Wednesday, August 31, 2016

No post for a week, must have gotten a lot done....

.......yes a lot, but not on the house.

Monday of last week we worked on the south and east kitchen window shingles and was making great progress.  Then the rest of the week happened.

Tuesday R had oral surgery and had to take it easy.

Wednesday G had a rare Wednesday night race so R had a short day of working on shingles.

Thursday R was busy on a paid outside job and I wrenched until 230AM on G's race car.  Yes, they pulled me out of wrenching retirement.  G was involved in two wrecks in the feature on Wednesday but still finished 10th.  Both not his fault and both from getting hit from behind. 
He needed to be ready for Friday's race because he lost some points recently and needs to maintain his place in the standings.  So he needed body work people and engine people. The engine had 10 races on it and was oiling the plugs. Better to pull it now and rebuild than to end up with a pile of debris.
Dirty hands, chipped nail polish, and regulation flip flops for working in a race shop...don't call OSHA.
So I worked on the engine swap with G, while his two friends, that are also engineers, worked on repairing the body and frame.  B went back and forth between both groups.

Also, I put my mother's condo on the MLS and we are selling FSBO (for sale by owner).  I started fielding calls immediately for showings.  Friday I had a showing.  They loved it but wanted a country setting. Condos in the country are rare but I think they just weren't ready for a condo just yet.  Agent told me, as she was leaving, that it was a lovely condo and that we will have no problem selling it BUT we needed to come down on the price.  Yea.....right.
Waiting for the first showing.  I can hear my mother now..."get your feet off the sofa."

Friday was a short work day for R because G had his Friday night race.  

Saturday started out sunny and I showed the condo again. As they were leaving the agent said to expect an offer. Then Saturday turned into a rainy day.  Rain then sun, rain then sun, rain then sun. We would nail a few shingles here and there between rain drops but I couldn't paint.  

Offer came in.....full price/cash offer.  B looked over the offer, we signed the purchase agreement, buyers signed the bottom line.  Done deal.  Inspection ordered.  No appraisal because it's a cash offer.  They take possession at the end of September.  Sold for over 30K more than any other condo in the development. We only had to pay $89 to get it on the MLS and 3% to the buyer's agent.  Only way to go. Saved us 3% to a seller's agent, which was roughly $6,600.  Plus, all the agents seem to want to list low for a fast sale.  It's hard for an agent to sell for a certain price if they do not truly believe in that price.  I'll do a post on selling FSBO when we are all said and done.  

BTW this is the second FSBO that I have sold in the last 10 months.  The other property was sold by us without a buyer's agent, so there was no cost at all to sell because we didn't even do an MLS.  Buyer was a lawyer and he knew our daughter in law so they emailed back and forth and took care of the paperwork.  I have two more properties to sell next year and we will do the FSBO plus $89 MLS.

Sunday we shingled and mowed.  There is one good thing about a drought.  It really cuts down on the mowing.
Monday (today) despite the forecast for no rained and rained.  By the time it cleared, it was late so we drove to Lowes in White Lake about 35 miles from our house.  We passed a small nursery with a cool planted roof so we stopped. 
We walked around and I of course checked out the hostas.  Had them all except a miniature or small hosta called Limey Lisa.  Now that I look at it, the leaves are too big for a miniature so it is a small hosta. Had to have it.  Also purchased a hydrangea called Twist and Shout.  When we got to the front door, they were closed. Duh....our truck was parked right in front (see our red truck) of the door.  R pounded on the door and they said they didn't know anyone was out looking at plants.  Really?  They said come back tomorrow. We said can't because we don't live around here.  Fortunately they were able to bring the cash register back up and we paid and left.
Twist and Shout hydrangea

Got to Lowes and while they brought our item up to the front, we went to the garden area.  Bought a common lilac plant (syringa vulgaris, doesn't seem to be affected by the black walnut trees like the other fancy lilacs) for 10 bucks and a one gallon Pow Wow Berry coneflower (bees and butterflies love it and the birds eat the seed heads during the winter) for a fiver.
 Today's plant haul
And here is where we are at with the shingling and painting.

R has a small side job to do in the morning but if it doesn't rain anymore, I'll prime and paint these shingles until the sun goes down.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to Shingling and Is This a Geode?

We are back reinstalling the cedar shingles around the two new windows that we recently installed.  R will probably finish up on one of the windows tomorrow and then I will prime and paint them.  Even though it is just a couple of handfuls of shingles, it takes time to trim them to fit between the window and the existing shingles....basically they are all fussy cuts.
It was so weird to work outside without the temperature being above 90 degrees.  There have been days where we pushed thru and worked in the sun and heat when we shouldn't have.  On those days we get less done but argue  Come on, I know we can't be the only DIY couple who argue about how to do something??
After working outside all day when the temps were in the high 70's, R said "you really can get a lot more accomplished when the temperature isn't 95 degrees."  I so agree.  It was the first time in months that it was actually pleasant to work in the sun.  It was both refreshing and kind of depressing. It means summer is winding down.  Our night time temps are in the 60's and this week they are forecasting 50's for night time temps.  Great sleeping weather.
So now for the million dollar question.  I collect round stones.  Yes, that is strange but I have this one that looks like the center is made of a softer material.  The outside looks like red granite and half of the outer shell is missing which exposes the soft inner part.  Kind of like a big ol' MM.

Is this a geode?

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Made the best of a rain delay... going to Home Depot to buy PVC drip cap for the new windows.

Around noon today the sky was perfectly clear and it was HOT. I puttered around the yard while I was waiting for R to get back from his dentist appointment and with gas for the riding lawnmower.  I heard the horn that they blow on the golf course when there is a storm coming and the golfers need to get off the course when I was picking up nails, wood chips, and sweeping up the deck.  I thought "what the heck" and looked up just as the clouds covered the sun and the wind started to blow.
This storm came out of nowhere.  R drove in the driveway just as it started to sprinkle.  Since we couldn't work on the cedar shingles we decided to go to the Home Depot in Fenton to buy the PVC drip cap.   

Home Depot only had 12 footers so we needed to tie the pieces to the truck mirror and tuck the other end in the bed of the truck.  We then picked up a gyro sandwich and an ice capp from Timmy's (Tim Horton's for you non northern people) and headed home.
By the time we arrived home the storm was over but everything was still wet so I couldn't mow and R couldn't use electricity.  We decided we could install the drip cap on the two new windows because we could use our pneumatic nailer and no electricity.

When installing solid PVC trim or boards, always keep the pieces in the shade where it is cool.  The PVC grows when it is hot and if you cut the piece in the heat it will be too short come fall and winter when the PVC contracts because of the colder temperature.  This problem REALLY shows up on wide PVC boards like what we use for the fascia.  We always try to install those pieces in the fall to help eliminate that problem.

We cut the drip caps an 1/8th too long so each end overhung the trim by a 1/16th.  Come winter it will be perfect if anyone even notices....LOL
R used the air nailer with brads to attach the drip cap to the window trim.
I just noticed that you can see my reflection in the window.  There goes the anonymity....LOL 

You can read about the how and why of drip cap installation here.

I am going to mow in the morning while R has a root canal.  I think I got the better deal.  Root canal...ouch.  If he feels better later in the afternoon we will start re shingling around the windows. 

Today's storm knocked over a dead tree onto the power lines just down the street.  I saw the power company's trucks when I drove uptown.  We didn't lose power until they shut the power off to remove the tree.  So rather than relax or take a nap while I waited for the power to return, I instead doodled my fall design for the front door and front porch.  Doodled is a stretch, it is more like scribbles.  I'm not even sure I understand the drawing.

Now for the gratuitous kitty photos.
Elvis loves watching the bird feeder.  
His sister, Sasha, says "stupid brother, you are too close." 
"Is this better?"

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Second Kitchen Window Install

OMG  I was floored when I stepped back and looked at the window after it was installed.  Just unbelievable the difference it makes in the appearance of the house.

Here is what it looked like without the old window.
 Here is the after photo.
We called my son to come over to help lift the window.  The same milk crate setup was used that we used on the other window.  I was a bystander again today.  Actually, I was like the guy who spots the female gymnast on the uneven parallel bars.  I was there just it case the window started shifting or if someone pulled a hammie.  

FYI severe pain in neck/back of head hasn't been as bad as it was in the past weeks.  I can't bend my neck to look down or bend it backwards to look up without my neck making noise or starting to hurt.  So I don't do those things.  But as long as I look forward and don't lift anything....I'm good.

There is more rain in the forecast so I am not sure when we can start re installing the cedar shingles and repainting.  We still have 2 window units to install in the game room but we want to finish the cedar shingles on the kitchen part before moving on.
Left to right...Sasha, Elvis, and Patches

The kitties were not happy when we started making noise AGAIN today.   I know they are thinking...WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?  They are big afternoon nappers or bird feeder watchers and both of those activities require quiet. 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

New Kitchen Windows

The moment I set eyes on this house I knew there were windows that were all wrong and not original.  I knew they would need to be changed but I had no idea that the change of a few windows would make such a difference on the interior.  The view from the inside is vastly improved.  The new window changes how the room feels, too.

In between the rainstorms we worked on framing out the first opening to the correct size.  Once that was completed we needed to add the sheathing and then the rigid foam insulation.

The window unit itself needed some prep work.  The unit was wrapped in plastic with wide foam strips covering the white exterior trim.  There was also wood strips that are screwed into the unit to keep everything together for transportation.  The last things that we removed were little triangular pieces of wood that are stapled on the backside to support the wide trim during shipping.

R gathered all the milk crates he could find in the barn to stack under the window opening.  We stood the window up and I attempted to lift my side just 1 inch to see if my neck could handle it. Nope.  The shooting pain across the back of my skull told me we needed to call in reinforcements.  

We called our son and daughter in law who just happened to be close by doing a test run on a new exhaust setup on their beater Vette.  It's pretty much all cars, all the time, with my son. I'm sure his Grand National is sitting in the garage waiting for this coming week.  In the Flint area starting on Monday, there will be a cruise somewhere and then on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is the Back to the Bricks car show in downtown Flint.  Of course you won't see photos of that in the news.  That's good news and people enjoying themselves in Flint is opposite of what the media wants to portray when it comes to Flint.
That's a whole lot of cars.  Also take note of the original iron arches.
But back to the window......When B & G arrived we explained the crate set up and how we thought we should go about lifting this window into place.  R and G lifted the window onto the first lower set of crates.  For the next step, B and I  stepped in to support the middle of the window.  We fine tuned the placement and took a deep breath and then lifted the window and slid it right into place.  A little tap here and there and a check with the 4 foot long level showed we were good to go with a couple of screws on each side to secure the unit.

Once the window was in G remarked that it went a lot easier than he expected.  I remarked that I thought it was B and I carrying all the weight in the middle that made the difference.  He was not convinced...LOL
They left and R and I got busy and removed the other kitchen window, which is the same size as the one we just removed.  The first window took almost two days to remove and the window today took two hours.  It was a combination of now knowing how the window was constructed and what comes off first and the added fact that we were just more confident in what we were doing.
We have rain in the forecast for mid week so we would like to get the second window installed and maybe start on installing the shingles.  But now that it has rained the grass needs mowing so we will need to fit that chore in there somewhere.  Ahhhh the joy of old house ownership.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Window Swap Update and Elvis' Last Nerve

Our cat, Elvis, is not happy about all the ruckus on the deck.  There is far too much noise for his kitty ears.  He likes to take his afternoon nap in solitude on the deck under his favorite bird feeder. Our hammering is also keeping the birds away. His life is in turmoil and he has totally had it with his humans.  
Don't worry Elvis, at the rate we are going we might be done by Labor Day weekend.  We knew the first window would take the longest but we hadn't figured in downtime for rain because we have basically had none this summer.
We just started the build up of the bottom of the window when it started to rain.  We quickly covered the opening with a tarp and called it a day.
On Saturday we started about 1PM only to have it start raining the minute we took the tarp down.  A quick check of the radar map showed that it was just a little rainshower so we continued working even though it was lightly raining.  Then the sun came out and dried up all the rain and then it got HOT and HUMID.

We finished building up the bottom of the opening.  Then a quick look through the scrap pile found a scrap piece of 3/8th plywood which was perfect for the sheathing.  Next we installed a layer of rigid foam insulation.  We used a partial sheet that R picked up from someone's trash.  It was the perfect thickness, too.  That saved us about 20 bucks.  We taped the seams with metal tape (not duct tape) and called it a day.
Tomorrow we will come up with some sort of method to raise the window up so that it will be easier to slide it into the opening.  R says he thinks we can use the floor jacks and milk crates.  If that doesn't work, we will call the 'son' over to help R lift the window.

I'm trying my best to give my neck and shoulders a break so that my disc can debulge. I emptied my purse of all non critical items.  I found that I had about 5 pounds of loose change in the side pockets, a construction size tape measure, miscellaneous screws and nails, expired coupons, 4 pairs of eyeglasses, and a variety of lipsticks in colors I have no idea why I purchased.

I can actually close my purse now.  I think my purse might be the culprit.  When I put my purse on my shoulder I can feel it in my neck.  So no more throwing my purse on my shoulder.  I am also sleeping without a pillow and using a rolled up towel to support my neck.  I know it sounds uncomfortable but it works wonders for me.
The fountain partially filled with rainwater because of the rain we have had in the last two days.  The top holds water until it reaches one of the holes.  That wasn't a surprise.  The middle tier held no water.  I assume it went directly to the bottom bowl.

I'm leaning towards using it as a 3 tiered planter with annuals that flow over the edge.  I would love a fountain but I really don't want the upkeep.  

Tomorrow is a big day.  We can't wait to see another ugly window go bye bye.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Window Swap has Started

I seriously thought I was going to pass out today.  Between not sleeping well......I think I have another gout attack coming on......and the temperature being 96 degrees, and having to work in the was rough.  I had the garden hose on the deck and just kept spraying myself to cool off.  I grabbed my water bottle to take a drink and it was not warm but hot.  So we called it a day at 5PM.  We were at a good stopping spot so that was a factor, too.

We had the delivery guys put the windows on the deck.  That will help us alot.  I think the lifting of the windows into the opening is going to require a floor jack, milk crates, and a lot of muscle on my part.  Floor jacks and milk crates I got but my shoulders are not the best.  

I injured my left shoulder 3 months before I retired.  But both of my shoulders have had injuries over the years that I just lived with until they healed.  The last injury wasn't getting better so they did an MRI on both shoulders.  They suggested surgery to repair multiple tears, remove a cyst, and remove bad cartilage.  

I talked with some co workers who have had the surgery and they said their shoulders were better but not perfect. Since they only do one shoulder at a time I would be out of commission for a year.  Yea right, I have a year to just waste.  So I know what aggravates my shoulders and I just don't do tasks that make them hurt.  I think lifting this double window might be one of those tasks.  But I'm biting the bullet in the name of ugly window removal.

The first window will probably take the longest time to install as we figure out our procedure.  Today it took us 3 hours to remove the old window which is actually two casement windows and a picture window.  

The new windows are about 6 inches shorter and overall 4 inches narrower so the next step is building the rough opening to the correct size.  The top will stay the same but we will build up the bottom of the opening and the sides.  We saved the interior trim and will cut it down to fit and then reinstall.  
We chose the window size of the single window on the southside to make up these double windows.  It was important to repeat the size to eliminate a look of haphazardness and make people think that the windows are original. 

We moved the umbrella over to the opening to give us some relief from the sun.  R also brought out a big fan which helped.

I was in such a hurry to get started I forgot to take a before photo.  But trust me when I say there was so much ugliness. 
Big gaping hole looks better than the old windows.
We wrapped the windows in a tarp JUST in case it rains.  Of course we needed to close off the opening to keep the cats in and the wildlife out.
We unwrapped the cardboard tube off of the concrete base for the support post.  It looks pretty good and by late afternoon was almost entirely white.  I used a piece of brick as a file to round off the top edge as it was sharp and a little jagged.  We will let it cure until this weekend before installing the post.  We still need to do more backfilling and leveling of the dirt and we will do that after the temporary posts are removed.  
 Summer is winding down and we are under the gun to get some projects completed before the snow flies.  Grrrrrr  Not looking forward to snow even though the 96 degrees was rather unpleasant today. Winter is just so dreary and driving in the snow can be stressful because you are at the mercy of drivers who have no idea what they are doing unlike during the summer when people are on their phones and no idea what they are doing.  So I guess it is the same but different.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Quick Update and......

then off to sleep.  Windows will be here Wednesday morning at 9AM.

Sanded post with 40 grit paper but didn't have time to prime.
We placed cardboard tube in hole and  made sure it was level, plumb, and centered with the plumb bob. 
Then we backfilled about halfway up the tube to hold the cardboard tube in place.  Double checked level and plumb.
We mixed our concrete in a wheelbarrow and ended up short about 3 shovelfuls of mixed concrete.  So off to the hardware store.  Hint....I spray the wheelbarrow with a little water first before adding the dry mix so it doesn't adhere to the surface of the wheelbarrow. 
Had a hard time finding the right consistency.  It was either too dry or too wet.  Tried not to work it a lot but did tap the sides after every wheelbarrow of mix.  We didn't stress out about it because a lot of it is going to be covered with dirt.  We will be bringing the grade back up to where it belongs which is about 6 inches from the top of the tube. 

The windows will be delivered at 9AM and it is suppose to be 96 degrees on Wednesday.  The first group of windows were delivered in a snow storm and it was about 19 degrees when they installed the windows.  My how time flies.  We are installing these windows ourselves.  Hopefully.  If we don't pass out from the heat. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to get a hunk of concrete out of a hole....

....without killing yourself.

We have three whole days to get this project completed before the new windows show up, because as soon as the windows come off the truck we will start the window install.  Both of us really really want the ugly inappropriate windows gone on the southside where people can see them.  It's embarrassing to have people THINK that we actually installed these ugly windows.

But first we need to remove a post holding up the corner of the bumpout, remove the concrete, pour another footer and pier, and then reinstall the original post.  The reason that this needs to be done is that the concrete has heaved out of the ground and the post is sliding off to the side.

To start with, we supported the bump out with two 4X4s using bottle jacks.  We then removed the post which in turn exposed a joist that did not have a joist hanger, so we took care of that.  Over the years we have added joist hangers to the deck which had been constructed with no hangers and twisty nails.  So whenever we can, we add screws and additional cross joists to break up long spans of 2X8s. I noticed another spot today when I was under the deck.  

We dug around the concrete until we got to hard clay.  I bermed some soil around the perimeter and filled the hole with water.  We let it soak in overnight and then today it was much easier to dig around the concrete.

First we suspected that the concrete did not go down 48 inches or even 36 inches.  Over the years what soil that was there washed away and to make matters worse there are large tree roots that probably made the concrete move. 

The area where we are working is on a slope under the deck.  We can stand up but the grade and numerous large tree roots above ground makes moving around a dicey deal.  So we dug down as far as we could and then moved on to plan B.

We are the proud owners of numerous floor jacks and we use them for everything.  We have heavy steel ones and lightweight NASCAR style aluminum jacks.  But R chose the heavy 3 ton jacks for this assignment.  A tie down strap with a hook on one end and a chain with a hook were wrapped around the concrete blob.  The hook was wedged onto the saddle of the jack (that is the pad that supports the object you're lifting).  

R was on one side operating one jack and I was on the other.  We started lifting the saddles until the slack was out of the strap and chain.  At this point we had no idea how deep the concrete was or if it was wider at the bottom than the top which would prevent it from easily lifting out of the ground.
We slowly start lifting it when we realize that it was not very deep but we soon ran out of lift.  I grabbed some broken pieces of concrete that were in the rock pile and we jammed those under the concrete blob and lowered the jack saddles.  We repositioned the jacks and repeated our procedure.  It was working but we would run out of lift and need to jam more concrete and pavers under the blob.  We did this 3 or 4 times before we had it this far out of the hole.
Now that we had it this far we needed to move it to the side and away from the hole.  R uncovered his hot rod 1982 S10 with a 350cid engine that came out of an old Corvette.  The truck easily pulled it out of the hole.  He could have pulled it across the yard but we first needed to protect a large exposed tree root with a piece of sheet metal.
Once we were over the root we stopped and disconnected from the S10.  We will use our metal snow saucer to haul it away.  The snow saucer slides on top of the lawn and doesn't do any damage.  We use it to move large rocks, too.  One time we had a boulder so big that R had to go to the junkyard to get a scrap car hood. We flipped it over and used it as a mega size saucer to move the boulder.

Now that the concrete blob was gone, we could enlarge the hole.  We were not able to go much deeper because of large roots.  So we had to move to plan C.
We mixed up a half bag of concrete and poured it into the hole spreading it out over the entire 2 1/2 ft wide hole.  Then we dropped a plumb bob from the center of where the post will be so that we could add a piece of threaded rod in the center.  The threaded rod will help connect the new footing to the tube of concrete that we will pour tomorrow.  

Of course the correct way would be to go down below the frost line but that just wasn't an option. This new install will be better than what was there and the old one lasted 90 years so I think we will be OK.
So in between concrete blob moving I painted the fountain with a light grey paint that makes it looks like concrete (sort of) and I stripped the paint off the old post when I wasn't doing this.....
I love these Zero Gravity lounge chairs but mine just finally ripped the sling.  I knew it was coming because the chair is OLD and R's ripped last week.  We both love them.  R has a severe back injury from racing and I just love to lounge.  We usually take a quick siesta in our lounge chairs but today I hit my chair more often.  You can see the ugly windows that we will replace on Wednesday.

The post took two hours to remove all the paint.  It was thick but I found out that the post started out grey, then a lighter grey,  then a white color.  I think the first color combo on the house and barn was an all grey. Everything.  Including trim and window sashes.  That must have been a dark look.

The wood post is still in great condition.  I assume it is fir.  The edges all are chamfered, which I love. Back when this house was built, craftsman added small details like this chamfering.  Of course all the many layers of paint hid this detail. I'll prime the post tomorrow but will wait until after it is re installed to paint it semi gloss white.

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