Sunday, November 21, 2010

The final rock in the South Pit

I spent the last couple of days raking the rocks out -- all the rocks that are produced as a side effect of breaking larger rocks into smaller rocks -- the debris that's left over. Now all that's left is the one big rock in the middle of the pit.

After two hours of jackhammering and pried rocks apart, the big rock is gone, replaced by a bunch of smaller rocks and the accompanying debris.

Tomorrow, we haul all these out to the curb and try to get rid of them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Replacing Windows (Part 3)

November, 2010

We are having the last set of the old metal frame windows replaced with wood frame windows. This is the third time we've done this and finally replaces all the windows in the house.

We are again using Renewal By Andersen, a nationwide chain of window replacement companies. A phone call to them set up a meeting for a person to come out and measure all the windows, settle on options (color, trim, screens) and provide a cost. We had 17 windows left to replace.

Mostly it's a one to one replacement, but in the dining room, the current windows are two very large windows, and while it would be possible to replace them with two new very large windows, our experience with very large windows is that they are hard to work with. So I suggested that they replace the two windows with three. That meant we were replacing 17 windows with 18 new windows.

The total cost was $25,705. This includes the windows, the labor and materials to remove the old windows and install the new ones, and finish them. We went with an exterior aluminum cladding (Terra Tone), with an oak veneer interior. The actual window is a mix of wood and plastic that is supposed to be very stable. The oak interior will be stained to match our current oak floors and window trim, and then sealed with a coat of polyurethane. I expect to go back and sand everything down and put a second coat of polyurethane on since I believe everything needs two coats.

I put $13,000 down on 11 Oct 2010. The local company then sends the measurements off to the factory (in Minnesota or some place) which makes them to order and then trucks them down here. I got a call on 3 Nov that the windows were here and scheduled them to install them on Wednesday 10 Nov. The rough schedule suggested it might take 3 days to install them (Weds, Thurs, Fri).

Come Wednesday, no one showed up. I got a call that the crew was running late on the previous job they were doing, but would be there on Thursday.

On Thursday, 3 guys show up, and today they replaced 12 of the windows. As an example, here is a picture of the old dining room window.

First the window panes were removed, and then the frame was removed. This created a large hole in the wall where the windows used to be.

Now the new windows can be put in place and screwed in place to the framing around the old window. Spacers are constructed and put between the two windows, or in this case between the three, since we replaced these two big windows with three windows, to make them smaller and easier to manage.


Once the windows are all securely in place, oak trim pieces are attached to cover the space between the windows, and quarter round put all around the frame where the windows meet the sheetrock to finish it off.

The outside of the window is filled with an expanding foam sealer, to keep it air tight, and a finished trim piece attached. Since some of these are in a stone exterior wall, someone will come over and mortar around the windows on the outside, to blend it in with the existing stone exterior.

Today, Thursday, all of the windows except the ones on the back porch were replaced and sealed. The exterior trim will be done tomorrow (Friday), as will the remaining windows. At least that is the plan.

December 2 Follow-up.

The inspector from the City of Austin came today. A building permit had been taken out to replace the windows, and the inspector came to check things out. By and large things went well. There were two (or three) problems. One was that the windows next to the door have to be "tempered" glass, not regular glass. So this means that the window next to the sliding patio door needs to be replaced. Someone said this requirement is because you can really slam a door, and vibrate the wall, and a window within two to three feet could then break. Not at all clear that this reasoning applies to a sliding patio door.

The other problem was the windows in two of the bedrooms. We didn't have these replaced this time, but apparently the third problem was that Renewal by Andersen had failed to take out a building permit for the previous window replacement work. In the second part of the window replacement, we took out the sliding windows that were in these bedrooms, and never really worked very well, and put in two side-by-side double hung windows. These work much better, and look better. All in all, a substantial improvement. Except they apparently do not meet code. The problem, as explained, was that in a fire, they are not big enough to get out. So the inspector said they had to be sliding or casement windows. I've had both before and prefer these double hung windows.

We'll see what happens on these issues in the future.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back to the rocks

Having finished the back deck, it's back to the rocks. The general approach is to break all the big rocks into smaller rocks -- small enough to be moved out.

As an example, here is the big rock in the South-Western corner of the pit.

We use the jackhammer to split it into many smaller pieces.

and the result is a jumble of rather large rocks, probably weighing over 100 pounds. In this case, I think we broke the original rock up into eight smaller rocks. The intent is to make them as large as they can be, subject to the constraint that I have to be able to move them.

Once we have them broken up, we can move them out to the front of the house and put them on the curb. We post this on Craig's List under the "Free" category as "Landscape Rocks". In this case, our post is dated 6:00 pm on November 1.