bookmark_borderFenced In

We need to rebuild the dog lot fence. It won’t be in the same area but on the other side of the house, going down into the garden (or what once was the garden). That means the pear tree has to go. We’ll start measuring soon, deciding the size. Then calling around for estimates. The original dog lot was HUGE. The dogs miss it muchly.

The old fence was put in, wow, how many years ago? Long time ago, that’s for sure. Fifteen maybe? The part that attaches to the back porch was done later. And the Dog Deck was done back in ’09. Yeah, time flies when you’re pouring money into an old house. Which happens a lot here.

We have decided to hire a company to put it in versus us doing it ourselves. We could have a fence party, which is how the first one went in. It was a blast! But now all our friends are as old as we are. Instead, we’ll have a fence opening party and folks can bring their dogs to pee on every post. Having someone else put one in will cost more but hopefully will last longer. Before the limbs fell, most of the posts were being held up by sheer determination and honeysuckle vines.

Anyway, this is a Google maps pic of the house. The red line is where the fence used to be. Well, technically it is still there but parts of it were smashed. The yellow is all they have left and includes the Dog Deck. The pink line is about where we’d like to put it.

Another reason we need a dog fence? We have three big dogs. Mike is the smallest at 60lbs, Whisper is around 75lbs, and Sam at 85lbs. And sometime in the spring, we’ll be getting a puppy. They’ll all need space to stretch out and run.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be getting a puppy. We’ve talked about it for a while. It’s still not written in stone final (I owe Elena an essay) but we’re getting things done that need to be done, even if the puppy doesn’t happen. Dog fence tops the list. Next is lift for truck. If I am to get a puppy to train as a Service Dog, then I need to go places more. That’s the whole point, to get me out of the house. And I can’t do that because I can’t load the chair by myself. After that is more general house arrangement stuff. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another. You can’t get one thing done until you get this other thing but you can’t get that one done until that one over there is done and….yeah, old houses. Gotta love ’em.

bookmark_borderDog Ramp Revisited

We did some work on the dog ramp again. Nothing major, just added a railing. But the railing is about shin high to us so it is odd.

Joella does this thing we call “the bunny hop”. She barks and raises up so her front feet leave the ground. It’s just an inch or two. The more excited she is, the higher she goes. It’s funny to watch. Anyway, I was out back, on the side of the house with the dog ramp, and she was up there watching me. I can’t remember what I was doing. Anyway, she starts doing the bunny hop thing. She stumbles and her front foot slips off the top of the deck and she almost falls off.

We recently got a new riding mower (insert Tim Taylor ‘more power’ grunt) and I’ve been parking it in the back of the house. Joella loves to chase the lawnmowers and, not surprisingly, so does Mike. So I was using the new mower in the back near the dog ramp and saw Jo jumping and barking at me. Then she stumbled and almost fell off the edge again.

Then, a few days later, she is trying to come into the house but the boys are playing and they hit her. She falls down and nearly goes over the edge again.

We took the hint. We got some decking to make a nice wide railing and we put it up today. We wanted it high enough she could not fall but low enough they could see over it. We may later add a higher railing for human use but it’s not anything we are rushing to do.

This is Lorna standing on the ground as we put in the last piece. You can see how high the deck is on that side. It is even further down on the other side, where they do their looking and barking.

This is Lorna, Sam (the big guy), and Mike. Sam will no longer be able to jump from the ground up onto the deck (yes, he can do that with ease) but I think he’ll get over it. The railing is about chest high to him so it will be good. For some reason, Jo just would NOT come over to it. She didn’t want to so by george she wasn’t going to.

Finally, using her favorite treats, we get Jo to stand at the railing to make sure we got it good for her. We had to resort to measuring her and hoping we got it right because she just would not get near it when we were starting. Yes, she is a Princess. It turned out to be a little higher than we wanted but it will be fine.

We left an opening at one end because there just was no way to put in the railing without some redneck engineering. But when they do their barking and stuff, they are further down. We’re going to be watching to see if they move to that section just because there’s nothing there. (oh, and that’s my new lawn mower. A Cub Cadet.)

And here’s the finished thing. (click for larger version) And no, that railing at the end is not crooked. It is level. We think it is because the post on the left is higher than the post on the right so it looks tilted.

To refresh your memory (or to see what you missed)
Starting the ramp (12/7/09 – wow. has it been that long??)
Learning about the concept of “square”
And angles
Putting the boards down
Finished at last! (12/17/09)
Photos of it done (it snowed on 12/18 and covered it for over a week)

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Roof!

As I’ve said here before, many times, there’s the person(s) that built the house and did a good job. And there’s the idiot(s) that came along later and did stupid stuff. We are trying hard to either fix the idiot stuff or to not be the next idiot.

One of the biggest pain in our homeowner’s butts is the roof. Oy. There has always been a leak somewhere that ends up in the kitchen. We’ve done all sorts of things over the years to try and find the source but never have. On top of that, where it chooses to drip down isn’t well made anyway so just added to the problem.

“They” added onto the kitchen at some point. Pushed the house out several feet and instead of changing the slope of the roof, they made the new section flat. And in the worst possible place for a flat section. As you can see in the photo below, one quarter of the runoff from the roof hits the flat section. Add in the leak (which made rot which caused more leaks), and it is a disaster up there. It was “repaired” a while back but they really just made it worse.

One of the things on Jack’s List is replacing the roof. We thought at first we would do an extensive bandaid approach but coating the roof with some sort of plastic paint stuff. But after he did measurements the other day, the total replacement cost isn’t as bad as we thought it would be. And a piggy bank was born. By fall, we will have the money saved up and we’ll get a new roof. We’re sticking with the metal. Jack and Crew will take all the old stuff off, replace any rotted rafters, take both chimneys down (the little one to the right in the photo isn’t hooked to anything), and put on a new roof and a ridge vent (which we don’t have).

And before anyone asks, yes, Jack worked in roofing. He knows what he is doing. We trust this guy. He’s been a treat to have around. Give him a job, he does it. He is, literally, a Jack of Many Trades.

Anyway, he got up there the other day and looked around, did the measurements, and tried to remedy some of the leaking into the kitchen. It didn’t work but he tried. The wall from where Lorna is on the ladder to her right will be replaced as well. That wall is rotted not only from the leak but from the boxwoods that were right up against the house. We trim them down to the dirt but they keep coming back. They’re too close to the foundation to dig, dammit. But you can see where they have rotted the bottom-most board and discolored the wall under that nasty window. I’m standing in the dog lot, by the way. Barely visible to the far right of the photo is the dog ramp we built last year.

Click image for larger version

Soon I’ll have other “House Projects:” posts as we are going to work poor Jack ragged this summer. Next weekend, if the weather is good, we’ll be renting a digger and he’ll be knocking down trees, clearing out the old garage, digging out the stream, and anything else we have time for. Then it will be mulching all the piles of debris (or stacking it for a cool cookout we’re planning for when The Kids are here this summer). Then there’s the new roof on the pump house, knocking down the old shed, rebuilding the front porch….there’s a lot to do.

Donations to the “House That Jack Fixed” piggy bank are being accepted!

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Rose Room slash Office

We’ve been slowly working on the Rose Room. And I do mean slowly. So slow, I’ve not bothered to put any posts here about it.

As I’ve mentioned before, our rooms are named because, well, some of them serve no particular purpose (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc) so we named them according to their most prominent feature. Guess what the Furnace Room has in it? So the Rose Room was so named because of the rose wall paper it had. And I mean ROSES. The big ones are bigger than my hand.

The roses are gone. Over the summer, Lorna slowly cleaned and primed the walls. As a side note, we will never use Zinsser B.I.N. primer again. It is shellac based, highly flammable, and the fumes are dangerous. It is also runny as water and nearly impossible to use on the ceiling. But Lorna did it, bless her heart. We next argued decided on the paint colors. We had a lot to choose from and our likes/dislikes changed from day to day. Benjamin Moore carries little sample cans of their paints or can make a sample can if they don’t have it.

We chose a dark green for the “accent” wall and a nice blueish purpleish blue for the other walls. I HIGHLY recommend Benjamin Moore’s Natura paints. No odor, no VOC’s (bad stuff), and great paint. We loved it. And, the best part, their paint sample paper thingies? Identical match to what is on the wall. Identical. Creepy.

The ceiling we made a basic white. We were going to tint it slightly with the same color as the blue wall but decided not to. We did decide, though, to put two coats on the walls. Two of the walls are rough cut, probably cut from right there on the property when the house was built. We debated covering them with paneling but decided not to for various reasons. Cost and ability being the top two.

Before we painted, we had an electrician come out and put in 5 outlets, a light switch, and a ceiling light/fan. Whoo Hoo! The Rose Room has more outlets than the entire house (minus the kitchen)! AND a light switch! What did the room have before? None of the above. It had a light socket with no string. The Rose Room’s dimensions were altered when they put in the bathroom so the light that used to be in the middle of the room was then just a foot away from the wall. We never used the room except as storage so we were never in a hurry to replace the socket with one that had a string or chain.

The room is painted for the most part. Tomorrow Lorna will put the 2nd coat on the top half (where I can’t reach) and will touch up the ceiling. We’re still arguing debating on how to do the moulding. I want to just slap some stuff up while she wants to miter/cope/whatever it. Once that is done, most likely tomorrow, I’ll finish making my desk and move everything in!

Yeah, not holding my breath on it being done tomorrow. Sunday. Maybe.

More pics later! I’m working on setting up a gallery again. Not that I don’t have anything else to do.

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Bathroom Done (?)

We think, maybe, perhaps, that the bathroom is done. There’s a few things left to do, such as the door trim has to be put up, but the major things are finished. The big delay was the sink. Oy.

As you learned from the previous post, our sink had to be replaced. We hoped to get a cabinet but that didn’t work out. A pedestal sink thing is designed, basically, for sinks whose plumbing goes through the wall, not to the floor. I didn’t think it would be that difficult. Ha.

I could get the new pipes in just fine, but the pedestal wouldn’t fit. The loop thing (J pipe) was too wide. I got some adapter thingies in hopes I could sweet talk it into working. Nope. Finally, after taking time away from it (I was contemplating looking up how to make a pipe bomb, pun intended), I went to Lowe’s and got two pieces that had flexible sections. And boy george I got it to work. It’s not pretty. And the flexible part (looks like an accordion) makes the water very noisy when draining. But, it works so shut up.

But that wasn’t all the problems. The sink bracket itself is level. But the sink hanging on it is not. The pedestal part didn’t fix it either. At first, the sink leaned in one direction. But, after putting everything together and screwing it to the wall (because to level it meant it wasn’t fully on the bracket anymore), it leaned in the other. But, it works so shut up.

And, you guessed it, the fun continued. Whoever designed sink drain stopper things needs to be stoned to death with their invention. It was the only place that leaked once we got it all together. Then, with the pedestal in place, I had to finish the last part of it blind because it was inside the pedestal. But, it works so shut up.

Next came the light fixture and not even that went right. We wound up again getting creative and the fixture doesn’t exactly cover the hole. But, it works so shut up.

Next came the cabinet to cover the hole of the other light. Would you believe there were no problems with it whatsoever? We were concerned and kept checking to make sure we did it right.

Next we assembled the cabinet that went over the toilet. We managed to put it together without a single fight! Amazing! It was a little easier than Ikea furniture but still had it’s Twister moments. It is wobbly as heck and we can see why they say to attach it to the wall! I put the doors on today and that’s it except for centering it and attaching it to the wall. The floor on one side of the toilet is in poor shape so I am waiting to discuss options with Lorna before attaching it.

All that is left is the curtain rod, hangers, and the shower curtain. Oh, and the new plate for the switch.

Again, I’ve put the photos after the link below (if you don’t see the link, it’s because you’re already here. or there. not sure)

Continue reading “House Projects: Bathroom Done (?)”

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Bathroom

We have this teeny tiny little bathroom. It is 5’x5′. That’s it. It isn’t too bad as long as just one person is in there. We’re not beauty queens needing a 6′ counter for all our stuff.

What they did was move the door to one room, make a hallway, and put the bathroom at the end of the hallway. We know this because there’s a threshold in the hall and a really nice doorway w/out a door. All the original doorways have this wide, 2″ high threshold held down with cut nails (meaning they were made by a blacksmith not bought from a Lowe’s).

Anyway, this is a long ass story so I’m cutting it here. Click below to see the whole thing, including photos! (unless you came directly to this post then the link isn’t there)

Continue reading “House Projects: Bathroom”

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Enjoying

Now that the snow has melted, I was able to finally take pics of the dog ramp. Boy, did it come in handy during the heavy snow!

For those of you not up to speed, this was the old “ramp”:

4’x8′ top section, mostly flat with tilt due to crooked porch

4’x8′ bottom section. like the top, it is/was plywood. it was kinda sorta connected to the first section but that connection kept breaking as did the 2×4″ support “joists”. because they ran up/down this section (gotta run or you won’t make it) it always wore down first.

And this is the new one:

5’x10′ top section

bottom sections. both are 8′ long. first is roughly 4′ wide; second is roughly 3′ wide.

Mucho bettero, eh?

5 4×4 posts, one 8′ and the others 6′ with one cut in half for the bottom section
9 2×6 joists, 3 were 10′, the rest were 8′
Strongtie brand hangers and brackets (strongly recommend these things)
8 “dek-blok” cinder blocks under the posts (we likey lots!)
Umpteen 5/4×6 deck planks
Blue Million screws

No clue as to cost. Way more than we expected and slightly more than we could afford but, frankly, it is going to last a long time. That was the goal. I think we accomplished that.

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Finishing

Yep, we’re finished. Well, basically. Almost.

The other night, we finished marking and cutting the planks for the first sloped section. We put them into place to see if we had enough that night. Today I took them back down and added a center joist. We thought we could get away with not having one but, nope. It was interesting doing it myself. Mike’s been going out with me when I worked on it during the day. One day he stayed up on the porch and gnawed a bone, pausing whenever I started cussing. Earlier today, though, he was able to get down onto the ground with me.

When Lorna got home (much earlier since she got help on the route today), we got to work. First she dug holes for the two end concrete pier things. Then we squared it up and hung the last two joists. With that in place, we then measured out the width of the planks and cut all that we had. Then we did the two drill system and set the first section’s planks. The last board will have to be replaced. It didn’t quite fit and needed to be notched. I was using the new cordless circular saw and it was dark and….let’s just say it’s not pretty.

By this time, it is quite dark and very cold. But we wanted to get the damn thing done! We are supposed to get a snowstorm starting in the morning. Being able to let them out the back door vs me walking them outside was important. The new Porter-Cable drill has an LED light. Between that and a flashlight, we drilled one pilot hole and put in one screw on each end.

The first 5×10 section is done. The first sloped section, roughly 4×10, is done. We will replace that last board later. The third section, roughly 3×10, is planked up to about the last 3 planks. We ran out of wood. So close!

I’ll get a better photo tomorrow. That’s Jo at the bottom, being a wimp and not wanting to get up in the dark.

We want to add some lights since the ramp now extends far beyond the reach of the pitiful back porch light. We got some solar marker lights and that’s all they are good for – marking. I put one in near the top the other night. Our goal is to use all solar so we can keep it lit while not wasting energy. We may use motion sensors, not sure yet.

Like I said, it was quite dark by the time we were done. We cleaned everything up (Lorna had gathered the wood scraps earlier before it got dark) and let the dogs out. Sam has been going out the back door all along anyway since he can jump all the way up from the ground onto the porch. The girls, however, were quite freaked by the thing. PopCorn didn’t like the noise it made when Lorna walked down it ahead of her. Joella went down but didn’t want to come back up. We finally ignored her and come in, taking away her audience. It worked and within a few seconds, she was barking at the door.

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Planking!

Yep, that’s right. We finally laid the first section of planking today.

Over the last several days, whenever it wasn’t too damn cold, I went out and did a little something each day. One day I put up the last post on the first level. Another day I cut those damn angles I bitched complained about earlier. Another day I did the bracing on the first slope and replaced another with a pressure treated one.

Normally, Lorna has Mondays off but had to work yesterday. So, she got today off in exchange. We started off in the usual way by getting breakfast at Waffle House followed by a trip to the bank and then Lowes. A few days before, we’d picked up the pressure-treated 2x4s, some solar lighting for the back, and we treated ourselves to an early Christmas present. We got a Porter-Cable 18v cordless set. A circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a drill, and a light. We knew we’d need a second drill for when we laid the planks. The battery circular saw I’ve wanted for a long time and goodness knows all butches want a reciprocating saw. Nothing to do with Freud, though, but with Tim Taylor.

Anyway, today we got two more concrete pier block things and a pack of doohickeys for the drills. Bits, shanks, etc. We finally got home and got to work.

We had to finish all the bracing so I got down off the porch (my legs will be soooo glad when this is done), gave Lorna the measurements and she cut them. I then put them up while she cut the next set. This deck may not be perfectly square and it may look ugly but by george, it ain’t moving. The blocks came in real handy for doing the bracing.

After that, and with only one slight deviation, the first problem was the first plank. Because of the tilt of the porch, the right-hand side (as you look at it from the ground) is higher than the left-hand side. The board did not fit flat against the porch so we had to….well, let’s just say it was complicated. We did, however, have to adjust two boards to compensate for the slight “fan” we were getting but we kept telling ourselves “it’s a dog deck, not a tap dance floor”. When we got to the first set of posts, instead of notching the plank, we just cut it just short enough to fit. Same thing for the end. It went rather fast! We did one board at a time until we figured out what we were doing then measured and cut a bunch and put them down. With one of use using one drill to do pilot holes, the other either held the plank in place or started driving the screws.

All of this stuff before was important and we got a lot done each day even though it never looked like it. But seeing that top section covered felt a helluva lot better!

We got six planks ready for the next part (barely half of what we need total) but it was getting cold and we were tired. Not a good combo when using a circular saw. Other boards are measured and marked although too long for me to cut by myself. Instead I may re-work some of the first slope and get the final section ready. We decided to prop the ends up on two more blocks. They’ll be partially buried in order to make a good slope.

We’re going to have good weather for several more days. Cold but clear. Maybe an hour or less each day and we may get it done yet!

bookmark_borderHouse Projects: Angles

Flat is good. Level is good. Then comes angle/slope. Not so good.

Level will always be level. Angles have 360degrees of difference.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) has rules for wheelchair ramps. The slope is 1:12, meaning for each inch down from top to the ground, the ramp must be one foot long. So a 20″ front porch would need a 20′ ramp. According to one website, the board would be cut a mere 5degree angle. Of course, there’s other things to take into consideration. It may be 20″ down to the ground from the porch but if the ground slopes further away or higher up, the length changes. My front ramp is actually fairly flat and is about 35′ long because while there’s a dip between where it ends and the porch, it is about the same height.

This is a dog ramp and I don’t think I’ll ever take my chair down it. There’s the mud and the poop and more mud and still more poop. Both of which are a major PITA to get out of tire treads. So we’re looking at a steeper slope. Probably around 10-15 degrees.

We at first thought we’d use a special bracket but it wasn’t as simple as it looked. So then we decided to hang the two boards on the support posts. But how to give them both the same slope? Good question. We initially measured the gap and it was really close. But then that nasty Square issue came up again and screwed it all up. So we’re gonna have to cut the ends, dammit.

I hate cutting angles. I really do. Because of other mistakes, we do have some scrap wood I can practice on but still, I hate cutting angles. We only have to do it to two boards.

For those following along, the first section is 5’x10′. The first slope will be about 4’x8′ and the next will be 3’4″x8′. It is not as wide because that section will start on the inside of the posts vs the outside like the ones hanging now. But then I just looked at the photos above and I see we made an error. Actually, technically, we made 3. Heavy. Sigh.

We got very little done on Tuesday. It was not too cold but the wind was nasty. We got three posts set up and got the two boards hung. It takes a long time to do stuff because we aren’t as young as we used to be and we aren’t all that sure of what we are doing. Anyway, it started raining Tuesday afternoon and with the cold, we headed in. Tuesday night it poured rain here. The river is up again, higher than it was the last time. Then Wednesday morning the wind was enough to cause some problems. There’s limbs and trees down all over the place. We lost power at the house for several hours. It was dangerous taking the dogs out! Even when the wind died down somewhat, the back was a mud pit and there was no way I was going to get out there. Today wasn’t much better. The storm front is playing havoc on my pain levels. Tomorrow looks better and I may try cutting the boards to at least get that part done. What we may do is put up plywood on the first two sections then lay another piece down for the last section. Saturday and Sunday it is going to be snow, sleet, and/or rain. Again.