Pink Floyd

You know…The Wall?

I tend to run long on these and it’s not necessary, so let me get to the point and still include details that are relevant, or that I find interesting.  Sucks to be you, doesn’t it?
About two weeks ago, we applied for the permit.  The wording of the permit work is “Add door and modify window.”  We’re going to cut a hole in the wall in the back of the kitchen and put in a door to the patio.  Meanwhile, we wanted to replace the 72-inch wide kitchen window with something smaller and more subtle, which would also give us more wall space for cabinets.
A week and half later, as promised, the permit was approved and ready.  Detroit picked it up Thursday, and Saturday, I would begin work on it.
I thought.
I had a plan.  I love plans.  I love writing things down, making lists, making plans, planning the order of business, figuring out what I’m going to need and how I’m going to do something.  If you plan it properly, hardly anything can go wrong.
If you plan really well and something still goes wrong, it’s usually something BIG.
Saturday afternoon I went out to the garage to pull out the door we bought over a year ago for just this event.  The Habitat for Humanity Restore (Check the internet for a location near you!) has a lot of used shit pulled out of houses from remodeling and demolition, but they also get some new stuff donated to them from manufacturers and so forth.  We found a beautiful pre-hung exterior door, full glass, still the plastic–for 175 clams.  It was probably a four or five hundred dollar door if bought in the store.
It’s been sitting in the garage for over a year, waiting for this moment.  It sits in the back corner against the wall, out of the way.  I go back there and move various shit out the way–chairs, the boys’ musical equipment, my sawhorses, some wood–and I finally get to the door.  It is propped up behind a one-piece shower that I have sitting there, also for the future.  One day, I’ll put it in the basement.  I get a grip on the door and pull, and finally I slide it out to where I can take a look at it.
The wood is in good shape, the glass is wrapped in plastic, holes are pre-drilled for the door knobs.  I measure the door again, to make sure it is the same as when I put it in storage a year ago.  As I do that, I look at the framing around the door.  Slowly, a terrible realization dawns on me.  “Oh…F…uh….”  I shook my head and finished my sentence.  “Uck.”
Let me explain.  Most construction that normal people are familiar with is done with 2×4 framing.  I love framing.  I can frame up 2×4 walls all day long…or half a day, and then I get tired.  So, in general, doors and windows are made to fit into a 2x 4 frame.  The depth of 2×4 framing is the “4” part, so that’s actually 3 1/2 inches.  Add a half inch on the inside for drywall, add another half inch on the outside for plywood, and you got yourself about 4 1/2 inches.
The frame on this door was 6 1/2 inches deep.
Several things occurred to me.  Like, I think I heard of this before–in an era when some construction tries to find ways to cheap out on things, like setting studs further apart, using thinner drywall, and things like that–some proud craftsman decided to buck the trend and make things sturdier, more solid, and frame up the exterior walls of a house with goddamn 2x6s instead of 2x4s.
I’m sure that I should have known to at least acknowledge this possibility when I bought it.  Fuck me.  Now what?
Here again, I witness that my new dosage of ADD medication is working wonders.  I know that something like this in the past would have knocked the wind out ofmy sails and I would put off dealing with it for days, possibly weeks.
Or, you know, months.
This time, I put it off for approximately the length of time it took me to have a smoke.  Kim and I took action.  And by “took action” I mean we sat there on our computers and scoured Craigslist.  I actually found a door, and sent the guy an email with my phone number.
Kim was looking at other things, like sinks.

Oh–before this–we had just returned from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in St Peters.  I didn’t know there was one out there.  But we needed to find a window for the kitchen as well.  What I wanted–what would have been ideal–is a 24 wide by 30 tall.  I thought.  Could not find one of those in the store as an off-the-rack item.  We checked a few ads on craigslist, but nothing was close.  One was, but it was gone before we contacted him.
So that afternoon we figured to check out the Restore.  Like so many other things in our quest, we found not what we were looking for but something we were willing to compromise on.  What had we compromised on so far?  The backsplash tile, that we were dead set on–but price changed our minds.  The appliances–maybe we didn’t have a color picked, but price definitely made us realize white was what we wanted.  We didn’t compromise on the floor because we hadn’t made up our mind yet–but price made the final decision for us.
I measured before we left, and it turns out that my memory is faulty, because I could have sworn it was only 30 inches high.  Turns out it’s actually 34.  Well, that opens up some windows for us, so to speak.  Gives us a broader range to look at.
Still, we weren’t finding anything narrow enough–we wanted a 24 wide.  “How about this?” I showed kim.  It was about 31 tall, so it would fit in the opening.  But it was 40 inches wide.  About 16 inches wider than what we wanted–we would lose a wall cabinet.
However–the searching we had done had convinced me that we weren’t going to find exactly what we wanted and we had better be ready to compromise on this or we would find ourselves SOL.  And maybe, I thought, maybe 24 wide is too narrow anyway…
I showed Kim.  There were two windows like this.  They had been rescued from a remodel, I’m sure.  Oh–and they were wooden windows.  And they had cranks to crank them open, something Kim and mentioned that she wanted, that I actually thought she was nuts for thinking she could have.
But they were used, and they were wood, not vinyl replacement windows.  Kim and agreed, however, that thematically, a wood window would actually go with the schema for our kitchen.  The mind’s ability to rationalize has no end.
It did not hurt at all that the window was 25 bucks.
I brought the window up to the counter and told the guy we were going to look around some more.  This store was cleaner and better laid out than the one down in the city, but not as big.  Ten minutes later, I was done.  I had just looked at some locksets, but didn’t see any for exterior–
Kim came walking toward me, with a lockset box in her hand.  We had looked at the same thing, and she found one.  Ten bucks.
Twenty-five bucks and ten bucks.  When I paid, I noticed that my total was thirty-five.  No sales tax.  Curious–

Back at home after that was when I made the discovery about the door.  We had been out twice that day already–earlier that morning we had gone to Kim’s boss’s funeral.  The poor man had died in a car accident.  The funeral took a lot out of us both–Kim was close to him, and I was projecting my own fears onto this event.
Kim heard back first from the lady about the sink.  A cast iron enamaled sink for the kitchen?  Thirty-five bucks?  You betcha!
Then the guy called about the door, for sixty-five dollars.  He was down in the city, and the sink was in Kirkwood.  From where we are, essentially the same direction:  south.
After making arrangements and getting directions, we head out.
Of course, I left the directions behind.  Thank God I wrote them down, though, because that helped me remember them.
The lady with the sink had other materials for sale as well, which was good.  The sink a bathroom sink, not a kitchen.  We both thought the same thing:  “I don’t think we can compromise on this–”
But she had trim that I liked, and also a bifold door.  Kim wanted that for the wall when we redo the closet.  She also had a storm door.  I didn’t hear the part about “storm,” so I thought it was just a door.  She and Kim were explaining to me how it worked and I was trying to understand how it would work if there was no pre-hung frame for it to go into.  Finally, I got it.
“Oh…Ooooh.”  What a dumbass I am.  And it would fit a 32 inch door, which is what we were on our way to get.  If it worked, we should get this storm door.  It was very nice, heavy duty, and full glass, like the door we were getting.  It also had a screen we could put in.  Hmmm.  For fifty bones, I think we’ll be back.
The young guy down in the city had me meet him at “The Shaved Duck.”  It’s a BBQ restaurant near Arsenal and Grand, and it smelled good.  He said it’s really popular, and people come from all over for pick up.
The door was everything he said it would be.  It looked good.  He helped me load it onto the back of the truck and we were on our way.
So, finally, we were home.  With what I hoped would be both a door that would fit and a window that we could use.  And some other stuff.

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First Tear-Down Day

Sunday I was finally able to start the project.
After my routine, of course–I went out and got some coffee and a sammich, and brought Kim back a couple of donuts.  She was still sleeping when I left.
So the first thing is the door.  I looked at the window and thought, Man, that is going to be a bitch–
So leet’s start with the door.  Information I found online and from talking with Don both indicated that it is logical to start on the inside:  tear down the drywall, remove studs, and add studs.  Then, when the time is right, take the Sawz-All to the opening, and then put the door in.
That sounds like a good plan.  However, on the outside I have shingles.  I want to dance with those first, to see how they manage.  It’s going to set the tone for the rest of the project, I think.
I grabbed the ladder and a handfull of tools, but for the most part I only used one:  that same chisel/screwdriver looking thing that I fixed the miter saw with when I cleaned it out and put it back together.  I drew on the wall the approximate opening, then started at the top with the shingles–oh shit.
This is going to get hard.  Up close I realize that the shingles are not 16 to 18 inches, but are in fact 24 inches.  I’m going to have to go further and wider than I had planned.  Not only that–
I had wisely planned ahead over a year and a half ago–maybe longer–so that when we had our electrical service replaced to suit code, I had them move it over so I could put the door in.  Smart, huh?  I know.  Of course, now it sits between the door I hope to put in and the window I want to resize.
I can’t take down the box, but I can do just about everything else.  I loosen all the mounting hardware as I go, so I can pull shingles out from behind parts of the fixture.  I do manage to crack a shingle.  Fuck.  That part is still stuck in there?  I’m planning to caulk them back together.
I’m saving the shingles because I intend to reuse some of them to fill in the part of the window that I close up.  Still not sure how that part is going to work…
But I want to know–and then I have to know–how do I cut these?  I’m going to have to cut them when I put them back around the door.  How is this done?  Plus, I’d like to have some sunflower seeds.  That’s the thing that keeps me busy when I’m working on a construction project.
I run up to Handyman Hardware, and a fellow up there explains it to me as we walk toward the tools.  Those shingles are asbestos, and I really shouldn’t mess with them.  However, use one of these carbon tipped blades, either on your circ saw or your jig saw.  And wear a mask.  Don’t breath that shit in.
This is good to know.  I thanked him and left, and bought a bag of sunflower seeds on the way out.

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If I Had A Million Dollars–

–Some of the things I would do would be to pay off my bills, put the kids through school. set up investments, buy a bunker and provisions, get a new car-

And if there was money left over, I might remodel the kitchen.

Remodeling costs quite a bit of money.  But I’m the kind of guy that likes to try to beat the odds, so let’s see what we can do with just a few grand.  I got my cut of an insurance payout, you see.  After catching up on the house payment and buying a couple of laptops, let’s see what we have left to spend…

It seems like a lot, but it’s not.  Kim and I have been alternately looking for deals and trying to decipher what we want.  Here are the main design elements:  Appliances, counter, backsplash, cabinets, floor, and wall color.  Also the little things, like fixtures and trim.

Quite by accident, we found the floor we wanted, because we were standing on it when we were trying to tell the guy that we didn’t care for what he was showing us.

The floor we picked looks like a rustic and slightly distressed wood floor.  No, it’s not a laminate.  It’s a…well, it comes in a roll, like linoleum.  I’m not especially fond of lino, having worked in a warehouse where we moved and stored the stuff.  It is cheap and fragile shit, in my opinion.

But this is not lino.  It’s a composite of some sort, made of crushed limestone, the guy said.  And, it has a lifetime guarantee.  A buck and half per foot, or two bucks installed.  We are sold on this.  In fact, we want to do the entire kitchen, living room and hallway in it, because those already have wood on them, and it’s trashed, courtesy of the dogs my parents owned that had an anarchistic attitude about house training.  We calculated that covering up the damage is cheaper and easier than trying to fix it.  Call me lazy or call me cheap; I don’t care.

We found our appliances as well, last weekend.  The Maytag warehouse had a clearance sale.  Somehow, getting a deal is even sweeter when you have money…

Originally, I think Kim had decided on black, or resigned herself to it.  But she did not want stainless.  I didn’t have strong feelings either way, but we are keeping the fridge, and it’s white.  We had almost settled on a black and stainless stove, when the salesman (Ray) made the mistake of mentioning the closeouts in the back.  Oh, we are SO there.

Bottom line:  we found a nice stove with five burners, an OTR microwave/convection oven, and a dishwasher all in white for a little more than what the stove would have been.  Score!  Oh, and a warranty on the dishwasher.  All for less than eleven hundred.

We had decided what kind of backsplash we wanted, but we weren’t finding it.  We wanted brick.  Actual brick, or brick veneer.  Something that looked like brick.  We found the color, but not the shape.  Or we would find the shape, but not the color.  What the hell?  It was a conspiracy.

As we drove on some errands, I happened to go a way I don’t normally go, and Kim noticed a store.  A big store–it used to be a grocery store–that was now a tile store.  Or, it was, because it was going out of business.  For those kinds of prices, you settle.  We found tile that we could use in a brick fashion, with good colors.  Instead of two bucks a tile or even a buck forty-nine if we’re lucky, we got them for about 30 cents or so.  Ninety bucks for the tile.  Not three or four hundred.

More good news is that since the tile is a little lighter than we originally planned to use, we could go back to the counter that we wanted originally, but wouldn’t go with the brick.  All of this shit has to be coordinated, as you know.

Down to the cabinets–we knew what we wanted there, but we weren’t finding it.  I considered the idea, and ran it by Kim, and was surprised that she agreed:  I could make them.

Ponder what a bold idea that is.  Make the cabinets.  I’m not a carpenter.  I’m not a lot of things, professionally.  But I know enough about everything to tackle most tasks that are ridiculously beyond me.

But I’ll do it, if I have to.  Let’s calculate what it costs in materials to make one versus buying one first.  I would be happy just making new doors.  Even if we just buy, I’m still going to have to do some customization.

But I have arranged for some tools, in any event.

My friend Kim is going to give me her table saw in exchange for some work later, and my cousin Greg has other power tools to loan me, that he inherited from his dad, my Uncle Junior.  And the one tool he didn’t want to loan me for several months I found on Craigslist:  a miter saw, for forty bones.

I went to pick it up, and the guy apologized; he said it worked a few months ago when he quit using it, but now the–hell, I don’t know what the names of these parts are–the part that you move to make a different angle, the part that makes it a miter saw and not a straight saw–that part won’t move.  The saw works.  He offered to give it to me for free.

I’m not one to take advantage.  To me it was already a good deal.  I said, “I’ll meet you half-way, and give you twenty.”  We played with it for a few minutes, and he showed me some things on it.  Finally he said, “Just give me ten.”  Cool.  I’m outta there.  With Makita miter saw that needs a little work.

I told him, “I’m fairly confident that I can get it unstuck…I’m kind of…tenacious.”

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Here’s some pictures of the house before we moved in.  I don’t want to have to go all the way back through the archives and find where they belong.

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Back! By Popular Demand–

Yeah, this thing sat dormant for a while–and we haven’t done much to the house, either.

But now we are ready to embark on that adventure of adventures–remodeling the kitchen.  This coincided nicely with MSN Spaces giving up the ghost and evicting us, and making us move to WordPress.

So here we are, prepare to be dazzled.  I guess I’m going to go back to some of the old posts and add the pictures where appropriate.  I hope that I can.  And we’ll try to add new pix as well, because we want to document the before and after.

Actually, we have a Way Before, then a Before, and soon we’ll be at the new “After.”  Wish us luck.

Oh, yeah–because we’re doing this ourselves, by the way…


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All by myself

It may not be the best,  most professional looking job, but the stairwell is 85% finished and I did it all, by myself. The same ugly paneling that’s in the basement used to be on the landing and the stairwell… wherever the blue is in the pictures is where I pulled paneling off. What I couldn’t pull off, because there’s nothing behind it, I painted.
Found some moulding in the rafters in the basement, which turned out to be almost the exact size I needed, so I used it to give a more finished appearance. I pulled the old peel-and-stick tiles off the landing and put down new. And, of course, I painted. It looks kind of yellow, but in truth it’s just a couple shades lighter than the kitchen, which is a terra-cotta color.
All that’s left now is to put a 1/4 inch round against the wall on the ledge, get a new handrail, and re-paint the steps. What I would love is laminate wood steps and paint the risers, but I think I’m just going to wind up getting some floor paint and painting the steps while everyone is still sleeping. It’s a bit cheaper and a lot less work.
Posted in Journal by Kim | 1 Comment

And the beat goes on…

Ah, more work done, more money spent. It may  not be the most beautiful patio in the world, but it’s done now. Well, poured and finished, but hardly "done", I suppose. It has to "cure" for a couple days before we can walk on it, which means we have to make sure the dog doesn’t get in the backyard.
The finished size is, I think, 18’x13′. Not overly huge, but big enough. For now, anyway. I’m thinking in a few years we’ll probably add to it.
Joe came over Wednesday and him and Brandon dug up the ground, tilled it as much as they could. They found the foundation for the old patio (I didn’t know there had been one before). Thursday, him and Brandon and Alex did more work getting it ready, leveled it off, put down rock. Today the concrete truck came and Bryan, Alex, and Brandon hauled wheelbarrows full of concrete through the garage to the back. We had 25 minutes to unload the truck, then it would be charged by the minute. There was no extra time added, yay!
We’re going to go look for a new table and chairs to put back there, set out a couple of our chairs.
I also put up pictures of the front yard, to show what I’ve done there. If you look back through the albums you might find what it looked like before: weeds, dirt, rock on the one side. I’m still not sure what I want to do with that area.
Anyway, just a short little update.
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