More tedious things to look at

As the headline says – my posts are pretty unassuming – the continuous posts of digging holes, correcting foundations and replacing floor joists will never make it to the pages of Architectural Digest. But I do have a plan to one day get to post some really pretty stuff. But that’s still months away, so here is another post of things that will never make your Pinterest boards.

1 flashing-love-noteWe’ll start with a little romance to spice things up. On the final days of putting up the new siding I thought I’d leave this little note on a piece of flashing behind the Hardie siding.

2 Window-wellsI looked around and couldn’t find any decent window wells for the two awning windows I installed, so I framed up some forms. I placed long anchor bolts in the walls before the concrete went in.

3 Window-well-doneThese will work to keep water away from the windows. I’ll add pea gravel to the bottoms of the well to drain excess water.

4 Air-ConditionersI also framed up a 4′ X 9′ pad to hold the new air conditioners. The Trane units look big and they are. 3 Tons each with a 20 seer rating. They have variable speeds, but I doubt if they get past the 1st stage when cooling.

5 Air-conditioner-outletsOf course, nothing is that easy at the MisAdventures project. I had the HVAC guys run the line sets through pvc so I could make a nice weather seal at the outlets.The electrical was also run underground. Next to that is water spigots – the one on the left is city water, the one on the right is well water. The stainless steel vent is for the downstairs bathroom ventilation.

6 Back-of-houseGutters are finally on. They are 6″ K type with 3X4 downspouts. The closest one goes to the dry well I posted about here.

7 Down-spout-drainHaving the gutter guys come set the downspouts first let me get the underground drains in the right spot so that it was a straight line to the outlet.

8 Down-spout-filterBecause this downspout goes directly to a dry well, I added a strainer to catch leaves and debris that might clog the pipes. I’ve already found some leaves in there.

9 Gutter-detailI had them run this downspout along the fascia line to catch the water coming off the small clipped gable roof area. Without this gutter, morning dew would drip onto our patio and possibly my wife – which would not be a good thing.

10 Patio-guttersThe larger gutters catch the greater volume of water that comes off this section of roof. I’ll add an underground pipe for the downspout when I landscape.

11 Crawl-space-lightsIn the evening I popped in to the basement and put up recessed LED lights in the 4′ crawl space under the sunroom addition. This is a 16 X20′ area that will take no time for my wife to fill up with stuff we’ll never use. When we’re gone look out for an epic yard sale.

Outside Digging – Drains and a Dry Well

It seems I can’t walk outside without grabbing a shovel and digging a hole. I’m sure there’s some medical (or psychological) condition causing this malady. But if I’m going to have the yard graded and seeded, we better dig all the holes we need now.

1 downspout capsLet’s start with these strange creatures. The old sewer system in this neighborhood combined the storm sewers with the sanitary sewer system. The gutter downspouts drained into this system. It’s now illegal to do this because it causes all the rainwater dumped in the sanitary sewer to be processed at the sewage treatment plant. If there is a large rainstorm, the sewage can actually overflow and be dumped into the nearby Ohio river – definitely not a good thing. These are Fernco caps I made up to cap the sewer tile. If you go here you can see a simpler version. I had to make these up because I couldn’t find a cap to fit the clay tile pipe locally.

2 tile tie in Of course I had to dig up around the old tile drains and cut them off – there were two pipes with gutter downspouts tied to the main house sewer line.

3 tile cut offThe clay tile is cut off with a 4″ diamond blade on an angle grinder.

4 tile cap in placeThe caps are slipped over the tile and the stainless steel band is tightened. I should have done this years ago. In the summer when the sewer lines dry out, the sewer gas will come up through these pipes and it stinks like…well, you know what I mean. These are buried with dirt and you’re done.

5 sump pump exterior drainThe other problem is the sump pump discharge pipe came out of the ground close to the back door. It’s the little white pipe laying on the ground. I also wanted to run the gutter for the door side of the mudroom away from the concrete – to avoid an ice skating rink in the winter.

6 drywell layoutSo the solution was a dry well piped out into the middle of the yard. I’ve already been busy with my shovel digging a trench and pit.

7 sump pump tie inAt the sump pump outlet I started the layout of tying the outlet into the gutter drain. I’ll have to wait for the gutters to be installed to find the exact location of the downspout. I used 4″ PVC sewer drain pipe joined with a 3″ PVC adapter to a 1 1/2″ X 3″ Wye.

8 drywellI used a Flo-Well Dry well. Here it’s wrapped with landscape fabric to keep dirt out of the holes in the side of the well.

9 drywell setThe white pipe on the top is to allow for a pop up drain. If the 49 gallon well fills up, the pop up valve will let the water out of the top. I haven’t installed this part – I’m using the pipe just to locate the well for the excavators when the yard is graded.

10 drywell center drainThe well sits in a 6′ deep pit that has a 2′ gravel bed. The bottom of the well is open, which allows the water to drain into the soil. This is good, because I was able to save the original water well and we will have well water to water the gardens.

11 sump pump tie inThe gutters were installed and this allows me to locate the exact location of the downspout.Here everything is tied together. A flexible Fernco connector connects the sump pump pipe through the foundation to the dry well drain. The downspout will be attached to the drain. A debris strainer will be added in the downspout to collect anything that might clog the drains.

Today it’s raining like crazy, so we’ll finish this up – along with concrete air conditioner pads when the weather breaks.

Stay dry.

Siding an old House #7

Well my friends, we’re getting closer to wrapping the old girl in some shiny new cement siding with AZEK accessories. I put the first piece of siding on July 31st and I’ve worked at least 10 hours every day since on this project.

That’s how slow I am.

1 house frontSo now we’re working on the street side – where God and everybody passing by can see me fumbling and stumbling about. And I do stumble due to the metal plate in my ankle that makes me slightly wanting in the off road category.

2 siding paintedTo prepare for the final walls I went ahead and painted the rest of the siding – it’s more than I need – but there’s always the garage to be sided in a future project.

3 cornerThe front was quick to install as it has a big window – and it’s one story high.

4 sealing paintEven though the Hardie siding is factory primed, you have to coat every cut made. I would make the cuts, sand it down and coat the raw edge front and back.

5 1st floor scaffoldingFirst floor scaffolding ran the full length of the side of the house – about 35′

6 light boxesOnce up to the roof intersection trim pieces needed to be made to carry the trim around the eave light boxes up to the soffit overhang. The box has an LED down-light and a weatherproof electric receptacle.

7 trim piecesI love making doodads for trim pieces. Here is the front and back of the light box trim pieces. Stainless steel screws and PVC glue hold these AZEK pieces together.

8 trim installedThose pieces get installed around the light box to transition the trim to the soffits. The rabbet overlaps the siding.

9 2nd floor scaffoldingAnother level of scaffolding goes up. I’ve learned my lesson and make sure safety first. It takes time, but a lot less time (and money) than a hospital stay.

10 siding pieceThe problem is the Hardie siding is it’s 12 foot long and very brittle. I would make the cuts and prop it up against the scaffolding – run up the ladder and hope it was still there. I only lost one to the wind, so I can’t complain.

We’ll wrap up this outside project in the next post. Then we’ll go inside and get to work.




Siding an old house #6 some details

The weather remains good for outside work – so I’m determined to finally get the siding  done. It’s taken six years to get this far, but by golly we’re gonna finish it before the first snowflake falls.

1 sunroom side 1I’ve got the light up over the door – a couple of problems here – One – it’s too big, so we’ll relocate this to the garage when I reside that. Two – I placed the block too high and the arm hit the fascia. Here I’ve already cut out the old block and electric box, lowered it down 6″ and made a new finish block.

2 doorbell blockThe doorbell block is temporarily in place. I used cat5e wiring almost everywhere – just in case we want to add some video door bell or other tech doodad.

3 sunroom side 2The second side of the sunroom is just like the rest – you put one piece up at a time.

4 sunroom side 2 finishedOnce each wall is finished I caulk all the seams and hand brush two coats of paint. The first coat of paint was sprayed before the pieces were installed. The hand brushing really makes a richer finish – well, in my opinion it does and of course it’s a lot more work.

5 sunroom Villa sideThe front of the sunroom is pretty easy – mainly because it’s almost all windows. The corner posts and water table trim add a lot of dimension to the siding.

6 frontThe BM White Heron color works well with the natural limestone. It’s a slight warm white that keeps it from being too bright.

7 trim blockWhen I have a long run of trim that can’t be finished with one piece, I like to add a detail to make the trim sections look more finished. Because the AZEK soffit trim is only 18′ long and I needed 22′ – I used a trim block centered between the windows to make the seam look intentional.

8 figuringFor some reason I always used a carpenter’s pencil. For these more precise trim measurements get yourself a good mechanical pencil. Live and learn.

9 sunroom side 4Finishing up the sunroom – now only 2 more walls to go.

11 gable blockAZEK is a really nice material, but it’s prone to movement from thermal expansion. It can move 1/4″ depending on the temperature. I placed thin AZEK caps over the main gable joints to hide the seam. The bottoms of the gable trim are glued and fastened, so any movement happens behind this cap.

10 flower appliqueI found some small urethane flower appliques.

12 gable block with flowerTo add a little detail to the gables. For 5.00 each they add some inexpensive charm.


More to come – stick around.

Siding an old house #5 Lights and trim

Progress! It is a steady march around the house, siding one wall at a time. Things are moving, mainly because the weather has cooperated with little rain for the past month.

1 patio sidingThe patio side is complete. AZEK trim was used along the soffit and removable trim pieces against the roofing.

2 light blockThe light blocks that I previously posted about have been wired and the mounting hubs bolted to the electrical boxes with stainless steel bolts. Copper flashing keeps everything dry.

3 patio lights 1I used these barn lights with 40″+ arms made by Hi-light in California.

4 patio lights 2I centered the lights over the three windows below.

5 patio lights nightA light test to see what 20w (100w replacement)  LED bulbs would do – it’s a pretty even light over the patio. The perimeter lights on the stone and corners  are 6w LED down lights.

6 base cap partsAll the trim is AZEK. Here I’ve fabricated some corner base caps and glued the corners with PVC glue held together with painters tape.

7 base cap gluedI got a little carried away and glued all the pieces together.

8 base cap repairThen I realized that I couldn’t get the trim pieces on the columns if all sides are glued. Fortunately I figured this out before the glue set completely.

9 base cap installedThe trim pieces create a base for the AZEK corner boards that are mounted above the water table trim at each corner of the building with siding.

10 siding templateSince I have several corners that have to have the siding fit precisely, I’ve made a Masonite template to trace onto the siding. It’s cut with the angle grinder with a diamond blade.

11 siding cap detailAs usual I have all cuts to fit within a 16th of an inch. This is before caulking.

12 siding sunroom startAnd on we go on to wall #3. The great thing about using Hardie siding is that it looks like the original wood.

Hang around – we’ll go inside sometime.

Siding an old House #4

We have been pretty lucky weather-wise in Southern Indiana. No rain for 20+ days. Not so good for the crops – and temps in the mid 90’s, but good weather for a siding project. As a matter of fact – it’s slightly raining today, so a perfect day for a blog post.

1 siding the backI started on the back of the house for a couple of reasons. One – it’s a single story wall with lots of notches and cuts to be made in the siding. Since I’ve not used cement siding – nor sided a house before – I thought this was a good place to start. It’s really pretty easy – even for a one person installation crew. I’m using the Gecko Siding Gauges. These hold the siding at the correct reveal and keep everything in place while you nail them to the wall.

2 cooking lunchOf course, a guy’s gotta eat. My wife was kind enough to drop off some chicken breasts – fresh from the refrigerator from home. Problem is I don’t like ice-cold chicken and have no way to heat it since a kitchen is non-existent. So, like any DIY’er I got out the heat gun, a cut off piece of 6″ duct, a hand saw and had a handy chicken warmer in no time.

3 spray setupAfter lunch it’s back to work. Here’s the set up for the airless paint sprayer. The Hardie siding is available pre-finished or pre-primed. I chose the primed because when I bought this 3 years ago I had no clue what color I would paint it. I sprayed one coat before installing. I do about 70 twelve foot pieces per session. I used Low Luster Benjamin More OC-57 White Heron. Once installed, I’ll hand paint the final coats.

4 siding patioI have eight walls that will have siding – this is wall #2 on the patio side. It’s by far the most complicated with windows and lights and roof intersections. Plus it’s two stories high – this will take a while.

5 siding cutoutTo cut the notches for the windows I used the small angle grinder with a diamond blade. It cuts very smooth and straight – but throws out  a cloud of dangerous silica dust. I always wear a P-95 dust respirator when cutting the notches.

6 siding clampHere the thin siding notch piece is supported by a 6′ level while the adhesive/caulk cured over a couple of days. I’ve used many caulks before, but by far the best I’ve found is Solar Seal #900. It’s easy to use and it’s my go-to caulk from now on.

7 siding progressAfter six years I’ve figured out the scaffold layout. Two sections high with 4 walk boards combined with the scaffold planks makes this safe and easy – well –  except going up and down the ladders countless times a day.

Hang in there – we’ll wrap this building up before winter, I promise.


Siding an Old House #3 Putting it on the wall

The old Misadventures project is moving along – as fast as an old man that walks like a penguin can go. The siding was supposed to be done last Fall, but that didn’t happen. I’m determined to finish it this year before the snow shows up – fingers crossed.

1 corner trimFirst up – the corner trim. There’s only one inside corner on the house where siding meets siding – the others are stone to siding. I’ve made a corner trim piece from 5/4 (1″ thick) Azek stock. I put it together with PVC glue and exterior trim head screws.

2 corner trim installThe trim piece was screwed in the corner with cortex screws on top of the rain screen.

3 stone trim 1One problem that having no plan is that mistakes happen. The problem here is that the 5/4 trim stock was put in place next to the stone when it was installed. This made it too thin to cover the edge of the siding because of the thickness of the rain screen. The solution was to add another piece of stock to build up the width.

4 stone trim 2The same trim piece was added to the stone junctures with siding.

5 felt paperThe 30 pound asphalt felt is continued around the house over the old house wrap.

6 rain screenThe GreenGuard rain screen is attached with plastic cap nails. It is butted up against the black drainage mat to allow moisture to drain into the weeps embedded in the stone.

7 stone beltingI had enough limestone left over so that I could cover the old brick foundation.

8 siding startThe start of siding – finally. I’m using HardiePlank lap siding. This is a cement-based product. I’m using the smooth finish – not the wood-grain texture, as this is what would have been originally used. I’m using a 6″ reveal, so the total height of each piece is 7 1/4″. They come is 12′ lengths.

9 siding kickerYou are required to use a 1 1/4″ spacer (kicker) on the bottom of the 1st course, to keep the angle of the siding the same. I used a 5/16″ thick piece of PVC trim, you can use a strip of the siding for this spacer, but I though the PVC would be waterproof. .

10 siding notchesThe Hardie siding was notched with a diamond blade in an angle grinder. All cut edges are sealed with the same paint. The color is BM White Heron Low Luster. More on painting later.

11 water table spacersThe good thing is that the water table is level and makes putting on the first course easy. The second course required spacer blocks that kept the reveal at 6″. The stud locations were marked on the rain screen and the siding nailed into the studs. The siding is attached with stainless steel 2″ ring shank siding nails. I’m using a Bostitch Coil Siding Nailer.

12 joint flashingAt each siding joint a flashing is required. I used the recommended coated aluminum coil stock behind each joint. You must use a coated aluminum material, as raw aluminum will react with the cement in the siding.

So not too exciting, but we are making progress…


Siding an old house #2 Flashing

Wow, look at the time!

It’s been more than a month since I’ve posted on my little project here at the Misadventures. No I haven’t run out of steam or money – yet. It’s just when the weather is good you make the best of it and go, go go.

So we’re getting the outside done before the cold weather returns this year – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Let’s talk about flashing, shall we?

First – there is a big difference between caulking something and flashing something. In my opinion always flash if you can – and throw a little caulk in there for good measure.

So here’s some flashing.

1 copper flashingNow like everything else I’ve gone overboard. These are copper head flashing that go over all the exposed windows. I had them fabricated from 16 ounce copper and soldered end caps. Typically an aluminum angle flashing is all you need.

2 flashing over windowsAll the windows that are exposed to rain get these. The top windows on the second floor won’t need the flashing because they are covered by the roof overhang.

3 copper nailsSo we grab a handful of copper nails – regular steel nails won’t work as they’ll react to the copper.

4 flashing nailedThe housewrap is cut to make a flap above the window so that the flashing will nail directly to the sheathing.

5 flashing tapedA piece of self adhesive flashing tape  is then placed over the copper and sheathing. Make sure the tape is compatible with copper.

6 flashing doneThe flap of  housewrap is taped over this. I’ll add felt and rainscreen over this before the siding is installed.

7 wall penetrationsAll of the wall penetrations also get their own little copper flashing. These are done a little differently because the rainscreen (the green stuff) has to be installed 1st.

8 light blockFor example this light block for a patio light. The block is made from 5/4 (1″) thick Azek surrounding a 4″ octagonal electrical box placed on point so the light fixture will mount correctly. The block sits on top of the rainscreen.

9 light blockFirst cut a section of the rain screen out above the block and cut a flap through the felt and housewrap.

10 light blockThese small flashings were made from strips of copper I cut and bent, tucking the sides in – not as fancy as the soldered window flashings, but they’ll work fine.

11 light blockFlashing is attached with copper nails.

12 light blockFlashing tape over that –

13 light blockThe flap comes down and the rainscreen is replaced and taped. The siding will be the next and final layer.

I know this was pretty boring unless you woke up in the middle of the night wondering how you were going to flash that wall penetration –

Well, now you know.

Oh, and one more thing -Some pretty things are getting done around this place – here’s a peek at the master shower under construction.

14 showerHang in there we’ll get this place finished one day…


Adding an Egress Window in an Old House #4 Finished

So finally we have the fourth and final post of this little egress window adventure. Would I do it again? Sure – it’s not that bad. But I will admit it would have been a lot easier 21 years ago when I was 40. This is a long post – so I can move on to the next project. This one’s done.

1 single sideTime to attach the window well. I chose a Bilco Scapewel. This is their smallest model 40-48. The wide window frame allows the panel to be attached through the frame into the foundation. This gives the inside of the well a seamless look. I tried to attach the side panel mounting flanges with stainless steel sleeve anchors, but ended up with 1/4″ X 3 1/2″ Tapcons which held in the block foundation much better. You can see I’ve used my water table jack to hold the side up for attachment.

2 double sideThe other side attached. You need a minimum of 12″ on the outside for the panel to attach the flange and fill with gravel.

3 back onThe two back panels snap into place and are held with 2 1/2″ deck screws to prevent them from detaching when filling with gravel.

4 bracingCross braces are added to keep the well square. I have a top that snaps over the well and it must be within 1″ of square or the top won’t fit.

5 rock startPressure treated braces are added under the well sides. This is to keep the weight of the gravel fill from pulling the side panel flanges away from the foundation wall.

6 drainThe drain is set in the approximate place as the drainage gravel is added.

7 gravelThe 4 ton pile of gravel is slowly shrinking as the well gets filled.

8 gravel doneThe well is filled by hand evenly around the outside. This keeps everything square and makes sure the drainage rock is uniform.

9 well viewThe rock is leveled and filled up to 4″ of the side panels. Final grade will be set when the back yard is finish graded.

10 concrete paversSince I had some old 16″ square concrete pavers laying around, I thought I would put a solid bottom in the well.

11 pavers installedYou can only do this if you have a direct drain to take up the excess water. There is 18″ of drainage rock underneath the pavers, just in case.  We had a very heavy rainstorm last night  and I had a tiny leak from a missed caulk joint. I’ll take up the pavers and fix and add some flashing. It won’t be a problem once I have gutters and the cover attached.

12 window closedThe Tilt & Turn window is perfect as an egress window. Aluplast is a German company that licenses their technology and components to various fabricators around the U.S.  It’s a very solid all vinyl window.

13 window open Turn the handle horizontally and the window opens like a door for emergency egress.

14 window ventedTurn the handle up and the top opens like a hopper window for ventilation. A removable screen keeps the bugs out.

15 window well viewThe well has a ‘step’ that is also a planter, so you can have a few live plants to spruce up your well.

So that’s it for the window well adventure. I had fun and took lots of pictures. Sort of like a vacation – but without the sunburn.

On we march – lots to do….

Adding an Egress Window in an Old House #3

Now that we’ve gotten the dirty stuff out of the way and my Poison Ivy rash is under control (That Mean Green Hand Scrub really works!)

3 foam around buckThe two sub sills and the window buck are installed and plumbed and leveled. The bottom and top are screwed in with 4″ deck screws. The sides were foamed with large crack spray foam to fill the voids.

4 cut foamAfter the foam is cured it is cut flush to the wall with a hand saw.

5 water proofingAn asphalt based foundation waterproofing material was troweled over the cleaned foundation. The white areas of block are visible because I had to grind down the surface to make the wall uniform and flat. The original mason wasn’t very good with a level apparently.

2 drain componentsI decided to add a sump box for the well drain. This is typically used in landscape projects – debris will settle in the bottom of the sump and keep from clogging the drain system. I used a 9″ square sump and my first thought was to use all PVC pipe to fit the drain.

6 drain discardBut after a little more thought I ditched that idea – but only after I glued several parts together. That was a waste of time and money – ouch!

7 drain and water proofingInstead I went with a solid flexible drain so that in the winter time I would have less issues if ground freezing was a problem. I also added a fiberglass membrane over the waterproofing on the foundation and the window buck for a little extra protection.

8 drainThe drain was placed in the ground in the approximate location.

9 AZEK frameThe AZEK PVC frame was then installed flush to the buck with PL adhesive and cortex screws.

10 window installThe window was then finally installed inside the PVC frame using elastomeric caulk and small head screws for treated lumber.

11 foam insideThe inside showing the spray foam around the window buck and the window sitting within the AZEK frame.

12 frame detailAn exterior frame was fabricated from 1X12″ AZEK and assembled with PVC glue and Kreg screws. The back side has a wide rabbet to make it flush with the window and accommodate the window’s nailing fin thickness.

13 frame backHere’s the back side of the frame ready to be installed. The screw holes were filled with caulk (over kill) The sides measure 11 1/4″ top 3 1/2″ bottom 8″.

14 frame installedThe frame is attached to the pressure treated window buck using Cortex Screws. This frame fits up underneath the water table trim and the bottom extends down below the drain surface. The wide sides cover the foundation allowing the side panels for the window well to attach through the frame into the foundation.

Confusing? It will be clearer in the next post.