Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Project

I’m working on Phase 1 of a project that would take a normal person one or two weekends to complete.

So far, I’m at least six weeks into the project with another month or so to go before Phase 1 is finished.

The overall project involves refurbishing my garage, a detached structure consisting of two parts – the original garage built in the 1950s, and an addition which was tacked on a couple decades later. At least that’s my guess.

The old section of the garage is a simple square on a cement slab, with a pitched roof and small loft for storage.

The addition was tacked on to the side, at a slightly lower elevation. It was built with a gently sloping roof which almost looks flat. The builder used inferior materials and craftsmanship.

The addition was dry walled, had a ceiling with acoustic tiles and even a built-in electric heater. It appears as if it may have been used as a makeshift apartment or office in its prime.

Then the property became a rental unit and was inhabited by various criminals in the years before we purchased it. I’m told that it was a meth lab and a marijuana grow room, although that’s just hearsay. All the electrical wires were cut. There were holes in the drywall.

The condition of the garage was considered bad enough when we bought the property the garage wasn’t considered when calculating the value of the bank’s collateral when making the loan – or something like that. I don’t recall all the details because at the time. I didn’t care – I just wanted the house.

The garage had its problems. But it’s a garage. It functioned and has served us well.

But a leak developed and, during this winter’s record rainfall, the addition began to leak more and more.

I got up on the roof to inspect it and could feel the wood cracking and splintering underneath. In one spot, I probably could have stuck by foot through the roof if I applied enough force.

Not good. This was going to require some serious wood replacement.

Out with the crowbars.

The ceiling consisted of acoustic tiles glued to thin sheets of plywood. After scraping off the tiles, I attempted to pry off the plywood. I began to pull down a sheet when I noticed it was covered with hundreds of little black dots.

Suddenly, the dots were creeping and crawling and cascading right towards me as I pulled down the plywood – TERMITES!

The plywood formed a chute which deposited the bugs on my head and torso, and there was nothing I could do but try to keep my mouth closed and try not to swallow any. They crawled in my hair and beard.

Eight sheets of plywood later, the ceiling was down and I took a giant trailer load of crap to the dump – $40 worth.

Then it was on to the roof. Boards were removed and eaves replaced.

My carpentry skills are somewhat lacking – some might even say nonexistent. I have trouble keeping things straight. But I plow ahead.

I’m now about 80 percent done with this portion. A couple more hours and Phase 1 will be complete.

Phase 1 is wood replacement.

Fortunately I discovered that the old section of the garage was built out of redwood. This is covered with asbestos siding – great stuff as long as you resist the temptation to grind it down and snort it. It’s fire proof, rot proof and bug proof.

Phase 2 will involve pealing off the shingles on the old part of the garage and then reroofing the entire structure. This all has to be done at once – and done quickly – because you never know when it’s going to rain.

Phase 3 will involve new gutters, some exterior paint and finishing work. I’ll take my time with this phase. There won’t be any rush.

Phase 4 will probably take place in the winter months. It involves some drywall replacement, painting and the construction of THE MOTHER OF ALL SHELVES.

But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself. First I need to get out a newspaper.

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