Friday, May 23, 2014

Garage Wall Cost Breakdown & Video

I'm sure a few people might be curious to know how much it cost to rebuild the garage wall. While the actual costs were low, it was a lot of work spanning a few weeks.

Here is the breakdown of the materials that were used (prices include Ontario taxes):

Additional costs would include permits, architectural drawings, or any other kind of engineering reports, tools and tool rentals, etc.

I will also be adding insulation, electrical, interior wall sheathing, new flashing over the fascia, gutters, and replacing the roof.

Here is a short little video that I shot the other day while I was getting rid of the last few pieces of the brick shingle siding:

The Garage Wall Project - Part 2 of 2

Once the interior wall was finished, all that was left was to remove the old wall, and install the new siding on it.

Removing the old wall and installing the new plywood turned out to be a full day project. I started around 10:40am (Sat) and finished around 8pm.

Step 1 was to pull down all the old Masonite siding. There's a reason they don't sell this stuff anymore. While it's not a terrible product, and it CAN last a long time, it needs maintenance (frequent repainting) and most home owners can't be bothered. Face it, people are lazy. As soon as water starts to get into this product, it softens and turns basically into wet cardboard.

I started working from the front of the garage near the worst section. Everything pulled off or simply fell off with little effort.

I discovered that under the white Masonite siding was a layer of "Insulbrick" siding. This is similar to the Masonite, but even lighter and fluffier material. It is coated in a waterproof tar on the backside, and the front is regular asphalt shingle. If properly installed, it looks quite convincingly like brick. Under the shingle siding was the tar paper followed by the tongue and groove.

There were two kinds of "Insulbrick" used. The top layer with the lighter lines was much poorer quality than the lower stuff.

The wall had some poorly patched repairs.

DECAY. These boards could just be pulled off and crushed like dry crackers, It's really amazing that the wall was still holding itself together under its own weight.

Seriously, it just turned into dust and splinters as soon as you grabbed it.

Most of the first half of the wall was also layered with this white mould or fungus growth. Kind of pretty actually. I was wearing gloves.

I took the wall apart in sections, and basically as soon as I had free space for the next sheet of 4x8 I would install it. Here was the first sheet installed (1 of 7).

Code requires a minimum of 7/16 (less than half an inch) for sheathing an exterior wall (usually OSB), but I wanted something much thicker and stronger, and I chose 3/4" spruce plywood. Cheap 7/16" OSB sheeting is something like 15$/sheet while the nice thick plywood I used was something around 35$/sheet. It's quite a bit more, but much better. It also matches the thickness of the original tongue and groove, so I'd hopefully have less problems matching-up the front corner because of the thickness.

Sheet #2:

One of the big problems with the demo of the old wall was what to do with the trash. I ended up piling the pieces of old siding against the cinder block wall of the neighbour's house (temporarily). For the t-g and all the tar paper, I just tossed it all into the garage along the edge of the wall.

Some of the old t-g was in nice clean shape, and I tried to save as much of it as I could to reuse it for shop/furniture projects. This is nice old-growth lumber which you can't get anymore.

Last sheet!

Not shown was the bottom edge pieces. These were done in 3/4" pressure treated plywood. Not necessary, but I thought that the extra few bucks (about 20$/sheet extra) would be worth it for added moisture protection at the base of the wall.

The following day I removed the old gutter. I t would have been nice to keep it in place, but it was sloped so far down that I couldn't nail the top edges of my 7 plywood sheets. I would also need to rework/fix the fascia, so it had to go.

You can also see how incredibly bad the roof has gotten on the garage. It's leaking in (only) 2 spots, which is surprising, since it's SO INCREDIBLY BAD.

Code requires a waterproof membrane under the siding. This was provided with a layer of Typar house wrap from my favourite lumber/DIY store Emard Lumber (which is where I bought most of my supplies, since they have good prices and offer free delivery in town).

I had to use a 9ft x 95ft roll because their smaller rolls didn't have enough coverage on them. This means I got a nice single piece to cover the entire wall, but I also have an extra 65ft which I can hopefully resell in the local classifieds. All the edges were taped.

The front edge needed a bit of a Macgyver fix to make things work. I wasn't changing the existing aluminum siding on the front of the garage (and rest of the house) but the corner was sticking out a bit too far (it was originally installed over the Insulbrick). What I ended up doing was I folded the corner in a bit more (aluminum is soft) and I screwed it flat to the plywood with brass screws (the screws had to be waterproof just in case). The new J-trim for the vinyl siding was then nestled into the groove of the aluminum track (see farther down).

Sorry, no in-between pics. The Typar, taping, gutter removal, and front corner fix was done on day 2 (Sun), with all the J trim and siding installed on day 3 (Mon - which was a holiday).

I love how nicely and neatly the siding landed with the edge of the neighbour's cinder block building.

The front corner has just a HAIR of a curve into the corner, but it's not noticeable.

New J-trim into the old aluminum corner. Looks great!

The top is a bit f-ed up, so I want to get that piece with the arrow eventually removed and capped in white metal.

How it looks from the sidewalk:

On Tuesday I tackled the fascia/soffit rebuilding. For whatever reason, the entire thing was crooked. There was some evidence that it's always been slightly off (I found some old shims and spacers) but I wanted a nice straight and beautiful repair, so I built-up and shimmed everything that was too short.

I started by installing the bottom pine boards to land with the deepest roof truss end. These were the ones at the far end of the garage next to the other building. As I got to the front, the trusses were short by about 1 1/2 inches. Yikes. To fix this I nailed on additional support boards on each truss to keep the face of the fascia nice and square.

The spots in the centre that were only off by a bit got some flat board shims installed on the ends of the trusses.

Here is a shot of the "extensions" at the short end.

For the fascia (front board) I used what was left of my 3/4" pressure treated plywood. It looks great, and it's very solid. You can see where the roof truss ends. I will cap this end also.

And that's it. Now I need to find a roofing company to redo the roof. The edge of the roof decking (which sticks out and is cut crooked) will need to be trimmed, the fascia will need to be capped in metal, and a new gutter will be installed. I'll keep you all posted.

All that's left for me is to get rid of all the trash. Round 1 was this past Wed. I tied together something like 10-15 bundles of rotted wood boards, tar paper, and stacked all the Insulbrick siding to make it easier for the garbage men.

I still have all the white siding, the vertical (rotted) 2x4s, and the old fascia wood to get rid of. Not to mention that 500lb box of dirt, lol.

The Garage Wall Project - Part 1 of 2

When I was first looking for a house, one of the major selling points for this particular house was the huge attached garage. With a floor space of approximately 14 feet x 28 feet (minus the staircase, approximately 350sq/ft) this made for a fantastic woodworking shop space.

When I first moved in, I had some idea of the decay on the exterior wall, but I had assumed that most of the damage was to the old Masonite siding.

The interior of the wall had been half-assedly covered over in very cheap 3/8" OSB sheeting in an effort to hide the severe structural damage to the wall (which was rotted through).

Old photo:

Back in 2011 I removed the OSB and uncovered the truth behind the condition of the wall:

The space between the neighbour’s house and my garage had also been piled waist-high with trash when I first moved in. The previous owner had just tossed a whole bunch of old mouldings, door casings, and scrap wood there, along with big chunks of cement, and this had all started to rot along with large quantities of fallen leaves from the maple. Trees had also begun to grow in between the houses. It took me about a year of work on and off to finally clear out all of the alley.

So that brings us pretty much up to date. Since uncovering the wall in 2011, I’ve simply been careful with the wall, avoiding leaning anything on it, and planning to repair it as soon as time and budget permitted.

That time has finally come (and gone), and I’m so happy it’s finally DONE!

This was a H-U-G-E job, and it’s definitely not something I’d recommend to any of you as a DIY project, especially if you’re working all by yourself. That said, I’ve just finished the project by myself, so it’s not impossible. I will freely admit that there were a few moments where I was completely overwhelmed and paralysed by uncertainty about certain steps, or just by the sheer magnitude of the project. At several points, I had to just sit and stare at the work already begun and just hope that it would all turn out alright. It also helped for me to work at the wall a little bit at a time, and then take a mental break from it. This is definitely the kind of project that could result in severe panic attacks.

One of the things that made this a difficult project was that I didn’t want to remove the old rotted wall until I had the new one built inside the garage. This was mostly because I’m right in town and I didn’t want to have the wall completely open for anyone to just waltz-in and steal things (I have a LOT of valuable tools). I also didn’t want to have the wall open to the elements, since I had no idea how long it would take me to completely rebuild the wall.

If it wasn’t for that, I could have simply jacked-up the roof, knocked-down the wall, and had lots of open space to work around. Instead, I had to work carefully around the old wall.

Before I start showing how I jacked-up the wall and rebuilt it, I thought I would just show a few more photos of the wall as it was before I started working on it.

Here you can see the base of the wall.

If you look at the upper arrow, you can see how the studs land flush with the edge of the concrete floor over a doubled 2x4. In the foreground, the two bottom 2x4 studs along the floor have completely rotted, and a previous owner “kicked-up” the studs onto the edge of the concrete to keep the wall from sinking and rotting further.

The photo above shows the worst section of the wall. This section corresponds with a leaky seam in the rain gutter, which continually spills water against the wall on this section. The black that is visible is the tar paper under the siding layers. The wood tongue and groove sheathing has completely rotted and fallen away, as have some of the studs.

Towards the back of the garage you could still see a section where the bottom floor studs were still visible. On the left, the stud has rotted into dirt, and on the right, a partial “shell” of a stud remains (poking it with a screw driver turns it into crumbs).

Several studs from the worst area of the wall were completely rotted and no longer providing any kind of structural support for the roof. You can also see how all the rotted tongue and groove is pulling away from the studs.

On the outside, the damage from years of improperly installed gutters, the addition of asphalt between the houses (over the bottom edge of the siding!) was taking its toll on the wall.

The first step of the repairs was to ensure that the roof was properly supported. For this, I attached a large beefy 2x8 to the ceiling about 2 feet away from the exterior wall. To determine how far up the roof needed to be jacked-up in each location, I tied a length of twine at one end of the garage, with the other end pulled taut by a 4lb clock weight. This line wasn’t perfectly level, but it was close, since the front wall of the garage hadn’t moved much, while the far (back) end was attached to the cinder-block building next door (which hasn’t moved much either). The twine therefore indicated how far the ceiling was sagging in each section. In the worst areas, it was down about 2" from where it should be.

I didn’t have any actual jacks, so the whole thing was done the "old fashioned way" simply by measuring 2x4 posts to the height needed and knocking them up with a small sledge hammer until they were vertical.

The first few were a bit terrifying, since the raising of the roof caused the edge of the roof to tear away from the top of the wall.

For some silly reason, I had thought that as I’d be raising the roof, the wall would just go up with it, but this was just absolutely stupid, and I could have banged my head on a desk. Of course the wall wasn’t going to move. IT WAS ALL ROTTED along the top edge. Duh!

Here you can see about a 1" gap between the two top (rotted) 2x4s.

No matter. I kept going, and soon enough the worst section of the roof was sitting nice and level (or very close), and it was well supported.

As the roof was rising, chunks of rotted wood and debris fell to the floor everywhere.

Originally I was going to do the new footing in 2 parts, so I started working on just the first part of the wall. Soon enough, though, Pierre (my boss at the upholstery shop) convinced me that it should be done in one continuous piece, so I changed my mind and decided to do the entire wall and footing all in one shot.

Originally I wasn’t sure how I’d support the wall to be able to do the footings, but it was Pierre who showed me how to jack-up the wall using short braces along the bottom. Pierre was also kind enough to loan me his laser lever, a 4 foot level, an impact drill, and a sawzall (reciprocating saw). All of these came in handy.

Cleaning out, cutting away, and finding a spot for all the dirt and debris from the old wall base was one of the challenging parts of this job. In the end, I gave up trying to bag all the dirt/debris, and simply tossed it all into a large cardboard box. All the old wood at the base of the wall had basically decomposed into rich black topsoil, and now I have a 500lb box full of dirt that I can’t move, and that I’m still not sure how I’m going to get rid of.

Cutting away and clearing the entire base of the 28 foot long wall was one of the most nerve wracking moments of the entire reno, since basically the entire wall was now just “floating up in the air” supported by the angled bottom supports. To ease my mind a bit, I later installed some horizontal braces to ensure that none of the “legs” would pop free or move. The whole thing (while it looked really scary) was actually very solid.

Front corner.

This photo shows a cleaned-up section of the wall base. Here you can see the original “footing” a bit, which is just a concrete lip where the doubled 2x4 sat, followed by the wall. You can also see one or two rusty nails still in the concrete. On the outside, you can also see the edge of the asphalt that was added between the houses. This asphalt was up on top of the bottom siding boards, which is just absolutely stupid.

To properly illustrate this for you, and to show how I planned to fix this problem, here is a quick drawing done in MS Paint. You can see the old original construction and the plan for the new wall. This is not to scale. In the old drawing, the tongue and groove sheathing, tar paper and brick siding aren’t shown. The two bottom 2x4s are what’s completely rotted, along with the entire bottom board(s) of siding.

Here you can see the concrete forms going in place. They’re 2x8, so this gives me a new base that’s 7 1/2" higher than before, which will keep the base of the wall dry.

I also had to add a bit of a flat/straight “edge board” along the outside edge of the wall (footing), which was tricky to do. You can see it in this photo:

Mixing and pouring the concrete footing was the worst job I’ve ever done. It was 8 hours of sheer hell that I hope I never need to go through again.

Pierre had suggested that I rent a mixer, but I had no idea how I’d get it into the garage, since the door was blocked by roof support columns, and the side door was partially blocked by a giant pile of 2x4x10s and 28 bags of concrete mix. I also didn’t want to deal with a rental company, pick up and delivery, and the added costs (remember I don’t have a car, so I would need to arrange for them to transport it).

I decided to just do the mixing by hand. I had seen videos online and it looked pretty simple/easy. I bought a short garden shovel, and a heavy duty plastic storage bin, since I couldn’t find any places in town that sold concrete mixing tubs.

I would say that the first half dozen bags went fairly well, but after about 10, I was getting very tired and sore. The bags weigh 66lbs (30kg) each, but that wasn’t the worst part. What was really killing me was the mixing. It was very hard on my arms/wrists/hands.

I started at something like 1:30pm, and didn’t finish until nearly 9pm. I only took about two 10 minute breaks, because once you start, you can’t really stop since the concrete starts to set up in a few hours. In the end, I needed 26 1/2 bags to fill my new footing.

The next day or two were spent recovering.

The concrete was covered in leftover Styrofoam floor padding, and left to cure for several days. Once I felt that it was cured enough, I installed the base plates (pressure treated 2x4s over a special foam barrier). The base plate studs were anchored in place by foundation bolts that I had embedded into the concrete every 4 feet.

Once the base was installed, I transferred all the wall support braces one by one so that the weight of the old wall was now on the new base plate. This freed up leg (and ladder) space from all the braces.

The next part was to remove the top of the wall and install the double top plates.

More mess.

The footing had been planned out perfectly using a laser level, and the top plates were aligned to match up with the base. Instead of having the laser level on for very long periods of time, I moved over my previous twine guide wire to the exact spot I needed for the top plates. You can spot it in the photo below.

With both the top and bottom plates ready, some measurements were made, and the studs were cut and fitted. In the end, I was off by just about 1/2" at the back end, just on the last 4 feet of wall. I was also lucky that the old wall had studs every 24" and that nearly none of them lined up with the new stud locations.

The new supporting wall was now done, and all that was left was the removal of the existing wall, new siding, and fascia repairs.

Continue in Part 2.