Beach house #40 – A shiny winter jacket

October 22nd, 2017

Because my guys ripped down all the house shingles a little earlier than I’d wanted them to, I needed to get the house covered up again as soon as I could. I got all the sheathing work done on the back and put a nice drip edge along the bottom to prevent the rain splash-up that was probably responsible for the terrible condition of those particular boards. You’re not supposed to put sheathing so close to the ground for that very reason.


This stuff will prevent rain from being able to splash up onto the boards. But the bottom is left open so that any water that does get inside – did you know siding isn’t watertight? I didn’t – can drain back out again. I also used only pressure-treated boards along that bottom area. Hopefully we’ve averted a real problem from happening in the future.

Did I tell you I figured out what caused the moldy walls, by the way? Not just the old cardboard siding that was acting as a sponge and keeping moisture pressed up against the house all the time, but also the two vapor barrier layers. One inside the house and one outside. I didn’t know this either, but it makes sense – water condensates in the wall when the heat from your home meets the chill from the outside, and the reverse too. Makes sense. So you can put up vapor barrier on one side – the outside – to prevent excess moisture from ever making it in – but then you have to leave the wall open on the other side so it can breathe and dry out again. Putting up vapor barrier on both sides only traps the condensation in there and mold, mold, mold. (#TodayILearned).


And then I got to give the house a little bling! Insulating the exterior of the building with rigid foam will help prevent condensation in the first place. It’s not R-8 or anything, but hey, R-3 is still better than what was there before… which was nothing.


So we’re secure with vapor barrier only on the outside of the house, every seam taped and airtight, and a little winter jacket up too.

I’ve only got to completely reframe all the nasty wood in the back porch… and then the siders can come!

Beach house #39 – New bathroom window

October 15th, 2017

Did I tell you I found a window for free?

I knew I needed a new bathroom window because the window that was in the bathroom before, let into the porch. I thought that was a kind of weird arrangement… and really put a crimp in my plans to put the laundry in the porch. I had wanted to use the window I had, but it was far too wide for the bit of wall that remained outside the porch. So I needed a new window.


I was fretting up and down the aisles in Home Depot when I found a window with no price tag or corresponding area. When I asked, it turned out to be a window that they no longer sell. Plus it was missing the bottom sash. So they offered it to me for free since they were going to put it in the garbage. Then the department manager, whom I’d been chatting with, figured out that she could get a replacement lower sash through Anderson’s warranty program!

It was just the right size, too. 24″ wide, just a bitty little thing.


Of course …. now what it means is that there’s a window in the shower. :(


But even though the window is smaller, there’s more light coming in now.


This is the very first window I’ve done by myself start to finish. It was so much easier than I’d thought, though I’m still not great at doing trim.


Beach house 38 – In which I flood the floors with concrete

October 6th, 2017

So after the construction guys finished replacing joists, the new subfloor didn’t match up with the old. The last time he was here my carpenter pointed out that there was now a big dip in the middle of the bathroom floor –  almost a full inch! While it didn’t stand out terribly, there was simply no way we could put flooring over that and not have it crack or separate. And you just can’t put more plywood over a gap like that and hope it stays – it won’t. Not for all the shims in the world.

Which meant there was one solution – and it involved me getting to play with self-leveling underlayment.

I covered every single crack in the floor with duct tape and then mixed up a whole bag with 5 quarts of water in a 5-gallon pail. I had to bring the water from home in a 7-gallon jug, since we still have no plumbing of any kind.

Then I just…. poured it on the floor.

Yes, I will admit to some trepidation.

I had just spent a huge enormous unspeakable sum of money to solve damage caused by moisture (and termites, but they came because of the moisture). And then I poured like 5 gallons of soupy concrete onto that newly-repaired floor. And I had to do that twice.


It worked a lot better the second time, once I realized that the concrete would set slower if the dry floor weren’t sucking water out of it. So I splashed around a great deal with a mason jar full of jug-water and then used a broom I didn’t care about too much to smear/mop that water all around until the floor was evenly moist. The broom worked great once the concrete was poured, too, being used in place of a giant squeegee to gently coax the leveler to spread out into a nice feathered edge.

As soon as it dries it’ll be ready for some lovely new subfloor and concrete board! Well, as soon as I figure out what to do with that daggum old toilet flange, anyway.

Beach house 37 – Free flooring, anyone?

October 4th, 2017

You guys, I am so excited. Look what I scored on my most recent trip to Second Chance.


That’s 12 whole boxes (20sf each) of brand-new in-box solid hardwood flooring. Each one of these would retail for around $75-$100 at any big-box store.

Guess how much I paid? Never mind, you’ll never guess.

Seven dollars each. SEVEN DOLLARS, GUYS. That’s $84 for 240 square feet of solid oak.

Did I mention they were brand-new? In-box? Some are lightly finished with a clear coat, some are unfinished. Since we have to refinish all the floors anyway, I don’t really care. SEVEN DOLLARS! Recycling just saved me about $1,000. Heck yeah.

And here’s the first box, being put to good use.





Ooh, purty.


Goodbye, worst of the water damage.

Beach house 36 – Moar sheathing

October 2nd, 2017

Sunday Josh and I tackled the west side of the addition.

So many colors of crappy old second-hand disintegrating asphalt-covered particleboard.

Here’s a great idea: let’s take glorified sawdust panels that are already crumbling from moisture damage, wrap them in another layer of mostly waterproof material like a saran wrapped sandwich, and hide the whole mess under asbestos tiles. Surely that won’t result in any mold problems.


In the junction between the old house and new, we found this:


GAH. That was horrifying. Million-year-old mouse nest, gross. At least we got it cleaned out and it’s not there any more. (I took down the wall to the left, along with that old section of roof, the next day). And look at the funny old shingles I found inside the attic, where the old roof had just been left as it was when they built the addition:


I couldn’t get a good photo but they’re sort of diamond-shaped, which is cool. I wonder when they stopped making those. And it looks like the original shingles underneath were emerald green. Huh! Especially interesting given that we think one of the earliest house colors was a bright turquoise.


Yay, finished! Josh left me to finish up after he tore down the last of the old plywood. I was able to lift whole sheets by myself by putting a couple screws halfway into the wall exactly 8′ below the top plate, sticking out like pegs. Then I could hoist the sheet up onto them and use them as a ledge while I positioned the sheet right and left and finally screwed it in at the corners. Nailing will have to come later.

After the weekend, it was up to me to do the rest on my own. Each additional section took me a day, which was frustrating since they were smallish (10-12 feet). And I always seem to think I can get stuff done in 2-3 hours that actually takes a whole day.


Hello street! Hello passerby!

But the walls look so much nicer now, so much cleaner. And it already smells better in there, which is gratifying.


Still so much left to do…

Beach house #35 – Yet more demo

September 30th, 2017

I was joking when, a few posts back, I said I had thought we were done with demo. Why did I tempt fate? Look what we found on the sheathing in the newer section of the house.


That fuzzy gray stuff ain’t lint, folks.

Mold. Speckled across every single sheet of plywood. No black mold, thank goodness! But still mold. This is what has been making the house smell musty. I believe it was because there was no vapor barrier beyond unsealed felt paper between it and the particleboard used for siding – particleboard which had turned into a sponge over the intervening years and, far from protecting the plywood, was instead keeping it constantly moist. That, or condensation? I’m not sure why it only affected the plywood in the new section and not the wooden sheathing on the older part of the house – perhaps because the plywood was only 3/8 inch but the sheathing is 1″? – but thank goodness that’s true because I spent the last four days removing and replacing sheathing and let me tell you, that is not my idea of a fun time.

At least I had Josh to help me with the first couple of days. Man that was a big task. I might have given up if it was just me, on my own.


We pulled down so much nasty junk that we might need another (fourth!) dumpster.

It took all weekend, but we got two out of four sections done. Saturday was the biggest part:


It looks so clean!

One section done, four to go…



Beach house #34 – OSB

September 28th, 2017

I didn’t get any new hardwood flooring laid today, but I did finish the subfloor in the new TV room.



After replacing a bunch of the old joists and patching up the old subfloor, it looked even more scabrous. I could have just laid down felt paper and then hardwoods on top of it, but we had ripped out so many layers of flooring that this is now about 1 1/2″ lower than the rest of the house.

So to raise up these floors I had to first lay down some 3/4″ OSB subfloor. This will also even out the subfloor and add more stability.


This took an entire big box and a half of screws, you guys. I had to screw that sucker down at 6″ intervals all along the perimeter edges of each board, and then again at 8″ intervals throughout.

I was on my knees so long today that I actually wore holes in my jeans. HOLES. You owe me a $15 pair of Old Navy work jeans, little house. (My knees feel like they have holes in them, too.)

And I didn’t even get to the bathroom subfloor yet. Sigh. Truth be told, I mostly haven’t tackled that project because I’m nervous about removing the (old, broken, unattached) toilet pipe. It’ll have to come out sooner or later but it’s going to suck and I don’t wanna do it. Sigh.

But soon I get to start the flooring in here and in the other bedroom that had water damage. That generally goes pretty quickly and makes a big visual difference – I can’t wait.

Beach house #33 – Shingles!

September 26th, 2017

You can’t put felt paper and shingles down on wet plywood, because since they are waterproof they will prevent the water from getting back out and you’ll get mold and other nasty stuff. So I had to wait until it’d dried out.

But check it out:



(It still looks too large to me, but it’ll look a bit smaller once the siding goes up over it. And the thought of taking it all apart and redoing it all just makes me gag – so thus it shall stay.)

Beach house #32 – Starting the floors

September 24th, 2017

Check out the water damage on these floors.


These floors were adjacent to the worst of the termite damage, and it shows. They are in really, truly sad shape. Then at some point, someone came in and did these crude repairs. See how they cut into the adjacent boards with their circular saw? There were several of these.

So I spent part of today ripping up floors and getting all that yucky stuff out.


Dang it. Aren’t we done with demo yet?

Beach house #31 – Almost awning

September 22nd, 2017

Got all the carpentry done!


Took me a couple days, which is disheartening for such a tiny little structure.


And I seem to have – somehow – made it about twice as big as it was in my mockups. …Oops. The better to keep the rain off, my dear. (That is what I get for not drawing up real plans.)

Still, the hardest part is done. Tomorrow I get to finish the trim and lay down the felt paper and shingles. The roofers left a whole pack of shingles behind when they were done, so it’ll match the new roof exactly.