Misc. House Stuff

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Why is it that construction projects for us ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS get held up by the weather?

Our house construction was delayed months in part due to a lot of rain, and now our two-day sidewalk & patio project gets delayed by rain as well.  This weekend is supposed to be nice, but they don't work on the weekends...but Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday they are saying it may rain.  You've got to be kidding me.  It seemed like it always rained during the week and was nice on the weekends when our house was being built too.

And when we were putting up our fence, it absolutely poured the day we started that project.

I hate rain.  Dave Murray can suck it.

The night after the Killian Landscaping guys first started, we got a decent amount of rain...but they still came out around noon the next day to do some more stone work.  It looks like they did a lot of stone cutting since they laid down all of the full pieces the day before.  And everything is covered with dust from the cutting, which is why the stone looks kind of grey...it has dust all over it.

Then, of course, the next night (Thursday/Friday) we got a lot more rain so they couldn't come out on Friday.

They still need to fan out the sidewalk where it meets the driveway, edge the sidewalk, brush in the sand-lock stuff between the stones which turns hard, prep and set up the ground between the sidewalk and the house for plants, small trees and boulders...yup...boulders.  I told Teresa I really wanted boulders...and we're getting them.

Maybe we'll get lucky and it won't rain on Monday and they can finish the job.

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We interviewed and got bids from numerous landscapers and we decided to go with Killian's Landscaping.  They were referred to us by the Budget Blinds people (they installed our plantation blinds in our dining room windows).  The blinds they installed look great, so we gave Killian's a call.

All of the landscapers were great to talk to and I am sure they all would have done a great job.  Some of the presentations and designs we were given were excellent!  The deciding factors were mainly that Killian's Landscaping came in at a price we could live with AND they promised to have the job done before Zoe's baptism party at the end of the month.  None of the other contractors could promise to have the work done by then.

What we wanted, was a sidewalk from the driveway to the front porch.  Those who have been to our house, know it's kind of stupid if you come in the front door because you are walking through grass to get there.  Teresa wanted a patio for a seating area in front of the front porch that would link up with the sidewalk.  I really wanted the sidewalk to arc out so you could get a good look at the stone work around our front door, as you approach the porch...and I'm happy with how it is turning out...and now we won't have to use our garage as the make-shift front door.

We decided to go with weathered/tumbled paverstones for the patio and sidewalk.  We thought about doing large stones for stepping stones for the sidewalk, but I wanted more of a flat, consistent surface...and I really like the way paverstones look.

Tim Killian has been great to work with.  He's very accommodating and seems really interested in giving us exactly what we want, even if it means tweaking things on the fly, which I appreciate.  One of the "tweaks" was to fan/widen the sidewalk as it approached the driveway and curve/blend it into the driveway instead of hitting it straight on.

I came home for lunch on Wednesday to get a look at how things were coming along during the first day.  Tim had four or five guys there with him working and they already had quite a bit done.

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Then, I returned home from work a little after 5pm and they were still working...they started at 9am and didn't end up leaving until about 7:30pm.  Wow.

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If the heavy rain stays away, they'll be back in the morning to maybe finish the job.  They still have to cut a bunch of the paver stones, and add plants/trees/boulders/etc. between the sidewalk and the house.

So far...it looks great.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

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Soooo....

Our nice, 8-month-old, cedar fireplace mantle started to bow and warp upward, like an arch.  If you didn't stare at it, you probably wouldn't notice it...but if I told you it was warped and you looked right at it for a few seconds, you'd probably say, "Oh dude...did you know your mantle is warping?"

I know the warping wasn't due to the heat from the fireplace because the last time we had a roaring fire going, we felt around by the mantle and it wasn't that warm at all.  I'm guessing the wood decided it needed to dry out a little more.  And when it dried out, it also warped a bit and pulled away from the brick mortar.  So yeah, it needs to be replaced.

We told "Contractor Charlie" about it  a while back and he ordered a new piece of lumber (which was mistakenly delivered to our house first).  Charlie stained it, varnished it and brought it over.  They removed the old mantle and put up the new one (I was at work while they were doing this), but the new one didn't match the stained mantle supports...Teresa said it wasn't even close.  She said it was orange.

Soooo...

We had Charlie take it back down to try and get it to match.

This is going to be a train wreck...I know it.  It's not going to match and it's going to be a big fat pain in the ass.

I looked outside on new year's eve, to see a bird invasion.  I was tempted to let Fraido out and watch them all take off.
They were all over the yard, all over the sky and in all of the trees.
I gotta say...I was a little scared to go outside...which is why I snapped this photo out my office window.
I took some time off of work to take advantage of the nice weather, get some things done around the house and also build a fire pit by the lake.

This is my first attempt at laying brick, and I didn't think it was going to take as long as it is taking.  Laying brick is not overly difficult for a simple/small project like this, but it takes time to make sure every brick is tapped in level and the mortar is packed in well...or maybe I'm just slow.

I've started on the 2nd row of bricks.  There will be three rows total.  It will probably take me a couple more evenings after work, working under the lights in the dark, to finish it up in time for the bonfire on Saturday.

I plan on putting some gravel inside the pit and inserting a round grill for the wood to sit on, a few inches above the gravel.





After Dad and Mark helped split all of the logs from the trees we cut down last winter, I needed somewhere to stack the split wood.  It was stacked down by the lake, but I wanted some of it close to the house so I didn't have to walk 50 yards through a foot of snow to get firewood this winter.

So with the help of some leftover wood from the fence, I built a firewood rack next to the house.  It turned out quite nice.