That Section Looks Good

It’s going to look awesome when complete.  The wall tiles are 4×16 and I purchased them from the Tile Shop, Imperial Bone Gloss Ceramic.  The skirting around the tub also came from Tile Shop.  The grout is Superior Pro-Grout Excel in Dessert Sand.

The floor tile is the mosaic tile that matches the hexagon tile I put in the tub area.  I fell in love with the Isla King Wood tile when I stumbled across it on Pinterest.  It’s an Italian tile and it was a splurge that I justified because I put in the labor.  I was fortunate to find the tub floor tile online at Mission Stone and Tile.  With shipping it was several hundred dollars cheaper than JP Flooring, a local vendor.  I had selected a 2×2 hexagon tile from the Tile Shop that would compliment the tub area, but Mike Tanner’s installer suggested that I go with a square shape tile, less waste and time to install.  The Tile Shop had a 2×2 square mosaic, but it was only a couple of dollars less than the King Wood mosaic, which is what I really wanted.  I only needed 23 sf.  Even though I had to pay for installation, it was less than $100 in material cost increase, so I went for it.  Unfortunately Mission Stone and Tile did not carry the mosaic, so I ordered it from JP Flooring.

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Foundation Restored

The featured picture was taken on my first visit to the house after being given the option to buy it and it is the reason I almost walked away.  The gutters for the house were completely gone above this section of the foundation, so it took a beating for years.  Inside I had literally, weeping walls, and puddles whenever it rained.  I had countless companies come out to provide remedies, all had price tags $10,000 and higher.  I made the decision to move forward with the purchase and had decided to take one engineers suggestion to remove and replace the most decayed sections of the foundation, about 18′.  That would cost about $20,000.

Fortunately I flew my father in town to look at the house and he urged me not to do it.  He took a hammer to various sections.  Loose pieces fell to the ground, but in short order he reached sound areas.  One engineer recommended some specific products to use.  My father read up on them and said it was work he/we could do ourselves and it could wait; focus on the house.  I’ve done just that since October of 2017 and then Tom Milfeld was put in my path.  Everybody needs a Tom in their life.  His skills are boundless.  Turns out not only is he a great carpenter and tile man, he really loves working with cement.  He learned the skill from his grandfather.  He told me he could repair the entire outside and about two weeks ago, on one of the hottest days this year he got started.  If you need a handyman and live in Cincinnati email him at melvin7448@hotmail.com.

The BEST part of this project is I did not lift a finger.  I told him I’d help dig around the house and he said that is what I was paying him for, not to worry.  Boyfriend you don’t have to tell me twice.  I can’t believe the transformation, which I turned into a Quik video (I haven’t made one of those in awhile).  

 

 

From Toilet Surround to Headboard

I had to break this down into two post because I’m just jazzed to show off the progress.  This is the back to my future master bedroom headboard created from beadboard that surrounded a hole that was a toilet in my basement.  It was covered in yellow paint, black and white graffiti, cobwebs, and spider sacks when I tore it down.  These are the best before pictures I could find as the vision of turning it into a headboard came much later.

Once I had decided to make the headboard, I scoured the Internet for design ideas and I came across the blog of Jen Woodhouse – The House of Wood DIY Life of a Military Wife. She has a ton of cool plans/projects, but the one that caught my eye was her Evelyn Chevron King Bed.  I got the plans over a year ago, so this wood has been patiently waiting to be reinvented.  The plans include side rails and foot board, but I’m not making those due to my adjustable bed frame.  Open shop hours are Wednesday and Saturday and I literally thought I have this portion down in one week, two days.  NOT.

The first step was getting the sheet of birch plywood to the shop.  Thankfully Tom (my finish carpenter/foundation repairer) was willing to pick a sheet up from Home Depot and bring it to me at the shop.  Per the plans I ripped it down to 77″ in width.  Next was preparing the beadboard.  I knew I wanted to remove the paint and graffiti and I thought it would mean stripping.  Fortunately months before I started I brought a piece into the shop and Scotti let me run it through the planer.  With one pass it removed most of the paint and graffiti.  What was left I felt would add character, so the plan was hatched and I spent the bulk of the first day planning down the boards.

Once I got what I thought would be enough I found and marked the center lines (both vertical and horizontal) on my plywood and I started cutting 45 degree cuts.  Jen’s plans had measurements for each length board, but she warned to measure first.  I made it one step easier.  I cut the 45 to be placed on the lines and left the boards long off the edge and planned to just trim all sides down once all boards were glued and nailed in place.

I started cutting pieces on July 13.  I got the last piece glued and nailed in place on August 3.  I didn’t work every Wednesday and Saturday and some days I only got a couple of hours in, but this worked my patience.  I didn’t butt the pieces tightly during the cutting phase.  I nailed and glued all of the pieces in one quadrant first.  When I started in the next about 3 boards in the lines didn’t align and by the end it was off by 1/2″.  I had to take them apart (I had glued a few) and scrape the groove or tongue of each piece.  Just the thickness of the residue paint was causing the issue.

Next came the trim up.  The first cut I asked Scotti to do as I had supreme fear of messing up weeks of work.  I successfully cut the remaining three sides (both long) and in that raw finished state I knew I had created something special.

From this point forward I am not working from the plans.  The wall that the head of my bed is located on is not wide enough to allow room for nightstands on either side.  I currently use a TV table to hold remotes, pocket contents, etc.  I had the idea of building a shelve above the headboard, which will give it depth away from the wall and creating dead space.  Scotti added to the idea and suggested I put shelves along the sides too.  So with that plan hatched I decided it would be really cool to have part of the backboard be the back of the top shelf.  Most of the board will be hidden behind pillows anyway.  Back to the cutting board.

Thank God Scotti was there to catch what would have been a disastrous cut.  We had the board straddled across the two work tables, which meant I would be pushing as far as I could, but then need to go around to the other side of the table to pull through the remainder of cut.  In that transition I pulled slightly away from my straight edge and Scotti saw it almost immediately.  Fortunately not much damage and if I hadn’t shared it in this post, most people would not be able to see it once it’s all complete.  Learn from the mistakes of others.

With that cut, it was time to take the board home to apply the finish.  There is a gentleman, Gene, that has adopted the Wood Shop donating all sorts of great tools.  He’s a master woodsman and super knowledgeable.  I was toying with either Polyacrylic, Polyurethane without or without stain.  Scotti mentioned that Gene recommended and prefers Danish Oil.  I spent an evening on the Internet doing research and decided to take that route.  I purchased Watco Danish Oil in natural.  Super easy product to apply.  I used a cheap sponge paint brush.  They tell you to keep applying if you see certain areas drying up (soaking in) the oil.  On the first coat that definitely was the case.

After the second coat.

Final coat.

With that the back of the head board is complete.  This project took a major twist last week.  Scotti encourages people to buy wood for their projects from Paxton Lumber.  Originally I had planned to get slabs of Ash from the Randy Wipert, Woodwrights Sawmill and Hardwood who had got the walnut logs from me last year.  He couldn’t produce them when I was ready so, over the phone I described the project to a clerk from Paxton.  I am very comfortable buying site unseen, but never again will I do that with a wood project.

When I arrived to pick up the wood I knew IMMEDIATELY it was not what I had envisioned in my minds eye.  I had approved white oak slabs, cut to 15/16″, in widths up to 12″.  Long story short, I bought the wood and resolved myself to make it work.  I actually spent an entire day in the shop working on the top shelf box.  The planer in the Wood Shop struggled on these long pieces of oak, but I got them planed, joined, and ripped to prepare for biscuit/gluing them together to create the true width I wanted.

I took a piece of scrap oak home and applied Medium Walnut, Natural, and Dark Walnut Danish Oil.  I didn’t love any of them, but was going to go with natural and then came the phone call that changed everything.  Lacey, the woman that gave me the pine floors for my kitchen, called and offered me some of the floor joist she was removing from her house.  True 2×12, 100 year old pine.  I jumped on it and picked up five pieces and went straight to the Wood Shop (it was a Saturday).  I spent the bulk of the time denailing one 20190814_214547joist, but once denailed I started running it through the planner.  10 passes and we didn’t put a dent in the wood.  I cleared enough to know that this was the wood my minds eye envisioned.  This one spot rubbed with the natural Danish Oil confirmed it.  It will take months to finish the board if I move forward with the pine.

So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?

Water Closet Complete

Another room down, small, but complete.  I actually finished the room 4th of July weekend, but I’ve been crazy busy with client work that I haven’t had time to make the post.  My confidence on woodwork projects is growing by leaps and bounds.  My first finish carpenter started this projects last summer.  The door was a salvage door I got from the Cincinnati Reuse Center and it is the only painted door upstairs.  It was in

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pretty bad shape and already painted when I bought it for $100.  I had serious size constraints given the water closet was built in a dormer area (that same space originally housed a 4′ tub, toilet and sink, crazy).  It came with its jamb, but had to be flipped for right swing orientation.  He did all that.

I filled holes and cracks with wood putty, but did not strip original paint.  I sanded what was flaky, but allowed it to be my “primer”.  I applied Sherwin Williams Pacer White semi-gloss and the door turned out great.

The challenge I had was closing.  It closed perfectly when originally set in place, but I guess from sitting in basement it swelled and with the additional coats of paint it wasn’t close closing.  I took it off the hinges and used my hand planer to get past the paint and into the wood to reduce the size where it hit the jamb.  Messy, but it did the trick.

My next challenge was installing the strike plate.  I bought my first set of chisels for this project and although I went a little too wide, that project was much easier than I thought. I’ll be hard pressed to hire someone to do it if I need another (which I will).

The idea for the toilet sign came from my mecca to Waco and visit to Magnolia Market at the Silos.  They had similar on their bathroom doors, which they didn’t sell.  I found mine on Amazon and use furniture tacks to attach it to the door.

With the door hung I turned my sights on the floor moulding.  Since it would be painted and I knew I’d need the original to make up for missing pieces in the Master Bed area, I bought all new from Home Depot, primed pine that was close to original, and the shoe moulding came from Menards.  I tackled my couping cuts again.  Thank goodness I could hide my imperfections with paint and caulk.

One coat of paint was all these needed, but I took countless trips up and down two flights of stairs making the cuts.  Well worth it to get another room off the list.  The only thing left in the Master Bath is the shower and tub tile and that gets kicked off on Monday.

Tease for next post.  The Master Bed is one window shy of being complete.20190711_221700

From Pinterest to Reality – Part 1

Some females have wedding books, saving clippings and photos of ideas to create the perfect wedding.  I had an electronic house book, links and photos to things I’d put in my

first house.  The idea to recess a dresser into the eaves space that was once a short closet was born from this picture I saw on Pinterest.   I was starting with nothing in regards to furniture in my master suite.  I really don’t like a lot of furniture, so this was the perfect solution to utilizing the empty space created when I relocated the door to this closet to my master bath linen closet.

It took several months before I found a salvage dresser that would fit in the dimensions, 20190605_205930but I finally did on Nextdoor.com for $50.  A beautiful, five-drawer dresser with dovetail drawers made by the West Michigan Furniture Co. of Holland, MI.  I couldn’t find any before pics, but it was a beautifully made dresser; solid and heavy.

The first thing I needed to do was trim the overhang from the top and bottom sides.  I’ve had this dresser for at least 9 mos, so I made the cuts with my circular saw before I started working with Tom Milfeld and taking classes at the Wood Shop.  I butchered that dresser.  Some areas I cut in too deep, some not far enough.  It’s a good thing the bulk of the dresser would be recessed in the wall.  I could have let it go, but I filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded down the high areas just to get it ready for paint.

This project was all about salvage, recycle, so I did not purchase the primer paint recommended by the Sherwin Williams sales clerk.  I had over a 1/2 quart of their White Synthetic Shellac Primer left from the fire damaged door I bought, so I used it instead.  He told me that would be over kill and he was right, as I discovered.  I’ve always felt spray painting is the best option for painting furniture.  Rolling/brushing creates too thick of layers if you’re not an expect and I am not.  At the end that’s exactly what I got, but I’m jumping ahead.

Once the primer dried my first, bone head amateur mistake was revealed.  I was in such a rush to get this project done, I did the cardinal sin in sanding.  I started with 80 grit and never went higher, so my surface was rough, especially on the drawers.  In hindsight I should have sanded at that step, but my first inclination was more paint would hide it, NOT.

My walls in my master are Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, so I purchased a quart of their All Surface Enamel (recommended by the clerk) in that color and he recommended a Mohair Blend roller, which I also bought.  I applied two coats of paint and at that stage absolutely hated that I had ruined such a beautiful dresser.  I called my friend Joan who has a relative that paints furniture all the time.  She uses scrap paint and sands lightly between two coats.

Even though I had three coats on already (primer plus two color) I decided to try the sanding in hopes it would get rid of the rough spots that were still visible.  I only sanded the drawers.  It helped and the fourth coat actually looked pretty good.  So good I decided to drain the end of the quart can of Polycrylic.  I had enough for just one coat, but at this point that dresser had five layers on it, which would come back to bite me.

The craftsmen that build that dresser left zero margin in the drawer openings.  My five 20190609_131153layers were thicker than the original stain, so when I went to test a drawer it would not close all the way.  I intentionally painted the top edge of the drawer, but the bottom lip was just overage, so between the drawer edges and the opening overage I had too much build-up.  I used my new chisel set to scrap the bottom of the drawers.  I was hoping it would create a clean edge and it did.  I thought scraping the bottom would be enough, so the next task was getting the dresser from the basement up to flights to my master.

Earlier in the week I had asked my neighbor if he’d be around on the weekend to help and he was willing, but when the day came I had the epic feeling of not wanting to fail with an audience.  I didn’t know for sure if the dresser was going to fit and I didn’t want witnesses, so I tackled getting it upstairs by myself.  I had the full on Jane Fonda burn working in my already too tight calves when I hit the top landing, but it inserted like a glove.

I tried the drawers again and same outcome, still too much paint, so I bought a paint scraper and scraped the paint from the top of the drawers and top/bottom of the opening.  That did the trick, but it looked awful, so I decided take some dark stain (Minwax brand, but color unknown as I had poured the remnants of several different colors in one can) and stain the top edge of the drawers.  That amazingly did the trick.

The next obstacle were the two front legs.  I had to remove all four legs to trim off the bottom overhang.  I reattached them to their original location.  What I discovered was that my opening wasn’t square and the floor not level.  I had used wood glue with the original screws and I needed to push the front legs back about an inch. I used my draw saw to cut through the glue and mini crowbar to left them off.  Amazingly no damage.

That helped with the bottom alignment, but not the top.  For that I removed the original nail-on sliders and installed adjustable, which would allow me to set the heights on each leg differently.  Turned out I needed the entire dresser to tilt forward, so I made the back legs higher than the front.  I also needed the front right side to be lower than the left, which meant the left rear had to be even higher to stop the dresser from rocking.  Sometimes I amaze myself when my mind can sort through fixes like that.

The last step was replacing the original wood knobs with the Amerock Classic Cabinet Knobs Clear/Golden Champagne I found on Amazon.  They are 8-points, just like my glass door knobs on the first floor and the bases were a perfect match to my other brass accents. 

With that part 1 of the project was complete and I could finally empty the last box and bin in my floor.

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Score, 3 for price of 1

You cannot restore old homes without visiting your local salvage stores.  I’m still looking 20190608_094532.jpgfor two doors (office and basement) in a specific style (Mission, vertical 2-panel), so I make it a point to visit one of 2 stores fairly regularly, Cincinnati ReUse Center and Building Value.  This morning I went to Building Value and scored big time.  Not with doors for my house, but brand new, pre-hung doors for my future garage apartment.

My back door is a 3-panel craftsman styled door I got from Home Depot.  I had decided 20190608_200026that if I couldn’t find a 2-panel I’d buy another 3-panel.  When I saw the exact door at Building Value for $50 I jumped on it.  It only measured 30″ wide, 32″ with the jamb.  I thought that was the opening for the basement door.  It was not, I needed a 32″ wide door.

I could have made it work, but I decided to take a look at my garage plans and low and behold, the door for the bedroom specified a 30″ door.  The plan also calls for a 28″ door for the bathroom and bedroom closet and I knew they had more new doors, so I went back.  Sure enough, they had a 28″ 3-panel and a 28″ 1-panel.  I snatched both of them up.

The 1-panel door is taller than the others, but I figure it’s a closet door, so who would care.  Also, I’m not concerned with it not matching the other 2 because the 1-panel will allow me to hang a mirror on the door giving my future tenant a full-length mirror.  I bought twin size mattress bags to keep them covered and set them on a skid to keep them off the ground, just in case I get water in the basement.  What started as a search for some elusive doors saved me at least $350.

A Learning Opportunity I Didn’t Ask For

I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of what the wall looked like before I started this unplanned project, sorry.  My father was in town for some family graduations; his first time back to the house since move-in week.  He stayed in the guest bedroom and 8 days in he decided the exposed brick wall, only about 18″ wide was unnecessary and that I should drywall over it as I did in the kitchen.  He wasn’t wrong.  I’ve thought the same at times, but for me it would be a project to tackle AFTER everything outstanding was done.  Last Sunday it was moved to top of list.

I stopped at Lowe’s after church and got a great sales clerk who cut the drywall down to the width I needed, which would be the only way I’d be able to get it home in my PT Cruiser.  Like in the kitchen, I nailed one piece to the brick wall and a second piece on top of it.  That entire wall was about 36″ wide and the side that had drywall came away from the brick about 1″, but not consistently.  The top was wider and I had to use some thin strips of wood as shims to make the new drywall meet the existing wall.  I really thought my father was going to do the project, since he made it an issue, but that did not turn out to be the case.  I got both pieces hung, taped, and mud with just verbal instructions from the sidelines.  Fortunately I had plenty of plaster and tape left from the drywall crews to use.

I had appointments out Monday and Tuesday and my father was leaving Wednesday.  I just assumed he would get me to at least paint stage, but that proved to not be the case.  I had entered the “learning opportunity” zone.  I questioned how I would ever be able to create a level and smooth surface after the first coat, but he said I’d be applying three and it would work out.   Tuesday I applied the second coat, trying my best to remember what the young man had done on the kitchen patch, which resulted in minimal sanding and dust.  My father let me know that I did not come out far enough from the 1st coat in order to feather appropriately.  He showed me the technique for applying pressure to one side of the trowel.  He left Wednesday and I felt I had a hot mess I’d never be able to get right.  A full wall is much different from the small patch projects I had been doing.

I put on the third coat (below left) and then decided to sand as I could see grooves in the dried plaster from where I applied too much pressure to one side.  I was also using a 6″ trowel, probably too small for project.  Flashback to the drywall crew that left my house in a hot mess.  Mudding drywall is definitely an art.  The young man that did the kitchen barely left a thimble worth of dust for twice the size space.  I could easily fill a gallon paint bucket.  Since I could feel humps in the wall, I decided to apply a fourth coat of mud (below right).  I knew I’d have more sanding, but at that point I actually felt good about the end product.  The wall was flat and majority smooth.

I wanted to tackle the 1st floor bathroom closet door and start staining the built-in for the Memorial holiday weekend, so I was bound and determined to get this wall redo done on Saturday.  Once I got the big piles of dust up, I vacuumed the wall to get the remaining residue up and then applied Drywall Primer; fortunately I had about a 1/2 gallon left.  Following that I painted the ceiling and then put the first coat on of color on the wall.  Unfortunately, with the color I did not have enough paint, so I was forced to purchase another gallon of Passive from Sherwin Williams.  10:41 pm I put a wrap on the project minus the whole house mopping I’ll need to do to clean up the dust tracks from my Crocs.

The wall turned out as good as the “professional” drywall crew I hired, so glad I had the “learning opportunity”, but I have no interest in honing that craft.  I don’t like any aspects of drywall.  Next up in that room is changing the orientation of the bed.  My father had better ideas for that too.  More drywall work involved, but at least it will be small patches in my wheelhouse.  I’ll need help from my electrician, Mr. McGhee, to run the TV and Internet lines to the opposite wall.

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Moving Small Mountains, Literally

Mother nature has shown her wet side over the past several weeks.  I’ve wanted to take advantage of her free water after re-seeding the front yard, but needed to till the area in order to loosen the dirt and change the grade first.  Since tilling super wet soil would be next to impossible, I’ve been waiting for a rain free weekend, which has not been forthcoming.  Wednesday marked three straight days of sunny dry weather with rain returning the next day, so this was the day I decided to rent a rear-tine tiller and knock this project off my list.

It’s hard to tell from the featured image, but the area was like a rolling hill.  When the lead line was replaced last year Cincinnati Water Works dug up most of the area and did me a favor by removing the sidewalk to nowhere that cut across the front (Side Story:  20190509_161510Prior to my purchase, my neighbor decided to widen their driveway by moving their fence about two feet onto my property negating the ability to walk around the side of my house and leaving me a sidewalk to nowhere.)  It lowered the soil at the foundation and left an improper slope.

The easy way to fix that area would be with a small bobcat, but I’ve never worked one of those and a landscape company wanted $500 or more.  Tilling the area to break up the soil allowing me to shovel and move it with a wheel barrel or rake it was something I could 20190508_193617.jpghandle.  It took four men to lift the tiller into my PT Cruiser and all swore it wouldn’t fit.  With ramps I got it out and in by myself.  Out by putting it in neutral and using gravity to let it roll down the ramp; in by driving it up the ramp. Men.

I started in the area around the clump of mature trees I allowed to stay when I was clearing all the other trees from the backyard in anticipation of the garage apartment I plan to build.  I was getting such grief about cutting down so many trees that I decided to leave these, but I removed the rusted chain link fence that was not encompassed by the trees.  I also had to create dirt to fill the tripping hazard trench I created when I dug up all the flower bulbs someone had planted.  The plan is to fill bare areas with grass and then I’ll make small flower beds with mulch to make it look intentional.

I won’t address the backyard or the tree stumps until the garage construction begins.

20190509_123401I had a couple of bare spots that I made worse, intentionally, just so I could have the seed in loose soil.  Then I turned my sights on the primary area.  I called my cousin Zachary to come by the house about 2pm to help me load the unit back in the car (I called him after watching 4 men struggle, I hadn’t used it yet to know in gear 1 it moved slow enough to drive it into the back of my car).  Well at 2 pm I hadn’t made a dent, so thankfully when my aunt brought him over he stayed until his mom got off work and picked him up, about 3 hours

He helped me install most of this small retaining wall (short 8 blocks) I needed to hold the dirt that I wanted to fill in around the downspout connected to the drain (made necessary due to the fence move, I lost the space to create a natural slope).  I’ll probably need a few bags of top soil to fill it in more, but I’ll deal with that when I put the landscaping in.  I got most of the tilling and dirt hauling done with Zachman’s help.

I moved to the backyard and the area around the air unit as I needed to lower the side in front of the unit and I want to get some grass in the area.  Eventually I’ll build a deck off the back door, but until then I’m tired of my dogs tracking in mud.  Dark fell before I could get the seed down.  The worst part of physically taxing projects is being forced to stop before you’re done.  My lower back, arms, and shoulder ached and I knew I’d be stiff the next day, but rain was in the forecast.  I had to suck it up and finish in the morning.

On the wall I needed two half pieces, so I pulled out my trusty grinder and cut as deep as I could on all four sides.  I then put my chisel in the groove and hit it with my small sledge hammer, three whacks before it cracked, clean.

I used a drop spreader to apply the seed, racked it slightly before applying the fertilizer.  I am not going to put down straw.  At the last minute I decided to purchase 6 pieces of sod to place on the curb section.  It was only 3′ x 12′ and my hopes is that by seeing grass my neighbors won’t drive on it when they park in my spot.  I tried seeding that area last summer, but didn’t water it enough it keep it growing.  I had 1 1/2 pieces of sod left so I placed them along the wall to hopefully stop the soil from washing out onto the sidewalk when it rains.  With the change in slope it should happen less, but having instant grass in that area should stop it altogether.

Hopefully in about two weeks I’ll be posting pictures of a yard with grass.  I’m hoping this, along with planting some shrubs on the right side of house will give her a more satisfactory curb appeal, as painting may not happen this year.  Come on rain!

Houston, We’ve Got Air Conditioning

I don’t think I could last all summer, especially on a super humid day, but for the few warm days we’ve had thus far I’ve enjoyed sleeping under my fan.  One of the things I was looking forward to was the cross breeze I’d have due to the number of windows Iin my master suite.  I’ve gotten some of my best sleeps when I was in a place with an open window and cool air blowing in.  Spring allergies kept me limited on the frequencies thus far, but watch out fall.

I didn’t want 80+ temps to catch me off-guard, so with the concrete pad in place, I scheduled the air conditioner unit install.  The crew from Baker, Bauer & Fish completed their HVAC install on Wednesday.  I only have two pictures because I was doing yard work in the front while they worked in the back and basement, but James put in a half-day (left) and Rasheed a full-day with overtime to make sure I had air that day.  I can’t say enough about how pleased I’ve been with Tom Bauer and his staff.  I highly recommend them to anyone needing service on an existing unit or a new unit.  I will definitely use them again on my garage apartment project.

 

Not The Plan For The Weekend

This weekend was supposed to be simple, no strenuous projects.  Cut the grass, paint, and hang the 1st floor bathroom door.  Well I got the grass cut and after that was 7 hours of what has to be the most physically taxing work I’ve done in months.  I moved into the house with just the heat installed.  It was November, so AC wasn’t a necessity at that time.  My entire yard needs to be graded, but the area were the AC unit is going to be placed was particularly bad.  With every rain water would puddle in that area.  With hot weather approaching, instead of tackling the door, I tackled this area.

First priority was getting the drain pipe for the gutter deeper in the ground.  Last March my cousin Cameron and I ran PVC to connect the relocated downspout from the gutter to the original drain in the ground.  He dug down to the top of the clay pipe and we ran the PVC to it.  Unfortunately as the ground settled that pipe became exposed because we didn’t go deep enough.  We should have dug deep enough to remove the first clay pipe link.  That’s what I did Saturday.

This was one of the days I wish the weather forecast had been wrong.  I got to the original connection and was able to dig down to remove the next section of clay pipe (another 18″) before the rains came.  Digging the trench deeper, adding additional PVC to adjust for the deeper trench, and refilling the hole all occurred during a steady rain.

I was a muddy mess, so I don’t have a lot of pictures.  Before refilling the hole I dumped 4 bags of pea gravel in to help with elevating the dirt line.  I finished the project about 10p.  I was whipped and hungry.  I worked through dinner, but I was bound and determined to not have to deal with mud again the next day.  That tyvek suite has been deposited in the trash.

With the pipe fully covered now I could build the pad for the AC unit.  I have never poured concrete, so another new skill has been added repertoire.  After watching a few YouTube videos and talking with my go to handyman, Tom Milfeld, I decided to take this project on.  LADIES, we can do this.  I don’t know how many times I’ve prepared something in the kitchen that just needed you to add water and stir with no trepidation.  Well concrete is no different.  Just add water and stir.

20190428_130429First step was building a box.  My HVAC company had marked the spot with an orange box, so I’d know the location and size.  I had to go on memory because the rain and my digging project eliminated his markings.  Next step was making sure the box was level.  I made a 4″ thick frame, but in order for the box to be level the side closer to the house had to be elevated with stakes making it almost to 6″ deep.  That just confirmed how bad the pitch towards the house is and why I always got a pool of water in that area.

Quikrete’s website has a concrete calculator, so I would know how many bags to buy.  My box was roughly 40″ x 40″ and at a uniform 4″ depth that would need 7, 80 lb bags.  I bought 9 due to the deeper house side.  I got my wheel barrel out of storage, which became my giant mixing bowl and started mixing one bag at a time.  I ended up using 8.

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Even though it was Sunday I asked Tom if I could get just one hour of his time.  He arrived on bag 7 and brought the tool needed to smooth out the top.  For future reference I now know not to mix too loose.  He told me the water will evaporate and seep into the ground eventually, but he had to spend more time smoothing it out.  In a couple of days I’ll remove the wood frame.  I’m still sore and stiff, but my house is now ready to receive the AC unit.  Of course I had to leave a mark in the concrete, so in block letters I placed SGw/S – Sista Girl w/ Skills was here.