Exceeding My Expectations, So Far

Some contractors may find me difficult to work for. I know too much and can do too much for myself. I set a high bar of excellence for myself, so in turn I expect a contractor to do the work at an even higher level of perfection. After all I’m just an advanced DIYer/Sista Girl with Skills, a contractor should be a trained professional and able to do a project faster and better. Lyle Benjamin of Lyle’s Homes started the prep to paint my house on June 9th, approximately two weeks earlier than originally projected. I viewed that as a great thing, but it was a rocky start. On day one he came and left, leaving a worker who worked on the first floor windows when I thought we had agreed I’d handle them while he focused on the second level. My mind instantly flashed back to my drywall crew. Could I have possibly made another bad choice, did my project get subcontracted again? I shared my drywall nightmare story with Lyle and told him I know I’m difficult, but he’s got to make me feel comfortable with what he’s doing. He has.

Lyle’s Homes is the first major contractor I selected without having a referral. Believe it or not, he reached out to me via Match.com. I had a bout of temporary insanity and signed up in search of a significant other and in my profile I said if you want to learn about me find my blog venusdiyworld (Match does let you insert websites in your profile). Lyle found it and reached out to me offering his painting services by pointing me to his Thumbtack page. No romance was ever formed, but he got my attention when he used another “R” word, Restoration. With his second bid I truly felt he understood what I wanted to accomplish and it was at a price I could afford. In hindsight the problems in week one were avoidable if I had told him I was not ready for his earlier start date. All the projects I planned to tackle (replacing trim on first floor windows and rebuilding rear portico) would have been complete by end of month leaving a clear understanding on what he needed to focus on. I’m still mastering my General Contractor skills.

Lyle’s bid included this wording: Prep: Wash house to remove dirt , grease and loose and peeling paint. Remove paint to bare wood on all widow frames/casings using a heat gun and or chemical removal agents and sanding. Hard scrape and feather sand additional wood trim and fascia to remove loose and peeling paint. This described what I thought was needed before any new paint was applied to my house. He’s doing this to levels that are far exceeding what I thought was possible. As I stated in an earlier post the three windows on my neighbors side that he cleaned entirely are much smoother than my windows were, so much so that I went back and used a higher grit (80 and 120) to try and reach the smooth as a baby’s butt level that his windows are.

The work he has accomplished on the second floor dormers and side crown moulding has blown my mind. He actually removed the crown from the dormers and had another worker scrape it on the ground. Doing that revealed that bees or hornets were making a home through the gaps that had formed over the years. Before rehanging he will treat them would a wood hardener, which should stop them from decaying further and he said he will be able to close those gaps. He’s also willing to spray the opening with some insecticide I have in a pump sprayer.

With the first floor conflict Lyle did agree to adjust his price, but with the high level of detail he is performing, I’ve now agreed to purchase the Sherwin Williams Duration that will be the final coats. Paint was included in his bid and he projected needing 30 gallons of primer and paint combined. If Lyle paints as well as he preps my house is going to be absolutely GORGEOUS, a true showcase home for the community of Camp Washington. In addition to buying the paint I’m also still tackling some projects, so that he can stay focused on the 2nd floor and also because I can’t see him completing this project in three weeks as projected (rain is starting to be a factor now). There are more broken tiles, so even though he said he would do that I took that on since I had already done some with the rear portico.

The missing pieces

There were two pieces that didn’t get replaced when myself, my father, and my cousin Cameron were tackling this project two years ago. They are near the rear gutter on the Stock Street side of my house. We attempted, but the angle my father told me to cut was wrong. We didn’t have any angle finder tools and my father was using math calculations based on measurements he told me to find. It was my last piece of tile and I’m standing on ladder being yelled at about not giving him the right measurements. I left the piece, un-nailed, resting on the gutter until now. My skills have definitely improved.

I’m tackling the plinths and window sills next.

Rear Portico Makeover – Scraping The Headboard

The portico over the rear door was as caked up with paint as the window mouldings, maybe more. The inside top and sides were just slats of bead board. I decided to replace the old bead board with new. The ceiling was spongee and in really rough condition. I remembered when installing the light fixture thinking it really should be replaced, so now is the time. Removing the bead board was a piece of cake. A crow bar and hammer did the trick. Removing the ceiling and sides revealed a glimpse at what the house looked like when it was originally built. The original, unpainted, flawless condition cedar shingles siding were revealed. Seeing that really makes me wonder what condition the house was in before they added the asbestos shingles.

The Original Cedar Shingle Siding

I decided to build the ceiling first. I didn’t even need to cut those boards. They were 48″ long, so I had Hyde Park Lumber cut 8, 8′ boards in half for me. That saved wear and tear on my miter saw. Before installing them I used my carbide scrapper to remove the paint from any surface that would touch the new wood. I used the grinder a bit also, but unlike the windows and the door I was concerned with damaging the original corbels, so I used it sparingly.

Before tackling the sides I removed the remaining paint using my heat gun and a 5-in-1 scraper. It took me about three hours to get all the paint off.

I used my angle finder to determine the slope, 30 degrees, and with that I was off to the races. I set up a jig on my miter saw to cut the point (dental teeth) at the end of each board. Basically I cut the needed angle off a 2×4 and used that to set the angle of the saw each time I needed to make those cuts. I put a piece of tape on the back support plate, to mark where I needed to place the 2×4 and I used the miter saw clamp to hold it in place. With it secured I just had to butt my bead board against it, cut, flip the wood, and cut again. Originally there was a strip of crown moulding that went around the top edge of the sides and front. I found a very similar profile at Lowes, plastic, but for the life of me I could not figure out the right angle, so I settled for a flat piece of old pine scrap wood I had in my basement.

In removing the old side bead board I managed to break the asbestos tile on each side. No big deal to replace, but when I put my ladder up to get measurements I noticed two large holes in the tiles above the door. The wood of the house was completely exposed, so I decided to replace them also. I couldn’t get the damaged pieces out without sacrificing the two narrow strips at the top. Thankfully those could be cut from one piece of the replacement tile. It was extremely hot that day and the shingles where hot. I tried my best to minimize how much I touched them. My cuts for the side pieces where spot on! I actually reused the damaged shingle from the top to replace the broken pieces on the right side of door. I only needed two narrow pieces and I hated wasting a full sheet of the new. I was hoping I’d only need one case to repair any needed areas around the house. Yes I did wear a respirator mask while cutting them.

At this point I told Lyle, the painter, to just consider me to be part of his staff. He’ll still need to sand the corbels, but I saved him at least a day of work by tackling that project. I actually had fun. This degree of woodwork is in my wheelhouse. Speaking of woodwork projects it is back to the drawing board on my headboard project.

I got the trim pieces stained, coated, and attached. My cousin Zachary came over to help me carry the three pieces upstairs. I wanted to apply one more coat of Danish oil to the front panel before getting him to help me carry it upstairs, but I put the three pieces together and placed them where they’d reside in the room. I thought I took a picture of the top and sides assembled in my bedroom, but I didn’t and I’ve already gotten Zachman (my nickname for Zachary) to help me carry it back downstairs. It’s too big/bulky for the location. All I really wanted was the top shelf. Scotti from the WoodShop expanded that idea to include the side shelves, which seemed like a great use of the dead space being created by the top shelf. However, in addition to looking bulky when I had my mattress elevated at the top to allow me to sit up in bed, I can’t reach the top or side shelves. Elevated I’m about a foot away from the headboard; something I had not anticipated.

Fortunately I have two more pieces of the oak boards. In my minds eye my new design will be 100% better as it will eliminate the Aspen wood side boxes altogether. What I haven’t grappled with is how to deconstruct the top box. The bottom shelve is just screwed in place, but the top is glued and screwed and the screws have already been concealed with dowel rods, see post All I Needed Was The Right Jig. Actually let me rephrase that. I know exactly how to deconstruct the top box, the question is do I have the guts to do it. I got a lot of practice with straight edge cutting with a circular saw during my shed project. I need that same mastery of skills to manifest again. Stay tuned. I’d really love to have the headboard completed in conjunction with the house painting completion.

Dynamic Duo Tackles the Outside

My house is covered in faded yellow asbestos shingles.  Under those are the original cedar shingles, forest green.  Because I watch way to much #RehabAddict with @NicoleCurtis I briefly had plans to remove the asbestos to expose the cedar and have it painted.  I quickly got pass that plan after the box gutters were restored.  It totally changed how the house looked and the asbestos shingles actually looked good, to me.  All I needed to do was replace the missing and broken, about 50 shingles.

As everyone should know asbestos is a health hazard and those shingles are no longer available, but GAF makes an excellent solution for replacing asbestos siding, WeatherSide Profile Shingles, that I was able to purchase from Home Depot.  With drywall sanding underway inside, now was the perfect time to tackle this project.  Plus I’m on a countdown clock with my father’s help as he returns home in less than a week.  Months ago I reached out to Ohio’s EPA and learned that a single family dwelling is unregulated, which means the “dreaded expensive abatement company”, frequently shown on every HGTV, DIY show was not necessary as I could remove the shingles myself.  I will need to take them to an approved landfill, Rumpke, but I’ve made that haul twice and it’s no big deal.

As with the gutters the house had to get uglier first, so the first couple of days my cousin Cameron and my father tackled taking down the broken shingles, putting up shims (old pieces of the lathe I saved), and felt paper.  They used a small chisel to gently loosen the existing nails and then nail puller pliers to remove the broken asbestos shingles.

 

Fighting rain for two days the three of us managed to get the new shingles in place.  This was probably the easiest, first time, project I’ve tackled at the house.

 

We broke a few, new and old, on the learning curve, so I’ll need to order another case of shingles or try to find someplace that sells them by the piece.  I only need about 5 more, 18 come in a case, to finish some spots near the gutters.  Once complete I hope to have the house painted by RhinoShield by the end of year.  The house will transforms to Sea Serpent blue and the trim Incredible White.   These are the house colors from HGTV’s 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway, it was my favorite of all the Urban Giveaway homes, thus far.  I will not be adding the pink door however, instead it will be They call it Mellow yellow, homage to the faded yellow that has stood for probably 60 years.

RhinoShield is a coating, not paint, that has a 25 year product warranty against cracking, chipping, and peeling.  I have gotten a quote to have the house painted and was pleasantly surprised when RhinoShield came in similar to the paint quote.  I asked them for three references, preferably asbestos homes, 20170806_140216and all owners raved over their work.
Plus it turned out that my favorite painted house in the neighborhood was done with RhinoShield too.

If any of my followers has a connection with RhinoShield corporate and could work out a product donation for me, I’d be much obliged!