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Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I've been a big fan of other house threads in this forum, so I decided to (finally) throw my hat in the ring. This thread is a bit late by almost two years, but whatever, better late than never.

November 2015, my wife and I bought a dated, but what seems to be nice, 3 bed/2 bathroom house in the Chicago suburbs. This is what it looked like before.

Front of our house

A bunch of skylights in this house, six or seven I think. This is in one of the bedrooms (right now it's our guest room/office)

Bedroom #2 (quite a few coats of paint over the wallpaper, as I discovered later)

Bedroom #3, loving the paint color. This is our bedroom as it's the biggest of the three

Dated kitchen

The previous owners put an addition on the house, and I think it was almost all DIY

The wood burning stove is cool, but really stinks up the whole house

A very dated basement

The last picture is the best part of the basement. Fridge still works!

Garage, and to the right is the deck inside the cage of lattice

Big backyard. This picture is from standing in front of the pine tree in the previous picture

View from the other end of the back yard, not quite at the fence as at the time there was about 10' of firewood and other garbage thrown back there

We have neighbors behind this

Stab Lok breaker, and located inside the downstairs bathroom. Pretty sure they also did the downstairs bathroom DIY with no permits or inspections.

We're on about 2/3rd of an acre, which is pretty unheard of where we are at. We bought the house from a lady in her late 70s/early 80s. The neighbor that lived just south of us was the daughter and son in law of the lady we bought from, and are probably in their 60s. Neighbors just north of us are renting and keep to themselves mostly, but Sunday nights can get a little loud over there. The daughter and son in law of the lady we bought from ended up moving to Florida about a year ago, and the couple that bought their house are great. They are our age, have a son who is 6 or so, and next to them is another family with two kids, ages 7 and 4 so the kids are always outside playing. Directly behind us and north one house is a guy who is also into craft beer (and knew where the tiny hometown of 300 people that I grew up in was located), so I can sneak through our back yards to meet up instead of having to walk 5ish minutes. We really got lucky with our neighbors.

Strap in, as I'll post more updates with what we've done to our house so far, and what we'd like to do. Input is always welcome.

americanzero4128 fucked around with this message at 01:26 on Aug 29, 2017


kid sinister
Nov 16, 2002

First thing to do is replace that loving Stab Lok panel. They're fire hazards big time.

I'm digging the 70s bar though. My grandparents had that exact same yellow paneling in their finished basement as well.

Dec 8, 2009

If there's anything I've learned from the house threads here you're going to want to swap out the exterior windows so they're all different shapes ASAP.

Looks like a cool place though. Can't wait to see it come along.

It occurs to me that I'm not sure if this is a public forum or private - might be an idea to photoshop blur the street address of your house since you're posting where the valuable stuff is inside of it etc.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004

Out here, everything hurts.

I have unironic love for that basement bar. Dated, but in a good way. Needs a lovely little CRT with the Bears game on perched on top of that stereo cabinet to the right to be perfect.

Seconding kid sinister, though. I'd get an actual electrician in to take a look at that stab-lock ASAP. They have a sinister reputation for a reason.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Kid Sinister, don't worry, the Stab Lok is gone. That was one of the first things we did in this house (besides a lot of painting).

VelociBacon, good idea. First post is edited to obscure the house number. Thanks for catching that! All the pictures I've shown so far are the previous owner's items, but still a good idea.

Liquid Communism, I like the idea, but it would have to either be the Fighting Illini (for me) or Green Bay Packers (for the wife). Actually, I've got a couple minor plans for the basement bar, which will hopefully be done in the next couple months (hahahaha optimistic me says months. Maybe by next summer).

We replaced the door locks the first weekend we were in the house. We had the Stab Lok breaker relocated and replaced shortly after we bought the house, and had it replaced with a Square D 200 amp panel.

If you look closely, at the top, you'll see a main shut off. That's because, as a housewarming present, my dad got my wife and I a generator. Generac GP7500. Powerful enough to power essentials to our house. In testing, we've been able to run everything off of the generator for 10-15 minutes (we haven't ran the house off the generator for longer than 15 minutes), but we haven't had the AC kick on with everything else running during testing. We had the electrician who did the panel wire up a generator hookup outside so I can plug the generator into the hookup and run everything from our panel instead of extension cords to stuff off of the generator.

We got that installed because my dad thought we needed a generator in case we lost power because of

Can't have their first grandchild go without electricity! Yes, we bought a house and had a baby within 6 months of one another. Figure we're better off getting all the stressful stuff out of the way at once, right?

We painted the living room a more neutral grey, added curtains, a rug, and a cool painting a buddy of mine from college did for me (I've got a couple more like that from him, my wife hates them, but I think they're really cool)

We painted my office/guest room a shade of green instead of yellow. Almost two years later and we're still looking for window curtains for this room, just haven't found any that we like yet. We bought a full size mattress and box spring to go in there. The bed frame was given to us from my grandpa. Not 100% sure on when it was made, but my guess is it's got to be at least fifty years old. I figure it should easily last another fifty years as long as we take care of it (we will). Nothing fancy about it, just a solid, simple, wooden bed frame.

I peeled a ton of wallpaper in this house. Part of the living room was painted over wallpaper, our son's nursery was painted over wallpaper, the wall going down to the basement was painted over wallpaper, and the wall to your right when you enter our back door is painted over wallpaper. You can see the after portion of the wall going to the basement here:

I used this liquid:
And this tool but with the three heads, not one
Made quick work of wallpaper.
Same room. I really like the bay window. We get a ton of natural light in this house. My wife and I can't figure out what the point of the light to the left of the door is.

The above room is our dining room. The rest of it is white and we wanted something to give it some color. My wife picked out that greenish blue color and it looks pretty great! We also painted the part above the stairwell the same color. Here's that room in the daylight.

Along with all the painting, I needed to wire up this house with Ethernet and coax cable. No problem, a friend of mine who does this for money on the side, came over and helped me with this for beer, and because I've helped him with some stuff on his house. He had the tools to do this, so I didn't have to go buy 3' long wood bits to drill holes. No action shots here. Two dudes pulling a bunch of cables in a drop ceiling and a crawl space, you can use your imagination.

The switch was too deep for the small mount I bought so it's sitting on top of the basement fridge. I will probably end up buying a small 24 port switch, but the current one was free and works just fine so might as well use it. I ran one coax connection to each bedroom and the living room. The office/guest room and dining room also have four Ethernet connections wired, and the other two bedrooms have two Ethernet connections. I'm going to end up running more connections in the basement since I'm probably going to end up working down there for fewer interruptions. I'll also run some connections to the bar area where eventually I'll get a TV set up.

I was working on the house the first week or so after we had bought it doing the Ethernet and coax cable running. Finished up for the night around 11:45 PM, locked up the house, and drove back to our apartment that we had until the end of the month. I parked at our apartment, got out, and put my right hand in my pocket to get my phone out.....the same pocket that had a razor knife in it with a new blade. Somehow my knife came open just enough for the tip of the razor to slice the side of my thumb open. I didn't feel anything, but I cut my thumb open, had a trail of blood going from the parking lot to our apartment door. I ended up needing seven stitches, convenient care closed at midnight and it was 12:15 AM, and my (pregnant at the time) wife was not happy to drive me to the ER and stay there until 3 AM while they sewed up my thumb. I threw that knife away the next day (the locking part of the knife wasn't working that well after 7-8 years) and bought something different.

I'm spoilering the picture but I know someone out there wants to see. Warning, kind of but not super gross

americanzero4128 fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Aug 29, 2017

Feb 18, 2003

Okay -- you talk WAY too fast.

Nap Ghost

americanzero4128 posted:

I'm spoilering the picture but I know someone out there wants to see. Warning, kind of but not super gross

Seven stitches is way overkill for that, Jesus. I put a longer gash in my right jaw and four stitches was plenty. It would have been done in under three minutes if suturing your own face while looking in the mirror weren't so disorienting. If that were my thumb I'd stick one suture in to pull the center together and Dermabond the rest, though to be fair that's kind of a tough knot to tie with one hand.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

We finished painting all the rooms in the house except the upstairs bathroom and kitchen. Bathroom is on the schedule to be renovated this winter, and kitchen is fine as it is.

Here's our bedroom (the former pink room):

The nursery was a pain to take the wallpaper down. It was painted over a few times and didn't come off smooth. I ended up skim coating the wall with drywall mud, sanding, skim coating again, sanding, and then painting. Happy with how it came out though. My wife painted these letters and did the Star Wars outlines.

My mom made the mobile (unfortunately it doesn't play the Imperial March, it plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or something). She also made the window valences (I think that's what they're called).

It got done just in time because April 9th, 2016 this guy was born.

We had old, dirty, grody, disgusting brown carpet on the stairs to the basement.

That's better.

A coworker and I replaced all the overhead lights in the living room and two bedrooms with new ceiling fans with lights. A keen observer would have noticed that in this picture of our living room, there's an overhead light, and a separate ceiling fan.

The overhead light was moved to our dining room and looks pretty nice in there

- This is the living room, sorry for the bad quality, only picture I had was from a video of my dog howling along with music
- Our bedroom, yeesh, I need to dust
- The nursery
- When we did these, my coworker ran extra wire so we could have adjustable lights and fan speeds. These dimmer switches were well worth the money.

In December 2015, around Christmas, we had really high winds that damaged part of our (very old) fence.

- fences are supposed to lean and curve like this, right?
Those supports did not last long

After surveying the damage and speaking to my wife, we decided we were better off replacing the fence. Over half of the fence posts were damaged (cracked, rotten, broken, etc) and it didn't make sense to only replace the half that were damaged, when we'd have to replace the others sooner rather than later. Before we could do that, we had to clear out most of the brush that was never maintained, and crap that the previous owners had put in the west end of our property. It used to look like this back there:

Starting to remove this overgrowth. It was me with a small folding saw, a bow saw, and a pair of hedge trimmers. This was over a couple weekends. My father in law came to help, but really, supervise.

There was crap back there I could not have thought of. An old recliner and a metal door (?????). Whatever, it's gone. Thank you loving previous owners for not taking care of your property. I removed as much of this stuff as I could solo.

Once this was cleared out, it was time to remove as many of the old fence panels and posts as I could. I wanted to get as much of this done ahead of time because I called in favors with family and some friends to get help putting up 350ish feet of fence. I didn't want to waste time removing panels and poo poo when I really needed help putting up the new fence, so I removed most of the old fence before anyone showed up. Once the Pathetic Construction Crew showed up, it was time to get to work. We did this over the 4th of July weekend and fortunately, had really nice weather. I rented this auger from Home Depot and I can't recommend it. It was a 3-4 person auger, depending on how steep the yard was. Two people to raise and lower the auger, one person to clear the dirt with a shovel (because it didn't have enough horsepower to throw the dirt away from the hole) and one person to hold the auger in place since the wheels don't lock. The bit they rented was 36" and you could get extensions so I grabbed a 12" extension. The extension did not have any blades on it. We ended up using the original 36" big and digging the last 6-12" by hand. It was miserable. We did 55-60 post holes in a day and a half.

Don't worry, those posts are not set.

We dug the holes, set the posts, poured a bag of dry concrete mix in, then tamped the dirt down on top. The concrete will pull moisture from the soil to set itself. Mixing 55-60 bags of concrete was going to take too long. I've set posts with this method before and not had any issues. Since I had help who had nice chainsaws, we cut some trees down where all the brush was, at the west end of the property.

This is in the northwest corner, more trees were cut down here

Setting more fence posts

I reused some of the fence panels that were in better shape. I put a 2x4 across the top and bottom of them for reinforcement.

We decided to put a gate in the back corner since there's an easement for the utility company between the back of my property and my neighbor's property, even though on my plat of land survey, nothing was marked indicating they accessed it through my yard. Clearly they hadn't been back there to keep things cleaned up. I knew if we didn't put a gate, I'd come home to a hole in my fence. Now I use the gate to go over to my neighbor's house and drink beer. Very useful, would recommend.

End of day 1. Got most of the work done. Lots of trees cut down, lots of stuff burned.

Day 2 went quicker - we built a shorter fence that closed up the yard between our garage and our house so our son and our dog can't run out of there. There's a gate for access.

No panels, this part was built and cut one picket at a time. The gate was built by hand and is 4' wide so a riding lawn mower can get through it, at some point, when I buy one.

americanzero4128 fucked around with this message at 02:41 on Sep 13, 2017

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Not sure how I forgot to mention this, but back in all the brush and crap that was removed, we also had three old metal fences to rip out. The previous owners, instead of removing old fences as they replaced them, put the new ones in front of them. I didn't want to lose 2' to 3' off the end of my property, so those were removed. That part was a giant pain in the rear end, but if you're going to do something, do it right.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I'm sure many of you have noticed, but we had a pool in our back yard. Getting that out was a pain in the rear end. I tried to get it out in one piece to give to the neighbor with two kids, but unfortunately that wasn't going to happen. It was buried below ground anywhere from 2-3" on the north end to around 18" on the south end.

After that, I had a giant hole to fill. I got 11 cubic feet (I think) of dirt delivered to fill it in. Unfortunately, there was no way to get the dump truck to the back yard, so it was delivered to my front yard.

And I had the fun of moving it to my back yard with a shovel and wheel barrow. I spent a solid 7 hours doing this solo. Fortunately after work, my neighbor came over and helped me. A few hours after work a couple more days, for a grand total of probably 20 hours of work, and it was pretty filled in.

That was pretty stupid. Next time I'll look on Craigslist for manual labor, pay them $100 and a case of beer, and get some fuckin help.

Winter came, we had our first Christmas with our son, and spring came. No major projects last winter.

In March 2017, I got sick of the roof above the doorway to our garage leaking and looking lovely, so I decided to fix it.

I don't think you're supposed to be able to see through part of it. Got up on a ladder to look, and.....hmmmmm, this doesn't seem right at all.

Got all the shingles taken off. Yep, that's not right!

Replaced everything, added additional bracing underneath, and we're good as new

I don't actually have a picture of it with all the shingles on it, I finished and it was dark outside. I found out that the roof was in such bad shape from a combination of the gutters never really being cleaned, the gutters sagged at points and the water dripped out onto the roof, and the gutters really should be replaced but that's expensive and I'm really hoping that my neighbor's giant pine tree falls on my garage and I can get a new one.

Spring/summer projects were minimal, but included:

Going from this storm door

To this

And taking out the red brick that lined the flower beds and replacing it with brick paver things

Replacing the old baskets under the windows with these baskets my wife picked out

Replaced the old light in our hallway with this new one (I don't have any pictures of it, it wasn't a boob light but it was pretty old fashioned and had a bunch of dangly glass plate things that I constantly hit my head on)

Replaced the lights in the garage with LED and added some overhead storage for the giant kid's toys that we're accumulating

Bathroom remodel has most likely been put on hold for this winter because quotes have come in much higher than we anticipated. I will most likely end up doing it myself/with some help but not hire it out to someone else entirely. We've also got a couple walls we would like to remove (one for sure isn't load bearing, one we need to get looked at), some electrical work done in our basement since the loving previous owners just installed lights where they could find electrical runs from the above rooms, and one wall by our entry way that we finally need to do something with. I'd also like to remove the wood colored trim boards and sand/repaint them or replace them entirely. Finally, more work on my basement bar when I have the time and motivation.

Jaded Burnout
Jul 10, 2004

Nice to see things getting cleaned up. Also fun to see different ways people mark the point where they have to stop backing up into the garage.

Did your back neighbour have any opinions on taking out all that overgrowth? Seems like you might be removing a good privacy barrier there, even if you do get on well.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Jaded Burnout posted:

Nice to see things getting cleaned up. Also fun to see different ways people mark the point where they have to stop backing up into the garage.

Did your back neighbour have any opinions on taking out all that overgrowth? Seems like you might be removing a good privacy barrier there, even if you do get on well.

Back neighbor didn't mind - in fact, they were pretty happy that someone (not them) took the effort to clean it up because it just didn't look good. They have a metal hurricane fence and a garden along the back of their property, and their house is closer to the front of their property, probably a good ~250-300 feet away from the fence. The growth in the middle, they just trimmed it when it grew over their fence in the springtime, otherwise they ignored it.

We've spoken to them a few times, we get along well, but we put up a wood privacy fence along the back for privacy, and because both of us have dogs and they like to bark when they see each other. We've let some of the brush grow back, but it's growing over and through the fence again, so in the springtime I'll go back there with a saw and something to kill tree stumps to keep them from growing back. Anyone got suggestions for that?

Jan 9, 2004

Hey you! It's the sound, in your head goes round and round

I'm in the UK, but for hardcore killing I swear by SBK Brushwood Killer. It even works on Brambles.

Jaded Burnout
Jul 10, 2004

House this project going?

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

House is still coming along! On December 30th, our dishwasher decided it wasn't going to drain water any longer. I ended up replacing the dishwasher. It should have been a pretty simple swap, but nah, nothing in this house could be that simple. Pulled the old dishwasher out, and got this:

Yes, the drain hose is a hose that goes into the floor. The water line is coming up from the floor, with a nice kink in it. This will be fun!

Power to the dishwasher was an extension cord they cut the end off of. Cool. I ended up running a water line from the hot water feed for my sink to the dishwasher, and added a proper drain that ties into the drain for the sink. Used an actual power cord for the dishwasher, not an extension cord, and installed a GFCI outlet for it to plug into. 5ish hours later,

It's still not really perfect, there's a small gap in the floor, less than an inch wide, that the dishwasher likes to slide into and sit at an angle. I need to take the whole thing out, cut the worn part of the floor out, put a piece of wood or something in for filler so it's level, and then we'll be good. Just annoying for now. That's on my short list of things to fix. I need to do the trim on the sides as well.

I did some home demolition as well! We had a wall in our kitchen that separated the dining room from the kitchen, and you could get trapped in the kitchen if it was crowded.

My wife and I both wanted that opened up.

After opening up the wall, we noticed a 12" header above where we cut. So, at one point there was a doorway there, and they didn't like it, so they closed it off.

We wanted to go a little higher so it would match the height of the opening to the left, but the header prevents that. Overall though, not a big deal and adding the doorway was a smart move.

We also took down this wall! This is by the back door, when you enter our house.

You can see we framed out a few inches, maybe a foot, because my wife wants to add a bench sort of thing to sit on to put on shoes, and to store shoes/hats/whatever in. She thought it might look a little odd if it sat completely open on one end.

The same weekend, we did some electrical work. Our upstairs bedrooms, hallway light, bathroom light, dining room lights, and basement lights/outlets were all on one circuit (excluding laundry/sump pump). We split that up into five circuits. No pictures of that, unfortunately.

What do I have left to do from these projects? Opening up the walls - finish sanding and paint, and find something to do about the thresholds between rooms. Dishwasher - fix the floor. I think that's it.

Jaded Burnout
Jul 10, 2004


Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Posting so this thread doesn't get locked for no updates.

In the past few months, it's been a lot slower for progress on the house. Work has been way busier than I expected, due to an increase in work and a couple people transferring departments/new job opportunities, I've been trying to spend more time playing with my son on the weekends rather than house work, and I've been working out a lot more in the evenings, after my son goes to bed. I've only gotten minor things done around the house. I've sanded and painted around where the walls came down, painted the ceiling in the kitchen, and installed some tiles by where we took the wall down. Outside projects - replaced the lights on the front of the house with new fixtures my wife likes better than the old ones (I think they look the same, just a little bigger), and I finally got some grass to grow where I removed the pool.

Pictures to follow in a day or so.

Mister Dog
Dec 27, 2005

americanzero4128 posted:

Posting so this thread doesn't get locked for no updates.

In the past few months, it's been a lot slower for progress on the house. Work has been way busier than I expected, due to an increase in work and a couple people transferring departments/new job opportunities, I've been trying to spend more time playing with my son on the weekends rather than house work, and I've been working out a lot more in the evenings, after my son goes to bed. I've only gotten minor things done around the house. I've sanded and painted around where the walls came down, painted the ceiling in the kitchen, and installed some tiles by where we took the wall down. Outside projects - replaced the lights on the front of the house with new fixtures my wife likes better than the old ones (I think they look the same, just a little bigger), and I finally got some grass to grow where I removed the pool.

Pictures to follow in a day or so.

No worries, dude. Any long haul project gets bogged down by real life at some point. I mean hell, look around. kastein has been working on his house for like 12 years, Jaded Burnout is gone all jaded and burned out, and I'm putting up siding at a rate of a clapboard/day. Looking good so far, tho. Keep us updated whenever you can. You know, quarterly at least.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

My wife and I have been talking about adding on to our existing deck. After looking at what we have, what boards need to be replaced, and the fact that I'll probably never remove the awesome red paint on it, I think the best plan is to tear off what we already have, down to the posts/supports, and rebuild with new treated wood so it matches the expanded area. A rough sketch of what we're thinking about :

All we're adding is a 6'x14' addition, and stairs off our current deck. We're going to keep a roof over the existing part, which is currently a fiberglass sheet sort of material, so I'll probably do something similar to that, but definitely a different color. I don't think it's at a steep enough angle for shingles.

Oh, and my dad is coming up this weekend to help me demo the old deck and set posts, and hopefully frame out this new deck. Getting anxious already. Mostly because I don't feel super prepared, but I think that's because I'm sketching out what I think will work, dimensions, etc. and we'll review it when he's up here. Oh, and getting 14' or16' boards home from Menards is going to be a fuckin blast with a truck that has a 7' bed. Haven't figured that part out yet.

americanzero4128 fucked around with this message at 03:26 on Jun 22, 2018

Raised by Hamsters
Sep 16, 2007
and hopped up on bagels

That is nearly identical to the layout of our deck. Are you planning to leave a grill on it? If so- we made an extension to the side (the top of your posted photo) so that the grill could sit back a little workout being in the way. Worked out really well, and added more leanin' corners to the deck.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I wasn't planning on putting my grill on it, but that's not a bad idea. Worst case, a bump out will get some sort of storage container in it for cushions, toys, or other outdoor stuff. I'll have to do some measuring and see where it can go.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Here's the closest thing to a "before" picture I took - this is from last summer, when I took the lattice down because it felt like a cage out there.

My dad is amazing and drove up Friday night with a 20' trailer to help me get wood home from the lumber yard, and give me a day of assistance with the deck.

I woke up around 6AM Saturday morning and started digging post holes around 6:30AM. There's a noise ordinance that you're not supposed to do loud outdoor stuff before 8AM on the weekends, but digging post holes by hand is a character building quiet activity.

At 8AM, we started to demo the old deck!

We had it down very soon. We set some more posts and started framing it out.

I didn't take any pictures of installing supports for the addition I put on since it was only the two of us and I would have heard it from my dad for stopping to take pictures. We put 4x4 posts in the ground, cut them short, installed a post cap similar to this:
And then put 2 2x6s running across the width of the deck to support it. We did this at 4' and 9' from the west end.

Here's where we ended things on day one.

It was a long day - we ended around 8PM. The long trailer came in handy as I ended up using 20' deck boards so I had a continuous run. The few 16d nails you see in the above picture are for consistent spacing between the deck boards.

Sunday my dad left early, around 8AM because he had work to do at my parents' house. I'm very appreciative to have such a helpful and knowledgeable dad.

The frame of the old deck was in good shape, so I installed blocking between the joists since they were 22" to 24" apart. I also installed 5" carriage bolts every 2' where the old deck butted up to the new deck to help attach them together, since the addition to the deck isn't attached to the house. After that, it was time to install more deck boards. For something as seemingly simple as installing deck boards, it took me a solid 5-6 hours to finish covering the rest of the deck, not including a trip to the hardware store since I ran out of screws.

The above cut was the most nerve wracking of all of them. I had to get accurate cuts around all three 4x4 posts, couldn't hang it over the edge because the weight would break it, and had to lift it up during cutting so I didn't cut already installed deck boards. I ended up taking cut off scraps of 4x4 I had laying around and setting the board on those, making sure to support between each of the cuts I had to make (because they had at most 1.5" holding them together). It worked out pretty well. Sliding it into place also worried me because I didn't want to snap the board after making the cuts. Fortunately, there were no issues.

This is what it looked like at 5:30PM on Sunday, and then took an hour to clean up, so I was finally done around 6:30PM. I cut the ends off of the 20' deck boards so the overhang is equal on both sides. After that, I borrowed my neighbor's riding mower and mowed my yard, because I didn't feel like spending 2 hours push mowing my yard after all that.

I'm really happy with the progress that my dad and I managed to get done over two days! What I've got left to do is put stairs off the deck, install railing around the deck, and put a roof over the part of the deck that you can see the header, going back to the house. I don't know what we're going to do for a roof over the deck yet. I don't think I've got enough support or slope to do a shingled roof. The previous owners had this green fiberglass roofing, like this:
And my wife and I hated it. However, it comes in other colors, like tan, and smoke grey, so maybe something like that, which is more the color of a regular roof, would be less noticeable. It's that, or a metal roof, which would raise the dead when we get a storm. We've got a bit to think about it. Any suggestions?

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Two weekends ago (the weekend of June 30th/July 1st) I attempted to put stairs on my deck. My first attempt involved pre cut stringers. It did not go well. I knew they were wrong when I put them up, but I spent quite a while installing them, so damnit, I was going to use them for a day or two. It was a shameful attempt that I don't want to post here.

Last weekend I redid them, making the stringers myself. I had never done this before, and talking to family members who had done them before, said "It isn't the easiest thing in the world." So I went in a little uneasy. Fortunately with a little help from my man Tom Silva, I cut them properly and didn't gently caress up any 2x12s, because those are not cheap.

I dug the ground down, leveled it, and installed the concrete pads two weekends ago. That was pretty miserable to do in mid to high 90s with humidity in the 70%+ range.

This weekend, cutting the stringers went pretty smoothly thanks to this handy trick. The idea is to measure the rise and run and clamp your square to a straight piece of wood and just be able to move the whole thing when you need to mark another cut, saving you time from measuring every cut. It's a template, basically. Worked well since I didn't have the brass clamps that attach to my framing square.

I also put lattice all the way around my deck, and made a little door so I can get under it in the future. The door faces my fence and isn't really visible from the main part of the back yard. It's not too bad of a squeeze to get through.

I don't think I'm going to get much/any work done this upcoming weekend. My wife is going to be gone for a few hours Saturday doing wedding stuff for a friend's wedding, so I'm on dad duty with a 2 year old boy. He loves being outside and helping me, but I'm hesitant to run a circular saw, miter saw, really any power tool while I'm trying to be precise and also watch him to make sure he doesn't get into trouble. Sunday we've got a baptism for my cousin's son. On top of all that, it's supposed to storm off and on all weekend. I think I might actually have a relaxing weekend coming up.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I'll have a more detailed post in a few days. Posting so this doesn't fall into archives in the meantime.

May 14, 2008


Hey that deck is looking good. I'm sure it doesn't matter that much, but for spacing of the decking (using the nails as spacers), I've read that for PT lumber you just butt it up tight to the next board because it will shrink significantly as it dries. So don't be alarmed if you're getting larger gaps than you remember as time goes on.

I think I'm in for something similar next summer, I have a large deck (16x32 or something) that all the supports look like they're in good shape so I'll likely just be doing new decking and railing. I thought about what I could do different (different levels, making is smaller), but I'll likely just re-deck it as is and then do something significantly different in 15-20 years or whatever when the decking needs replaced again.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Dreesemonkey, I hadn't heard that before, but it makes sense. Oh well, not going to change it now.

Time for an update with content!

Made another set of stairs, to go off the deck towards the driveway. There used to be stairs here before and it worked well. I don't love that the boards run two different ways, but there's no great way around that, unfortunately. It's not that noticeable with the gate there as well. My table saw got a lot of use this project, ripping boards to make them fit in non-standard width spaces. I used the belt sander to round the edges, and the middle board on the top looks pretty good in my opinion.

Starting to put the railing up. It's sitting the height of a 2x4, so 1.5" off the deck, so I can shovel snow, leaves, etc. off of it and have them go under the railing, as opposed to needing to lift the stuff over.

I waited a bit longer than I should have to build the railings and put them in, so some/most of the 4x4 posts were starting to slightly warp, or twist, just enough to be a pain in the rear end and leave gaps. Nothing a ratchet strap can't fix.

Building the rail for the stairs was challenging for me, but I figured it out. It was difficult because of the aforementioned twisting, and I suck terribly at cutting angles. Here's the finished shot of all the railings, and the ceilings joists. Ceiling joists are held into place with hurricane straps. The joists from the previous deck were just sitting in place on one end, and the other end they notched them into place so they sat over another 2x4. Very secure.

Starting to put the roof on. Ended up going with 12' tan polycarbonate corrugated roofing panels. I would have preferred the panels in grey instead of tan, but couldn't find any place that sold grey ones in 12' lengths. I got about 3 panels on before I had to stop for the day to get ready for a cookout with the neighbors to break in the new, but unfinished, deck. Naturally it rained for a bit with half a roof on. I probably went overboard with the blocking between the 2x6s to help prevent wiggling, and to give me something to screw the panels into, but oh well. It's solid. I put another 2x6 on the outside of the 4x4 post to try and give it more of a finished look (you'll see this in the last couple pictures).

I don't have a picture of me finishing putting the last few roofing panels on, but it's done. After that, all that was left was some electrical. The previous owners had hooked up an outdoor light/ceiling fan combo and ran it off of one light switch. My wife and I wanted an outdoor light/ceiling fan combo with the light and ceiling fan being independently controllable, and I wanted to have an outlet wired up controlled by a light switch for outdoor lights.

What I started with inside. The way most things had gone in this house, I figured the previous owners saved $1 and went with a single gang box instead of a double gang, and I was going to have to figure out how to do minimal damage and have minimal frustration replacing a single with a double. I got lucky, and they had a double in there already. I just had to replace the spacer ring thing with a double instead of a single. Easy. Started with this:

Ended with this:

I had to run some electrical outside. I've never worked with conduit before so I bought a conduit bender and went to town. For my first attempt, not too bad. Could be better, could be worse.

Got the ceiling fan installed:

Trimmed the 4x4 posts to an even height, put some rope lights up, and I'm done. Well, we want new patio furniture, but we haven't found any that we like at a price I want to pay, even on end of season sales/clearance. Probably just going to bite the bullet and pay full price for it next spring (not getting a good deal on expensive poo poo is the worst).

The observant viewer will notice that the last picture is taken before the 4x4 posts were trimmed....I don't have a shot like that after I trimmed them. Oh well. I finished this all up around 5 weeks ago, just can't post an update in a timely manner.

What's next for me? Not 100% sure. I need to finish up some small stuff around the house, like the flooring transition pieces and baseboards from where we took the walls down almost a year ago. My wife wants something different with the entry way and is thinking something like a built in bench + storage + coat hooks, so that might happen this winter. I'm going to give up my upstairs office for another nursery, because we found out a few weeks ago we have baby #2 on the way, so that's exciting.

americanzero4128 fucked around with this message at 20:57 on Oct 29, 2018

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Oh, and if anyone has bought patio furniture online in the USA, where did you order from, did you like it, would you buy it again, etc? We're looking for something similar to these (the first one being closest to what we want):

My thought is to have a layout like this, on the part of the deck I added on:

= = (this part optional)

Where X would be a corner table, and each of the = or || is a seat where someone wound sit. So we would have a 3 seat sofa, then a 2 seat loveseat, and a table in the middle for our food and drinks. Could also do something like a single chair or two at the bottom if we want more seating.

I've checked Lowe's, Menard's, Home Depot, all the furniture stores around us that I know of, and we're not finding what we want, or we waited too long and they don't have them and can't/won't order more because it's out of season. I'm hesitant to order online for something this big since I like to see them first, sit on them, etc. With that said, I'm open to ordering online, if others can provide feedback from good places, or places to avoid, and what made it good/bad. I might actually show the first link to my wife and maybe we'll order that one, since that's pretty much exactly what we both want, with the added bonus of built in storage on the tables for cushions/pillows.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Sure enough, we bought the patio furniture a couple nights ago. Should be here in a week or two. I'll be sure to post and let people know the quality of it, how dealing with Wayfair is, all the good stuff you worry about from buying large poo poo online that you can't see in person.

May 14, 2008


Which set did you go with? I liked the style of furniture that you posted.

Something I've been whinng about for years is not having any covered deck space that we could put some cool outdoor furniture like that. The rooflines of our house do not make it practical to add a permanent roof, either. Maybe someday

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

We went with this set:

I'm pretty excited for it to get here.

Edit - our deck is only partially covered. The new part I put on is uncovered. These are going to sit in the uncovered part, since we already have a smaller table and chairs set to eat on that sits in the covered part. In the winter, the cushions will either come inside, or I'll buy some outdoor waterproof and mouse proof storage for the cushions to go into.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Oh, and because I was asked, the total cost of this project was $2250. I had surprisingly few bad cuts - the railing on the stairs took me 4 deck boards to do the top part and get the angles right and looking good, but that was the worst part.

Beer wise, it was probably an 80 to 90 beer project

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Bigger projects have been put on hold for a bit. My wife is pregnant and due in May, and wants to take a year off from working to stay home with two kids, so money is going to be a little tight. Naturally, this a good time to buy a newer 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Fortunately, there's nothing major that needs to be done to the house, but we've got some smaller ideas we've been kicking around.

We need to:
1. Get some blinds installed over a skylight in our guest room/to be nursery
2. Two of our skylights randomly leaks when it rains hard and the wind blows a certain way. I haven't been able to figure out where the leak is coming from despite going up during storms, or with the hose, and at this point, I just want to call someone to come out who does this on a regular basis and take care of it.
3. We're looking at a new vanity for our upstairs bathroom, but the loving previous owners installed the tub with 35.5" of clearance between the wall and the tub, and of course the vanities my wife has found are 36", so we can't jam it in there. Going to look for one that's 32" wide and see if we like it. Right now we just have a pedestal sink and we could use a little more counter space.
4. Finish removing the wood paneling by the back door, sand the wall down from the glue used to attach it/touch up the wall, and paint it. This is going to require a day or two where nobody else is in the house because it's most likely going to be messy and smelly. Eventually my wife would like a built in bench with shelving and stuff by the back door for shoes and whatnot, but that's a longer term goal.
5. Stop being lazy and find a threshold to go where we knocked down the walls, install said threshold, and reinstall the baseboard and quarterround.

An easy short list to get done before May.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Updating so this thread doesn't get locked due to inactivity.

We've got someone coming out this upcoming week to measure and install the blinds for us. It'll be nice to get that done. I still need to get someone out to look at the skylights, but there hasn't been any leaking issues in a while, even with the rainstorms we've had .

I removed the wood paneling, sanded and mudded the walls (a few times) and then painted them. Looks better.

Dry paint and daylight. Looks pretty good. I'm not the greatest at mudding but I think this got the job done. I need to install the baseboard and quarterround. A common theme I'm noticing around my house. I also loving hate this boring light by our back door, but I haven't found one I love to replace it with yet.

Nothing else too exciting. Replaced our old showerhead with a new one. My wife found the vanity she wants so I'm going to pick it up next weekend when she's out of town for a bachelorette party and surprise her with it installed when she returns.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

My wife is staying home from work for a year with our boys so our major house projects are on hold. I did manage to get my list addressed. Blinds installed over skylight and now the new baby's nursery is actually dark at night. Three skylights replaced for a total of $3k, so that was a nice check to write. We put the bathroom project on hold - our thinking is, we want to remodel the kitchen, and it makes sense to have the bathroom match that (cabinet color, vanity, etc.) and we don't want to determine what our kitchen is going to look like based off of something in the bathroom, it's going to be the other way around. Baseboards and quarterround and threshholds and stuff have been reinstalled. I don't love it, but what was up there before wasn't the greatest stuff. I'd like to rip it all off and replace it with new, but that's gonna cost some $$$ that I don't want to spend right now. I also bought a new lawn mower; the old one finally had enough parts break that I couldn't find replacements for. It was an old John Deere push mower that I got for free with the house and lasted me a good 3 years. Apparently John Deere is out of the push mower game and only does riders now. I replaced it with a Toro Super Recycler and it works pretty well. No complaints so far.

I'll post some pictures tonight/this weekend, just didn't want this thread to get locked from inactivity.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Updates (finally)!

The threshold and some of the baseboard + quarterround reinstalled. I had to make a little filler piece to fit under it, since the floors aren't the same height. Doesn't look that bad if you aren't looking directly at it. I'm surprised I found a threshold to match, but not complaining. I have one more flooring part that's a pain in the rear end and haven't tackled it yet.

We had baby #2. My wife wanted a shelf for the nursery, so son #1 and I made one. Simple, not crazy, but it was fun to do with him. He was super interested. He liked it so much we made another one for his room too.

Stained it, then brought it inside to glue

Action shot!

Took down an old lovely wood shelf in the garage that was rickety and was sitting on a 4'x8' platform that took up a lot of unnecessary space.

To do:

My wife wants a reclaimed wood wall, so I grabbed some old barn siding from one of the many barns on our farmland. I have the tools to install this, but now my wife isn't sure exactly what she wants it to look it's sitting in the garage, waiting to be cut, planed, sanded, and installed.

Like I previously mentioned, my wife is not working for at least until next fall (she's a teacher) because she's always wanted to be a stay at home mom, so some of the bigger projects are put on hold until we're back to two incomes. Just trying to tackle some of the smaller, more affordable projects for the time being.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I came up with my to do list for 2020. In no particular order (but I'm hoping to get the outdoor ones done before the end of April, when we're doing our oldest son's 4th birthday and other son's 1st birthday party):

Stump ground and removed from backyard
Remove old janky wood swing from backyard
Install fire pit area where old wood swing was
Organize firewood in one pile / build something to house the firewood
Purchase and install play structure in backyard (my parents and in-laws both gave money towards this for Christmas and I just don't think I have the time to build one from scratch)
Finally track down one or two pieces of flooring to finish the kitchen/dining room doorway, install threshold, paint around the opened doorway, and reinstall baseboard & quarterround
Install reclaimed barn wood on wall by the back door

I also noticed evidence of water damage on a wall in a basement closet, located right underneath a water line that goes to a spigot outside that we use for watering flowers in our front flower beds, so I need to open that up and see what's going on with that. Nothing that's still wet, and not massive, but enough that I want to open it up, see what's in there, see if it leaks when the water is turned back on for the spring, all that good stuff.

I'd really like to win the lottery and redo the kitchen wood floor that doesn't match anything else, and the entry way tile, with one solid type of flooring, but I don't think that's in the budget this year. I might procrastinate on doing the reclaimed wood wall, because it would sit on top of the old tile, and I'd have to remove the bottom board to remove the old tile, plus no guarantee that the height would be the same between the old tile and new tile, so.....still undecided there.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

An update! Not a huge one, but an update nonetheless.

I got the leaky water line replaced in our basement. The outside hose spigot on the front of our house decided to start leaking, so that was cool. Pain in the rear end to get to it to replace. Had to cut open the ceiling a bit in the basement (fortunately, it was in a closet, so not visible) and then outside, the previous owners put insulation, siding, and some wood (???) over the spigot lip/ring thing, so I had to cut some siding and wood to actually be able to pull it out. Don't love it, but it is what it is. No pictures, sorry.

I started cleaning up the boards I brought home for our wall. An unknown number of years of dust, dirt, and who knows what else has been cleaned off

I think this should be enough for the wall, plus pieces to test different stains on, since my wife wants them a grey-ish color, not wood tone.

And............that's where I'm at with this project. I need to get time to pull the old wallpaper off the wall (because I hate it when I take something off the wall and find wallpaper behind it, like every loving baseboard in this house), patch up any rough spots, paint it a neutral color in case there are minor gaps between boards, plane the boards, stain them, then put the reclaimed wood wall up.

I did get their playset put together. Of course it happened when it was cold and grey, but oh well.
Project supervisor.

End of day one.

Got snowed on a bit while putting this together. Good times!

End of day three. Just had the twisty slide to put together and attach.

Twisty slide attached.

The spot with the grass covering is where we used to have a pit to burn brush, old wood, you name it. I dug down a few inches, 6 or so, to make sure any old screws, nails, etc. (which there shouldn't have been many of, but better safe than sorry) were gone so they didn't end up in someone's foot. Grass actually has come in super great, which I was surprised about, but pretty happy with. The boys love their play set. Very happy I got that put together for them.

I got the old crappy wood swing down! Our backyard looks so much more open and just plain better with that gone. We're kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner, but better late than never I suppose.

What it was like to start with. The roof was rotting around the edges, it kept shifting on the bricks the previous owners installed it on, hornets had a small nest in it that I removed, but they kept trying to come back. We never really used it. It needed to go.

Once I got the roof off, it was pretty easy. I tried taking as many nails, screws, bolts, etc. out of the wood as possible. Filled up two old coffee cans full of that garbage. I don't think I got it all, but I got most of it.

I found a piece of siding buried in my yard while removing the bricks this thing used to sit on. That's cool.

Done! Nothing fancy, but it's nice and works well. My son really wanted to roast marshmallows as soon as I was done, so he did.

Still have a pretty decent honey do list, but I'm slowly crossing stuff off of it. Time has been the hardest thing to find right now - my 4 year old always wants daddy to play with him when I'm done working, and by the time both the 1 year old and 4 year old are in bed, it's between 8:30PM and 9PM. Not exactly prime time to start working on something.

Feb 6, 2007

Oh wow that play set is so much fancier than the one I had as a kid!

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

I took a week off of work a bit before the 4th of July, spent time with the family, and knocked one big project off of my list.

Took wallpaper off one of the last walls upstairs in our house. Kiddo helped me repaint.

I wanted to do that because I started our reclaimed wood wall, and I didn't want the crappy wallpaper, or the gross aged plain old drywall to show through any gaps or holes or anything. I started by measuring the wall and chalking that size in my driveway, then laying out the wood pieces so I could sort through what was good, what needed trimmed down to work, etc.

A couple days of trimming ends, putting wood in order, rearranging a bit, then cutting the pieces to size in my driveway, we started staining. Different than what we had originally planned.

My 4 year old helping seal the boards. He was a great helper this entire project.

In progress. On the left side, I just took an angle piece of aluminum, spraypainted two coats of flat black on it, and screwed/liquid nailed it to the wall. I wanted it to cover the cut ends of the boards and kind of frame that side. Turned out alright, I think.

Finished project!

Overall, I think I was at 40-45 hours for this project, mostly because I had a lot of time spent measuring twice, checking after cutting, rearranging cut pieces so it looked decent, all that good stuff. I had a planer but ended up not planing the boards - they're all pretty similar in thickness, and we thought the difference in thickness gives the wall a cool texture. I ended up doing one coat of stain on almost all the boards, with the exception of the turquoise sorta looking ones - those got two coats of stain. Every board got two coats of poly sealant on them. Nailgun to put them on the wall with liquid nails on the backs of some of the shorter ones because the wall isn't completely flat, and studs are funky in this wall. The other side is our bathroom, which has a medicine cabinet built into the wall, so there's a good 20"x30" or so (I don't remember the dimensions off hand) that doesn't have any studs so that was fun. I had to be very particular about where I nailed. The best trick I found was chalkline from top to bottom on where the stud should be, then I traced where the medicine cabinet is, so when I nailed them up, I knew where I had a board to attach to.

I also got stumps ground out of my yard, and I removed another 20' or so of metal fence. I needed it gone for a stump to be removed, and they cut out a bush that was growing in the fence, but drat, now I cannot find fencing materials. At least the breach in my fence is mostly hidden from the road view with bushes and whatnot. At some point in the future I'll be able to find fence pickets in the size and style I need. I'm also in the process of re gluing our dining room table. The top is starting to separate because before I got it, it was stored in a non-temperature controlled environment. I think I should be able to save it.

Jul 20, 2009

Grimey Drawer

Shameless bump so this doesn't fall into archives. I'll provide a bit more substantive update in a bit. Nothing earth shaking yet, but I'm about to write some big checks for a new driveway, not too excited about that.


tangy yet delightful
Sep 13, 2005

I did reading of your thread, good work getting things done with little kids underfoot, I've got one 3.5 year old and your comment about finally getting alone time at like 9pm strikes home with me.

For your new driveway will you be doing concrete or just a refresh of the asphalt I saw?

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