Taking down our terrace roof – massive beam comes down safely!

I had been hatching a plan for a number of days, weeks maybe, for how to get this last piece of the puzzle, this really long beam, down.

Its complicated by the fact that it hangs out so far away from the terrace on two stilts. I do not have scaffolding and research showed me it was incredibly expensive if I wanted to buy.

Where I was…

At the end of the day, after having cut all the other beams, I started testing out a theory. Even though the beams have been infested by pests, they still seemed sturdy enough to carry the weight of the beam I had to take down. Here you can see how it hung out off the edge of the terrace.

A shot from the side does not do much to highlight just how far that feels when you are trying to move something as long and heavy as that wooden beam!

If you look closely at the wood resting on the concrete stilt, you will see it has started collapsing. The wood at that point had been eaten away so much that it was sagging around the concrete stilt.

Tie me down

I had an idea that if I took two lengths of wood, one either side of the concrete support, then used a tie down to pull them together, then the friction would keep them up there, maybe even be strong enough to carry the weight of the wooden beam.

I tried it on one side that evening. It seemed to work well enough to carry my weight!

Motivated by this success I packed it up for the night, eager to get this perceived danger down and out of the way.

A nerve racking finish

I had planned this out and worked through as many scenarios I could think of, where things could go wrong, so felt prepared, however when it comes do doing sometimes you cannot escape anxiety.

I did the same with wooden beams on the other support, then tied their ends together too, that way they both supported one another and were less likely to start slipping down.

Fortunately because of the way I arranged it, and time it slipped down it would try and spread the wood further apart. I added short lengths of wood on each side. The idea was to cut the long wooden beam on on side, then let it rest on the supports I had added. If it did start to slide, then it would be caught by these short lengths. They ended up not being needed but I was glad they were there.

After much sawing, whilst leaning out over the stairs, I had cat the beam loose. I did not stop to take photos as I wanted it down ASAP. I had to use a length of steel pipe to lever the far side over the rebar that had been wrapped around it. Then bit by bit lift and move an end close to me, the move to the other side and repeat.

Because the gap between my supports narrowed the close they were to the terrace it got easier and easier to move the beam.

Job done, now to clean up

I took a few shots once the supports were taken down, I was just so relieved it went as smooth as it did.

If you take a look at the beam you will notice how much it had actually sagged, I still think it was close to breaking with the weight of the tiles and wood resting on it.

I have these bits of wood sticking out of my wall now, not sure how to handle them…

The terrace feels so much more open just with that beam missing. The downside is that we get beaten by the sun in the afternoon now, it makes it a bit uncomfortable to spend time on the terrace late afternoon.

I tried to capture just how tall this is, I don’t think it comes through in the photo though. It’s amazing how strong concrete can be though!

I am finally done with this, so many other projects around the house though, I cannot wait to get started on them!

Taking down our terrace roof – part III

The following series of photo’s took place over the period of a few days. It took me a while to get into a rhythm, but once I found it I got work done quickly.

One down many to go

The first of the not so rotten beams was the hardest, again with it’s proximity to the road, standing at the top of a ladder on the edge of the terrace…

Nonetheless I got it down and did not fall off the ladder. I had an idea to get the beams off relatively safely, meaning they would not fall on top of me as I took them down. It did not work out exactly as I had planned, however I did learn I was overcomplicating things. My next attempt was much simplified.

Looking at the wood in the photo, it really does not look bad, on closer inspection you can notice how many holes it has in it caused by bugs boring into t and eating it up from the inside.

I have a camera!

I remembered and started photographing some of my progress again.

Here I had taken off all of the smaller supports that the tiles were packed onto, I was determined to get this down and soon!

I wanted it done before the rain started in earnest, which would make working on top of the terrace much too treacherous.

A few beams down, many to go. At this point I managed to get two down a day, after work. It’s some pretty heavy lifting and the afternoon sun had me perspiring profusely. Lifting those beams of while balancing on a ladder also did not help.

If you are going to do it alone…

You may as well be smart, or have a plan.

My plan was to have a treated pole tied to the beams adjacent to the one I was removing. This allowed me to cut it, once I had cut through it rested neatly on the pole. This gave me a chance to get off of the ladder, put down the tools, reposition the ladder to climb it and start moving the beam down.

Bit by bit, beam by bean I repeated the same process, getting 3 done in a day. Still not fast enough.

This long pole was starting to loosen up a bit though as the weight it had to carry got less and less. I would end up tying it to the railing so we would not bump it over accidentally.

Slower than going in circles

I have seen a few people on YouTube and the like using cordless tools that I would never have had thought would be worthwhile.

One such tool is a cordless circular saw. Such a tool needs speed and torque, right? Batteries simply cannot deliver the Volts and Amps needed for sustained high speed and torque.

I bought this tool a while back on a whim and thought this would be a good test of its usefulness.

At first I tried to cut the full depth in one cut, but it jammed quite often and started smoking pretty quickly.

I let it cool down, thinking I had just let all the magic smoke out, whe it cooled I tried again, this time cutting no deeper than 10mm a time.

Unfortunately it is quite unwieldy standing on top of a ladder and still trying to make a straight cut with this tool where the battery is hanging off like a tumour.

I could get through at most two beams before the battery was completely drained. I always leave the battery to cool down and rest for a while before charging it up again. Eventually I tried to just use a handsaw.

And whammo, in one afternoon I took down the remaining four beams, much easier. My arm was jelly at the end of it, but one big part was done.

Now I had to figure out how to bring down a huge rotted beam hanging a meter plus away from a floor!

More upvotes, less comments?

(Source)

I do not know about you but I think we have lost something important lately due most likely to the new reward system…

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint at all about the new code of STEEM but, in my opinion, since a couple of weeks ago the comments received on my posts have reduced in number drastically…

Honestly, I am not the kind of person willing to “earn” something by commenting but if I feel I have to express my opinion, feelings or gratitude I am commenting always, not expecting an upvote there but maybe building a good relationship with the author.

Perhaps, the aim of this attitude is to find authors-steemians that you like or you are mostly aligned with their thoughts and so, obtaining mutual “engagement” as a reward.

Aversely, having a look to the steem.supply tool from @dragosroua , my level of “engagement” has increased substantially, being the quotient between upsteemers (people that have upvoted me lately) divided by my total number of followers of about 18% while 1 month ago was around 11%.

Suddenly I am receiving a lot of upvotes, sometimes more than a hundred per post despite 90% of them are at the dust level threshold, I think this is good fro me since there is people that likes my posts…

Also, another tool which evaluates the attention rate of an author is the SNAX rank. Here my rank is high, I suppose, since I am located at the 327th place of the steemians active and registered at the SNAX blockchain…

17 posts done in a week, 514 upvotes, 47 comments and 1 resteem…

17 posts and 47 comments in total, this is 2.7 comments per post, the majority of them are related with @actifit or BEER or@runningproject resteem service…

I think that, as an average, I am getting 1 or 2 comments lately per post while 1 month ago they were much more…

As a summary, HF21 / 22 has brought me more upvoters but also has taken the comments …
And it’s the second thing that I’m missing the most lately…

I have not changed my behavior in front of my commenters, I used to reply and give them and upvote on the majority of them and, sometimes, I offer some BEER token in order to balance the small lost on rewards due to the new rewarding system which for sure has something to do in order to explain the reduction of comments but, maybe, I was not expecting such a huge reduction at all.

Anyway, perhaps would be better to do this analysis in a better period of time, once we escape from the claws of the bears…

By my side, I am going to keep commenting, upvoting and supporting others since networking and engagement are the most valuable assets for the sake of oneself and the STEEM blockchain success.

@toofasteddie

Taking down our terrace roof – part II

A few months ago I started tearing down a portion of the roof that covers our terrace. The wood used in its construction was untreated and this meant that all manner of creatures had started making it their home.

The main beam holding up half of the roof had started sagging to the point that the houses previous owner propped it up with another wooden pole, which was jammed between the beam and a stair. This made me feel incredibly uneasy.

A rotting mess

As the wood was untreated the beam near the end, which got wet any time it rained, was completely rotten. It was right near the road and I was very worried that the tiles on it would fall off and into the road, leading to an accident.

This too had a pole propping it up. Here you can see the sad state it was in.

This was how far I got for a while, with the tiles off, the immediate danger was out of the way. Much of the weight had been removed from the main beam so I had bought some time, as you may know I focussed on redoing the kitchen and bathroom downstairs to prepare it for when my mother-in-law moved in.

Some progress, rotten to the core

Fast forward two months and I started taking some of the wooden beams down, not an easy task when you are so high and working on top of a ladder on the terrace.

I took the above photo to show my wife just exactly how rotten and weakened the main beam was. I got quite a surprise when looking at it from this angle.

I had managed to take the end bean off and it practically crumbled in my hands as I took it down. If not for the pole holding it up it would have fallen down a long time ago.

I managed to get two beams down in a day, but working so near the edge of the terrace meant my nerves were shot. I was very glad to be down from the ladder for a while.

A little while later ( a few days) I put a different light up outside so that I could disconnect the ones fixed to the beams. With the tiles off I did not want water to go into them and cause a short. Better safe than sorry.

As life has it I got not one but two freelance deals so I had to take a break from the DIY stuff for a while and sort out the two clients.

Recycling gates to set our dogs free…

Here are the two mutts, in front the attention hogging Roxy and hiding almost out of view Chilli. Both are rescue dogs and complete characters in their own right.

Free as in more space

We are fortunate enough to have a sizeable back yard with tons of space for the dogs to run around, unfortunately the fence needs repairs and whole gaps filled in some places. Because of this we cannot let the dogs roam free there without supervision as they would both get out eventually.

We live right next to a road, where people do unfortunately not obey the speed limits meaning we could have a tragedy on our hands if the dogs got into the road.

I have run through a multitude of possibilities for making the back yard more accessible. Right now we walk out the gate by our houses entrance, then walk on the road next to the house, gaining access to the back yard by going through another set of gates on the left side of the house. This means when our kids want to go play they also have to walk next to the road, it’s really not ideal.

My wife and I agreed it would be better to have a gate at the back, so that for now we could keep the dogs out, until we fix the fencing, while giving us all easier and safer access to the yard.

Two becomes one

I am a big fan of using what you have, we did price up ready made gates and the cost of buying new posts etc. but baulked at the prices. We need to make sure we can put the gates up without having the dogs run loose.

I managed to figure a way to move the gates around in such a way that we could keep the dogs in place and have the minimal time frame where they could make a break for it.

On the side of our house we have these two gates, my plan was to remove one, then move it around to the back of the house.

By the time I took this photo I was already part way into the process, the right hand gate was mounted on the post you see between the gates. I took the gate off, mounted a strip of woo against the wall and then screwed the gates hinges to that.

The post was moved to the middle, you will see why soon.

These gates are home made and quite loose and weak. A section of fencing is sandwiched between strips of wood, quite a neat idea actually, I will be using some left over wood from another part of the house to give these a bit of rigidity. Fortunately we live in an area where the crime rate is low, so these gates are meant to keep out wild pigs, foxes and keep our dogs in.

Re-use, recycle! Even the strip of wood against the wall is repurposed junk. This happens to be part of a door frame that had been left outside to rot. I cut it in half and use one piece here, the other would be for the back.

More trash being repurposed. This time a bit of fence will be used as a …

fence!

I lay it down in the road and stood on it a few times to get it straighter. I did not take photo’s but one side was attached to the wall on the left of the photo, using wall plugs and screws with the washers used on roofing, these have a metal washer and a rubber washer in one. They seem to keep a good hold on the wire of the fence.

The other side of fixed to the wooden post, using screws with the same roofing washers.

Meanwhile ’round back

Please excuse the state of the back yard, between the internal renovations and taking on 2 extra projects after hours I have managed to completely neglect my yard 🙁

Here you can see the second gate as I was planning where to put it. The bits of wood on the right are what I have managed to pull off of out terrace roof so far. The thin strips will be used to strengthen these gates up a bit.

I mounted the length of wood on the wall by drilling holes through the wood, the drilled the top most hole in the wall.

After inserting the wall plug and turning a screw into it, I used the handle of my hammer to try and get the bottom of the wood at an equal distance from the edge of the wall to the top. I used a small diameter drill bit in the drilling maching to mark on the wall the position of the other two holes.

Then I move the wood out of the way and drilled the other two holes.

Heres one of the wall plus and its corresponding hole in the wood.

All the screws are in, oddly it looks very skew in this photo. Maybe it’s the angle it’s taken at?

Keep me posted…

You may have noticed from an earlier photo that this gate was also mounted to a post. Well same as the front, I decided to reuse that post so that I can latch the gate onto something, and to attach the fence to.

Fortunately (unfortunately?!?) , we have a french drain right next to the house so I was able to reuse the base that the wooden post goes into as well. I simple cleaned up a spot (it really needs some cleaning…) and drilled small holes in each of the corners where the holes in the base are.

I then proceeded to drill those holes out to the correct size and installed rawl bolts. I need 4, but only have 2. It seems even when I buy a box of screws / bolts I run out some how 🙁

I mounted the base nonetheless, as it will be easy to remove to install the missing two.

Above is a photo with the wooden pole dropped in loosely. I will fix this in place when the base is secured.

At that point I will be able to remove the fence from the pole in the background and bring it around to meet this post. Then we will super easy (and safe) access to out back yard! But first I need to go to town to buy supplies.

And so out day ends

It was time to head inside and have dinner, so my son and I packed up, but I could not resist taking a shot of the gate. The work is not all done yet, but we need to stand back and appreciate not wasting money sometimes.

All I have purchased for this so far were a few screws, washers and rawl bolts. Everything else was repurposed.

Yes new gates would have looked nicer, but at what cost? Sometimes having something look nice is about more than just the financial side. I deplore buying stuff to replace other stuff, so am happy with the compromises I made here.

DIY Replacing a bath with a shower – Dusty mess to success!

This is an image heavy post, no apologies made.

I felt under a lot of pressure to get the shower done, so much of the progress is missing. At least I stopped to take photos periodically!

Dusty haze and clean beginnings

I wanted to remove the tiling cement from the section where I had chopped tiles off of the wall. Unfortunately chipping it away led to me breaking holes in the wall, no matter how slow I went. I thought it might work better if I were to cut grooves into the tiling cement to make it weaker and easier to chip pieces off.

Using my large angle grinder and the same disc I used in the kitchen to cut the bricks, I proceeded to cut a number of grooves in the tiling cement. Here you can get an idea of the dust that is kicked up whilst cutting with that disc. Before I opened the door and took the photo I could hardly see past my hand, it’s insane!

The floor was swept clean before I started, but now you can get an idea of the amount of dust, just look for my footprints. I did not even cut that much!

Even with the grooves I was breaking through the bricks, so I stopped and checked that I would at least be able to match the tiles I had with the existing tiles. It looked like I would so I decided to start on the wall of glass bricks.

Look closely at the photo and you will see two metal rods poking up between the glass blocks. I drilled holes into the layer of bricks and fixed those rods in there to provide a bit of extra strength for the wall. Would it help? I don’t know, but it’s my wall so I will do as I please 😉

Walls up!

I do wish I had taken more photo’s, but was running between the kitchen and bathroom at this point trying to get more than one room done concurrently.

As you can see above, I started and almost completed the tiling at this point.We decided to highlight the difference in tiles rather than trying to hide it. It would have been impossible to match the tiles on the wall anyway, so we added a border of pink tiles. Not my first choice but it matches, kind of, the rest of the bathroom floor.

So you should tile bottom up, for the vertical tile I started at the top, meaning the tiles wanted to slide down pulled down by their weight and gravity. I had expected this and did it like that anyway, so that I could be absolutely sure that the top tile matched perfectly.

I could cut a slim piece off of the tile near the bottom and it would not look out of place, but it would look terrible if I did it near the top.

It’s a wide shower but holy cow it felt tight working in there!

Tiling done…

With all of the tiles on the wall I could turn my attention to getting it all grouted up.

I could have sworn I held the phone straight for this shot, anyway, look at the top of the vertical line of pink tiles and you will see why I started at the top. It would be hard to hide any smaller tiles there.

Just another view showing the entrance too, I tiled the step into the shower as well, it looks more finished like that.

Not the best lit shot, but I like that some light makes it through the blocks, with a solid wall it would have made the bathroom too dark I think.

… let’s get grouty!

No photo’s taken unfortunately, here is the almost finished product.

Eeeeek I can see how poorly I matched those glass blocks, the grout really highlights it :(. This is just post cleaning the extra grout off, I realised a wire brush was super effective at removing the excess grout from the glass block and did no damage to them at all. That’s all the dust lying on the floor there.

The walls still need a wash but looking tons better! Only the floor lets it down now.

More of the same, slightly different angle. It’s been a hectic journey so I am but chuffed it’s almost done.

Not too shabby considering my day job involves sitting behind a screen all day?

Paint, the, floor?!?

Yes, It would have been nicer tiled, but we thought that using the kind of paint you use to seal cement water tanks etc. would work well and not be slippery when wet.

It also does not look too bad, it’s hardly even noticeable when you are in the bathroom. It did cover well, though I gave a few coats. I tried to apply more thin coats so that it would cover the cement, but not become too smooth.

Same photo, sans all the stuff. I only pulled the masking tape off a few days later as we were preparing other stuff too.

And so this journey comes to an end, I still have a ton of stuff to do around the house (thats a good thing, I enjoy these projects!).

I hope, if you read this far, that you actually enjoyed it.

DIY Breaking out a fireplace – The Finale!

After a long time and copious amounts of work and time I managed to get the kitchen finished. I would not say that I am super happy with the result, but much of the worst parts are hidden by a cupboard so it’s not noticeable how bad a job I did with the plastering…

When my wife explained to my mother-in-law I was taking a photo for a blog, she insisted that she had to be in the photo, so there she is, posing in her kitchen!

With all the soot that was on the wall, every coat of paint I put on would end up with the outline of the inside of the fireplace bleeding through. I had no choice but to keep applying layer after layer of undercoat, so that when I painted with the final paint it would not be so obvious.

Here you can see it extended all the way up to the roof and was obvious from any angle. After the above photo was taken I turned my attention to the bathroom (as can be seen in my other posts) so neglected to take more photo’s of my progress in the kitchen.

I tried to optimise my time by running between the two, applying a coat of paint in the kitchen, then going back to do work in the bathroom, whilst the paint dried. I would then take lunch at some point, then paint another coat in the kitchen and go carry on with the work in the bathroom.

Skip forward to after having painted and tiled. Yes, those are a different colour, These are leftovers from the bathroom. I did try find similar tiles at the hardware store, but it’s nigh on impossible to match tiles that are years old with something in the store now.Most of the tiles would be covered by the cupboard and my mother-in-law is not a person who will blow up because tiles don’t match, thankfully.

I tried to match the space as well as possible, given that the tiles were different sizes I tried to find the best compromise. It turned out ok I think.

If you look hard enough you can still see parts where it is off-white. Thankfully standing in the kitchen it’s not nearly as obvious as in the pictures.

With some furniture in, its still noticeable, but not nearly as glaring as without.

Most important of all, my mother-in-law is happy with the result, this in turn makes my wife happy and you know what they say;

Happy wife happy life!

DIY Replacing a bath with a shower – Part III

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I am building a walk in shower. The reason being that I can have a large entrance, so that it would be easier and less effort to go shower.

It also fits well in the space left by taking out the bath, bases for showers can be quite inexpensive, however if you start looking at bases for walk in showers things get crazy.

So we make our own. Above is the layout I chose, still having the bricks form the outline of the shower, but arranged differently so that the profile was as low as possible.

All the bricks mortared in place. I was considering chopping out the tiles underneath but considering that I will be casting cement over it, I doubt it would be an issue.

I split the base in two so that I can taper the portion with the drain inward and make sure all the water flows nicely away. The part on the right of the screen will also be tapered, but can have a simple slope which is easier to do.

Remember I am in IT, I am not a builder so I wing it and improvise / learn as I go along.

It was getting close to the time for my mother-in-law to move in, so I was trying to get things done quickly, hence no in between photo’s 🙁

Here I am chipping the tiles away from the wall, I will be building a wall of glass blocks and wanted to make sure that they would be more secure against the wall. Mortar does not stick well to tiles, so they had to go.

Fortunately the existing tiles got up to about the same height as I want the wall to go, it’s as if it was meant to be!

Here I was doing a trial fit to see how well I had calculated the need for the blocks. Even though the length was largely determined by the mark left on the wall where the bath was, it works out ok.

A different view with the blocks. Is it starting to make sense? For me this is the part where this project became more rewarding, seeing how something you had, only in your mind, seeing how that develops and progresses.

More in the next post!

Replacing a bath with a shower – part 2

This project is actually done, but I went on leave and stayed quite far away from the computer, pretty much because I was finishing this off!

With the bath removed, I moved onto taking out the sand that was behind it as well as the cement that had been cast around it. Fortunately most of it near the foot of the bath was quite weak, and was poured on top of tiles, so it chipped off quite quickly.

The rest took a fair bit more effort, more photos would have been great I know, but I was pretty focussed on getting part this step, so I could see some progress.

Here you can see I was taking measurements to try work out how many bricks and glass blocks to buy.

A day on and I had bought the bricks and 1 block, for checking sizing etc.

I have always found that holding something in your hands gives a much better sense of the dimensions and how it fits together with other pieces than just having its measurements.

This was my initial idea, the bricks all round form the ‘base’ of the shower, inside I wanted to cast a cement floor. Having arranged the bricks in this way I noticed that you have to step up quite high to get pas the bricks, seeing as it is for my mother-in-law, who has slipped getting into the bath before, I decided in practice this really was not going to work.

I played around with a number of configurations, having the bricks available to make changes and test if it worked help immensely, while the bath was in I had planned it out in my head, but saw quickly that in reality it did not work so well.

Somewhere in the middle would be just fine

Maybe we still need some time in order to obtain the “real” consequences regarding the implementation of the new economical rules at the steem blockchain but I am sure we can get some facts already regarding the famous new Rewarding Curve.

For the ones that still don’t understand how it supposedly works I would say them that, essentially, any post not upvoted massively by a whale or a cluster of orcas , and so, not reaching the 20 STEEM it is going to suffer a huge reduction on its gains, usually between -25% and -50% but most likely closer to the second threshold.

At the current price of STEEM, 20 Steem threshold means around 3.5 USD or $ or whatever the STU equivalent number.

The current setup of this algorithm is clearly benefiting the Big stakers, because, who has 3.5 USD of voting power? do your own calculations but @dalz did wrote a good post about it here and just by using Steemnow from @penguinpablo you can see that you would need at least 290K SP to reach it (or the sum of the compounded upvoters of the post).

The funny thing is that, due to the STEEM price, it is now the best moment to accumulate as much as possible and build your SP, not only by buying but also by getting the most from your posts, in terms of STEEM…and who is getting more now? The already big accounts that in some cases were already big when STEEMIT did wrote its one and only post, more than 3 years ago…and they keep selling…

The theory is that, if this curve acts as a motivator trigger for investors, willing to get a good APR by curating content, then the price of the STEEM token should rise…in theory, of course…

Because what is lacking here is a HUGE work on the marketing side. Investors will not come if we keep being invisible for them, and price will not stop falling till sellers as STEEMIT INC an others big whales will stop selling like there is no tomorrow.

Now that I have finished my rant here, and coming back to the “rewarding Curve” algo, a question for witnesses and Steem Blockchain developers:

We have downvotes to penalize bad content, this is good for everybody in my opinion so you can somehow express your disagreement and also provide an economical impact on bad behaviors…

Are you planning to smooth somehow the rewarding curve?

Would you consider to set the GAIN/LOSS threshold at a lower but more “human” and community supportive level?

20 STEEM is sometimes unreachable even if you are a good content creator because you have to be discovered by those big accounts, with not so many time for curating work… I hope, eventually, they will also change their approach, dedicating more time reading content and less time selling votes but till then, what about smoothing the curve to, let’s say 10 STEEM…?

We have to find the middle point of the two extremities here, nor “zero” neither 20 STEEM threshold.

Virtue is at the middle!!!!

@toofasteddie

(Pic Source: John Atherton / Sign: Halfway)