Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Archive for the ‘retaining wall’ Category

Winter is coming!!!

I know it’s still a little ways off, but I have a whole list of projects, some of which I’d like to complete before winter, some that MUST be completed.

  • Install gutter apron (PRIORITY ONE, ASAP)
  • Finish landscaping wall
  • Transplant hostas and ferns
  • Make kindling bundles out of the sticks in the backyard
  • Borrow a chainsaw and cut the logs that are too big for the wood burning stove
  • Finish the shed or at the very least gather all the pieces and move them inside

Let’s see how many of theseĀ I can finish before the first snow.

[tags]wood burning stove, gutters, yardwork, retaining wall, landscaping, future plans[/tags]

“Oh wall, oh sweet and lovely wall…”

I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the natural theater in Greenwood Park last week. It was wonderful! But my favorite performace of Pyramus and Thisby will always be The Beatles performing it.

Meanwhile, I’ve begun building a wall myself! I’m afraid I’ll be pretty embarassed when my uncle, the landscape architect comes over to take a look at it, but it’s my first try so there’s lots of room for improvement. I don’t really know what I’m doing.





[tags]photos, landscaping, yardwork, retaining wall[/tags]

Another morning with the contractors

We had a very productive, very awesome morning with the two people we asked to give us quotes today.

First the electrician came and he was super professional, friendly, and really knew how to deal with our house. In fact, by the time I got in to work he had already emailed me a fully itemized quote, with everything we talked about on site, AND his total price for everything is exactly what we were hoping to budget for initially, right around $5,000. Of course, we have a little extra money available should unexpected things come up, but he seemed really confident in how smoothly this job would go. We will probably get a third electrical quote, just for good measure, but this guy has all but won the bid already.

The chimney sweeps came next at 9:30. There were two people, the person who owns the business and her assistant of seven years, who is also fully certified. They did their inspection and then we sat in the air conditioned living room to discuss our options. This company offered two solutions: 1.) insert a stainless steel liner through the chimney and get it working as a traditional fireplace, or 2.) install a wood burning stove insert with a lined chimney pipe for increased energy efficiency. There would only be a difference of a couple hundred dollars between the two choices, so after hearing all about the stove insert and how it works and all the options we have with it (it does have the option to look like a regular fireplace if you want that ambiance) we’re leaning toward that. Either way, the work will cost just under $4000, which is GREAT for our budget.

After everybody else left, Brandon and I went outside to measure for building our retaining wall planting beds on the south side of the house. I had forgotten my tape measure, but we found a yard stick inside left by the previous owner, so while Brandon walked the area measuring with the yard stick, I wrote down the measurements on a diagram. I’m going to take that information tonight and start drawing a (mostly) to scale diagram of how these will be laid out so we can plan for how much it’s going to cost.

It was so much fun going through everything with Brandon. He’s really caught the enthusiasm to get started now too.

(Excited squeal and happy dance!!!)

[tags]budget, chimney, contractors, electricity, fireplace, landscaping, retaining wall[/tags]

Diverting my energy

Since we’re going to be so busy the rest of this summer working on our new old house, Brandon and I made it a point to go up to Clear Lake this weekend and work on our other house. We did some outdoor jobs that we’ve been putting off too long. Brandon mowed the grass while I went to the hardware store (more about that later), and when I got back he had borrowed a neighbor’s tree trimmer (sawblade on the end of a LONG pole) and was cutting away the branches that were brushing the roof. I changed my clothes and got on the roof to help. He gave me the lopping shears and I snipped off everything I could reach. Then he handed me a big broom and I swept the whole roof. Our neighbors on two sides have really dirty trees that drop two sets of leaves every year, PLUS these little peppercorn-like seeds that act just like ball bearings under your feet when you’re trying to walk around on the roof. Yeah, I was taking my life into my hands, no doubt about it. But after I got the roof swept off I put on my rubber-coated gloves and cleaned out the three inch layer of mosquito-infested compost that had built up in our gutters over the course of the summer. Amazingly, I escaped with only one mosquito bite on my whole body, and it’s on the knuckle of my right pointer finger. All in all it was a very productive and exhausting day, but we did get to go swimming so that made it all feel a little like a vacation.

My trip to the hardware store had two purposes: to buy some things we actually need, and to scope out prices and plan for future projects.

Here’s the stuff I put on my list to buy:

  • latex gloves
  • a gallon of kilz
  • a couple new brushes (since the foam ones I used last time have since bit the dust)
  • a face mask
  • furnace filter
  • protective eye goggles

I got all those things.

More importantly, I did some planning for future projects. Here’s what I came up with:

We want to remove the countertop sink in the bathroom and replace it with a pedestal. I found a really lovely one for about $60. Faucets tend to cost between $40 and $60, so I’ll budget for $60. That doesn’t include any additional plumbing hardware we’ll need to connect it with, so I guess I’ll add $30 for that and come up with a total sink replacement budget of $150.

We need to buy a refrigerator. Menards had a 10 cubic foot self defrosting fridge/freezer for $309. We were hoping to spend no more than $400 for a fridge, so that’s probably what we’ll go with. I had hoped to buy an Energy Star appliance, for the tax break, but they only had one at Menards and it was around $600. This one only uses 386 kwh per year, though, so it’s not like it’s an energy hog.

We can borrow most of the power tools we’ll need from friends and family, but we wanted to see what it would cost to buy them anyway, because it’s always nice to have your own tools.

I found two circular saws that I liked and that were in my price range. One was a Tool Shop brand. It was $23.66, a nice compact size, and had all the standard features. I found a Skil one at Sears, though, and it felt more balanced in my hand. It costs $39.99. They had a Craftsman saw at Sears that I picked up but it just felt awful. All the weight was in the back and it felt really bottom-heavy. It was also $39.99 on sale.

The Skil reciprocating saw was $54.99 on sale, but the Masterforce, which comes with an actual hard case rather than a canvas carrying bag was $64.00 regular price, so I’d probably go with the Masterforce. Everything about them other than that was the same, except I like the pivot foot on the Masterforce better.

I wanted to see what a chainsaw would cost, so I looked at the 14″ ones, both gas and electric. I was really surprised by the difference in price between the gas and electric. Gas was $109 and electric was only $34.99. The electric one at Sears was $59.99. I don’t actually plan on buying one very soon. We already have an offer from my mom’s boyfriend to use his next week.

The big project I’m going to work on planning for is the retaining walls and planters to fix our erosion problem on the side of the house. I still haven’t measured for how big these retaining walls are going to be, but I got prices per unit for all the supplies we’ll need, so once I have measured we can figure out how much it will cost. Here’s a list of supplies I will need for the project (and the prices I gathered today):

  • Paver base (50 lb. bag – $2.38)
  • Pea gravel (50 lb. bag – $2.39)
  • Retaining wall bricks (88 cents each)
  • Top soil (40 lb. bag – $1.14)
  • Flagstones ($1.44 each)

So, the plan as I see it in my head, having never done this before, is this:

  1. Measure the area to build the walls
  2. Add up how much of the supplies I’ll need
  3. Buy the supplies I’ll need, plus extras
  4. Put the first layer of bricks together so they fit properly
  5. Mark the final layout where the walls will go
  6. Dig a swath for the base layer of bricks
  7. Pour paver base into the swath and tamp it down
  8. Build the brick wall
  9. Put a layer of pea gravel inside the planting area
  10. Put a layer of top soil inside the planting area
  11. Put some plastic edging strips at each end of the pathway between the two planting beds
  12. Level the ground and put down paver base
  13. Lay flagstones to make a path
  14. Pour pea gravel around the flagstones and up to the walls to fill in the rest of the space
  15. Plant hostas and other shade loving plants in the planter beds

At least that’s the plan as it appears to me in my current state of being under the influence of a valerian root sleeping pill. We’ll see how coherent all this looks to me in the morning.

[tags]budget, Clear Lake house, future plans, gutters, power tools, retaining wall, trees, yardwork[/tags]

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