I Am At the Peak of My Career

Before I got too far ahead of myself with how much work I had done inside the house I used my adult brain. As a man who works on a lot of people’s homes some things really piss me off. One thing is people who don’t pay what they owe. Another thing is people who overspend on flooring and under spend on cheap fixtures, doors, and windows. The most egregious error of all home owners, however, is spending a ton of money on interior remodeling, new siding, and landscaping, while they have a roof on their house that is 20 years old.

Yes, I realize that roofing is expensive, and it doesn’t add a whole lot to the look of a house, but come on people, your roof is the most important part of your house. By the time you realize that your roof is leaking it probably has been letting water in for at least a few weeks. Ignoring water in your house is quite possibly the dumbest thing you can do. Black mold loves warm, moist, dark areas, and guess what your attic is?!

Fast forward five years and your former honor roll student is now laying in your crawlspace licking mushrooms and huffing spores while in their seventh trimester of pregnancy. You would normally notice but you are too busy waving a broom around trying to hit the dials on your tv because you lost the remote and have merged with the couch. Black mold, scary stuff.

No pictures of the tear off, because it was hot, sunny, humid, and there were 2 layers of 3 tab shingles. I was super excited when I did not find a third layer of cedar shakes, because holy crap do cedar shakes suck to tear off. Firstly, they are all filled with small tiny nails that are destined to destroy pants. Next, I have very rarely not ended up with a decent amount of skin missing from either giant stakes that puncture my body or the nails tearing me apart. Finally, when cedar is stuck under layers of shingles, it breaks down and when torn apart throws out an amazing amount of black cedar dust that lodges itself in your sinuses and covers your sweaty body. When done I usually look like one of the trapped Chilean miners because I am covered in soot, not wearing any pants because mine have been destroyed, and speaking in tongues because I am enraged and my brain is cooked from staring directly into the sun questioning why I have made such terrible life decisions.

Picture time!

As you may have noticed in a previous update, my roof is very very steep. It is a 12/12 which means that it rises 12 inches in 12 inches(45 degree angle). Because I have only developed a serious rash and blackening skin from where a radioactive spider bit me and not the ability to walk on any surface I had to use roof jacks to hold my bulbous ass up on the roof.

1/2 of the main portion of the roof on. I ended up buying TAMKO brand shingles because they at the time were $20 a square cheaper than Certainteed, had an awesome consumer reports rating, and we had a bunch left over from a previous job. I myself am a Certainteed laminate shingle man. GAF makes an okay laminate shingle, but they have poor quality control and end up with shingles that looks like a mouthful of hillbilly teeth. I have not been all that impressed by Tamko’s offerings. They cover a smaller area, and feel thinner that Certainteed. Any brand of 3 Tab shingles are garbage, suck to put on, and end up tearing off in high winds. NEVER BUY 3 TAB SHINGLES!

Step flashing and booting around the sewer pipe. Protip: always cover up the crap pipe. It absolutely wreaks.

The shingle shear… God’s gift to roofers. Measure the piece you need, lay down a shingle, and chop away. Oh how I do not miss the days of using hook blades to cut up the edge of a roof. Another great invention people should be using more of : Ice and Water shield. Use it!

Next time : Expanding the demo into the living room.

The Things I Do In My Basement

So it was mid March, I was now a home owner, and I was broke because I had put down a large amount of money for my down payment. I was excited to move in to the new place and wanted to live here for a while before I started the main renovations. The cheapest place to start was the basement.

The room to the left of the dresser was the old coal room. Lucky for me this house was equipped with a furnace from the early 1960’s that was converted from running fuel oil(diesel) to natural gas. Oh…wait…. that sounds super inefficient for some reason. Turns out that for every dollar I spent I was getting about 33 cents worth of heat. This thing had to go, but due to me not having any money(come on we covered this earlier) it had to stay for the time being. That coal room on the other hand….

No need for that to exist anymore. The wall came down super easy, it was bucketing the cement out that was the worst part. Definitely got a good exercise for the glutes. After all of the crap was cleaned out I cemented in the new holes in the floor from where the walls used to be and pressure washed all of the walls to get rid of the coal residue.

So walls out, walls washed, new hot water heater purchased to replace the one from the 1970’s, let’s get drunk and paint some walls.

Turns out PVA drywall primer works awesome for lightening up a room. The water heater install kind of sucked because I am by no means a pro solderer and the pipes I was attempting to tie into were old soft copper. I can not wait to rip out all of the plumbing in this house because it goes through galvanized pipe, soft copper, rigid copper, and pvc. Thank god for pex piping. It is going to be wonderful to run this place with clean easily manipulated water lines.

Stay tuned because my next update will document the arduous tree removal process that took place over a period of three weeks.

An Introduction.

I’m going to start this blog off by introducing myself.

My name is Joe LaFreniere(I pronounce it Laugh Wren Ear but telemarketers and bill collectors have much more interesting variations on it). I grew up in a small town and graduated with 65 other people. I made the hilarious and costly mistake of thinking that I wanted to educate other people’s children. I continued to make this mistake until I student taught fifth and sixth grade children at a middle school where the faculty and administration had no drive to do anything except teach to the statewide assessment test. Instead of dropping out immediately I signed up for classes for an additional year but didn’t attend them because I didn’t want to tell my parents that I was unhappy and had zero interest in finishing out my degree. Stupid, huh?

Like many of my generation I moved back into the bedroom I held as a teenager. I even took up my old middle school, high school and summer break job, working with my father doing construction work. It was not the ideal situation.

Due to no fault of their own I could no longer stand living with my parents. Being 23, depressed, working for your dad all day, and having a relationship with your parents that was identical to the one we had when I was 16 was infuriating for me and for them as well. It is hard to work for a man from whom there is no escape. A normal person can be pissed off at their boss, go home, relax, and let some steam off. Not me. I would be working outside on a hot day, sweating, tearing shingles off of a roof and then get in an argument with my dad over something completely trivial. Then after work was over and I was supposed to go home and relax I would have to look at the stupid bastard across the dinner table.

I had had enough of being a boomeranger and began seriously looking for a house or a rental in December of 2010. I had three major benefits from living in a small town: my old man was friends with the most hated man in the town(he owns a large number of rental properties but is by no means a slum lord), my friend’s father was President of the local bank, and thanks to the housing crisis I had a near endless amount of houses I could buy for under $25,000.

In February of 2010 the most hated man in town introduced me to some of the nicest people I have ever met. They were an older couple who had been holding onto their mother / mother-in-laws house for quite a few years. The wife had tried several times to clean out the place and ready it for sale, but every time she did she was overcome by emotion and couldn’t bring herself to do it. Her daughter and son in law ended up care taking the place for close to five years. During this period of time they had received and rejected several offers on the house because they didn’t  want to see the house they had so many memories in go to someone they weren’t fond of. For some reason they liked me enough to accept my offer of $16,000 plus covering full closing costs(around $17,750). I later found out that they had been offered a considerable amount more but still chose to sell the place to me. There is more to write here, but it is starting to sound like a humble brag, so I will move on. Thank You, Margaret and Joe.

Financing through the small town bank was incredibly easy. Most places ask for 2 years worth of proof of income, w2’s, and other information. I simply walked in with a month’s worth of pay stubs on LaFreniere Construction letterhead that I had printed out myself and was approved for an $18,000 loan within a week. There are some benefits to being a townie.

I was all moved in on March 14th, 2011, and that is when the home remodeling nightmare and or adventure began. I will try hard to catch up to my current progress but it will take some time, so please bear with me. Thanks for reading and I hope you learn something, are inspired to start a project you’ve been putting off, or at the very least are entertained by the silly words I put here for you to read.