Her Make Up Is Complete

DJK Painting Co_Joe HallJoe Hall, owner DJK Painting Co., and his crew took over painting my house on August 6th. September 6 she was complete. They lost 7 days to rain, so in just 15 weekdays, two Saturdays, and one Sunday, the wrap up day, my house was transformed from an ugly duckling that had been cited by the City of Cincinnati for peeling paint on the windows (they didn’t care about the patch work look of the asbestos tile) to arguably the most beautiful house in Camp Washington. Elation seems like such a small word to describe how I feel right now. I’ve been waiting almost three years to see these colors (Sherwin Williams Sea Serpent and Incredible White) on my house. She’s beautiful.  I can’t thank Joe, Vincent, and Elijah enough for bringing my vision to life.

My family has told me that my post are getting to “wordy/long”, so I’ll let the pictures from their final week speak for themselves.

I thought it complete irony that “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was playing on Pandora when I connected the speakers.
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I got a new back door light fixture because I’m going to put a screen door up and the original one, which matched the front door fixtures, hung too low. Here are some before and after shots.

Now she needs her accessories and this restoration will be a wrap!

Continued Progress on House Painting

Joe and Vincent were wrapping up the Stock Street side when a young man stopped Joe to inquire about working. Elijah had well groomed locs, his pants were belted at his waistline, he spoke articulately. The next week he was part of the crew painting my house. His first task on my house was touching up the Stock Street side. Great job. He and Vincent really seemed to hit it off, working well together.

In week one, rain was forecast everyday. They loss one day to rain. In week two the forecast  was sunshine, low humidity, high 70s, no rain. Perfect summer painting weather. They lost two days to rain, 20200821_113450but the bigger blow was an injury to Vincent that will prevent him from continuing to work on the project.  Elijah now has big shoes to fill and from what I’ve seen so far he is up to the task. I’ve learned that Elijah is a graduate of Job Corp and he had joined a painter’s union.  He’s like a sponge. He wants to learn and he is humble. He has great basic skills and a strong work ethic grounded in wanting to be a high achiever. The young man already has his LLC, a company name and logo as at 23 years of age his aspiration is to own his own paint company. I have no doubt he’ll meet his goal.  We need more young people like Elijah to support, promote, and elevate.

The order of what was going to be painted has changed. Since my last post all sides of my house have been touched. The back of my house gets full sun early and it last well past quitting time, so the guys have been tackling the back and neighbor’s side together. If not for Vincent going down and the rain they would probably be finished with the entire house this week. The dormers really slow things down as Joe does not rely on my gutters to support his equipment. It’s a two-man job with one painting (Elijah) and the other bracing the ladders (Joe). They’ve started arriving earlier to capitalize on the shade as the asphalt shingles really put off heat, which I can testify to when I replaced the siding on the dormers.

The rear dormers are 100% complete. Only the Incredible White on the lower part of the rear needs to completed. The neighbor’s side is 98% complete. There is a small patch at the front gutter and dining room window that needs the Sea Serpent, but it will be easy to hit when they apply the Sea Serpent to the front. The front is 80% primed. I actually joined in on the painting by refreshing the basement/foundation color. Stock Street side looks even better now.

Rain came Thursday as forecast, so the day was cut short. Thanks to hurricane Laura it looks like Friday and Saturday are going to be a wash out too. As they were leaving Joe yelled if weather permits they may work Sunday. Barring more rain the house should be complete by mid next week. I’ve visualized these colors on my house since 2017 when I tried to win the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway House from that year. I had my color scheme before I had my house, but I found the perfect house to apply them to. My house’s outward potential is manifesting before my eyes; another vision coming true.

One Down, Three To Go

DJK Painting Co took over painting my house on August 6. The owner Joe Hall and his worker Vincent have shown up every week day like clock work and they work a full day. One day was cut short by rain, but they worked a half day on a Saturday, so no real time lost. Joe understands the concept of time and money. He’s not only proficient in his craft, but he is extremely efficient in his execution without sacrificing quality. His worker, Vincent, is an absolute sweetheart. Meticulous with his work. He reminds me of my great uncle Arthur having in common a serious sweet tooth, which I’m enjoying indulging. I made the right decision in switching companies, no second thoughts.

The sides of my house will be the most difficult, due to heights, so they started with the Stock Street side. After 6 days the entire side is complete. Caulked, primed, painted. Caulking took a lot of time as there was a lot to do. Even once they applied the primer, Joe decided to caulk any large gap between the pieces of siding. He also caulked along the sides of the windows and the result was a night and day difference from the first painter. I have seldom had to point out flaws or areas in need of correction. Joe finds them first and tells me he’s going to fix it. I love that about this crew.

Originally the plan was to prime the entire house and then apply the color. They had half of the Stock Street side completed when I asked if they could paint the back porch, so that I could finally rehang my light and door bell. They got it primed, but returned to the side of the house because the porch was in full sun. I think they sensed I wanted to see my colors on my house, so Joe decided to apply the actual colors and fully complete the side.

Stock Street side complete.

The Sherwin Williams Incredible White and Sea Serpent colors look as good on my house as it did on the HGTV 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway house. Hopefully they’ll finish the back porch next, but if not I don’t care. Joe wants to knock out the other side next, which is fine with me. Three years waiting for this moment and I can’t be more pleased.

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.

Take Two, but Worth It For the Sweat Equity Cost Savings

The time, energy, and money on a quart of Sherwin Williams’ All Surface Latex Enamel Primer for the work I did last weekend was a complete waste. Just days after applying a coat of that product to my metal areas rust stains were bleeding through. I knew Rust-oleum had the product I needed, but I called my local SW store in hopes I could get an equal product, but have it tinted to my final house color. I got a young kid that clearly did not know their product line well and he steered me towards the latex enamel and sadly it turned out I couldn’t get an exact tint anyway. I did speak with the manager who said I should have gone with the oil based enamel instead and he was willing to give me that can at no cost, but after reading a Bob Vila article I decided to get the Rust-oleum Clean Metal Primer from Lowes. Hopefully that manager will apply credit on a future purchase.

The manager told me I could apply his oil based product on top of this, but I decided to remove it prior to applying the Rust-oleum product. My Don’t Take a Knife to a Gun Fight analogy came to light again. I decided to invest in a Dewalt corded grinder. I had the ENTIRE house cleaned and painted in about five hours. I put my stopwatch on when I did my neighbor’s side of my house and I had the entire side cleaned in 10 minutes, 39 seconds.

I bought another 4.5 each grinder, but now wish I had gotten the 7″. Cleaning the paint from the flat areas of my windows with the grinder works great, but once the flap disc begins to wear down the blade guard interferes with keeping the grinder flat. The aggressive grit will get into the wood once it eats through the paint and preventing/minimizing that is hard if I hold the grinder at an angle. I’ve never worked the grinder without the guard, but i’ll try that before investing in a 7″ model that would give me more depth to stay flat even with a worn disc.

My painter has quoted me based on the time he thinks to scrap and paint my house. I won’t touch the upper windows (I don’t have the proper equipment to work with heights), but all the prep I can do on the lower level is less they’ll need to do, so that saves me money. I wouldn’t have half of the features I have in my house if not for my willingness and ability to put in sweat equity.

Don’t Take a Knife to a Gun Fight

Well this most certainly will be a Memorial Day weekend we all will remember. No BBQs for me even though I have my prized grill with me again. I just didn’t feel like firing it up for a solo meal. Instead I decided to tackle the metal flashing that goes around my house. About a month ago I tested scrapping an area to the left of my back door. I used my paint scraper with a carbon graphite blade and a heat gun for about an hour to get that area cleaned. I thought I’d tackle a small area each evening, but then the sheshed project got all my attention. Good thing as my favorite Jack of all trades, Tom Milfeld, stopped by to see the project and he told me to use my sander with 60 grit paper to eat through the paint.

Left side of rear door, hand scrapped

Saturday I got started and I selected my belt sander to work with. I bought 50 grit belts and started on the right side of the door. It worked awesome, in the beginning. I got about 10 feet done before I needed to change the belt. I only bought one pack, which comes with two belts. The rain brought an end to the project, so I went to my computer with the intent of ordering more belts for in-store pickup, but an idea popped in mind to look at grinder accessory. The belt sander worked great on the vertical side, but not so great of the top near the house and I thought my grinder could get closer. I found exactly what I was looking for, a flap disk. At this point I have about 3 hours into this project and about 1/4 of the house complete.

Sunday, with more rain in the forecast, I turned my focus on my yard. Last year I seeded the right side and what I call nappy grass took over. It died out over the winter and my first lawn treatment of the seaosn should insure it doesn’t come back, but I had a lot of bare patches. There is a family flipping a house across the street from me and the husband is a landscaper. He stopped by and gave me some great ideas. I want to plant one tree and I’ve been considering a River Birch (grew up with that at my old house), a Star Magnolia (ode to Fixer Upper), or a Canadian Clump Cherry (also planted at my old house). He suggested an Eastern Redbud and recommended Bzak Nursery, so I decided to go out there for bags of top soil, seed for the lawn, and to see in person all the plants he recommended. They had everything, but the Redbud. Rhonda, who works with DIYers tweaked his suggestions a bit, so I can’t wait to turn my attention fully on the flower beds. I got the top soil and seed down and half the yard cut just as the rains started to fall.

I really didn’t want to deal with a big box store, so Monday morning I called the Ace Hardware in Clifton to see if they had my sander belt size, they did so I bought 32 and 40 grit. I wanted to get more paper in case the flap disc didn’t work of if they didn’t carry it. They did, so I bought two 36 grit GatorBlades. On a scale of 1 to 10, hand scrapping was a one, belt sander a five, grinder with the flap disc TEN!

The only drawback was I’d blow through a battery about ever 6′. I have three batteries, a rapid and regular charger. I was burning through batteries faster than they could charge, so I stopped to finish cutting the grass and to throw down a couple more bags of top soil I also bought at Ace and more seed. I got from the blue section of the back, all of Stock Ave side, and the left side of the front sanded. Skies turned black and wind picked up, so I thought rain was coming again. I stopped and ate lunch while watching another episode of a new Netflix series I’ve gotten hooked on, Blood & Water. I also read the can of Sherwin William’s All Surface Latex Enamel Primer I bought to apply to the metal once all the paint and rust was removed. It stated that bare steel must be primed the same day. I noticed that some areas I had scrapped the day before had rusted again with the rain, so I re-sanded that area and decided to apply the primer to all the areas I had already scraped.

What a difference it makes. I wanted the primer to be tinted to Sea Serpent, but that couldn’t happen because the base is white. This color is 50% of that.

Before calling it a day and weekend I decided to try the GatorBlade on my prized stain glass window frame. Regardless as to who I select to paint the house, I’m handling the stripping of that window. The disc is getting pretty worn, so I thought it would do less damage on wood and I was right. I’ll probably put the new one on to complete the metal flashing stripping, but I’ll use the worn one to finish the window.

I Was So Close To Getting It Right

Close only counts with hand grenades, so I put out a call for help to my go to jack of all trades guy Tom.  He already had plans that day, so I went back to a blast from my past, my former neighbor Bill.  I didn’t expect him to drop everything and rush over to my house, but that’s exactly what he did.  When I called him I was in route to Home Depot to pick up the wood Lowe’s failed to deliver and the 10′ 2x4s. He beat me home, but fortunately I had mistakenly left the back door unlocked so he was able to grab the plans from the basement.  I didn’t think he’d work so fast and I failed to say don’t use those uncut 8′ 2x4s, but by the time I got home he used all of them.  Sadly, I still don’t know how to measure for a bird’s mouth cut.

Bill decided to alter the plans by adding two additional rafters, one on each side of the door opening.  I’m still not sure why the door needed more support, but I figured what’s the harm and I had two extra pieces from the 10’ers that were already cut in half.  He also added some bracing cut from the waste left by his using the 8’ers.  The last pieces involved with the rafters were the Voerhang (overhang) plates, which are attached to the outside of the outer rafter.  They needed a 23 degree angle cut also and Bill did this as well, but he cut to match to the angles of the rafters and he had me nail the flush to the rafters.  I was pretty confident that was incorrect as it didn’t match the picture in the plans.  Beggars can’t be choosers, so I let it go as he was also willing to help me put the OSB roof sheating.  I definitely would have struggled doing that by myself, especially the large center piece.

After Bill left I studied the plan to figure out exactly how the overhang plates should have been installed.  They should have been nailed perpendicular vs. flush.  The 23 degree angle should have been cut across the face of the board vs. the side.  My miter saw could make that cut.  Unfortunately he used my last two boards and all the stores were already closed due to Covid-19, so  his correction had to wait until the next day.  Without this correction the side panels would not have attached flush.

Rains 20200426_223708were forecast for Thursday, so I decided to move two of the T1-11 4’x8′ side panels to the basement, so I could cut and paint them.  One of the best things I learned by going to the Camp Washington Wood Shop was how to use a straight edge to guide a circular saw cut.  These panels were too big to run through my job site sized table saw, plus the side piece cuts were at angles, 23 degrees, according to the plans.  I didn’t need to find the degree as the plans showed the low side measurement at 20 1/4″ drop.

I made my measurement and used my clamps to hold the string from my chalk line at the top, while I pulled the string to my mark to strike the line.  I’m not sure what this tool is called, but I used it to find the distance from my saw blade to end of saw plate.  I laid the end of that tool on my chalk line and placed my straight edge next to the end of the sliding ruler and clamped it to the board.  I repeated this action on the opposite end and then checked various points in the middle.

The only bad judgement I made is that I stacked both sides together and tried to cut both boards at the same time; I figured they weren’t that thick.  About a third of the way through the saw got bound up and kicked back at me (scared me a bit).  Not deterred, I left the boards clamped together and altered the depth of the blade to only cut through the top.  Once done I lowered the blade to cut the second.  This action meant only setting my guide once, virtually ensuring both would be cut the same.  With the cuts made I pulled out the paint, which I got from Lowe’s.  I bought HGTV’s Weathershild by Sherwin Williams.  It’s paint and primer in one, so one coat.  I have so drunken the HGTV coolaid.  Take a guess what color?

 

 

Uncertain Gray, the Perfect Color in Our Uncertain Times

Happy Easter Everyone. Today feels so surreal. Merriam-Webster defines surreal as marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream also : UNBELIEVABLE. I wish these times we are living in were just a dream, but the reality is we are all enduring an event that is disrupting and devastating lives with no signs of discrimination. I do hope all of you that honor me by reading my posts, are doing well, staying positive, and staying safe by embracing social distancing. As a single person, I can tell you its hard, so I guess I’ll give thanks to the City of Cincinnati citation for giving me a project to help occupy my time and give me a reason to get outside.

I’m so glad I tinted the primer to Lullaby, my first and the polls choice, of color for my foundation. I love blue, but Lullaby was too blue or the wrong shade of blue; powder, baby blue. It most certainly didn’t look that blue in the coordinating colors page for Sea Serpent, my eventual house color and the dark patch you see in the pics. With storms in the forecast for Sunday evening and a cold front following for several days after, Saturday was my day to apply the final coat, tinted in Uncertain Gray.  On my house it actually looks more like what I thought Lullaby would be.

It took me roughly 8 hours and almost two gallons of Sherwin-Williams Emerald exterior, in flat, paint.  The Ridge Ave Sherwin-Williams store is now my store of choice and Greg, their manager, helped me decipher through the different exterior products SW offers.  Emerald is towards the top of their line, actually used to restore the famed LA Hollywood sign.  I guess since I have confidence in my DIY skills, I don’t mind buying a higher end paint, which was on sale 30% off (BTW I’ve never paid full price for any of Sherwin-Williams paints; always catching a 30% or 40% off sale).  I expect my paint job to have the same long-lasting endurance as what a professional paint job would have.  I applied this and the primer with a 3/4″ nap, 9″ roller and a 3″ angled synthetic paint brush.  I’m ready to move some dirt!

Next up on the citation addressing list is the metal flashing that is on all four sides of house.  I will get it scraped, put a rust inhibitor where needed and primed with metal primer.  Lots of sweat equity, but should be less than $20 in cost of materials.

Drip Seal

Not the Plan, But Necessary

I long time family friend has a concrete business, which I know means he has access to the equipment I need to move dirt from my yard to the area around my porch to raise the soil level.  He came out Sunday to access the situation and has agreed to help me.  Last year I started digging to to connect my downspouts on the left side of my house to the original drain in the rear of house.  The left front drain is on the porch and with the relocation of my downspouts my plan, last year, was to trench along the side of my house and connect the front to the rear drain.  I knew I couldn’t do that by hand, so I stopped to find someone that knew how to operate a trencher.  I got no showed three times, it turned cold, project stopped.  Here’s the blessing in my City citation.  It was confirmed, in writing, that I could daylight, allow the gutter water to run into the yard.  I had been told differently previously.  That meant no trenching for the front downspout.  I only needed to re-connect the rear like I had done with the opposite side.

My dirt moving help can come as early as next week, so finishing that connection became priority, otherwise he’d refill a partially dug hole and I’d have even more dirt to move later.  Last year I removed an approximate one foot section of pipe.  I covered the exposed opening with a large rock to prevent things from falling into the hole.  I’ve noticed with some of our recent heavy rains my basement was leaking again, something that hasn’t happened since fixing the gutters.  Well it’s because mud seeped in under my rock and that pipe had become completely blocked, so water was just pooling in that area.  I was going to remove another section anyway, but now it was absolutely necessary.

Once I got that approximate two foot section out I laid on my stomach and used my hand to dig out as much mud from the pipe as I could.  I got down to my elbow and mentally prepared myself for another plumbing bill.  If I couldn’t get it cleared I’d have to call in 20200405_191444Zins Plumbing.  My basement drains were filled with debris when I bought the house and I used my shop vac to clean them out, so I thought I’d give that a try.  No pics of this as I was a hot, muddy, mess by now.  I had a 8′ section of metal conduit and I used that to stir up the mud created when I filled the hole with water.  I sucked up rocks, glass, wood chunks, mud for two hours.  The extensions on my shop vac gave me approximately 4′ reach.  I had reached my capacity when finally water started flowing through instead of backing up.  Plumbing expense SAVED!  My reward for that day’s hard labor……..an Epson Bath Soak.  I soaked through sunset listening to jazz.

20200405_194700

The next day I ran to Home Depot to pick up the appropriate PVC plumbing fittings.  I needed a flexible coupling, two 45 degree fittings and 3″ PVC pipe.  I could see roots at the bottom of the hole, so I added some root kill before I connected the pipes.  I used the short section of clay pipe as my vice to hold the PVC pipe while I cut it with my reciprocating saw.  I had the connection made in about an hour.

When I finished that project I finished the primer coat on the foundation and windows.  The window primer I had tinted Uncertain Gray, so now I am 100% certain that is the right color.   I wish I had gone that route with the foundation primer as I’d have a stronger visual of my final house.  That will have to wait a few days as rain is in the forecast.

My reward for that day’s labor was a 45 minute steam shower where I did a deep conditioner of my hair with the scent of eucalyptus in the air.  I can’t wait for the outside of my house to reach the level of the inside.

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Your Opinion Matters

Anyone else going stir crazy?  My mind is grappling with this unprecedented event that has shaken the entire world.  I still have client work to keep me seated at my desk, but the stay inside order is nerve wracking.  Thank goodness the weather is improving, to allow for legitimate outdoor work.  I’ve already done my first grass cut and now I’m going to tackle painting the cement foundation that my fantastic handy-man Tom repaired last summer.  I was going to pay him to do it last year, but temps dropped before he could get to me.  It’s my project now.

As I’ve shared many times over the two year restoration HGTV provided their professional designers for the color scheme of my first floor and exterior.  I copied everything, but the front door color (couldn’t do pink) from their 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway home, my favorite house since I became a HGTV junkie.  The exterior of my house will be Sea Serpent with the trim done in Incredible White, both Sherwin William colors.  What I love about Sherwin William’s website is they offer coordinating color suggestions, so I have decided to paint the foundation and I’m torn between Uncertain Gray and Lullaby.

Let me know what you think?  Voting window closes April 2.  Got to catch a no rain window.