Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Blooms - April 23, 2011

To get us all in the mood for the up coming Northcrest Tour of Homes and Gardens tomorrow, I thought I would post some images from our own gardens. This year the peonies and rhododendrons in particular were spectacular, probably due to the abundant rains. I think we got almost double the blooms we usually see - even the very spindly rhodies in the the front yard exhibited abundant blooms.

Behind the patio
Peonies going wild!
First Bloom!
Rhodie in the back yard
Purple Rhodie in the front yard
Fuscias in the front yard
Anyway, with all the excitement going on this weekend I'm not sure I'll have any time to dig, but I have made some progress on the SketchUp drawing. This is where I am currently:

Experimenting with an Eames-ish orange for the front door.

-- John

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Great Dig - Part 3 - Mid Week Progress

I finally had a chance to get out and dig some more yesterday before it rained - actually it did shower a couple of times while I was digging but it wasn't much so I just kept at it. I removed about a cubic yard, maybe a bit more. Now that I'm getting towards the back of the house there's a lot more dirt (the ground slows up). I'm about 2/3rds of the way to the back wall from where I started but the going is much slower as there's a lot more dirt to remove.

I've also been spending my time putting together a 3D model of the house and yard in SketchUp - this is where I am so far:

The carport is done excapt for the supporting poles - I still need to add the door to the front and work out the windows and then I can move to the side. The outside walls are up but no windows have been added to the side or back and I still have to render the roof. In all it's coming along nicely. I posted earlier about taking measurements - the only way to get this to work is to take some relatively accurate measurements fo the various features so you'll know where to place them - even so I find myself going out a lot to make sure I have some of the details right, or to capture a measurement that I had missed. I think all this work will pay off nicely as I'll be able to extend the measurements to the interior to for potential changes to the kitchen, etc.

-- John

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Great Dig - Part 2 - Weekend Progress

I was able to get out and continue digging over the weekend - only a couple of hours on Saturday as I also cleaned up the yard. As you can see in the photos below it was mostly removing egg rock from the stairs and pushing the removed dirt into depressions in the front yard. We had an engagement Saturday evening so I didn't get very far - removing the rock and cleaning it for re-use is a real time killer.

Starting to establish the entry "floor"
Some dirt and root removal
Egg rock removed as of Saturday
Sunday I was able to get out and work on the dig around noon, and continued until about 6 PM or so - these photos I took today (haven't done anything this week yet - I had an interview early Monday morning and worked on the rental property yesterday - will also be out in Pine Lake today so I'll pick up tomorrow providing the weather holds). As you can see I've removed enough dirt to define the boundaries of the retaining wall - I'm actually going to back cut at an angle and dig down deeper, both to add a foundation drain and to provide for deeper footings for the wall. This is just to define the space - I'll have to temp up the supports before adding the wall and I want to have a floor poured so the supports will have the concrete to rest upon.

The goal is that far wall

Top view looking down
So this is what I've removed so far - the container of Egg rock and several short landscape timbers from the stairs; a tarp with more Egg rock and a pile of dirt - I've run out of obvious areas to fill (there are more but I haven't taken the time to find them) - I'm sure the pile will be gone by the time I'm done. I think I'm about 1/3rd of the way being completed with the digging.

Hopefully it won't rain too heavily and I'll be able to commence tomorrow. I have a couple of small tasks to perform but at this point it's a "wait and see"...

-- John

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Great Dig - Part 1 - An introduction and Some Beams

So I have this grandiose plan to expand the rear deck of my house so it cascades in steps from the bedroom deck to the exposed aggregate patio. I've been thinking about this for a while as it would provide additional space for outdoor entertaining, a place for more seating, etc. I also don't care too much for all the stuff going on with the current areas - the surfaces dive down-slope from the patio then upward along stairs to a small, relatively useless current deck from the bedroom, or downward on landscape timbers as stairs to the back yard. I'm not sure what the previous owners were thinking but the arrangement is really haphazard. Along with this project I've had two others "back-burnered" - the first is to build a small out-building to store yard tools and flammables (good idea to get those away from the house); and second, we've also wanted to change the front walk (there currently is NO PATH from the road or drive to the front concrete stoop). The problem with building the out-building is that I wanted to tie it in architecturally with the rest of the house - to do so I would need beams of a similar size (3 1/2" wide by 12" tall), ideally in Douglas Fir like the existing. So for the last 2-3 years I've been on a quest for said beams to get the building started.

FINALLY, my search panned out a few weeks ago when I bought this:

This stack is made of old growth Douglas Fir from the Washington state area. They are 13" wide, 3 1/2" thick and various lengths: the two on top are 8 feet long, the next four are 14 feet long, then the bottom two are about 26 feet in length. There's also a 2" thick board about 8 feet long that was thrown in laying on top. The guy who had them was a home builder who built cabin-type homes in North Georgia and these were some he had saved to use in his own home. Due to the economy he was moving to Boston and didn't want to pay to have these moved. The asking price for the stack was $300 - but he accepted an offer of $250. We (previous owner and myself) moved all of these by hand from being stored in a basement - it was quite a task as they are quite heavy. It was really too much weight for my little HF fold-up 4'x8' trailer - at one point when I went over some RR tracks next to Buford Hwy the trailer came off the hitch and I had to stop and re-hitch - not something I want to experience again as the pucker factor was quite high.

In any case, now that I have way more than I actually need to build the out-building, I thought these could be useful in my design for the rear deck - my thought is to lay these beams in parallel to the existing beams of the house, extending the ends from the back wall to past the deck surface - it would be both period appropriate (may similar designs in my stack of Sunset Books) and tie the deck design back into the house. I would also incorporate some metal pole supports to match the look of other Northcrest Homes - I've already done a bit of replacement work so I've got a source to order the posts locally. Or I may just go with wood supports to match the carport - decisions, decisions...

But hold on - when I approached Cindi on the idea of using them on the back deck, her comment was "first you need to finish the front path" - my original thought on this was to use concrete sono-tubes to make round concrete risers for the whole path leading to an Ipe stoop. A lot of work but it would be spectacular when done. However Cindi has convinced me that a raised wood deck, floating across the front would be easier to build, beautiful and easier to maintain so that's where I'm going. I still need to do some SketchUp plans so we can visualize how this would look - my initial thought is to raise the deck the thickness of pressure-treated 4"x6" timbers, supporting the front where the land slopes so they also parallel the beams on the house. It would neatly wrap-up both front and rear areas for a consistent design. More images to follow as I finish up the SketchUp design (am also doing same for rear deck).

Since it does take some time to finalize the design, I decided to take advantage of the mild weather we've been having (and my current lack of employment), to begin The Dig under my current deck. Since I want the deck to stretch all the way to the back wall of the house, I needed to provide access for Georgia Power to the meter (my current deck has an awkward cut to the deck so you can see the meter from above). My intent is to pour a slab of concrete under the first deck section (up to the first, highest beam), add a retaining wall and dry-in the ceiling above. The space would also allow me to mount a vertical-stack compressor (which is now in the carport) and possibly add a generator down-the-road with a cut-over for when we have those inconvenient outages. Here are the images of "Day 1" - note that I'm slowly removing the existing stairs (made with landscape timbers and egg-rock) and digging into the dirt for the retaining wall.

Rocks removed from first two steps
Start of dig under deck
Lots buried under there!
Goal is the far wall under the meter!
So the process I've been following is to remove as much of the rock as possible, cleaning off the dirt using a bucket of water before depositing on a tarp in the side yard. All the dirt from the first day was then wheelbarrowed to areas in the front yard that are small sink-holes from lost trees and plantings (as the roots rot the holes get larger, so the fill will smooth out the landscape). I spent about 2-3 hours on this first day and this is where I got (doesn't look like much but as Lao-tsu said "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet.").

More photos of day 2 and 3 soon.

-- John

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fantastic Guide to Remodeling a Mid-Century Modern Home

I found this posted on the Lotta Living Forums - wow what a terrific post for information on remodeling a MCM home!

I particularly like all the considerations towards the original design aesthetics. The only caveat I have is that it's possible to go too far (what I mean by that is you can completely gut the feel of an MCM and end up with something very sterile) so keep in mind that simpler is often better, IMHO.

-- John