Monday, May 28, 2012

We Are Big Dummies

Our driveway is bordered by the back of a bunch of buildings. It's private but ugly. Luckily there were hops and an unknown bush that I call the Dr. Seuss plant already growing in the small dirt pits available. I moved some roses near the end of the driveway at the gate, but next the garage there is a white vinyl wall that is so intrusive it needed something larger. So we bought some bamboo to fill in the space.

We did some research and decided that we wanted running bamboo. We figured it would take years for the bamboo to send out runners, so we had time to put in a sheet metal barrier later. Well it only took four years. Today we had a runner extending almost eight feet away from the clump. Ugh. We should never have planted the bamboo directly into the ground. We are big dummies.

Meet the bamboo.

Considering our recent destruction of concrete steps and the resulting piles and piles of rubble, we decided to dig out the bamboo and build a planter. The planter should hold lots of the debris leftover from jackhammering AND the bamboo will now be contained. Although I would never purposely kill a bird, I think we killed two today. With one stone.

Nate cut all the cedar to size yesterday and built three of the four sides. Today we got a lot done, but it's still not quite finished. We dug up the bamboo, put the planter together, and started filling it with debris. Just to see how it would look, we tossed the bamboo back in. It looks great. However, it needs to be arranged and topped off with dirt. So I will finish up this week and post before and after photos on Friday!

The plan.

The goods.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Renovation Dream and Moving Piles

In the dream I had just finished cleaning mold from one wall, when I noticed mold on another wall. The roof was leaking and water was streaming down the inside of the walls, and I assumed within the wall as well. Upon looking into the attic we could see the sky through the roof in several places. It was raining heavily outside and there was nothing we could do. Basically, our house was ruined. Holy anxiety attack!

In real life we jackhammered away the back steps this weekend. It sure took a lot of energy. Nate did all the work on Saturday, while I corralled the kid and the dog. I did manage to mow the lawn, too. On Sunday we awoke to a huge pile of fill as well as all the concrete chunks from the steps to relocate. Together we moved it all away from the house. After offering up the concrete for free on Craigslist with no takers, we decided to use the material to build some planters for flowers. 

There was so much dry rot on the west end of the back hall that Nate had to add a few temporary posts. We continue to use the space to access the basement (laundry), but we (I) walk very carefully and away from the edges. We didn't have time to get to the gutters and electrical over the weekend. But we are one step closer to having the contractor step in for a bit. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Move That Bus!

Well, not quite. But, we did start demo on the back hall yesterday. It went quickly and nothing collapsed, so it was a winning kind of day. We were surprised by a few things that we found, but some of those surprises were of the good sort.

Surprise, there's insulation!

No surprise, an overwhelming amount of mold. 
Surprise, the studs on the far wall are sideways! Just 
give it a push and it will probably topple over.

We expected to find mold, but not this much. I was going to clean it up and leave this space enclosed until we got our professional consult (now scheduled for tomorrow morning). But after looking at it for about a half an hour, I decided that it needed to come down immediately. Fortunately, Nate agreed and we got to work.

It doesn't look different yet.

Here we go, a sure sign of progress.

Your eyes are not deceiving you - the upper studs and lower studs do not line up with each other. There is dry rot everywhere, and there doesn't appear to be a concrete sill. Nope, this baby was built directly on the ground. It is actually a good thing that everything is sooo bad, because now we don't have to decide what to replace and what to keep. We need to replace almost everything. We are hoping to keep the roof structure/ceiling, the basement stairs and possibly the  gutters (temporarily - the whole gutter system will be replaced eventually). Other than that, buh-bye!

In case you are interested, I was wrong about the west wall being built on top of the concrete steps. So jackhammering the steps out should be a bit easier than we expected. And on Friday I'll let you know how tomorrow's consultation goes along with a list of what we anticipate to hire vs DIY.