Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yet another issue... of course.

So a couple of days ago, I planted all my new plants in the native gardens I am creating out front.  When I put new plants in the ground, I tend to get a little obsessed with their well being, so I went out to check on them that night.  When I came back in through the porch, I saw light streaming up through the floorboards. Hmmm...

Now I should mention that we have a full basement under the porch. Before checking on the plants, I had done a load of laundry and left the basement lights on.

I decided to investigate.  I went to the basement and noticed the ceiling looked strangely like porch flooring. I also noticed the joists were a little off.  There were twenty four inches between them. I went back up to the porch.  I walked on it.  It bounced.  There was no subfloor!

At this point, I brought in reinforcements (Kevin) who said we needed to call more qualified reinforcements (my dad, an engineer).  He was surprised no one had fallen through the porch. With the combination of no subfloor and widely spaced joists. So now the plan is to add joists downstairs and use the old porch flooring as subfloor and install new floor over it to act as the new floor.  We are also breaking tradition and staining it rather than painting porch floor blue/grey.  We found straight grain fir at a really good price; it would have been painful to paint it.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

It has begun...

Last summer we took off the asbestos cement shingles from the west side of our house and began restoring the original clapboard siding.  There is a whole series of posts I wrote on this if you're interested, starting here. We are planning on going around the house, doing one side at a time.  This summer, we are beginning with the front of the house, including the front porch.

Here is a picture of the porch before we began.  It is not a traditional bungalow full-front porch; it's small, about 5ft. x 15ft. The wicker couch and footstool were a curb-side freebie.  There was that red plastic outdoor carpet on the floors, plywood on the ceilings, and some odd issues between the ceiling and floor.
The porch had always been part of the plan for redoing the front of the house, but neither of us had expected the extent of work that was required.  We found rotted wood everywhere, plus a lot of poorly done repairs (I use the term repairs lightly in this case).  So, we ended up replacing every single post!  Luckily, we had help:

That is our almost brother-in-law, Ken.  He's done this kind of thing before, and proved to be a huge help.  While the dudes worked on the posts, Kevin's sister (also Sara) stripped paint with me on the interior of the porch.  She looks like a pro!
They were a huge help and even talked of coming again!  I guess the Bungled House didn't scare them too much, although I don't think Sara will ever look at her new house the same way again....

My dad came to finish the job with Kevin on Sunday, so we really made a lot of progress.    Here is a picture taken early in the process.  This is of the doorway. There is no support behind the trim! EEK! And the trim is rotted!  EEEEK!  

They went around the porch, replacing the trim and installing 2x4 support under all of the new trim.  Kevin just has one area to tweak and one more post to install, and that part of the job is done.  Bonus: Wherever there is new wood, I don't have to strip paint!  Yes! This side of the house actually should go quickly.  There is a dormer on the front of the house that has cedar shingles, so we just need to repair the bad ones and wash and stain.  There is trim that needs to be stripped up there, but not too much, so that shouldn't be too painful.  The clapboards on the bottom of the house are going to be stripped using a Paintshaver, which will make it a lot faster and not kill my native gardens. On the side yard, the plants took a beating because of the tarps covering the ground. Hopefully with the Paintshaver, we'll just have to cover the specific area we are working on, as it hooks up to the Shop-vac and the paint shavings will be captured.

As a reward for all the boring paint stripping on Friday and Saturday, I pulled down the plywood covering the ceiling. Guess what I discovered? Haint Blue!! And a hole, but that's not important.   Here's an article on the history of painting porch ceilings blue. I am so utterly excited about the blue.  although the bead board is in pretty rough shape.  I think we're actually planning on putting plybead (plywood beadboard) up because of its condition- painted Haint Blue, of course.

The floor is also in rough shape, but we are planning on stripping it and repainting it Porch Floor Blue (they should really think of a catchy name for gray-blue floor paint).

Okay, Online House Community and Friends, here's where we need your help:

1. Should we keep the porch open or reinstall storms? It had a full set of storms and screens, but they were ALL in very rough shape- we think a PO of this house had a crooked saw. Seriously. Should we go with tradition and have no storms and screens? Or should we make new ones?

2. Should we paint the inside of the porch to match the exterior of the house?  There are clapboards inside the porch, as you can see from the picture above, but do they have to be the same color as the house?  Or could they be white? And then what color should the beadboard surrounding the interior of the porch be?  Here is our color palate on the actual house:

I'm just thinking with the gray floors, the gray all over the porch might be too much.

Please weigh in, I'm all ears--or eyes, I guess, right?

Friday, April 30, 2010

You know it's time to landscape when...

the weeds are almost as tall as the shrubs you planted last year. Really, it was getting embarrassing. I could sense the neighbors all breathing a sigh of relief when they saw us pull up with a truckload of bricks and mulch.  I didn't think to get the camera out until the project was almost complete, but this is the end result.  I went cheap with the bricks and got them in the masonry section at the Big Blue Store instead of going through the landscaping section.  This cut costs almost in half.  
I think eventually the bricks will weather to the shade of the concrete sidewalk. I also plan to plant some perennials that will cascade over the side a bit to make it look a little less formal.  For now, I'm happy with the results, and very excited for the Friends School Plant Sale next weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And the we did nothing for two months....

No, actually we've been plugging away on projects, just not plugging away on blogging. Sorry.  Although we did take a break to do this last weekend:

The stairs are almost done, at this point I am just waiting for Kevin's carpentry skills to reattach some pieces. He's really the brains in this operation if I haven't mentioned that before.  

Here's a close-up of the stairs.  I finished the treads over my spring break with  a base coat of amber shellac and a few coats of Minwax Polyurethane for Floors.  While we waited for them to cure, all fifty pounds of Arlo had to be carried up and down for bed. We're all glad that stage of the remodel is done, especially him, since I bumped his head a few times on the wall while I was carrying him.  

The banisters and other trim will be done this weekend, I hope, and then... we tear down each and every last crumb of cement asbestos siding!! Or at least everything we can reach without renting the scaffolding yet.  

Sunday, February 14, 2010


What kind of crazy people buy each other a house for Valentine's Day? We do, of course.  For our second anniversary of Bungled House ownership, we didn't do any house projects. We went out to eat, we cooked good food, and sat around and watched the Olympics.  Wonderful.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

After, After and In Progress

Because what's the point of finishing a project if you haven't already started a new one that will monopolize your time?

First, I will start with the Hallway before:
And hall after:

It just feels more like an old house now, doesn't it? The color of the walls is actually green, though it looks kind of grey in some photos.  It is a Behr color, Spiced Oregano, but I have never been impressed with Behr paint, so it is actually Olympic Premium Paint.  Olympic Premium is a zero-VOC paint, and since I've been meaning to explore the low/no-VOC paint world, I decided to give it  a spin in a small space.  I'm pretty particular about my paint quality; actually I'm a little on the obsessive side.  I enjoyed using this paint, it had good coverage and very little odor.  I really love the color with the wood, too.

We are still hunting for a door to replace the white one in the picture above.  It is the bathroom door, and someone was not kind to it; it's badly dinged, there is a mortise cut out for a hinge that doesn't exist, and all of the panels are cracked or covered in holes from towel racks.  So eventually the plan is to use it in the kitchen for the doorway down to the stairs (currently void of a door) and find a replacement for the bathroom.  We're in no hurry, I actually don't mind the white door for now.

For the next before and after, I give you Beast to Generic-Modern-Day-Furnace-Not-Yet-Worthy-Of-A-Catchy-Name (or GMDFNYWOACN, for short):

I don't really have much to say about this, considering I did zero percent of the work. It's a Trane, 95% efficient.  I can now walk everywhere in the basement and not hit my head.  Kevin can too, as long as he walks only North to South and doesn't try to go West.

Finally, I give you in progress:

This is where I left off on the stairs on Sunday to become a Saints fan and football fan all in one night.   As you can see, there is still paint in all the crevices and cracks, which will take me most of this next weekend to pluck and sand out, but I think I made good progress.  I think I can hear the bungled house thanking me for rescuing its wood from the dreaded paint-over -- either that or it's the new furnace starting up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We've killed the Beast

That's right, our sea-green beast is dead.  I was at work, so Kevin and the dog were there to witness its last gasps.  When I got home, I have to say, Arlo was visibly shaken.  Either he thinks he's next or he's afraid of the five electric heaters strategically placed around the house. Come to think of it, he's giving the heater that's pointed at us right now the shifty eye, so the evidence is in favor of the latter of my theories.
Anyway, enough about the dog.  It is COLD up in here. At last read, which was about five minutes ago since I'm obsessively checking it at this point, the thermostat is reading fifty-nine degrees.  I have two blankets on and I have only gotten off the couch twice since I got home from work.  One of those times was to stare at our basement in awe.
 This might look like a concrete floor to the untrained eye, but I'd like to draw your attention to the faint square imprint.  That used to be our furnace.  The one that was kind of handy to have around in February in Minnesota.  The temp outside right now? Nineteen degrees.

See? No furnace.  This picture also shows two of the five heaters. The new furnace is going in tomorrow, so really I'm being dramatic right now. Like I said, the asbestos abatement guys left us some heaters.  They also left our basement spotless and smelling of Simple Green cleaner.  Mmmmm.  I'll write more about abatement when I can get Kevin to explain the process in detail.

I go back and forth about the furnace. On one hand, the old furnace worked just fine.  Yes, it was from 1946, and yes it was a little on the creepy side, but on the other hand, it was a reliable appliance.  Gravity heat, for those who have experienced it is quite nice.  It is quiet and the furnaces last forever because there are no moving parts.  We are replacing something that lasted 64 years with something that will last 20 years.  However, I think, in the end, it was a good decision.  For one, our neighborhood offered a deal where we would get a 35% rebate.  That is on top of the federal Energy Star rebates. That comes out to 65% off of a new furnace.  Wow.  Also, we had gravity heat in a duplex before moving into the Bungled House (and enjoyed it thoroughly) but we felt that others who may eventually want to live here might be a little more freaked by the Beast.  Not everyone has a fondness for giant green hunks of metal.

How many pictures of the lack of a furnace can one put into a blog post?  I'm thinking three is the limit.  That was the last, I promise. It's just so weird!