathing in that section is solid, 3/4 inch thick, 8 inch wide yellow pine boards. AMAZING! Beautiful wood and rock hard after 75 years except for a few spots along the sill where water or termites have attacked during the past 3/4 century. Fortunately, I only found one damaged section, only 16" wide and not rotted through the full thickness, so I reinforced this rather than cutting out the sill to replace the bad area.
The newer portion of the house was built in 1975 and large sections of it are sheathed in this less desirable product. Although it has the advantage of being much flatter than the board sheathing, as is obvious from reading the labeling, this product "may smolder or burn". I hope to never see this warning tested but meanwhile I tell myself it can't burn any faster than the dry old wood in the rest of the house.
Siding does come down off this much easier since it is much softer than wood so nails can be pulled out without great effort.
After all the siding on the south side of the house was removed and hauled out back where it is stacked, in hopes someone will want it, I set about applying pink, fan-fold insulation board. Having initially planned to use vinyl siding, I bought fan-fold to help level out the surface for the new siding. With vinyl it is not necessary to remove old siding but the lapped texture is not amenable to siding over without something to smooth the surface.
I did not find the application of pink fan-fold to be great fun, despite the lovely appearance the house has all covered in pink, with red text all over it. OK, I'm kidding! Pink seems to be all about trademark, they want EVERYONE who goes by to know you bought an Owens Corning product. Hardly anyone gets to see that pink, cotton candy stuff you put in your attic or walls but this stuff is like a giant OC billboard.
Since it comes in 4' widths, 50' long, which unfolds spontaniously, it proved to be a challenge to keep the sheets of insulation where they needed to be while holding a stapler in one hand. It went up but not without a fight. Then, after getting it tacked over half the south side, I did additional research and found it was at best a waste of time, in terms of R-factor, at worst a possible problem in terms of moisture retention when used in conjunction with housewrap. With that information I decided to finish out the south side but I will not be applying fan-fold to the rest of the house. Too bad, it would have been interesting to have the entire house pink, especially if it turns out I don't get the siding attached before winter sets in.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Quick bathroom stop was in order but when it was time to flush, no flushing going on. The clip on the flap was broken so flipping the handle did nothing. Now flushing involves taking the lid off the tank and sticking my hand down to pull up the flap. OK, I can deal, just have to get a new flap and install it. A minor inconvenience. Maybe a shower will make me feel better about it all.
How fun it is to peel off sweat saturated clothing! Ready for a nice cool shower, instead I get COLD shower. It seems the hot water heater has gone out again. This means lighting the heater and letting it run long enough to heat a tank of water before I can shower. Eventually I did get the shower but shortly discovered that as soon as the tank of water is warm, the heater goes out again. Now I have to figure out why my water heater, which is only about 3 years old, will not stay lit after heating. This also means that every day, when I get home from work, I have to go down and light the water heater so there will be warm water for a shower after I finish my outside work for the day, since the temperature is running pretty close to 100 (or higher) every day. Who was that who said they were tired of winter? WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am ready for the end of "Winter"!
While I will admit to experiencing near euphoria at crawling between flannel sheets, warmed by the electric blanket, on a cold January night and the sight of early sunshine on ice covered trees is more beautiful than any diamonds to me, I have grown weary of the cold.
Sloshing through piles of melting snow, shoveling openings in the plowed ridges across the driveway to release the car and chasing dogs out of the house because they don't want to squat in the snow are all reasons to look anxiously forward to the arrival of spring.
Perhaps in some future year, when employment is no longer a requirement, when all the home improvement projects are done, I will look forward to winter days. When sitting on the yet to be built window seat in the south window, reading a book while soaking up winter sunshine, will be all I feel a need to complete in a day. Then the cold may be welcome as a perfect excuse to accomplish no more than this on winter days.