One of our outdoor projects has been our fire pit. In the summer, we have a lot of fires, and it's one of my favorite thing of all times. I always talk about the three R's, and
this is definitely under the 'Reuse' category.
The main part is made from an old tire rim. Our friend welded up an old grill to it as well, so we are set for cooking over the fire, should the power ever go out, or if we just feel like it.
Then we set out collecting rocks for our pit. We got lucky and found some sweet ones.
We also found a bunch of flat rocks, which Adam dug holes in the ground for the rocks so they would be flush with the ground. Tripping hazards around fires are just not cool.
Because the outside ring of rocks are quite square, we decided to go with smooth river rocks for contrast. The river rocks also allow for better air flow around the fire, thus a better fire.
How do you like our entirely free project? It's amazing what you can do with something nature has given us, plus a few unwanted scraps!
Avani Slim Burner by BrasaFire - $500.00
from: Burke Decor LLC
I just thought I would share a my top ten tips for when you are going through a home building process or a renovation. It is so easy to get screwed over in the construction industry. It's usually not over just nickles and dimes. It can often be the difference between your dream home and your worst nightmare.
3. Find a good contractor
Do your research before hiring a contractor. Don't just look them up on the internet. A company with really strong marketing, doesn't necessarily mean they are quality builders. Just because a picture or a website or ad looks great, doesn't mean that it's not photo-shopped or even a picture of their work.
Ask around. Have your friends just built a new house or gone through a renovation? Talk to them about their experiences in dealing with a certain company. Would they do it again? Any problems they encountered? Word of mouth really is an important aspect of the construction world.
Visit the company's show room or shop. Ask to see their portfolio of work, and make sure the buildings have actually been built, not just rendered pictures. They could have a great designer on staff, but if their workmanship is not in the field, it's best to move on. Visit the sites of the actual buildings they have built, and take note of the quality you would expect them to deliver.
Again, get quotes. This is where people get screwed over. If you do decide to go with a certain company or contractor, get everything in writing.
Make sure you have legal documents and contracts.
There are different times to pay for certain things, so know exactly what is due and at what point. NEVER pay the entire amount until the work is finished, and you are satisfied. Deposits should be around 50-60%, and no more. Make sure everything is accounted for, and this is where you need to be sure that you have a honest contractor. 50-60% would be a lot to walk away with on a $100,000 budget. Yikes. I can't even imagine.
I'd even recommend going so far as to hire them for a little project before hiring them on a big project, just so you really know their work ethic and integrity.
4. Get second opinions
In the construction world, it's not only normal, it's encouraged, to get at least three quotes from different contractors. That gives you a feel for the different guys out there, and let the best man or woman win. Remember that the cheapest option is not always the best option. Often, the cheapest quotes have forgotten something, and then is added later on the invoice. Make sure you watch for this. Having three quotes to compare is helpful too, to make sure that nothing gets missed. The middle quote is usually the one to go for- not too cold, not too hot, juuuust right. (I think I've been reading too many story books.)
Once you've hired a contractor, and something seems not right to you, feel free to get a second opinion before it's too late. Sometimes contractors can be moody about this, being a pride thing, so try doing it discreetly. If something doesn't seem right about the work that is going on, chances are you are right. Better to nip it in the butt before it turns into a messy and sometimes legal mess. A second opinion can either calm your nerves and let you know that everything is OK, or it can confirm your suspicions about your contractors work.
A) The plumbing for the bath faucet needed to be removed, which meant ripping out drywall and patching it, and changing the plumbing. Also the drain for a tub is in a different position than a large walk in shower. That needed to be changed as well.
B) Having a shower base instead of a bath meant the need for more tile on the walls. The difference in height between a shower base and a tub is about 2 feet. Doing the math here: The difference in square footage was about 22 square feet. (3'x2'x5') Using a mosaic tile, which is around $25/ sf= a difference in about $550. That's just for the tile. No tile edge, no extra grout and tile adhesive, which are small costs, but it adds up.
C) The bath tub and bath/ shower fixture combo was already ordered. Often, you cannot return special orders, so this would be an extra expense. Hopefully, another bathroom could use the bought and paid for fixtures.
7. Be Involved
It doesn't hurt to be aware of what is going on with your renovations. This is a good way to make sure the project is going as planned. You wouldn't want to walk into your house to find missing walls or extra walls because someone read a drawing upside down. Imagine if you told someone a paint colour and they misheard you and your house was bright orange or something. Mistakes happen, and if you have a clear idea about what's going on in your house, it's easier to pick up on mistakes before they become a big deal. Being around is also a good way to appreciate the workmanship that is happening. I always think it's neat to see the project before, during, and after.
10. Be safe
There are two parts to this safety rant.
Firstly, if you are doing it yourself, make sure you know what you are doing, and that what you are doing is safe and done correctly. Don't do things that you are uncomfortable with or things that are unsafe. Get help when you need it. Unless you are very handy and know what you are doing, I would stay away from doing any electrical work yourself. Ideally, electrical work should be permitted and it would help to avoid circumstances like below. I was helping my friend remove a basement wall, and as soon as we had ripped off the paneling, I see this cut wire among the insulation. Not cool. Thankfully, with a closer look from a distance (yes, that is contradictory), I realized the wire was cut on both ends and just left there, so it was not a live wire just hanging out, starting fires. Thankfully. It's not always the case. We were lucky.
Secondly, if you are getting the work done by someone else, and they come across a safety issue, such as mold, rot or structural issues, this needs to get fixed. It is not your contractor trying to screw you over. In fact, it is them looking out for you. As much as this sucks for the budget, it is important to fix it. Safety first, my friends!
I hope this helps when picking out a contractor when renovating or building. I don't like seeing people getting screwed over in this industry. Life can be pretty ruthless sometimes, so if this saves you a headache, then I've done my part. Home is where the heart is, and it shouldn't be a traumatic experience to get your home the way you want it.
On my last spray painting project, I definitely over did it on the thickness of paint and it turned into a crackly, textured project. I was going to try to redeem myself, and prove to myself that I am not the worst spray painter in the world. But then I tripped over the matching lamp and smashed it. Don't ask...
It was a pretty simple project, not going to lie. I wish I had a before picture, but my mind was elsewhere at the time. I'm sure you can imagine the before.
Happy Colouring Your World!
We looked at getting new windows installed as they are pretty ugly and old, but as our energy assessment told us, they actually are not bad when it comes to their energy efficiency. To upgrade them would change our house's energy efficiency so minimally that an immediate upgrade was immediately put on the back burner.
Except for this window, the rest were in fairly good shape. Unfortunately, replacing even this window just wasn't in the budget. A little tape just to keep the wind and rain out seemed like a good option. Then I got the great idea.
Out of sight, out of mind.
And thus began yet another project.
I wanted something plain for the bathroom, but not too plain, so I opted for a faux Roman blind. I had picked out a linen that would have worked perfectly, but it was $19 per yard, so I decided I'd settle on the less expensive linen that would still be ok... thinking the less expensive, second choice linen was $12 when it was actually $21. Damn dyslexia. I took it home, and the colour just didn't work. I wished so badly I went for the other first choice of material, but no... I told my mom about the mistake, nearly in tears, and when my sister came to visit me last week, she had sent a flat sheet that she scored for $4. Of course, mom's ALWAYS know best, and the colour worked perfectly.
Next up was the second dowel. I covered the ends with purple duct tape (the colour choice is optional) and placed it in front of the shade. Tension is what is holding it in place, so that duct tape is not only hiding my beaver like cuts, but it is also providing grip and that extra 1/8" that the hand saw thought I didn't need.
Hope you appreciate it as much as I do!
Happy broken window hiding!
What is a project you've got that is so simple, but
still encompasses the idea of reusing something?
What does International Delight have to do with it, you ask? Well, Adam and I have an addiction to coffee, and I prefer flavoured coffee, so needless to say, we have a pretty good stash of the empty bottles. I've been brainstorming for months about what to do with them, and the obvious answer would have been to just recycle them. But no. Not this girl.
It actually came to me when I lined them up on my table to look at them, and really, really brainstorm about what I should do with them. It seemed so obvious with them lined up in front of me. They look like they should be turned into bowling pins!
Looking like bowling pins, hey? I decided to embellish the pins a little with jute, and that's where I should have just stuck to using a simple sharpie pen.
Next thing I know, I'm creating nautical decor, not bowling pins! Oh, how easily my mind changes. I guess that is what I get for painting them colours like Lagoon and Galapagos Turquoise. It was inevitable.
This was a two in one project; one that can go either direction! Now, I just need to paint three more international delight bottles and use a Sharpie instead and Keenan will have his bowling pins to match our nautical decor.
At least I have a few extra pairs of shoes out of the way. I've got big plans for the rest of the shoes, only I'm not sure what it is yet!
Happy Shoe Hiding!
I'll whisper some words of wisdom: don't let it be! I can apply this two ways to my situation; yesterday and today.
I "let it be" for far too long, but I finally finished painting the house trim.
Well... It's pretty much done, with the exception of the spot where there is a huge hornet nest, and I was pissing them off with hornet spray. I figured I'd just call it a day. The house trim was left half painted for longer than I'd like to admit, so I figure it can wait another day or two before I really finish. Oh joy.
Only to wake up the next day to find the hornets had declared war on me.
Don't let it BEE. **
Golden Bee Embroidered Designer Pillow design by Studio 773
from: Burke Decor LLC
I was up on my ladder, minding my own business, painting away, and suddenly I was getting swarmed. It was the last place I was painting for the day, right where the trim and chimney meet, and that's where those little buggers were. My neighbours watching must have thought I was either having a seizure or getting attacked by wasps. It was, in fact, the latter, but either way, I would NOT recommend doing either of those things ON A LADDER.
I think I had the right to call it a day after that.
So, with most of the trim painted, that was now off my chest and I slept well last night. I often can't sleep at night because I am planning what project I will attack the next day.
Little did I know, I should have not only been planning an attack, but a full on war.
I woke up, had my two cups of coffee, just like any other day. Although, there was two hornets flying at our kitchen window, trying to get out. Nothing registered really with me, until Keenan went to grab something on the floor. It was another hornet. (Or wasp. Is there even a difference?) I can deal with a few bugs in my house; our doors are often left open, but when you try messing with my son, whoa, watch out!
Then, while I was on the phone with my mom, talking about the problem, I got stung. It became a war.
I went over to my other mom's, so Keenan would be safe against the enemy, and on the way out of my house, I killed at least thirty.
30 for me, one for them.
I made these bad boys before heading out, hoping those suckers would drown in the sweet, sweet sugar water of death. I bet you don't want to get on my bad side anymore, hey?
My father-in-law brought this over, and helped me spray every nook and cranny of the house. I figured out that they were coming in from the fireplace, so we sprayed there, mainly.
Then, I headed to the hardware store to get every possible poison and deterrent I could find to get rid of these stupid insects. They seem to have worked, because since the spraying and adding the foam filler behind the fireplace (which totally would have helped , we have yet to see any more enemy activity.
Here's to hoping!
It's times like these, you realize how much you appreciate the safety of your own house. I really appreciate those who I share this house with, and I definitely prefer to keep it those that we want in our house.
Happy Hornet Killing!
**Please note that I only used the term "Don't Let it BEE" for the sake of the title. This was a war on hornets, not bees. Bees are a very important species, and please try to refrain from killing those. Just stay calm around bees to avoid getting stung. Honestly, I even released the first few hornets, until my son just about picked one up and moments later I got stung. Then, I realized how many were in my house, and it was no more Ms. Nice Guy for me. But please, again, refrain from killing bees.
I'll just start with a quote.
"You think you can do these things, but you just can't!" -Finding Nemo, 2003
As is the case with me and drywall.
Well, it's not that I can't, but it is that I don't know how to do it.
Not yet. Not at all.
If you remember, a few months back, we were getting our house assessed about how energy efficient our house has become after all our renos. It was the morning of, and of course, there were so many tiny things that I hadn't done yet, but thought should be done before the assessment. The major thing they were testing for was air tightness.
I wasn't there for the original assessment pre- renovation, so I didn't get to ask how certain things would affect the ratings. Things like the drywall seams...
Since I hadn't asked, I figured it was probably a huge deal, and now that it was the day of the post assessment, I totally just slathered those seams with drywall mud, sans drywall tape. I did that with the first door too, however, it got covered by the trim. This time, our drywall patching was not getting covered by the trim. The door originally had a sidelight, so there was no getting away with a crappy drywall job this time.
I don't know if you picked up on this, but I said a few months back. Ya... After Adam lovingly pointing out that I did it very wrong, I felt pretty unmotivated to fix it. It was going to be a killer to sand. I slathered that mud on really, really, really thick.
But I finally got at her. The sanding part at least. I am definitely going to use the following instructions with the drywall joint tape and hope for the best. If at first you don't succeed, learn how to do it right, I guess. That patch of wall will be finished soon, I can feel it!
The tools of the trade!
Any drywall horror stories to make me feel better? Please!?
Ok, so one of the first things we did to our house when we bought it was build a fence. We had been loving our entire pregnancy at Adam's parents (bless them for putting up with us!) and so the least we could do for our dog was to give him a yard to run around in.
I'll admit, it did happen after the little dude was born... Priorities suddenly diverted from the dog. Sorry, Bo. At least he had a little girlfriend next door.
Thankfully, we had practise building one other fence before, but this time we decided for a bit of a different design.
Instead of doing the typical vertical fencing, we chose to do our fencing horizontally. This meant more vertical support, aka more posts, which meant more holes to be dug. Our posts were spaced 4' apart, which is definitely overkill for a vertical fence, but for a horizontal fence it was perfect. This is to prevent the boards from bowing. It also provided us with a perfect amount of vertical posts for solar lights. Nice ambiance, let me tell you!
We also topped the fence off with a diagonal capping piece to allow the snow to slide off instead of piling on top of the fence.
Snow is a pretty integral factor in the design of the fence.
Why, you ask? This was the last fence we built. It was five feet tall.
Thus, the snow cap. And the increase in height. It is now just under six feet, and it's been good so far, but we did have a pretty mild winter with only about 4-5 feet of snow on the ground. (We do live in a ski town, might I add)
The one tricky part we had with the angled cap was the corner where the two angles meet at the corner post.
It was the only thing that was off, and I'll admit, I was so relieved to have the fence up, I just said good enough and we will plant a tree in the corner to hide it. Oops. Normally Adam and I are pretty anal about that kind of thing but we can't all be perfect... It does look fine from the road, so consider yourself lucky that I let you in on our little secret! Hopefully the cool little 1x2 feature at eye level distracts you.
To finish off our gate, I really wanted to make it an interesting feature, so about a year later, we finally finished it off with the left over wood we had. I would have probably preferred it to be a thicker piece of wood; a 1x8 or 10 instead of the 1x6 might be more of the right proportion for the fence, but we used what we had, and I think it still turned out nicely.
Gates are tricky when building. All I can stress is bracing and levelness. I wasn't in charge or the fence design, so I don't have much I can tell you in terms of how-to. We started with a 2x4 frame, and it went from there.
So, there you have it: our fence building in a nutshell! I know its not the norm when it comes to fences, but I love it. Sometimes, you just have to go against the flow and do what you want. So that's what we did.
Oh, and P.S. if you are building a fence with pressure treated wood, make sure you use coated screws specifically for decks and fences. Otherwise you will be replacing EVERY SINGLE SCREW. Yup. They rust almost immediately. It's not fun. I thought the black 2-1/2" screws were the coated ones. Those are drywall ones. The kind of greenish ones are the ones to use. Don't make my mistake! Seriously.
Ants on a Blog
By Jena Keenan