Noe and Victor from Austin Brothers Fence set to work this morning taking out the tired old cedar fencing at the north side of the house, and along the back property line. Parts of the fence were already leaning. Several pickets were broken. Where the rails were exposed, we could see termite damage — in cedar.
Cleaning out the old fence was always on the list of things to get to, depending on budget, as we pivoted from saving and rebuilding the house to projects in the yard.
This accelerated when we adopted Adobe. We need to keep the deer herd out of the back yard, and a secure yard from which Adobe cannot escape when she needs to burn off thousands of crazy puppy calories. Adobe is coming up on seven months old. She really needs a safe place to run fast and hard.
As part of this project, Jacquela gets the privacy fence she wants in front of the house, between the kitchen and driveway, to shield the gravel deck off the kitchen from passersby. Jacquela and Steven found online a photograph of a horizontal fence on which they both instantly agreed. Austin Bros. said they could do it by cutting a conventional 1×4 down the middle, creating two 1x2s. The design features 1x4s at the bottom, traveling to half way up, with the 1x2s taking the top half of the fence — with an air gap between each horizontal. Fences in Austin apparently tend to be vertical pickets, or horizontals that all the same dimension.
Why did Austin Bros. get the job? It’s run by two brothers — Nate and Jeff. And dad answers the phones and runs the office. This resonates with Steven, who works with his brothers — and misses his dad every day.
After lunch, Steven climbed the ladder into the storage loft in the garage — and began passing down to Jacquela boxes stuffed with holiday ornaments and lighting.
Working under the eaves and in the trees into the dark, surrounded by a herd of nearly 20 incurious and incautious deer, Jacquela and Steven hung white string lights at the eaves of the house and thee red-lit wreaths at the oak trees in the forest outside the front of the house.
It’s a start on the first major holiday in the house on Emerald Hill.
Steven trimmed the extra inches off the 8-foot-long desktops, spray painted the cut ends with flat black, then black satin, then two coats of clear satin polyurethane. That took 48 hours in the garage, waiting for paint to dry.
Saturday morning, Jacquela helped to carry the desktop modules into the office. Steven finagled all three panels into position, using 5/8-inch spacers to hold each desktop free of the walls — to create a “pass through” for network cables and electrical cords.
Lying on his back on the floor, Steven screwed 1/2-inch wood screws through the brackets and into the underside of each desktop, locking the wood panels into secure position. Jacquela was NOT available to photograph Steven working under the desks.
Everything got wiped down and cleaned up.
And, then, finally, it was time to bring the desktop computer back into the office — and power it up.
In photo above … Steven’s desktop computer set into place at the southwest corner of the office — booted up, connected to the Web. With Adobe’s dog bed tucked neatly under the side wing — because the dog is barely separable from Steven.
The Leons came back from Thanksgiving dinner with the Cooksleys and Steven set to work burning off the calories.
Steps in the process — locate the studs behind the drywall, mark them with blue painter’s tape, calculate the height for the desk at 30.5 inches per guidance from the web on desktop ergonomics, measure out a level line around the walls, then mount the brackets level and plumb that Steven ordered last week — the brackets arrived the day before Thanksgiving — while also working out where to not put brackets in order to be able to slide two-drawer file cabinets under the desktop and between two brackets.
After that, Jaquela helped Steven carry in from the garage two of the desktops — test fitting the parts to calculate what has to be cut off.
In photo above, one of the desktop pieces resting in position — the plywood is now stained black, using a black stain that is premixed with polyurethane. Then Steven applied two coats of clear satin polyurethane atop the stain. From a distance, it’s perfect. Up close and personal, it’s not perfect, but it should endure years of abuse from keyboards, monitors, pens, pencils, paper, glasses, paperclips, and countless projects that trundle into Steven’s work.
Meanwhile, out in the garage, Steven measured everything three times, then cut the two larger desktops down to size, and began touching up the cut ends — first with flat black spray paint to cover the raw cuts, then spray black satin stain mixed with polyurethane to blend with the surface of the finished desktops and, eventually, two coats of clear satin polyurethane sprayed over the cut ends to protect eveything. Sometime as early as tonight, the desktops will be ready to transport into the office for permanent mounting.
Xavier and Greg from Milgard Windows punched out the punch list for the windows.
They replaced screens that did not fit properly, tightly; replaced window cranks that were damaged in shipping or construction; and adjusted several operable windows that were not quite square, level or plumb.
That’s Greg, in photo above, removing one of the lock mechanisms at a window in Steven’s office — before replacing it.
We’re coming up on nine months in the house. Startling to think time passes that quickly.
Two things we’ve learned include:
We need a gutter at the front of the house. Water cascades when it rains off the upper roof, hits the lower roof over the front door, and you get soaked stepping to and from the front porch.
We need leaf guards at the gutters on the kitchen side of the house. We will need leaf guards at the new front gutter. The oak trees that surround the house start dropping acorns in September. They rain against the roof with sharp retorts that scare the puppy. Then, in the existing gutters at the side of the house, the acorns collect by the thousands; this will repeat at the new front gutter, under that canopy of mature oaks. Steven has had to climb up to the roof and blow out the acorns twice already — and it’s only early November.
A call to M&R Seamless Gutters brings them back to Emerald Hill to calculate an estimate, which Steven approves. Adriel and Simon arrive about 4 pm Wednesday. The sun is already low in the Fall sky. They set to work. As it got darker, Steven fished a work light out of the garage to help them see and work safely in the dark.
We built a third garage bay with a storage loft above and enough space at the back for a workshop.
But the floor of the original garage was covered with what we suspect was cheap, 50-year-old, red linoleum tile that was glued down. Someone apparently used the garage as a rec room during the history of the house.
Ranserve hacked away at the tile and glue for days. The glue just would not come up.
We opted to cover it with roll-out floor mats that we used at Sea Eagle, and we used heavy cardboard Ramboard to extend a walking path to the cars from the mudroom door into the garage — because if you walk on the glue, you will stick to the glue and drag it all over the house and into the cars.
With a recommendation from Ranserve, Steven hired Monty Patton and Krystal Flooring to grind clean the glue and top layer of concrete.
Monty, Jose and Roberto arrived about 930 am and finished about 4 pm.
Here’s a photo essay.
A “before” shot. The yellow and brown crud is the glue. Heavy cardboard still laid on the floor as a walkway.
And then we let it dry overnight.
This is the prize-winning after shot of a floor that has not been this clean since the house was first built.
When the drain line under the slab, under the mudroom bathroom backs up, water and crap comes up from the toilet and shower drains. It’s a flood. Second time this has happened since we moved into the house. The immediate crisis is to mop up the crap and get a plumber to the house in the middle of the night to snake the line clean.
After that, we let the room and walls dry out. Then Ranserve comes back to peel off the ruined baseboard trim. And we discover that mold has begun to grow on the drywall paper. We caught it in time. Small spores. Odell from Ranserve sprayed a mold killer. 24 hours later Steven applied a second spray, waited 24 hours, applied a third spray, waited 24 hours, scrubbed the drywall as clean as possible with an abrasive sponge, then a fourth spray of mold killer.
Now Odell gets to come back to install replacement trim — and Steven is scheduling a plumber to inspect the main lines under the house with a camera, in hopes of determining why this has happened twice, whether it is systemic, and what the options might be to keep the lines clean.