House of Cards (or Cardboard…I Forget Which)

Some of y’all (that’s a technical term) may recall the It Has Begun post from just about a month ago…

Did ya think I was kidding?

Well, nope. I wasn’t. I had just gotten started on the gutters when, just to make sure it was all connected, we had a series of other storms blow through to liven things up. One night’s winds reached (according to the offical report) 60 mph. That one took a good 12 feet of my fence and tossed it down the alley. Granted, it was not the best fence…I’ve replaced three sides of my fencing over the years (about 100 feet or so…and a gate as well) and this was a section of the older and not so well attached fence, but blown away is blown away. New(ish) or not. I had repairs to make.

Unfortunately that was the day after I started on the facia board on my upper eaves on the southern exposure. Gack, now I have two projects. Just to raise my blood pressure, the city sends a nastily worded note just a day later to “encourage” me to maintain my property to their standard or pay (extortion is apparently legal if you work in government). This is probably a subject for another post…but it was obvious I was working on it…old materials were being removed and new installed…complete with caulking and paint…they need to leave folks the hell alone if they are actively working on things.

I resisted the very strong urge to see how many explitives I could scrawl in blood (damn screw-gun) on the notice and send it back…

Anyhoo…I had some marginal siding…that was now flat-out damaged…and a whole bunch more that was loose. Ack. Here we go. Ah, well. The house really needed paint anyway.

I’ve put $36 worth of screws in the siding/eaves/trim so far.

My house is made of cardboard and staples. Really. It was built in the boom of the eighties by a reputable builder (I’d hate to see one built by a crappy builder). The siding, eaves, and overhangs are basically cardboard, attached with staples to the framing. The staple guy must have been on his last clip when he was working on the east side of the house…his spacing went to as far apart as four feet to hang underboard on the eaves. Sad…and none too secure. Where were the jackbooted city inspectors when they were building my house out of this crap? Is it too much to ask to use something water and bug resistent on exterior surfaces? And to actually attach it securely?

So, I’ve spent nearly every free moment (weekends and after work) over the last month doing:

I’ve replaced all the damaged/bad facia board except for one piece that is on the corner of the house by a tree currently blooming and covered in bees…I’ll do that one next weekend after the bees are gone! Over the two ends of the house this amounts to about 120 linear feet of that concrete formed board…all of which I had to rip 2″ off of since nobody makes facia trim in 6″ (at least, that I can afford).

I’ve re-attached all the siding on the eaves (the bulk of the house is brick), added some strategic trim to cover areas of damage (which I’ve removed) on the edges of the large sheets of siding on the endcaps.

I’ve rehung the gutters…oooooh…add another $50 worth of screws…those seven-inch gutter screws are expensive and I’ve got looong gutters…

I’ve caulked and painted about 2/3’rds of the house.

I’ve painted the garage door and replaced the wood framing of the doorway at both ends.

I’ve replaced 12 feet of fence, including two poles, with new cedar. One of the poles pulled up, concrete and all, the other broke off in the concrete, and due to the ground here being caliche (a soft, white rock that’s still plenty hard when you have to dig in it), I spent the next four hours beating the concrete and rock out of the hole with a 25 pound pipe…good for the arms I guess….

I used the remains of the 12 feet of fence I replaced to repair parts of the remaining old fence (about 20 feet and another gate). I will replace that mess later in the summer.

I mowed the grass…right after I fixed the mower…just before I burned the crap out of my forearm on the muffler. That’s gonna leave a heck of a mark (ala the urn of coals, Grasshopper).

Aggressively trimmed back the trees and bushes in front (overdue anyway) so I could get ladders and the like in to work on the front. There’s a pile of debris in front of the house about the size of a couple large pick-up trucks for the city to fetch tomorrow.

I’ve started re-caulking the front (northern exposure) of the house. It’s complicated, with a false eave that’s just stapled on…it won’t support my weight for me to get on/above it and caulk/paint…so it looks like I’ll be renting a scalfold next weekend…I could only hang the facia board over the thing by hanging upside down over the edge of the roof and working on it that way.

In the mean time I got about half the front caulked (and trim repaired) and maybe a third painted.

Storms this week…so I don’t know if I’ll finish all I can reach this week after work or not…but I’ll be trying.

Now, I don’t mind maintaining my home…I’ll get it all back if I ever sell anyway…and then some…but the saddest part of this entire endevor is that my house is only 22 years old. None of this would have been necessary if they’d just built it right in the first place.

Ur…I must not forget to repair the trim/framing around all the front windows…the former owner for some reason extended it to ground level on the outside of the brick…looks okay, but is a magnet for rot and termites (signs of both).

Hmmm…and I want to install a couple of octagonal vents in the front of the eaves…my attic does not have enough ventilation and that will help with the cooling bills…and the octagonal ones will add some interesting feature to the front of the house (for some reason, they vented the rear, but not the other end). Fat lot of good the city codes did when that was thought out. This is Texas…rule number 1…Must. Vent. Attic.

Oh…and I stopped counting at $500. It hurts less that way. I think I’ll be into multiples of that shortly…

Many kudos to those that have leant me a hand…My friends Dean and James for holding stuff while I screwed it up (heh), my friend Mike for butchering triffids with gleeful abandon, and the Millers who can sling paint with the best of them…and much gratitude to my wife for the practically endless supply of iced tea…AND having the patience to fish all the staples, screws, dead birds, chainsaws, stray dogs, and other brick-a-brack out of my pockets each night.

I’m into the 10% of work now that’ll take a bunch of the time…if I do it right anyway…

Maybe I’ll be done with the exterior this time next month.

Um…then I’ve got to look inside…

If y’all will excuse me, I’ve got to go curl up in my bed and whimper for a bit…

Daniel Meyer

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