Home Improvement Part 7

Home Improvements, Part 7

This is part 7 in a sequence. If you want to begin at the beginning, you can go to Part 1. The following shows the contents for this and adjacent parts.

Part 6 (separate page)
  • New Driveway
  • Misc.
Part 7 (this page) Part 8 (separate page)
  • Closet Repairs - Popcorn Removal
  • Window Treatments
  • House Painting, etc.
  • New Fence

(initial section posted 2/22/17)

Wallpaper Removal - Family Area

A while back, you may recall, I had done wallpaper removal for the front section, and decided that, although there was still more to do in the family and living areas, I wasn't going to do it by myself again. Finally, early 2017, I was able to get around to that item on my great To-Do list.

I'd actually done some research for a painter some months before based on recommendations in a Facebook group, and picked a likely candidate out, but that person seemed to have moved on to other things, so I had to re-do my research. I picked a couple of likely candidates, sent out some inquiries, and selected Chaz Home Painting. After I picked a color ("Navaho White" which was very close to the original wall color, maybe even the same color but I don't recall), he was able to start within a few days:

Prep: I needed to empty shelves, etc. of lots of books, knicknacks, videos, etc., so the furniture could be moved out of the way as needed. After 30 years in the house, there's a lot of stuff. This pic is when I'm most of the way done, and shows the old wallpaper.
Day 1: The first day was devoted to removing the wallpaper, which covered 2 large walls in the family area. It was textured wallpaper, so came off in 2 layers. This pic was partway thru the day, with one wall close to being cleaned off.
End of day 1: Wallpaper is off the walls.
Mimi enjoyed sleeping in the tarps the painter put down. "Chaz" called her his "little supervisor."
Day 3: The job is mostly finished... After day 2 which was mainly prep of the walls that had the wallpaper removed (sanding, washing, etc.), the actual painting went pretty quickly. This day was actually only about 1/2 day of work, since the painter guy had to go out of town for the weekend. This pic shows the 2 freshly painted walls that previously had the wallpaper. There was still 1 other large wall and a few small walls that needed painting as well, and the furniture needs to be shuffled around a bit for that.
Day 4: Another 1/2 day to complete the job. Yes, this pic shows basically the same section as before. The wall unit and speakers are in their proper place now, but this doesn't show where the painting work happened this day. (That wouldn't show too much anyway, since the new paint is almost the same as the old paint.) What I wanted to show here is the curtain on a tension rod in the window. I am planning to replace the vertical blinds that were on the windows and sliding glass doors... actually, throughout the house. But these windows needed some covering in the meanwhile for privacy as well as to filter out some of the intense sunshine we have on that side of the house.

So, I was really pleased with the result. I did have some concerns, because the last time we hired painters, they did a pretty mediocre job and I had to go back and touch up a lot of what they did. This time I did feel a compulsion to go and clean stuff like areas under the furniture that had been moved, and shelves that had been emptied, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the painter's work. (In fact, I'm still in the process of doing that cleanup and putting stuff back as I write this.)

(section posted 3/6/18)

Minimization Challenge

It was around Thanksgiving 2017 when my closet exploded. It wasn't a literal explosion, of course--that's just what I call it now. But it was my walk-in closet, which has those white wire shelf-plus-rod combination shelves. And one of the shelves just decided to fall out of the wall one day... no warning or anything. I could only infer it was "too much weight," as they said in that Brisco County Jr. episode. There had been about 5 feet or so of tightly-packed dresses and other clothing hanging on the rod, and 3 large stacks of T-shirts and some other things on the shelf, and now they were all in a messy pile on the floor.

So, the first order of business was to get all that stuff moved somewhere else so I could effect repairs. The stuff that had been stacked on the shelf was easy enough; I could stack it elsewhere around the bedroom. The hanging stuff, however, was a bit more difficult, because it all really needed to hung up again, which meant I needed to find 6 feet or so of closet rod space somewhere else in the house. I decided the closet in the guest room would work best for that; there was basically nothing hanging there... There was some stuff on the floor, like vacuum cleaners, that just needed to be removed to make room for the hanging clothes. But there was a LOT of stuff on the shelf, much of it heavy stuff, like boxes of slides. I didn't want to create another "too much weight" issue, so I had to take all that out and stack it on the floor.

So, I'd made a bunch of new messes that would have to be dealt with, but at least I had a place to hang the clothes. So I was able to fix the shelf (made sure the supports got anchored to the studs this time so it wouldn't fall out again) and repair the holes in the wall. Then, because I'd already cleared the space out, I figured I ought to do clean the shelves and floors while I had the chance. And put in some new shelf liners too.

I know I've mentioned previously that I've been in this house over 30 years and have accumulated a lot of stuff in that time. And I've realized at this point that, as much as I still like the house, it's way more house than I want to continue to deal with, so I'm working on downsizing. So the closet explosion was actually going to be a good opportunity to go thru and edit a bunch of my clothes.

Coincidentally, before I'd gotten very far with the closet restoration, a friend on Facebook posted a thing about a "Minimization Challenge." The challenge is that, every day for a month, you get rid of some of your "stuff". On day 1, you get rid of 1 thing; on day 2, 2 things; on day 3, 3 things; etc. At first I thought this might be interesting to try, but then I got to thinking that this could be very hard, especially toward the end of the month. I mean, you end up getting rid of almost 500 things in total, and over 100 in the last 4 days alone. But then I thought more about it, and figured I didn't have to be anal about the rules... I could do different amounts on different days, maybe take more than a month, etc. Since I was already forced to do some of this by the closet explosion anyway, perhaps I should challenge myself to do a bit more...

And so I did... It's been very interesting. Part of it is that you have to make up your own rules about what counts as getting rid of something. For example, it doesn't make sense to count everything you normally put into the garbage or recycle bin; the goal is to get rid of stuff that you have problems getting rid of otherwise. So, for an example for me, I have problems getting rid of the paper tubes when I change the toilet paper in one of my bathrooms, because there's no good place to put the empty tube to be sure I remember to take it to recycling when I leave the room. So they tend to stack up until I have 6 or 8 of them, when the pile gets big enough to become annoying. So I decided that I would count it as 1 item when I moved the pile to recycling (whereas tubes from the other bathrooms don't count at all because I have no issue with them).

Another example of a rule I had to make was when to count clothing that got donated to Goodwill (or other charity). Do I count it when I stick it in a bag destined for Goodwill, or do I count it when I actually deliver said bag to Goodwill? When I started the challenge, I actually had a bag and a half of clothing destined for Goodwill that had been sitting in my closet for I-don't-know how long, but several months at least. So I decided I should only count those items when I delivered them, because that's where I had a problem.

So, I started the Challenge a few days into last December, which meant I got a bit more of a challenge because it was a 31 day month. At the instant I am writing this, it is Feb 28 (3 months later), and I am just 18 items short of the full amount, which I think is pretty darn good, especially considering I have more than that number of items that are "in process," in the sense that I do have a plan to get rid of them, but I haven't actually completed said plan, so I don't allow myself to count them yet. (It would be easier if I just threw everything away, but I'm fairly anal about trying reuse and recycle options before I just discard something.)

So, it worked! Not only did I get rid of a lot of stuff, but even better is that I've developed a mindset for minimizing... almost every day has me thinking about what I could get rid of that day.

(section posted 9/4/18)

Wallpaper Removal - Main Area

The wallpaper removal described in the first article in this section was not the last that needed doing. There was still the main front area, what I guess would be considered the "living room" as opposed to the "family room." The paper was starting to fall off on its own (pic at left), and there was other damage, from cat scratches, etc. as in the pic at right. There were 3 wallpapered walls in the living area, plus the hallway between the living and family rooms that needed painting.

I was happy with the work of Chaz Home Painting, and hired him again, but what with my schedule, his schedule, a blast from hurricane Irma, and the holidays, it was almost exactly a year from that earlier project before he was able to start on this one.

On the first job, Chaz had done all the work himself, but this time he brought 2 helpers along and mostly left them to do the work. They were efficient, and things moved along very quickly. (Pic at right taken at lunch break on day 1, shows all wallpaper removed.) The hallway area (painting only) was also completely done (2 coats) by end of day 1. Pic below: Mimi enjoyed having new places to nap.

It should've all been done by the end of day 2. Alas, there were a couple of glitches.

  1. Water stains on the ceiling (which you can kinda see in the previous pics). This was caused by one of the helper guys being sloppy when spraying the water to remove the wallpaper, and Chaz was pretty darn peeved at the guy. It was eventually corrected with some spray paint made for ceilings, but it took 3 tries to find a brand that was a good color match.
  2. Flat paint instead of eggshell. I'd requested eggshell finish on this job, same as the previous, and it was correct for the part they did on day 1, but for some reason the paint they got for day 2 was flat. Of course, this didn't become obvious until the paint had fully dried after they'd left for the day. But, they had to come in again anyway because of the previous issue. (Pic at right: cats enjoying their different environment after the workers had gone.)
  3. A few missed spots with the eggshell over the flat. Again, not really noticeable except at certain angles under certain lighting. But, it needed another day before that was fixed.

So, it ended up taking twice as long as it should have, but the final result (Feb 2018) was good. Pic below, detail of completed wall (compare with earlier pic showing the wallpaper hanging off the wall).

(section posted 9/15/18)

New Roof

I was really hoping I would be able to finish working my way out of the house without needing to fix the roof, but no such luck. Since those first garage leaks several years ago, every other roof valley had also developed leaks and been repaired. I was hoping that the repairs would last long enough, but alas, in late April 2018, after a major stormy weekend, I discovered a leak in the craft room closet, after finding bits of popcorn ceiling on the floor. It had been over a year since the repair to that area, and warranties for that kind of work usually are only 1 year. So, I began to wonder whether it made sense to try and repair it again, or just to go ahead and get a new roof.

Considering that tile roofs (from the period this one was done) only tend to last 15-20 years, and this one is past 20 years, I decided it was probably best to do a whole re-roof. I got a couple of estimates, picked one, and found out the process of getting a new roof these days is, well, a process. Building codes have evolved for hurricane protection, and the state wants buildings brought up to current code.

So, before the permit could be issued, I needed to get a wind mitigation inspection, which showed that I needed some extra nails in the roof trusses. That needs to be done inside the attic, and the roof guys only do outside the house, so I had to get someone to make that update. I could see that was hard work; the guys had to crawl around into the corners inside the attic, which is all dirty and hot. They had me set the air conditioning to 70 degrees, and they put fans in the attic openings to blow the cold air up there as much as possible, but I'm sure it was still hot. There was one little section where they couldn't get to what they needed from the inside, so they had to cut holes in the eaves to get at the area from the outside. Pic at right is what that area looked like after they covered the holes back up. Once they were done, I had to get a reinspection and send the paperwork to the roof company so they could continue with the permit process.

When I signed the contract back in mid-June, they had advised me that sometimes permitting takes quite a while. As of this writing (mid-September), I was just recently advised they should (weather permitting) be starting next Wednesday.

(following section posted 6/5/19)

So, here's how it went down:

Step 1, day 1 (9/18/18): They actually showed up a day early, on Tuesday. This pic is at the end of the day, after they'd removed all the old tiles (the noise was driving me crazy!), replaced the bad wood, and put the first layer of tarpaper over it. (They need to get that far as quickly as possible, so the roof-in-process would be water-resistant.)
Step 1, day 2 (9/18/19): Finishing up what they started the previous day. These are basically "before" and "after" pics, taken in the morning and evening of this day.
More "before" and "after" pics, showing a notch in the fascia board (where the old pool enclosure used to connect) that needed the wood replaced. The new fascia is primed white-ish; the old is dark brown (was left in place if still in OK shape).
Step 2, prep (9/21/18): The next step was the "hot mop", a second layer of tarpaper installed without nails. Here they've piled all the rolls up on the roof.
Step 2 (9/27/18): Hot mop started and completed this day.
Step 3, Solatube installation (10/30/18): The Solatube was a free bonus I got with my roof. I chose to put it in the hallway, figuring it was about the darkest place in the house. It only took a couple of hours for the guys to install. The first pic is the inside, after the hole was cut but before the tube was connected; the 2nd pic is what it looks like finished. It is amazingly bright! Even as I write this, several months later, I STILL often think I've left the lights on in the hallway.
This is what the Solatube looked like from the outside.
Step 4, prep (11/27/18): There apparently was some delay in manufacturing the tiles, but they finally got loaded up on the roof this day.
Step 4, tile (2/14/18): After another odd delay, they finally got around to actually installing the tile on the roof. Once started, it only took a couple of days (as I recall--I'm actually posting this a few months later).

(section posted 9/15/18)

Pool Resurface

I'd figured that I'd want to resurface the pool before I sold the house, but I hadn't made it a priority until fairly recently, when I noticed that when I robot-vacuumed the pool, it seemed to be picking up sand. And keeping the pool looking good was getting harder. I don't even remember when it was resurfaced previously, but it must have been over 20 years ago. And, as I understand it, pool surfaces like mine last about 10-15 years, so it was definitely due.

So, while I was waiting for the roof process to move along, I figured I might as well get this one going as well. So, I talked with a guy who was recommended by my local Pinch-a-Penny (Lee Johnson, Johnson Pool Plaster, LLC), and he seemed to know what he was doing and made what I thought was a good offer... and he actually started the work (draining the pool) the same day I signed the contract. I did think to get pictures of the process:

Day 1: Pool being drained. Interesting how bad the sides look when the water isn't disguising them.
Day 2: Cleaned and prepped. This is bonding, kind of a primer coat.
Detail of steps after Day 2.
Day 3: Resurface is done! That was fast! Pool is just starting to be refilled.
Detail of steps after Day 3.
Day 4 (morning): Pool almost done filling. It's interesting how the surface looks very white, until it's actually filled with water.
Done! Fully filled, and looking great!

Continue to Part 8


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