Category Archives: house

More renovations


A picture is worth a thousands words, and in this case probably a couple thousand dollars.  After yet another flooding episode in July 2016, I ripped up the carpeting in our bedroom. I was done with it. I was terribly difficult to dry out, and I could never tell if it was wet unless I stepped in a soggy spot.  So out it came along with the baseboards.  That’s when I found the lovely mold growing behind the baseboards. It was while we were drying the house out that I discovered another problem.  One which had been hidden by the carpeting for years.  Our Water Furnace was leaking! We were running the unit quite a lot to draw water out of the air, but every time we did, I’d find more water seeping under the from the furnace closet.  It took some more detective work to discover it was the condenser drain pan that was cracked.  Not an easy fix, since it might require draining the condenser coils to remove them.  The first estimate I got was over $2000, because they were convinced our thermostat wasn’t working properly either.  I sought another opinion. The second repairman I found did a free estimate (one point in his favor), said nothing was wrong with the thermostat (two points in his favor), and gave me a repair estimate of $700 (you’re hired!).  When the repairmen came out, between the two of them, figured out how to remove the drain pan and replace it without removing the coil and were done in two hours instead of the estimate of a whole day.  I renegotiated the price and ended up paying $350.  I will be calling him again if I ever need more repairs.

So now we were left with a concrete floor in the bedroom and I started working on my design plan for the room.  We decided on wood grain tile flooring and I hired someone to do it.  My back still hasn’t fully recovered from the kitchen renovation.  That was done the first week of November.  I had hoped to have the ceiling and walls done by then, but at least all the popcorn was removed and some of the wall texture was scraped. So now the floor is a light color and the walls are a lighter green, which made for a much brighter room.IMG_0330 The final touches were blackout curtains, some area rugs, and a new bedside table for Peter. Still in the plans are a new ceiling fan, because I hate the one that’s there and I want to build a sliding barn door for the closet, but that’s in the future as funding allows.

And it just keeps coming down!

May was a record month for rain (see previous post) but June and July are no slouches either, with 8.64″ in June and almost 4″ so far in July. Oh and did I mention it was raining today? Since dawn!

In May, I mentioned there was no stopping the water from coming into the house. The rainfall rate onto saturated soils left no other possibility but to run off on the surface. So yes, it got in the house. The dining room floor flooded in one corner and it would have been worse if I hadn’t been actively sopping it up as it flowed in. Peter attempted to control the flooding in his office with the Shopvac, but the water managed to make in under the wall and soak the hallway carpeting. There was no damage to my cork flooring, but water did seep under the vapor barrier and got into my studio closet. And of course the rain seeped under the wall in our bedroom and closet.  It took most of a week after the Memorial Day Weekend rain to dry out the carpeting. That was with all fans going full blast, using the Shopvac to suck up as much water out of the carpet under padding, and using the air conditioning to lower the indoor humidity to give the evaporating water some place to go.
Outdoors, was another problem. The front yard was a swamp. It took two weeks for the water to drain away, then we got another eight inches of rain. By the time the front yard had finally drained enough to mow, the grass was eighteen inches high, but I must say, it’s quite lush.





So while our front lawn is a gorgeous lush lawn (with hidden trenches that’ll break your ankle if you’re not careful)…








The back yard is a delta of sand six inches deep. Every time it rains enough to get a river flowing through the back yard, I have to dig out the chicken door.





When we heard tropical storm Bill was headed our way back in June, we decided to take steps and bought self-filling sandbags. And it worked! The last rainfall we had, a drain got plugged up from debris and water ran over the back porch. Usually when that happens Peter’s office floods. This time, not a drop came in the house. I remain cautiously optimistic that all the rain forecast for this week will also stay outside our walls.

Enough is enough!





This was the lake level on May 10th.highwater




This is the lake level today. Soils are now 100% saturated down to 32″. We’ve had 21.63″ of rain for the month, and it’s still raining. The drought is well and truly busted. Now we’re dealing with periodic house flooding when the rain comes down in buckets and just has no place to go.  Last night using a Shopvac, and 32 towels of various sizes, we sopped up some eighty gallons of water inside the house and some carpets still got soaked. When the rainfall rate is light to medium, my swales and diversion ditches can handle the runoff, but when the rainfall rate gets up to an inch an hour, all my efforts are quickly overwhelmed.  Last night we got six inches of rain in roughly six hours.  It was a crazy amount of rain, and there was no stopping it from getting into the house.

…and so it continues.

After clearing out my studio for remodeling, I had an epiphany in the middle of the night.  Instead of leaving the closet as a closet, why not pull out the shelf, rod and door, then build proper, useful, storage cabinetry in the space.  So, I ripped everything out and drew up plans for what I wanted to build.

Once all the cleaning of debris was done, it was time to lay down the clay plaster.

I must say, I love working with clay.  It’s malleable, correctable, has a pleasant earthy odor, a breeze to clean up, and the excess is easy to store.

However, although doable, I wouldn’t put clay on the ceiling again, unless it was new construction, and a smaller area.  Once you start a coat, you really need to finish it  and this ceiling is 143 sq. ft.  My shoulder was killing me by the time I had the first coat down.  (More about that later)

The procedure requires a second coat, then compression.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the blue clay before the second coat was finished and this led to all kinds of cracking problems.

I got all the problem areas fixed and the final results are stunning.

Then I moved on to the walls. I decided to use two different clay colors, the two window walls having the lighter color, and the two others the darker. 

Instead of using a sponge to compress the clay, I used a plastic trowel, which gave it a really smooth finish.

After the walls were finally done, I installed my first floor.  I used chestnut colored cork flooring. There was a bit of a learning curve to get the best technique, but once I had it figured out, it only took about 4 hours to install.  I reused the baseboards, and had some extra from the powder room renovation to replace any pieces that had been damaged by flooding in the past.

The final product is a warm, sunny, inviting room.  The only problem is that I can’t keep D’Argo off the futon, because that’s where the best sunbeam is.

I mentioned my shoulder.  I thought it was just sore muscles, but, as it turns out I may have a superior labrum tear, from the repetitive overhead motion of installing the clay ceiling.  As a consequence, I’m not doing much of anything right now, so I’ve contracted a carpenter to take my cabinetry design and build the closet cabinets.  That should be done sometime in April.