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Phase One – Patio

23rd May 2012


Our first project is to rehab the existing deck originally built about 25 years ago. The structure was sound but it did need a little TLC to bring back to peak condition. I decided to cut back on the size a bit and reclaim the wood to rebuild the pergola. Cutting back 6 feet along the entire length of the deck would give me enough lumber to extend the deck at the back and redesign the pergola into a cabana. The new footprint also provided a much wider path to the back yard.

The lumber I needed to buy were 4 x 4 posts for the railings, 4 x 6 posts for the cabana and just a few 2 x 4’s for the railings and cedar fencing for the skirt and 1 x 6 decking for the bench seat and railing cap. Lumber and hardware the total was less than $500.00 which was very close to what I expected, however the orignal budget would not survive much more into the reno.

For the most part the cabana was my design. Carri had the idea to extend the roof over the back of the deck so that she would have shade and shelter from rain when using the grill, so that was incorporated into the design. The hipped roof design was basically a remake of a sunroom I built for my brother many years ago. That design used plexi glass panels for the roof decking but the cost of doing this would have been out of line. I still had almost 5 gallons of oil based deck sealer that i used for the decking, but I sprung for a good quality acrylic for the cabana and railings so I could spray it on.

We considered a thatched roof, architectural shingles and cedar shake roofing; all of which were far outside budget considerations. I finally settled on remnant awning canvass which I got for under $70.00. It may not last more than 3 or 4 years but it is a very nice interim solution. We considered many options for the railing also. Originally, I thought I would rip the reclaimed decking into balusters. By the time I finished the cabana, there wasn’t much decking left. the next consideration was pvc lattice\, but that would have been too much like the old design. We tried reed fencing, but could find the right dimensions, so in the Carri won out and we we went with carbonized bamboo roll fencing. It was a budget buster but all in all the best choice. For skirting the deck I used cedar fencing of different widths. I created several removable panels so that we can store things under the deck.

As soon as I finished the bench and table, I turned the project over to Carri complete the design and decorating. We painted the old patio furniture and Carri bought a few plants and tables for a start. We will see where it goes from here.

The outlook for 2015 looked bright at the beginning of the year. All of our rental were occupied with stable renters; the past reno’s had been paid for, and it looked like the local housing market was starting to turn to the positive. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and began to plan the remodel of of personal residence. Normally, our reno’s involve take the worst house on the block and turn it into the best, but this time we are starting with what i consider the best house on the block and making it better, or at least our own. In theory the plan was simple: Remove carpet, restore the oak floors, and open up the wall between the den and formal living room. The carpet will be recycled in one of our rent houses. It is over 25 years old, but except for the heavy traffic area through the den, it still in very good shape.

The floors had not seen the light of day for over 25 years so we were not sure what to expect. Unfortunately the den floor was covered in linoleum.  There was also a patch in the middle of the floor that would have to dealt with, and we also planned on moving the air duct so that hole would need to be patched also.

Stripping the linoleum was time consuming but not too difficult. I started by pulling and scrapping off the top coat, then wetted the backing with Henry Easy Release. It took several applications, the first application easily removed the backing, but the adhesive would take several more applications. Henry Easy Release also turned out to be a very effective solvent for the floor varnish also. I was pleasantly surprised that this solvent did no have strong odors and didn’t appear to be an irritant to my lungs either.

Patching the floor was pretty straight forward. I removed the oak flooring from a back bedroom closet and replaced it with plywood.  The bedrooms will probably always remain carpeted so no one will notice.  Even if the carpet is removed, replacing the plywood with new oak flooring should not pose a problem.

The den floor is ready to sand but I will remove the wall between the den and living room and patch the floor were the existing wall was first.


Open Wallet Part 2 Den Wall

07th October 2015


With the den floor stripped I was ready to remove the wall between the den and formal living room. I carefully laid out on the wall what I wanted to remove and started the demo.

I was extra careful removing the mahogany wainscot, crown molding  The 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch plywood from the wainscot were furniture grade. The 1/2 inch quarter round, crown molding and base board was solid mahogany. All of the material will be reused in this renovation along with the rest of the mahogany trim throughout the house. Much of the trim had been painted but it will all be stripped.

Once I had the sheet rock removed I was able to fin tune the actual opening.  I made minor adjustment to make sure the load on each end transferred below the floor to an original foundation pier on one side. the other side I will poor a concrete pad and use a floor jack to support it.

I reused the removed stud for the jack studs and to frame the old doorway to the hall. A couple sheets of sheet rock later I was ready to tackle the kitchen wall.

Kitchen Demo Part 3

07th October 2015


The soffit was just a hollow shell faced with 1/4 inch parquet panels, but the post and trim once again was solid mahogany. The bar will stay for the time being but Carri wanted me to extend the opening in the kitchen. I removed the soffit, door and frame and re-framed the wall 12 inches smaller than it had been.


To get the refrigerator flush with the cabinet we would have to create an 8 inch bump out into the garage. Before I could start I would have to remove the concrete steps in the garage

While I had the equipment I decided to create a new crawl space. The original access is under the deck on the side of the house. It is accessible but just barely. the space under the door was the perfect spot for a new craws space access due to the door framed right above it.

I left the door jamb and header intact. I cantilevered the floor joist 8 inches and famed in the and exterior bump out. I relocated the electrical outlet, ice maker water line, insulated and sheet rocked.

I had forgot how difficult it was living in a construction zone while finishing sheet rock. The last step was a nightmare but we made it through it. Before painting and finishing the floor I removed all of the popcorn ceiling. in the kitchen den and hallways. I also took the time to remove the attic fan in the hall and cover the hole. Finally I sprayed the ceiling white and was ready for the floor


The drywall dust has finally cleared it’s time to stir it up again. This time it will be with sawdust though. Since the linoleum stripped did such a good job removing the floor finish I thought I could save time and do a better finish by stripping the rest of the floors. In my mind I figured I just sand lightly with a pad sander and not risk the gouges I’ve experienced with the drum sander. After spending another 2 evenings stripping the floors, I was ready to sand. I rented a vibrating pad sander from Home depot and began to sand. In short it did not work; AT ALL! It simply was not aggressive enough sand even the bare wood floors. I quickly loaded everything back up in the truck and exchanged it for a drum sander. I made the first pass getting as close as possible to wall then Carri took over with the drum sander and continued with the edging sander.davesandcarrisand Before Carri made the final pass with 250 grit I took some of the sawdust, mixed with untinted wood filler and filled all of the crack in the floor. Fortunately, there weren’t to may sport that required filler. Even with the wasted time I spent with the pad sander I still was able to get the sander back to Home Depot within the 24 hours, but just barely. We decide to wait a couple days before we spread the polyurethane.  That would give time for the dust to settle again and we could rest up for a couple of days.

I started about 5:00 AM on Sunday morning while Cari was still sleeping. Worst case she may have been stuck in the back for 2 hours since waterbourne poly dries within that time. We had vacuumed and swept the night before so just ran over the floor with tack cloth and put on the first coat.  By 5:00 PM Sunday evening the floor was done. I considered scuffing the floor one last time and putting a fourth coat but Carri was happy with the way it looked and we called it done.

floordoneAll of the baseboards had been stripped of the paint and varnish and sanded. While waiting for the floor to cure completely we finished trim with 3 coats of poly. I used one of the door jambs to make rails and stile for the hall cabinet doors and re-purposed the wainscot for the panels. The door have a few defects but they look great.
cabs trim

Painting and replacing the trim, and moving the furniture back quickly brought everything together. We started in mid January and had everything moved back in by mid March. Three months and 3 thousand dollars in materials and it is time to close the wallet until the next project. Unfortunately the next project will be putting another rental back together often the tenant moves out next week. diningview2