Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Upstairs Sprucing Project

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, we are doing some other projects in between working on the basement to get the house spruced up for our appraisal. One of the things we have been working on is the little roof that runs between the carport and the garage. We love having it there to shield us from rain when going out to the garage, but it (and the carport ceiling) were covered in this white corrugated plastic stuff that I've never been overly fond of. One day, I got this wild idea to take it down and see what was underneath.

The answer: a lot of nasty stuff. And birds nests. Lots of birds nests. We knew there was at least one, so we made sure to wait until the babies were gone before starting on this project, so no baby birds were harmed in the making of this post.

Once we got all the plastic sheets unscrewed and removed, this is what we were left with. A corrugated metal roof with a wood grid and several extra pieces of wood that the plastic sheets were screwed into.

Next we tackled this weird wood wall thing. We basically used a hammer to break up and pry it all off.

Once that bit was gone, we removed all the wood supports that the plastic stuff was screwed into.

Then we were left with a bit of a blank slate. We tossed around a couple ideas of what we wanted to do from here, ranging from tearing the whole thing out and re-doing it, just replacing the roof part, or just working with what was there.

We settled on painting what we had. I decided to spray paint the corrugated metal a sky blue color and then paint the wood grid white.

It took 6 cans of spray paint and about an hour of time to spray the metal roof. I thought I was going to have permanent claw hand afterwards. My hands were so weak I could barely press down the trigger on the can. But I persevered.

About half way through my first wood painting session, I decided that I was going to leave it at one coat. The decision was 10% because I liked the look of only one coat and 90% because it was an annoying task and I didn't want to have to do another coat.

Here we are all finished up. Still not the fanciest thing out there, and maybe down the line we will tear it all out and put up something different. But for now, I'm pretty pleased with our charming little roof.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Replacing Basement Windows

Note: I had trouble finding a really detailed tutorial on replacing basement windows when researching for this project. I found absolutely nada on finishing the exterior of the window. So I am here to fill that void. Thus, this is going to be a long post!

We knew since the moment we laid eyes on these beauties that they needed to be taken to the window graveyard.

The view got even better when we moved the dryer vent and were left with this oh-so attractive and secure duct taped opening.

There are five of these windows in total in the basement and two of them will be in the finished area. We had gotten quotes from some window installers on replacing them all that came in from $2,000 - $5,000. Needless to say, we weren't thrilled with that price, but we knew that removing these old windows would be a tremendous headache.

Then one day, I was feeling wild and crazy and decided to look online and see if I could find any information on how to remove a window of this style. I found quite a few videos and they all made it look very simple, as online videos tend to do. But then I realized something that completely changed my view on the whole project.

Running across the top of each window is a metal bar that extends into the brick mortar on each side. I had assumed this this was part of the window and that it would destroy the brick when it was removed. I am here to tell you today that THIS IS NOT PART OF THE WINDOW. I cannot express how excited I was when I took a long look at the window and realized that. I got online again and found that Home Depot carried a window in the size we needed for $80. I immediately texted David and told him the good news. He was on board with trying our hand at window replacement.

We had planned to wait until the weekend to get started but we were both so excited that we dove in when we got home from work Friday night. We only bought one window at first in case we totally botched the whole thing. As you can tell, we were very confident going into this project.

We started out by tilting out the opening part of the window and sliding it out of the frame. That thing was HEAVY. Then we were left with the steel frame.

It was poured into the concrete around the window.

David made a cut straight through the frame on each side with his reciprocating saw.

Then he used a hammer, chisel, and pry bar to remove it. It literally took about 15 minutes. I was so excited. He used his chisel to break away any chunks of concrete that were left behind.

Then we were left with this nice clean opening.

We sat the window in place. The top to bottom fit was perfect, but it was a little wide. We spent quite some time trying to find a piece of wood that would be the right width to fill the gaps and were unsuccessful, so we retired to the upstairs for the night and perused Lowe's website. We found that a standard fence picket was going to be just what we needed AND they were only $1.18 each. Score.

We picked a couple up the next day, cut them to length and set them on each side. It was a perfect fit. So David screwed them into place with concrete anchors, while I sat outside to make sure they stayed flush with the front of the window.

Once those were in place, we wrapped some self adhesive vinyl flashing over the front of the board and onto the brick.

Then I attached the vinyl lattice strip we had picked up with the wood pickets with a nail gun. We added this trim piece to cover the wood spacers and make everything look more seamless. I used a utility knife to cut off the excess flashing on the brick.

Then I ran a "generous bead" of caulk around the sides and bottom of the opening, per the window instructions, and slid the window into place, making sure to smoosh it into the caulk.

I checked outside to make sure everything was looking good, while David shimmed the window from inside.

We made sure the window was straight and level, then David screwed the window into place with concrete anchors and broke off the excess part of the shims.

We filled the inside gaps with Window & Door Great Stuff (don't get the regular kind, it will bow the window), then cut off the excess once it was dry. This is as finished as the inside will look until we get walls and drywall put up.

But check out the exterior! All the outside seams got covered with silicone caulk. After everything had a few days to dry, we blasted the window with the hose for a good minute or so. It was way more water than would ever hit this window, but we wanted to be sure everything was water tight.

We have finished both windows that will be in the finished area of the basement and are soooo happy with how much less murder-y they look.

After this whole basement fiasco is finished, we plan to refinance the house, which means we will be getting an appraisal done. So in between working away in the basement, we have also been sprucing up the rest of the house so it looks as good as possible, and we get a nice high number on our appraisal. If you notice in the picture above, I painted the window ledges on all the windows.

I think it really makes the house look much nicer, and it only took me a couple hours (with Tater's help!).

So to anyone out there thinking about replacing their basement windows themselves, I say go for it! If we had known it would be this easy, we would have done it a long time ago. Not to mention the thousands of dollars we saved by doing it ourselves! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Behold Our Progress!

Seeing as how it's been over a month since my last update, I figured it was high time to let the masses know how things are going. Believe it or not, we have been diligently working in the basement this whole time and things are looking quite different downstairs.

First things first: we got our permits! Woo hoo! We really wanted to this be legal finished square footage to add value to our home and also to avoid any potential issues should we ever sell.

So when I last left off, we had just had the gas meter moved outside. David and I took a few days off work that week, and spent pretty much every minute of it framing away.

I am so excited about our fireplace alcove. It's going to be completely tiled, and I am toying with the idea of painting the fireplace white with high heat paint.

Here you can see our oh-so-classy built in bookshelves. Those shelves are hand-made by David, by the way.

After doing a bit of research, David decided it would be wise to use a waterproofing paint on the concrete floor to help protect our future flooring from moisture.

We used Drylok and so far, so good. It has really cut down on the "basement smell" which is A-ok with me.

There's one coat on the left and the recommended two coats on the right. Not only is it helping to keep our basement dry, it also makes it look waaaaay cleaner in the mean time.

One thing we realized when researching building codes is that the egress window in the bedroom was 1/4" too high. Instead of moving the window lower, which would have been way expensive, we opted to raise the floor by screwing down 3/4" treated plywood. Each one of these bad boys weighed over 100 pounds, so after lugging 6 of them downstairs, David and I were both super sore the next day.

So here's how things are looking right now. Very messy.

We are still working on finishing the framing on the other side of the basement. I added in the walls that we still have to go so you get an idea of how things are going to look.

The laundry room is towards the front and the future bathroom is at the back.

This is area we are working on right now. This is the future home of our bath tub. It is tricky because not only is it under the stairs (oh, the angles!!) but the framing has to be extremely precise to make sure the tub fits just right. We also will be building a platform for the tub to sit on to make room for the drain lines underneath. We are going to make the wall behind the tub (that's shared with the den) double thick to cut down on noise transfer from the shower (two layers of insulation) and also to accommodate the header that runs right there.

So what else do we have to do?
  • Finish framing walls
  • Rough in bathroom plumbing, get inspected (we just hired a plumber for this)
  • Run electrical, get inspected.
  • Replace windows (we are going to take a stab at DIY-ing this, eek!)
  • Drywall, drywall, then drywall some more
  • Paint, paint, then paint some more
  • Floor and ceiling
  • Final inspections!
  • Trim and finishing things like doors, closet, stairs, etc.
Our goal is to have this all finished by the end of the year, and I cannot wait to be able to relax in our new finished basement!