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Thread: Home Improvement

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Home Improvement

    Smashed thumbs, torn-off fingernails, numerous cuts, nails poking through shoes, paint clinging to hair, bruises, etc. - all the characteristic badges of honor of the many handywomyn and men of Cyburbia. The "weekend" thread got us started, now let's share our stories of working on the old homestead.

    For me it has been an old farmhouse in the country - no labor of love - just a cheap place to stay, and room to garden. It wasn't habitable when I began two years ago, but is now all but done.

    I have added and replaced windows and doors, taken out an put in walls, put up new wallboard on half or more of the interior, dealt with electric and HVAC systems (but farmed out some, and all the plumbing), put in new floors and ceilings, painted, and landscaped.

    Along the way I encountered walls up to four inches out of plumb, windows without headers, fiberglass nailed over holes in the roof, rotten walls and floor joists, dirt piled up to rotten hardboard siding, and much more.

    I also found several newspapers from the 1950's with articles about Alaska becoming a state, the launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald, segregation in Little Rock schools, and the Janesville, WI City Council considering abolishing the ordinance that prohibited single women from being served alchohol at the bar (they had to be seated at a table).

    Oh yeah, I still haven't taken out a building permit.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The Denver House

    It was 850 square feet of brick Craftsman bungalow goodness, on a nice block in an up-and-coming neighborhood just a couple of miles from downtown Denver. There were no exterior alterations from the time the house was built in 1925; it was architecturally perfect. The abundant windows had glass that was original ... imperfect and wavy. The price was unusually affordable.

    The interior, though ... was a mess. All the original woodwork was covered up in 10 to 15 layers of latex and oil paint, and most of the windows were sealed shut. The interior paint colors ... hospital hallway green, day care center blue, and hot pink. Bright, awful, gut-wrenching hot pink. There was only one or two electrical outlets in each room, few of which were grounded. A few were original ... one round plug in the middle of a painted-over brass plate. The only bright spot was that the kitchen was remodeled in the mid-90s (no gawd-awful 1970s cabinets, like I encountered in every other NW Denver house), with the wall between it and the small living/dining room opened up.

    I spent nearly a year stripping and repainting, installing all new electrical outlets, all new light switches, all new hardware, all new lights, all new plumbing fixtures, and all new appliances. Paint ... good stuff from Sherwin-Williams, in yuppie colors like "Navaho White." The basement, with the paint job on the walls and floor, looked finished. In the end, I had a respectable residence, one which inspired respect and jealousy among my friends.

    All the work paid off, and when I sold a little more than two years later, there was a bidding war. The new owners ... they plan to gut the interior, "pop the top," and "punch the back," adding a master suite with an en-suite bathroom. They were going to push the little bungalow to about 2,500 square feet under roof. If the bust didn't hit the new owners, they'll have the first tract mansion on a block of mostly intact, single-story Denver-style bungalows and Tudors. I don't know whether that's good or bad.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Here is my list so far. Bought the house 3 years ago.

    Age built prior to 1886. My house is visible in a historically accurate rendition of the town where I live.

    Story of my house:

    Built as a home for ship yard workers. Evident in construction techniques and materials used. My house is a board / plank house made of 16 fooot long boards that are 3 inches thick and vary in width from 12- 20 inches. The boards are pegged together and caulked with cotton batting and other materials.

    Size 928 square feet. 1 and 1/2 stories

    Layout

    1st floor 16' *24' main room (includes kitchen and living area) plus a 10*16 addition on teh back

    2nd floor 16'*24' divided into 2 rooms. Have to walk through one to get to other

    Lot - nothing special - 75 feet by 75 feet

    What i have done

    1) My entire back yard was a concrete patio from when an in ground swimming pool was present. The pool had been filled in because the liner kept cracking. Tore this up and am still in the process of trying to get grass to grow and do some plantings.

    2) Painted upstairs rooms. One was school bus yellow with red trim and Mickey mouse (Disney that is) wall paper borders. Painted primer white so i would have time to think.

    3) Other room upsairs has stucco hanging down from the ceiling so low I can comb my hair if I stand on my tippy toes. This is the next project.

    4) gutted to the original frame the "great room". here is a list of what i found as I tore back each layer

    a) paint
    b)wallpaper
    c)fake wood panelling
    d drywall
    e) asbestos paper
    f) plaster
    g)lathe
    h) plaster
    i) framing/planks

    5) Rewired and installed a new service - went from 30 AMP 4 fuse service to 200 amp service - cheapest way to go. Got this done for price of materials and a bottle of scotch to a friend.

    6) reframed and partitioned great room - island to separate a galley kitchen from rest of room

    7) drywalled - only job where I decided to hire someone else to do it. Poorly done drywall looks like crap.

    8) replaced forced air oil furnace with base board heaters. Whenever teh furnace went on your ears pooped as the furnace was too big for the house.

    7) tore up old flooring and sub flooring - commercial carpet over ply wood. underneath - linoleum, newspapers, pine boards,

    8) poured iso mix to level floor - center of house is 2 inches lower then edges . Jacked center beam and installed posts

    9) painted great room. walls some colour called jungle dew (changes slightly from green to yellow to off white as sun changes). ceiling is a colour called linen. (off white to grey)

    10) New surround and flooring for bathroom - done on the cheap -painted bathroom too.

    Next step - have hardwood floor to install

    Long term -needs new roof - 4 layers of shingles already there, they all need to come off and teh roof should probably be resheathed.

    Would like to get new windows - get rid of 70-'s horizontal sliders.

    Siding - get rid of foot wide yellow vinyl. Replace with either cedar shingles (somewhat time frame correct) or other product to look like boards.

    Replace front Deck- to be more visually pleasing and match house better.

    Pictures of work in progress and before and after pictures to follow

    things I have found in the ceiling and walls

    Shoes - from 1900

    Bottles from 1900

    Newspapers from 1950's and 1970's

    Bottle openers and candy wrappers from various eras

    The best item is a NIB slinky cat from the 1960's.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Bought our house in December and have been doing home improvements almost every weekend since.

    It was built in 1951, but is a new build for this 1920's neighborhood. Most of the homes were Sears kit homes.

    Picked the house because it is one house from the bus stop, across the street from a huge park, including a library and recreation center.

    I've painted every room in the house, refinished the wood floors, changed out most of the light fixtures. Rewired a lot of the outlets, switches.

    Hired a landscape architecture student to develop a design plan for the yard. Spent a lot of time outside planting the first phase.

  5. #5
          Downtown's avatar
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    hmmm... i don't know that i should be included in the handywomyn group. i hate home improvementing. well, i hate things like painting, and wall papering that need a fine eye for detail. i don't mind ripping out wall paper or carpet - the destructiveness is quite fun. now we're coming to the eternal homeowner's crossroads - invest $40K in improvements to make your house what you want, or buy a different house. oh the dilemma.

  6. #6
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    This weekend we finally got the reglazed, stripped and refinished window back into the bathroom (it was out most of the summer, I'm not a fast worker) and got some primer on the treated lumber of the replaced, architecturally appropriate front porch. Thsi anticipating the arrival of 6 cu yd of topsoil to replace the azaelias and garden beds we removed for the demolition and reconstruction.

    I'm not experienced, skilled or equipped for a lot of the basic work that needed or needs to be done on my 1914 home. I have relied on a combination of contractors (the porch) friends and family (electrical and plumbing) and Home Depot (floor covering) and the local been there forever hardware store (everything for the old house).

    I'm constantly torn between restoration (not a historic house) and repair -- Do I break out the bulging plaster and patch in drywall, tear out the entire wall and insulate or what? Leave the aluminum siding and paint it, tear it off and replace with vinyl or restore the wood? Mostly the answer is that in this neighborhood I'd be overdoing it and there have been so many half-assed repairs done in the past the best bet is to just make things safe and functional (thus the porch).

    We have found some fun stuff in the process: posters of KISS and teen idol Lief Garret in the attic crawl space, marbles and a evil looking bisque doll in the back yard and an unimaginable assortment of rusted hardware, broken glass and other trash strewn about our little 1/10th acre.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Bought the house in March, so far all we've done is painted, and ripped out this tiny little forest growing in the backyard. Oh, and I painted the chain link fence too.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Added a few shots of the place in the gallery. http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/show...ser=11&thumb=1

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    color?

    my house was advertised as a 1949 ranch.

    If you drive down the street you can tell the house was built in the 20s or maybe 30s.

    Anyway, simple square, 1-story bungalow with a small front porch, and a set of double hungs on either side of the front door.

    Attic space is plentiful, and if i could find a place to stick a staircase, could be converted into a third bedroom + bath + small office.

    Bathroom was hot pink and high gloss black, it is now remodeled and is med green walls, with dark green trim and matches the original tile in the floor perfectly. Light fixture replaced, original mirror from the medicene cabinet replaced (and saved).

    I must be the only one here who likes color.

    Hallway, warm red
    Bedroom, (sons) dusty/greyed blue,
    Bedroom, (mine) a dark brown color called thistle
    living room, dark blue with a dry brush blue on top of it. The walls are heavily textured.
    dining room, yellow witha dry brush dark gold color, again...heavily textured walls.

    tore up all carpeting.. floors are in decent shape, but they do need refinishing.

    our kitchen is terrible white white and more white with a bright cranberry trim color and then a trim of wall paper with berries and holly'ish looking stuff. there is not charm in the kitchen.

    I've installed new gas line, and new switches (removed the orginial leaky ones with mercury in them) 3-prong outlets (grounded to the conduit).

    exteriorly, we have done nearly nothing as i've only been in the house for a year and have a little kid that likes to cause havok.

    now i have to move, (thank you lay off), I didn't even get a chance to re-glaze the windows, or re-wire the house, install 200amp service, tear off the aluminum, paint the exterior, re-seed the yard, install landscaping, paint the garage, re-roof the garage, water-proof the basement, get a new furnace, install new water pipes, finish the basement and attic, and remodel the kitchen

    i'll post pics of my colored rooms.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Re: color?

    Originally posted by boiker
    I must be the only one here who likes color.
    Kitchen - toasted almond, pagoda red and balsam green
    Dining room - puppy paws (tan) with blue trim
    Living room - winter wheat (light yellow)
    Master bedroom - spruce shade (pale bluish-green)

    Color is good.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: color?

    Originally posted by boiker
    I must be the only one here who likes color.
    Nope. My last house was a 3000s.f. brick colonial. I spent 2 weeks stripping wallpaper, and painted the dining room a deep 'blood' red. All of the trim had been previously painted white (including crown molding, french doors to the sunroom, 2 built in china cabinets, arched entry to living room, and formal looking inset wood panels below the chair rails). It was very striking!

    In my first house I painted the den dark green, and refinished the hardwood floors in a honey maple. Very cozy.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Re: Re: color?

    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf


    Kitchen - toasted almond, pagoda red and balsam green
    Dining room - puppy paws (tan) with blue trim
    Living room - winter wheat (light yellow)
    Master bedroom - spruce shade (pale bluish-green)

    Color is good.
    yep.. color is good.

    i forgot to mention.. my house's real age?
    i was pulling that concrete or cement board off the plaster walls in the bathroom and behind it i found the owners who built the house had signed and dated it. August 19, 1929. got a digital pic of that too!
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    This house we are living is nothing special, no mystery, little charm just plain jane 3br 2ba walkout.

    But the last house we lived in was a beauty. Located in a walkable small town on the banks of the Kalamazoo River. It was the first house we bought. A colonial revival built about 1908. WHile she desperatley needed redecorating it was a solid house. Tall steeply pitched roof with halfmoon stained glass accents, inside was tons of yellow pine woodwork, pocket door, original switches and secrets in the crawlspace.

    We built a 2 car garage that first summer, using origianl block to build the foundation, redid and reconfigured the one bath. Saved the clawfoot tub and installed pedestal sink.
    Next tackled the kitchen, complete restoration and expansion into the side porch( which had been enclosed and darkly panelled with no windows) Discovered the turned porch posts inside the walls! Coudln't use them, so now they sit in my garage rafters waiting to be reused. again.

    In the crawl space discovered lots of old junk and some interesting relics. A copy of the Nov 15, 1917 edition of the GR Herald. Headlines "Ominous silence portends doom of serb army" and the execution of a spy in Utah. Funny police blotter tells of the capture of two men who stole a car robe and box of cigars from an automobile. THe paper was wrapped around a water pipe with a men's union suit wrapped around it. We also found a silver religious medallion of St Teresa, and a buffalo nickel and lots of old bottles. . ALso found a chalk drawing of kids playing baseball that was hidden behind a kitchen wall. Interestingly, that summer I looked up the neighborhood on some old old aerial photos from the twenties and saw the outline of a baseball lot across the street now surrounded by houses. I can imagine a previous owner watching the kids play, listening to a game on the radio and sketching out a drawing on the wall as they worked on home improvements.

    We did most if not all of the work ourselves. Doug is my handyman extraordinnaire. When the plans were to tear off half the roof and two walls of the old kitchen I had major doubts about what he was getting into, but those were laid to rest. We bought the house for 49,000 and sold it five years later for 88,000.

    This place we are in now is finally getting some attention on the inside. OUr problem is when one says lets paint over that dirty wall, the other chimes up what color then we go off on tangents of color and texture and why do'nt we redo the banister and base boards and lets go to the antique salvage yard and look for this and that and while we are there lets look for that old famhouse kitchen sink and glass door knobs, blah blah blah.

    Slowly we are getting the desire to rehab this old cottage, it is exciting!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    We just bought our project last week. 1924 bungalow with deatched garage that over the years has been chopped up into apartments and subjected to repairs that can't even nicely be descibed as half-ass. Granted, we bought it for nearly $20K below its appraised value, so we knew there was work to be done. First order of business is to reopen sealed doorways & upgrade the moderately frightening wiring to at least 200 amps. Many years of weekend projects lay ahead...

  15. #15
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Re: Home Improvement

    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    Oh yeah, I still haven't taken out a building permit.
    Fight the power!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    One thing I'll never do again...

    DRYWALL.

    Hated doing it. The texture turned out shi**y.

    Fortunately it was in the basement water closet and few guests ever used it.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Re: One thing I'll never do again...

    Originally posted by bturk
    Fortunately it was in the basement water closet and few guests ever used it.
    You have a closet just for water?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: Re: One thing I'll never do again...

    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf


    You have a closet just for water?
    It was a little tiny closet with a toilet in it. I knocked out the wall and added a sink and rough plumbed for a shower.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: One thing I'll never do again...

    Originally posted by bturk


    It was a little tiny closet with a toilet in it. I knocked out the wall and added a sink and rough plumbed for a shower.

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Anyone else hear the Zebco 404 squeeling?



    hook, line and sinker bTurk!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Loved my first house. 1929 North Carolina Arts and Crafts. Sun room, front porch, back porch. I was only the second owner (woodwork never saw a paintbrush). It had propane for the kitchen stove, electric water heater, and oil furnace--converted all to natural gas: covered the cost after 18 months of reduced bills. Interior was mostly cosmetic work, but does anyone remember the joy of removing wallpaper from ceilings? And the pink plastic bathroom wall tiles hit the dust rather quickly. Removed about 1/2 mile of Wysteria runners from the yard.

    Colors?
    front room/sun room: off white
    dining room: pale mint green
    kitchen/breakfast rooms: bright yellow
    hallway: original wheat wall paper
    m. bed: 3 walls original paper with light chocolate paint on other
    2nd bed: pale blue with one wall original paper
    bath: bright striped new paper
    upstairs office: deep purple/white trim

    For each subsequent house hunt, my wife reminds me that "renovation is out of your system'--over and over and over again. But I still look at those pre-war charmers.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Floridays's avatar
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    Along the lines of "home improvement...." how would you like to deal with your redneck neighbor's improvement efforts? A friend emailed this site to me -- it is hilarious! http://www.knology.net/~carlos/redneck.htm

  22. #22
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    Bought our first house in April. It was built in 1873 by a lawyer in town, along with four others very much like it, as investment properties. They were rented primarily to workers at the shoe mill, which was powered by the stream (Chicken Brook - I kid you not) just across the street.

    Along about 1950, an addition with below-ground garage was built.

    The last owners invested a lot in landscaping and exterior cosmetics. Unfortunately, they didn't spend anything on the stuff that they really should have - like replacing the temporary screw-jacks (calm down, fellas) with bearing walls or permanent lally columns in the basement, or figuring out how to really repair those leaks at the front and rear mating walls (calm down, fellas) between the original house and the addition. My wife and I knew that going in, though, and adjusted our offer accordingly.

    This weekend, I start digging trenches and pouring footers in the basement to put bearing walls in to replace the temporary columns, gusset some joists, and re-route some wiring. Soon, I start completely rewiring with new 12-2, reflash the roof joints in a few places, fix gutters and downspouts, and put in a bluestone patio next to the deck so we have a "safe" place for the outdoor fireplace and grill.

    After all that's done, then we can get to the "fun" stuff - seems like I might be consulting boiker and Mr. Stumpf on interior color selections. Michael, let me know how the "no permit" thing goes for you. I'm leaning towards that route right now.

    Here's a photo - if anybody has any suggestions for a new color scheme, let me know. I'm stumping for red with white trim and black shutters. My wife wants to keep the colors we've got. Compromise might be necessary:
    "The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist." -- Mark Steyn

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by El Feo
    ...Soon, I start completely rewiring with new 12-2...

    ...Michael, let me know how the "no permit" thing goes for you. I'm leaning towards that route right now.

    Here's a photo - if anybody has any suggestions for a new color scheme, let me know. I'm stumping for red with white trim and black shutters. My wife wants to keep the colors we've got. Compromise might be necessary:
    12-2? Not 12-3?

    No permit, no problem. Actually, the building inspector did some electrical work on the place for me.

    Compromise? Does that mean orange with black trim and green shutters? Nice! Halloween isn't far off. I'd personally agree with the wife. It's a very nice looking house.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf


    12-2? Not 12-3?

    No permit, no problem. Actually, the building inspector did some electrical work on the place for me.

    Compromise? Does that mean orange with black trim and green shutters? Nice! Halloween isn't far off. I'd personally agree with the wife. It's a very nice looking house.
    Nope, just 12-2.

    That's a neat trick - I'm going to see if our BI does side work.

    Thanks. I won't tell the wife, though. I've always thought darker or medium colors with white trim looked sharp. That's a battle I'll have to fight down the road anyway...
    "The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist." -- Mark Steyn

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    All of you inspired me to change up the house a bit.. but not so that we would get screamed at if we moved (we're leasing).. So we changed the metal banisters from off-white, like the rest of the house, to a nice bright silver. It matches the Eurway-look furniture and the "antique" alcohol prints we've got. I'm satisfied though.

    I do have a question... what are the strips you can put where the carpet and tile come together? And, if you have any idea, are they hard to install?
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

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