My Home Projects
(This part of the website is under construction)
(What I do with my vacation time)
In February of 2016, I purchased my home in Jasper, Georgia. As a customer, you might want to explore how I am prioritizing my home improvement projects and how I choose "what comes next." This part of my website is under construction, so if it seems behind or outdated, it will catch up quickly. My awesome wife, Lee Ann Daniel, has a full time job as a Pickens High School Math/Special Education teacher. She updates my website in her spare time.
Oh my goodness, what have I bought?
As you can tell, my home sits on wooded property. I like the brown of the house and how it blends in with the woods. I do not like the steep driveway. The shutters do not fit the house at all. They are cheep plastic rectangles that aren't even sized to the windows. Wood bees and carpenter ants have built in the siding. I see at least four trees that need to be cut immediately to keep the house safe. The only heat source for the wicked North Georgia winters is electric. I want a fireplace or wood stove.
Are mushrooms growing out of the caulk?
Yes. Mushrooms. My home inspector did catch this one huge red flag, so we were able to take off of the value of our home in bargaining the price. What else this picture shows are unsafe stairs and a deck that is not up to code with the support beams. The roof is solid with just a little rot in places where the flashing was not installed correctly. None of the deck has flashing, but compared to the support beams... well, as I said, I have to figure out how to prioritize.
The great outdoors
4.5 acres of wild GA mountain side and my wife breaks the lawn mower every time she uses it.
The house is above, the creek is below. Trees have grown up everywhere. There are discarded tires, construction piles of roofing materials and logs left to rot in stacks that attract snakes. (shiver) But, there are also rabbits, turtles, squirrels, raccoons, wood peckers, bats, owls, hawks and a huge variety of smaller birds. Trash removal will be high on my priority list. It is labor intensive, but cheap since I own a pick up truck.
The Shop Area
I love my shop. I do not have cell phone reception or internet here. I see that as a plus.
I love my shop. I hate my mailbox. It is in a curve and our mail lady is going to be seriously hurt one day if it doesn't change. I want to put a mail box in this turn around, as well as a few other decorative trees. I learned that the post master for the area has to approve a switch in mail box positions and they do not like driving on private property. THIS is my first priority. I will save the life of our mail carrier.
If you look closely, you can see the black mailbox in the background. I have also placed two of my convertible picnic tables along side a Free-Little-Library that I built. There is a smaller post toward the left that houses pamphlets describing my business. What you don't see is the roadside signage for my business that was also placed front and center. This is a small investment considering the very busy street we live on feeds into many neighborhoods.
The Master Bedroom
The master bedroom was in the basement. It is a large finished basement with a full bathroom, so no complaints. My wife and I are use to living our lives at ground level. Our second project was to take two small bedrooms, located on the upper floor, remove the wall and match the flooring. Of course, the lights had to be moved and the ceiling patched. (And while you are at it dear, please put in a walk in closet for me). There is a bonus of a secret hide away for private storage. The bathroom is directly across the hall and has a washer dryer. (Nothing else about the bathroom is attractive so you will see it on a later project) This shows the completed side of the bedroom that was worked on. The floor matches flawlessly!
Galley Kitchen Cabinets
The kitchen needed help. Serious help. The cabinets were a good first step. I am certain there will be more to come. We had to prioritize. The floors need attention, the appliances could be updated. The cabinets painted made the biggest noticeable difference.
Fireplace and Future Wood Stove
A set of double doors, I am certain were meant to show off the view and let in light, made life miserable in this North Georgia mountain region. The room has two doors, and four other windows. We need an alternate heat source if the power goes out. A fireplace was always high on my priority list. When I checked with my insurance company, they said this one change to my home increased the value $28,000. It is functional and beautiful.
The chimney came first. I extended it down to the basement level. One day, I hope to put in a wood stove for a heat source down there. That is lower on my priority list and adding it in later will be a quick switch with the chimney tie in already available.
This fireplace is absolutely what this house needed. It is located in line with the hall way so the heat travels straight up the stair case into the bedrooms. With ceiling fans in all of the rooms, it is easy to keep the heat circulating and the house warm. In the winter, I can brag about my electric bills that are under $100! All the stones were gathered from the creek on the property. This was truly a low cost solution that pays for itself.
Carpenter Ants should be called demolition ants.
I could have placed this at a higher priority, but I needed an above the ground master bedroom to stay comfortable and the fireplace has proven to be a huge benefit. Putting off any wood damage is always risky. This one cost me a little in damages and a half days extra work.
Since I planned on removing the windows to put in a ramp instead of stairs, I am taking this time to replace windows with siding and make any repairs necessary to this section.
Prep Work for Future Project
While repairing the carpenter ant's damage, the project grew. I decided to take care of all outside wood damage while prepping for a deck replacement. In total, it took five days for one man to finish. The money invested on the outside of your house to preserve the overall health of your home is worth every penny.
House on the Hill
I still have the second half of the outside of the house to paint. It is cold now, it can wait until spring as there is no damage. It just needs a fresh coat to match the rest of the house. I will be removing the mismatched shutters as I go. I am ridding the house of the two tone look. Time is important to me. It is much easier to spray a house one color than it is to make all the cuts for two tone. You may need to make similar choices as you maintain your own home. Plus, I like the hidden look that it gives to the house.
Old Shed - New Swing
This old piece-meld tin shed frustrated my wife from the day before we bought the house. She turned this into a summer project, stripping the tin, white-washing the bones of the building and hanging a porch swing that was just sitting in our garage. This deconstruction of the shed cost $60 plus time and it gave us a whole new finished look to our back yard meeting place.
My wife and I spent the first three years standing on our front porch discussing which of our four trees were the most dangerous. None were rotting, we thought. None were in danger of falling, we thought. But, they were too close to the house considering the high winds we get here in the mountains. If a tornado wants a tree on your house, it can uproot one from a mile a way and throw it there. Just to be safe, we cut down all four. To our surprise, three of the four were rotten from the inside out and endangering the house. It opened up the view out from our house. But, there are still plenty of trees between the house and the road to keep it hidden.
Social Distancing Projects March - May
If you can't work safely in public, how can you earn money as a carpenter? I chose to invest my time and money into my property. This deck build cost around $4,000, not including labor. It increased the value of my home $12,000 and also gave me a handicapped access to my main floor living space.
You can see the before pictures if you scroll up. This is the updates on our project in progress. This is what I was doing at home while social distancing during March - May. This project and my garden.
I knew the foundation in the garage was letting in water. I dug out the wall, waterproofed it and resealed it the week after I moved into the house. I didn't even include it on my list of to-dos because it was a half days job and too important to even put on the list. Then, my daughter's basement bedroom had water seepage. I traced it across a beam to the other side of the house. Where the original part of the house met with the newer addition, there was NO seal. This was not part of the home inspection and was not caught before the purchasing price was set.
Seal those Joists!
If a deck stays maintained, it can last forever. Part of that is taking care of the boards you cannot see. The white paint going down the middle of the joists is called Flex Seal. This waterproofs the boards under the boards and extends the life of the deck.
Metal Joiners, water proofing, stain
Going the extra, using metal joiners, water proofing the joists and a proper stain all help to extend the life of your deck. My deck had supports that were only 4X4s. This is not code appropriate. I replaced them with 6X6s. I also set them in concrete. This is only on the back deck. I still have poles around the other two sides of the house that are sitting on ground, and not concreted at all. One corner post isn't even attached to the deck! The deck is perched upon it with a prayer. Those two decks are for future projects, but high on my list. I will put up before and after pictures the second week of June. (I'm not finished yet)
House-Back Deck Finished
Outside Transformation Pictures
A drip edge replaces particle board
Primed before painting
Social Distancing Projects March - May
Fenced In Garden - apple, pear, fig and peach trees, blue berry bushes, ginseng, shiitake mushrooms and a vegetable garden
My four and a half acre lot did not come with a fence. I immediately fenced in a portion behind my house because I frequently adopt dogs. I did not include this on my to-do list because it was an immediate need and happened the day I moved in. It's a nice plus, but doesn't add much more to the value of a home besides the cost of the fence. But, it can be a huge plus to anyone looking at buying a home that has animals or small children. This garden area is another fenced in area I added. In the GA mountains where deer and bear are abundant, a fence around a garden is a necessity. Again, this does not add much to the value of the home, it does, however, mean something to an individual looking for a country home that enjoys providing their own vegetables and fruits.