Thursday, May 28, 1987

Improving the Wooden Gables

May 27, 1987

The house is a one-story design with a 100% stone veneer exterior. Partly that was required by the Deed Restrictions for this subdevelopment; partly it was because we wanted to minimize the cost of maintenance for the house. No painting the house. Long lasting.

But it is not all stone exterior. The areas above the windows, the doors, the garage doors, are all a cedar wood siding. Rough cedar -- I would have preferred a finished surface which would have a wider range of finishing options, but there was no choice. I assumed finished, and the builder assumed rough, and with no communication about it, I showed up one day and it was all up. And rough.

The other area of wood siding is the gables. Although the house is one-story, the roofs peak on either end, and over the garage and the back and the roof peak is about 2 stories above the ground. There is a triangular wall area here, and this triangular area has a wood siding.

The builder, instead of using real wood for these gables had put up some kind of plywood siding. It looked really tacky, and was not weathering well. And this was only a year after it was put up.

So we decided to put a real 1x8 "lap&gap" cedar over the top of this plywood siding. I tried to do this myself. I bought the wood $318.36 from Stripling Blake. But it's fairly difficult to get to this area. I should have rented some scaffolding, but even with what I had, I worked on it all day (Memorial Day) and got nowhere. It was clearly time for a professional; I was out of my league.

We contracted with Gary Simon to do the work (Simon Construction). He did a great job. He used the material I had already bought, but rented some scaffolding and probably had a helper. $1088.30.
Plus, of course, $30.35 for trim and $78.17 for some 2x6's that were useful as part of the scaffolding.

Lesson learned: There is a limit to what I can do myself. Sometimes it just makes a lot more sense to hire a professional. I can do reasonable simple stuff, but to get a good job -- particularly for something that shows like stone work or carpentry it helps to have the proper tools and experience.

I can learn the skills, but it can take some doing. I learned basic framing redoing a garage when I was a graduate student, and could leave my mistakes behind when I left school. I learned to do sheet rock work when I worked on my brother-in-law's house, so I didn't have to live with my mistakes. I learned to do PVC sprinkler work on this house, but almost everything is buried, so it isn't supposed to show.

Saturday, April 4, 1987

Making a new house a home

July - December 1986

There are a lot of minor things that need to be done to a new house to make it your home. Things that while minor may add up in the long run.

July 23 -- Add Brass Coat hooks to the Closets. Four hooks at 3.49 each. $13.96 Target.

August 2 -- Foam insulation (Great Stuff in a spray can) for the wall openings behind the Dryer Vent, the A/C opening for the wiring and tubes to the compressor, the electrical breaker box. $4.88

August 2 -- Add 1x4's about 3 feet and 6 feet the length of the garage. This provides something solid to put hooks into for hanging shovels and hoes and rakes and such. $21.00

August 2 -- Pour concrete around the water meter and cutoff access openings. Commonly these are just stuck in the dirt and over time, shift and collapse. By pouring concrete around the openings, they are stable and well-defined. 4 bags of ready-mix concrete at 2.09 each. $8.36

August 9 -- Install a garage door opener in the garage. $174.67. Sears.

August 30 -- Rebuild the wall behind the kitchen fan. The builder had botched the wall -- just sheet rock behind the fan over the stove. I rebuilt the wall and caulked the whole thing to keep bugs and debris off the stove.

September 27 -- Add a fire extinguisher to the utility room and a smoke detector to the kitchen. $40.02. Target.

September 27 -- Insulate the two hot water heaters with a fiberglass blanket. $27.66

October -- put medicine cabinets in each of the Master bathrooms and middle bathroom. These are built-in medicine cabinets that go into the wall, and have a mirror on the front. We prefer wood to metal. Hold the medicine cabinet where you want it to be and trace around the body. Then cut the sheet rock off along those lines. Be sure to avoid an area where there may be electrical lines or plumbing in the wall. You can try to figure out where the wall studs are and position it between them, or you can put it where you want and reframe the hole if it is not between studs. Put a header above the hole and a footer below it. Then just slide the medicine cabinet into the hole, and nail or screw it to the studs on either side and the header or footer. $226.16. Furrows.

December 7 -- Put white wire shelves just above the floor in the closets, for shoes. $38.83. Handy Dan

December 13 -- Take off each of the electrical outlet covers and light switch covers and put a foam template behind it, to seal out the cold air (or the hot air in summer, but in December, it's cold air). $6.33. More in January 1987. $9.89.

December 17 -- Install a Damper on the top of the fireplace chimney. We don't expect to use the fireplace much and when it is not in use, we would like to seal it off from the outside. This damper sits on top of the chimney, outside, up on the roof. A spring keeps it up, but there is a wire and a handle down in the fireplace that will pull it down and completely seal off the top of the chimney. $242.00 by Superior Chimney Cleaning.

March 1987 -- Adding hooks to the closets was fairly easy. Buy the hook, find a stud behind the wall and screw it on. But we also wanted to put hooks on the inside of the door to the main closet, so the kids could hang up their coats. The door is the standard hollow-core door with just a thin plywood veneer on both the inside and outside, nothing to screw into, except around the edges, top, bottom and sides. So we got a piece of molding at the hardware store. In our case, a scallop molding. After finishing it to match the door (stain and polyurethane), we could glue it to the inside of the door and then put the hooks in it. $38.88

April 4, 1987 -- Replace the front door light switch with a timed switch, so that the lights come on (and go off) automatically. $22.48.