Monday, June 3, 2013

New Roof!!!

Last Fourth of July our neighborhood was hit pretty hard by a hailstorm, it didn't take long after for signs to start popping and contractors roaming the neighborhood offering free damage inspections.  Our roof was one of the biggest concerns when we bought the house, it wasn't in horrible shape but probably needed replaced in next 5 to 10 years so we figured why not let someone take a look at it.  The contractor determined there was definitely enough damage for the insurer to total the roof so we filed the claim with insurance.  I also checked with my agent as I wasn't sure what a claim of this size would do to our rates, and learned that they would be going up whether we filed a claim or not as nearly everyone in the area had some damage.

Once the weather broke this spring we finally got the call that the adjuster was coming out to inspect the roof.  That evening we learned that he had indeed totaled the roof and we were already looking over color samples.  It turned out to be an easy choice as we both pointed to the same color as our first instinct so it was a compromise free decision of "Aged Redwood" as our new roof color.  A few weeks later a dumpster and three pallets of roofing supplies were dropped off in the front yard and here are the results.
Before (Note the Open Valleys and "Turtle" Vents)

Materials and Dumpster

More of the same 
Finished product with closed valleys and ridge vents
All in all we are pretty happy with the way things worked out.  We had a leak in one of the valleys that is now fixed, our flat-roofed patio is now properly roofed, and the hail storm saved us a small fortune to get our 55 square roof completely replaced for the price of the deductible.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More Retaining Wall

Once again I have had trouble finding time to blog, but we have had a lot of projects going on over the past few weeks.  We have completed building the retaining wall for our swingset, ripped out all of the existing landscaping in the front, and we are currently getting a new roof compliments of a big hailstorm last year.  The finished product from the retaining wall turned out great, but I have been waiting on getting a load of fill dirt till after the roof was installed.
Finished wall with some fill dirt we had on hand. 

Another view.

And another view.
Hopefully we can get some fill next week and have a swingset soon (my son keeps asking about it so we have to deliver before he goes crazy).  The other project going on is our landscaping in the front of the house.  This is something we have wanted to do since we moved in, but with so much focus on the inside of our house we have put little effort into fixing up the outside.  The previous owners were an older couple who let things get a little out of control, we had over grown shrubs that I had trimmed back but it still looked like a bit of a mess.  I'm still new to this blogging thing and have issues with forgetting to take pictures so I really don't have a great picture of what the front of the house used to look like, but I do have pictures of during and after tilling up the old flower beds.

The finished product, after tilling and leveling. 

The plan was to get all the landscaping finished and paint the front siding of the house this past weekend, but we ended up making an impromptu trip back home to our old house (which we are selling) to fix a few things that came up during the inspection.  This weekend will hopefully see us finally finishing the landscaping and paint.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Retaining Wall Project

Well it has been way to long since I blogged last, but it has been a busy time.  I have spent most of my energy over the past few months studying for my PE (Principles of Engineering) Exam, but now that is over we can get back to some improvements.  With the weather starting to break one of the biggest things we want to do this year is to get everything in order outside of the house.  We have spent most of our energy over the past year and a half working on the inside, but have further neglected the outside of our home which is in dire need of some sprucing up.  The old overgrown shrubs will all eventually come out to make way for some new landscaping, I hope to find time to build a patio off the back kitchen, but first off it is installing a swing set for our slide loving 2 year old.

Like all things, it can't be as simple as buying and assembling the swing set.  Our back yard sits on a pretty good slope so we have to build a retaining wall to make a spot level enough.  The goal is to make a level spot about 20 ft by 20 ft, I initially was just going to build the wall the required height and fill to level everything out.  That was before I calculated that it would take about 18 cubic yards (3 trucks at $110/piece) to fill it completely.  Now the plan is to build the wall about half the original height and cut from the back and fill the front.  Even better the plan is to do it all by hand so if you feel like digging come on over.

Anyways here are some shots of staking off the area and starting to dig the trench that will hold the base for the wall.

Staking Off the Area
The start of digging (with my little helper)
The progress after night 1 (only about 20 min)
That's where we are at so far, tonight I hope to get the base completely dug out and ready to start setting some block this weekend.  Hopefully this is a return to regular blogging and the next update will show some real progress.  Until then, my mind goes to Findng Nemo except instead of, "Just keep swimming" I hear "Just keep digging".

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cooking Bag In the Crockpot

Time to switch it up a little bit, while the main focus of this blog (for now at least) is renovating and DIYs we would like to sprinkle in anything we come across that could be helpful around the house. 

On to our new discovery... we are big fans of the "Roast in a Cooking Bag", we don't have it often but are always left talking about how good it was when we do and it is already incredibly simple to make just not quick.  Earlier this week we had sat out a roast we got a while back when they were B1G1 to thaw.  The problem was it was thawed and really needed to be cooked yesterday, but we had forgotten our 6 month check up for our daughter was yesterday afternoon and for it to cook 2 hours in the oven meant we wouldn't be eating till around 7.  Amanda said I'm sure we can make it in the crockpot, I said use the bag's seasoning and a little more water, and she decided to just throw the whole cooking bag in the crock pot.

She cut up some potatoes and carrots as normal and placed everything in the cooking bag.  For mixing the seasoning she swapped out the 1/4 cup of water for a full cup and dumped it in the bag and threw the whole thing in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. 

We got home from the Dr and the house smelled amazing, but would it turn out the same as cooking it in the oven for 2 hours?  Of course like most things cooked in the crockpot it turned out way better!!!  The potatoes and carrots were pretty much the same as if they were cooked in the over, but the roast itself was way better.  Moist, tender, and falling apart we really didn't need a knife to cut the roast and were both left saying this is so much better than normal.  It gets even better, because you cook it in the bag it works like one of those crock pot liners and cleaning the crock pot didn't require soaking overnight like we normally end up doing when we use the crockpot.  

I have no idea if anyone else does this or if it commonly known, but I did try a few google searches yesterday morning trying to figure out if it worked and couldn't find anything.  Anyways, here is another shot of the finished product of our "Cooking Bag in the Crockpot" experiment. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Big Day, Big Bed!!!

It was a big day in our house yesterday as the mattress we ordered last week to convert our son's crib to a full size bed was delivered.  He's a little over two now, has the ability to climb in and out of the crib, and about once a week he will wake up in the middle of the night and end up in our bed.  We both like the idea of being able to move to his bed if he wakes up, instead of him coming to our bed and before he hurts himself climbing we figured it was time to make the switch. 

We had bought the full size conversion kit for his crib about a year ago, opting to save some money by skipping the toddler bed conversion kit and go straight for the real thing.  I had hoped on DIYing some bed rails to go with the new mattress, but the store bought ones were only going for $20 and we liked that they were covered with a mesh so I gave up on this DIY dream. 

Goodbye Crib!!!
Anyways, I got home from work and was greeted to a level of excitement that can only be matched by a two year old.  He instantly wanted to show me his new bed, but at that time I don't know how well he actually linked the two mattresses leaning up against the wall to the crib we were about to disassemble.  After a quick change of clothes I dove right into the conversion and began taking apart the crib.  With my little helper by my side uttering the words "daddy help" over and over we had the crib taken apart in about 15 minutes. 

With the crib pieces gone it was time to add the bed rails to the headboard and footboard.  Once again, with my little man helping me all along the way we had them put together in about 10 minutes and were almost ready for the mattress.  All that was left was to screw the slats into the bed frame.  Of course I can't get out my drill without him using his toy drill in a similar fashion, so both of us with our drills in hand began putting the finishing touches on the bed assembly.  We made quick work of this part with me screwing down each slat, and him "working behind me" making sure I had it good and tight with his drill. 

At this point I'm still not sure what he was thinking.  I know we have been talking about a big boy bed for a few weeks now, but how much he understood that I'll never know.  What I do know is the crib he was so used to sleeping in was now gone and a part of me thinks he must have been wondering a ittle bit what exactly was happening.  We begin with the box spring and his excitement only grow, climbing up on the bed and trying to lay down the whole time we are trying to get the bed skirt somewhat even.  Next came the mattress, he was eagerly helping us remove the plastic and the second it was on the bed he had already climbed up and said night-night.  It was a good sign, but we still had dinner, some play time, and bath before actual "night-night" when we would learn how this transition would go. 

We made it through the next few hours of our typical routine pretty normally, only with him constantly talking about his bed and wanting to go get in it.  After bath, a quick snack, and tooth-brushing we had reached the moment of truth.  What would happen when we tried tucking him into a bed he could easily get out of, would he show up in the living room a few minutes later with a smile on his face?  We did everything as normal and while he was excited to get in his bed, he let out a few whimpers when I left the room.  We were worried of what was to come but much to our surprise outside of those few whimpers he went right to sleep and slept through the night without any problems.  Hopefully, it goes this easily every night but I know he was super tired last night as he didn't nap due to the delivery so we will see if he keeps it up.  Either way we were super proud but left wondering when our little boy grew up so much.

The finished product with all his "friends" and blankets.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY Toy Cubbies

I've had this lumber for a few months now, I picked it up on sale at Busy Beaver and have had plans on creating some toy cubbies for our living room.  I drew out a rough sketch of what I wanted to do with it and it has sat in the garage ever since.

The other night I finally got it out and tried to start marking it up for my cuts.  I brought it all in to the dining room table, because; well that was the easiest place to mark it up and not leave my 2 year old helper behind. 

Hopefully, when put together this actually matches the idea in my head.  With no real place other than some Ikea Skubb baskets to house all our smaller miscellaneous toys, such as; wooden blocks, Lil' Wheelies, and Mr. Potato Head pieces we are in desperate need of a more permanent, functional storage solution.  

Anyways, if it works out I'll post some pics of the finished product and hopefully some plans if anyone else would be interested in something similar.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Drywall Everywhere

With everything ripped out, new walls built, and cable and network wires ran to every room it was finally time to start sealing it all up.  We had 100 sheets of drywall and approximately 2 weeks before we were set to have carpet installed. 

My parents were once again up to help, with my mom stuffing insulation in the walls (there was previously none) and my Dad and I hanging drywall we were off.  It started out slow, but once we got in a groove we were moving around pretty quickly.  I must say after a few rooms I became a master at cutting out outlets and switch holes in the drywall and things were moving pretty smoothly.  It still wasn't going as fast as I had hoped, but we were in a rythm and seemed to be getting the job done. 

The next weekend my brother-in-law made the trip up as well and with a little more manpower we not only knocked out the rest of the drywall, but also got the doors and French door in the living room installed.  Previously our living room had an oddly placed door in the corner leading out to the patio with a huge, albeit, ugly window looking out.  We covered up the old door and took out the window in able to put in some French doors leading to the patio.  Here are some before and after shots...

Before and after shots of the French Door we added. 
 I spent most of the rest of the following week finishing the drywall.  This was the first time I had ever finished drywall and while I din't find it to be a difficult task, it was certainly a tdious one.  I remember my forearm and hand throbbing from holding the knife for such long periods of time, but in the end I was pleased with my work and asides from a few isolated spots I may have missed we ended up with some pretty even walls.  As you will see from the pictures we chose to hang the drywall vertically instead of the more traditional horizontal method mainly because the ceiling was already crumbling where there was existing crown moulding and we were going to have to put new crown up to cover it either way.  Here are some shots of drywall hanging and finishing.

First pieces are up in the Master.

Cut-out four our in-wall entertainment rack.

This was by far the biggest part of our project and it was a relief when it was over, mainly because it was time to get carpet and move in but also because I had been working myself to death for the previous month. 
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