November 24, 2012

House Tour: The Exterior

Posted in House Tour tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:41 am by BetweenWeekdays

I’m wondering if the areas outside a house are always in a constant state of updating, or if that’s just us. Either way, the exterior of our home seemed like the never-ending project.

We purchased our first home in 2009, but we ignored the outside areas for about a year. There were just too many things inside that were necessary to deal with first. Our house wasn’t deemed “livable” by the bank when we purchased it, so the inside was priority no. 1. After that first year, though, the outside was begging for attention. It actually continued to do so the rest of the three years we called this place home.

I don’t have any before photos of the exterior of our house, but I can list a rundown of some of the outdoor projects we tackled during our last three years here.

  • Spray painted the shutters black. The shutters were originally a dull shade of blue. They weren’t too bad, but I needed more contrast for our tan house. I don’t remember what brand of spray paint I used, but whatever it was has held up remarkably well. In fact, you’d never guess they were once blue.
  • Replaced the front door. The original front door was a solid, boring blue. We purchased a door with a glass insert from a salvage store and painted it black. It brings in a lot of light in to our living room, but it doesn’t take away much privacy since the door doesn’t lead directly into our living room. (The photo below was taken standing just outside the front door.)

  • Added landscaping to the beds around the front of the house. The original landscaping was completely overgrown in some spots and nonexistent in others. The first thing we did was cut down an ugly, overgrown pine tree that was blocking our bedroom window. It took us a year to get the stump out of the ground. Literally. Then we trimmed down what could be saved, added a lot of new plants, some much, a stone boarder and landscaping lights. Whew!
  • Added a landscaping bed around mailbox and trees to redirect water. We live on a hill, and water flowing down near the road was washing a lot of our ground away. Last year, my genius husband built up the area near the road with landscaping timbers to correct the water-flow issues. We added a stone boarder around the backside of the trees and mailbox to make a landscaped area. This new bed solved not only the water flow issue, but it also covered up a place in the yard that won’t grow grass because of trees overhead. (The iPhone picture below hopefully provides a better explanation that I could ever hope to write. Travis built up the area behind him higher with the landscaping timbers creating a ditch between the landscaped area and the road to direct water.)
  • Completed the fencing in the backyard. This may have actually happened about six months, or so, after we moved in. The fencing was only partially done. I have no idea why. We finished the remainder of the fence and added a gate. We used leftover fence from a relative and purchased a damaged gate (it was easily repaired) to cut costs.
  • Added a raised bed garden. My mother and stepfather came to my house in May 2010 while I was away at work one day and created the raised garden bed and planted my first crops for my birthday. I’ve enjoyed having a garden ever since. (The iPhone photo below is my garden this year just after planting.)
  • Added a fire pit. In May 2011, my father and stepmother bought me a fire pit for my birthday. They helped us dry-fit the stone surround, and then we all enjoyed our first fire well into the night. You’ll notice in the photo below that the fire pit sits just to the right of my garden, which was looking much fuller when this photo was taken back in July. (The photo below was actually used on the MLS listing for our house.)
  • Stained the deck. This project took us a year to complete. I wish I was kidding. One spring we pressure washed the entire deck, sanded the rails and added one coat of stain. Then we lost our momentum. I blame a wicked migraine given to me from the stain fumes. We didn’t add the second coat of stain until earlier this year when we decided to sell our house. You can read more about the initial stages of staining the deck here. (The photo below was also used on the online MLS listing for our house.)
  • Painted the front porch. This is actually one of my favorite projects and probably one of the few that I’ve completed entirely on my own. Last year I painted the railing white and the porch floor a beautiful blue. This year, I only had to touch up the stair treads. I love my blue porch. To learn more about painting the front porch and staining the deck click here.
  • Added a tree to the front yard. Earlier this year I purchased a weeping yaupon tree from a nursery that was going out of business. We used some leftover stone edging and made it its very own landscaped bed. Then, it went into shock and all of its leaves fell off. I’m happy to report that it’s doing much better now. It’s actually sporting quite a bit of green toward the bottom of the plant. 
  • Pressure washed everything. We’ve been pressure washing for the past two years. We’ve pressure washed the entire house, the front porch, the deck, the concrete pad under the deck, the retaining walls, etc. I really hope the new owner appreciates the squeaky-clean exterior.
  • Built a retaining wall. Living on a hill also affected our backyard. Whenever it rained, large portions of the higher-elevated yard, mostly rocks, washed into the grassy area of the yard making mowing a huge challenge. We spent years trying to figure this one out. Eventually we decided a cinderblock retaining wall would do the trick. We wanted to cover up the cinderblock with steps leading into the yard, but we decided to sell the house before we could come up with a plan. The iPhone photo below was taken just after the wall was built. Dirt has been added to the top of the wall and grass has covered the dirt, but not much else has changed.
  • Added a new roof. We’ve had quite a bit of foul weather in Chattanooga these past few years. Earlier this year, a particularly bad storm damaged our roof badly enough to warrant replacing the entire roof. Luckily, our insurance agreed to cover the cost, so we were only out the down payment, which we later got back a portion of when we got a referral bonus from some friends of ours using the same company.

We didn’t hire out for any of these projects (with the exception of the roof), so it’s pretty crazy to look back at all we accomplished in three, short years. I think we’re both pretty proud of how our house looks now. We definitely have the prettiest house on our street. (I know this for a fact because it was often mentioned during showings. Sometimes this was a good thing; sometimes not.)

The exterior of our home concludes the tour of our first home. If you’ve missed any of the fun along the way, click here to see what you missed.

p.s. Writing this post was a little bittersweet knowing that it’s the last stop on the tour. While we’re very excited about the home in our future, we’re also pretty sad to say goodbye to this place. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing our house as much as I’ve enjoyed showing it to you. 

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June 7, 2011

Weekend Recap: Sunday, June 5: Painting the Front Porch

Posted in Weekend Recaps tagged , , at 6:55 pm by BetweenWeekdays

We woke up bright and early Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Ha! Normally we’re up by 9. Needless to say, the day’s to-do list shrunk considerably.

What was on the list?

  • Finish painting the front porch
  • Pressure wash the back deck
  • Sand rails on the back deck
  • Pressure wash siding on back of house
  • Buy groceries
  • See “X-Men: First Class” in theaters

Incredibly, we managed to complete most tasks.

We’ve been working on the front porch and back deck for nearly 3 months now. I know, pathetic.

Our house was in really bad shape when we moved in 2009. It was in such bad shape, that we’re just now working on the exterior of our house. We’ve already landscaped the front and finished fencing in the back yard this year. After those two huge projects, it was hard to move on to the other bigger projects: refinishing the front porch and back deck.

One weekend back in March, I pressure washed as much of the back deck as I could reach and we bought stain thinking we would finish soon.

Also in that time period, we landscaped the front of our house, which set into motion the painting of the front porch. Who wants to pressure wash when you’ve just spent a fortune landscaping all around the porch? Not us.

Long story short, we got most of the porch finished and ran out of steam. So, the back deck sat mostly clean and the front porch sat mostly painted for about two and a half months.

Until this weekend!

I took a quick trip to the grocery store, while the husband prepared the front porch for paint. Since we had waited so long between coats of paint, a layer of dirt and pollen had accumulated on the surface.

A quick spray with the pressure washer was a quick fix to remove the pollen and dirt. By the time I was back from the store, the husband was pressure washing the back deck and the porch was dry enough to begin painting.

I was only painting the parts of the porch where we could walk. The spindles and rails had been painted back in March.  This still took a considerable about of time because of all of the cutting in.

Did I mention we had record-breaking-high temperatures Saturday? I painted in 98-degree weather. The humidity was so thick, I swear you could cut it. Totally not exaggerating. We’re used to this kind of heat in August, not the beginning of June. I think I lost 10 pounds. (Maybe a slight exaggeration.)

Cutting in probably took about an hour. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no professional painter, but I think I did a pretty good job. After the cutting in was done, I just had to roll on the last coat of paint over all the boards.

So glad I can mark this project off my list!

By the time I was finished painting, the husband had finished pressure washing the back deck and had moved on the sanding the rails. I love a man with power tools.

While he used the belt sander, I went behind him and hit any rough spots with the orbital sander. I also smoothed down the edges so they’re more rounded and less sharp.

We were about two thirds of the way through, when it started to rain. Guess what you can’t do in the rain? If you said use power tools, you’re right!

We were through sanding for the day. The husband was able to do a bit more pressure washing after the rain stopped. It was one of those bizarre summer showers where it rains like crazy for five to ten minutes and then stops.

Guess what you can’t do to wet wood? Sand it.

The husband finished pressure washing all the debris off the deck and moved all the equipment back to the garage to wait for another weekend.

This was my queue to head to the air conditioning. I didn’t complain. After a shower to remove 98-degrees grime, I began dinner. It was the least I could do for my man who was still out working in the heat.

What was on the menu? Chicken and dumplings and macaroni and cheese. We love carbs. I’ll try to share my mother’s-in-law amazing chicken and dumpling recipe soon.

We didn’t make it to see the new “X-Men” flick, but FX was playing the original trilogy. I can settle for that. For this weekend, anyway.

What did you do this weekend? Was it as hot in your neck of the woods as it was in ours?