Sometimes You Need a Break

There’s a lot of messy, nasty work involved restoring a home to a normal state after its been abandoned for two years. Sometimes you just need a little break from all that yucky work so we took one. Even though this is still work, it’s fun building something new.

Teamwork

Teamwork

After a long wait, the kitchen cabinets arrived from Cabinets To Go. Naturally we were anxious to see what they looked like assembled. So we decided to have a little fun and put one together. Well, actually, I watched, retrieved tools and took a few snaps.

Hand tools only....well, for the most part.

Hand tools only….well, for the most part.

It’s true that putting the cabinets together yourself adds one more thing to the ‘to do’ list, but the money saved is well worth it. Also, the cabinets are all wood, (no fiber board) and they cost less than half what you’d pay in the store.

The sides of the cabinet boxes are plywood, the fronts, drawer boxes and frame are all solid wood. In our case, cherry. Overall, the quality is excellent! Assembly went pretty smoothly and as with all projects of this nature, by the time we get to assembling the last cabinet we’ll have it down to a science.

Ta-da! One down and many more to go.

Ta-da! One down and many more to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for following along 🙂

 

 

Not enough power….

We knew there were several things we were going to need to change regarding the electrical system. And I’m not just talking about the cosmetics – new rocker switches, outlets and lighting. I mean the big stuff, like moving the breaker box out of the living area and upgrading the box from 100 to 200 amps – MORE POWER! The original 100 amp GE panel was located in the living area. They probably just painted it white, or might have even hid it behind a picture. We wanted it moved to the basement area and, if possible, increase the amperage for future use.

Notice the 100 amp panel behind the ladder. It needs to be moved out of the living area to the "basement".

Notice the 100 amp panel behind the ladder. It needs to be moved out of the living area to the “basement”.

We contacted several electricians to see what their recommendations would be. Both suggested a move to a 200 amp panel with new breakers. I had originally thought we could move to a 150 amp panel and reuse the GE breakers. In the end, we had Tom install a new 200 amp Square D panel with new breakers and a new main power line from the electric meter. New grounds were also installed. Now we have plenty of space for new circuits. We’ve already planned to run a subpanel (using the old 100 amp panel) to the garage. You can never have enough power…

Tom drilling holes for new wire feeds.

Tom drilling holes for new wire feeds.

New 200 amp breaker panel.

New 200 amp breaker panel.

Our Friend the Toad

This little guy has been hanging around with us as we work on the outside of the house. We’ve all seen him and carefully moved him away from our work areas.

What shall we call him?

What shall we call him?

 
From my research on toads and frogs I think this is a Fowler’s Toad. I haven’t come up with a name for him, but decided to check out the meaning of a toad showing up in the garden in my book, “Garden Spells – The Magic of Herbs, Trees and Flowers” by Claire Nahmad. Here’s what it says:

“If a toad should take residence beneath a stone, or amongst some old tree roots, honour his jewel-eyed presence in your garden. Do not call him names or drive him away. He is a custodian and guardian and within him lives the spirit of the garden. He will keep away all pestilence and attract the fairies, and he will ward of distemper within the home. It was said in olden days that a precious stone lived within his head, with a guardian angel alive inside it. If you make him your friend (and this can be done) you will be able to look into his eyes; and you will see that indeed they are like a magical composite of moonstone, topaz and soft brown agate, and that in them seems to dwell the spirit of wisdom.”

So there you have it. We welcome this Fowler’s Toad to our garden.

This is a great book if you enjoy folklore or believe in garden fairies. It is no longer in print but you could probably find a used copy online.

If you don’t believe in garden fairies, I only have one question. Why not?

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Two Guys, Two Trucks, Two Doors, Gravel and Pipe

Or, how to solve a foundation drainage problem.

After a trip to pick up pea stone, pipe and other supplies followed by lots of hand-digging and extreme manual labor, the drainage problems around the garage are on their way to being resolved.

Two Trucks

Two Trucks

I have no idea how the grade sloping toward the building was ever approved, but it was. That can’t be changed, but the way drainage is handled can be modified and improved and that’s what’s going on here.

Dig, dig and more digging through clay and giant slabs of concrete. We can’t help but wonder where all this concrete came from and why it was allowed as fill…or did anyone even ask. Probably not.

Why are you standing around? Get to work!

Two guys. Why are you standing around? Get to work!

After the digging apply the goop…that’s the technical term.

The Goop

The Goop

The corrugated, perforated drainage pipe that was originally installed was resting on a small amount of gravel but hadn’t been wrapped in any way so it was completely filled with dirt making any sort of foundation drainage impossible. Instead, the water was running into and under the garage floor and driveway resulting in extensive damage to both.

That's not gonna work.

That’s not gonna work.

Cracked up. The garage floor is in pretty much the same condition.

Cracked up. The garage floor is in pretty much the same condition.

The new drainage pipe is stronger and is wrapped in a sleeve. Wrapping the pipe in the sleeve was a fun process and there were jokes all around regarding giant condoms and the like.

Applying the giant….sleeve?

First the goop, a little pea stone in the trench, followed by the sleeved pipe and more pea stone from the trucks using old doors for a slide.

I knew those old doors would come in handy at some point.

Two doors. I knew those old doors would come in handy at some point.

It’s not pretty, but it will work and it will look more presentable when it’s finished off on the surface.

Use what you have and make a mini concrete wall.

Use what you have and make a mini concrete wall.

After - Much Better - Finishing Touches Still to Come

After – Much Better – Finishing Touches Still to Come

There’s still more gravel needed and finishing this up will take a few more days…if these two can get out of bed after all this hard work! The bottom line is, there’s a new garage floor and driveway on order and without these corrections they’d both be ruined from…you guessed it, water damage.

The motto of this story: If there’s a problem and/or damage, It’s almost always about water.

That’s it for today. Thanks for following along.

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Let’s Go Outside!

It’s warming up and it’s time to take a break from the inside work and head outside for a while. The outside of the house also needs a lot of attention and that includes the landscaping.

It’s kind of amazing how many plants actually survived two years of neglect. There were lots of tulips, daffodils and hyacinth that bloomed out front and several rose bushes that sprang to life in the back. There is also a beautiful peony, (photo later), that is very well established and has lots of buds. The ants are working on persuading the blooms as I write.

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We won’t be doing anything fancy or expensive right now. We’ll be using what we have on hand in the way of pavers, rocks, relocating plants, bringing plants from home, etc. There’s so much work to be done inside, we can’t really splurge on outside acoutrements.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a before photo of this area, so an after photo will have to do. This bed was full of weeds and grass, all the bricks were practically buried and the plants were in dire need of pruning. It took a while to lift the bricks, reset them and do the work but it looks a lot better now! Nothing fancy, just a nice bed with a few rose bushes, bleeding heart and a couple hosta plants. Anything would be an improvement!

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Please ignore the ugly dryer vent and dirty siding. All will be fixed in time 🙂

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Save Big Bucks!

If you haven’t visited a Habitat for Humanity Restore Center, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s plenty of good used construction materials and lots of new things still packaged! You can save a lot of money and contribute to a good cause all at the same time.

Here’s a link to their site. See if there’s a store near you!

Habitat for Humanity Restore

The sinks are in perfect condition and the vanity just needs a new toe-plate. One man's trash....

The sinks are in perfect condition and the vanity just needs a new toe-kick. One man’s trash….

We scored three vitreous China sinks at $4.50 each, a white bathroom vanity for $30, two 30″ bathroom vanities for $100 and two all wood mirrors for $50. In total, these purchases saved our budget $585! Not too shabby. Yes, they’ll require a little work, but it’s worth it. Big plus….since they’re older pieces, all except one item was made here in the U.S.

I have two of each of these. One vanity will be re-worked by Rick so the drawers and door are opposite when the vanities are placed side-by-side to allow for two sinks with each having its own mirror.

I have two of each of these. One vanity will be re-worked by Rick so the drawers and door are opposite when the vanities are placed side-by-side to allow for two sinks with each having its own mirror. 

A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will make it all work together.

 

 

Subfloor Is In

Well after a 2 long days of cutting, drilling, impacting, dust, splinters and lots of 80’s Rock N’ Roll the new subfloor has been installed in the basement. Finally we’re starting to add back to this little house. Instead of DE-constructing we are CON-structing. Here is what lies under the subfloor…

Snapped chalk lines to ensure straight and true boards

Snapped chalk lines to ensure straight and true boards

2x4s and foam insulation underneath supporting the subfloor.

2x4s and foam insulation underneath supporting the subfloor.

While this all looks somewhat complicated it really isn’t. Simply measure out your subfloor boards (2x4s) to be 24″ on center so they will line up properly with the floor deck that will get installed over the top of this. Once you have it measured out (be sure to measure twice and cut once!) snap some chalk lines to mark where the boards need to get attached to your concrete basement floor. Before attaching the boards to the cement lay down a moisture barrier such as visqueen. Now, there are several ways to attach wood to concrete. The strongest method would be to use a product called a RedHead. This is an expanding anchor that has a nut on top which when tightened will expand the anchor inside the hole in the concrete. This is recommended for load bearing walls and anything that needs a significant amount of support. We won’t using this method for our floor since nothing in the basement that we are working on is load bearing. Another method is a nail gun that uses gun powder charges to drive nails into the cement through the wood boards. This can work good for small subfloors but wasn’t working out so well for our 2×4 subfloor boards. We ended up using a Tapcon system that worked great. These are also concrete anchors but are driven into the cement using an impact gun or driver.

The easiest way to install them is with a corded drill using the hammer setting (for drilling into the cement), a cordless drill (for drilling through the wood), and a cordless impact driver for actually driving the Tapcons in. First a hole must be drilled through the wood to the cement. Next, using the corded hammer drill and masonry bit, drill into the cement to length that is specified for the Tapcons. Be sure to clear out the hole a few times as the debris from drilling can interfere with the Tapcons. Finally use the cordless impact driver to drive the Tapcon through the wood into the cement. It’s a good idea to countersink the Tapcon a bit so it doesn’t interfere with the floor deck. In this case we also insulated the floor with some R 7.5 foam board. This will really make a difference in the winter time to help keep the floor a bit warmer since it is already lying on the cement floor. It also gives an added quiet factor for your basement if you insulate the floor and ceiling which we will get to a bit later on.

Decking that is laid over the subfloor supports

Decking that is laid over the subfloor supports

As you can see in this photo the floor decking has already been laid over the supports that were shown in the last photo. We also snapped chalk lines over the top of the floor decking so it was easier to attach the OSB sheets to the subfloor supports. It’s a good idea to stagger the floor decking rather than line up all your seams, since this uses a tongue and groove system to connect the boards it also helps with this as well. The decking is attached to the subfloor supports by using a cordless impact driver and some 1 3/4″ screws. Just for some extra support (and to make sure they don’t creak later) we also used a high grade construction adhesive (Liquid Nails) to hold them in place as well.

Well there you have it! Check back in for more updates and thanks for following!