11 December 2006

Cement and Bricks

Update: I switched to IE and inexplicably am now able to post pictures. I had done it successfully from Firefox initially. Don't want to use IE, but am now forced to. It is sooooooo slow.

Since I've been at this restoration for 12 years now I thought I'd document some of the earlier projects. The first one will be the back porch, sidewalk, and patio project. This is going to go slow as I have to scan in lots and lots of progress photos as I go, one at a time.

OK, back, after several hours! First I'll show what the house looked like when we bought it in August of 1994.

Isn't that a lovely fence?

Anyway, this shows the Hauser Haus in all its bright white and red glory as we first saw it. I still haven't figured out a cost-effective, easy, accepted way to remove the red, white, and gray paint from the brick and foundation. The second picture is of the back of the house showing the waist-high weeds where the patio should be and various sized storm windows and doors closing in the back porch.

The next photos show the thin, cracked sidewalk that wrapped around the house from the front to the back. I started prying it up and digging it out and replacing it with five pound red paving bricks from the city dumpsite. When I got up to the corner of the house it was time to rent the jackhammer to remove the rest.

Near the back, where Numa the cat is standing, we had excavated a brick walk from the steps to the driveway. Good try, folks, but you used soft interior bricks. I had to dig them out.
The following pictures show the cement steps that were built up to a door cut into the front parlor stairwell to make access to the upstairs apartment, the cement from the sidewalk to the foundation of the house, and the back cement steps. The cement had to go because the basement flooded regularly spring and fall because the water was directed right into the foundation by the cement. I'll post later about the other side of the house.

An arty shot of the back steps.

I moved my entire garden from my former yard--that's some of it there.

We rented a jackhammer and compressor and a dumpster on a Memorial Day weekend and started removing cement.

He was good for the heavy lifting.

Yeah, like I really used this thing. I had trouble even holding it up!
He showed some real ingenuity in rigging up a way to jackhammer sideways!

When we broke into the sarcophagus that was the side stairs we found perfect desert conditions inside for preserving whatever was in there.

You can see what our bricks and foundation are supposed to look like--not painted with latex.

The owners at the time (probably the Marzolfs in 1959) painted and papered and remodeled the entire inside and created a separate upstairs apartment, and put some interesting things inside the stairs along with the black dust and sand. It was like an archaelogical dig. I've always wanted to be an archaelogist and save everything I dig up out in the yard. I have jars of marbles, doll parts, army men, metal toys, jewelry, coins, glass objects, metal objects, etc, all lined up on my windowsills in the kitchen. I know you are dying to know what I found inside this tomb, so here goes. I only have one picture of some of the haul.

Two 1" glass towel bars
Several glass shades (only one was unbroken)
Metal letters for stencilling that slide together to make words
Vegetable tin cans with paper labels
A wooden trim piece (from where??)

Evidently this is the time all the wall sconces were removed and plastered over and everything "modernized" in the bathrooms. I collect glass towel bars, so these will be used in my remodeling. I just wish they had thrown in the holders!

In the middle of this pic you can see the buried footing for the original back stairs. I dug it out. It was a chunk of water course worked granite just like what is on the house.

In the pictures you will see some large waste pipes against the foundation and under the sidewalk. I believe these carried rainwater to a cistern somewhere out in the yard. I followed the pipe from the front of the house all the way to the back door, but didn't want to dig up the grass to find where it went. The one by the back door was at the bottom of the downspout which went throught the overhang from the roof and just ends 4 feet into the yard. I excavated a pit at the end of it and filled it with rocks and covered it back up because I have a garden over it. It works pretty well getting rid of water from my back porch downspout. The one in the front can't be used because I don't pipe the runoff down through the house beside the chimney where the old downspout is, but have it further to the front of the house. Some stupid roofer long ago destroyed the catch boxes for these downspouts on the roof, so I'll never know if they worked better than the half-rounds I installed. You would not believe the amount of water and the speed of it pouring off my steep roofs! It overflows the gutters even when they are clean. I don't know what else to do besides some kind of diverters in the valleys, but haven't seen such a thing before.

The last pictures show the restoration of the back steps from cement back to wood. I inset the first step at the top back into the porch floor, which the existing joists seemed to indicate, and this brings most of the steps back under the overhang, which helps in the rain and winter ice buildup. We created a nest for our outside cats with straw bales under the porch with entry under the open steps. I diverted the downspout to go under the steps and out the other side to take advantage of the waste pipe. Otherwise, it would have drained right on the patio and made a giant lake.

Out of order, but the interim back steps.


The last photos show the making of the cement patio. I used a Walkmaker that had rectangle and square random shapes and used a 60# bag of Quikrete. One for each square. I don't even know how many bags I hauled home from Home Depot. And, no, my husband did not help me at all with this project. He maybe unloaded the truck once or twice--that's it. I found I really like cement work and used the leftovers to patch missing chunks of foundation and driveway sidewalk.

Oh, and halfway through the brick laying the city decided to close off its dump site to private parties and I had to go to a gravel yard and BUY the rest of my bricks--over 300 of them at 30 cents each! I had to climb a mountain of rubble, dig out bricks, toss them down, climb down, load them into the truck, take them out of the truck and pile them up, use a cold chisel to knock the remaining cement off of them to clean them up, then haul them to the sidewalk project. These things weigh about 5 # each. That's only one in each hand for someone that doesn't have gorilla hands and arms.

My best friend, Numa, who died this March at age 17.

And a final shot.

There's still the other back stairs! Bwahahahahahaha.


impressed brother jim said...

ok, i guess marilyn already showed her brickwork

Patricia W. said...


I'm just going through reading your posts and hopping all over the place. The brick work looks really really nice. The patio isn't bricks? It's a form and you dump in quickrete? That looks wonderful!

I might have said this in another comment somewhere but my house too was scavenged until there was little of it's former self remaining. No hinges, no doors, nor door hardware, no original woodwork. An original pocket door is missing along with half of the stair railing. Sometimes I really don't understand people and why they so willingly destroyed this place. It also was turned into two apartments.