Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Phase II - Layout and Caddyshack

Well...today starts my 5 day vacation...so what better to do than work in the yard, play golf, AND (drum roll) update my blog!

So Phase II was the most god awful part of the deck. It turned into a 7-week nightmare that drew blood, sweat, and well maybe not tears, but definitely the verge of a mental breakdown. And I'm not talking just being a weekend warrior on this stuff. I mean...7 straight weeks of get up, go to my first job, come home and start my second one 5 to 9 or 10pm. So let's get started.

Phase II should have actually been about planning. This is the most important, because how many holes would you know how to dig? or where? But ya'll don't want to see my terrible kindergarten chicken scratch.

So the first thing I did was layout where the posts would be on the box-seal on the side of the house. Then I dropped a plumb bob from the mark to decide where my batter-boards needed to be built.
 So these are the batter-boards I built (Don't make fun of them!). The purpose of them is to have something to pull a level string-line from the batter boards on the back of the house to the batter boards that extend out past the end of the deck.
 It's very important to make sure the string lines are level. It's really important to make sure this is as accurate as possible. Since my deck plans extend 25+ feet past the house I bought clear plastic tube and made a water level.
 It's also extremely important to make sure the string-lines are square (perpendicular) to the house itself. Here I used the 3-4-5 rule...well, I actually used a larger version to make sure it was accurate because of the distance the lines run.
 So if I have any advice to offer. Don't waste your money on an auger. At least if you live in NWA. The soil is so rocky that the bit will just walk and bounce. Go invest your money in a 30lb rock bar and be prepared to work on those lats!

The below picture always reminds me of Caddyshack. I'll find that damn gopher eventually!
 Above is the hell that I went through trying to dig 2'x2'x30" deep footings for the deck posts. Probably unnecessary but I don't plan for it to go anywhere. Ever.
 I used 3/8" rebar to re-enforce the concrete footings
 This is me somewhat still happy because I was only about 6 - 80lb bags of Quikrete in. Little did I know I'd be mixing 300+ bags.

At the time I never thought it was going to end. But looking back now it was time well spent!

Next we'll move on to the guts of the projects. Framing & Joists

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Deck - Phase 1 (Demolition)

So I transferred all of my pictures over from the ol' computer and guess what! I STILL cannot find the finished Master Bedroom pictures...I think they may be on my old Blackberry. So if I can find the charger for it I'll try to post those later.

But in the mean time let's move to the best project so far. The new deck.

So let's start from the beginning. When we first purchased the house or even the many times we came out before we bought it. I knew the deck was going to have to be one of the first things to go. There were spots that you could step completely through and rails that you could almost push over.

 No to mention the flower boxes on the end that had rotted bottoms and some where even bottomless. Plus I don't think I could have a deck with very little 4x4 supports underneath and feel comfortable having deck parties.

 So I began taking it apart. I found out that this old deck was made out of Redwood. Some of the planks were in 20 foot lengths...which is pretty much unheard of nowadays. Since some of the pieces weren't too rotted I tried my best to salvage the wood for projects later.

 You can see before I tore the old deck down I did some pre-planning using some masking tape to lay out where I wanted the steps for the new multi-level deck.

 The amount of carpenter ant nests in the old deck was pretty creepy too. Some of my time was demolishing the old deck and other times it was fighting ants.

 You can see in the picture above how rotten some of the joists were.

It took about two weeks to tear down the entire deck, but I was able to save a lot of the wood. The next phase was layout. Which we'll discuss in the next post.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Master Bedroom Remodel....sort of.

So the first project of the new house was our Master Bedroom. It was covered in an awesome early American toile wallpaper. So before we even moved in we thought we'd knock this room out in a week. I mean...all I planned to do was take down a little wall paper and paint. Easy squeezy.

Well that easy 1 week project turned into my WORST nightmare.

It turned out that that awesome wall paper I was telling you about, well...first off, it was the old paper style...pre vinyl wallpaper. Secondly, some *cough* one decided to glue the wallpaper straight to the sheetrock. No primer or paint in between. So needless to say that 1 week project turned into a solid 2 weeks of just meticulously scraping wallpaper. Which it turn tore the wall into the texture of a backwoods Arkansas road. 
So 2 weeks later I was ready for mudding. Let's fast forward another week - two weeks. Yes...I spent another 2 weeks just floating sheetrock mud. For some reason I'm a perfectionist...must be the engineer in me. 

A word of advice: Use a light weight mud when floating and also a large trowel. Don't put it on too thick because you'll have to sand it down smooth. You're better off going light and floating 2 or 3 times. 

So 4 weeks later I was on to painting. The EASY part. 

Sadly I've gotten down to this point of the blog...AND I CAN'T FIND MY FINISHED PHOTOS! I think that constitutes a blog FAIL. All of the before's and no afters. 

I'll dig around my old computer and see where I have them. But up next is the construction of my new deck. I plan to break the post's into the different phases of the project. More soon. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

When it rains it pours

Well...I know I'm supposed to be back tracking and catching everyone up to speed on my past projects, but I had something that will probably happen to everyone at some point so I thought I'd stick in a quick post about that.

The other night...after I got home from work, plopped down on the couch because I was running a 101.2 Deg fever. Alison throws the comforter in the washing machine so it would be clean. We were in the middle of a Netflix movie when we heard a high-pitched whirring noise coming from the laundry closet. First thing to pop to mind was..."great, there goes my bonus towards something I don't want to replace right now." Well luckily it was quite an easy fix. Thanks to the lovely Google I just put in "Kenmore washing machine is not spinning" and voila instant problem spotter. So we lifted up the washing machine and sure enough! The motor coupling was split in half. So here's the nifty link I found:


Instead of ordering the part I ran by Sear's Repair and picked a new one up for $20.61 just because I really didnt want to wait on the part.

So I pulled the cover off (per video instructions):

Then removed 4 clips that held the motor in place:
Then pulled the old broken motor couplings off:
So you can see the old one (right) and the new one (left). So I popped the new one in and put the washing machine back together. It took me all of 25 minutes from start to stop for a grand total of $20.61. This beat's Sears $129.00 (not including parts) and was a very easy fix!

We'll move on to the Master Bedroom wall paper nightmare next!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From the beginning...

So let's start from the beginning. 

My wife found our house a couple years back while I was in graduate school. Probably around the summer of 2007. It probably took her another 6 months to convince me to even drive out to look at the place. At the time I was about to start the graduate program and the "realist" in me had no desire to look at houses as 1. I had no money 2. It's be 2 years before I would have money 3. Any houses that we'd probably look at would have about a 100% chance of NOT being on the market when I graduated. 

But low and behold. We're in that house she begged me to look at. Not only did this house sit on the market 2+ years, it also had next to zero showings the entire time! Well...except for the frequent weekend visits Alison and I made to look at it for a year and a half. What can I say? Once I went out and looked at it, no other house would ever do! 

The house looks like it's in great shape in the pictures, but don't let it fool you!

Structurally the house was in great shape, but cosmetically it was and still is in dire need of repair. It has all of the things you'd come to expect from a house build in 1967. Green laminate counter tops and the ever sexy laminate floors that look like sherbet.

On the outside it has the typical rotting wood siting and window sills that need to be torn out and replaced. But the thing that was in most need of replacing was the deck.
This lovely feature was probably exquisite back in 1967 when it was built. However, it had not faired so well over the years. You could literally step through spots and squish the wood. We'll get to this project soon enough.