Monday, October 25, 2010


I believe the rockpile has reached it's maximum sustainable height. One more layer of blocks
could be all it takes to topple the entire thing down into the street and driveway. As it is, I'm unlikely to be able to get my truck out until the rubble is gone.

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

Day 6, the hole grows!

I would not venture to guess how many pounds of cement I have stacked out by the curb now. The pile is about 2' x 4' and 3' tall and this doesn't include the 5 wheelbarrows full of small chunks and cement dust that has been deposited in the parking lot next door.

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


Taking "do it yourself-ing" to a new level, I started removing cement slabs from my backyard yesterday. This first involved the purchase of an 8 pound sledge hammer since I decided that handling a jack-hammer was most likely beyond me. That, a shovel, a spade and lots of elbow grease are the tools I set about this with.

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.
Cement removal was prompted by the fact that when the basement and back half of the house was added, the backfill was not adequately tamped in before the cement pads were poured. When I moved in, 25 years ago there was no obvious problem but over time the ground has settled, dropping the cement nearest the house, draining directly to the basement wall. So far the water has not infiltrated the basement but it has been hard on the exterior of the house.

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 library window is almost done. The trim on the outside, all new, is finished and primed. It has a sill now, before there was only a 1x4 box around the edge of the glass, narrow edge out. The frame is still there around the glass but after cutting a 3/4 x 3/8 inch strip out of the side of a 1x4, the trim fit right down over the frame, hiding it in trim consistent with the other windows.

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.