Practical Sadism Or: How to Lay Concrete Block

So with the newly poured footings it was finally time to lay some block.

image

My friend Wesley offered to help me pick up my block from home depot. We used the Home Depot truck and after the concrete block triggered the over-weight alarm on the truck (yes they have those, who knew) we suddely came to the realization, that like most of the project, this might be a bad idea.

Fortunately we were able to get all the block transported over to the house with minimal  casualties. We were, however, reminded how well T-shirts work as bandages.  (Some people were injured in the makeing of this house, primarily me, but still.)

With the block in position, there was just some measuring and marking, then we moved on to laying  block.

image

image

That’s when this got complicated….

Now im doubt many of you are perfecional block masons, but i do think you probably have a little idea one would go about laying some block.

Lay out some mortar, set down a block, plume, level, boom bada-bing, move on to the next one.

Yeah, try explaining that to a concrete block.

About 10 block in to my foundation I had already cussed in three different languages.

image

You have no idea how finicky it is to lay concrete block.

image

Finally me and the block came to an understanding: I would try to lay block, they would put up a fight, we would struggle for a half an hour then they would settle down into something that looked like a wall. Not a good wall mind you, but something between an autistic monkey, and a brick mason makeing a bad artistic statement (“I call it: The Collapse of Man Kind”)

image

The piers on the inside

image

Finally i got the block layed. With ripping out the old foundations, i had a bunch of historic brick left over, and since i didnt like the look of the concrete block, i decided to to back the old brick as a veneer over the concrete block.

image

image

Unlike concrete block, brick is a wonderful material, that is fantastic to work with and highly rewarding.

image

image

Im going to do a “sealed” crawlspace,  so with a little bit of the left over brick, I closed off the access hole in my foundation.

image

Thats all for now folks.

Catch ya next time.

I Always Find it Helpful to Build the Foundation First, But Somehow I Always Seem to Get Around To It At Step Four

So with the permit tacked to the door, I continued the build.

Now part of the replace rim joist relayed on the old stacked stone foundations. It’s pretty cool to see the methodology of the original builders in the stacked stone foundations, but as part of getting the permit, I had to replace them with a pad footer and concrete piers.

My brother and nephews  came over and helped be raise the rim joist off the old foundation, and put it on temporary blocking.
image

image

image

The the base of my floor system is made up of a series of concrete piers on 2’X2′ pad footing.  My friend Wes came over and helped me measure out and beggin the whole for my footers. We dug the holes 18in-24in deep.
image

The engineer came over to inspect them, he probed the earth, stood back and looked at them, and said: “looks good, just take them down another 18in-24in.”

So mooving a vast amount of earth the footing holes where finally ready.

In addition  to replace the stacked rock foundation, I had to replace the foundation under the extension on the side of the house.

A crowbar, hammer and four hours later, i had the structure  down to the foundation. Four days later, the footers were formed a ready to go.
image

image

image

image

image

image

Then it started raining….
image
image

A week later, the forms finally dried out, and we were able to pour concrete. (Getting the concrete inside the house was hilarious. We had the driver put on all his extensions on the shute, then we threaded the concrete shute through a window. Just imagine  a concrete truck trying to copulate with a house, and that is pretty close)
image

image

So finally after the months of work, we finally have a foundation to work from.

That’s all for now folks.

Plot Twist: I Call The Building Dept.

So this last couple of weeks have been a bit of a tormiol. I finished removeing the old floor, and started marking and digging for the piers, and planning the plumbing and frameing. About this time the house was looking a little bit conspicuous.

image

The house was looking less like a house and more like a construction site. Now i have no problems with a construction site, i actually feel quite affectionate towards them, but I was trying to be low key with this remodel. So after working in secret for two months i decided to go public and called the coweta building department to get a permit.

Now before the county will issue a permit, they have an inspector come out and walk the site to see the scope of work you will be doing. I was a little nervouse, but optimistic about getting a permit.

The inspector arrive, and upon looking inside the house he gasped, then sat down staring wide-eyed and silent for the next ten minutes.

At which point my optimism began to fade.

After a few minute of this called up his boss to come over and look at the  structure with him. He his boss arrived, they both looked quite  reserved. Finally i got them talking.

After discussing the merits of tearing down the structure and starting over, and the unlikelyhood of my sucess, and the economic unviability of the project, they finally agreed i could do the project. But the permit was qualified on that i would have an engeneer inspect and aprove the existing 105 year old brick foundation, and as part of the project, i would need to bring the rest of the building up to code.

This sounded close to my original plan, but with building inspector’s trepidation I wasn’t quite certain what I had in mind was the same as they had.

With the caviats laid out i only had one question for them: if either of them knew of a good structural engineer?

The chief building instructor pulled out his phone, and said, “call this guy.”

So through their recomendation, and with the fate of the progect on a weaker footing  than my building, i got in contact with an engineer.

The engineer turned out to be pretty cool, he looked at my grading, and gave me some tips, then started looking at the foundation.

“Does it have a footer?” he asked.

Now i had done a little digging around my house and i hadn’t seen anything that looked like a footer, these were cheap mill houses after all #explotivelabor

“Im not sure,” I replied. Hopeing that the fact that my house was still standing after 100 years would be enough to perswade him of it’s merit.

“Let me check” he replied, as he pulled a length of rebar out ofhis truck and probed the ground at the base of the brick wall.

My hearts sank as the rebar slid easily through the dirt.  He probed a couple places. The silence was audible.

All of a sudden  the piece of rebar clinked. He moved it along the foundation a little bit and got another clink.

Sure as hell, my house has a footer. it’s about 6in wide, and rickety, but it’s got a footer!

So in the end, after a very nervouse week, the engineer gave me a letter saying 85% of my foundation was good and the other 15% was complete crap and would need to be replaced.

Fortunately I had been planning on replaceing the crap foundation  (kinda, not realy. I though about it, but wasn’t looking forward to it), and soon after Coweta issued me a building permit, and I baught a copy of the International building code.

image

So far, so good.

Sill Plate and Chimney Removal, Or: “How To Eat A Elephant But Not A House”

They say if you want to eat an elephant you do it one bite at a time. Unfortunately no has said what strategy is best if you want to eat a house, not that you’d want to eat a house, and if you did, you’d definately not want to eat this one. #oneoflifesunasweredquestions.

So with the neglect revealed, it seemed like the most logical place to start was with replacing the sill plate, and get the house on  some solid lumber.

image

I played around with a couple ideas for a jig which would lay against the wall with a jack under each leg and lift the wall, and replace the sill plate in sections.

image

I picked up some 2x6s and tacked togeather the jig. At which point this masterful plan fell to pieces.  The jig ended up being to flimsy and unweldly to move into place. So that was fun.

But after acouple of different ideas, I finally worked out a system of 2 – 2x6s that ran along the top of the wall, lifted but 2 post on bottle jacks.

image

This removed the weight off the sill plate and allowed me to cut out the old material and slip in the new lumber.

image

image

After this i took down the whole system, moved over 10ft, and repeated the entire process. 10ft at a time i work around the perimeter of the building.

image

In the end i think it turned out pretty good.

image

After i get my rough plumbing in, and crawl space sorted, my floor joist should connect to this rim joist and form the basis of the floor.

While working on the rim joist, i also started takeing down the chimney.

image

image

I was still on the indesisive about takeing down the chimney, but i was pretty confident I needed to take it down. I only it was a pretty easy task, only requireing a mason chisel and heavy hammer,  i took my time to clean the mortar off the brick as i went. The mortar was in pretty good shape until i got a foot bellow the roof line at which point it had deteriorated to the point of sand mixture supporting the bricks.

image

So i ended up feeling pretty validated in desision to take down the chimney.

image

image

image

With the sill plate relace i removed the rest of the floor, to give me access to the crawl space.

image

That all for today folks. Thanks for reading.

Next up: installing footing drains, bring in my water line and sewer drain, and install a crawl space vapor barrier.

Diagnosis, or: Rot! Termites! Rubish! Oh-No!

So with the newly purchased house I felt it was time to dig bellow the surface and see what I was dealing with. I know some people with think this is something best done before purchasing a property, and they would be correct, like the inspirational poster says: “The purpose of some peoples lifes are to serve as a warning to others”.

Moveing foward, so the was a drop ceiling sheet rock walls, and “classic” 80’s panel covered the walls, from the chimney out side I suspected there was a fire place hidden somewhere inside. And both the bathroom and kitchen looked properly haunted.

image

image

image

image

After resisting the immediate urge to burn the place, i started peeling back the layers, looking for a basis from which to start.

Throught a local roll-off dumpster company, I rented a dumpster and started the gutting.

image

image

The former owner showed me photos of the house when they got it in 1982, and it was in perfect condition.  Seeing the results of 30 years of neglect was a bit disturbing.

image

Dianosis: well out of the 130 ft of rim joist, 100ft need to be replaced.

image

Termite damage in 3 locations.

image

The shed structure that houses the bath, needs to be completely removed and rebuilt.

image

Chimney is beautiful, but unfortunately is in the wrong place, wrong size, and wrong fuel type (coal, not wood) so it has to come down. Also gonna have to rewire and replumb the entire house.

image

Stats so far

Roll- off $380
Resperator, gloves, calming music from Spotify: $75
Time fallen through the floor: 4
Number of rats nest found so far: 3
Total spent: $12,050

Catchya later. Tune in next time when me start replaceing the rim joist.

Paul Bought A House: And Other Tragedies.

image

So where to begin? I guess the the most logical place would be the beginning.

This spring, paying off some debt, I was divided on what my next finacial move should be.

I played around with several options, but finally came to the conclussion that buying a house could be a good way to save up some capital, build my net worth, ect, ect.

image

I talked to my bank, and got aproved for a mortgage, then started the house hunt. I look at many properties, and and quickly found that properties in my price range (100K – 60K) and the occasional good property would pop up. But ussually was sold within 2-3 days.

So with this reallisation I settled in for the summer stalking home-buying web sites, and playing the waiting game. And continued to save for inevitable expenses.

image

A couple of months and several close misses later, I found my friendship with house hunting fade. And for the most part properties that fell in my price range were usually too far in disrepair to get financing on them.

Discouraged, I happened to list houses on one web site lowest to highest.  And happened that fell into the range of my savings (when you dont have a lot of hobbies, and a small social life, saving adds up fast)

Sitting in a little mill village, the little place was built in 1910. It’s a cozy 900 sqft with toom for a detatched 20×30 garage on the back.

At first I emedietly dismissed the idea, but I kept on coming back to it. So after mulling it over for a while, I contacted the owners to see the property.

This braught me to the crux of the issue. Every property requires maintenence, and if neglected, every house will reach a point where it is un economicly feasible to bring it back from the bring. So this is the question: is this property redeemable? And the answere i’ve come back to so far is “I dont know”.

So here is the adventure i’ve set myself upon: doing the delicate dance between restoration and economic retardesness.

So hang around if you want to see how this project goes.

Paul bought a house, and it may have been a good idea.

Final House price with taxes ect: $11,522

Spent so far in tools ect: $130

Of all the many deaths we suffer, i think the death of hope cuts the worst.

….it pulls like the ripping of the soul, breaks it hold of the past, future and present. Away it flows, taking with it all the ideas that are now revealed as fantasies, leaving behind only loss.