Monday, September 3, 2012

Forward progress...

Hello All,

So when we last left off, we were installing the stone facade. Here you can see an in progress shot of the front of the house:

And this weekend, we managed to finished the stonework. Well, there are three stones left to put up and we need to flash the top of the stone. But it still feels like an accomplishment.

Now, while we were finishing the stonework, we heard my old chihuahua Peanut, barking madly. We figured she was making a bed. She likes to bark while making her bed. Well, when we came inside, this is what we found. Yes, she's diagnosed with lung disease and takes Viagra twice a day, and the doctors said she only had six months, at most, back in March. And every day is a gift, but this trashed pillow is a special gift to me. :)

Since she was so full of energy, we took her on a trip to Home Depot to pick up a new ladder. The next step is installing Tyvek and siding on the house. I have a scaffolding system for helping me put on the siding, but I need a taller ladder in order to install the supports. You'll see it in the next picture. Anyways, Peanut enjoyed her outing.

Here you can see the scaffolding in place and the bottom layer of tyvek being installed. If you've never worked on scaffold jacks, the first time is a very terrifying experience. More about that in future posts...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More stone facade

Here's when we first started putting on the stone facade a couple weekends ago.

We had to put the top row up first in order to make sure everything was level.  This involved some weird (this is the lady of the house here by the way) 2x4 contraptions at the corners to hold the pink (I picked it) line around it that we used as our level line.

 The first few stones fell right off.  We needed more mortar, and wetter mortar!  I put my frosting cake experience to parallel purposes.

Then we got ourselves a system.  I picked out pieces and slapped on mortar and the Mr. smooshed them into the wall very level-like.  This took a lot of force he tells me.  You would have a hard time doing it he tells me.  

Seeing as how he actually overestimates my strength I didn't argue.

This first weekend we got all the way around the house with the top row except for a few spots where the stones need to be custom cut.  This is great because... 1. Progress! and 2. Now we can put the flashing above the stone and set ourselves up for siding.  

Naturally we took the dogs with us to hang out.  

Since we had to clear out all stuff around the house we removed the ramp at the back and the cinder block stairs (classy) at the front that we use to get into the house.  Peanut was stuck in the house when we put her up there and Bubba could jump out, but couldn't jump back into the house (or so we all thought).  At one point he barked at me to help him into the house (there was a bed and water in there), but I couldn't help him fast enough (mortar on my gloves).  A few minutes later I walked around the corner and he was just chillin' in the house on his bed.  So I had him show me how he got in there.  I wanted to see it.

Trial 1.  

Whoops!  I just don't think he was that motivated to jump himself when we were right there and obviously could help him.  I get it.

Trial 2.  

Now that is a damn good jump!  P.S. I gave him a proper dog treat right after this.  And then I had some skittles that I keep in my tool belt for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life gets in the way....

So in mid-July, we finally ran out of money and my work picked up significantly.

The good news is that the money lasted until the roof was on and the windows were in.

The bad news is that now, the pace of work will slow down significantly, as we will have to pay for things as we go, and we will have to do all of the labor.

Also, with my work picking up significantly, I've ended up working quite a bit on the weekends, which has further slowed progress.

Right now we are applying the stone facade I purchased earlier in the year, and it's pretty easy to apply. Plus it looks pretty good!

We've been taking pictures this whole time, so hopefully I'll have time to go back and start filling in pictures and stories. But in the meantime, I figured an update was appropriate.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Something funny happened on the way to the store...

So, we needed to pick out a few temporary doors for the house. We are buying very cheap, temporary doors to close up the structure, until we pick out our final doors. Also, until we can afford final doors, money is running tight.

So we bought two used doors from a local salvage shop called Second Use. They had a wonderful selection, the staff were very friendly and it was a totally positive experience. I think we'll definitely be heading back there.

But I thought you would appreciate this little series of photos, we decided to bring the dogs along....

Now, I might want to mention, today has not been Bubba's day. The day started with nail trimming, then a bath, then tooth brushing, then frontline. Oh and we caught him eating Peanut's food twice and he was kenneled as a result. So it just wasn't Bubba's day to start with.

And then we made him share a lap for the ride down to ReStore....

And then we told him how we were going to go shopping in ReStore!

Hey! They allow dogs in the store! Come one Peanut! Bubba, you get to wait in the truck....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Apologies for the delay.

It's been a while since I've posted a blog entry.

My apologies, it's been a little crazy around here. To sum it up, the decision was made to go ahead and build the second floor now, rather than wait.

I'll go back and fill in the gaps, but this is where we stand today:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Backfilling the foundation.

Although I have let the cat out of the bag, I need to go back and cover some prior work first. Otherwise, it might be to jarring for our reader to follow the progress. Where we last left off, I had just built the shed for the kitchen. The next step was to install the drainage and backfill the foundation. This would make it easier to work around the house and start framing.

The first step was to clean up the trench around the foundation.

The light colored stuff in this picture is called "Form-A-Drain", it was supposed to act as drainage and a form board, all in one. Well it kinda sucked. It required a lot of support and still ended up wavy. And then it was really easy for the concrete to flow below and back into the drainage holes. So I decided I'd rather pull it out than rely on it and have it fail quickly.

Once I removed it all, I cleaned up the trench around the foundation and lined the trench with "trench wrap". This is supposed to keep silt from getting into the drainage line and blocking it. This was pretty straight-forward, so I rented a dump truck and a dingo and the lady started hauling away old bricks and concrete and bringing back drainage gravel.

The first step was moving the cultured stone from the driveway to the side of the driveway. I figured the dingo would do this easily, but it lost a track.

I figured there weren't enough gratuitous pictures of the Toro Dingo in the blog and this machine has saved me so much effort. So here it is, in it's hour of need.

Well, I started working and forgot to take pictures, but here is the trench after being filled with drainage rock, and after covering it with filter fabric. I found the trench wrap to be a little too easily torn, so I upgraded to filter fabric, which is much stronger and less likely to let silt into the drainage.

Here is the drainage after being backfilled. This was a pretty major moment for me. Having the foundation completed, drainage installed and being backfilled has taken over a year from the permit being issued. It's also taken much more money than I planned.

But it's finally starting to feel like real progress is being made and that it's actually more of a house than a money-pit.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A message from Gretchen and Henrietta.

I'll post pictures of the demo soon.

But the ladies just wanted you to know, that the sun has been out lately, and they've been lounging about in the front yard more.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'd be a poor politician...

because I change my mind when confronted with a clear, rational argument.

Remember how I said we would be framing the first floor and then eventually framing the second floor?

Well, after a discussion with Trent and Greg, from Pallet and Palette, I decided to go ahead and demo it down to the subfloor and let them re-build the structure from scratch. The end product would be better and the whole process will be much more straight-forward.

Honestly, a large part of this decision was the trust I have in Trent and his crew at Pallet and Palette. If I were to only renovate the first floor now, was the idea that I could complete the work if the contractor flaked out (which already happened). Demo'ing the first floor and committing to both floor at once means I need to have a lot of trust in the contractor to finish the job in a timely and efficient manner. And I have that trust in Pallet and Palette.

I bring you the final wall coming down. Trent was kind enough to record this while I was at work:

PS, I'll post more pictures of the demo later in the week.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Have you met "the ladies"?

I lived in a condo for a long time. Like 12 years or something, and I liked it.

But I had come to a point that I wanted to do things like... own chickens!

Having a yard was one of the most enticing things about owning a home. Having animals, a garden and room to mess about.
So last year, I bit the bullet and bought a few peepers! Two Buff Orpingtons and two Rhode Island Reds. They were adorable.
They grew up *very* quickly. (This was mere weeks after I brought them home.)

Eventually they grew big enough that it was time to move them outside, so then it was time to build a coop. They came to live at the rental.

This is their first day outside, roughly three months after hatching. It was awesome watching them poke around and forage. Also, I learned the true secret to getting a chicken's attention. Worms.

One day, a friend gave another friend a "gift of responsibility", which meant they bought them a Silkie Bantam show chicken and dyed her pink. It was a hilarious gift and worked out well, as the recipient already had chickens. Unfortunately, chickens are pretty aggressive about enforcing a pecking order, and Bubbles wasn't very good at standing up for herself. So she came to live with my flock of chicks.

It worked out extremely well. She was very motherly and taught the little peepers how to be proper chickens.
One of the more interesting things that happened when they first moved in, was a visit from a neighbor's african guinea fowl. When the guinea fowl realised there were new ladies in the neighborhood, it was quite an event. At 5am.

Did I mention, the neighbors all hated the guinea fowl? It's pretty obvious why.

Eventually, the chicks grew up into regular chickens. One of the Rhodies turned out to be a rooster and went to live on a farm (Literally. I built a coop and he lives quite happily in the country on a friend's multi-acre estate).

Bubbles too, eventually went to live at the same friend's estate when the Buff's grew up and started picking on her too much. She's now an indoor chicken and is very happy. When she came to live with me, I was told that she had been a "show chicken" and had lived indoors. So I'm glad that her rough outdoor lifestyle is over and she's back living "in the manner to which she had been accustomed".

So all that is left are the two Buffs, whom I have named Gretchen and Henrietta. (Gretchen is the larger one.) They get let out of the coop on the weekends when I'm around, they both actively lay eggs, and they are a constant source of amusement for people walking by the frontyard of our rental.

From my experience so far, I expect them to be a wonderful addition to the new home and the neighborhood!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our of desperation, a shed is born!

I had been operating under the idea that the delivery date for our Ikea kitchen could be easily moved.  So you know, if we weren't ready for the delivery, no problem just pay them to store it a few more weeks.

Well... after the base coat of stucco was applied to the stem-wall, I called Ikea and asked if we could push out the delivery two weeks. Their response was "nope, it is being held as long as possible, it has to be shipped on the original date, no choice".

So now we either store it all in the house while we finish the foundation wall and level the yard. Or build a shed now, before the yard is leveled.  Or rent a storage unit. Or....

Frankly I didn't want to move it more than necessary. The total weight of all the packages is roughly a ton, separated into 100+ cardboard boxes. So it makes sense to try and limit the times you move it around.  So I dropped by Home Depot on Friday night, picked up the materials for the subfloor of the shed and dropped it off at the house.  Saturday morning, the Future Missus and I clear a section of the backyard and starting digging out where we'll position the blocks that the shed will rest on.

It's a simple 8 x 11 platform framed shed. We used six concrete blocks to support the structure. 2x6 floor joists, OSB subfloor, 8' walls, with a simple corrugated shed style roof.

We dug out holes where the concrete blocks would rest. We then filled in the holes with between 2-4" of gravel and tamped it. We then leveled the gravel filled holes and squared everything up.

Once it was all squared, we laid down mud sills. Now, I'll be honest, this thing is meant to be fast to build and will be torn pretty quickly after we move in. So I didn't even bother to buy pressure treated sill plates.

We built up the subfloor, and decided to call it a day.

The next day we came back and built the walls. Having a square and level subfloor already there made this go really quickly. Measure, measure, measure, cut, nail, nail, nail and done. We built the sides and back on top of each other, then stood them all up and leaned them out against the fences. Then we brought the first wall up, supported it with cross-supports.  Then we lifted the second wall into place, check for level and nail it together. Then the third wall, and then I built the fourth and front wall in place.

I added double top places to lock the corners in.  Finally, I used a 2x8 to form the front of the roof, allowing it to pitch towards the back of the property.

At this point, I realized that the wooden saddles to match up with the corrugated metal roof were incompatible. Sadly the wooden saddles were made for plastic roofing.  Back to home depot to exchange the metal for the plastic.

Then I installed the roofing, drill, screw, drill, screw....

Right after I got the front OSB installed, but before I managed to get a door fabricated and installed, the delivery crew showed up and I had to help unload and organize the packages.

 Once they left, I organized the packages, made sure they delivered everything we bought.

Once that was done, I could finally build and install the door.

Admittedly after I stepped back, I realised there was a lot of unused space in the shed. So I went back and added an 8ft x 8ft "shelf" which we could fill up with all of the "stuff" we need to store until the house is completed.

We've since filled that up.  With the storage boxes that were hanging out in the corner of our rental dining room, and the storage boxes that were hanging out in the middle of the house here.  Win, win, win.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Concrete can do anything. Let me show you...

When I was applying the stucco, I would trowel it on and the Future Missus would work behind me, smoothing it out and making it all nice and level.

We had lunch and everything was great. We finished up and after I cleaned all of the tools, before I got in the truck, I took my gloves off.

Well, it turns out I had a small hole in my right glove and come concrete managed to get in and cause a burn. Now, my understanding is that something strongly alkaline will essentially saponify the oils in your skin, tearing apart the structure of the cells.

Well, imagine slowly rubbing an area being exposed to this extremely alkaline substance and you can imagine the skin being quickly "melted" and rubbed away. Imagine it happening so much that it went through all of the upper layers of skin.

Now imagine due to the weird nature of alkaline burns, it didn't really hurt and you never really noticed. You might be sitting around with Peanut, working on the computer.

The Future Missus took a picture of the burn a full week after it had happened, and even then, it was pretty wicked. So... lesson learned.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The start of a facade!

The Future Missus and I were at the Seattle Home Show, and one of the things that I saw was cultured stone. I didn't realize how good they looked or the ease of installation for a cultured stone facade. So when we came home, we went through the various vendors and I happened to find a local vendor who was offering free delivery if we ordered by the end of the week.

After a quick confab with the interested parties, I ordered enough stone to cover the stem wall from grade to the water board. A week later, it arrived in the form of three pallets in my driveway.

The first step is to waterproof the stem wall. This may seem odd you say, but code requires that any conditioned crawlspace require waterproofing. And being me, I went a little overboard. I used both 6mil plastic and building paper. Once the stem wall was wrapped in plastic and building paper, I then started to screw mesh into the ICF backing plates.

Here you can see what it looks like with all of the layers up on the stem wall. The purpose of the mesh is to hold up a layer of mortar, which is exactly the same as a stucco scratch coat. This will then provide a strong surface to which we'll attach the cultured stone.

Here you can see, the entire house wrapped in waterproofing and mesh. The plastic and paper were overlapped above the mesh, so that after installation, I can install Z flashing on top of it all and have a waterproof stem wall.

Oh and you might notice the tiny kennel in the foreground. That's Rooney in there. He was visiting and had a tendency to wander, so he had to hang in the kennel while watching me work.

And, and the mortar is being applied! I had to purchase approximately 1200lbs of mortar, which was then applied in a 3/8 - 1/2 thick layer, all around the house.

This was hard work, to say the least. Each bag of mortar weighed 80lbs. I had to haul this from the street to the concrete mixer, add in 6 liters of water, and then manually trowel it on, one big scoop at a time.

Here you can see the front of the house. The Future Missus and I tag-teamed this. I would work ahead of her, getting the mortar onto the mesh, at the appropriate thickness. She would then follow up behind me, smoothing it out and filling in any hollows I left behind. It worked out great, and goddamn, is she a great worker. This one is definitely a keeper. ;)

Once the concrete cures and stiffens up, it's necessary to then scratch a bunch of horizontal lines in it. This serves to provide additional surface which allows the subsequent coat of mortar to better stick.

You might ask how we did it? Easy! A garden rake!
And here is the final result, a base coat, evenly applied to the whole house. It ended up taking an entire day just applying the scratch coat. It is a lot of work, but it'll look great once the cultured stone is applied.