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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Punch List: Part the Fourth - Painting

The last couple days have been kind of tough for hitting the punch list.  We're at the point where a few things need painting but the nights have been pretty cold and we've been dodging raindrops.  But we have made some progress.

Now, I don't know the official "construction" name of this, but I have installed a board at the bottom of the porch walls.  Here you see it unfinished:


I put these pressure treated boards along the bottom all the way around.The plan was to paint them a gray that matches the "flagstone" color of the siding.  Then I primed them the other day:


I really like the look of the white at the bottom, but then it rained.  Every speck of dirt that splashed up was visible from half a block away (ok, not really, but in my mind it was bad!).  So I think we'll go with the original plan for gray - but it'll wait for next spring.  The fact is, those boards are too thick and stick out from the edge of the corner pieces and it just looks sloppy.  Next spring I'll remove those boards and replace them with more appropriately sized lumber, prime and paint them gray.  So that's the end of that punch list item - 'til next year.

Then there was the next painting item on the punch list.  This one is total vanity though!  The back porch is going to be re-sided too, but to do that properly, the back stoop needs to be re-done (besides, it's really time for the back stoop to be remodeled anyway).  So that left the back porch walls looking like this:


This was okay, but it just didn't go with the look of the rest of the house now.  Even though it's going to be re-sided next spring, this would bug me all winter!  So...paint!


We're loving how much brighter 173 is looking these days!


Up next:  More painting?  Probably, there's only that and a couple other minor punch list items left.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Punch List: Part the Third - Hatch Door

After removing the shingles from the south end of the front porch, I figured I should cut an access panel into the wall so we could use the area under the porch for storage, you know, things like ladders, lumber and whatever else we have that we just don't know where else to stow it.  So I started out by drilling a hole in those beautiful boards.  In the picture below you can see a hole just to the right of the access panel.  When I was looking at the porch, I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the porch floor was in relation to the ground.  You'd think it would have been easy to figure out but believe me - nothing is easy with old houses. So that hole gave me a sense of where the bottom of the porch floor was and where the studs were.  From there it was just a matter of drilling another hole (still not exactly on the mark), drawing some lines and then cutting with the saber saw.  


After opening the whole, imagine my surprise when I found lattice behind there!  After talking to a neighbor whose grandfather had built most of the house in the neighborhood, we came to the conclusion that when 173 was built, it likely had an open porch like a few other houses on the block.  At the very least, the lower half of the porch was just lattice!  Me being me, I found this exciting and interesting...it leaves me with more thoughts about what 173 really looked like when she was first built!

Anyway, with the days getting shorter, and that whole job-thing taking up most of the day, I find myself just trying to tick off one little point of the punch list each evening before the darkness falls.  Tonight was the access panel, or what we've taken to calling the "escape hatch" (although I've been under the porch...it is not a place to escape to!).  Here's the hatch after the siding was up:


The raw materials:  leftover plywood, leftover vinyl lattice and leftover tar paper (picking up on a theme here?).   


After cutting the plywood size, I wrapped it in tar paper.  This served two purposes:  One - a bit of weather proofing.  I always hate the look of plywood when the weather starts wearing it out.  The other purpose was - I had something in mind.
  

Then I cut some lattice to size and used some small nails to face-nail the lattice in place (I ended up cinching the nails on the back side).  Here's how it turned out:


So the thought was that the tar paper behind the lattice would just make the whole thing look open, kind of like a grate.  One more item off the punch list!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Punch List: Part the Second - Front Steps

As I mentioned before, the main portion of the current project is complete and now it's just punch list items.  Today was the front steps.  Originally, in that little triangle below the steps we had old wood lattice we had painted brown along with the rest of the stoop maybe a dozen years ago.  By the time this project started, that lattice was pretty worn out, and to do the siding on the stoop, that old lattice had to come out.  This morning, this was the view:


I'm not exactly sure how I installed the lattice originally, but there weren't any spots for affixing the new stuff.  So I had to put in some wood blocks:


Once that was complete, I just took my palm sander and gave it a good sanding.  Then I used Kilz primer to get it all ready for painting.


Then it was just a matter of sizing, cutting an installing the new lattice. I found that my Sonic Tool (my new favorite tool by the way) was perfect for making quick work of cutting the lattice.  I opted for vinyl lattice and the vinyl lattice trim.


And just a shot from the other side...


So the punch list is well under way!  Not sure of the next step yet, but that trim has got to be painted before we get too much closer to winter.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Punch List: Part the First - Sidewalk

I mentioned yesterday that the main portion of our most recent project is complete and now all that remains is punch list items.  Seems that list is a mile long, but I finished one item this morning - the sidewalk on the side of the porch.  Here's what it looked like this morning:


Three and-a-half hours, $34 and five bags of concrete later, one of the punch list items is checked off:


This side of the porch really turned out well.  Before the project there was a pretty substantial gap between the bottom of the porch and the old sidewalk.  I planned that all out to close that gap and it actually turned out the way I saw it in my mind (imagine that!).  I used about fifteen feet of that sidewalk divider and some scrap wood; and pitched the sidewalk away from the house.  Next summer I'll have to do some more concrete work, but for now this side is done!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Big Reveal! (Uh, okay...The Almost Done Big Reveal!)

I can't take it anymore!  We've been working on this most recent project forever now.  Actually it's only been a few weeks, but between ordering material, waiting for it to arrive, the great delivery debacle, weather and jobs...it just seems like this project has been endless!  Well, it's finally done!  Okay, not really done done, but for the most part - done!  There are still some punch list things to do, but the main portion is complete.  So first, let's take a little trip down memory lane!  At the beginning of the summer the front of the house looked like this:


When we remodeled the inside of the front porch, it really revealed how shabby the outside was beginning to look.  So I got the idea to paint the railings on the front stoop...


Then the front door, and it started to look pretty good...


But then one day I decided the house would look so much better with shutters!  What I didn't mention in that post was that black shutters weren't the original choice...not at all.  I wanted brown shutter to match the brown theme we had going but, as luck would have it, Home Depot and Lowes had both discontinued brown shutters.  The other thing I neglected to mention was that I also actually tried green shutters!  That's right...and here was my line of thinking:  no brown, but I wanna get this done today.  Hmm, the house used to be white and green, and hey!  green and brown go together!  I'll do green shutters!  If you look back at this post, you'll notice that there's no picture of the green shutters.  The truth is, I put one up, went down to the sidewalk and just about gagged - it looked horrible!  I couldn't even take a picture.  Aaaaanyway...here's how it ended up looking...


Immediately I knew this just wasn't going to work.  The black shutters, brown porch, yellow door...it was like someone spilled a bag of M&Ms!  Something had to be done.  We considered scraping and painting, but thought that would just be covering the mess instead of fixing it.  For some reason I kept getting anxious about the thought of new cedar shingles.  I don't know exactly my worry, but they were ruled out.  We considered some other applications, then settled on vinyl siding.  I know, I know, but as my neighbor put it, I'm preparing for old age!  While we waited for the siding to arrive, we got started on the prep work:


1.  Just a close-up of the condition the shingles were in.  Look closely and you'll see the original color, a very lovely green that probably would have looked nice with those green shutters.

2.  Shingle removal.  This part was kind of fun.  It's amazing the excellent shape the underlayment wood was in, and neat to see the old paper under the shingles.  Check out this post to see another fun find!

3.  All clad with 1/2" plywood.  I know it's probably a bit of overkill but the bottom edges that would be exposed to rain and snow were wrapped with 30W tar paper.

4.  Then 30W tar paper was put over everything!  

Of course that wasn't the end of the prep.  After removing all the shingles, etc, we realized the stoop was in fairly rough shape.  The structure was sound, but the OSB boards were pretty well worn.  Believe it or not, getting the stoop in shape was the longest, hardest part of the project, probably because the "apparent" progress was so slow in coming.

Eventually the siding arrived!  Our criteria for vinyl siding was simple.  A quality product and a good color, but primarily we wanted the siding that looked like shingles.  That part was very important to us.  We wanted to keep the original feel of 173, and several houses in our neighborhood had gone to the straight siding look. It looks okay on their homes, but just not what we were looking for.  Of course I took a gazillion progress pictures, but let's just have at it once and for all.  You ready?  No more tricks, drum roll please!


I so wish I had a better camera!  Depending on your monitor the siding has a hint of blue, but it's a gray called Flagstone.  I'm comparing the color with some paint for things with the pucnh list and it's almost an exact match with Valspar's "Elephant Gray."


The siding is Certainteed Vinyl Shake and Shingle  7" Straight Edge Rough-Split Shakes.  We decided to trim out in white for contrast...here's a closer shot:


The reason we chose this particular siding was the shakes actually have some relief to them, which causes shadows and even up fairly close in person, they look like real shakes!  One of the neighbors driving by stopped and asked if they were pre-painted shingles!  So here's my favorite shot so far.  I think it captures the feel of the front porch, inside and out!


If you look at the pictures closely enough you'll see the punch list items...that'll be another post.  Like I said, I just couldn't wait any longer!  Immer arbeit!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Retro Project: The Front Stoop

As I've mentioned before, in the early days of our having 173, there were no digital cameras, the internet was in its infancy, the premier search engine was Buena Vista (or something like that) and we had dial-up AOL.  Seems like a different world ago!  We weren't at all diligent about taking "before" pictures so this post has some old prints that I just took pictures of with my cell phone.  Hopefully they're clear enough to get the general idea though.  Onto business...a Retrospective look at an old project here at 173.

Waaaay back when, when we first bought ol' 173, there was no front stoop and the steps had really tall risers and very narrow treads.  you can't really see them that well, but this picture gives you at least a little idea...


That picture is, I believe, from the early '70s.  This next picture is sometime in the '90s.  If you notice, in the above picture, you can see the hint of a pipe railing.    At this point someone before us had added the wood railings.  When we first moved in the steps and railings were still that silver/gray.  After painting the shingles brown (see below) we also painted the steps a kind of light beige... 


But I never liked those steps.  As I said, very steep with narrow treads and by that time they were getting a bit rickety.  Besides that, I always wanted a stoop out front. Around '99 or 2000, and bunch of pressure treated lumber later...

This shot was just a few days ago...
another tease of what comes next!
We had a stoop.  I sided it with shingles over OSB and painted it brown so we'd have that integrated (kinda) look (that'll be explained in an upcoming post).   


Can't wait for the reveal of the current project here at 173!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Killin' Time - And A Sneak Peek (Kinda)

Here at 173 we're in the middle of a pretty big project.  I thought about doing the "progression" style posts to show the project as we go, but then I thought it might have a bigger impact to wait 'til it's done.  At the same time I'm sitting in a hotel room, hoping to the high heavens there's no bed bugs, and "itching" (the limits of my humor are endless) to post something!  So here's a little something:

This is a shot of the outside of the house at the beginning of the summer, there's a few things to notice...


ONE:  The Foundation

Might be hard to see in this pic, but there was a good bit of mildew, soil and grime.  A few weeks back I took my neighbor's power washer to it...much improved!


TWO:  The Shingles

I recently posted about the shingles, my (weird) attachment to them and the fact that it was time for a change.  Also, if you notice, everything from the porch down is brown.  Well, that's the change that's happening right now, so I can't go any further for the moment (no matter how badly I want to).


THREE:  The Gap

I know this is gonna sound a little obsessive, but that big gap between the ground and the bottom of the porch has always bothered me.  It's pretty harmless, but you know how some little thing gets in your head and just stays there...you do know....right? Again, this is part of the current project so I have to be a little mum about it.  


FOUR:  The railings

Brown.  Dark brown.  A month or so ago, I painted them white.  I think it looks better with the new yellow front door.


FIVE:  Inside Front Porch

I know "Five" isn't labeled on the pic, but hey...the game hasn't started yet.  Seem this has been the summer of the front porch.  The summer started with a complete remodel of the inside of the front porch.  I guess once that was done it made the outside look even worse than we realized.  


Okay!  I can't stand it any longer... here's a little sneak peak!!


I crack me up!  I just couldn't help myself!  






Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lowes, Hertz (Pun Intended) and a Little Support

A quick word of advice...if you own a home, and you have a pickup truck - keep it!  I had one of these...


Then I had one of these...


Now I have one of these...


And the other day I had to get some plywood and boards and bring it home in one of these...


And I won't get into it here, but Lowes no longer has people who deal with their vehicle rentals, it's done through a kiosk from Hertz.  Suffice to say, four hours, two broke-down trucks, AAA (triple A), and many calls later...I had seven sheets of plywood and seven boards home.  If you have a pickup truck - keep it!  If gas goes to $10 a gallon - keep it.  If you have to work a second job, skip meals three days a week, and someone in your house has to go barefoot - whatever it takes - keep your pickup truck!

Okay, rant over.  Half of a day off from work was lost, and a perfect weather day at that, but I still managed to get a little done.  Along one side of the house is an old sidewalk.  It's a little odd because it's really close to the house, and in all the years we've been at 173, I don't think I've ever actually walked on it!  


But the real problem was that it was in the way of my plans for the porch so...


Sledge hammer, and ten minutes later, out it came.  Now, if you own an old house you know that anytime you take something out, or open something up, you're going to find more work to do.  So here's the issue:


I know you're probably looking at that picture above and thinking, "So! He has some plant roots, big deal!"  Well, the fact is I'm not a great photographer so what I was trying to show was that the porch is eight feet wide coming off the front of the house, and in that expanse there is no support at all.  None.  On the other hand, it's still solid as can be, but I can't open something up and see that and not do something to bolster the situation.  I haven't done the complete job yet (like give some support all the way across from underneath), but I did add some support on this side for now:


It's not much support, but I think it should help (as if it's even needed it thus far!).

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Pages Added to the 173 Blog Site

Geeze, I keep forgetting to mention that pages have been added to the 173 blog site!


The first page is a list of links to various "how-to" videos or websites that I've found useful.  None of these, as yet, are my creation, and I really have no plan to get into that because there are already tons of excellent resources out there!

Speaking of resources, the second page is a list of links to local and internet resources I have or will find useful.

I'll be adding to these pages over time, so be sure to check them out from time-to-time!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Of Wisteria and Wobblies

So, while I was ever-so-reluctantly removing the shingles from the porch the other day I found a couple things, one horrifying (okay - a bit over dramatically stated) and the other...fun and interesting (at least to me!).  Here we go...


Kinda freaky isn't it?  That would be wisteria.  We planted it outside the porch a number of years ago.  It was beautiful, and lush, and invasive!  When we replaced all the windows on the front porch, I seized the opportunity (and excuse) to cut it down.  I mean really - that stuff actually gave me nightmares!  On more than one occasion I dreamed of the seen and unseen destruction the wisteria was wreaking on 173.  I'd been hinting at lopping it off for a few years, then I got my chance.  That was a year or two ago and we still get wisteria growing out of random spots in the yard!  Now I take down some shingles and my wisteria hysteria (see what I did there?) are validated!  Anyway, that was the "horrifying" discovery.

MUCH more interesting was this:


I love history, and in particular, I love seeing the ways we connect with generations and even how we connect geographically...a kind of "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of thing if you will.  The picture above is the manufacturer stamp on the back of one of the shingles.  I find that kind of stuff interesting so...off to the internet!  I figured I'd find out that there was a shingle company in Everett, Washington and that would be that.  I couldn't have been more wrong! Here's a little history lesson:  In a discussion of the Port of Everett, I found that...
After peaking at seven mills from 1907 through 1909, the dock(Port of Everett) maintained between four and six (wood and shingle) mills for most of the following decade, with ownership and name changes being the norm. Some firms, like the Everett Shingle Company (1906-1923)...were exceptions. Other names, such as the Matson Mill Company, appeared one year (1910) and disappeared the next.  
During this period, Everett shingle manufacturing reached new heights, and a substantial number of those shingles were being cut at 14th Street Dock mills. The 1912 Polk City Directory stated that Everett produced 6,055,000 shingles each day. The 1916 directory heralded Everett as “the leading lumber, logging and shingle center of the Northwest, in fact, it might be said of the entire world. The daily capacity of the shingles mills is 4.5 million."
At some point in there, the union movement hit the lumber mills and the story got very interesting very quickly!


The shingle labor and management war reached its zenith in 1916. The shingle weavers’ union went on strike when the owners were unwilling to reinstate a higher wage scale. The union cited the mill owners’ promise to restore the 1914 wage scale when shingle prices rose again. Prices had risen but David Clough, patriarch of the mill owners, was adamant that the wage adjustment was not justified. His mills, he claimed, had not made any money in two and a half years. The strike dragged on and became violent after some mill owners brought in strikebreakers. Hostilities rose to a new level when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), to the dismay of the mill owners and the shingle weavers’ union, injected themselves into the fray. Better known as the Wobblies, the IWW men swarmed to Everett to preach for a radical worker revolution that far exceeded the shingle weavers’ demands for higher wages. On a downtown street corner, they called for the laboring class to rise in opposition to the immoral capitalists who controlled their lives. When the Wobblies were arrested or run out of town for their activities, their issue became repression of “free speech.” Then the town’s attention turned to the sheriff and his mill owner citizen deputes’ battle with the IWW.
Afer a partcularly violent episode when a group of Wobblies was beaten and run out of town by the sheriff and his cohorts, a large group of Wobblies returned en masse by boat to Everett. They were met at the Everett City Dock by the sheriff and his deputized crew of mill owner supporters. A verbal confrontation followed, and a shot—from which side was never determined—rang out. More shots followed from both sides. When the volley ended, at least seven were dead (two of the dock crew and five Wobblies) and many others were wounded. The most infamous event in Everett’s history, it would become known as the Everett Massacre. The community was shattered, and a degree of normalcy wasn't restored until the city, along with the rest of the nation, turned its attention to America’s entry into the war in Europe.  From www.PortofEverett.com
See, that's what I'm talking about...I love connections like that...90 years later, and 2,888 miles away, 173 links to a little-known (at least in these parts) tragedy, all because of some cedar shingles. I think that shingle's going to find a nice little spot for display in 173!

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