Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A flashback to inspection day.

Totally legit.

Old knob and tube wiring. It's not live and had since been replaced with romex
 So yea, it looked bad, but actually was alright. Just needed the drywall to be patched.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pruning the Neighbors Crape Myrtle

My neighbors were out pruning their oak trees and I decided to stop by to offer help and take them a cold beer. I helped them move some of the big branches to the vacant lot next door for pickup and also pruned the crape myrtle up front which I've been itching to get my hands on. With a little TLC it looks great now!

That's my house on the left, and theirs with the freshly pruned crape myrtle in front

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lavatory Surprises

Went to go to the bathroom and this guy buzzed by my head.
I'm allergic to them.
Thankfully he's dead now and I'm not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DIY Paintbrush Holder

I was tired of paintbrushes hanging on my bathroom towel rack, so made this impromptu DIY paintbrush holder on one of the kitchen walls. It might just have to stay there as a shrine to all the work I've done.

I just screwed a board to the wall and put nails 2 3/4" apart so that they were spaced evenly along the length of the board.
Renovation Decór


Perhaps it's a little neurotic, but I'm obsessed with excavating as many of the roach turds out of the walls along the baseboards as possible.

  1. It's disgusting
  2. They smell kind of funky 
  3. Roach feces cause allergies
  4. Roaches have a habit of returning to areas filled with their excretions
  5. I feel better knowing they're not there anymore
  6. What else are you to do while listening to bar exam lectures?

In most places they're not this bad, but there have definitely been some nesting spots throughout the house where I've pulled out nothing less than an avalanche of nasty droppings. This one I'd already vacuumed out about halfway, but quite a bit still remained, outside the reach of the shop-vac suction-ability zone. A disposable plastic knife has been my weapon of choice for this dirty task.

That's what came out of that little crevice near the top of the photo.
The larger gap on the right is open to the crawlspace under the house

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Part I: Gaps along the hardwood floors

Not sure how to deal with this problem. There are wide gaps along the exterior walls of the house that open directly to the crawlspace below. While I plan to cover them with some quarter-round, it seems that additional backing to the gaps will help with energy efficiency and keeping those giant, flying tree roaches out, which can easily squeeze through tiny cracks (experienced this when one tried to crawl out of my shower head, *shivers*)

The gap along the wall in the sleeping porch

For now, until I finish sanding the floors, masking tape is a makeshift solution:

The gap along the back wall of the kitchen. The stink bugs like to visit through this one.
Part II: Filling the Gaps in the Baseboards

Cracks & Crevices

Back in February ants came out of nowhere.
in just a day, they built mountains on my driveway:

A garden hose worked well against the enemy,
but they quickly returned.

So, in preparation for the coming war, I repaired the small hairline cracks in the driveway. That should keep the troops from advancing again. Victory!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Drafting Chair Discovery

Found this nifty drafting chair at the At Home close-out sale. I happened to run across the sale while going grocery shopping at the big Wal-Mart on Dunvale and just couldn't resist stopping by to see what they had deals on. Those store closing sales are always full of cheap finds!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sleeping Porch: Sanding the Hardwoods (part 1)

Here's how the room looked before sanding the floors and removing the bookshelf, which was secured to the wall. The pink and green splotch on the left wall is where I removed the built-in bed:

before sanding
This was the first time I've ever used a drum sander and edger. The drum sander was spectacularly heavy for its size but thankfully my neighbor Fernando was around to help lift it up the back steps.

I found the machine to be easy to operate and luckily I must have the magic touch because not once did I gouge the floor (!). In fact, I found the machine to be very easy to operate, unlike some unlucky homeowner's out there who have irreparably damaged their floors. (They are probably still weeping.)

Drum sanders can do a lot of damage to hardwood floor if you're not careful. All it takes is to leave them spinning in the same place for even just a few seconds, and you can end up with a crevice in the floor that will never come out. You have to stagger and feather off the edges of the room because if you don't, then the edges will get hit twice (once when you move forward, again when you move backwards). That can end up with the room having an indented ridge around the edges of the room. (If you haven't ever seen how bad that looks, just go apartment hunting in four-plexes around the Montrose area and you'll see how bad some DIY floor sanding jobs can end up.)

sanding in progress

sanding in progress

I didn't quite finish because I had to return the drum sander while I dealt with another problem: I discovered that the blue paint had seeped in between each of the floorboards. I'm not sure how pro's deal with this issue, but it came right out with a utility knife, a careful hand, some patience, and a shop-vac.

On the left is a crack which I had only halfway cleaned out.
On the right is a crack that's fully cleaned out.
Looks much neater, doesn't it?
Now that the paint is all out, I'll prep the kitchen for sanding and knock it out along with the other rooms and the remainder of this room.

* Thanks to many You-Tubers who have posted their how-to videos and especially Pete's Hardwood Floors in Wisconsin, which has a dandy website for learning the in-and outs of hardwood floor sanding, along with helpful videos like this one:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Keeping Organized

When bundling hardware for later use, it helps to zip-tie the pieces for each drawer together and include a baggy with the screws in it so you don't have to hunt for ones that fit when the time comes to use them again

Sleeping Porch: Demo'ing out the built-in bed

I had a sneaking suspician that this built-in bed was harboring a lot of roach turds and gunk in it, since the area seemed to be infested with those little German roaches back when I moved in. Some friends had voted to retain the bed, others had voted to get rid of it. I came to the conclusion that the floorspace it took up cramped the room too much and wasn't very useful for my purposes. Compound that with the turds and there was a recipe for getting rid of it.

So I took a study break and set to taking this thing apart. I can re-use the plywood for other projects down the line.

p.s., it was filled with roach gunk and there was a gap between the walls and the hardwoods that was unsealed to the underside of the house, so I'm happy with my decision to remove it.

Roach turds. Gross.

More where that came from...

The builder was nailgun-happy

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Filling the holes

You know, these past few months I feel like I've spent a lot of time on my back, with caulk.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sleeping Porch: Restoring beadboard ceiling

Paint is a magical thing. It can transform a room with the right touch. Back in college I used to make extra cash painting people's houses. Needless to say, I learned a lot of pro tips and tricks along the way, and they all came in handy working on this room.

The beadboard ceiling was in pretty rough shape.
There were large gaps in it that were open to the attic.
The beadboard was sagging in places.
Roaches used to crawl through it.
And worst of all, it was barbie doll pink:

Before: Shown after insulating the cracks in the shiplap and first coat of primer
Something had to be done, so...
3 bottles of caulk and several layers of paint later...

I tried using a paint roller but found that it tended to miss spots in between the beadboard. So I brushed the ceiling paint on instead and utilized the magic of paint conditioner to avoid brush strokes. 

The room is still hot since the windows aren't yet weathersealed, but the temperature has been noticeably more stable since closing the gaps in the ceiling. It feels good to no longer pay to air condition the attic.

It took weeks of caulking and priming to get it to look like this. I say 'weeks' but really it was just small batches of work over the course of 2 weeks. It's Houston. It's summer. It's a room with 9, 6-foot tall windows that don't close all the way. And the ceiling is 10' high. It was hot as hell up there.

Then I moved on to caulking the gaps between the edges of every clapboard to give the room that smooth, finished look. 
No idea what genius decided to put an air vent under the ceiling fan
...and the room has a lot of clapboards:

Usually you leave the bottoms of the clapboards open to allow for moisture to escape, like if the rain were to get in, but since this is an interior room I determined that rule could be disregarded in favor of more aesthetic goals:

                                              Before                                       After

Ceiling: Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White, eggshell
Walls: Just latex primer for now
Door casings and window trim: In progress. Will use Benjamin Moore's White Dove, oil-based, satin finish

Disco Hour

I think I need this:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Under the House

Like my dad says, "Words cannot describe.." [how much we hate plumbing]

Particularly plumbing in a muddy crawlspace filled with tree roaches hiding under scrap pieces of plywood that someone left down there.

Today I removed a lot of that debris in the crawlspace that those monsters were living under.

Let me tell you how fun that was...
...in a 2.5' crawlspace
...with nowhere to run
...and no room to stomp on them.

I should have hired a dayworker.

Clearly we still have a moisture issue. Although the bathroom leak has substantially contributed to a damp crawlspace, poor grading is the main source to blame. Absolutely no idea who to call to fix that. Guess a landscaper.
Then, I went hunting for the leak that is partially contributing to the dampness. Looks like it's the shower pan. Fixing it would require the shower to be completely disassembled and then reassembled. I'm getting rid of that thing soon anyway, once I have a full day to devote to demolition and moving the plumbing pipes to install the clawfoot tub.

For now I'll just stick a bucket under it.

At least there's a giant hole in the floor that's close to the bathroom. Makes for swifter access.

legs dangling...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Exterior Paint Test #1

The blue and tan came out a little too beach-y for my taste, but the orange looks awesome! Thinking a few shades darker seafoam + a touch more blue and a hint more yellow/orange in the trim:

These are roughly the colors I am going for, inspired by Bungalowcious:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dust collection

Thinking of shaving my leg hair because all it seems to do these days is collect lead paint :/

Monday, July 6, 2015

A sneak peek at the exterior

Curiousity killed the cat. I took a sneak peek at the exterior cladding that is hiding beneath layers of aluminum and asbestos siding. Looks like the house was once painted hunter green with yellow trim. Marvelous condition!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Exterior Paint Colors

I’ve finally decided on a paint color for the exterior of the house. At first I though yellow would be appropriate, since after all, my house is known as the “Easter Egg house” to the other residents on the street. Something like this: 

[ x ]

But that seemed to bold. Too big bird.

Then, by pure chance, I stumbled across this wonderful blog, Bungalowcious, and behold, colors that have finally inspired me:

The burnt orange matches my obnoxious car color:

which also happens to match my luggage:

[ x ]

How convenient.

Vintage Repurposed Hanging Light Fixture

Found this at Houston's Historic Salvage Warehouse for $15 today! I think I'll re-wire it, get a longer chain, and put it in the hallway or over a reading nook. Clearly whoever had it before did not have 10' ceilings!

Roaches. The little German Ones. Terminated.

No signs of those pesky little German roaches in 3 months! with a little willpower and persistence, you can get rid of them without an exterminator.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mardis Gras (en español)

The lady next door is painting her house Mardis Gras colors. The house is yellow. The window trim is N’oleans purple.