Friday, May 21, 2010


The French Drain is in and working. We had a really good down pour thunder lightning the whole nine yards and the yard is not a soggy mess. Yeah score one for doing something that makes a difference.

My bedroom closet is completely out. In order to make it look less hideous with the open beams and what not I dyed a white cotton sheet orange and nailed it like a tapestry to the wall where the closet once stood.

I tore down one of the porches out back the one that was originally used just for storage. I left the base (floor) in tack so that I can use it as a work space. I am preparing to rip off the other porch, but am trying to figure out what to do with the dryer once the enclosure is gone.

I purchased a nail gun and have thus far used it to build a couple of saw horses. I was having a little trouble with it at first, the nails where going only about half way in, when I realized that I didn't have the air compressor turned up to the proper PSI setting. Once that was all settled, it was quite slick. In building the sawhorses I would like to thank my grandfather for teaching me how to properly pull nails out of a 2x4. I used all reclaimed wood from the porch and my closet to build them. They are not only useful for building, but they where great practice to get me in the swing of using power tools again.







































Thursday, April 22, 2010

Slow Going

Working is really getting in the way of progress on the house right now. So is the weather. I am 90% done with the backyard clean up and now I just need to fill it back in with dirt and level it so to speak. I am have been researching the various ways that I can build a retaining wall to replace the one that is on the southwest side of the house. Currently it is built out of stacked cinder blocks and what we will call recycled concrete as well as some stone. I am trying to figure out a way to use the concrete rather than sending it off to the landfill, because even though it will be out of my site I will still know that it is there and that I sent it there to never be useful. So I think that I will reuse the materials and build a wall in a similar fashion to a stackwall stone wall with poured concrete and then finish it with a nice clean stucco. This will not only save my conscience by reusing the materials, but it will also be a cost effective way to build both a sturdy and attractive retaining wall.

Since I have been stuck at work and while at home inside for the most part I have been working on the deconstruction of the bedroom closet. The sheetrock is all the way off and I have begun to remove the 2x4's. I need more strength. I feel like I should be able to just rip down the walls, but they are really stuck in place. Leverage is my friend and though it takes some time I do manage to get the studs out of the way. The bedroom already feels way bigger. Once it is down I will decide what to do with the door and where to build the new closet. I have an idea, but it will be easier to determine once I can mark it out on the floor.

Tomorrow is a day off so let us hope for some sunshine so that I can get more work done on the French drain, it too is almost done and it is doing its job already, as with all this rain my yard is not as soggy as it once was.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rainy Day

It was a gloomy and misty day today, but that was really OK with me there was plenty that I needed to get done inside the house. It is so easy to lose track of time and neglect the regular upkeep that is necessary to maintain a house when there is so much else that needs to be done. So I got started right away on loading up the laundry into the van, when I heard a knock on the door. I answered the door to see my neighborhood code enforcer. He came by right after I moved in and I thought that I was about to get in trouble for digging up the concrete on the side of my house, but he was actually stopping by because my poperty has easy access to the watershed that is situated on my property line. He was here with a crew to take care of the tires that are ever so unsightly

Tires from across the way.
All Piled Up

It is nice know that I am not the only one trying to do some clean up.

The rest of the day was dedicated to working inside since it started to rain.  I tore out some more sheet rock from the bedroom closet and some really great helpers helped me out with the clean up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Trash

I hurt in places that I didn't know it was possible to hurt. I have nearly removed the fence from the earth, this is standard chicken wire, and originally I thought that it was about 5 maybe 10 feet long, but have found that it likely goes all the way to china. In response to this (now that I have nearly 20 feet of it up and somewhat out of my way) I purchased my next tool, a wire cutter, so that I can at the very least remove the 20 feet that I have unearthed out of my way. I tried to cut it with a sawzall, tried and failed. I tried to bend it, twist it, rip it, tug at it, but it is stuck under who knows what and at the moment the other 20 feet are now really in my way. With the fence removed I was able to get the bulk of what lies beneath out of the soil. I found what I originally thought was a door, but it ended up being a very large consumer constructed mural of sorts, at least that is how I can best describe it.








































Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Backyard Clean Up

When I signed the papers on this house I knew that it would be work. I was also fully aware that I would need to clean up the yard do some landscaping and what not. What I did not expect to find was a landfill in my back yard. The large green bag, in the previous post, is filled with what was once buried in my backyard. Mostly it is building materials, but I have also found car parts, a wire fence, lots of plumbing among other items that I would in general consider things you don't bury in your backyard. My set of tools began with a good pair of gloves (I really like the cotton gloves with the latex dip), my rubber boots and a shovel. My tool set has since grown in fact it first grew when I unearthed a good old garden rake in the pile, it has no handle, but that has had its advantages. Since I have purchased a rake with a handle, a wheel barrow, a second shovel (this one being a "spade" used for transferring rather than digging), and some garbage bags for the where the wheel barrow won't go. Tip here; don't fill the bag so full you can't carry it up the hill.
With the foundation being the biggest issue as well as the issue that needs to be fixed before I can begin any of the work inside the house I must first prepare. The back yard clean up is not over yet I figure that it will take me another week to finish. Once the yard is close enough to free of the dangers that be I shall finish digging the French Drain.  I need somewhere to put the dirt and do not want to pile anything else on my trash heap. The French Drain will ensure that once I fix the foundation it will have a fighting chance in this lovely Texas clay soil. In addition I will also need to tear off a very poorly done back porch addition, and install a tankless water heater. It is at that point that I will hopefully be able to begin work on the foundation, because I desperately want to redo my bathroom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Taking Out the Trash

The Pile So Far

It Looks Innocent, but you can see the metal
on the right...What lies beneath?

Insulation, screen, some wire.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I little about me

I am a 33 year old single mother of 3 year old twins. I just purchased the only house that I could afford in Austin, TX. It may be cheaper than rent, but it certainly won't be cheaper than renting especially if we are considering that time is money. Just a few of the things that I am working on right now:

  • Foundation repair

  • Installing a French Drain

  • Cleaning up the trash heap buried in my back yard

  • Tearing out my bedroom closet

  • Trying to get my toilet to flush

  • I think I have a rat, not sure what to do about this

Future projects that will take place after the foundation is repaired:

  • Add a deck

  • Tear out and replace bathroom floor and all fixtures

  • Remove wall between kitchen and living room

  • All new windows

  • Remove and replace retaining wall

  • Build a 120 sqaure foot guest quarters

There will be more to come I am sure of it. Indeed I do plan on taking my piece of trash property and turning into a true treasure.

About Me

Taking on this project is a new beginning for me and my twins. This isn’t the first time I have bought a house that is a true project. A little more than a decade ago I bought a house in Bozeman, MT. It was a project. Between trips to the library and the lumber yard I learned so much. I tore down walls, replaced plumbing, put in new electrical fixtures, and refinished 100 year old hardwood floors. I didn’t hire a single contractor and it turned out great. I sold it for a little profit two years later, granted if you where to look at the hours that I put in then I likely only made pennies per hour. This house is not only an opportunity for me to have a place of my own again, but also to teach my children the value of hard work and perseverance. I am so excited to learn new things and to get my hands dirty again.