Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh, I just a-door you.

We recently got done installing new siding, and we also had the house painted (before the dead of winter sets in.)

Our old front door (atrium door), which was always intended as a temporary door, suddenly started looking quite shabby.  Turns out it was pretty rotted too.

I had recently read how well this project turned out over at Redneck Modern, so, I asked if Hunter would come do mine as well.  I liked the idea of just replacing the door, instead of having to mess with the glass around the doorframe.

There were a couple of challenges - like discovering that the doorpost 4x4 was no longer fastened to a wood pad in the slab, and was just loose.  I was tempted to replace the rotted wood with some PT, and fasten the 2x4 to it, but Hunter wisely suggested anchoring an L bracket to the post, then filling the hole with cement.  We dropped a tap con screw anchoring the bracket to the slab as well.

A nice surprise was discovering that the electric release for the door still works, and even better, fits and works perfectly with the new lock mechanism.  We now have an electric release for the atrium door (assuming the deadbolt is unlocked, of course).  The buzz it makes reminds me of visiting my grandfather in his Yonkers NY coop apartment.

Old door

New door in place

New locks

Curb appeal.  Or is that curb a peel (get it, orange?)

The door turned out great, the color is perfect, and Hunter is extremely meticulous in his work.  As he joked, he makes all the mistakes on his own house, so that he can do it perfectly for everyone else.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garage Door Hardware

Our siding project is almost over.  I'll post pictures once I get everything painted, promise.

In the end, I opted to have someone install the siding.  Yes, I could have done it, but lack of time, and dubious skill with a circular saw, combined with $100/sheet raw materials, made this the right choice.
Plus I still had inside work to do, beams to repair and refinish, etc.

Are you familiar with "scope creep"?  Ah yes, plan for the unplanned.

Three related projects that I wasn't planning (or budgeting) for crept their way in.

First, there was some minor rot behind the siding, in a few places.  I scraped out the damaged wood, and repaired with products from the Rot Doctor.

Second, the electrical panel, which I had upgraded in the last few months, was sitting on top of the old siding.  It made sense to instead recess it into the wall, essentially another whole service upgrade, though this time recycling the panel.



Worth the effort, I think.

The last unplanned project was the garage doors.  We pulled the old doors, intending to replace the siding, and discovered that one of the rollers was completely missing.  I did some searching, and found a place in South San Francisco called Crown Hardware, who sells an almost perfect replacement.  At $100/pair (you need two pairs for two doors) it wasn't cheap, but I was thrilled that someone still makes it, and this version has modern bearings too.

Old hardware (notice the missing roller!):

New hardware:

This is the actual product.  Crown Industrial's part number is 4Z2R, #4 hanger.  Link

Oh, we also ended up rebuilding the door frames out of PT 2x4s because the old redwood had rotted out.

The other big fix was the center post.  Ever notice how on many Eichler E11 models, the center of the garage seems to sag?  The center 4x4 post sits on a piece of redwood, which in many cases rots out.  The post then sinks, causing the garage doors to sag and drag, and it also impacts the roofline.

The fix was to jack up the center main beam support with a floor jack, supported with 2x4s on each side, and replace both the rotted redwood floor plate with a new piece of 2x6, and a new redwood 4x4 post.  I put the post into a metal cup, so it wouldn't be in direct contact with the 2x4 under it (and also to give it some additional support).

Old frame:

New floor plate:

New frames:

Last word of advice - when you are replacing siding, it's a great time to:
  • install seismic retrofits, such as oversized floor plate bolts
  • run wiring for additional outdoor lighting or outlets
  • install R13 insulation
If you've already done the above from the inside, well, great.  Even though I had done so, I still found cases where I realized I needed/wanted additional lights and outlets for example.

That's it for now.  I think this is one of those posts that will become very helpful to someone in the future.  I hope it is!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Full Circle

I got an email from a reader of my blog the other day.  He mentioned that he had just bought an Eichler, and was inspired by my blog to create his own, much as I was inspired by Redneck Modern.
You can find this new blog here.  He's well into making lots of changes and improvements.  Well done!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Side Work

Or better, siding work.
I've taken most of the summer to work on smaller projects inside the house, but now that Fall is here, it's time to get back to big projects.  And yes, I will put up interior pictures one of these days.

The siding on our house is in really bad shape.  Some of it is rotted, some of it is original, some is replacement MDO.  The biggest issue, besides the rot, is that a lot of the siding was hacked up by the former owners, who retrofit small AC units, originally designed as window units, and made them built in by simply cutting a hole in the wall.

On Friday, I took delivery of 40 sheets of Breckenridge siding from Jeff Nichols and on Sunday I began the process of priming the boards.  Jeff sells both MDO (think plywood with a wood grain facing) or MDO (think fiberboard and glued plywood.)  I chose the Breckenridge because it's the closest of the two to real wood.  The cost is just under $100/sheet for a 4x9 sheet, so a little over $4k just in materials.  Add to that primer, nails/screws, and you get the idea of why contractors charge around $400/sheet installed.

My first challenge was to decide on latex vs oil primer.  This being California, it's not that easy to find oil-based paint, but Home Depot and Ace sell a Zinsser product called Cover Stain.  I thought it would be good to have some oil in the siding, since it's going to soak right into the wood.  I bought a 5 gal pail and a 3/4" nap roller, and set to work.

About 5 minutes in, I called my buddy Hunter:
"Hey - this siding.  How do you get primer in the grooves?  Don't tell me you have to brush them."
"Yes, we brushed and rolled."

Arg.  I didn't like that answer, so later that day, I went looking for a coarser nap roller.  Found one at Ace, 1 1/4" or something ridiculous like that (HD has one too).  It works, but you still have to push really hard on the roller, which makes the sleeve come off the end of the roller, so it's a bit of an Abbott and Costello routine.  I later found a better roller at HD made by Wooster which has a clip on the end preventing the sleeve from rolling off ever 30 seconds.

Oh, the oil based primer.  It stinks to high heaven.  It's not as bad as working with BIN or Kilz, but it's still pretty strong.  I used the entire 5 gal pail on the 10 sheets, so I'm going to switch to Zinsser 123 for the next 10 sheets, and see how they compare.

Midweek update: switched to 123 for the second batch, seems to work just as well and smells far better.
Priming these flat is definitely the way to go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


OK, let me try to get back on the wagon.  I know I still need to post beautiful "reveal" photos, but the reality is we are still doing work and have boxes everywhere!

In a couple of places, I eliminated or moved walls, which presents a problem since in an Eichler, the wiring is run up and on the ceiling.  With a normal attic, you would simply pull the wires up to the crawlspace or attic, drill a new hole, and drop them down.

But, with these houses, especially if you have a foam roof, it's much more involved:
- cut through waterproof layer
- cut through inches of foam
- cut through original tar and gravel
- find wires underneath protective metal brackets, and if needed cut brackets

I used a circular saw and tons of razor blades to cut through to the metal, then a Dremel to carefully cut the metal to the point where I could bend it.

If you're thinking of stripping your roof down to the tongue and groove wood, you can see how much work this is, and explains why the estimates I got for a total roof redo were almost double the cost of adding foam and recoating.

Being the nerd that I am, I had to run Cat5E and RG6 to every room (in some cases multiple runs per room).  I ran these over the roof and had them foamed in when the roof was done:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back it up

Clearly I've falled off the wagon on the blog.
Things got really busy with the final push towards move-in, so every minute counted.
Despite that, there's still work underway, so I haven't been motivated to post final pictures, because, well, we're not done yet.

I decided if I don't start posting little bits, I'll probably never finish this blog, so here's a first step back.
Let me recap the timeline:
Jan 2, 2011: bought the house
Jan 3, 2011: began demolition of the interior.
May 9, 2011: moved in

What happened in between?  A high level checklist, which I will detail later:

  • demolition.  Ripped everything out to the studs.
  • beam repair/replacement
  • pulled up old tile flooring and wet sanded to the slab
  • repaired radiant heat leaks and installed new boiler
  • installed structural improvements
  • roughed in bathrooms and kitchen plumbing
  • replaced 90% of all electrical wiring, installed new circuits, upgraded to 200A service
  • ran new gas line overhead to kitchen
  • relocated water heater and laundry to the garage, installed new Eternal tankless water heater
  • installed porcelain tile in every square foot of living space
  • installed insulation (R13) and sheetrock 
  • installed new Milgard aluminum double pane doors and windows
  • installed new kitchen cabinets and counters
  • installed new interior trim
  • installed bathroom fixtures
  • installed new Rheem 16SEER rooftop package HVAC and new ductwork
  • had roof refoamed and recoated
  • had bathroom shower and tub surround tiled
  • wall prep and painting
  • repaired sprinkler system
And we're not done yet.  But it's heck of a lot better than it was on January 2nd.
Once the interior is done, we'll move on to the exterior.

More posts, pictures, etc coming soon.  Promise.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lessons Learned

At some point, I will return to this post and add some pearls of wisdom.
For now, let's start with #1.

1) Not all the pros are competent.
I had a GC build and rough in the shower for me.  His other work was solid, but when I posted pictures up on the John Bridge tile forum, they said it was a redo, for several reasons.  I couldn't believe that a 20 year pro could possibly not know what he was doing, but he clearly didn't.  We came to an agreement about the issue, and I hired a different person to redo the shower walls and pans.  Since we're now a week away from movein, I also had him tile the walls.
Consider this a sneak peek of the gorgeous Heath Ceramics tile.