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Monday, October27, 2014


Fixing the Foundation



The foundation was broken a little when taking out the original stoop and Tor wanted to get this fixed before it got too cold out.  I was in class while Tor did this so all the pictures are credited to him with the exception of the few that he is in because I took those when I got home.  











To start, Tor dug a hole approximately 3.5 feet deep in order to find the bottom of the damaged area.  


After digging the hole, he cleaned out all of the broken pieces and vacuumed to remove as much dust as possible.














He made the form out of scrap plywood we had around the house.


After this layer was done, Tor poured the concrete into this section.  It needed to be done in stages since the area got narrower the further up it got. This made it easy to get concrete down at the bottom. 












This is the second layer of the concrete form all ready for concrete to be poured in.

















This is the 3rd layer of the concrete form finished and ready for concrete. This section was tricky because there wasn't much clearance to pour the concrete into the form.  
















Tor was still working when I got home from class.  Here he is smoothing out the concrete.

















This is a closer picture of Tor working with the concrete.  He always takes his time to ensure everything is done correctly the first time.  He also knocked on the form periodically with a rubber mallet at each form stage to make sure the concrete was consolidating and any air pockets were rising to the top.  













He used some of my gardening tools during the process.  This isn't something we plan to have to do regularly so we often get crafty with our tools.  This cuts down on cost and clutter in the garage!














Ta Da!  The concrete was set by the next day.  



















This is a close up picture of the finished project. You would guess the masonry workers had finished this. Ironically they were the ones that broke it in the first place.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Extending the Roof


A quick post here about extending the roof to match the overhang of the new addition.  Tor spent the better part of last Sunday finishing this up.  He added the rafters and added a board behind the fascia and adhered to the house.  This is required more so for the extension on the existing home rather than the addition.  












Since the rafter extension is so much shorter than the full length of the rafters on the addition the extra support is needed.  This is the picture of the process before both boards were in place. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014


Finished Sidewalk




I realized after the last post that I didn't do a good job of showing the full driveway and sidewalk now that it is done.  I spent some time yesterday raking and smoothing out more of the dirt along the edges of the driveway and sidewalk.  Here is the finished product. 






The driveway was poured a few weeks ago and we were able to start parking on it over the past few days. It ties into the last section prior to the curb so that we didn't have to get any additional permits from the city.  I have started to back fill the excavation in with black dirt.  I put twenty 40 pound bags into the section shown and stomped it down.  I am going to let it settle for a couple days before I go and get more dirt.  I was told that the fall is a great time to plant grass so I might do that soon too. This is a little tricky though given it is a big drop off between the grass and the level of the driveway.  I want the grade to look natural.



The other side of the driveway needs some fill as well, but not nearly as much as the north side.  


This is a view of the finished driveway.  The whole project is really starting to come along, but winter will be approaching soon.  Our plan is to have the garage enclosed and the kitchen enclosed before winter so that we can work on the inside throughout the cold season.  


Thursday, October 16, 2014


We Can Park on the Driveway!

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Driveway Prep and a Little Roof Work

A lot has happened since the last blog post.  My brother was married, my sister had a baby, three other friends of ours had babies as well, our dog tore her ACL and had stitches on her front paws (she was freaking out from the pain from her ACL), and it has rained again quite a bit.  (If you are reading between the lines you can easily see that I just listed out all of our excuses on why we haven't posted in awhile.)  With all that being said, Tor has still managed to get work done on the house.  Phew!  







When we woke up this morning I heard the trucks outside making noise. We got up pretty quickly to come out and move the cars out of the way. Too bad the neighbors were gone.  Their little boy would have had fun watching all the big machinery working right across the street. 












In order to get rid of the old driveway, the skid steer picked up the concrete and dropped it until it broke up into small enough pieces to pick up and dump into the truck.  I Snapchatted a few videos to my nephew.  (I only know the name of the machinery from reading his favorite books to him.) 













The driveway is coming along well. It gets poured tomorrow pending we have good weather.  Tor took this picture.. He said he was being artistic when he took a shot with his shadow right in the middle of it. 














This is another front view of the house. It shows the driveway framed out and some of the roof sheathing placed.  



















This is the sidewalk.  Tor and I debated a lot on whether or not we should have a radius in the concrete form going to the sidewalk or not.

We are going for a little more of a modern looking home, but we aren't going ultra modern so we decided on the radius.  We are still debating as we type this, but oh well… no turning back now!  











This is a view of the roofline that we will fill in as we extend the original roof.   The existing roof above the front stoop was already 2 feet, however the original roof cut back a foot over the rest of the house.  We are filing this in to have one clean roofline across the whole house. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014


Cleaning up the Backyard


At one time this corner was overgrown with a bunch of crummy trees that were half dead and mangled amongst each other.  It was full of landscaping rock as well, which was the worst part.  We would get in there and clear out the weeds and clean up the trees every summer and a few weeks later it would look like we hadn't done anything.  Tor had worked earlier this summer digging out all of the stumps while I worked on the branches and the trees. I have spent time over the past few weeks moving dirt and clearing out additional refuse. There are still a few stumps that need to get cut up, but for the most part it is nice to look in the backyard and not see this nasty mess in the back corner. 






Today was all about filling the dumpster.  Tor and I worked all day taking down the rest of the stucco.  


















It isn't all gone because we can't reach the gables without scaffolding, but we made good progress and filled the dumpster.  

















Tor also took down the gutter system and the soffit.  I also wanted to give a quick shout out to our friends Keshar and Bob. We went to their house warming party yesterday and they sent us home with a boat-load of leftover sandwiches.  It was nice to be able to walk into the house and eat instantly without having to cook anything.  It gave us so much more time to work in our day!  Thank you!!!




Sunday, July 27, 2014


More Stucco Removal



My task for the day was to try to fill the dumpster with as much stuff as possible because the garbage company is picking it up on Monday.  I used the circular saw to cut lines in the stucco in order to make the stucco small and manageable when removed.  This was my first time using a circular saw!  I learned how to set the depth and change the blade as well. Nothing too crazy really, but it was exciting for me.  The mail lady came while I was working alone and gave me a "GIRL POWER" chant as she walked by. Since I am only 5'3", I can't get very high on the wall.  All my leverage is in my stance (not my upper body) so I lose all my power as soon as I get on a ladder.  I left the front of the house like this and moved onto the back of the house. 


Tor took this of me working with the circular saw.  This saw is also heavy (common theme here is that I am not very strong) so I struggled cutting anything that was higher than my shoulders while standing.  I took proper safety precautions and wore goggles and a mask.  I also wore earplugs, but my ears are much smaller than Tor's so they kept falling out.  I will say that these saws are not intended for people with small hands like me.  My little fingers had a hard time both holding onto the saw and the blade guard open at the same time.  It slid back shut more than once on me because my finger would vibrate off the lever.  


The other job on my list was to work on getting rid of rock in the back yard. This is the section that Tor forgot to mention to the foundation guys so it was never dug out.  In fact, they used this area to drive in and out of the backyard to get at the rest of the rock so a lot of it is all embedded pretty deep into the soil.  I keep chugging away at it and only make myself move 2-3 wheelbarrows full a day.






The worst part about this job is that I feel like I get all the rock out of a specific spot, but then rain will come and it will uncover even more rock that needs to be dug out.  We honestly can't figure out why there is rock in this area of the yard anyway. It doesn't go around any of the trees and the black weed block is laid in scrap size pieces.  My guess is that the past owner had bought rock and ended up having too much so just decided to fill up this random corner with all of the remaining materials.  



Saturday, July 26, 2014


Productive Saturday

I worked on moving dirt today. It only took me a couple hours to get it moved since it was dried out on account of all the sun we have had lately.  The last time I was moving dirt I spent about four hours and only got half done even though I was moving it ten feet because it was mud. This time I was hauling it all the way to the backyard.  The first day I was moving dirt I took a break to buy grass seed and straw.  I went to three stores that day and nobody had any. Being from Iowa I called my dad up and asked him to pick up a couple bales from a neighbor.  I was in Iowa this past weekend so I picked it up. The trunk of my car looked like the aftermath of a tornado now.  Oh well, it can get cleaned after cabin season… or after winter…   I filled in some dirt along the north side too.  I graded it down a little the further I got from the house to help with runoff.  I am guessing that there is a little technical expertise that could have been of use here, but I just made it slope just enough so that it wasn't obvious.  It took only two squares of one bale to cover the full area.  The straw could have been spread a little thinner too if need be. I have a lot of straw left.  Hopefully we get to the back before it all rots.  As I dug deeper into the pile of dirt, I kept running into chunks of concrete.  I soon discovered though that it was part of the foundation that had gotten damaged when the stoop was getting taken out.  We will eventually fix this.  Not exactly sure how at this point.  There is a nice view of the rotten board under the front door in this shot too. 





Saturday, July 19, 2014


Planting Grass

This weekend was interesting.  Our neighbor got into some trouble Friday so his mom is making him help us for a week as his punishment free of charge.  It is awesome for us because we have someone to help us out.  I do feel kind of bad because Tor has all the knowledge and he is learning as he goes so the cool stuff like cutting and hanging boards isn't suited for helping hands too often. Because of this, the poor guy helped me do the boring stuff like spreading dirt and taking down stucco. 


I took Friday off as a random day to work on the house and as usual, it was raining. We had another roll-off come so I spent my time cleaning up landscaping fabric that has been dug up.  I spent a little time taking down some stucco from the south wall too.


Saturday morning started off with more rain.  Some projects are fine to work on in the rain, but others are hard because we have a pile of mud circling most of our house.  The funny part is that I had to go downtown Minneapolis for school and it wasn't raining about 1 mile east of the house. On my way home the rain was still in the same spot!  I felt like our house was the character Joe Btfsplk with a constant rain cloud hovering over us. The stucco that was removed is pictured above.  I had removed some from the middle section on Friday. The neighbor removed all of the stucco from the middle and half of the stucco from the left section while I removed a 2 x 3ft section from the left side in the same time.  Tor chalked 2ft sections yesterday and then cut a line along the chalk across the house so that the stucco would come down easier.  This way when we use the crowbar and hammer we can pry off the stucco in segments rather than trying to break it off in uneven chunks at any weak points.  The last two chalk lines cut are still showing.  The other project I worked on was to spread out the giant dirt mound we have in the front.  The rain has caused huge puddles to form so I wanted to spread this out to level out the ground.  


Sunday, July 13, 2014


Moving Stucco and Dirt



This project was done over 5 years ago.   The city requires that a seller have a city inspection done prior to placing the house up for sale then fix any issues they find. Since we bought a foreclosure we assumed the duty to have the inspection and were given 3 months to fix anything the city saw as a concern. Many of the projects were small and easy to complete. For example some of these were having the chimney swept and the furnace serviced. The roof was by far the largest project that we had to do. 









We enlisted the help of friends to get this done and borrowed the scaffolding from a family friend. We bought the shingles off from three individual sellers that had leftovers from their own projects. It took about two days (two of the hottest days that summer) between about five guys and myself. I loaded the whole 40 yard dumpster with shingles and other discard from the house while the guys worked on the roof.  










The day was fun despite all the work. It was great to see support from our friends to come to our house and work on a project that was such hard work and in such heat when they weren't getting anything but food, water, and beer out of the deal. We are very thankful for them and have helped return the favor when asked. 














The pictures themselves are fun to look at because they show some foliage that is no longer part of our landscape. I apologize for the crummy quality. We couldn't find the digital versions of these so I just snapped pictures of the hard copy pictures and called it a day. Another project that we had to complete as part of the city inspection was to dig up the old well on the property and have it sealed. The week before our wedding Tor and a friend dug a hole about 4x4x8 feet deep to uncover the well. The contractor came on our wedding day to seal the well and we spent the first day of our honeymoon filling the hole back up. One of our neighbors that knew we had just gotten married came over to scold us for not only working on our honeymoon, but having Tor's dad at our house. She said those were the two worst things to do the day after we got married. We left for our honeymoon about two hours later. I don't think I have pictures from the well project. I think I get a pass on that one given everything else we had going on that week. 



Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Throwback Project: Roof


Just a really quick update today.  The masons came out and got the space back filled.  The flat workers were going to come as well to lay the slabs, however… you guessed it… it started to rain about 20 minutes after I took these photos.  Their plan was to come out tomorrow, but it rained enough that we now have puddles so they may need to wait another day.  









I do find it fun to walk in the backyard now because it has real proportions so I can really get a sense on what the space will be like when it is finished.  We are so pumped that the project actually started and that our dream is becoming a reality.  














This picture is of the southwest corner of our yard.  We asked the masons to dig the landscaping rock out of this "flower bed".  This space has been such a chore over the years with weeds and trees popping up everywhere. They took out about half of the rock today and will be back tomorrow to finish this space as well as finish digging up rock in the front yard.  It is the simple things in life that make me happy.  No rock to pull weeds out of means I will get about 100 hours of my life back this summer.  



Monday, July 7, 2014


Backfilling the Yard

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Roofing Streetside

Saturday, November 13, 2014


Taking Down Brick



The brick shown here used to be on the front of the house.  We have insulation going into the original exterior of the house this week so we needed to get the brick off the wall. A good friend of ours had stopped by to borrow a tool and then volunteered to help take it all down.  Bob and Tor worked about three hours using sledgehammers to knock it out.  They tried to salvage it, but the mortar was really strong.  







Lastly, when taking down the brick Bob and Tor found this sign. It is from when the house was originally built.  I took it down and plan to hang it up in the finished garage when we are all done.  





A neighbor has a friend that is a mason and he may take the large pieces and still try to salvage it. Anything that doesn't end up in a landfill is a win in my opinion! 


Thanks to Bob for all of his help!



Sunday, November 22, 2014



Sunday, November 23, 2014


Skylight Installation and More Roofing

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Roofing the Garage



The roofing is getting close to being done.  Pictured here is Tor's brother Erik working on the front side of the house prepping it for shingles. 
















Together Tor and Erik were able to get a lot of shingles put on. I had my final Saturday class in the morning and while I was gone they got all of this work done.  Tor's parents Haakon and Jane were here as well helping cut and carry shingles.  













This is the street view of the house.  I hadn't posted one for a while and I like to track how much work is getting done by looking at the same view in different stages.  We are supposed to be getting some nice 40-50 degree weather over the next week so we should be able to get the rest of the singles and the sheathing placed on the top of the house as well. 



Work got started on the garage today. It snowed again so we had to clear the roof off, but despite that the weather was pretty cooperative.  We have a pretty good system down now so the setup and cleanup is going pretty quickly.  Here is Tor setting up the roof jacks so there is something to stand on and hold some supplies up on the roof.  










Here Tor, his brother Bjorn, and his coworker Adam are working on organizing supplies and laying shingles.  Adam let us borrow his roofing nailer for the past couple weeks which has really helped. Otherwise we would have been working with just one and passing it back and forth across the roof. 












The roof is getting close to being finished on the backside.  Bjorn is putting finishing touches on his side while Tor and Adam work shingles into the existing house on the left. 















It is difficult to see, but a good friend Shaun came over to help with roofing for a little while.  He is the one hidden behind the bathroom window.  We are always very thankful for everyone's help, but we were particularly thankful for Shaun's today.  He and his wife are expecting a new baby any day!  He helped for a few hours and then went back home since his wife Anne is on bed rest.  This is the Shaun that let's us borrow tools all the time.  








Here is Bjorn's finished product.  Looks pretty nice!




















Another project that was worked on today was finishing off the back angle on the northwest corner of the house. Many of the existing shingles were removed when working on the new portion so we cleaned them back in. The area on the bottom left corner is still not done, but since it doesn't cover anything other than the overhang it isn't much of a priority right now.  











While Tor was cleaning up the roof on the backside, Adam and Bjorn got to work putting the felt and weather layer down.  This was a big help since it means that everything is prepped and ready to go for shingles.  














Here is just another picture of the layer being put down. Haakon supervises on the ladder. 


















Again another photo of the weather and felt layer.  It is important to grab these photos for permit reasons.  We have to prove that we used the proper materials when roofing by submitting photos to the city when we go to close our permit. 




















With all the shingling done yesterday it was time to start working on the north side of the kitchen roof.  Before we could shingle, we needed to install the skylights.  These skylights are made by Velux.  They do not open like our other skylights, but the ceiling is really too open these often anyway. Here is Tor getting it in place.  










Tor's mother Jane was over to help with this project as well.  She helped get the skylight lined up and square from the inside view.  


















This is the outside view of what Tor is doing.  










Here the skylights are finished!  They look great!  I can't wait for my kitchen to be finished so we can enjoy them. 


















Towards the end of the day, our friend Pete who has been over a few different times came back over to help with the shingling.  It was getting pretty cold and rainy, but Tor and Pete were able to get the whole north side finished.  Jane, Haakon and I helped cut shingles and haul shingles.  



















Tor and I are blessed to have some really great people in our life.  Of course there have been a number of people who have helped with this project along the way, but we were really humbled by the help we got this weekend.  A coworker of Tor's rallied troops from work and had a number of people come over today to help shingle the house.  The weather was better today than it had been all week so he had taken it upon himself to plan a roofing party.  


We started the day by clearing off snow, which is pictured here. 





After the snow was cleared, they started to lay the synthetic roofing underlayment down over the new kitchen.  
















Here is where they started to work on the right side of the roof.  We had people working on both sides of the house.  

















Here they are taking off shingles from the existing house in order to blend in the new ones and make a clean line at this joint.  
















Some of the underlayment is being put down.  There will be skylights on this side when it is all said and done. 


















This roll is felt which has a longer UV rating and keeps it from getting stiff if shingles are not applied quickly. 


















All of these pictures of the underlayment are needed for the permit.  We have to prove that we put the appropriate materials down and this is one of the most important steps.  














The guys helped late into the evening. Some of them even said they were having fun.  It was chilly out, but if you are moving you can stay pretty warm.  
















Jane helped cut a bunch of the shingles all day.  We had setup a workstation on the table so the team got pretty efficient throughout the day.  

















Haakon has been at our house a lot lately and at his age, he gets worn out.  Here he is hanging out watching the workers.  I couldn't resist taking this picture.  










We owe a big thank you to Ken, Arne, Joe, Zak, Eric and Haakon for all of their help today!  We really appreciate it more than you will ever know.  We also have to thank Adam for letting us use his nailer and Jane for prepping the biggest pot of chili that I have ever seen in my life. Not only did she make chili, she made brownies and apple crisp with ice cream.  She also helped shovel the driveway clear of all the snow that came off the roof and cut shingles almost all day!  We couldn't have done this with out the help from all of you and tools. Thank You!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014





The roof is done now!  The first picture is of Tor and his brother Bjorn putting the final touches on the roof that extends over what will be the new master bath.  Bjorn is the one cheering as he will no longer need to come over and work in the rain or sleet.  Erik was over as well as Tor's dad Haakon. It turned out beautiful to say the least. It is seamless between the old and new and looks as if professionals did it.   


Here is the final product. Unfortunately I had been waiting to get a picture when there isn't snow on the roof, but it was more difficult than I thought.  On the last night of roofing, we finished just thirty minutes before the city noise ordinance would start and right before a cold front came through.  We were supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow the next day. Haakon and I were stationed in the new bathroom cutting shingles and passing them through the top of the roof.  Haakon was joking about how he had to tighten his belt as far as he could to squeeze through the shower joists that have not had a floor tacked to them yet.  The only entrances to the bathroom at this point are the floor joists under the shower or through the tiny window from our master bedroom.  We are very blessed to have such a supportive family and even more so that they are close by and willing to help us out.  Merry Christmas to everyone who has helped and supported us through this project. Our home will be toasty and dry this holiday season. Thank you!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


First Windows



The windows started to go in this weekend.  The first ones to go in were in the garage. They are small so they are a good place to figure out what we are doing.  I cut all the materials needed so everything was ready when Tor needed it.  













Here Tor is making sure the window is level.  Installing windows is actually pretty easy.  It is helpful to have a second person so that spacing from the inside can be adjusted without risking the window falling out. 















I wanted to get a picture of the spacers in the window since I think they are kind of cool.  They can hook right around the nails. 















Here is a finished window.  This is actually the window to the mudroom inside.  




















Tor is admiring his work here.  He wanted to play with the window and get a picture of it open.  




















Now for one of the big windows.  This is inside the new kitchen area.  Tor and his brother Erik are installing the big picture window for above the sink.  
















Tor is cutting back the Tyvek here. We have a heater running in this room to help keep us warm. 



















The finished window looks beautiful. The smaller window on the side opens up, but the rest is stationary.  We wanted to be able to open the window so we don't have to rely on the patio doors to get some airflow. 














Tor is nailing in the window here. We are looking forward to winter being over so we have more daylight to work in.  

















This is a better shot of the progress.  In all there are seven windows installed. Four on the side of the garage and the three pictured here. 


Saturday, March 14, 2015


Windows and a Door



We have been working hard getting the windows installed with the help of Tor's brother Erik.  Over the course of a few weeks we have installed the rest of the windows (except one) and the house looks great!  Here Tor is checking out the framing for the front bedroom window.  












This is just a quick shot of the house street-side.  Tor was a little frustrated by this window because once he got everything taken down, he noticed that he could have ordered an even bigger window because the old one had been shimmed in so much. 















This is the same window, but from the inside of the house.  My job was to trim off the plaster inside the house to make a clean line around the window. We are taking down all of the casing inside the house on all the windows so that the edges of the windows are just smooth finished and seamless to the walls.  Cutting down all of that plaster made a huge mess in the house. I would recommend that everyone shot off the rest of the house and cover all the furniture. 







Here is the finished front window.  It is really nice to open multiple windows and have fresh air flowing through the house.  Our old windows had so much paint on them that I could only open a few throughout the entire house.
















This is the biggest change to an existing window. We both thought it was weird to sit in the bathroom and be able to look out the window. Maybe in the country, but not when your neighbors park 20 feet from your house.  We took this window out and replaced it with a much smaller one that was also obscured so we won't need a shade anymore.  The window will look like this until we have a second bathroom and can gut this one. 









This is the north side of the house.  The top window is the last one we have to put in.  We finished installing the three bottom ones with an hour to spare before a downpour came into town.  















Here Tor and Erik are taking out the front picture window.  This one was a three-person job because it was so heavy.  The old window came out pretty easily in three sections. 

















Erik snapped a photo of me cutting the plaster off.  We thought that the big hole in the wall would allow most of the dust to fly outside, but unfortunately it didn't.  The living room was a disaster!  We had a puzzle out too, which was really hard to clean.  I couldn't vacuum the dust off it without sucking up the pieces. We just ordered the front door so we can get rid of the ugly one shown on the left side of this picture!   







































Saturday, May 1, 2015


Last Few Windows



We continued to work on the windows this weekend with the help of family.  Tor's brothers Erik and Bjorn came over to help install the big patio door since they are so heavy. They brought along their kids, which Tor's parents caught wind of and came to help as well!  It turned into a nice little family afternoon of home construction.  Together the guys installed the patio door in less than an hour.  There will be a deck right outside the door from the kitchen.  






Later Tor worked to install the top two windows with my help.  He prepped everything as I studied for a test and then I came out to hand him the window and help guide it in place from the inside keeping it center and level.  














These are the first windows that you can see from the street.  I am so excited to get rid of the ugly brown ones and get started on the siding to allow the house to take shape from the street view.  So far the neighbors haven't complained so I consider us lucky.  


Friday, July 17, 2015


Extending the Roof & Landscaping


One major thing we wanted done on the house was to extend the overhang throughout the entire roofline so that we could reduce the potential water damage and bring our house out of the 1950's cookie-cutter look. Here is Tor crawling on the roof adding the final shingles to the backside of the roof.  The original overhang was a mere 4 inches while here we have added 12 inches.











This is another shot of the roof with the finished shingles.  We still need to finish the roof on the front-facing north overhang and extend the overhang over the front bedroom bump out too.


















A project that I have been working on is just simply cleaning up the backyard. We have so many weeds that grow under the tree line.  I spend hours cleaning up the weeds each summer trying to make it look just a little more presentable.  Here I have laid down black garden fabric with yard staples. My mother in law and neighbor gave us a bunch of hostas that they were cutting back from their own garden. My in laws then helped dig a bunch of the holes and plant the hostas too. Unfortunately the ground is not level so I still need to cut a line and add in the landscaping edge before I can put wood chips down.  



Here is a picture of the next garden project. This tree is dead because whoever planted it to begin with didn't give them enough space.  It is probably more than 50 feet tall, which makes it difficult to cut down because it could take down our fence on the other side of the yard.  We plan to take it down ourselves so first we need to crawl up it to see how tall it is.  Then we will know how much of the top we need to hack off before we take it down from the stump. 













Saturday, August 15, 2015


Finishing the Roof & a New Front Door


Here is a shot of the overhang being extended over the front bump out.  This was a last minute add to the project, but we both really like how it adds stature to the house.  We had to construct the overhang and shim in new shingles up the side so it would look natural.  












Here is the final shot of the last part of the roof being finished.  Tor is working on installing a new door here though. The door pictured is the old one.  When taking out the storm door we discovered some rotting and had to put in some replacement boards.  














Here is the final shot of the house with the roof finally finished and the door installed.  Tor's dad came over to help with the door and run some errands for us in his van.  I don't know where we would be on this project if he weren't helping out all the time!  Thanks Haakon!


Also, Brin says hi from the front window. :)








Sunday, August 23, 2015


Getting Ready for the Siding


We had a great weekend with some nice progress.  We are prepping for the siding so we spent our time hanging some exterior insulation.  This is the picture of the north side of the house.  















Here Tor is prepping the area for the insulation.  We started working on the peaks of the house since the framing doesn't match up between floors. Once we have these done, the process will go much quicker because we will be able to work from the ground level.  My job in this process was to cut the sheathing strips and insulation panels then hand them up to Tor.  As always, I was on cleanup crew as well. We have had different neighbors stop over and chat lately as they watch the progress.  We didn't know we had so many people rooting for us around the neighborhood! It has been fun getting to know more of our neighbors.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Painting Doors


I spent the better part of the day painting the exterior doors and trim. With the dark colors it took quite a few coats before it looked nice.  I think I still need to put one more coat on. We spent a lot of time deciding which color to pick before deciding on this blue.  We thought we had our minds made up until our recent trip to Norway we went back to the drawing board. Many of the houses over there have bright primary colors accenting their homes and we wanted to copy that style.  We also plant o hang a Norwegian flag outside the house when we are done so it had to look good with red and blue.  



I used Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior paint.  The colors are Blue Suede Shoes for the doors and Twilight Zone for the black trim.  Twilight Zone matched the black trim on the Anderson 100 windows we had installed.  It actually looks exactly like the window trim. Both paints were the middle low luster finish option.   We are now awaiting the delivery of our siding so that we can get that show on the road and finally look nice for the neighbors.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015


The Stoop


Tor spent the better half of the day working on the stoop.  He had to do a few trips to Home Depot because the stair stringers kept splitting.  Once he had the stringers in place (which he cut out himself) the process went a little quicker. 














We used 5/4 cedardecking boards for the stoop. The cedar will match the cedar shiplap siding that we will use on some accent walls on the exterior of the house.  














Here is the finished product.  We are still debating on installing a railing or not.  We are not required to have one, but it may be nice to have one for safety reasons.  
















I like to take pictures from the street so that over time we can see how the entire project has progressed.  I may make a short video at the end of the project that pulls them all together.  






Sunday, November 15, 2015




We have begun to hang the siding.  I am pretty excited about it since I was given the final say on what we would do.  This is tongue and groove 5" cedar. We are using it as an accent to the exterior of the house.  The bump out pictured here with the gable dormer will both have cedar along with the bump up above the garage and the new kitchen addition. 










Here is the bathroom above the garage with some cedar installed.  We ran into issues when we were installing this because the wood is fairly soft and was denting very easily when we tried to leave a reveal.  We had some spacers that would cut into the boards as we knocked a new piece into place.  Due to this, we decided to go without the reveal.  We were bummed about it, but it would have taken forever to make sure the cedar stayed free of scratches and dents.  We kind of like it this way too though.  The biggest hurdle is changing plans on something that had been decided since before we even started the project to begin with. 


Sunday, November 30, 2015


More Siding!


Despite still having the kitchen to work on, Tor was eager to get the siding done on the dormer because it snowed recently and we are in the season where snow should become the norm. His brother Erik came over to help level the bottom board after the snow had melted off the roof.  It was a little tricky because someone had to hold the other end and the roof was wet and still a little slippery.  









Tor's dad came over this weekend as well.  He helped cut boards while Tor hung them.  My job today was to sort through the siding and pick boards that fit the length and had color variation. The siding we purchased was leftover from another job so the lengths are all different and we are trying to have the least amount of waste as possible. Brin was watching from inside.  As you can see, it was super muddy out and she had just gotten a bath because of it. 








Here is a great picture of the work we accomplished.  The wall on the left still has some pieces to put in, but it is getting close to being done.  The wall straight ahead of me will be a white hardy board mix of three different sizes.





Sunday, December 7, 2015




Just for fun I thought I would post an old picture of the house.  Crazy how different everything looks.  I even forgot about the small tree that used to be up by the house!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


The Deck

So even though the kitchen isn't quite finished and the siding isn't done, we decided to start another project.  We are now building a deck!  We switched gears for two reasons.... first because it is spring and we want to be able to use the deck this summer rather than finishing it in the fall and second because we are having company over in a few weeks and need more seating! Here Tor is getting ready to dig holes for the footings.  We rented this from Broadway Rental in Brooklyn Park, MN.  It took two people so I helped. 






Here is a picture of the four footings dug and the initial stages of building. The backyard still looks like a mess with all the stuff back there.  Once the deck is up, we will put in a privacy wall for the south side of the deck and a new privacy fence too.  The neighbor's dogs bark quite a bit making it miserable to be in the backyard.  This will also help the backyard look cleaner because the chairs are currently blocking the walkway to the front yard so Brin doesn't get out. 








Tor wanted me to take a close up of the footing.  He carved the anchor into the board so that it would sit flush. There will be finish cedar decking covering the area. 















Tor's dad Haakon came over to help out again.  Here we are nailing joist hangers into place.  I helped with these too.  Brin posed for a picture quick as well.  She typically likes to be away during the work, but she had been playing ball with Haakon. 
















Here Tor is working on the deck step. It spans the length of the front. The next job is to frame out the steps to the kitchen and then we can start putting down the actual decking!  It has rained a lot lately so we have missed a lot of potential days for work to get done. Hopefully the sun shines soon so we can put in a long day of work and finish the project off. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


The Deck is Ready for Parties!

We are on a roll with finishing projects lately.  The deck was finalized today and ready for parties.  We say parties because we are both avid outside explorers and love the idea of being outside even when we are at home. Now that the deck is done we plan to be outside as much as possible.  What a great place to host family gatherings and enjoy nature at the same time.  


The first picture here shows the work still in progress. The privacy wall is going up so that we can be outside without our neighbor peaking over to see what we are doing.  Ideally we would like to be as cut off from the world as much as possible.



Tor started with the stair so that we could easily work our way back to the wall and time the boards out nicely with spacing.  
















Tor took the time to grab the camera while I was working this time.  It is nice to show that yes I do work on the projects too.  Unfortunately Tor never let's me know if he is going to so I always look weird in the photo.  Brin is a great helper too.  She was either checking out my feet or picking screws... not sure.


The work I am doing here is marking where the screws go so that they are all in line as we cross the deck.  We chose a stainless steel screw too so that they won't rust over the years.  






Brin continued her management style here while watching over Tor when he started the backside of the privacy wall.  We used 1x6x6 dog-eared fencing from Menards to build the wall.  














This is the finished view before we did any staining.  Both sides of the wall are completed and the basketball hoop is up.  Tor has played a few games of HORSE with friends here taking shots from downtown (on the lawn).  















We chose a cedar colored stain from Home Depot called Sikkens ProLuxe Cetol SRD 077 Cedar colored.  We taped off the door and metal trim to keep cleaning nice and easy.  I stained the inside wall myself, Tor and I stained the floor together and...













our neighbor Charlie helped us stain the backside of the wall.  He is always working at his own house so we asked if we could hire him for some work we needed done around our house. 
















Here is the final look!  We still need to complete the house siding and we are working on a walkway leading to the garage too.  The stones are from the fireplace inside and from the front entry of the house.  We plan to till up the ground, set the stone and then plant grass all around them. 








Thursday, June 30, 2016


Wood Going Up Again!

We have gotten back to work on the exterior again.  We started working on the cedar on Saturday morning and completed the front peak that afternoon.  It was incredibly hot that day which can be seen in the first picture.  It was so warm that my camera fogged up when I went from the air conditioning inside to the heat outside.  The heat was even worse due to the reflection coming off the insulation.  









This is a shot of the back peak.  We worked on this area Sunday.  Although it is a small area, it takes a considerable amount of time to sort through the boards to find nice ones to use. Plus we are trying to conserve as much as possible and limit our waste.  We still have the north side of the kitchen to complete and would like to work with as many long boards as possible. We had a neighbor stop this weekend and ask questions about our home.  We had never met him before, but it has been fun to get to know the neighbors some and hear their stories.  This guy said that he gets excited when we are outside working because he is curious to see what the finished project will be like. 


I decided to take a picture of the trim we have been using.  Tor first saw this while on a job site for work.  He researched what it was and we fell in love with it! It is very easy to work with. We first apply the wood strips to have something to screw into over the insulation.  Then each piece just gets nailed in and the wood siding slipped in.



Sunday, July 24, 2016


Cedar Siding #DONE

We have just finished another project! It feels so good to cross something off the list AND clean out the garage a little.  This photo shows the north-facing wall of the kitchen.  We used all the leftover scraps that had few blemishes to fill this area.  Remember we got the cedar as a remnant from another job so many boards were damaged. We ended with just one board left that was full length and with only few blemishes. 









Here is the finished south-facing wall. This wall was a little tricky because of all the short boards on the right side.  It was kind of hard to make sure it timed out right at the top of the patio door. Tor took his time and got it done beautifully though!












I took just one dormer picture, but both are indeed completed.  There was a sliver needed at the top of both.  With it being so hot lately it wasn't the best time to climb on the roof.  The neighbor's tree shaded the area nicely so Tor could get up there and finish the job.  Now to start staining!



Saturday, July 9, 2016


Stone Walkway

My parents came up for the day to help with some yard work.  Tor was out of town on a guys fishing trip to WI. My parents own a farm in NE Iowa with a big garden... just the right people with the right tools to do some work in the yard.  My dad, Loren, tilled the yard while my mom, Connie, and I picked up rock, moved the walkway into place, and hauled some dirt.  I still need to set the walkway, but this was a good start and saved me a tool rental fee.  I grew up tending the garden and working outside a lot so it was fun to spend some time with them at my house this time.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Curb Appeal

The neighbors are happy to see the exterior is finally getting its finishing touches.  The Hardie Board is going up on the north and east facing walls, which are two of the three walls that the neighbors can see.  We have had a lot of people slowing down as they drive by and a lot of compliments from walkers and bikers too.  This first picture shows Tor and his brother Bjorn hanging the first piece of Hardie on the south facing wall.  The starter line had to be marked 3 times because it kept ending up wrong for some reason... I believe it is because my string-holding abilities got outsourced to a nail instead. Nails can be untrustworthy little buggers sometimes.  Just saying. 



This is the front view as it stands today.  I stained the bottom half of the cedar this past weekend, and the dormers today.  I have also stained all the cedar in the back that I can reach without scaffolding.  We only have a few more runs of Hardie to make before the front is done.  We will then move to the deck area and lastly the north side.  The plan is to finish everything we can reach with a ladder then rent scaffolding to do the hard to reach areas.  Much of the soffit is already stained and ready to go.  After these projects are done, all we have left is the gutters, some landscaping and the mudroom left before we finish all of the projects we have started.  


This is just a cool picture to show a close up of the Hardie.  We chose 3 sizes to alternated and add some interest.  The sizes are 7", 5" and 4" prefinished white. Less maintenance if we don't paint it ourselves and we picked the non textured option to allow for a more modern finish.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


A Lil' Landscaping and A Lil' Hardie

The backyard is getting a facelift with both some landscaping and some siding going up. I have spent the last few evenings working on the landscaping.  I purchased the paver stones at Menards. They are 24" x 24" wide and have a diamond stamped pattern on the top. The ground has lots of sand and rock in it leftover from the original deck and the foundation from the old garage.  I purchased black dirt to spread over the top after already picking out lots of stone and mixing the sand with more black dirt earlier.  







This shot shows how far along we were on the siding by end of day yesterday. I also put down some grass net to help keep the ground moist as the grass seed sprouts.  Typically August is dry and not a great time to plant grass, however we are tired of cleaning up mud throughout our house each time we let Brin out.  











Tor and his brother Erik are prepping another Hardie Board piece.  This one in particular had to be cut out for the mudroom window.  Tor is dabbing the Hardie white paint to the unfinished edges.  This creates a finished look and helps seal the board from the elements. 














Here is a quick shot of the dabbing process. 


















Here Tor and Erik are setting the board in place.  One more board down... about 100 more to go!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


From the South Side

The south side is nearly complete, but for the sake of this post, it is complete. Tor, his brother Bjorn, and dad helped to finish this wall up today and yesterday.  The soffit is made out of 3/8" plywood that I stained earlier this summer.  The fascia is 1 x 6 cedar stained earlier this summer too.  













We rented some scaffolding this past week so we could get to the high spots easily and safely.  The hope is that we can get both the south side and north side finished, but also stain the west wall of the kitchen as well before the scaffolding is due back.. We are crossing our fingers for more nice weather so we can keep working outside.  We get all of our rented products from Broadway Rental (  









Here is the finished work.  The picture doesn't do it justice because the soffit really helps tie the wood and Hardie siding together.  It is kind of weird to look at the house and see things finished.  I am so used to living in a work in progress that it takes time getting used to things looking nice.  







Thursday, September 22, 2016


North Side - 99% Done

The north side is nearly complete too! We still need to do the soffit and the last piece in the top, but it is looking good.  The only wall not done now is the west-facing wall (where the blue ladder is sitting).  This has all of our utilities on it so we saved it for last thinking we could use scraps on that wall.  We hope to have the soffit up, west wall done and the cedar stained on the west wall of the kitchen this weekend.  Weather permitting.!

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Siding Finished - Soffit in the Works

The siding is officially done now.  Tor spent last week working on the last wall.  It was tricky because it had all of the utility outlets to work around.  We ended with a little bit of extra siding left to spare.  As of right now we plan to keep it and potentially use it for a tree house or storage unit at some point. 












The soffits are not a glamorous thing to take pictures of, but they do really finish off the house nicely.  Tor and his brother Bjorn had worked a few weeks ago to get some of them done on the north and south peaks.  This past week we worked on the west side and the east side lower areas.  These were tricky as well due to all the cut outs for the lights.  We used 3/4 inch plywood stained with the same cedar stain as the wood siding.  







This is the soffit area over the deck. There are two speakers (the larger circles) and lights as well (the smaller circles).  The speakers are set up to connect to the ones in the kitchen.  The area over the deck is now completely finished with the exception of the fascia.  The only areas left on the exterior of the house are the smaller peaks on the east and west side and a few corner areas.  We still have to finish the fascia as well and then finish the custom wood front of the garage door.  I am crossing my fingers that we have everything done by the time is snows so we can finally enjoy the winter weather in MN properly... either inside by the fire or on a ski slope. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Siding Finished - Soffit in the Works

Saturday, November 19, 2016


More Fascia Done

The soffit is complete and the fascia is coming together.  Tor is working on the last major section of fascia on the house in this picture.  We used 1 x 8 cedar board and stained to match the house and soffit. All that is left to do is the corners of this peak and the front of the house and then add some finishing touches to the garage door.  Then the house will be completely done on the outside!

Saturday, November 19, 2016


More Fascia Done

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Garage Trim

The soffit is complete and the fascia is coming together.  Tor is working on the last major section of fascia on the house in this picture.  We used 1 x 8 cedar board and stained to match the house and soffit. All that is left to do is the corners of this peak and the front of the house and then add some finishing touches to the garage door.  Then the house will be completely done on the outside!

It has been a long time since I have done an update about the exterior. This post is simple, but I love the fact that this job is finally done.  Tor spent today trimming out the garage door with cedar stained 1 x 8 boards.  They were trimmed slightly to size however. We used a paint stir stick to create a slight under lip of the corner metal trim. This allows for limited risk of water getting between the metal and wood trim.  

Here is a picture showing the finished product at an angle so you can see the seamless finish work.  This was the final work on the front of the house to be completed with the exception of painting the foundation.  We may never paint the foundation though because it really isn't a necessity so in my book I am calling the front of the book complete. Done!  Thanks Tor!

I took a front facing picture too for fun!

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