Project 07: The Mother of All Projects

My house was originally owned by a drywaller. From what I've been able to piece together from the neighbors, he built the house by himself. When I bought the house the drywaller told me he was particularly proud of the wood he used. At the time that made no sense to me, but as I've torn various parts of the house down I've come to understand: my house is made from materials "gleaned" from job sites. A board here, a nail there. After awhile you can sneak enough material off a job site to build a house.

There are several remnants of this. First, many of the studs have concrete on them, having been used for forms and then disgarded. Second, there are about a hundred different types of nails used. And finally, the variance in quality over the different trades is enormous. In particular, he did a terrible job on the siding.
Not only is it vinyl siding, but it is ugly and improperly installed. Second much of the roof was destroyed in the storms of 06, which you can see in the photo. Above all, I've always wanted to change the look. So in the beginning months of 07 we hired a disigner friend to give us some ideas. I started the actual work in April on the top floor, and thought I could be done by June, ... July at the latest. It actually took me until Christmas.

In the picture below I've got 3/4 of the top siding done and the top windows installed. You can see some of my scaffolding I made on the sides, the old deck up top, and my goose friend at the top of the roof. He came by almost everyday to see how I was doing.

I used Hardie board siding, and despite the fact the dust causes cancer, I'd highly recommend it. You just need to hold your breath when cutting. The next picuture shows the top siding done, we chose a color opposite to the old grey. Note the custom frames on the windows.
Next, on to the roof. I don't like heights, and given my past experiences with falling off roofs,  I was quite nervous at first.  I rigged up several ropes, etc. but after tripping over them a dozen times I got rid of them and was just careful.  In the end I decided it was better to invite some of my son's friends over to help and have them do all the work close to the edge.  The next picture shows the top completed, the roof on,  the new upper deck, and the windows done on the bottom.


All accidents happened on the bottom of the house. The first was "almost" funny. In the middle picture above you can see I had to remove some of the deck boards to get the siding on. I've also had all the lights off the house, which meant at night it was completely dark outside. One night I decided to go outside, so I opened the door, ... and it was a long first step. My daughter was behind me and thought she'd missed the Rapture. With a loud noise I'd just vanished. Others soon came running from the noise I made hitting the deck. The pain on my shin was so incredible I couldn't talk for 30 seconds. Everyone kept asking if I was ok, etc. Slowly I counted my bones. Then, just as my wife was about to call 911, the pain simply went away. I jumped up and acted like nothing happened.

The second accident was scarier. I was putting in  one of the far right windows on the bottom (while on a ladder). I put it in, took the only nail I had, and nailed
the bottom flange (it was closest)  while holding the window in place with my left hand. Then I realized I didn’t have another nail. I looked down and there were several on top of the ladder. So, without thinking (I’m good at that), I reached down with my left hand, grabbed a nail and … looked up. There I saw the great sheet of glass heading straight for me, pivoting on the lonely nail I’d just driven home. They say at moments like that one’s life passes before the eyes. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I didn’t think about my wife, my friends, or my children. As the glass smashed around my skull my only thought was … “I just wasted $350!” It was 30 minutes later, as I cleaned up the glass on the lawn and looked up at the ladder I’d fallen from, that I realized I didn’t have a scratch on me. The window, which could have collared me and taken my head off, glanced off and fell in the other direction. Somehow I landed in glass shards like they were a pillow of fall leaves. God was watching over me … I just wish he’d help me remember to carry more nails!
The rest of the project was pretty uneventful. Here are some final shots.

East side before: East side after:

 Check out the fancy stone work around the front deck. It looks hard, but is as easy as lego.

One of the most expensive items was the front door. I learned that in BC there is a literal monopoly on wood doors, and the price reflected that. When I was told the price by the salesman my jaw dropped. "And you don't deliver?" "Nope." "And I  have to stain the door?" "Yup."  At least it looks good. You can't see the detail of the custom moldings, but ... they are beautiful.

Putting in a new window on east side. It involved some rewiring and I had to try real hard not to electricute myself with the pool so close.
Finally, in some of these shots you can see I used batton and board in the gables to match the other out buildings I've done.

Below is a final before and after. Even the winter weather is nicer with the new exterior.