Sunday, October 21, 2012

Deck Raising

When I left off, we had completed the deck razing...

 A lot has happened since then!

First, we created a couple of different deck designs with free online software. We really wanted to make the deck work with the footprint of the house and patio. The old deck stairs covered about 5 feet of stamped concrete patio. We wanted to make that section of patio more usable.

The design we finally decided on had a landing and 90 degree turn on the staircase so that it curved back toward the patio. This shape would work really well with the existing yard. Unfortunately, that design called for a whopping 9 footings!!

We decided to call in the big guns so that we didn't kill ourselves using a handheld auger. Uncle Donnie to the rescue!!

The skid steer was able to drill some of the holes really quickly, but in others, it seemed to be hitting something. It turned out that there were rocks down there... big rocks... a whole foundation of rocks. Neighborhood lore tells us that a farmhouse used to sit on our property. No kidding!

Eric and my dad toiled away, first digging big channels so that they could get at the rocks,


then trying to break the rocks apart (unsuccessfully), 

and finally dragging them out. Huzzah!

In the end, we had a lot of rocks - big rocks. Finally we could get all the sono tubes installed.

Eric's mom had fun filling in all the big holes the boys had dug. 

Rather than mixing up the concrete ourselves (and undoubtedly making a huge mess), we hired a concrete truck to drop off the mixed concrete. 

Cardboard worked pretty slick as a funnel for pouring the concrete into the tubes. 

Woo hoo - footings ready!

From there, we bought the supplies and began building.

....Drum roll please...........

Here's the transformation.  Before:


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One Year Later

Well, it has now been just over a year since Eric and I became homeowners.

The time certainly has flown by. It seems like the projects we have finished always end up taking more time than expected, but when I look back over the year, I realize just how much we have accomplished.

We finished a major basement renovation, starting with this:

We totally gutted it: 

And ended with this:

Meanwhile, we had close encounters with local wildlife (Mr. Rocky Raccoon chillin' above the window). 

We also found some wickedly awesome mouse skeletons in the walls. 

We installed a new fridge, range, microwave, ... 

...and dishwasher. 

We re-finished a dining room table and chairs.

We built a garden. 

We tore down our old deck. (BTW, huge update on the deck construction progress coming soon!!)

We installed 2 new windows, ... 

... and 3 new exterior doors.

We painted all our exterior windows. 

We got new siding and a new roof. 

We painted our door blue. 

We (almost) built a new deck. 

Anyway, I'm happy with our progress this year!! Things are looking quite a bit different around here than they did when we moved in. I love finishing a project and being able to step back and see the result of all that hard work. A huge thanks goes to everyone who helped with projects over the past year, in particular my dad, without whom almost none of this would have happened.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Face Lift for Mi Casa

Ladies and gentlemen, I've got some exciting stuff to show you!!

If you remember, we had a hail storm in early summer and our house suffered some serious siding and roofing damage... cue the insurance-financed new siding and roofing! 

The toughest choice was colors. Our old siding was a cream-ish beige color, with all the trim painted the same color. 

For new colors, we needed something that would look good with the red-ish brick on the front of our house. Now, Eric and I don't often agree on paint colors, so I was very surprised when he agreed with my suggestion for grey siding with white trim and a blue front door. We got a few samples and finally made our choice for a rather dark grey. 

The next step was painting the trim. Oh man was that a pain. The most challenging part was that none of our ladders (nor the ladder we borrowed from our generous neighbor) were tall enough to reach the 2nd story windows. So, I called up the local tool rental places and was able to find a 14 foot ladder for rent for $17/day. And let me tell you - a 14 foot ladder is TALL!

A whole lot of trim painting ensued. Eric's parents helped out 2 weekends in a row.  Thanks :) 
Did I mention we also washed the inside and outside of every window AND storm window? 

Then the really exciting part started - siding! (The truly incredible part was that we didn't have to do any of the work!!)

The colors are a bit washed out in the photo below, but you get the general idea. In reality, the siding color definitely comes off as a mid-tone grey. 

We were feeling pretty good at this point, so we taped up some bright blue color swatches on the front door and left them there for a couple days to see what struck our fancy. (Oh, I forgot to mention that I also spray painted our mailbox white and the handle grey. I think it looks pretty nice if I do say so!)

Okay, back to the door paint color. We were going for something eye catching but not obnoxious.... 
... and we got really nervous after the first coat of Behr's Running Water went on...  YOWZA!!!

But after the second coat, things are looking much better. We still aren't quite sold - we keep waffling back and forth between wanting to keep it as is or wanting to repaint with something a bit more subtle. 

So what do you guys think? Did we hit the nail on the head for 'eye catching but not obnoxious', or are we way past that, into 'crazy people on the block' territory? Seriously, I need some feedback people!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Home-Made Compost Bin

Well it has been a little slow on the home improvement front around here, but we have some big stuff coming up - new siding and a new deck!

I'll be posting on those as soon as we have some updates. In the meantime, I thought I would share my compost bin project.

After tearing down our deck, we ended up with a big pile of lumber.

I put up a post for free lumber on Craigslist, and I was able to find one guy to pick up this entire pile. But, I kept some pieces that I thought would come in handy for making a compost bin. I had this project in the back of my mind since early spring when I realized I had nowhere to put all the leaves, weeds, trimmings, etc. and general yard waste.

Conveniently, we had two large gate pieces that were removed from the deck. After cutting them in half we had 4 pieces that looked something like this:

These would serve as 2 of the sides of the compost bin and the top. We also had some 2x4s and some pieces like this:

We cut the 1x6s to the length we wanted and used the 2x4s as supports. Dad helped (of course)!

After assembling, we ended up with two matching rectangular pieces. (BTW, check out that lush garden in the background - and it looks even better now!!)

After that, it was as simple as screwing together the 4 side pieces and laying the final piece on the top. Ta Da! 

To put in yard waste, I simply slide the top piece aside and throw in the debris and then push it back on. I didn't bother painting it since the brown color actually blends in pretty well so that the bin isn't too attention grabbing. My favorite part is that it was free!!