Ten Projects for 2011

Having talked about what we got done (or not, as the case may be), we had a little sit-down and talked about what we want to do. We do this every year around this time; these posts are really a set of notes from our discussions. It's important to have structure in this kind of working relationship. And flexibility; last year we did the bedroom work because Noel really needed us to do it, so maybe we didn't get as much planned stuff done as we might, but it's all fine. And it's not like we have a boss or anything.

Our big push this year is pretty obvious: we want to get that foundation permit closed. As long as it is open, our house is technically "under construction" and until the permit is closed we are paying for earthquake insurance as if we still had an 1876 brick foundation. It makes very good financial sense for us to get that permit closed as fast as we can.

1. Finish off the hallway

OK, stop laughing. We need to get this done to finish the foundation, because all permit inspections include a check for smoke detectors, and that means an inspector in our house noticing those big holes in the plaster. I don't know if that would be a problem, but I don't want it to be the reason we couldn't get the foundation permit closed. QED, the plaster must be repaired. Also, it sure would be nice to have a pretty hall again (modulo the pink woodowork).

2. Finish the foundation permit

This is really a huge project, the most expensive and most complicated of the year. If we get nothing else done, we have to get this project done this year. The project really starts this week, not just with permit drawings.

a) Hard-plumb the water tank to the sump and the pump
This will allow us to put the deck on the back of the house without compromising the irrigation system. It's a couple of afternoons of work, but miserable because it's wet and cold right now. Also, I'll be working around a functioning sump/tank system that needs to run regularly throughout the day. But the parts arrived today, and this will be finished before next weekend, mark my words.

b) Build a deck
There are a few parts of the main project, but I imagine the first one we'll get to will be the back deck. This will enable us to go out of the house in the back again, which would be awfully nice. I'm still dithering on deck materials. I like the idea of recycled products, but I don't like the idea of cutting plastic and getting that all over my yard.

c) Build side stairs
We need to have stairs on the side. Actually, we don't; the city planning guy told me we could remove the stairs and continue the railing and call it good, but if we want stairs there, they need to be legal stairs, not the junk we have now. Rosie will also be happy because she hates open risers (she's a real stickler for good stair design).

d) Replace missing siding
We've got a contractor we want to use for this, so it's just a matter of getting him out here to give us an estimate and schedule his time. That mostly has to wait for the new permit to be opened, but as soon as that happens we're calling him.

3. Put in a front retaining wall

We've been talking about this for years, and it's time to get it done. Every few years I re-pile the soil in the front yard, and it slides down and makes my roses go all crazy. Among other factors making my roses go all crazy, of course. This year our neighbor has offered to help us out, and we will prune back the roses, thin them out (getting rid of some of the more thorny ones), and build the short retaining wall (only about 18" tall) to keep the terracing on the front yard neat.

We'll need to rent the chipper/shredder again to handle the huge quantity of rose trimmings, and since we got ourselves a trailer hitch on the big car for Christmas, we are thinking we'll buy a trailer to make that work. So this will have to wait until the trailer gets here and is fitted out to carry a heavy piece of equipment. As it is, we expect the project to take most weekends this winter, in the cold and wet. Great.

4. Finish the arbor in the side yard

This one should be easy. We need to take the cross-pieces to the workshop, machine them, stain/seal them, then assemble them (I'm thinking a doweling jig might be the right tool for the job, after doing some reading). Then they can be screwed into place. That should take three total days, but short ones, and it can happen during the week. Before we start that project, we need to make sure the pieces are the right thickness to fit in the hardware, after the fun we had with the beams. I wish I knew somebody with a shop-sized planer.

The bits we ordered for the Shopbot will be here this week, but we have other commitments (see above about tank plumbing) and won't get to it right away.

5. Stripping paint from the woodwork

We had a moment of honesty and decided to hire a guy to do some of this, to see how that works out. We're not exactly floating in cash, but I think this would be worth it.

6. Finish chicken yard roofs

I bet this will take one summer afternoon. But it's going to wait until warmer weather because doing anything in the chicken yard in the winter is filthy, horrible work. We might wrap this in with redoing the back fence (the bit that is behind the chicken yard) with our neighbor.

7. Begin work on upstairs/under stairs bathrooms

We've started with drawing the plans, but this is really a matter of getting the permits and just getting to work. I have the plans mostly drawn. We're thinking about throwing this into the foundation-finishup permit application, because it's so close.

8. Put an electrical panel upstairs

Another fast job, once we get the permits pulled. It's related to the bathroom project, because the panel will go in what is now part of the bathroom which will become part of the hallway.

9. Start work on the pond for the back yard

I don't know if we'll get to this, but we've been talking about this pond forever and I'm ready for it to start happening. The location is right over our current vegetable patch, which may or may not work well. The concrete work for the front retaining wall will be good training for doing a large round pond.

10. Replace the window over the front door

Our financial advisor gave us the name of a new, good window guy (we've had a series of bad experiences with window guys), and we're going to try him out with the fixed arched transom window over the front door. The previous owners hacked it awfully when they lowered the ceiling, and we're ready to see it looking good again. Then I'll do a stained-glass piece to fit inside it, with the house number and the morning glories that appear in our ceiling medallions.

This year, we've made a copy of this list and printed it out to hang in the kitchen as a motivator and reminder. Maybe that way we won't get distracted and do a whole different room that wasn't on the plan like we did last year.

posted by ayse on 01/03/11