Spackle & Sand 2.0

It’s day #22,147,895 of remodeling here at Parkside. As of late, it’s been a seemingly never-ending repetition of spackle and sanding. We’ve just started in on our 4th? 5th? 5-gallon bucket of drywall mud. The drop cloths are being washed for the second time in a week and my floors are covered in a fine white dust from sanding which makes me wonder if they’ll ever be clean again.

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So much drywall mud!

The hubby and I spent a good portion of our weekend working in the hopes that we’ll get one step closer to painting (the paint that’s been sitting in our someday-rec room/current storage of whatever room since Memorial Day weekend.) And while what we’re doing is not terribly difficult work, it is slow and tedious. But still, we press on! Using the good old divide and conquer method, I went to work sanding while he spackled over the corner beads in the other room.

Sexy right?

I thought my short little self would be super clever and use the pole sander on the ceiling negating the necessity of a step-stool, but that quickly turned out to be a clusterf*** of a nightmare so the pole sander was relegated to the corner of shame to think about why it wasn’t being helpful. Step stool and sanding blocks it was.

 

I’m hoping that sanding still counts as arm day so I won’t have to work out double.

All jokes and sarcasm aside, it’s been hard. And it’s been slow. There are many days when neither of us has the motivation to work, days when the progress seems so slow and the work yet to be done is cripplingly overwhelming. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve had a good cry or three about this house and desperate prayers whispered in the middle of the night for continued perseverance and patience.

Then I look at how far we’ve come, in spite of how much work there is left to do. We had beautiful new floors and carpet installed this spring, the corner beads are mounted and we’re nearing the end of the mudding that needs to be done on those.

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One more coat should do it!

I think of how much I’ve learned here, and while I would never consider myself or the husband experts by any means, we have learned skills that will make the next remodel project just a little bit easier. And so we continue to work, and we laugh and cry, and maybe have another glass of wine to help cope with the stress.

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The Joys of Corner Beading

Okay ladies and gents, this week’s lesson is on corner beads! While it sounds like a super fun craft activity, corner beads are a staple in home building. Apparently they are used to protect the outside corners of your drywall. Now I grew up in the 80’s where people used plastic exterior corner guards so I didn’t even know that these existed until this year.

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Vinyl corner beads seem to be the way to go nowadays so we jumped on board the trend train and a-wayyyy we went!

They’re actually quite easy to install, messy but easy. Whereas metal corner beads need to be nailed or screwed into the wall, vinyl ones can be set with spray adhesive. And the adhesive is nicely colored so you can see where to apply the corner beads after you spray. I think this goes without saying, but just in case, make sure you lay something down on the ground before you spray or do it outside so you don’t get sticky crap all over.

As you can tell, I’m absolutely winning at this spray thing. So proud of how awesomely terrible I am with aiming and spraying it on evenly.

Next on the list is to mud over the corner beads to hide them and then it’ll (hopefully) be time to paint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wash my hands again for the umpteenth time. Stupid sticky spray adhesive.

Until next time!

Wall Skimming 2.0: More lessons to learn

So 20 YouTube videos and 2 skimmed walls later, the hubby and I are total pros at this now. If only.
At this point, I’d say we’re semi-capable DIY-ers who are having lots of fun with our hands-on learning.

Here’s a list of things we’ve learned so far:

1. Consistency matters. There doesn’t seem to be a set formula for determining how much water to mix into the drywall mud i.e. 1/2 c. water to 1 g. of drywall joint compound. YouTube and DIY blogs have recommended the thickness be somewhere between mayonnaise and creamy peanut butter. Real talk here: I love that people are using condiments as a reference for mud thickness. I mean, how else are we supposed to gauge it right?

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Looks about right.

 

The first time I think we made it a little too thick and it coated well but it made for difficult rolling. Round 2, I thinned out the mud more and while it rolled on quite easily, it did not coat well. Now they say you’re your own worst critic, but after all was said and done, it was quite obvious that it was an uneven coat with certain spots of the wall being more visible through the skim than others.

2. The second coat should be skimmed at 90 degrees to the first one. So since coat one was pulled vertically, coat two had to be done horizontally. Something we didn’t know to do the first time around. I guess it’s to fill in the gaps better or to get it more even? I’m still learning here!

3. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. The other thing we didn’t know our first time through is that the magic trowel should be wet. We used the spray bottle to keep the squeegee/trowel wet and for keeping the wall damp during pan refills.

Some sites recommend that a quick set compound is used rather than a pre-mixed one since it has a faster drying time but both the hubby and I felt like that was just an extra hassle and the time frame for the quick set compound was too tight to work in.

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Dried skim-coat. Pre-sanding

Quite honestly, I’m still not 100% certain we’re doing it correctly. There seems to be quite a bit of texture on the walls even after a light sanding. The question now is, do we sand it down further, do a third skim-coat, or just paint it and hope for the best. With it taking approximately 2-2.5 hours for each coat, I’m not a particular fan of the third coat option, which leaves us with more sanding or throwing the towel in in favor of painting.

So many decisions and so little time!

The Ugly…Bites Back: A/C Unit 2.0

It comes in threes. Isn’t that the old wives tale? Regardless, our adventure takes yet another turn…this time for the crazy unexpected.

Duct-work installation went off like clock work yesterday morning. I can’t begin to describe just how much torn and crumbling material was torn out from our crawl space but I hear a picture is worth 1,000 words.

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After an hour of demolition in the crawl space. Fare thee well, old duct work!

To be blunt, I’m amazed that some of this was ever considered ‘up to code’. The vents themselves looked to be nothing more than pieces of plywood …if not just cardboard… that were then covered in a thin coating/sheet that has done little to offer protection, as the pictures illustrate below:

I admit, seeing all of this cover the entirety of my driveway…I couldn’t help but go and peek at what all supplies they had in their truck. To be fair they showed up with a crew of six technicians and three trucks.

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It’s like an arts and crafts fair gone wild! The love child of Michael’s and Home Depot?

And look! Shiny new METAL duct-work to prevent future critters and basic wear n’ tear from becoming an issue…at least for the next decade or so!

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Oh right, I did mention the ugly didn’t I? About that… so last night I received a call from the Mr. Work on the duct-work had come to an abrupt halt as they discovered not one but two snakes lounging about in our crawlspace. Suffice it to say, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person, aside from Indiana Jones, that runs in terror at the sight of a snake.

So this morning I hunted around for someone that could come out and remove the two newest tenants of our home. In doing so I discovered we are an unfortunate loophole in our particular location. …as in, we are within a city yet zoned county for all purposes related to animal control. SO- even though our city has an actual technician that handles snake removal specifically, we are “outside his jurisdiction”.

Next step…I called the county animal control to have someone out to gather up our tenants and another brick wall was found. They service our area BUT they do not cover the removal and relocation of snakes.

This is just getting better and better. Time to roll up the sleeves!

After exhausting the yellow pages, I received a referral from a pest company we’ve used in the past that covers the removal of ‘dangerous’ wildlife -including- da da da daaaaaa…SNAKES!

So now the waiting game begins or rather I summon forth the patience somewhere in me, we have a technician coming out to safely and humanely catch and relocate these two slithery tenants this afternoon.

I cannot wait to see if they’re still under there or if they’ve found their way into our attic.

Until next time,

~Christy

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: A/C Unit 2.0

Now then, I admit that five days without our A/C was horrible, as in…the humidity and heat blended together in such a fantastical way one could feel the brain melting. Over-dramatic? Mmm likely though sitting through 87 degrees in your house on a whopping 92 degree day is the polar opposite of fun.

I am pleased to say that Freedom Air did arrive Saturday, albeit behind schedule, but the fact they were willing to work through the worst thunderstorm we’ve had, since moving into our new farmhouse, was both appreciated and wonderful. I mentioned before that they’ve a fantastic attitude and sense of customer service, well… I wasn’t exaggerating that. Those fellows stayed from 2pm until 10pm to ensure we had everything installed and air flowing cooly throughout the house.

As for the good, we have air. I repeat, Houston, we have AIR! So simple yet so crucial, it was the first night we’d slept well in days.

Onto the bad… upon tearing away the interior and exterior A/C units we were informed that our duct work was in less than stellar condition. I put it gently. The reality is more pockets of insulation laying on the floor of the crawl space that have fallen from tears and gaps found in the duct work. The likeliest culprit, critters and simple wear n’ tear. …though considering where we live, critters are most likely.

And of course, the ugly – when they came back out the following day to ensure that everything was working correctly, since they were forced to install during a horrible storm, they found that the crawlspace was chilled akin to an ice box, that the 73-75 degrees we were maintaining inside the house was at the expense of cooling off our crawlspace. The duct work was simply that torn apart. To add insult to injury, when inspecting our returns inside the home, they found multiple that were damaged to an extent that air could not properly flow through them, rendering them useless.

Reality took another turn as it dawned on us, we weren’t simply replacing an ancient air conditioning unit but now the entirety of the duct work in the crawl space and all of the main level returns in the house. And that folks, -that- is ugly. To their credit, I appreciate that the technicians with Freedom Air took the initiative to tell us about the problem otherwise our new energy efficient machine would’ve simply run endlessly and our power bills would’ve likely doubled.

“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” – Roy T. Bennett

Dwindling passion for the long road ahead rekindled, doubts about what new surprises tomorrow might hold quelled, and determination to forge ahead and shape our forever home together restored.

Each ‘surprise’ carries with it its own unique challenges, more often than not – expense, but the Mr. and I can forego likes and wants in favor of needs for the time being. So we are on our way to new metal duct work in the crawlspace for improved performance and life expectancy and from there…well, getting that darn pasture fence finished once the rain lets up will feel mighty good.

Here’s to another day in paradise!

~Christy

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 2

So. Floors. More specifically the carpeting. I apologize for the 4 million pictures on my last post but it was necessary to show exactly how things were.

It took us an extra week but we finally have gorgeous new flooring and carpeting. It was supposed to be a back to back install. Vinyl one day and carpet the second. Instead there was a slight weather-related hiccup with getting the carpet installed. 

Plans. Heh. Why do we even bother sometimes?

Carpet install day arrived, pouring rain and all. The installer team was concerned about delivering in the rain and us not having a space available (at the time) to cut the carpet indoors. We rescheduled for Saturday. 

Day three arrived with the prospect of carpet installation but sadly it ended with a no-show no-call. We were expecting a late afternoon/early evening arrival but apparently they got tied up on another job and it put them quite a bit behind schedule. Whatever happened to delay them so much during that day, we will never know. I will say that the company’s handling of the situation was professional and prompt, filing a ticket and calling us back quickly to reschedule with priority status for our new install day.

As promised, we were the first appointment for the following Saturday. The install team showed up at 9 and they were quick and efficient, even being kind enough to haul away all the old carpeting as well as leaving the extras for us at our request. (There will be cat tower building in our future. Hopefully sooner rather than later due to the hubby is threatening to turn the cats into Chinese food if they tear up the new carpet.)

Now we have beautiful, soft, new carpeting in both hallways and up the stairs. Another big upgrade from the dingy, worn down carpeting that came with the house.

(Yes the old stuff is quite dirty from the remodel but since they were going to yank it up and haul it away, we figured why bother vacuuming.)

The worst part of this whole flooring experience wasn’t the cancellation and install pushed back or even having my hardwood and laminate dreams dashed once we found out how bad the subfloor really was or the fact that the cost was at least 2.5x’s more than we had hoped for. The hardest part was getting everything prepped and ready for the installers to come out. Pulling up the carpeting itself was easy enough. Getting it rolled and stored out of the way, slightly more work but still not terrible. No. The worst part of this whole process – removing the tack strip and staples after the carpet was up. If you’ve never had to do this, I pray that you never will because staple pulling can be quite hellish.

I felt like one of those characters from Greek mythology who were forced to spend eternity doing labor. Specifically, the guy whose punishment consisted of rolling a huge boulder up a rather steep hill only to have it roll back down before he could reach the top and he’d have to start all over again. An eternity of useless effort and endless frustration. Except for me, it was every time I thought I cleared an area, I’d find more staples, as if they had magically reappeared just to torment me. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It’s not really quite as much of a soul sucking torment as all that but it was incredibly tedious and it most certainly made my knees and back ache. In the end though, the labor, the pain, the cost was worth it all. 

This is the kind of renovation I love, the kind I live for. Pretty new floors and carpet, picking out paint and trim which is next on our list. Not the crap of dry-walling uneven ceilings or the hazards of replacing light switches and outlets. If only things were always this way. One can dream right?

Hotter than Hades…our A/C experience

There is nothing quite like receiving a call at work from the Mr. to inform me that our A/C unit has quit working. As we are a stone’s throw from summer and the temperature just keeps on rising day by day, you go through three initial phases when you hear the words: our A/C is out.

  1. Denial. It’s not pretty, as in…you find yourself begging your unit to turn back on, bribing it with nonsensical luxuries an inanimate object could never use since they’re not …you know, alive? And then you realize you’re flattering it, encouraging it, telling it what a wonderful unit it’s been and come on lad, don’t you have at least a few more years in you?
  2. Anger. There is no ‘frustration period’, not in the South with these temperatures and this humidity. So you go from pleading and flattering to threats, just like that. Once more, inanimate object…not alive…it has no conscious presence but it doesn’t matter, you find yourself managing not to break your foot kicking the thing as the realization of pending costs, inconvenience, etc kick in. Now it isn’t regret you feel, but as I said, anger. You may find yourself repeating, ‘We’ve only lived here two months. C’mon man!’ …it’s real.
  3. Ingenuity. At this point you realize that all of the moping about and frustration doesn’t accomplish anything. It felt good at the time but was essentially useless, wasting energy in a house that’s now 80 degrees inside…and rising. So this is the point where you channel your inner MacGyver, roll up your sleeves and start making phone calls to find a solution to the problem.

And that…that is where our story begins…

During the closing process, we did elect to have a home warranty on the farmhouse that would cover major utilities and appliances for the first year of ownership. While we’ve never needed to use this warranty in the past with previous homes, we knew going into a fixer-upper that it would be foolish not to get it. Lo’ and behold, two months in and our A/C stopped working. Frustrating? Yes. Manageable? Theoretically, yes. That left us with nothing to do but call the home warranty company to alert them to the issue.

At first, things moved quite smoothly. This happened late afternoon on a Wednesday and so they had us call the company they use for heating and air in our area to set up an appointment. Due to the circumstances we’ve undergone, I will actually name them: Bailey’s Heating & Air. A technician was assigned to our unit and scheduled for first thing on Thursday morning. He arrived within his allotted time frame and asked me only two questions: Where is the unit located? Can you turn on the A/C?

Naturally, I showed him where the exterior and interior unit (of which is in our crawl space) were and then stepped inside to turn the A/C back on. I stepped outside and found the crawl space door open and his gloves on the fence but he was skimming through his phone. When I asked what was wrong it was made to sound like nothing serious, an easy fix, he’d just need to retrieve the part from their office. His claim was that the fan motor on the interior unit was shot and needed replacing but as he had other calls to attend first, he couldn’t be back until the following morning to replace the fan motor.

Now you can call me crazy, or spoiled, but I’ve never dealt with a company that comes out to assess your issue and then leaves to go to other calls -before- fixing your problem. This fellow did…but not before requiring a check for our co-pay with our warranty coverage. Once more we endured another day of insanely hot temperatures inside our house…as did our poor dogs. We re-arranged work schedules yet again…because what else can you do?

Yesterday morning he was to be here between 7-8am. The Mr. took the day off to keep the dogs cool and be here to help as needed. At 11:30am I receive a call at work. …the technician never showed. I tried calling him, no answer. We called the home warranty company. Forty-five minutes on hold granted us, ‘There is nothing we can do. We haven’t received his report yet on the issue or your co-pay, so we can’t assign anyone else at this point.”

Fiddlesticks to that!

I immediately had the Mr. call and cancel our check as it seems more and more likely this technician, that did not introduce himself with a name, had no branding on his clothing, on his work truck, or an ID badge, was likely a fraud.

Now as we’ve always had excellent service and success with Freedom Air, I pulled up their number, even though they are not contracted with our home warranty company. When I called them and explained our situation, they changed around a technician’s call order to have someone out within an hour to assess our situation. I went back to work and felt relief, things would be fine now.

Wrong. I’m getting really tired of surprises…

The Mr. calls me at work once more. I was expecting, ‘We have air!’ Instead I received, ‘It’s far far worse than we anticipated.’ It seems as though the technician from Bailey’s Heating & Air never actually did anything to check or look over our unit because when Freedom Air’s technician arrived, the moment he undid just one screw on the side panel, to look inside, water spouted out with a fury. When the side panel was removed entirely he found -four inches- of standing water inside the unit. Every single electrical anything had been fried.

Considering the terrifying cost of putting in a new unit, we opted to try and replace/repair what we knew to be utterly shot. Nearly a grand and five hours later, it still wasn’t working…additional parts would need replacement and potentially the entire unit. So we had two choices, take the gamble and keep replacing things at the risk of still having to shuck it and replace the unit whilst knowing we were spending more on parts/labor than the unit was worth or…just replace it and have air again.

Financially…though painful… and logically, a new unit simply made the most sense.

So we went ahead and ordered our new unit which I am told is being loaded right now downtown and en route shortly to be delivered. Four to six more hours without A/C? If it means I won’t have this problem again, we will sweat it out a bit longer.

Now the real fun begins…haggling with the home warranty company, discovering if Bailey’s Heating & Air is even a legitimate licensed company, and trying to figure out where in the budget I’m slashing to make up for the new $12,000 expense.

Exhausted but hopeful,

Cheers!