Beach house #30 – Awning begun

September 20th, 2017

I got up bright and early today. I really did! And I had planned to go ahead and start work. But then … well, Sofía volunteered to make breakfast, and I had a really good book, and Josh made me some very lovely tea, and… I did finally get out the door but not until nearly 11. And then I went to this great discount floors place near me and got lost in aisles and aisles of engineered hardwoods and bamboo and ceramic and…

Warehouses full of lovely discount fancy floors and cabinets smell like possibility. Did you know that? I didn’t. Breathe it in.

So anyway, that is my lame excuse for why I didn’t finish the shed roof today like I’d thought I would. Easy project, I thought. I’ll build that and then lay down some OSB subfloor so maybe I can get some real flooring in there. But no. This is how far I got.

shed roof real

The ledger board, the back of the braces anchored to the cinderblock, and one single rafter.

Mostly because I spent way too long trying to figure out if I had the angle right. Mathematically I did, but it somehow didn’t look right. I’d put up my one rafter, squint at the house, walk up and down the street and squint some more, and then take the rafter down and cut it at a slightly different angle and start the process over again. UGH. But I think I got it mostly right. Or close enough, anyway.

Then Josh showed up and demonstrated that the sharp end was directly at eye level to anyone not vertically challenged. Ouch. More fiddling and arguing and moving things up and down a quarter inch, cutting the angle to be less steep, etc., eventually just moving the whole ledger board up by 4″. DOUBLE UGH.

Then I got home and was like, oh no, maybe I should be matching the PORCH pitch instead of the ROOF pitch. Maybe it looks odd because I should really be matching the other random things sticking out from the sides of the house. So I mocked it up in Photoshop.

shed roof flat

Ha, ha. Nope.

We’ll keep it PG and say it looks like the house has a Pinocchio nose.

And I just now realized I could check the angle in Photoshop, too. By the simple expedient of drawing a line over the roofline and copy-and-pasting its twin over my rafter.

shed lines

Boo. Looks like I’m sliiiiiiiightly off. Do I care? Well, probably. Dang it.

I plan to go back tomorrow and get directly to work – and this time, I hope to have something to show for it by the end of the day!

Beach house #29 – Awning

September 18th, 2017

One tiny project that I can do while I wait is make an awning for the basement door. See how flat the face is?


There’s no access from the inside of the house, so the basement door is kept locked. Which means that every time it rains and you want to access the basement, you’re stuck with rain pouring off the edge of the roof onto your head while you squint at your keys in the dark. The gutters will help with that a bit once we get them up, but there’s still not a protected place to stand. I want to erect a little roof.

I’m no good at visualizing though, so I drew up two different styles on my computer.

A gable-roof style:

gable roof

And a shed-roof style.

shed roof

I want slopes and angles of the awning to match the existing roof so it really looks like it fits in with the rest of the house. So in these mockups I copied the actual gable end of the house. Fiddling around with a bit of Photoshop magic let me scale it so that it fit onto the basement wall. The shed roof is actually a cut-and-pasted and shrunk piece of the roof in order to keep the correct slope. Not sure how I’m actually going to execute that in wood, though…

shed roof small gable roof small

Now I just have to make a decision. Which I really suck at.

I’m leaning toward the shed roof style. I feel like the gable roof sort of looks…. dinky? And I don’t want the door to look too important either, like a separate entrance. It’s just a basement door after all.


Beach house #28 – New plans

September 16th, 2017

So I mentioned that I’d come up with some new ideas? Well, when I was trying to fix some of the framing on the half-finished back porch, my carpenter asked why I didn’t put the second bath back there instead of in the house.


I’d had that thought before, but somehow it slipped through the cracks. So he got me thinking again. Why not? Now that absolutely all the plumbing in the entire house has to be redone from scratch (even the waste pipe crumbled), there’s no real limit to design… except the permit department. Since this porch is not fully finished, my finishing it off counts as making it an “addition.” Which, since we’re so close to the water, means review after review, even though we’re not changing the footprint of the house at all. It’s ridiculous and stupid and I’d been avoiding it.

Buuuuut… Look how much more sense the floorplan looks after taking advantage of that space.

bathroom 2

Not only do we gain a pantry and a laundry room where the second bath was going to be, but there’s even room left over for a cozy little office off of the living room, with its own separate entrance and everything. Perfect.

I tried to work up alternate plans with the exit going off the other way, with the thought that eventually we could build a little deck out back, someplace completely private. There’s a nice big tree back there and I think ferns, hostas and the like would grow really well. But due to code regulations about minimum bathroom spacing, this was the best I could come up with:

bath 3

It’s a bit awkward. Doesn’t flow as well. And the bathroom is cramped, as well.

So I just went ahead and bit the bullet and submitted a permit revision for the first one instead, and we’ll hear back in ten business days. Ugh.

In the mean time, the house is sitting there with only the old deteriorated asphalt siding and a couple layers of tar paper between it and the weather. I can’t get the siders in here until all the outside is as it will be permanently. And clearly, that would mean having the porch finished. And I can’t finish the porch until I get the permit. Soooooooo once again it’s waiting time.

What I can do is work a bit on the flooring. And the building inspector I called this morning said I can go ahead and get electrical and plumbing in there too – though I’m not sure I want to until I’m sure I’m going to get the permit revision approved. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait!

Beach house #27 – Naked

September 14th, 2017

Did I mention that my carpenter is great?

Everyone in rehab seems to complain about the difficulty of finding good contractors. They don’t show up, they don’t finish jobs, or they don’t do the work right… I’ve been very lucky. I found my guy pretty soon into the project. He works weekends and shows up when he says he will, and boy, talk about a motivated worker. For instance, I mentioned that it would be so nice if I didn’t have to side over the old cement shingles.

See how they are sort of dimensional? I’d been warned that not only might that ripple sort of echo through to the new siding, but since they’re so brittle, they would likely shatter under the impact of a thousand screws and form bulges behind the new siding.

So I mentioned that I wished I could have gotten rid of them, but that the siding company would have charged me like $2,000 or more. The next day I showed up and…



One day.


What an incredible difference! And – we should have guessed it – there’s two more layers of siding under there. Ha! Oh well – at least it’s waterproofed. And it’s going to need to be for a while, because what did I do?

As soon as we’d gotten back to a point where we could start getting this place all wrapped up, I had to go and get IDEAS. Big ideas that changed the whole floorplan and required new permit submittal. So now… again…. we wait.

Beach house #26 – Casualties of rehab

September 12th, 2017

Oh, boo. Of course it couldn’t have gone perfectly.


That looks like a hammer “oops” to me… but the guys swear they had just unwrapped it and it was like that. HM. And of course there’s no warranty or anything on glass breakage… so I have my first repair. Blah.

In the scheme of things though, it could have been so much worse!

Beach house #25 – Windows finished

September 10th, 2017

We managed to get all but the caulking done on the new windows on the second day. And what a difference they made.

In particular, this one room had one shaded (porch) window and one tiny boarded-up window.


I enlarged that little window to match the other. It lets in so much light, even though both windows are in shade.


I did the same to the other bedroom too. Bye bye, window held together with packing tape.



Now both bedrooms have matching windows. Bonus: no broken panes, tape, or plywood. And SCREENS! Yes! Finally we have a mosquito refuge.

And those grids in the front of the house. Mmm, grids. I was going for a sort of Craftsman-type-reference and I think they look about right without being pretentious.


The outside of the house is starting to come together!

Beach house #24 – Putting in the windows!

September 8th, 2017

Finally, we’re back to square one on the termite and basic structural issues. Back to where we thought we were starting… all the way back in MAY! Sigh.

The neighbors must be wondering what’s going on inside. Months of activity with no visible difference, nothing since we took down the old front porch. Remember it?


Roof, porch, windows, siding, and landscaping. When those things are all done the house will look finished. At least on the outside.

A couple days ago we started the next step – new windows!

A lot of the windows had to be reframed first though. This kitchen window was so termite/water damaged (must have been a leaky window) that the entire wall under it was sawdust. All the way into the bottom plate and into the subfloor. All that had to be replaced.

Kitchen before:


Kitchen after we ripped down the six layers of drywall and particleboard on the walls:

termites kitchen


Aaaand kitchen now, after replacing more than half the subfloor and reframing that window. I also made it twice as big, since this room has only one window. Or rather, I pointed my very capable carpenter Carlos at it and asked him to do it for me.


So much more light in here! And now the building doesn’t look like it’s squinting from the outside. Behold!







Speaking of squinting, the front of the house had always bothered me. The previous owner got the windows from a junkyard and just made the openings to fit whatever he had. Resourceful, and I approve of recycling. Buuuuut the one-eyed look was going to bother me forever and it had to go. I asked Carlos to raise the header and installed windows that matched as much as they could, without me having to deal with moving electric lines and such during reframing.

Bye bye single teeny runty window…


Hello, handsome twins!


The angle of this photo isn’t great, but please trust me that it’s a vast improvement. We didn’t get everything done in one day since reframing took up so much time, so the rest of the windows had to wait.

I’m still here, I promise!

September 7th, 2017

Two weeks out of state somehow knocked me out of rhythm and I dropped the blogging ball. But! I have so much to share! So many photos to upload!

Of course we’re not nearly done. Don’t even ask. Sigh.

But that’s another story for another day. As long as, you know…. as long as you know I’m still alive. :)

Beach house #23 – Finally, the beam

August 22nd, 2017

Oops! I totally forgot about the other side of the beam – you know the one I posted about all the way at the beginning of August?

Well, my mom sanded the heck out of it for me right before they left and went back to California. She left it looking beautiful.

As soon as they left, I set up some ladders, held my breath, crossed my fingers, and hoisted that beam up there single-handed:


It was my dad’s idea to make a T-brace that I could gradually cinch up the post with clamps. It worked beautifully.

Once up, I had to use a board to clamp its face parallel to the other face (on the vertical axis). I got it all perfectly aligned, even though by myself it took about two hours. Up and down, up and down the ladder to check that the crack between the beams was as imperceptible as it could be.


Then I realized I’d never nailed it and I had to take it all down and start over. Ugh!

See, we had only glued and clamped it. My mom’s sanding job was so good, so perfect, that I had forgotten it wasn’t finished at all! Luckily I still had custody of my friend’s nail gun for a day, so I shot that sucker full of 2.5″ brads, mixed up some putty, filled those holes, sanded everything again, and wedged it back up there again.

Up and down, up and down, up and down the ladder for every miniscule adjustment. Man, these things are so much easier with two people.

But… ta-da!


It still needs its little end caps to make it look like a solid beam. And of course it has to be stained and sealed just like the rest of the porch, and caps placed around the tops of the posts to hide the gaps where it fits around them. But I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!


Beach house #22 – thinking in color

August 20th, 2017

Went and bought my first can of accent color from Lowe’s last weekend. It’s called “Amalfi” and it took me literally 2.5 seconds to pick it out and decide that it was The One.


(Yes, I know the paint chip on the wood is called “Blue Nile” – the paint lady stole my chip and it may have been the last one because this was the closest substitute I could find! It’s pretty close. Just go with me here.)

I laid it on a serendipitously-placed display of Olympic stains. I had been planning to use Cedar Naturaltone (upper left) and what did I buy all those real cedar boards for if not to, you know, look like cedar? …But now I’ve kind of fallen in love with the two warmer stains on the right. Particularly the upper right. What do you think?



I just noticed that the ones on the right are BOTH labelled “Redwood Naturaltone”… ha! Guess maybe I don’t have to decide after all?