Archive for the ‘before’ Category

Fence Mending

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Our side yard fence was physically falling apart, which meant that we were using metal rods to hold it upright and boards fell off every time the wind kicked up. A board would fall down, we’d screw it back up, the posts would slump over and we would prop them up, seriously, we put up with this crap for almost three years.

The cause of the deterioration was the rotted off bottoms of the support posts and the poorly chosen nails that secured the boards in place. Both issues equaled ghetto failing fence.

We couldn’t afford to replace the entire thing, so in order to keep things budget friendly, we reused almost all of the weathered fence boards and just replaced the support structure.

That meant that we had to carefully disassemble the fence and install new 4×4″ posts. We called Carpenter Craig to come help since he just finished a big mending fencing project at his new house and had the skills and tools to help.

Digging post holes by hand? BLOWS.

Of course we hand dug all the holes, centered our posts and then Quikreted them into place.

Then the horizontal supports went into place. We just followed the design of the rest of the fence, nothing to exciting design wise.

Removing all of the boards (and all the nails) also blew. We had to be really careful since we needed the wood to be reinstalled. Four nails a board + a couple hundred boards is a whole lot of tetanus to avoid. Filthy dirty tedious work.

After all the wood was prepped, we strung a string line from the existing fence top to keep everything even and cohesive. Totally rocket science. Then we started screwing up the fence boards with some deck screws. Totally tedious.

One of our curious neighbors came over to watch. He tends to come over and watch while we do projects…and drink our beer. Lend a hand dude!

Speaking of neighbors…

So, the cat hoarding guy who lives next door (who shares the fence with us) didn’t want to chip in $100 to help pay for half the materials. We already said we would do the labor, and he still hasn’t paid for some work The Boy did over at his house when the city threatened to fine him, so we didn’t have much hope. But still, its kind of the principle of the thing.

Anyway, while we were working on the fence, weird neighbor guy’s ex(?) wife ran through the back yard and jumped on a chair to climb through the back window into the house. It was so unexpected and strange that I think she was really surprised to see us standing there. That’s the chair on the left. On the right is the pack of feral kitties staring as we worked. I can’t even begin to explain how much cat poop is all over our yard. Ungodly amounts of cat crap.

So anyways, it gets super dark very early now, so we had to postpone putting up the rest of the boards till the next day…

…and on the next day it was all about screwing fence boards up. It took a long time and was not exciting.

But then it was done! Check out the after compared to the before. NO MORE METAL RODS. It stands up all by itself! It’s a fencing miracle.

I am amazed by how satisfying it is just to have an upright fence. Not even an awesome horizontal slat fence, just solid, upright and private fence.

Oh yeah, we gave ourselves the nice side since we paid for it all, did all the labor and were covered in cat shit for our troubles.

It only cost about $200 to do the full repair and took two days. Not bad, if I do say so.

Now the perfect and professional shade sail doesn’t look so out of place next to our crappy wonky fence. I’m not sure if I want to finish the weathered boards. We were discussing some sort of opaque stain, but I think I kind of like it all aged and beat up. Something to think about for sure.

Solid as a rock. Straight as an arrow. Something something total cliche.

Shade Sail, Part 1

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I am completely psyched to finally show off a big exterior project we have been working on for the last couple of months. While the days may be getting shorter and summer seems so very far away, I’ve been dreaming about shade sails for our side yard to help alleviate some of the crushing heat that the side of the house always receives. Admittedly, I’ve been struggling with how to build and incorporate a pretty large DIY shade sail for above our planned stock tank pool so it was pretty incredible to randomly receive a very helpful email from my new shade sail guru Patrick Howe a few months back.

Patrick Howe, whose currently with Shade Industries, emailed some suggestions and tips about how to get the most out of a shade sail and offered to help design and build a couple of versions that would not only be customizable, but also a project that most home owners can tackle on their own. To start, I sent him an old SketchUp model I made of the landscape design for the side yard and told him what my crazy plans were.

There are two areas that I was interested in shading:

1: The weird nook between the garage and house, protecting what will be a bar/eating area.
2: Above the stock tank pool at the front of the side yard.

Patrick sent back a SketchUp design with his thoughts and ideas about how to do it and I was ecstatic. It was everything I wanted, but so much better.

Each sail has a very different installation approach, so first, how about we focus on the nook area installation nearest the fire pit.

The shade sail is laced to a structure of basic galvanized piping attached to the fascia of the house and made tight by a combination of the lacing and a pair of turnbuckles at each corner. Patrick had the black shade sail customized to fit the area and arc in towards the garage, giving a wide clearance to the fire pit below. Whats great about this type of installation is that you can buy all the fittings and supplies at your local Home Depot, or any home supply store, and with a few basic measurements Patrick’s company can have a shade sail custom made to fit your area. Installing it yourself creates a custom look at a much more cost friendly price.

We installed this bad boy in one day, in pretty much just a few slightly rainy and damp hours. Patrick really did most of it…I mean come on, someone had to take photos. Right?

First, be cool like Patrick and find your studs. Then pre-drill the attachment points in the fascia.

Testing out the first attachment point. Hey, it works.

The galvanized pipe is also drilled through to correspond with your pre-drilled fascia holes (usually about 16″ on center). The pipe is attached to the fascia with self tapping bolts with a washer/nut inserted between the fascia and pipe to act as a spacer for the shade sails woven cord to pass through.

A 90° elbow attaches the pipes together. From there, the same installation procedure applies to the entire galvanized support structure. Find your studs, use a spacer and bolt into place. Once installed that thing is solid as a rock. It seems that galvanized pipes are crazy useful for all sorts of DIY adventures.

To begin lacing the sail in place, first just casually secure the corners in place with a few bits of cord.

Once it is loosely hung in place the long process of wrapping the cord through the grommets and around the pipe begins. It’s like lacing the longest shoe in the world.

The initial cord wrapping is left a bit loose in order to later evenly pull the shade sail taught with the turnbuckles and cord.

Once the cord is loosely installed, it is time to attach the turnbuckles at the end of the sail.

Again, you want to find a stud and pre-drill a hole to install your eyelet screw. This point will have a ton of tension on it, so make sure its solidly secured.

The turnbuckle attaches to the eyelet screw and a ring at the end of the sail. Slowly, all of the cord and the turnbuckles are pulled tighter and tighter to make the sail taught, like a giant drum.

Patrick goes back through a second time and pulls out any slack in the cord. Tedious, but totally worthwhile.

Here is a closeup of the tightened cord as well as the spacers and elbow connector.

Finish installation by tying the loose cord off, cutting it to length and singing off the end of the cord. The shade sail fabric is exterior rated to last about ten years and will withstand the harsh weather all year round.

Shazamm. DONE.

The little bar/eating pony wall area is ready to be built out is already cooled off and protected. Loving it!

We’ve had the shade installed for about a month and already have had crazy windstorms, rain, heat and harsh temperature changes and this thing is performing like a champ.  It’s made a big difference in the temperature of our laundry room, back patio, the breezeway and the garage and we’ve had four or five fires in our steel fire pit without any issues whatsoever. In the pictures I know that the shade tends to look super close to the fire pit, but trust me, there is plenty of clearance space.

All in all I feel like this could be a pretty awesome DIY project for anyone willing to tackle it. Once we got started the whole thing was fairly simple to build with really easily sourced hardware. The super talented and savvy Patrick is currently building a DIY shade sail website and will be offering video instructions, design and installation advice, hardware kits, custom shade sails as well as design services in 2011. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted when it launches.

For now you can contact Patrick directly via email or contact Shade Industries with any questions or if you have a shade sail project you’d like to tackle.

Get ready, get set, because shade number two is on the agenda for tomorrow. I’ll can’t wait to show you how we built the most dramatic addition to The Brick House yet.

DIY Terrarium

Friday, November 12th, 2010

A few weeks back when I was working with the jet-setting and uber talented Laure on a now wrapped make-over show, we made some succulent plantings to use as little green bits of awesome styled up on coffee tables or credenzas or wherever. It was super fun making them and I thought they looked fantastic.

Now, just a little while ago, I went to San Diego to hang out and shop a bit and ran into a ton of terrariums and succulent plantings in all the high-end vintage shops for hundreds and hundreds of dollars (seriously, I saw one for $350, no joke). The pricing seemed totally outrageous, but I still loved the look. How hard could it be to make a few thrifty versions to throw around the house?

Answer. Not very hard at all.

Supplies :

+ Glass Containers (I found mine at the thrift store for just a couple of bucks a pop)
+ Palm & Cactus Mix
+ Decorative Rock (I used Lava rock, because that was really the only small rock option at Home Depot for some reason)
+ Succulents and Cacti (Again, I kind of just grabbed what was at Home Depot)

I boned up on some tutorials around the web that said you can put charcoal in the bottom layer to battle any smell issues. I did not do this since I forgot. Some folks say yes, some say no – we will see how that pans out.

First, I put some of the lava rock on the bottom to act as a drainage layer.

Second, I put the Cactus and Palm soil mix in and made some little planting areas. This is not rocket science, but it is kind of dirty.

When planting remember:

+  Ruff up the roots a bit to let the plant know it’s out of its pot.
+  Plant it at the same depth it was growing in the pot.

Once the soil was ready, I planted a trio of itty-bitty plants while adding a bit of extra soil to secure them in place.

To finish it off I just added a layer of lava rock to the top.

Bam. Done.

Succulent and cacti plantings achieved! I cleaned up the glass and gave them a little water.

The thing I like about these type of succulent plantings is that they’re very low maintenance. They tend to need a bit of neglect and sun, both of which I can provide in spades.

For now they are chilling on the big bad burl in the living room. Eventually, they’ll find their forever home somewhere else in the homestead…someday…

So, to wrap up:

DIY skill level? Super Easy.

Cost? Less than $50.