Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Foundation (Page 1 of 2)

The Roof Project Completed!





Bing bing!


Bing bing bing!


Did I hit you hard with these photos yet? How about some before and after photos:

The main house front before:


And after!


Garage roof before:

Ranch House - 3




The back of the house when we moved in:


And the back of the house today!


Our pipes and vents before, badly rusted and leaking:


And this is how they look today!


The brown trims we inherited before:



And what they look like now:



We chose to paint the trims and soffit with the same bronze color as our gutter, so the gutter can disappear on the fascia. The goal is to have fewer horizontal lines on our one-story ranch house:


And being the same bronze as our front door, we made the front doors look taller. The goal here is to elongate any vertical lines on the exterior (doors, windows, so our one-story ranch looks less flat:


A far cry from what we had before:




This is what the same area look like now:


The gutter contrasts the bricks handsomely:


And even better, we have the same new roof put on our shed as well!


The shed roof came as a nice surprise to us. When we booked the roofers we did not know that their quote includes the shed. It felt like a Christmas in September when they started tearing down the old roof on the shed! Our shed could use a new roof – aside from missing shingles, the plywood sub-roof was rotten:


The roofers torn it to studs and put in all new plywood and underlayment.


And here is our new shed roof today:


We took the opportunity to extend the overhang out from 10″ to 2′, so the firewood stored underneath are better protected from rain and snow:



We do not have anything stored under the overhang on the other side yet. But it gives us options for more firewood if needed.

The new shed roof conveniently completed the phase II for our shed renovation, which is a lot faster coming that we expected after phase I! I almost forgot how bad it was when we bought the house. This is the real before:


Wow, right? Look at this lady now:


As soon as the whole roof work was done, it has been raining cats and dogs for a solid week. The new gutters and our grading around the foundation are doing a great job to direct water away from our foundation. There was not a bit of moisture in any of our new window wells.



We are sooo glad that we have crossed all the things off our long, “water” to-do list before the fall rolls around. It was a long list and we did lots of hard work ourselves. I cannot help but having it here again, just so I can do my “Shift+Alt+D” once again:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the foundation cracks
6. Seal all the exterior holes and gaps
7. Grading around the house

Now, let it snow! We are ready for our first winter in Colorado!

Patch It All UP

If you’ve been follow along, you would know that the exterior of our house has been our recent focus. Getting a house winter ready and the foundation protected is a lot of work. That includes making sure that our roof and gutter are in good order, the foundation is sealed and has good drainage, and all the windows and exterior doors have no leaks. Unfortunately, this house we inherited do not meet any of these requirements. When we moved in, we found that the weather stripping on our exterior doors were peeling, the foundation was surrounded by weeds, flower beds, and patios with wrong slopes, and the 20-year old  roof was on buying time.

During the last three months (already?), we have changed our front and back storm doors, gotten rid of the front flower bed and weeds around the foundation, corrected the sloping issues of the front and back porch, and finally last week, finished grading around the house ! With our roof and gutter replacement in process, we are soooo close to the finish line of getting our house winter-ready!

This week, Slav gathered supplies and started tackling the last item on our to-do list: repairing the foundation cracks and getting the exterior of the house sealed. It took him four entire days to finish sealing everything – I was surprised that how much sealant this house drank up and how many different types of sealant he had to use for the job. These are just a sample of a subset of the product he had used:


1. Sealing exterior holes with the Sikaflex mortar fix

Among the hundreds and thousands pounds of stuff we removed from our ranch during our first month here, there was the satellite dish on the roof. Slav and I are never TV people. In fact, our only TV is currently used by Slav as a monitor. After the dish removal, we were left with many wires running along the house:




These wires entered nearly every room in the house:



Slav removed all the wires:






And we were left with many holes on our brick like this:



Slav cleaned them with a wire brush and filled them with a mortar sealant from Sikaflex:


This product drys to a color that is really close to our mortar. It might look a bit lighter in the pictures, but it is because that our mortar was dirty and old. We are planning to power-wash the house (it is fun to use the power washer again!) and the sealant will completely blend in. For now, the fix looks really natural and hardly noticeable:


2. Fixing the foundation cracks with concrete epoxy and DAP concrete sealant

The most serious problem we had on our foundation is the corner cracks. Slav cleaned them and glued the falling corner back on with this concrete epoxy and smoothed the gaps with the DAP concrete sealant.






He also went around the entire foundation and patched all the vertical cracks using the same DAP concrete sealant:




3. Sealing horizontal gaps/cracks with the Loctite non-sag sealant

We also see gaps where the exterior bricks meet the foundation. Since those gaps are horizontal, Slav opted for a non-sag sealant from Loctite:


It dries really fast so he filled these gaps in two steps. This is after the first fill:


And this is after the second fill. You can see that it became very smooth. I took this picture when the sealant was still drying. After it completely dried, it also blended in our mortal really well.


4. Seal drive way cracks with the Loctite self-leveling sealant

Moving down to our drive way, there are small cracks running down the control joints.


To seal them, Slav used a different product that self-levels. When he first applied it, it looked quite messy. But after 10 minutes or so, all the extra sealant sunk down into the joints and started to look pretty neat:


And after a few hours, the sealant looked like this:


Pretty cool, right? It dries very slowly so gravity can do its job of leveling the sealant.

Slav used this product on all the controlled joints in our concrete drive way, path and back patio:





The self-leviling product is also very good at handling small cracks:



However, it is definitely not dog-friendly:


Charlie laid down on one of the joints Slav had just filled and caught quite a big line of sealant on his fur! It dried so hard by the end of the day and we had to cut some of the fur off. 🙁

Slav covered the joints to prevent little paws from stepping into them:


5. Seal garage wall gap with concrete cement patcher

Last, there is a pretty significant gap between the old walkway and the southern side of the house:



The gap is so big that it would be really expensive and time-consuming to fill with any regular sealant. So Slav decided to use a concrete mix and basically just level the pathway with fast-set concrete.

Cleaning and patching around the house in hot sun is a lot of work – it took Slav a full week and it was so tedious. But it is necessary and we now have peace of mind knowing that our house is water-tight! If you still remember our big to-do list, I am happy to report that we also get the roof done this week! I will be back next week to show you the process, so stay tuned, my friends!


Finish Grading Around the House!


From the day of inspection, we knew that there was a list of water-related issues we needed to address in order to protect our foundation. When we moved in to our house back in mid-June, the list looked like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

Since then, we have extended the downspouts, removed the front flower bed, demo-ed the sinking patios, and rebuilt a 37-feet long back patio with correct slope, leaving the list looking like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

Coming to September,  we started seeing more rain and the night temperature has dropped to the 50’s. Colorado winter comes quickly! Our goal is to complete this “waterproof” list before winter hits, which in our region is early October. We have scheduled our roof work to be completed this month. This week, our plan is to finish grading around the house.

To achieve proper grading and effectively drain water away from our foundation, we need to pack dirt around the house perimeter, with at least 1 inch per foot slope away from the house. Then, a layer of water-proof membrane (such as this 6-mil poly) will be laid on top of the dirt to prevent water from seeping down around the house, and finished with gravel on top to facilitate drainage. After some research online, we decided to use structural dirt to create the slope, and mountain granite as our top layer.

Slav ordered them from a local company, and both dirt and gravel were delivered next day:



It might not look like a lot from the picture, but in person they were pretty substantial piles. I’d say that it was about 20 wheel barrels of each.

If you remember our site plan (see our recent video tour of our yard here), our house has a concrete walkway on its southern side and a long patio meets most of the back side.

Ranch Site_2017 Summer

The rest of the foundation was left unprotected, including the entire northern side of the house:


Part of the back side of the house, where the patio did not cover:


And where the front flower bed and patio used to be:



Last weekend, before we ordered the dirt and gravel, we have replaced all the rusty and old window wells with brand new ones. When I was at work, Slav transferred all the dirt around the foundation using a wheel barrel:


Then we packed it down with a significant slope, , about 4 feet wide on the side and the back of the house:




All the dirt with a shade darker is the new structure soil. It is filtered from regular soil and supposedly does not support plant growth as well. Using it to fill around the house should prevent weed growth around the foundation.

Slav also replaced the soil immediately around the patio and the shed with this structural soil, in order to keep weeds from growing into the slabs:




We plant to build raised beds around the patio and a green house next to our shed, so we do not need soil around them to be bio-active.

As for the front of the house, Slav packed down the structural dirt where the old patio was:


It might be difficult to see, but there is also a gentle slope. The pine tree above blocks most of the participation onto this spot, which keeps this place pretty dry. We did consider pouring a new patio here, which might be the best way of protecting water from getting down along the foundation. However, we would love to enlarge the basement window here down the road, and pouring new concrete patio will make any work way more difficult. For now, we are happy with just changing the old, rusty window well to a brand new one and grade the space with structural dirt.

The old patio spot and the front steps are both 5 feet wide, so we made grading on the rest of the front side 5 feet wide as well. You can see how we slopped the old flower bed area so that water should drain away from the house:


All the dirt work took a whole day. The next day, we put down some 6-mil Poly and Slav started to lay down gravel on the top:



The northern side:


The back:


On the third day, Slav used the mountain granite gravel to cover all the poly and built it up to about 3-inches thick. It is about 3-4 layers of gravel, which not only holds the plastic firmly in place, but also ensures that we can walk on it without damaging the plastic.


After three days of hard work (and Slav did 99% of it), we have completed grading around the house! This is what the front of the house look like now:



And this is the back:


The window wells themselves also have poly layer and gravel in them:


Slav made sure that water drains properly around the air conditioner as well:


And this is the northern side of the house. We have decided that this side does not need any window wells since the surface of the gravel is inches below the window sills. Without window wells, these windows let in much more light into the basement bedrooms, and the exterior on this side looks much cleaner:


Do you remember how it looked like a week ago?


What a change, right? Now our “waterproof” list looking like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter (in progress!)
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks (in progress)
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

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