Sunday, February 26, 2012

New roofing!

Due to hail damage from the severe storms in May 2011, I had new shingles installed and some underlying damage repaired on February 23.  This was no surprise, as four houses near me also had new roofing recently for the same reason.  The shingles I really wanted were red and had a very unique shape (CertainTeed Carriage House in Georgian Brick), indicative of what might have been on a 1930's home.  Unfortunately, I couldn't afford them at  $254/square.  My out-of-pocket expense would've been several thousand dollars over what my homeowner's insurance covered.  There was nothing that resembled a laminate shingle (often called an "architectural shingle") in the 1930's, but I had to go with what I could afford, and chose Owens Corning Oakridge in Chateau Green.  It's much more durable than a three-tab shingle and has a great warranty.  While installing the gutter guards a few months back, I could see there were green shingles years ago so that was the deciding factor with the color.

Rodriquez Roofing, owed by Alvaro Rodriguez, was the contractor.  He had roofed a neighbor's house and I was impressed with his work.  He's been a contractor for twenty years, and a member of the Better Business Bureau since 2005.  The BBB website shows he's had only one complaint filed, and the status is "resolved."  There are simply some people that cannot ever be happy so this complaint had no impact on my decision to hire Rodriguez.  His crew was on my roof at 7:57am and the job was totally finished, cleaned up, etc. at 5:45pm.  It was like watching a nine-man machine.  This included all materials, total tear off , creating adequate ventilation, installing new flashing around all three chimneys, clean-up and haul off.  I have to say the flashing job is extremely professional and even looks pretty.  It's surprising with the severe weather within the past year that there haven't been any leaks coming through to the ceiling because the old roofing had no tar paper underneath, and there were only two layers of three-tab shingles.  The pipe boots were in bad shape, too.

Out of four bids, Rodriguez Roofing came in with the lowest price but also offered the best products and most thorough service.  I cannot say enough about how happy I am with the job Alvaro's crew did.  He is truly the consummate professional, as are his employees.  They're amazing to watch, but also polite, funny, and personable.  With the impending surgery on my right wrist, I've contacted Alvaro to have someone give me an estimate on repairing the rest of the plaster cracks.  It will be several months before I'll be able to do any more drywall work.  I pushed the two-year-old injury too much and the surgeon says I'm on the verge of permanent damage to my thumb, index and middle finger.  Those of you who know me realize the important of keeping the middle finger in good working order at all times.  :)  I never know when I might need it.

This is what I really wanted.

This is what I got.  Red wasn't available in this style.

The "before" picture, after tear-off was in progress.  You can see it was time for replacement even without the hail damage.  All the algae build-up was so prolific that I couldn't kill it.  I have a tree trimmer coming out to give me an estimate on cutting back the tree overhanging the chimney and the one around back that's over the carport.  This will help eliminate any more such build-up, although the new shingles have a lengthy algae resistance warranty.




Brian was very unnerved at all the commotion on the roof, until I took him outside and showed him what was going on.  Afterwards, he couldn't have cared less and felt a nap was in order.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Termite damage

I knew when I purchased my home, there was termite damage from a former infestation.  Fortunately, it was confined to a small area in the master bedroom, along the back wall.  Although the crawlspace wall under that room is several cinderblocks high, they had invaded the 2x4 frame of the access door, then got inside the walls and made their colonies on the back side of the drywall.  This is why there was the peeling paper and cracked, crumbly drywall visible in the bedroom.  The baseboard for approximately ten feet was destroyed; I could poke it with minimal pressure with my finger and it would go right through.  Removing the baseboard and drywall revealed the majority of the mud structures had separated from the wall, breaking and crumbling as they hit the soleplate.  There were still a few stuck on the back of the drywall as I removed it, and I was shocked at how much they resemble mud wasp houses.  Surprisingly, the studs had incurred very little damage and didn't have to be repaired or replaced.  Apparently, the insulation facing, drywall paper, baseboards and some of the crawlspace door frame was their sustenance and they were discovered before further damage could occur.  The damaged materials were removed and everything thoroughly scraped and vacuumed out and new materials were installed.  It seems comical that the only termite damage to this entire house was done in the new section that was added in the 1980s.  

Larger section of interior damage.  Baseboard hole can be seen in the lower righthand corner.

Smaller interior damage

Baseboard as it's being removed, along with crumbled colonies.
Damage 4' high and 64" wide.  Another 16" x 22" piece will complete the top patch.

Insulation facing damage and stuck-on "mud"

A piece of colony, still stuck on the back of some drywall.  It's about 1' long, 8" wide and over an inch thick.

Shopping at Lowes for replacement materials.  (That's part of his leash behind him.)  He loves riding on the lumber cart.  I believe he thinks it's a giant skateboard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Due to lack of storage in both bathrooms, I decided to try a possible solution in the hallway bath. A shelf over the door sounded appealing, but I wasn't sure it would work with the decor.  The shelf could be used to store extra bath linens, cleaning products, etc. With limited floor space, it's not an option to hang a cabinet or shelf on the long wall from the tub to the door (where the floor-to-ceiling cabinet used to be) or it would get in the way of everything.  For about $4 for a 1"x8"x6' pine board, and free 1"x6" pine scraps from old projects, I made a shelf and brackets. I figured if it didn't look right, it could always be used somewhere else. I free-handed the brackets on the scraps and cut them out using a jigsaw. The top braces of the brackets are cut-down grade stakes I ran across in the workshop while looking for the scrap lumber. They had exactly the necessary width and contour, but it was even better because one cut per stake was all I had to make. No rounding edges, etc. like the pine required. Using forstner bits, I routed out for flush-mounted keyhole hangers on the bracket backs to avoid exposed screw heads or dowel buttons on the front. For extra support, the back of the shelf rests on top of the door trim.  Bungalows are all about extra storage and utilizing otherwise wasted space, so it seems to fit with the other decor.  I was really pleased with the outcome.  Of course, I'm counting on the fact that I'm 5'10" now and can reach everything.  We'll see how practical it becomes as I get older.

Another thing that needed to be devised for the same room was something to hide the gap with the furnace register.  The old one was in poor condition and couldn't be saved. The new one wasn't quite as deep, leaving about a 3/4" gap the length of the duct opening on the floor if the register was placed flush against the baseboard. I got the idea to use scraps of backband leftover from the door I just hung and framed in the other bath. There was the right amount of thickness needed to bridge the gap between the wall and register, plus it provided a very pretty frame to an ordinary necessity. This turned out so attractively that I'm thinking of doing it anyplace there's a wall register, as long as there's enough space to spare without encroaching too much on the incoming air.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Privacy in the privvy

It's about time!

Almost nine months after the partial remodel on the master bathroom, THERE'S A DOOR.  Privacy at last!

Aside from being cheap, I refuse to buy anything new for the house unless I absolutely have to because, well, it's new.  New looks new.  It lacks the wear and love from years of use.  Therefore, it lacks character.  If my goal is to change back to authentic the few things around the house that were added or replaced over the years, then new is not the way to go.

I've often laughed and said that "death, divorce and the ReStore" is serving me well.  Most of my furniture came from the estates of family members who have passed on.  A few other pieces were bought quite reasonably from people who were divorcing.  Anyone who knows me or has at least been keeping up with this blog knows how much I love the ReStores or any good bargain resource, such as eBay or craigslist.

The bathroom door was a difficult find because it's 28" wide.  About three months ago, I got lucky with craigslist and found two 32" and one 28" two-panel doors for $6 each.  I bought all three, as I'll need every one.  Both 32s are under the house for now.  Getting the door ready to paint was quite the ordeal.  There were multiple layers of paint to be stripped but the new heat gun proved to be extremely helpful.  The previous owner had used Bondo (yes; BONDO, for cars!  Who knew?!) to fill in the old lock mortise and drill-outs for the antique knobs, then they had drilled out for a modern lockset.  I needed that reversed!  I needed the antique lockset set-up!  I got a quart of Bondo, which I had never used before, read the directions, and patched up all the holes and hinge mortises, essentially making it a slab door again.  It took three applications, but it's surprisingly easy to work with and cures in twenty to thirty minutes, ready to sand.  Much better than waiting days for layers of wood filler to cure, or trying to cut and patch in wood blocks.  I decided to turn what was previously the lock side of the door to make it the hinge side, so I could mortise out into wood where the antique lockset would go.  The lock mortising was tricky, as I'd never done that before for an antique set.  Using a spade bit for the depth worked very well but next time I will most definitely use a Forstner bit.  A chisel was used to shape up the sides, top and bottom. 

I found two pairs of 3" ball top hinges on eBay for about $4 and was elated to discover they're NOS (new old stock) still in the original boxes!  Due to the weight of this solid wood door, I was afraid two 3" hinges wouldn't be enough so I swapped them out with 4" hinges off the pantry door since it's much narrower and shorter.  To remove the layers of paint from the pantry hinges, I put the hinges, pins, and screws into an aluminum pie pan with enough water to adequately cover them, added about a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent, and left them in a 350deg toaster oven for two hours.  The paint peeled right off, and a wire brush got into the nooks, but they still didn't look like shiny new brass so that made me happy.  When it's time to hang one of the other $6 doors, I'll swap out the spare pair of 3" hinges with the hall closet door.

The antique glass knob lockset came from eBay, also, and I was fortunate to have gotten two locksets just alike!  It was $34 for both and they're in perfect condition and all complete. 

The existing door trim was 3" colonial, so that was all removed, discarded, and replaced with 4.5" to match the rest of the house.  My concern was finding adequate backband (the fluted 90deg edging that goes around the outside of the wide trim) but following the advice of several people, I checked at Queen City Lumber and they had a perfect match for only $1.25/ft.  The parting stop was also a concern; there was none because the bathroom used to have bi-fold doors.  I discovered what I needed right in my own kitchen, as one of the original kitchen doors was removed when extra cabinets were installed near the opening. There could never again be a door there because it would have to be an outswing and that would be intrusive and look odd.  I stole the parting stop from there, stripped it, and used it for the bathroom. 

I'm very proud of the way this whole look turned out.  It's funny; I've definitely done much more expensive jobs, but how this all came together has come as a great surprise.  All the searching, stripping, painting, etc. was terribly time consuming and tedious but well worth it.  Everything inside the bathroom is painted but what remains outside in the bedroom will stay primed until it's time to paint that room, but that doesn't bother me.  It was my best compliment when Other Half took a look at the completed door, trim and lockset and said, "Dang.  That looks good.  It looks like it's always been there."  Now that made it all worthwhile.

Best picture I could get, considering there's maybe 5' of floor space.

Backband detail

Beautiful lockset

Let there be light!

This is the beautiful stained glass pendant light discovered at a local ReStore several months ago, just after I bought the house.  I wasn't sure at the time where it would go, but I refused to leave it at the store when it was $15.  After deciding on the living room, there was a modification to be made.  The downrod was a bit too long, which is the main reason why it took such a long time to decide its permanent home.  I had shopped online for rods threaded at each end, but hesitated to buy one for fear the threads wouldn't work, the rod would still be too long, etc.  Plus, with shipping, it would be about $20.  One day I got the idea to go to Goodwill and look for a clear base ginger jar lamp of just the right size.  They have a rod through the inside, to hide the wiring.  The Goodwill right up the road had exactly what I needed for $6, but with the rod being brass it would have to be painted.  The pendant light has an odd, brown patina that I thought would be hard to match, but the new downrod wouldn't be terribly visible.  Funny enough, when I was looking at the spray paint selection, brown car primer was the exact same color as the light fixture and was $5.  A little sanding, two coats of paint, and a re-worked downrod later, for $26 I have one heck of a beautiful living room light.  Nice thing, too, is that it's glass when so many new ones are plastic.  And it's very heavy so I had to make sure the ceiling box was adequately supported.  This was obviously originally an expensive light.  It gives off a gorgeous, warm glow when turned on but I just can't get the right picture to show it illuminated.  For now, all you can see around the fixture is plaster repair from ceiling cracks and soot smears around where the old light used to be.  Maybe soon, that will all change.