Siding has begun! (BH#51)

November 21st, 2017

The siding is finally going up!!!

After having its old broken cement shingles ripped off, the house has been sitting here like this for weeks:


Sheets of tar paper slowly peeling off like skin after a bad sunburn. The sad sunburn of neglect.

So I’m betting the neighbors were glad to see this:


They got through this side and this one before they had to leave again, and then couldn’t come back until after a short cold snap passed.


Meanwhile, the front of the house just sat there and peeled. Poor, tolerant neighbors.

But they finally came back and in a few days had accomplished this!


The gutters and soffits aren’t finished yet, but you can already see how cute it’s going to be when done.

Little basement jewel (BH #50)

November 19th, 2017

Making one thing pretty at a time. I refinished that basement door!

I used citristrip, an environmentally-friendly stripper that works really well, especially on water-based paints. Glopped it on and the paint bubbled right up after ten minutes or so. It was super easy to scrape off. After all the remaining goop was washed off and the remaining surface was sanded and wiped clean, a nice coat of metal primer went on easily.



I got new hardware along with an entirely new door glass from Zabitat for about $65. Better than $200+ for a new half-glass metal door. I also had to get a new bottom for it since the old one was rusted out.

The glass and grille went in like a dream, just perfectly. I followed the metal primer with two coats of this gorgeous peacock color:


(Oops, forgot to take the painter’s tape off the doorknob before taking this shot.)

This color (it’s more greenish in person) has been my favorite color for years and years. It’s also the color of the front door on the house where I grew up, and I love it.

So while the house sits there sadly losing whole sheets of its old tar paper and looking like an absolute wreck…


At least the door is pretty!

Purtification (BH #49)

November 10th, 2017

First semi-finished wall surface is (almost) in place!





Since the inspector can see the inside of this wall from the other side, I went ahead and covered up the outside with some 1/2″ insulation and beadboard. It’s amazing what a visual difference a finished looking surface makes, even when it’s not yet finished (I still have that last little scrap section in the middle to fill in). I can’t wait til it’s all neatly put together and painted!


Bathroom framing done (Beach house #48)

November 8th, 2017

The plumber visited today! Just to make his materials list, but… it means we’re getting close to the finish line!

The bathroom framing is all done. I mean, it had ALREADY been done…. until we decided to flip around the back bathroom at the last minute.

This is what it looked like before:

bathrooms current

The TV room – which could be used as a bedroom but is probably the last choice – is an odd place to have a full bath. So we flipped it horizontally so that the back bedroom is now the master. This lets us maintain the TV room as a flex space – dining room, den, or if necessary, bedroom. This is what it looks like now:

bathrooms changed

(The people on the couch in the front room are there to see what it would look like if someone did decide to put their couch there instead.)

So I had to rip out all the previous framing I had done in the master bathroom and flip it all around. It only took Sunday afternoon so I shouldn’t be complaining.

Looking into the bathroom entrance from the master bedroom:


The bathroom layout from the doorway:


In order to get the extra space to have two bathrooms, I had to move the  bedroom doorways down and put them off a little mini-hallway. Which is also done. Looking into the hallway from the master bedroom:


All the framing that I have left to do is an extra closet in the master. I had wanted to leave a little alcove for a dresser instead, but the closet in there was really small even for just one person. No way it would work for a couple. So that’s on tomorrow’s agenda. And then I should be DONE with all the framing!


Color coordination (Beach house #47)

November 5th, 2017

If I’m picking out tile, the end is in sight!

The bathroom has been framed and the plumber’s going to let us know when he can come out next week. Time to prepare for when he’s gone!

Dreaming of the day when the bathrooms are ready to be tiled, I went to my local tile/flooring wholesale place this past weekend. I brought Sofía, half to get her opinion and half because I didn’t want her to sit at home all day playing video games – and she was amazing y’all. Nine years old, and the child already has a sense of style.

I mean, I didn’t always agree with her – I can only pray she some day outgrows her love of sparkles – but it’s thanks to her that we settled on the final color scheme that we did. I gave her a choice of three different 12×12 field tiles and she chose this gray one. She also insisted on the river pebbles for the shower pan, and the herringbone marble for the backs of the shower/bath niches. So I guess this is more or less her own creation:


“MOM. We can leave here with whatever but you are NOT ALLOWED to leave without that herringbone!” (Yes, really. She was adamant. She also had very strong opinions about tumbled travertine.)

We tried various other combinations, for instance with subway tile up the sides of the alcoves instead (the wood pieces are trim from the Beach House in order to verify color coordination):


Or with a darker tile for the alcove instead of the same tile:


But in the end we just went ahead with our original picks. It’s bigger tile which means it’s simpler and less time-consuming than doing two full alcoves in subway tiles. We’re going to use a dark grey grout.

Sofía seemed very proud of herself. But also very bored by that point, since it took us like two full hours.

The best part? The tile was all on clearance from the wholesaler which means I got this tile for an absolutely ridiculous price – about half what I’d been budgeting back when I was looking at Lowe’s bottom-of-the-line tiles. And that’s even with some natural stone included so it’s going to look super high-end! Are you kidding me?? I ran out of there FAST so they couldn’t call me back and tell me they made a mistake.

I’m getting excited!

Bathrooms taking shape (Beach house #46)

November 3rd, 2017

First to put down the subfloors:



I had to install blocking between the rafters in order to erect the wall between the bathrooms. I also had to remove the now-obsolete attic stairs and replace the joist that they had interrupted – that was not a fun morning. But it got done.


I was using the cement boards – which are exactly 60″, the length of a tub – to make double-sure that my walls stayed exactly the same length apart. I added another 1/4″ to give the plumbers room enough to slightly maneuver the tub into place.

And the front wall goes up! Before I built the walls I had to first mark out the vanities, tub/shower, and toilets to make sure that I didn’t inadvertently put a stud right where the plumbing needed to be.


It was so lucky that the front wall goes exactly behind that beam. I was really worried for a minute that I’d have to cut into the beam in some way – but all I had to do was remove the quarter-round on one side and it’s going to fit perfectly into place.

And now for something completely different (Beach house #45)

November 1st, 2017

With the back porch pretty much ready for the siders, it was time to move inside and get things ready for the trades to be able to come in!

First, the plumbers. Let’s get those bathrooms ready!

Here’s the original bathroom. Pay no attention to the toilet: it’s not actually attached to anything. And the water line feeding it has been leaking for about 50 years and completely rotted out the floors and joists beneath. Details, details.


This is what it looked like from the living room, while we were fixing the wall between it and the bedroom.


And later, working on the subfloor:


So in order to extend the bathroom up to the edge of the new bedroom hallway, I had a lot of stuff to get rid of.


A LOT of stuff.


And that pile there is just from the floors.

It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be to pull up. I had been expecting sheets of plywood , I suppose, but get this – it was planks. The original hardwood flooring! 3 or 4 inch wide pine. Unfortunately they were covered with a thick layer of black adhesive and topped what I have to assume were asbestos linoleum tiles. Those tiles have to have been the reason that the current oak floor was just laid down over the top – nobody wants to deal with asbestos removal.


Finally got it all clean! Now the fun starts!

The porch that never ends (Beach house #44)

October 30th, 2017

Side wall of back porch finished: Check. (except for removing the doggie door, which will have to come later).

Back wall of back porch finished: Check. No caveats. Yay!

Other side wall of back porch… well, damn.


That there wall is definitely not framed to code. No way, no how. The whole thing had to come down. Along with the rafter above it, which is the other thing I had been dreading and putting off forever.

That rafter was so rotted that I couldn’t even use a sawzall to cut it free, because the nails in it just flapped around in the sawdust-like wood. After jacking up the roof near it to relieve pressure on it, I got out a hammer and I swear it took only maybe 5 strokes for the entire thing to come crumbling down.

It crumbled into so many pieces that I had a hard time fitting them together again later to provide a template for the new rafter!

Guys, 2x8x10-foot boards are freaking heavy. That thing was hands-down the hardest thing that I personally have yet had to do on this house – and I sure didn’t expect it to be. But it took me three full hours to get it in place – three hours of sweating and grunting and swearing. I had to drill screws into the opposite post at 9″ intervals so I could ratchet the rafter up them one by one, wedging pivoting it on the end that goes into the house.

But I got it done!


Even though it made me feel like a total wimp. Didn’t help that it probably would have taken like ten minutes if I’d had someone to help! :) But my go-to guy charges $500/day (he brings a team) and things are especially tight right now, so I had to suck it up.


Woot! Now time to move on to the inside.

One more wall finished (Beach house #43)

October 28th, 2017

Once the ceiling panels were gone, swapping out the plates & rotted studs didn’t take that long.

The sheathing did, though. I used reclaimed exterior-grade plywood from Second Chance and it was heavy. 1″ might not seem like that much, but a full 8′ sheet of 1″ plywood is pretty much impossible for me to lift. I slid and tilted and pivoted and flopped them all the way up the hill to where I could chop them in half with the circular saw.

And they were STILL a huge pain in the butt and took me FOREVER. Hence the nighttime shot when I was halfway done and finally gave up and went home.


But! Once they were up we were ready to rock and roll.


Oh, man. New sheathing (even new-old sheathing) looks so nice and neat on a building, I LOVE IT SO MUCH. (Dang it, I wish I would have gotten a “before” picture.)

I replaced the door that was there before with the now-obsolete first front door (that had been one-upped by a much nicer one that I found on clearance at HD). And I installed my second window ever!


You guys that thing weighs about 35 pounds, which doesn’t sound like much, but just picture standing on a stepladder and hoisting it up over your head while holding it just by the bottom and praying that it doesn’t tip over and smash down around the top of your head like a necklace of gory, gory death. And of stupidity. That too.


But I got it in! I even managed to save the moulding from before so I wouldn’t have to do my own mitered corner cuts. Hooray! Miter cuts suck and I hate them with a hate that shines like fire! Yay!

I tore down the old nasty cardboard siding from the back wall along with a bunch of termite-rotted sheathing boards. Because these were about 1″ thick and I only had 5/8″ plywood on hand, I had to shim out all the studs so the surface would be at least approximately flush. Flush enough, anyway, to attach future panelling or drywall or whatever.


Beach house #42 – Arsonist squirrels

October 26th, 2017

Once the posts were replaced, all I had to do was remove the moldy sheathing and the studs that had rot problems.


But before I could tackle replacing the base and top plates, I had to remove the ceiling panels. First step, take down light fixture.


Hmmmmm. The porch light had been connected to the ceiling by two screws. The wiring, though – well, that wasn’t connected to anything at all.

So I looked up:


Huh. No junction box. Nothing. There were, however, two naked, unconnected, loose, live wires.

And… straw? So I took down the rest of the ceiling panels and:



Damn squirrels. You guys, even after those panels were torn out and thrown in the dump it smells so bad like pee out there. In the open air. UGH. (See the wires coming in from the left, lovingly nestled into that mess of incredibly-dry straw?)

…Maybe the squirrels that build that straw nest were trying to help me burn the place down?