Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Labor Day Laboring

Labor day lived up to its name this year.  Luke and I labored our butts off.  I'm still not fully recovered from my broken ankle, but I am doing well enough to work on the house again.  I puttered on small projects like installing flashing and working on the porch while Luke tackled big projects.
He sheeted the garage roof which really made the garage seem a lot more finished
He also installed synfelt on the roof and we managed to get the house wrap on as well.
I built real steps for the front porch.  We've been using a temporary set since April so it's nice to have something sturdy and facing the right direction.
My doctor has forbade me to get on the roof this year, so I sent Rikka up to check things out for me.
It's really amazing how different the house looks with the garage and porch.  Here is a photo from this spring before we started work.
 And how it looks now (sorry about the cars in the way, we're protecting the new driveway).
Obviously we still have a long way to go but it has changed a lot since April.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Finally, A Driveway

Despite four months of misery our concrete saga is almost at and end. Our new concrete guy set the forms and on Monday.
And poured on Thursday.  Originally I had designed a semicircle sidewalk that created a garden between the garage and yard, but our contractor suggested this instead.  Although I lose the little garden between the house and garage I really like the way this worked out.
Did you notice that gap between the sidewalk and the house?   We are keeping that window well and did not want it to project into the sidewalk so I'm going to turn this into a garden.
And now that the concrete is done, we can go back to to working on the never ending garage project.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Bonus Project - Patio Door

On Monday I posted pictures of our new front door but I didn't mention our unplanned project, the patio door.  Unfortunately since I was not planning to replace the door this weekend I did not take any before pictures.  The best one I could find was an old listing photo.
The old wooden door leaked a ton of cold air and the cat figured out how to open it any time she wanted.  It was always surprising to find the door wide open in the middle of winter but the cat obviously was not concerned about pipes freezing.  Anyway, the boys pulled the old patio door out and installed our "new" door.
We found this fancy Pella door at Lowes as a special order return.  We picked it up for $300, marked down from $1800 and aside from missing a latch keeper it was in perfect condition and the screen door slides like a dream compared to the old one.
The internal blinds are nice for privacy without curtains, but I was really amazed at how much brighter the room is when they are closed it night.
I would love to say that we are going to be working on the windows next, but it's time to get back to work on the garage (at least until it starts raining again).

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Front Door

When we moved in the house had and ugly storm door over an even uglier white metal door that had seen better days.
 
 I debated painting the door, but decided it just was not worth the $2.97 for a sample pot of paint.  And since the door has to be body slammed to get it open it would just get scratched up anyway.
We knew which door we wanted, the same fiberglass door we used on our house in Butte.  We fell in love with how well fiberglass help up to construction and a giant malamute.  Our previous steel doors tended to dent and scratch but the fiberglass just needed a little cleaning to look brand new.
 
The only problem is that our door never goes on sale and we just did not want to spend $519.  So we waited and checked clearance at Home Depot for a year with no success.  So when my grandma gave me a 10% off coupon we decided to to just buy the door before winter hit.  We went to Home Depot to pick it up and found exactly what we needed, including the 2x6 jamb with a right hand swing, on clearance because the brickmold was broken.  We hauled our prize home for $350.  Luke and his brother took advantage of a rainy Sunday to get it installed.

The lighting makes the door look espresso instead of a warm chocolate color but either one provides a nice contrast to our nickel lock set.  Obviously we have to get the siding replaced before the house will look good, but new front door is a nice start and we're already getting compliments from the neighbors.


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Game Plan

Our construction plans for 2014 have really changed.  Between delays getting the concrete poured (our contractor went to jail mid-project) and my broken ankle (out of the cast but still need a cane to walk) we are not going to accomplish everything we had planned for the year.  After a great deal of thought and discussion we have revised our plans and come up with the following goals for the remainder of 2014:
          • Pour driveway and sidewalk
          • Dry in garage
          • Frame kitchen addition
          • New roof on house (mandatory, the roof is leaking)
          • Replace doors and windows (hopefully)
          • Replace siding on house (maybe)
It's not a long list, but there is a lot to do. Here is where we're at so far:
Driveway and sidewalk - Scheduled to be poured on Friday

Garage - Still no roof and a long way from dried in
Kitchen addition - Not even started
Roof - We cut a hole in it for the porch gable end, but I don't think that counts as progress
Replace windows and doors - We have chosen the new door, but for now we get to look at this dingy white mess.
Siding - We removed some to build the porch.  It's pretty much a disaster

Given that I'm still pretty useless around the house this is a long list to accomplish before too much snow flies. We'll just have to see how far we can get before then.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Contractor Is In Jail - Now What

We've run into a serious problem with our concrete contractor...he's in jail.

I won't go into specifics except to say that he is looking at a long prison term.  So far we've paid him for work completed, but we still don't have a driveway or sidewalk.  Instead we have a massive hole that is both an insurance liability and a massive inconvenience for me to navigate around on my crutches.  The worst part is that he has not paid for the concrete he used to pour our garage foundation and floor.  If he does not pay his bill the concrete company will put a lien on our home even though we already paid the contractor.

So I'm looking for advice.  Has anyone been in a similar situation?  Any experience with these situations?

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Removing The Stump - Because The Tree Guy Is Too Lazy To Show Up

It's been another week of laying around for me, waiting for bones to knit.  But while I've been working on the basics, like learning to cook from a rolling stool, Luke has been making progress on the garage and our stump problem.

You might need a little backstory for this to all make sense.  When we bought the house we had this ugly clump of trees growing in front of the house (far right)
When we were ready to start work on the garage we cut them down, leaving the stump where the driveway needed to be.
This was once a massive system of cottonwood trees, with a stump four feet in diameter.  Our concrete contractor tried to remove it with a mini-excavator and a bobcat with no luck.  Our driveway cannot be poured because the stump is in the way.
  So three and a half weeks ago I hired a tree service to remove it.  Apparently the tree guy was not motivated by his $500 bid, because we've had nothing but ignored calls and excuses ever since then.  Two weeks after the concrete guy poured the garage slab Luke got fed up and rented a mini-excavator.
He dug a deep trench all the way around the stump until he could finally rock it loose like a baby tooth.
Getting it out of the hole was no easy matter.  The stump was too heavy and bulky for the mini-excavator to pull out of the hole so he had to clean the loose dirt away with the pressure washer and cut off chunks with his chainsaw.
Eventually he was able to haul the monstrous stump out of the hole and load it onto the tilt bed trailer for the excavator.
So instead of paying the tree company $500 we spent $140 on the mini-excavator.  Now we just have to get the concrete guy out here to pour the driveway and we will be done with contractors.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Getting Started

As you may have noticed in my last post, our progress on the garage is not longer "our" progress.  It's Luke's progress.  I am on crutches for the next three months so my duties have been reduced to resting and keeping my foot elevated; all the garage construction is now Luke's responsibility.  Fortunately my husband happens to be a norwegian giant, former construction foreman and a very hard worker.  While I was laying on the couch all day he was framing walls
Our pastor came over to help put up the wall with the garage door header.  Our church really does have wonderful people!
As you may have noticed from the photos the sidewalk is poured but we still do not have our driveway or sidewalk.  This massive stump is holding everything up while we wait for the very unreliable tree company to actually remove it as promised.  Every time we work with a contractor Luke and I are reminded why we prefer to do as much of our own work as possible.  
But finding out how massive this stump is has made us more aware of a potential problem with the back yard.  We have this weirdly placed clump of trees growing in the middle of the back yard.  We decided to take them down this year so we can drill out the stumps and get some nitrogen to rot them before we start landscape work next summer.
The yard looks even more flat and bare than before but hopefully our next stump removal will be easier and less expensive than the front yard.
Despite the many delays it is nice to see progress, even if I'm no longer involved.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Well, That Changes Plans

It looks like my plans for the summer have changed
Instead of building a garage and putting new siding and windows on the house, I will be spending the next three months on crutches.  Which means Luke is going to be stuck doing all the work to get the garage dried in by himself.  I can't express how wonderful he has been through this whole ordeal but here are a few of the highlights:
  • He sets his alarm to wake me up during the night when it's time for pain pills
  • He rearranged the furniture in our room so I could get around easier and moved into the guest room so I could sleep more comfortably
  • He will not let me go down the basement stairs and has been doing all the laundry himself
  • Despite being exhausted by caring for me and working full time time he has never complained.  I know I was not so gracious when he had his ankle surgery four years ago.
So Luke will be busy the summer with garage construction, but despite my non-weight-bearing ankle I've decided not to let the summer be a complete waste.  I'm going to figure out how to cook and clean the house despite the cast.  If I can't work on the garage I should at least be able to take some other burdens off of Luke.
I have a lot of time on my hands. My brain needs a distraction or I'll go crazy thinking about all the things I need to do on the house.  So I signed up for an epidemiology course (online) and ordered a french language software program.  I haven't made much progress on my french yet, but who knows where I might be in three month.  


Sunday, June 08, 2014

As Good As It Gets - For Now

After weeks of work the porch is a finished as it's going to get for now.  We cannot completely finish the project because of the siding.  We hope to replace all the windows and siding on the house this fall.  Until then we're going to have to look at our unfinished gable.
And some very ugly siding with cracking paint
And our hideous front door (I've already picked out our new door, but after eight months is has yet to go on sale.  I may have to pay retail...oh the horror.)
But I am pleased with how the porch turned out.  The bulky 4x6 posts provide a visual balance for the 2x6 rafters.
And the tongue and groove ceiling was well worth the expense and trouble.
Even without replacing the siding or installing a new exterior light fixture the porch has made a huge difference in how the house looks from the street.  
Before

After
Unfortunately the new siding and windows for the house are still a long way off.  We are starting work on building the garage and we'll be busy with that project until it is at least dried in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Porch Roof

Porch construction has been a slow process.  Between work, weather and some work we are doing at church there just has not been much time for improving our own house.  But over the Memorial Day weekend we were able to make some serious progress.  With the help of Luke's brother we finished framing the porch roof
And installed the sheathing and synfelt
We found some tongue and groove aspen on sale several weeks ago and decided it would be perfect with our open rafter ceiling.
I'm not done with the painting yet, but I think the rafters have a nice contrast against the aspen.
Our other projects have included removing the fence and siding in anticipation of the still-to-be-built garage.
 Luke also remove some of the branches on the tree/shrub in the front yard.  We are hoping to have the stump removed when we have equipment here to excavate the driveway.  The yard is so much more open without it.

I'm hoping to finish the porch painting this week and excavation for the driveway and garage should start on Thursday.  After all these months we are finally doing something with this house!

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Porch Gets A Floor

We started on the porch last weekend but most of our time was spent on boring projects that don't do much for the aesthetics of the house.  But now the concrete is hauled away to the dump and the footings for the porch have been poured.  We're ready to start building.
The first step was to get the framing in place.  Fortunately my brother and his fiancee had a lot of free time during these last few days until graduation and helped us get the posts up and the floor framing in.
We had family coming into town before my brother's graduation so we were in a rush to get the porch floor installed before they arrive. After doing a little research we decided on ChoiceDek composite.  I preferred the look of some Trex on clearance but it had terrible reviews because of mold problems.  The ChoiceDek had much better reviews and was slightly cheaper so I think we'll be happy with it.  We installed it using a the Camo system jig so the screw holes are not visible..
View from the street
Now that we have a good surface for the ladders it's time to start working on the porch roof.  We've got family coming for graduation and mother's day but we're going to buy our materials and see how much we can get accomplished over the weekend.