Friday, July 26, 2013

Raise the Roof

When we pulled up for the first viewing of our house, one of the first things that we noticed was that the front porch was missing a pillar.  It wasn’t at immediate risk of collapsing, but the roof line was noticeably slanted.  During our negotiations we had the previous owners install a new support. Unfortunately, we didn’t really like the new support that they installed and worse yet; they didn’t correct the slanted roof line...  Most people probably have never even noticed it but it’s been bugging us for the past 2.5 years so we finally got around to fixing the problem.

Photo from the Real Estate Listing:

We started out by looking around on the inter-web for some pillars that we liked.  We considered building something with a stone base but decided to keep it simple.  We aren’t exactly experts on masonry and using stone would have really driven up the cost.  Once we had it narrowed down, I put together a rough plan in Sketchup.  I decided to use a 6x6 piece of pressure-treated pine for the structural support and then trim it out with some narrow strips to add a little detail.

With the pillar plans ready to go, the next step was figuring out how to correct the slanted roof line.  After taking some measurements, we found that the corner of the overhang needed to go up 1.5 inches.  With that all figured out, it was time to start building!

We started by taking down a few pieces of the aluminum soffit and then un-bolted the bottom of the old support from the concrete.  It was wedged pretty tightly between the roof and the ground so we couldn’t just pull it out.  Next was the fun part though - Raising the Roof!  I cut a couple of 2 x 4’s a hair longer than the height of the new pillar to use as a temporary braces. We wedged the 2 x 4’s between the roof and the ground and then whacked the bottom of them with a sledge hammer until they were vertical.  Next, we grabbed the level just to make sure we measured correctly and stepped back to make sure the roof looked straight.

The last step before we put the new pillar up was installing a bracket for the base.  The bracket serves two purposes; keeping the pillar in place and preventing moisture from seeping into the wood from the bottom.  We ended up getting this bracket at Lowes. We ran into some issues with this step (in particular getting the anchor bolt to hold in the concrete...) but after 3 trips to the hardware store and a much needed beer break, we got it installed.

Next was the moment of truth; we grabbed the 6 x 6, slid it into place, and secured it on top and bottom.  The reason we cut the 2 x 4's a hair too long was so the new post would slide easily into place.  Just as we stepped back to admire our work, it started raining.  This wasn’t the worst job we’ve ever done but we were pretty happy that the weather gave us an excuse to call it quits for the day.  Although we still have to put the soffit back up, fix the downspout, and trim out the pillar; it feels pretty great to pull into the driveway and see a roof line that is straight and level!  The previous owners would probably have some choice words for us if they saw that we tore out the support that we that we made them install, but it is going to look way better when we're all done.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ladders Aren't Just for Climbing

When we pick things up on the side of the road, there isn’t always a plan.  A perfect example is the 28 foot wooden extension ladder that we found a few years ago.  When I saw it laying there, I was excited but Deanne wasn’t quite as sure, so our compromise was to only grab half of the ladder.  Luckily, our neighbors never saw us pull into our driveway with the trunk wide open and a beat-up wooden ladder sticking out 6 feet behind my Honda Accord (at least they haven't said anything to us about it).

The ladder sat in our basement for the past two years collecting dust, but a few weeks ago we came up with the plan to use it as a light fixture on our screened-in porch.  The only lighting out there was a small rusty spotlight that did a terrible job of lighting the porch at night.

We started out by cutting the ladder to a shorter length (around 6 feet) and cleaned off all of the dirt and grime.  We had considered sanding it down to remove all of the old paint marks but we really liked how the paint gave it more of a rustic look.  To protect it from the elements (and deepen the wood color a bit), we applied two coats of poly.

Next, Deanne wrapped the ladder with a strand of lights that she picked up at World Market (looks like they only sell frosted bulbs now), while I got started on the wiring.  Since the old spotlight was in the corner of the porch and the new light would be in the middle of the room, I got to put my limited electrical skills to the test.  I won’t bore you with all of the details but I took down the old spotlight, ran some conduit, and installed an outlet (which is controlled by the old light’s switch) on the ceiling in the center of the room.

To hang the ladder we just used an oil rubbed bronze chain from Menards (from the lighting section) and some matching hooks.

Once we got it hanging level, we plugged it in and stepped back to admire our work.  We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  The screened in porch was already our favorite part of the house but now we love it even more.  For our neighbors’ sake we are trying our best not to stay out there too late on weekends but with the warmer weather, that has been a real challenge for us.
(The first picture below was taken while we were trying to figure out the 
proper height - hence the extra chain)

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