Shop Construction

We first had the idea to get started on building a shop in spring of 2018.  But it’s amazingly difficult to figure out the steps to begin.  After many months and false starts we are pleased to work with Finish Line Concrete (pole building and concrete,) Mid-Valley Gravel (entrance culvert, leveling, trenching, gravel delivery and compacting,) Alpha Associates (electrical,) D. Hart Plumbing and Gecko Construction (interior framing.)

Bids came in around Christmas and HELOC was in hand by February.  It is now April, and it has already changed the property drastically.






New culvert and driveway.  So much less lawn to mow!







Check out blackberry removal to see how far this corner has come.  This is many inches of gravel in action.

This was a challenging phase.  Water and sewer line are in (after a frantic search for a plumber who could drop in the water line to complete the inspection, and Mid-Valley coming out again to hand dig it to the necessary code…)  But then, as they started digging the holes for the poles, the drain field was discovered.  What that means is that there was a layer of river rock that had to be vacuumed to a manageable stability.

After several extra steps, the poles were set and progress quickly appeared.




















The next chapter is the bathroom and electrical!

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Bye Bye Wall

Like many older homes, the rooms in our house are small – until we start messing with them.  The entire west side of the house is made up of the living room and dining room.  They were separated by a door that we rarely closed.  For less than $1,000 our contractor removed the wall while we were at work.

Now it would be nice to have fresh drywall, but that’s a project for another day.  That one will consist of removing the paneling, and the poorly textured plywood that I know is underneath.  When the rooms are bare to the studs, we will have the electrical redone, and insulate the exterior walls.  Then they will be covered with drywall (professionally done – I’ve learned it’s a lot less painful to hire this part out when I can afford it).  But until then we can live with an exposed beam.  I really appreciated the change, coming home from a regular day to a 32 foot long, open room; it felt like our very own “reveal”‘.

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It’s a brand new bathroom!

Okay, so maybe it’s not totally new, but it sure does make the house feel so much more contemporary!  Facebook popped up a memory today from 7 years ago.  That was when the awesome Wade Hamm saved us by putting in the wonderful 6 ft. soaking tub that I found at the Restore Store.  It wasn’t just that we wanted a new tub… the drain pipe was so old that it was perforated, and filling the swimming pool under our house each time someone took a shower.  Something had to be done.

1/2 the bathroom in new subfloor, a new tub and toilet, some fresh drywall, and that’s the way we lived for 7 years.  A few months ago, though, Jeremy suggested that we finish up the project.

It started with leveling the floor so that the existing matched the replaced floor, then new floor covering (50 year warranty 1/4″ thick vinyl tiles).  The sink had been replaced with the vanity you see pictured below.  It was a quick $120 fix from Home Depot – but it worked (and that unit just went to a new home through the Restore Store!)  Our contractor for this round built a custom vanity that moved the sink from being right next to the tub.20151025_151419_resized_1



My least favorite element of the bathroom was the green sponge painting.  You can see it on the door.  It was everywhere!  That door’s gone, by the way.  You can tell we never used it, since it was blocked by a table.




So here’s what you see when you walk into the bathroom now. We moved the mirror over to where the door used to be.  No more green sponge paint!  The counter top is custom laminate called “ribbon wood”.  It was really a cost effective way to go, and since there was a minimum order, we have 3 feet of it left over to add a shelf on the other side of the room (at some point.)

20151214_174852_resizedDo you notice the glow from behind the mirror?  That’s LED lights hardwired in.  Anyone who’s stayed at our place over night probably noticed that we kept rope lights that ran along the ceiling on all the time.  It was a nice soft glow when you wake up at 3 in the morning.  Because we liked that so much, we wanted to make it permanent.    Here’s an image of how that actually works.


The lights are taped to the back of the mirror, and the power cord runs directly into the wall.  No visible plugs or switches, but there is a remote control if we want to switch colors.  LED technology is really cool.  You can see a Facebook video of these very lights going through their cycle of colors.


Remember my thoughts on the green sponge paint?  There was a bank of 6 cabinets at the north end of the room that were completely decorated in that style.  Seems I didn’t capture an image before, so just imagine it with me.  That sponge paint was covering at least 10 layers of paint, and they were inset doors (read:  were either stuck, or couldn’t completely close.  It’s the challenge of having a house that moves with the season.)  The cabinet doors were replaced with fresh wood, and they lap over the frame, so even if the house shifts, the doors still close beautifully!

20151213_175312_resizedAnyone ever want more storage in their bathroom?  We went from the 6 large cabinets, and then added 3 more under the sink.  I’ve got TONS of storage.

Many thanks to Dennis of Gecko Construction for making this transformation happen.  It has really improved my enjoyment of our home, and the overall cost was only about $3,500.

Two more big projects to come – the living room/dining room, and the two upstairs bedrooms.  Since there’s no plumbing involved, they should be easy… right?



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With the right tools, anything is possible!

Last weekend we moved 12.5 of the yards of soil referred to in my last post, plus about 6 tons of gravel.  To do this I used my favorite toy… a “tool carrier”.  I call it a walk-behind bucket, but whatever you call it, it moves about a wheel barrow load at a time.

My dashboard

My dashboard

2013-06-22 17.22.38

Okay, I think I put about 7 hours on this machine.  Kinda wish I could have my very own.

Okay, I think I put about 7 hours on this machine. Kinda wish I could have my very own.

So what were we doing with all this gravel?  Making a 16 x 20′ patio under the balcony!  This will eventually be covered by a big deck, but for now a comfy summer patio works just fine.

The new patio!

The new patio!


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Making Progress

We added 13 yards of “splendid soil” on top of a bunch of logs too big to split (filler).  Still more work to do, but getting closer!

south end of bed

south end of bed

North end of bed

North end of bed


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Adding some height

new raised bed

new raised bed

This is what 10 truckloads of rock looks like. Not bad for a day’s work. Too bad the humidity is about 15% higher today, which pretty much makes it unbearable to keep working. Soon enough it will be beautiful, though.

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The back room

I’m waiting for paint to dry, well actually it’s primer. A lovely sand color called “Fortune Cookie” will be the next step. It’s hard to believe that this little project started over Spring Break which was the last chunk of time I took off from work. With the house finally being level, we can now begin on the interior. This room serves as a storage/pantry/pet/hallway area.

There are two layers on each wall.  Paneling that didn’t even lay flat, and the plywood that we’ve found on all walls in the house; sometimes covered in wallpaper, sometimes covered with a 1/4″ thick texturing.  Yuck!  Either way, a Sawsall works well for getting it off.

Here’s what it looks like after it’s all stripped down and cleaned up.  The box to the right of the door is where a window used to be.



Next we brought in an electrician to put two power supplies outside (one on a switch; think holiday decorations) and an outside light.  There’s also a quad outlet for the future work station.


While we’re at it, let’s make that doorway a bit bigger.







Here’s a typical old door in this house.  See how far off kilter it is?  The house must have been off level to begin with.




Same doorway, but with new door and drywall.

So here’s the room towards the end of my summer break.  Taped and mudded, and ready for texture.  Everything’s masked off… Ugh, hours of prep work and the whole house is still covered with a fine layer of drywall dust.  This project started at the end of March!  It’s now the end of July…

After texture (thanks to the Haney family for loaning me the texture gun again 🙂 ) and a coat of primer.  Bring on the Fortune Cookie!

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No new projects for the next year, my husband says.

When I first looked at this house in February of 2007, the first thing the real estate agent did when we walked in was to set her lipstick tube on the floor so I could watch it quickly roll towards the stairs. The story from the selling Realtor was “there’s something wrong under the house” but the inspectors reports could only say that there wasn’t enough access to get under there and see what was going on. After looking at several other properties, we jumped in, knowing full well that there was “something” that we’d have to deal with.

Fast forward to today, almost 4 years later, and as of yesterday afternoon, you can set a lipstick tube anywhere on the floor in the house and it won’t roll in its own. Thanks to Terra Firma for their service in installing a new central beam and smart jacks; our house no longer slopes down to the center. Our celebration was confirmed last night as we read through the original inspector’s report and could say that we’ve tended to 15 out of the 18 things that were originally advised to be addressed. Not bad for a couple of novices. Crazy thing is, we weren’t using that as a checklist. We’ve been working off of what seems like the next most important thing to deal with.

What was the process for reaching this monumental occasion? Thanks for asking! It all started way back at the beginning when Jeremy and Wade dug out a decent crawl space under the house. Thanks to Angela for supplying us with her kid’s sled so that Wade could shovel dirt onto it, and Jeremy could pull it out with a rope and dump it. From there, the original jury rigged piers were cleaned up a bit, and it was time to start dealing with the water (see earlier post about water everywhere.) The solution for “water everywhere” was to install an automatically operating sump pump. Terra Firma tried to just install the jacks, but at some point, someone had covered dry rotted support boards with new boards. Makeup does not a good foundation make. Anyway, new beams = no more dry rot.

So even if I can’t do any big projects for the next year, we can at least not worry about the desk chair rolling across the room, or a spilled glass of water chasing after the rug. I think this might have been the best investment in home improvement yet!

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Happy Spring

Sure, why not…  It took long enough to get here.  After an extremely rainy spring it has been nice to have weather decent enough to work outside in.

So to kick off the season we started with gravel delivery from Green and White.  They delivered 12 yards of gravel for much less than I expected.  Their driver was talented, too.  Check out the video of him spreading the load. (Turn down the volume if you watch the YouTube video, Elsea was a little excited by the big truck!)

If you have gravel delivered, don’t skip the compacting process though.  For $33 I rented a compactor that leveled this spread into an almost concrete-like surface.

We needed some gravel on the advice that it’s a good product to use to set in fence posts.  Baah, use a bag of concrete.  We couldn’t get the gravel packed in there tight enough.

We had redwood delivered from a guy based less than 40 minutes from here (name and contact info to be posted after the final delivery).  Harvested locally and processed locally… it feels good.  It’s so fresh, that you get a pioneer feeling as one cuts and assembles it.

Right now we’re more than half way done with the 200 feet of fence that we’re installing.  We started off by renting a post hole auger.  Get the kind with two wheels and it’s pretty easy to drill a lot of holes quickly.  23 in just a little over an hour, to be exact.

Thanks to Diane for catching us with this drive-by photo shoot.  If you look really close you can see my fingers holding the level in place.  Yep, my job is to hold the level and the board… over and over, and over.  I get the quiet side of the deal, though!

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Ahh, task lighting

One thing that anyone who’s cooked in our kitchen knows, we were missing some task lighting. When we redid the kitchen electrical at the very beginning, we put in a switch and ran a line to the new ceiling area. After flipping the gas range and refrigerator, we determined our counter layout. At Ikea we found a matching fixture to the two recently replaced ones and everything else just fell into place. I’m looking forward to the next dinner party, prep will be so much more enjoyable.

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