Sunday, November 17, 2013

Front Porch Update

     Compared to our pace back in the summer, things have slowed down a bit here as of late. It's been more than a month since our last post and about three months since the last porch update. Over the last couple of weekends, Steven and our neighbor Craig added the subfascia, fascia, and drip edge around the porch. Yesterday, we shingled the whole thing! Our previous shingling projects have been pretty small, but Steven bought an inexpensive nail gun to speed up this job since we had about a thousand square feet to cover.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kitchen Lighting Plus a Bit of Landscaping

     Just when Sunday nights were starting to become my regular blogging time, I missed last Sunday - oops! A couple days after our last post went up, the electricians finished their work for the lighting, switches, and outlets in the kitchen/dining area.

A rectangular arrangement of recessed lighting frames the perimeter of the kitchen.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Painted Kitchen and Princess Pup

     Early last week our drywall guys finished up all the mudding and sanding in the kitchen/dining area and gave us the all clear for painting! The installer recommended at least priming the bare drywall, even if we weren't ready to paint right away. (I actually could NOT wait to paint!) He told us that priming adds a layer of protection from scratches and dings. He added that priming should be followed by two coats of paint since we're working with new drywall.
     Special thanks goes out to Sherwin-Williams for having impeccable timing with their "4-Day Super Sale" over this weekend. We got 40% off paint and 30% off supplies, which really helped us out since we needed three gallons of primer, five gallons of paint, plus rollers, brushes, etc. Steven took the advice of a painting contractor friend of ours (thanks, Greg!) and got Purdy brushes and sheepskin roller covers. We went with Sherwin-Williams's Harmony line for primer and paint. This is their zero VOC (volatile organic compound) product, and the formula contributes to improved indoor air quality. Sherwin Williams also claims that the product is durable enough for repeated washing and has odor-eliminating and mildew-resistant properties.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Real, live walls!!

     We spent a nice little bit of this weekend staring at the wall, but I doubt you could blame us! The job of hanging the drywall in the kitchen was hired out to the guys who have been doing a good bit of our carpentry work as of late. This father/son team started in drywall and later branched out to carpentry - they've done a wonderful job with everything! There is some finishing up to do on this early in the week, but what you see below is where they left off on Friday:

View toward future dining area. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Update

     It has been a very good and productive weekend here! We checked off repairing a leaky spot in the roof, insulating the attic over the kitchen/dining area, and painting the front door :)

     This spot has been a problem area since we bought the house. (Note: When I say "problem area," I don't mean constant leak issues. It was usually just when we had a REALLY heavy downpour.) Soon after we got going with the remodel, some reframing had to be done inside when we found a rotten support beam; more on that here. Based on the rotten framing we found then, it seemed like a bad connection between the rear addition roof (right side above) and the porch roof (left side above) was to blame.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shut the Front Door!

     There hasn't been much to report in the last couple of weeks, but something very exciting happened Wednesday! There was a mix-up with our front door order, and the wrong door was delivered last month. After re-ordering the door and waiting a couple weeks, we were very happy to see that everything was perfect when the door was delivered. Our carpenters came to reframe the opening and install the door on Wednesday too!
     In my excitement over the new door, I forgot to take photos of the old door, haha. You probably didn't even notice our old door in any of the exterior photos from the porch roof redo; it was that mundane. It had a hollow core and a narrow window running top to bottom. Think cardboard on hinges. Also, it was 32" wide, which could be an issue when it's appliance/furniture time. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kitchen Insulation

     After getting the all clear from the electrical and building inspector yesterday afternoon, I started working on insulating the walls in the kitchen. We went with Roxul ComfortBatt R-15 because of its fire/moisture/mildew/pest resistant properties. It also earns LEED points if you're into that kind of thing. This is a mineral fiber insulation made from molten rock that's been spun like cotton candy. The insulation is also a good sound buffer, which is needed since we've got a pretty busy road out front. I made a time lapse video while I worked last night - it went quickly once I got the hang of it!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Windows and Wiring

     The last couple of days have been a great leap forward with the kitchen! We hired out the job of running all the wiring for the kitchen. Our carpenters also came to install two windows (one in the entry and one in the living room) and a sliding door in the dining area. A new front door would have been installed this week too, but the manufacturer sent the wrong door to our dealer - BIG disappointment :( It will be a couple of weeks before the door arrives. This is what I'm dreaming of... one day:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Up On The [Front Porch] Roof

     Whew, I am feeling the burn after yesterday, but it certainly was a productive day for the front porch. In our last porch update, all the beadboard sheathing was in place and looking awesome. Since the beadboard is one inch thick, the roofing nails would have popped through if we placed the underlayment and shingles directly on the beadboard. To keep the roofing nails from showing through, we laid half-inch plywood over the beadboard and screwed it through to the rafters. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FAQ: Have you seen "The Money Pit"?

     I'm taking a cue (Get it? FAQ... haha, sorry) from one of my favorite remodeling bloggers who wrote about a question she gets quite often. Great answer by the way, Brittney! It'll be finished when you say so.
     As soon as Steven and I shared our news about buying a house with the intention of renovating, so many people asked if we had seen "The Money Pit." Actually, people still ask that pretty often. The first time we watched this movie was back when we were apartment dwellers not even considering buying a house. I thought the movie was pretty funny, especially the scene where the bathtub falls through the floor of the second story. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Front Porch Surprise

     After a week of work in Itawamba County, Mississippi, I came home on Friday to find that the beadboard sheathing on the front porch roof was done!!! Steven had recruited a couple of our neighbors (thank you, thank you to Ryan and Craig!) to work on it during the week, and I had no clue whatsoever. Needless to say, I was thrilled and super impressed. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Front Porch Framing

      In the last post we left off with the porch posts and headers, and we've been working on the rafters since then.

     My name is Steven, and I am a Simpson Strong-Tie-aholic. In the porch project I used five different ties; Ridge Rafter Connectors, Hurricane Strap H2.5A, Cap Base BC4, Post Base ABA 44, and Mending Plate MP24. I have seen where people have used common nails, but I like to use the Strong-Tie N10D5HDG and 10d5HDG nails. I have seen other people install the ties using other types of fasteners but to me it seemed that a Strong-Tie 10d nail was a bit bigger than a regular 10d and would insure a snug fit with the connector. I prefer contact around the entire nail instead of just were the head meets the plate.

     Hipped roofs are composed of four different framing components: ridge beam, common rafter, hip rafter, and jack rafter.

     The board to the far right, attached to the front of the house, is the ridge beam (special thanks to Ryan!). The diagonal rafters, attached to the ridge beam and the porch header, are the common rafters.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend in Photos (Front Porch Edition)

     Whew!! We are pooped but feeling good about the house progress over the weekend. It seemed like the entire State of Alabama was under some sort of flood watch from Thursday through Saturday (some parts probably are still), which put a damper on our front porch plans, but we made the most of it. We stayed indoors Thursday and got all the rafters and posts cut. Friday was pretty drizzly, but we were able to complete the front porch demolition. Saturday was a TOTAL wash as far as the porch goes; however, some much needed de-cluttering was done inside. Today, we got the new porch posts and headers in place! Demo is great, but putting new stuff in place is even better :) Steven and I are extremely grateful to our neighbor Craig for his hours of much needed help this weekend!

On with the photos...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Local Fourth of July History

     In honor of the 114th anniversary of the ground breaking ceremony for Merrimack Mill, I wanted to share this article I put together for our neighborhood newsletter:

     Did you know that on the Fourth of July in 1899 ground breaking ceremonies were held for the Merrimack Manufacturing Company’s first plant here in Huntsville? The exciting event coincided with citywide Independence Day festivities, which also included a ground breaking ceremony for Huntsville’s street car lines. At that time, three textile mills were already in operation in the city: Huntsville Cotton Mills, West Huntsville Cotton Mills, and the Dallas Mills.

Front Porch Fest (go away rain!)

     Our plan for the long holiday weekend is to demo and rebuild the front porch roof, but it seems we are in the midst of a monsoon :( Over the last weekend, we took two layers of siding off the front porch area and decided that the porch roof needed to be redone sooner than later.

When we bought the house, there was a low ceiling in the porch, pictured above.

We knocked out that ceiling and found this (WHY do people cover up stuff like this?!). Steven and I actually did this back in December... not sure why I never shared.

     The junction between the porch section of the roof and the garage section of the roof was showing some water damage, and, as you can see, the beadboard and beams are in pretty rough shape. I don't really think this is the original porch roof since other houses in the neighborhood with the same plan as ours have end-gabled porch roofs and ours is hipped. It would make sense that the hipped roof was added whenever the garage was added, though I do not know when that was. However, our plan is to recreate the hipped framing (and beadboard!) exactly as you see above. We will also be replacing the screened-in look with square posts.
     You may be thinking, "Aren't you guys supposed to be working on the kitchen?!" The electricians are set to come do the kitchen/dining wiring next week, so there's not much for us to do until they finish. We will insulate the walls after the wiring is installed. Redoing the porch roof will be a big face lift for the front of the house, and it makes sense to get the demo/rebuild out of the way before putting in the new windows and front door in that area. I don't even want to think about some Clark Griswold moment happening right after a new window was installed... Not that anything like that would ever happen here ;)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kitchen Progress: Old Sink and New Window

     Only GOOD news in today's post!! Let's start with Monday's find: the kitchen sink. I was so set on a big, deep apron-front sink and figured we would just be buying a new one. BUT I happened to check for sinks on Craigslist Monday, and found this beauty had just been posted!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kitchen subfloor is down!

     The time has flown since my last house update - I didn't even realize it had been over a month! A couple of very, very exciting things happened yesterday: the carpenters finished installing the kitchen/dining subfloor AND our kitchen/dining light fixtures arrived. We haven't had a continuous floor running across the whole span of this area since around November 2011, (eek!) so it's been a long time coming to this point. Over that period of time, we've been going at it (mostly) DIY-style with the help of some friends along the way. Before getting to the kitchen/dining subfloor, we had to take out a chimney, reframe two exterior walls, enclose a porch, etc. In many ways, it seems like we should be further along with the kitchen (or whole house in general), but I am happy as long as there is steady progress. I guess you just have to find a balance for yourself and figure out a pace that works for you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

For Jim

     On Saturday morning, our little mill village lost a truly great one, and this journal of my house becoming a home would be incomplete without telling you about Jim. Steven and I met Jim at a neighborhood block party in June 2011. Even though we had not yet closed on our house (that came in July), we decided to go and meet our future neighbors. Jim had one of those personalities that was as energetic as it was magnetic. That August, he talked me into writing an article for the neighborhood newsletter. By December, Steven was head of community watch and I was editing the newsletter. Jim's passion for bettering our village was certainly contagious.
     His obituary reads like an A++ over-achiever's graduation announcement, leaving me wondering how in the world he was able to do so much. He started our neighborhood organization in 2006 and served as our voice in Huntsville and beyond. We are indebted to him for working with the Historic Huntsville Foundation in taking the steps necessary to add Merrimack Mill Village to the National Register of Historic Places. The list goes on... Vice Chairman of the Preservation Commission, member of the Beautification Board, member of the Community Development Citizens Advisory Board, Chairman of the Historic Huntsville Foundation, member of Huntsville Housing Authority’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council. He helped form the Huntsville Council of Neighborhood Associations and served as president of that too. I only knew Jim in his historic preservation and community activist role, so this is really only scratching the surface.
     Jim, tomorrow we will gather in honor and memory of you. You've left some big shoes to fill, and I think it will take several people to even come close to keeping up with all the responsibilities that you seemed to juggle so effortlessly. You lived only two streets over from me, and I regret not visiting you enough these last few months... I suppose making myself "busy" with my own house remodeling and the newsletter was my way of coping. I loved you dearly and so looked up to you. It's going to hurt for awhile, but we will pick up where you left off here in the village. When I think back on you, you'll be laughing and smoking a cigar.
     Charlotte, my heart and deepest sympathies go out to you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Down to the Joists

     Despite the pollen, I really do love this time of year and watching all the colorful things that bloom. It seems like our yard has been even more colorful than last year! Guess the extra rain we've been getting helped :)

     Since my last update, we have put in new floor joists in the now enclosed future dining area (former back porch) and ripped out all the layers of flooring (two layers of vinyl, particle board, two layers of hardwood, and subfloor) in our long-gone kitchen. 
     Other than the photo of our temporary kitchen from this post, I don't think I've told you much about it. The temp kitchen includes a refrigerator, microwave, and super amazing slow cooker. Not that our slow cooker is really fancy or anything, but it's our primary way of cooking meals these days. The only thing I really miss is baking. It was a VERY sad day indeed when I boxed up my baking supplies and stored them upstairs. I might even say I miss baking more than I miss having a sink... I do complain a whole lot about washing dishes in the square bathtub that is occasionally used for dog baths, but there are plenty of remodeling scenarios that could be worse than this. With that said, I CANNOT wait for the day when a real, live dishwasher is installed in our new kitchen!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Brick Piers and Uneven Floors

     As we're taking up old flooring to check on joists and replace subflooring, it became very obvious that our brick piers in the crawl space are in need of some repairs. The mortar needs to be repointed, and, in some cases, the bricks were completely loose. I had no prior masonry experience, so I did a little research and got some advice from a coworker (thanks, Travis!) before jumping into this - hopefully this is helpful to someone :)

Several bricks off the top here were totally loose!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not much on the house, but I found a cool bottle!

     Last weekend didn't exactly go according to plan... We hoped to get some of the floor joists into the former porch area that we enclosed, but Steven was called out on his first REAL cave rescue! Steven got the call about 4:00 pm Saturday afternoon and didn't get back home until 2:00 am Sunday. A caver fell about 10 feet and cracked a rib, so the cave rescue unit had to form a line to pass the stretcher along and out the very narrow entrance (like it had to be widened just to allow the stretcher to pass through). Steven's been training with our local high angle rescue team for several months, so he was fine... but I was sooo worried about him! Obviously, I was also up til 2:00 am and not much in the way of remodeling productivity happened on Sunday.

     This weekend we went to see my family for Easter. I hadn't seen the folks on my mom's side since Thanksgiving, so it was wonderful to see everyone and eat way too much. My favorite part was staying up past midnight chatting with my brother and parents (and Steven!). We just don't get to spend time together like that often enough!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Old Exterior Wall is DOWN!

      On Wednesday, we got the thumbs up from our building inspector for the new exterior wall framing, so we got to work that evening on tearing the old wall down. The inspector also liked our overhead support beam to carry the load of the two layers of roof.

First off was the vinyl siding, underlying foam, and this window.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

New Exterior Wall Is UP!

      Whoop whoop and yay!! The exterior wall enclosing the old porch for the new dining room is framed and sheathed. Steven and I are thrilled with how much quicker this weekend's project went compared to the last time we tackled an exterior wall - remember this? I suspect the air nailer has something to do with the reduced time and frustration :)

We got a smidge of a start on this last weekend... pretty much just the sill sealer, termite shield, and mudsill.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beaming Up

     Yesterday was BIG! It was exactly 4"x12"x13', and I wish I could tell you how much it weighed. Steven and I are so incredibly thankful for the help from Ryan, Craig M., and Craig R. You guys have definitely earned some credit, so let us know when we can help with your next project :) Yesterday's job was a full 12-hour day, whew! Can't imagine how the guys felt at the end of the day - I was pooped, and I was pretty much just the gopher.
     In preparation for pushing out a wall to enclose the future dining area, we installed an LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beam to support the load of the original roof. Obviously, a beam of that size requires some heavy duty framing below it.

Hopefully this helps you visualize the scenario. There will also be
reinforcement placed between the LVL beam and the added roof.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Call 811 and Hope They Know What's Below

     Let's get the bad news over with before we get to the good stuff. You may remember from my last post that we were going to hire a contractor to do an exterior overhaul (i.e., framing the exterior wall in the future dining room, plus windows and siding for the whole house). Right after meeting with the contractor about his estimate, we went straight to the bank to begin the loan process. Then we came to a screeching halt. There was just no possible way we could qualify to borrow the amount needed to cover the exterior work from the contractor, even with great credit and our mortgage being our only debt. 
     We attempted to bring down his price by focusing on what really NEEDS to be done now instead of the whole exterior. The contractor certainly tried to work with us on that, but the reduced job would have just been too small for his crew. It was pretty frustrating for us, but I completely understand that contractors, carpenters, etc. would prefer jobs that last longer than a week or two. We took it as a compliment when he said we were not like his typical clients; he also said we would get more bang for our buck by doing the work ourselves.