Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jeff Dickson

Friday, October 29, 2010

underway yet again!

It has been some time since I posted here.  The reason is that it has been too HOT to do anything!  So, there has been nothing to post...
But's the latest on our house remodel.
We plan to fully remodel the upstairs, as you most likely are aware.  And, with mortgage interest rates being so low, we would love to refinance once it is done.  Yet, to do that, we needed to get some other stuff fixed up, one of those things being the hall bathroom.  It has been non-used for a while now, and it was ugly.  So, I gave Inga a budget of $75-$100 to put a facelift on it and get it to where it could be used.
We got a gallon of oil based paint (because you can't oil base over latex), some latex paint for the drywall, some caulk, and some basic accessories.  Karen came down, and they went to work.  The bathroom is now an attractive green, the tub is all shiny, the ugly and unlevel shower doors are gone and replaced with a very attractive curtain, there are new towel racks, the cabinets are painted, and the shower wall was painted.  Then they caulked the tub and put some trim around it (because the tub is unlevel and left a gap).  Oh, and then they threw down some very inexpensive peel and stick flooring.  It looks like an entirely new bathroom!  It is our goal to remodel it totally after the upstairs is finished, hence the small budget.
Then they decided it would be a great idea to paint outside.  I can't argue there - it is badly peeling and faded.  But, before that, we needed to have the underpinning replaced...
So, I found a guy to do that with Hardisiding for a very reasonable price, and it looks very good!  
Now for the painting....
Inga and Karen insisted on them doing it - the scraping, sanding, puttying, caulking, and painting.  I told them repeatedly there were nuts.  But, they weren't having it any other way.  So, Karen trotted down here last week.  And they went to work.  And they worked.  And they worked.  And they worked.  FOUR days of scraping.  They were not 1/2 way done, and they were worn out.  Finally, Inga cried UNCLE and let me call some help in.  The first guy we got was horrendous.  Of the 8 hours, he worked about 4.  I fired him.  I called around Thursday and found 2 more guys.  They showed up Friday and WORKED!  They showed up Saturday and WORKED!  After Saturday, the house was almost all prepped.   Karen had to leave Monday, and Inga had to return to work.  So, the fellows came back, with a 3rd hand, and worked some more.  the house was FINALLY ready to prime!
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - the man sprayed and sprayed and sprayed.  The wood soaked and drank and guzzled the primer.  But, here it is on Friday, and the house is all painted!  It looks really good - pictures coming tomorrow when I have some daylight.  All that is left is for him to re install the gutters and we will be done!  YAY!  I could say those 4 little words - but I don't think I have to...
By the way, you may be asking "Jeff, what was your role in all this painting?"  Let me answer that - I HATE to paint.  HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE DESPISE HATE painting.  I made it clear that I would have NO part in the abomination.  I would not participate.  I would watch my little son and let them work.  I did just exactly that.  And I enjoyed myself.
So, what is next?  I need to install the outdoor water heater, and get the upstairs floor in.  It may take a little, however, since I have 2 big school projects to work on, and I have a weekend of being on call coming up.  But, we are making progress...

PS....I gotta say it....I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!
(ah, I feel so much better)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It has arrived!

My tankless water heater arrived via FedEx yesterday. Now I just need someone to arrive to install it! Oh - never mind, apparently I am that someone!
IESI finally removed my dumpster, 4 days after they said they would. But, it is gone, the ruts are there, and now we can continue our work!

Jeffrey N Dickson

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Video Tour

I recorded a short (1:49) video of the upstairs to show what we are working with.  The video went a little blurry at the end, but you can still see what is going on. Just click below to see the tour.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The bill arrives

I am fairly certain this will come as a surprise to many, particularly the mayor of Terrell, Mr Hal Richards.

Jeffrey N Dickson

Monday, April 5, 2010


At last!  I called this afternoon, and the full dumpster gets carted off tomorrow!  I had hoped to get it filled sooner, but, as with all construction jobs, I ran over.  But, it is full now, and they are coming to haul it off!  YAY!!!
I still have a little demo work to do, mainly some baseboards, a little more drywall, and a tad bit of flooring.  I also have to remove the old attic fan, but the largest part of the demo project is FINISHED!
I get to go to the doctor in the morning for a tetanus shot.  I drove a 50+ year old nail into my leg as I was attempting to break a piece of drywall.  Didn't see that nail in it!  YOWCH!!!!  The picture of the small puncture wound is on the Picasa Album.  No worries, it isn't real gross.  Wish I had taken a photo of the nail sticking out of my leg, though.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Working on it!

Neighbor Eddie came over today to help out. We cleared the upstairs of the old trunk, all the old doors, and the lumber that we will be salvaging. We got more of the flooring ripped up and knocked out some more walls. I started on the bathroom, and the pictures here tell what horrors I found in there. We are fortunate the house has not burned down. It brings new meaning to the prayer I have heard a million times: "Lord, please protect us from the unseen dangers."
We got the old toilet and the really old sink out, but still need to get the less old one out. We also have to work our way to underneath the house and get the old water lines out - we capped them for now, since there are no valves.
My arms are about to fall off, I have blood blisters all over my hands, and I am generally exhausted. It's a wrap for today; it will be there for next time.

Jeffrey N Dickson

Old wiring

This is an old wiring splice. Found it 1" from water heater flue pipe. No box. They don't make 'em like they used to! THANK GOODNESS!

Jeffrey N Dickson

Lovin' what I find!

Are you SURE your old house is built safe? This water heater flue pipe was in a small cavity upstairs. Notice the burnt wood around it? Double wall pipe needs a 1" clearance. This had about 1/2", if that!

Jeffrey N Dickson

Saturday, March 27, 2010


There is still a little drywall to bring down, but it's about done! Of course, there are about 1.5 million nails still in the walls and ceilings, but the really difficult demo is close to completion!
By the way, about 1' of the dumpster is leaves and limbs (packed down), the other 1 1/2' is drywall!

Jeffrey N Dickson

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Remember the Sabbath

I tried to, anyway.  Karen, even though she was tired and has a cold, was insistent upon going upstairs to destroy more drywall.  I insisted she not work on it, but to instead use today as a day to rest up.  She finally relented.  
HOWEVER, as she was talking to Inga about some plans on what exactly to do up there, a light bulb lit up in my head.  I headed out to Home Depot.  My plan was to make a ramp to get the drywall and other trash from upstairs to the dumpster without having to lower buckets down, as that was time consuming.  I came up with it as I was wondering around looking at the various options.  Metal roofing material was too expensive, so I moved to OSB.  a 4X8 sheet was just over $7.00, and if ripped would make 2 - 2X8 sheets (yes, I can do math!).  Well, I need about 14 - 16 feet of ramp, so...8 feet plus 8 feet = 16 feet...hmmmm. Add in 2 - 2X4X16's, and we have a ramp!  So, the result is what you see here.  DId it help? You bet it did!  I knocked out more trash today in just a couple hours than I did the previous 2 days!  Oh, and Karen saw me starting to work, and came up to work.  She knocked down a BUNCH more drywall while I got it out of there and into the dumpster.
We still don't have an exact plan on what we want to do, but at least with everything removed we can get a better look at the layout and figure it out.  I plan on having a carpenter come out this week to look at possibly putting in a dormer to allow more room for a bathroom, but we are dubious about whether that will work.  
Well, that is all for tonight.  Karen and I are both thoroughly exhausted.  We could both use really good back massages!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Worky worky

Whew!  Karen is working me to death!  We got a late start today, due to the fact that we both slept in pretty late, ate a late breakfast, and then Keltan decided he needed to take a nap.  Normally he sleeps about an hour or so, but today he decided to sleep 2 and a half hours!  Good for him, but it delayed us getting started. 
We got upstairs and started tearing our more drywall.  We got just about everything down, save for a little more than 1 wall in one room, and the small bathroom.  Big mess up there right now, but at least we're getting the drywall down.  
I have never seen this before, but the drywall is seemingly glued down at the seams.  This makes for a really tough time of taking it down, and really slows the progress.  Another thing I have never seen, and can't figure out exactly why it was done, is that there are 2 areas of one room where there was cardboard nailed to the 1X8 under the drywall.  One was an old Coca Cola box that was from the days of WW2, and had a stamp on it that asked people to help win the war.  Interesting, but no idea why it was there.  Anyway, it isn't now.
We are both worn out, but we hope to get up there for a few more hours tomorrow and get the rest of the drywall off the walls.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Got my dumpster delivered today. Started filling it up!

Jeffrey N Dickson

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Old wiring

If anyone ever wonders if they should have an old house rewired, look at what is lurking behind your walls.

Jeffrey N Dickson


Well, yesterday I had called IESI about a dumpster rental, and was told the smallest I could get would be a 20 yard and that was way to big and expensive.  Today, I got a call from IESI. The representative told me they do have smaller ones available, a 10 yard.  Then he told me he was sent an email from the Terrell Mayor, Mr. Hal Richards.  Therefore, I now have a solution to my dumpster rental problem.  
I called this afternoon, and the dumpster is being delivered Friday!  Let the demo proceed!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And so it begins (again)

Remember my emails chronicling my house remodel? Ah - those were the good ole days, weren't they? Vacation time spent beating down walls, crawling under the house in the mud and the muck to put in new pipes, and trying to line up drain lines with the beams under the house (which, of course, were never where I wanted them to be). The wife fussing about a wall being a couple inches off from where she wanted it, and the near-fights we had trying to determine the best way to do something that satisfied her need for a perfect bathroom and my need for the job to get done and have a functioning place to shower and sit upon our throne to contemplate why we embarked upon this journey - ah yes, great memories indeed.

Well, welcome to my new level of Hell. I would say I moved up, but that is only in floor level. Actually, I guess I have moved up - up to a higher level of difficulty and pain. Yes, I am taking on our second level! So, here's the scoop:
Karen came down for the weekend. Well, we went to Aunt Doris' birthday party on Saturday - a fun time -, came home and slept very late Sunday morning - but then the "fun" began. See, I was doing pretty good about being all gung-ho about fixing up this house, then came Dad's heart attack and subsequent early exit. As a result, all my motivation to work on this blasted house went bye-bye, and I had pretty much quit, save for the necessities, such as putting in the furnace up front. Karen decided that I needed to get re-motivated, and proceeded to bug me until I gave in and started doing some things around the house Sunday.

I decided that the project that is bearing down on me the absolute worst is the upstairs. It is an absolute disaster. I had ripped up 95% of the floors in order to have clear access for the new wiring by Carlos the Electrician (not to mention the floors were installed poorly and kept breaking). The drywall is old, brittle, crumbling, and the nails are backing out. The bathroom consists of a toilet and a sick crammed together with another sink in a vanity, which was right on the verge of useless. It had to be remodeled, but the thought of it has been weighing me down like nobody could believe.

The work has begun! Karen worked on getting everything out of closets up there and putting it in tubs. When I got home from work Monday, I took the tubs down and put them in the carport (to be moved to the garage soon). Step 1 complete (except for some heavy items which I will get help with this weekend).

Today (Tuesday), I grabbed my nailbar, claw hammer, and 2 pound shorty sledge hammer and commenced to tearing down the drywall. At first it was going quite smooth, as it was on an interior wall, and I was thinking "oh yeah - this won't be too difficult", but then I got to the exterior walls! It was about the time that Karen, who had finished working in the yard) came up to help destroy some drywall and swung the sledge hammer against an exterior wall that I remembered the exterior walls are backed by 1X8 boards! This is still a manageable situation, but the going gets much slower. We worked for a while, maybe an hour and a half, and got about half the room done. I removed a very built-in bookcase and the molding for the window. There is now a huge pile of rubble in the middle of the room.

Speaking of rubble - I thought it would be a great idea to rent a dumpster to simply toss all the debris in, then have it hauled off. I called U-Rent-It, but they don't rent dumpsters. So, I called Home Depot. They can't rent dumpsters inside city limits in Terrell. I called IESI, who handles the garbage pick up in Terrell. That is when I found out that they cannot rent anything smaller than a 20 yard roll-off dumpsters, and the minimum cost would be no less than $500 for even a couple days! If you are unfamiliar with the size of a 20 yard dumpster, imagine cutting the top off a school bus, ripping the seats out, and throwing debris in it. That is a 20 yard. Now, obviously, I will not be getting rid of that much drywall. So, I get to buy a couple boxes of the contractor trash bags and let the garbage guys pick up dozens of heavy bags full of drywall chunks. Oh well.

So, check back here often. I will make an attempt to post how this mostrocity is going.


PS:  as soon as I get Picasa and Blogspot to cooperate, I will have a slideshow on here of all the progress that is made.  For now, to see pictures, visit and click on the folder "Jeff's House of Pain."