Dynamic Duo Tackles the Outside

My house is covered in faded yellow asbestos shingles.  Under those are the original cedar shingles, forest green.  Because I watch way to much #RehabAddict with @NicoleCurtis I briefly had plans to remove the asbestos to expose the cedar and have it painted.  I quickly got pass that plan after the box gutters were restored.  It totally changed how the house looked and the asbestos shingles actually looked good, to me.  All I needed to do was replace the missing and broken, about 50 shingles.

As everyone should know asbestos is a health hazard and those shingles are no longer available, but GAF makes an excellent solution for replacing asbestos siding, WeatherSide Profile Shingles, that I was able to purchase from Home Depot.  With drywall sanding underway inside, now was the perfect time to tackle this project.  Plus I’m on a countdown clock with my father’s help as he returns home in less than a week.  Months ago I reached out to Ohio’s EPA and learned that a single family dwelling is unregulated, which means the “dreaded expensive abatement company”, frequently shown on every HGTV, DIY show was not necessary as I could remove the shingles myself.  I will need to take them to an approved landfill, Rumpke, but I’ve made that haul twice and it’s no big deal.

As with the gutters the house had to get uglier first, so the first couple of days my cousin Cameron and my father tackled taking down the broken shingles, putting up shims (old pieces of the lathe I saved), and felt paper.  They used a small chisel to gently loosen the existing nails and then nail puller pliers to remove the broken asbestos shingles.


Fighting rain for two days the three of us managed to get the new shingles in place.  This was probably the easiest, first time, project I’ve tackled at the house.


We broke a few, new and old, on the learning curve, so I’ll need to order another case of shingles or try to find someplace that sells them by the piece.  I only need about 5 more, 18 come in a case, to finish some spots near the gutters.  Once complete I hope to have the house painted by RhinoShield by the end of year.  The house will transforms to Sea Serpent blue and the trim Incredible White.   These are the house colors from HGTV’s 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway, it was my favorite of all the Urban Giveaway homes, thus far.  I will not be adding the pink door however, instead it will be They call it Mellow yellow, homage to the faded yellow that has stood for probably 60 years.

RhinoShield is a coating, not paint, that has a 25 year product warranty against cracking, chipping, and peeling.  I have gotten a quote to have the house painted and was pleasantly surprised when RhinoShield came in similar to the paint quote.  I asked them for three references, preferably asbestos homes, 20170806_140216and all owners raved over their work.
Plus it turned out that my favorite painted house in the neighborhood was done with RhinoShield too.

If any of my followers has a connection with RhinoShield corporate and could work out a product donation for me, I’d be much obliged!

Sometimes It’s Best To Take Two Steps Backwards

20180706_103135I let low bid drive my decision to work with Cesar Home Remodeling for my drywall and master shower installation and it was a poor choice.  The high point of working with Cesar Filipe was his adding Psalm 91:1 to my soap niche.  The lows quickly followed and three days after watching him improperly install my master shower floor I rented a jack hammer and removed it.  I would never have been able to enjoy that shower knowing, more than likely, water would be seeping through crevices due to the linear drain being installed wrong and the lack of waterproofing.

Cesar and his crew installed the cement board first.  He asked that I order 8, 4’x8′ sheets.  I got all the drywall and cement board delivered from M&M Drywall and they delivered Pro-tec cement board.  Cesar was expecting Durock brand.  There is a night and day difference in strength between Pro-tec and Durock.  Durock can be cut with a box knife.  I installed it on the floors in both bathrooms and planned to put three sheets I had left around the tub in the first floor.  Pro-tec is much harder.  He used a reciprocating saw and it created jagged and crumbled edges.  While I knew he struggled with the board, his installation was impressive, in the beginning.  My shower is built into the angled part of the attic, so it took skill to get the holes for the shower heads in the right place.

Before putting the bottom sides in he spread out the vinyl liner.  He had me purchase a 5’x6′ liner, which was the largest carried at Home Depot.  In the space it seemed too small to me, but he said it was ok.  He used drywall screws to attach the liner to the studs.  I noticed it wasn’t long/wide enough to cover the curb step, but I didn’t know if it needed to at that time. He used the bottom side pieces of the cement board to hold the linear in place and then immediately started pouring buckets of cement on the liner.  I immediately asked about waterproofing the cement board and sealing the seams and he said it was not necessary, the cement wouldn’t go anywhere.  That was when I knew I was in trouble.  Everything I had been taught or watched showed you waterproofed first.  I should have stopped the process right then, but I feared he would pull his drywall crew, so I stayed silent.

We had purchased 8 bags of cement and he said it was not enough.  He sent me after another bag and his two crew members continued laying the cement board on the remaining areas of the bench and short wall.  The 8′ length sheets he asked me to get created a lot of waste, as the width of my shower is just 64″.  I thought his request of 8′ was great as it meant one vertical piece and I assumed he did it intentional knowing he could use the large cut pieces on the short wall, bench, and entrance wall.  There was more than enough material for the entire shower.  While I was gone Cesar sent his crew to the first floor bathroom and started using the Durock boards, 2 of 3 allocated for first floor.  When I returned I asked why and he said it was easier to cut.  He had laid the top of the bench and part of the entry wall with it.  This annoyed me greatly, but the pieces had been cut.

He sent me after another bag of cement (10 total) and when I returned, again his crew member was carrying up the last sheet of Durock.  I asked him to put it back, but the person spoke no English OR only listened to Cesar.  When I confronted Cesar, in Spanish he told him to use the other pieces.  I was asked if I they could use my shop vac and in the time I took to retrieve it, they had placed the Durock on the back side of the short wall.  Needless to say I was furious.  He finished smoothing out the cement and asked for his payment.  Fortunately I had the wherewithal to say I would not pay until the cement had hardened and I could test the slope to ensure it ran towards the drain.  He was fine with that and left.

I was not fine with how they laid the cement board on the short shower wall.  The top piece, in my opinion should have overlapped the sides.  Because he struggled with cutting the Pro-tec board he placed what looked like a scrap piece on the top ledge, leaving gaps that water could easily travel to the wood underneath.  I decided to redo the bench area myself, replacing all the Durock with the scraps of Pro-tec.  With the right tool, the Pro-tec material cut like butter.  Once I removed the top piece, it was easy to see why he didn’t set a piece to overlap the sides.  His side cuts were jagged and not even with the wood.  I was able to take my grinder and even that out.20180707_10082920180707_10083420180707_100837


I removed all the Durock that he used on the bench. Even once I fixed the bench area I could not get past knowing that he had not done any waterproofing.  The corner gaps seemed massive to me.

At this stage I was just hoping he didn’t have a slope to justify not paying for this work.  There was a slope, so it was agreed I’d pay for the shower with the first payment for the drywall after all was hung.  This would take place in about three days, so in that time I sought advice from anywhere and everyone in regards to how important it was to waterproof first.  Turns out that wasn’t the MAJOR problem.  When I described to people the full process of his install, which included that he did one layer of cement on top of linear-shower-drain-installation.jpgthe vinyl liner, EVERYONE consistently said that’s your bigger problem.  The proper way to install a cement shower is to pour a layer of cement setting the right pitch towards the drain.  Letting it dry and then place the liner followed by a second layer of cement.  In time I would suffer leaks, rotting floor boards and joist, and major repairs given the living room ceiling was underneath.

Despite my sending Cesar the directions for the linear drain I purchased from Signature Hardware, which clearly shows the steps outlined above, he firmly stood by his install method.  At that point, I decided he was not going to be paid and that I needed to remove the cement.

To find a silver lining, I had a ball working the jack hammer I rented.  It is as therapeutic as swinging a sledge-hammer.

As far as the drywall crew it turns out the crew actually doing the work are not his crew.  They are some guys from his church that hang drywall.  He acted as a “general contractor” and placed subs on my project.  20180705_190535.jpgThe leader is Rogelio Soto (green shorts).  None speaks fluent English.  All payments for drywall I will make directly to Rogelio.  We were all smiles on day one.  Stay tuned to see if the smiles remain.

I’m done dealing with Cesar Home Remodeling and I feel sorry for the homeowners  with showers he’s installed.  He had beautiful pictures of his finished work, but I know what is lurking behind the tile he laid.  It really is disheartening given all that has been accomplihsed by my father, cousin, and myself to have a so called “professional” take so little regard to the quality of his work.


The Old Become New

My house had a few original light fixtures that I hoped I could have rewired to reuse.

In a previous post, By Gosh It Worked and Surprise, Surprise, Surprise, I showed how well some of them cleaned up and revealed a beautiful gold finish.  I asked my friend Joan, who owns an older building in OTR, if she knew any places that fixed old lights and 20180707_141640she referred me to Mark Gable, Gable Electric and Lamps.  They specialize in antique lamps, refurbished electrical fixtures, lampshades, Tiffany lights, lamp parts, lamp repair, circuit breakers and have been in business over 70 years.  They are located on the west side of Cincinnati near Camp Washington at 2034 Harrison Ave, Cincinnati OH 45214.  Mark is passionate about restoring old lights.

He did an AWESOME job.  I can’t wait to get paint on the walls, so I can hang them up.

There are four of this one.  All will be returned to their original location ; two in master bedroom and two in 1st floor hall.

This is my favorite.  I could not believe this was under years of soot, cobwebs, and nicotine.  It hung to light the steps leading to the attic space and will return to that location to light my way to my master suite.

This fixture was located in what will now be the Master bathroom.  I will let it be the light in the master laundry.

This fixture was located in what will now be my office.  It will be my rear foyer light as I am putting ceiling fans in all bedrooms.

There are five of these.  They were originally located in the living room and based on the empty holes in walls there were once seven of them.  I will relocate them in the dining room.

I will use various styles of vintage bulbs to complete restoration.

Drywall Delivery

Wow, almost 10 months to finally be ready to close up the walls, but the time has come.  My father did the take-off and came up with a need for 200 sheets of drywall.  In the 80s my father had a construction business (Kent & Kent Construction) and he used M & M Drywall for all his houses.  They were a few hundred dollars cheaper than NextGen, which is located in Camp Washington.  Pennies are counting now with this project.

I could not believe it when the truck pulled up with just one person on board. They advertise that they will load your order in your structure, so I had not lined up anyone to help get the drywall inside.  Ed, the driver, did it all by himself.  Amazing especially after he shared he had just returned to work after suffering a heart attack and having open heart surgery.  I called myself trying to help, but I was just in his way.  He had the entire truck unloaded in less than two hours.





Time For the Pink Panther

My father, no doubt, has been the brains behind this restoration project, but without question the muscle has been my cousin Cameron.  He is in welding school and only available a few hours weekday evenings and weekends, but when he’s on site things get done!  No way was I going to tackle insulation without him.  To save on cost I decided to do my own insulation.

I had lined up Tiburon Energy & Construction to do spray foam throughout the house.  That was at the start of the project.  That was going to cost me about $8,000.  I hated cancelling the foam as the owner, Daryn Goulbourne had been so helpful at the start of this project and it seems every HGTV/DIY home makeover uses it.  With my father and Cameron I was able to install R-13 fiberglass in the walls and R-19 in the attic rafters and ceiling in kitchen and dining (as sound buffer for master bedroom) for under $2,000.

We had the hottest temps of the season when we started the insulation project.  Despite wearing gloves and long sleeve shirts once the sweat starting pouring from your body it acted like a magnet attracting the fibers from the insulation.  Poison ivy is less itchy than fiberglass.  It was two weeks of more torture, but in the end it looked great and it proved to me once again the value of sweat equity.  I will still use Tiburon to blow insulation in the attic after drywall is complete and to foam the basement crevices.

Strapping Bites! Jigs Are Your Friend.

I started writing this entry on April 23.  It took about a month to get the entire strapping project complete.  It’s taken me until now to recover from the experience well enough to complete the entry, but I wanted my followers/fans to see EVERYTHING it took turn my house into my home.  This project falls in the time is money category where to save the valuable time I lost I may have been better off paying a professional to complete it fast.

20180430_190319I knew my ceiling joist were uneven on the first floor.  You could see different thickness of the wood joist.  These were rough cut, some even had bark on them.  With plaster and lathe you can just pile on plaster to create an even surface, but with drywall you have one consistent thickness.  Hanging drywall was going to be a chore, so my father added strapping to my program of work.

20180429_100157The project started with my father taking a laser leveler I purchased to find the highest (or lowest, I forget) corner which determined which end we would start from.  He and I started the project in the kitchen.  We got 3/4 completed in a work day.  You’re working above your head the entire time, so the arm fatigue is severe.  I knew after that first day I was going to hate this project.

Key to strapping is creating proper 20180510_194051spacing (16″ on center), so my father created a jig (tool used to replicate the same measurement multiple times) that was placed on a strap to create the proper space for the next.  He created just one.  I made a second one to match, so that both workers would have one.    Note, my reference “both workers”.  Quickly I brought my cousin Cameron to help with this project.  With each row added we had to level it and shim where needed.  ‘At some points in in the ceiling the difference from one end to the other was 3″ in height.

The problem with the jig my father created is it did not work when setting up the second row.  If the second is off, then all the spacing is off moving forward.  It was not until we were down to the guest bedroom and bath that it clicked to me how that jig was supposed to work, so I flipped it over and created the 2nd row only jig.  With those two jigs a job that was torture for almost a month and needed at least two people, became simple and a job that could be done with one.  I actually completed the 1st floor bath by myself.  Thankfully we only needed to strap for 1st floor.

In addition to the strapping jigs I created a jig for my wall switches, outlets, and my father even created a staple switch used during pulling electrical wire.  Measure once and get busy when you utilize jigs.


Cord Will Stay Cut

A few years ago I cut the cable cord for SlingTV via Amazon Fire TV/Stick.  My cable bill went from $170s to $40 just for Internet service.  The only negative to this process at my current house is I had to buy rabbit ears (antennas) for each TV and even with them local channel service is dicey.  I have friends that live in downtown Cincinnati, closer to the TV towers, that have no issues with local channels, so I was eager to see if reception would be good at my new house.

Thanks to my father’s research I will have a kick-ass communication/entertainment system controllable via a media panel in my master bedroom.  I’ll have a Leviton Home Networking PanelRouter, and Giga Switch controlling my Internet, both hard-wired and wireless in every room of house.  A Leviton Hi-Fi 2, 4-zone will control audio components.  Via the networking panel I can connect a source for TV watching that will feed to all the TVs throughout the house.  That source could be cable or a digital antenna.

20180704_171747The negative of having an antenna on each TV will be eliminated as I have installed a Clearstream 2Max TV Antenna in my attic space.  It has a 60+ mile range.  I will be some time before I can test the connections in each room, but if the direct connect to a TV is any indication, my local reception is going to be awesome.