Friday, December 31, 2010

I Like It Rough

...well, textured walls anyway.

That's generally how the day was spent.  Dad and I textured the bathroom.  It's ready for painting tomorrow.  We also textured most of the living room.  That pretty much took up the day - plus a trip to buy a ladder and some food.

Mom started working on the ceiling.  Along the wall line there is a lot of paint from the lazy painters before us.  She used Krud Kutter to get rid of it.  She thought it lifted up the wood stain as well since it made it so much lighter.  She soon realized that the ceiling was just that dirty.  She kept wiping and cleaning up the dark nicotine stains.  The ceiling is a much more golden color than we realized at first.

The left has been cleaned; the right hasn't.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vacation Day.....Sort Of

We knew today would be a light day.  Dad's cousin and family came up to visit.

Got a bit of drywall compounding done in the morning.  About 20 minutes after I got to the house, The Family calls telling us they're in Stockton already.  We weren't expecting them for about another hour or so.  Change back into non-work clothes and get ready to head out.  We had a wonderful day at Sutter's Fort, a burger joint, and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

When we got back, we finished prepping the bathroom.  Tomorrow we will texture and Saturday we will paint. Yay!  I picked up the supplies this evening.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Picking Up More Work

So, no actual work go accomplished today, but we did pick up a bunch of important things.

First stop, ReStore in El Dorado.  Great find of 5 matching interior doors.  One came with a frame, the others didn't.  We needed to get a set of hinges and a doorknob to complete some others.  We also got finishing nails, a paint brush, a drywall sander, and some door stops.  Once again, make a guess as to what it all cost.  Final tab will be posted at the end.  I'd love to know how close you came.  =)

Then we went to my old friend's house to get a refrigerator (I hadn't seen him since HS).  He happened to post one for sale that meets my requirements perfectly!  Yay, Andy!

After we dropped that all off at my house and ate lunch, we went to get more.  My back bedroom now has all the supplies for my laminate and linoleum floors.  Then, we got my las two cabinets that had been reordered.  Lots more work for us! Yay!

So, tried to call the inspector to set up an appointment.  The office is closed until the 3rd.  With that info and the bathroom floor arriving sooner than expected, we decided that the focus for the rest of the week will be getting that room done.  I may have a finished room soon!

*Cost for all the doors, etc: $65.22.  Comment and let me know how close you came.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Walls. The theme of the day.  Mom washed the living room walls (and behind the stove).  I came behind her and scraped off all the high spots and loose paint.  Dad put the drywall tape around a window and textured a wall.  Fun times.  I also prepped the bathroom by scraping.  It got some joint compound in its low spots as well.  I also painted the exterior A/C hole patch.  Can't see it any more!

Like I said....walls.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Checking Things Off

So, we started with a list of Have-Tos to be completed before the city inspection.  That was followed by our list of everything else in the order we'd like to complete them.  Here's the top of our list (* = Have-To):

finish rear doors
*water heater
kitchen light
*garage door
*A/C hole

As soon as we paint the exterior over the patched stucco and texture & prime the interior, we'll be able to cross that last one off the list and call the city to schedule the inspection.

This morning, Dad applied the top coat of stucco to the patch.  He then installed my porch light (the one I got for $3).

I made a relatively small hole in the hallway a large one.  Easier to patch that way - plus it was all cracked and stuff.  Mom patched holes in my future study/library.  After lunch, Mom kept patching.  Dad finished removing the bathroom tile.  I cut a hole for the medicine cabinet.  Dad and I installed the new toilet.  (Alas, we'll have to redo it after installing the bathroom floor.  It hasn't arrived, yet.)

More Work

So, Sunday, the work began again.  Not until the afternoon, though.  We had to drive down from Mom and Dad's house.  I started the day about 1:30 lifting bathroom tile while listening to the disappointing Raiders game.  I pulled up 13 tiles and have a very sore shoulder today.  Twelve more to go, but they won't be coming out today unless someone else does them.

Mom and Dad worked on patching some holes around the house.  After dinner, we went out and bought a new toilet.  The old one had a cracked tank.  We tried to find a replacement tank at ReStore, but no luck.  Finally had to break down and buy a new one.

That was pretty much they day.  Thrilling, huh?  I know you wish you were there with us. =)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Waiting Game

I got up a bit earlier than usual on Thursday so I could be at the house by 9.  The garage door guy was supposed to be there between 9 and 10.  I had several tasks to complete while waiting for the job to be finished.  Getting rid of the 'door' that was there, brings me even closer to passing inspection.

The first thing I did while waiting was replace the gate lock.  The lock doesn't keep the gate closed in the wind.  The gates swing out and the bar comes out of the slot.  I got a new one a few days ago.  It works much better - I tested it after installation.

I then attempted to remove a bathroom sink drain from an old sink.  I didn't seem to be doing something correctly and I couldn't get it.  I'll have Dad or Mom get it sometime when they're back.

It's now about 9:30 or so.  I decided to mix up some joint compound and finish off some of the drywall joints and patch some holes.  I finished that up about 10.  I decided to read my book until the guy got there, which should have been any minute.

10:30  Still no garage door guy.  I call the company and let them know about the situation.  They knew he was late - he was supposed to have called me.  His truck had broken down.  The woman called him and he said he would be at my place in about 15-20 minutes.  I kept reading.  Finished the book and decided to sweep up the leaves from the sidewalk.

11:30  Call from garage door guy.  He explained that his transmission went out and he was just now transferring his tools to another truck.  He would be there in about 30 minutes.

12:30 He finally shows up.  I have no problem with his reason for being late - car trouble happens.  What annoys me is his ridiculous times he kept giving.  I would have far preferred if, at the beginning, he said he would be 2-3 hours while he got the truck to a shop.  Then I could have gone to get food.  I hadn't anticipated being there all day and didn't bring food with me.  Luckily, there was a bag of pistachios, which became my lunch.

While he was working, I set about to others tasks on my list.  I removed all the random nails and hooks from the ceiling and walls.  I also removed the outlet and switch covers, which will make retexturing walls easier.  At this point in time, I basically ran out of things on my list - I didn't want to start anything major before taking two days off for Christmas.  But, there wasn't much left to do and I had finished my book.  I decided to tackle the bathroom floor.

This needs to be removed so I can put in my new floor and have it attempt to line up height-wise with the laminate that will be in the hall.  I spent the next couple hours chiseling away with a utility bar and a hammer.  All that metal on metal pounding actually made my ears ring when I was stopped.  Here's the progress I made.

3:30  Garage door guy is finally done. Yay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stucco! Stucco! Stucco!

So, the stuccoing of the A/C hole began today (you probably guessed that from the title).

Here's what the hole looked like when the plywood was removed.  Kind of funny to see the insulation poking through.

You can see Dad starting to put up backing.  We bought (actually, my student did via a gift card) the wire sheet with backing already attached.  Dad cut it to shape and stuck it in.

Then he mixed up the stucco and started applying it.

Now it's hardening, with periodic waterings.  After Christmas, we'll put on the next coat, then get it painted with some paint we found at ReStore.  It matches almost perfectly! (Quite amazing since it's a hodge-podge sort of selection there.)

While Dad was doing that, I was applying another layer of joint compound.  Mom put sheet rock around the window frame of the living room.

Later, Dad and I took the interior of the garage 'door' apart in anticipation of the garage door being installed tomorrow.  That turned out to be more than we bargained for.  Dad kept saying, "This piece of crap..." and I had to remind him that it clearly wasn't.  If it had been a piece of crap, our dismantling of it would have been much easier.

Mom and Dad left today.  They're getting ready for having Brother, Sister-In-Law, and me over for Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ReStore Extravaganza!

Today started with another trip to ReStore.  We were hoping to find a toilet tank to replace my cracked one.  And, of course, whatever other wonderfulness we might find.

We didn't find the toilet tank, but we struck it rich in wonderfulness!  Our haul: 2 gallons of primer/sealant, 1 gallon of Killz, a porch light fixture with motion sensor, about 3 pounds or so of nails, and a medicine cabinet.  You'll never believe how much all of this cost me.  I dare you to take a guess.  I'll post the amount at the end, so you can take a stab at it.

After a late lunch, Dad and I bought stucco to fix the outside part of the random A/C hole.  While we were gone, Mom put up the last piece of drywall surrounding the hole on the inside.  Getting back, Dad set to work prepping the hole.  We'll do some stuccoing tomorrow.  I mixed up joint compound and put the first layer on the sheetrock.

**For those of you wanting to check your guess, here's my grand total for all of those items: $21.21.  How'd you do?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Living Room Wall (A/C hole)

If you recall from Saturday, there was a random hole from an A/C unit.  We fixed the unsafe things they had done when the hole was cut.  We added another 2x4 to the cut stud, extending about a foot or more in each direction.  Dad also ran electric wire from the switch into the attic so that I can have an overhead light and fan in the living room.  I added insulation - the house was built before insulation was standard, so it isn't in the walls.  When the insulation was added, we added Simpson Strong-tie bracing to make up for the cut diagonal brace.

Then, we started putting up the drywall.  A new sheet for the large area and some we pulled off the illegal garage conversion a few weeks ago.

Sometime during all this fun, the guy from the garage door company came to take measurements.  That door will be installed Thursday morning.  Also, I got a call that my kitchen were in - even though the expected arrival date was Jan 8!  Now the back bedroom is full of beautiful cabinets.  And the random A/C hole is gone - at least from the inside.  =)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This & That

More random tasks for today.  I got a late start as I went to Meeting and then did some shopping.

Fixed a stud that had been cut for the random A/C hole.  Put some insulation in a random drywall opening under a living room window.  Removed the phone line running through the kitchen.  Attempted to fix the leaking toilet, only to discover the tank is cracked.

Saturday's Other Odds & Ends

Mom was doing work on Saturday, too!  She started working on the random A/C hole.

This is the wall that faces the street.  Some incredibly brilliant people before me decided to put a window A/C unit here.  They had to cut a stud and cross-bracing to do so.  Unfortunately, they didn't do anything else to transfer the load those elements were carrying.  We need to, so Mom took off the drywall so we would have access to it in the future.

I also got a light fixture installed in the kitchen.  The house has no fixtures as the people took them all with them.  Here's my new kitchen one that I got for $1.00 at ReStore (Habitat for Humanity's store - it's like a construction thrift store).

Water Heater

Saturday's main project for Dad and I was the water heater.  Here's our beginning point:

The things that need fixing:  Mainly, it just needs to be 18" off the ground.  However, doing that means doing a bunch of other things as well.  Raising it that high meant it would hit the pipes coming out of the wall if we left it in the same location.  So, after raising it, it would need to be moved away from that wall.  Then the pipes need right angles attached to them so that the water heater pipes can come at them from above.  Also, the vent piping will need to be angles to reach the hole.

Dad built a stand last weekend and finished it off on Friday.  We did some soldering of pipes.

Then came the joy of lifting the water heater onto it's new stand.  Too heavy for Dad and I too lift without it tipping over.  We decided to do it slowly by tilting and laying boards underneath it.  We slowly raised it 6" this way.  However 6" is not 18".  No more boards.  Got Mom to come help.  Dad and I would lift from the bottom of the tank.  Mom would stabilize it.  Success!!!

Dad and I then reattached the straps (to a different wall than before, with some new boards added by us - good and strong).  Then came time to do the vent piping.  Dad has purchased some angled, movable joints that would be very helpful.  He went to the attic to get the piping into the roof vent.  I handed him tools through the hole.  When he got his part finished, I managed to connect the straight pipe to the tank with the angles pieces.  It took some doing, but I eventually got it.

Alas, when Dad was up in the attic, he accidentally knocked out the roof vent.  Last night, we went and got the pieces to replace that.  That should get done today (unless the rain prevents the final touches).  But otherwise, just about ready to cross this item off the list, and get closer to being able to pass the city inspection.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frozen Noses No More

Friday started off with a trip to the flooring store.  I had already decided which line of laminate I wanted for the kitchen/living/hall.  I picked up the sample pack so I could coordinate with my cabinets.  That was done easily enough - the one I liked from the beginning went beautifully.

So, Mom and Dad came when I did the actual ordering.  I also ordered the linoleum I had picked out for the bathroom.  This process was pretty easy.  Dad got to play with Rex, the dog, while things were being ordered.  The laminate should be here early next week and the linoleum in about 1.5 weeks.  Who hoo!!

Leaving the floor store, we stopped and got some plumbing supplies for the leaking toilet and the not-yet-up-to-code water heater.

I worked on connecting the heater to the thermostat so that we'd have heat and be one step closer to passing the city inspection.  Dad finished the stand for the water heater.  Mom worked on taking down some of the garage 'door' so that a new, and real, one can replace it.

I ran the wire down the hall, hiding it under baseboards, up the wall underneath the bathroom door molding.  I then had to cut a little pocket out of the drywall for the wire leading to the thermostat itself.  Used a hammer and chisel and made a slot the perfect size.  It will be easy to patch over it when we get to fixing the millions of holes in the house.

After Dad finished the sand, he got some parts soldered together that he'll be needing today.  He also attempted to fix the leaky toilet.  Alas, the part we purchased isn't quite the right size, so we'll have to try again.  And keeping flushing the toilet using the large bucket of water.

Mom pretty much got the garage 'door' ready, so my task, once I finish writing this post, will be to do some research on local garage door companies and find one to do the job.  Dad has done this before and has come to the conclusion that it is one of the few jobs that is worth paying someone to do.  Without the specialized equipment, getting them up is a giant pain that we're going to avoid.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Credit

So, busy weekend but not much to show for it.

  • The garage doors (for people, not cars) have been put in
  • All the illegal wiring has been removed
  • Tree branches touching roof have been cut back and roof swept off
However, no good pictures to show.  Looking around the house, it looks like nothing got accomplished.  But it did.  I'm closer to being able to call the city inspector and have them take the notices off.

On the fun side of things, we went to Restore (Habitat for Humanity's reuse store).  It's like a construction thrift store.  Very large place full of all sorts of things:  doors, windows, paint, tile, light fixtures, toilets, blinds, tubs, and all sorts of randomness.  I picked up a light fixture for the kitchen for $1.41.  Definitely will be returning there with specific measurements for doors and windows.

Nothing will happen for the next four days while I'm at work.  However, starting the 17th things should move along well since I have the last two weeks of December off. Yay!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

You've Got Mail

Friday, I decided to construct my mailbox.  There wasn't one already, and no mail gets delivered without one.  Even though I'm not living at the house yet, mail was starting to arrive.  Most of the houses in the area had the kind that attaches to the wall by the front door.  I don't like the idea of my mail sitting out all day, where anyone can go through it, while I'm at work.  I decided to put a mail slot into the garage.

More fun times with the reciprocating saw!  First, got the masonry drill bit.  I needed to drill a starter hole for the saw blade.  Going through the stucco wasn't too bad with the drill, as long as I didn't hit a piece of the chicken wire.  When I did, Dad attacked it with a screwdriver and hammer.

Cutting through the stucco was totally going to ruin a blade, so Dad found the worst of the bunch and I set myself to sawing.

The cutting was actually easier than we thought it was going to be.  The blade slowly moved along and no cracks developed in the stucco.  Once there was a hole, I attached a 2x4 underneath.  This will hold the basket to catch the mail.

Attaching the front plate took a bit longer than it was supposed to.  We got holes drilled, put in some caulk and put it up.  Luckily, Dad had the bright idea to open the slot.  It wouldn't!  The brilliant people who made the template for how large the hole should be just traced the actual hole - and didn't account for space for the slot door to open backwards.  Down it came and more sawing took place.  Eventually, got it fine and mail can start being delivered.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Got Gas?

So, as previously mentioned, my house had the gas shut off - in a semi-permanent manner by the gas company. When I registered the utilities in my name, they made an appointment to come out Wednesday to get it turned on. The ridiculous window they gave was from 8:00 to 8:00. Seeing as I'm at work the overwhelming majority of those hours and as Dad is wonderful, he did some work at the house while waiting for the guy. (Actually, I was there in the morning in the off chance that I was the first house. No luck.)

Wednesday evening I got the following email from Dad:

"The gas people came, but they could not hook up the gas meter because the pipe is plugged with a special plug that the service man had never seen before and did not have the tool to remove. He went to Granger and showed them a pic of it and they said it was called "Seven Point Security Plug" but did not know where to get a tool for it locally. He will come back tomorrow after 11:00 with his boss to see if they can figure something out. I will come back tomorrow also and work on the other door."

Wow! I was laughing as I read this. The gas company doesn't know how to remove the plug they installed? I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Dad also said the serviceman thought the city might have put the lock on. I don't think so!

This is the news that greeted me Thursday evening:

"The service man came by today with his boss who had the key for the plug. Apparently he had one of the keys (removal tool) in his desk, but had never used it and wasn't aware of what it was. Water heater works and was left in pilot light mode. The heater works but the wires to the thermostat are cut and may need to be replaced."

Glad it got resolved. Still kind of concerned about the gas company though. They don't recognize their own plugs? They don't know why they have certain tools?

Anyway, on with the repairs that will allow the notices to be removed: getting rid of illegal wiring and making sure the water heater and normal heater are up to code. Things are moving along nicely.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gate Construction

So, Sunday, after waking up sore from all the demolition of Saturday, Mom and I decide we'll take it a bit easier.  We decide to take measurements for the gate I need and head to the store.  We'll get a gate (or supplies to build one) and get prices for the cabinets I like.

Find gates.  A 4' one costs about $55, plus the hardware to hang it.  I need to span a 9' gap.  We decide we can build one ourselves, using the boards from the demolished wall and fence planks from the store.

Getting simple pricing information turned out to be more complicated than it should.  Cabinet specialists were both out.  Person covering the area couldn't even look up prices on the computer.  What was the point in having her cover?!  Manager finally got it sorted out by having me talk on the phone with the specialist at another store.

Headed home and began constructing side one of the gate.  Moved along nicely.  Fairly easy, and let me use the rest of my tools. Yay!

I had a lot of fun building it with my mom and am quite happy with the results.  The rain held off all day while we worked in the garage and started coming down right when it was time to hang them!  Got them up just as Dad was coming home from his field trip.  He was surprised!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Mom and I decided to tackle the illegal conversion in the garage.

I'm standing next to the water heater in this photo.  Illegal wall and that floor is raised off the concrete slab.  Both need to be removed (along with the illegal wiring, but that's a project for another day).

We tackled the wall first.  Since there are various holes that need patching throughout (and likely a large area in the kitchen when the tile gets taken out), we tried to save as much drywall as possible.  Took out the worst looking sheet first so we could destroy it as needed.

We were able to get the remaining three sheets off relatively successfully.  There will be plenty of drywall for future patches.  With the sheets off, we could see what a poor job of construction had been done.

Alas, I don't have many pictures (but will take more on future projects).  The wall was supported on eight 2x3 boards nailed together.  Not very stable.  While I took apart most of the wall, Mom undid the wiring to the outlet so it could be removed.  We kept the light for now (will need to be removed eventually) because light in that area is very handy.  Once the wall was completely removed, we broke for lunch.

With our stomachs full, we headed back into the garage to remove the raised floor.  Pulling up the carpet was easy.  Mom is an expert at cutting it and rolling it to fit into garbage cans, so she did that while I started on the plywood sheets.  The first one was super attached!  It look a lot of time and figuring to get it removed from the framing underneath.  Once I got it, we got a look at the random framing method - basically rectangular, with a mishmash of boards, whatever was handy.

We found rats' nests, $2.05 worth of coins (mainly pennies), Vans, CDs, film negatives and a whole bunch of trash under the floor.  Treasures galore!

We spent the rest of the afternoon prying up plywood and generally getting a good upper body workout.  We saved the long boards for potential future projects.  After sweeping up, it looks pretty nice.  Still need to install a proper garage door and remove the illegal wiring but pretty good for a first full day of work!

First Night of Work

Mom and Dad decided to come down and spend the weekend at the place.  Dad would be gone Saturday and Sunday during the day on a field trip.  They came with plenty of supplies.  (One of the reasons the house is "Unsafe to Occupy" is due to a lack of heat.  Previous people had lived there sort of squatter style and had the gas totally removed due to their lack of bill paying.  Not scheduled to be turned on until December 8, so very chilly house!)

Friday, we started with a door that needed replacing.  It couldn't close at all because it had been kicked in and there was no more door jamb for the lock to go into.  Dad had picked up two doors for me that morning: garage to exterior and kitchen to garage.  Both need replacing for similar reasons.  Alas, 30" doors to match the current opening are special order.  Dad got 32" ones instead and we'll cut the opening larger.

We spent Friday evening removing the kitchen door and some paneling in the adjacent illegally converted garage room.  Underneath the paneling was a treasure just waiting for me:

Along with this gem, there's all sorts of other graffiti, mainly names of people (and who they profess to love) along with bands and songs: Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Fonz, Boogie Nights, Brick House.  It's quite a lovely collection and will definitely be staying as part of my garage.

We got enough drywall removed for the wider door frame and stopped for dinner.  Alas, that's as far as we got.  The rest of the weekend was consumed with other projects.  There is currently an opening between the garage and kitchen - no door.  Door will be a priority this coming weekend.

The Beginning

So, I bought a house.  Quite a lovely house.  A house that needs a lot of work.  In fact, it's "Unsafe to Occupy" and has nuisance notices.  But that's going to change over the next few months.  It's going to turn into a wonderful home on a beautiful lot.  This blog will be a record of all that work - with, hopefully, some interesting stories and photos to boot.  =)  Glad you're along for the ride.

I received the keys December 1, 2010.  Clearly, I'm about a week behind with the blog.  I'll get myself caught up and post whenever something happens.  Enjoy!