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rossfingal 12-08-2011 06:38 AM

"DIY" - a Story
This is a "DIY" forum?!?
So here's a "DIY" story.

Got out of college - had no real, clue what I was going to do.
Became a cab-driver/dispatcher/mechanic.
Got to know a fellow, cab-driver - we talked about things to do to make
some "real" money.
Back then, I was making some decent, money driving a cab.
Long hours - one time 54 hours straight - 12 driving, 12 dispatching,
12 driving, 12 dispatching - then driving until I hit 54 hrs.
I stopped at 54 hours because I was taking one of our steady customers
to the train station - fell asleep at a stop-sign -
She woke me up.
I told her how long I had been working - she said "go home"!
I went home!

Well, I was working at a "7-11", nights and my friend gets a hold of me.
He tells me he's got a friend who wants a house built.
I'm in! :)
A modest, "DIY", project - 4 bedrooms, 2 full-baths, attached garage,
full basement.
How hard can that be!?!
(Little did I know!)

I knew my way around tools - growing up, I helped my father on all
kinds of things.
Got some books - read them - got a grasp (sort of) of what was entailed.
(Sure I did!!!) :)
We're supposed to start it in July -
However, because of "juggling" money - we didn't start it until the middle
of September.
Anybody, that understands what's waiting after Sept., Chicago area -

The excavators come out - dig the hole and we take it from there.
The next up -
Fun and games with the forms for the footing!!! :)


rossfingal 12-08-2011 07:06 AM

So, we've got a "transit" and lines.
The "footprint" of the foundation fits "exactly", in the lot -
no "fudge"!
(We could have downsized the footprint - we're "Newbs" -
got to make it exactly, to the size of the blueprint!)
(Ha, ha ,ha!)
We do!
(By the way, our building inspector had found out that we were "Newbs" -
No slack!)

It's Sept. - it's raining (a lot)
We're not experienced with using sledge-hammers to drive stacks -
we break sledge-hammer handles (wood).
this is taking days.
Some kind soul who has been watching our efforts; stops by and
suggests that we cut down the length of the handles on the sledge-
hammers (he was a "Crete" person)
We do.
Things get better.
Since it's been raining we call for inspections for the footings -
3 or 4 times.
Now they're about 20 to 24 inches deep.
Think that's thick enough!!??
It's a Friday - we finally pass!!!
No rain in sight!!

Next up -
"The error of our ways"!!


rossfingal 12-08-2011 07:25 AM

So, it's Friday evening -
the person who we're building this house for is back from the West coast -
the three of us are sitting in the back-room of a shop that he owns.
We're celebrating - we're going to pour the footings Monday.
(We're using "Coors", at that time)
My partner and I realize -
We've put the forms for the footings in, 4 inches off!!!
"Gnashing of teeth", "pain and misfortune", etc...!
We could have gone out and moved the inside form, for the footings,
4 inches in.

We're "Newbs".
We go out Sat. morning and tear out, all the forms for the footings out.
We move them 4 inches in -
How long did that take?
Done Saturday!
(We learned something!)
We pour Monday.
(We sure got better with sledge-hammers!) :)
Practice makes perfect!!!

Break time!

rossfingal 12-08-2011 07:53 AM

We pour the footings.
No problems.
Let them sit for days.
We rent forms, for the walls.
We install the forms for the walls.
We debate - should we pour the basement floor, after we get the walls up? We don't.
We're on a limited budget -
We pour the walls - what an adventure!!
The walls are fine - everything passes.

While we're waiting for the walls to set up-
we're looking at lumber prices for the framing -
Lumber is expensive!
My friend, somehow finds out that lumber prices in Memphis, Tenn. are
way, lower then they are around the Chicago, area.
I mean WAY, lower!!!
We come up with a plan!
We'll go down to Memphis, rent a truck, buy the framing materials,
drive the truck back - save Hundreds!!!
(Very limited budget!)
We proceed to operate on our plan!

(Happy Hollydays!)


(Man, you don't have to use spelling all the time - you get bad!) :)

rossfingal 12-08-2011 08:44 AM

The plan is - we'll take a Grey Hound bus to Memphis.
We're at the Grey Hound bus terminal, in Chicago - we buy tickets.
We're hanging around, waiting and we see who our fellow passengers
are going to be.
For whatever, reason - they're going to be "Partying", on the way down.
We're going to need sleep!
We "nix" the Grey Hound, and decide to fly.
A cab to Midway Airport -
Off we fly!
Takes very, little time.
We acquire, ground transportation and a motel room.
Good to go!

We've brought along a 2500 hundred dollar cashier's, check from a bank
in Aurora.
(Payed with cash! - think it's good?!)
We thought so!
Take it to large bank in Memphis, and buy a cashier's check - written on
a local bank.
They honor it (after phone calls!) :)
Time to hunt for lumber!
We find a place - this stuff is CHEAP!!!
Now, to cash the cashier's check.
We take our check to a branch of the bank that it's written on -
Guess what?!?
They won't cash it!!!!
(We payed with cash for that cashier's check!)

We go to another bank - they run it through - call up the bank that it's
written on in Aurora, Ill. -
No problem!!!
We get the cash!
We rent a truck and buy lumber.

We can't get the whole framing package in (weight restrictions) for a 16',
We get the 2X10, floor joists, 2X6 ceiling joists and some of the 2X8,
That's it.
Back to Aurora.
The trip back was uneventful.

What did we save? -
Air-fare, motel, truck rental = Hundreds!!
Lots!! :)

Next - framing fun!!!


rossfingal 12-08-2011 09:30 AM

We're back in Aurora - time to instigate the framing.
We don't have power at the job-site - so we're going to put the deck on
with a hand-saw.
What fun!!!
2X10, floor-joists are very (how you say your language?) -
Very, hard!
Eventually, we get a temporary, service entry and I get a Cratfsman, 7/14"
power saw.
We're "Newbs" - comedy of errors takes place! :)

Over time, (long time) we've got it framed - the roof is shingled - time to
pour the basement floor.
When we poured the footings and the walls - there's a vacant lot next door - we got permission from one of the owners to bring the concrete trucks on that property.
That made it a lot easier!
Things had changed - the other owner (Her brother) didn't like us!
We can not bring trucks on to that vacant lot!
(It's still vacant!)

So, we leave a hole in the floor, inside the front door, we're going to pour
the basement floor through that hole.
50 ft. back, 25 ft. wide.
Simple pour -
Ha, ha, ha!!!
Guess again!!!

Break time!
(Like you cared!) :)


rossfingal 12-08-2011 10:40 AM

An aside to this story.
I mentioned the people who owned the vacant lot next door to ours.
After we had poured the footings and the walls - we were not "welcome"
on their property.
We had to bring in a lot of gravel/bank-run to get the basement floor to the level it needed to be.
Bombers and a "Bobcat".

Had the "Bobcat' against the foundation wall - the starter "pukes" out.
Right next to our "friendly neighbor".
Call the place we rented it from - they'll send someone out to take care of it.
As it turns out, our "friendly", neighbor" owns a "back-hoe".
He comes out and digs holes on his property right behind the "Bobcat".
He buries sections of telephone poles, right behind the "Bobcat"!
It's trapped!!! :)
HA, HA, HA!! - what a "cretin"!!
(If, we would have known he had a "back-hoe" - we would have payed him
to get the gravel into the foundation!)

It's fixed - I get in it, start it up, turn it on a "dime".
It's out of there!

The parts of the telephone poles, sat buried in the ground for years!
Used to have pictures.

Happy Holidays!


rossfingal 12-08-2011 01:14 PM

I got diverted to another thread -
Some "Dam" stuff was being discussed -
"Dam" stuff and "beavers" - these are a few of my favorite things!
("When the dog stings, when the bee bites, etc..!)

Back soon -
(Don't hold your breath - "Dam" it!)
(I'm standing up for the rights of beavers, everywhere!)

rossfingal 12-08-2011 02:14 PM

Time to pour the basement floor (crete).
The only place we could pour through was a hole in the first, floor -
we've got a "shoot" - 20 ft. long - we've got to get the concrete back,
50 ft.
We have two people to help us.
It's no fun at all!!
We get it poured, struck off - it's "rough"!
We've rented a "Power-Trowel" - we let it "set-up" to the point that we
can bring that machine in - no problems.
The "Power-Trowel" won't start.
(Yeah, it was tuned up the day before - sure, OK!)
We're up "against" the wall here - we have to hit it by hand - multiple passes; 4 to 5 passes, each of us.
We get it "some-what" smooth - as smooth as we're going to get it;
at this point.
It has problems

Break time!


rossfingal 12-09-2011 08:23 AM

Well, back to "Ross and Lonny's Excellent Adventure"!!

Did I say "problems" with the floor?
Grinders! - What fun!!! :)

This whole escapade, was one long, comedy of errors!
With us, as the object of the joke!
Ha, ha, ha!! (I can laugh now!) :)
It's funny how inexperienced, rookie, mistakes; can turn things that
should be simple, into "Oh Shot!!) :)

Luckily, most of our mistakes were not major -
It's just that, there were so many "little" ones!
I wouldn't go into more of them (too many!) - our "fun" with the concrete,
should be a good indication!! :)
Like I mentioned before - our Building Inspector was "on to us"!
We did it right - or else!!
We were unhappy with him while it was going on -
Later, we realized - we got a good, free, education!
(Bless his soul, where-ever he is!!!) :)
I had the equivalent of 5 1/2 years in college (into "grad" level) -
I learned more in that year (Yeah, it took the 2 of us a year) -
Then on did in 5 1/2 years of college!! :)

I think I'll add one more typical example, of what a "DIY'er" can do.
We finally get the drywall taped (instead of switching to "Topping",
compound after the first 2 coats - we just kept going with "Taping",
compound - "Sanding R Us"!!)
Time to paint.
Simple right??
We get a 5 gal. bucket of drywall primer/sealer and away we go!
2 coats, and the tape-joints/nails are still showing through.
More coats of paint - more 5 gal. buckets of primer/sealer.
I don't remember how many coats of paint we put on; or, how many
buckets of primer we went through - lots!
(Somewhere in the area of 3 to 5, 5 gal. buckets!)
Finally, everything is covered!
The unintended, benefit of all those coats of paint was -
plastic-coated walls!
They were REALLY sealed!
The heating bills during some rather, "nasty" winters; back then,
were miniscule!!

"Cig" break!


rossfingal 12-09-2011 08:58 AM

So - it took the 2 of us a year, to complete this "little", "DIY" project.
What fun?!? :)
I think I'll throw in a learning, experience concerning concrete.
If you're going to spend a lot of time finishing "crete" -
Keep it off your hands!!!
Got home very early in the morning - the day after we started to pour
the floor (Yeah, we were down there for a LONG time!).
Went to wash my hands - YOWWW!!! -
major pain!!
The "crete" had eaten holes through the tips of my fingers!!
All of them!!
Ouch, ouch, ouch!!! :)
Side note:
When we poured the garage floor - "Cake-Walk"!! -
We had learned!!! :)

Well, we passed the Final inspection - got the Occupancy permit.
Another happy ending!!! :)

Back in a few!
(With the "moral" of the story!) :)

Happy Holidays!


rossfingal 12-09-2011 09:35 AM

The "moral" of the story.
Most of us were "DIY'ers" - at some point.
(I wasn't born with a hammer, tape measure, "Saw-Z-All", tool pouch, etc...)
(I've seen them on "TV", though!!! :)
I sure wish this place was around, back then!!! :)
Ain't the "Internet" wonderful!!! :)

Thanks people!!!

Our next "DIY" project was simple!
We'll take the roof off of a house, and put a second story on!!
(Same Building Inspector!)
Second story on, roofed, windows in, insulated, stairs built, electric in -
3 to 4 weeks.

The lesson to be learned here?
Your Saw-Z-All and your sledge-hammer are your friends!!!! :)
(If you have to - get a bigger hammer!)
(One of my "nick-names" was "El Destructo"!!) :)
"You can't make an omelet, without breaking eggs"!!!
Bye for now!!
(I might be back!!)

Happy Holidays!


BigJim 12-09-2011 09:56 AM


Originally Posted by rossfingal (Post 789042)
I got diverted to another thread -
Some "Dam" stuff was being discussed -
"Dam" stuff and "beavers" - these are a few of my favorite things!
("When the dog stings, when the bee bites, etc..!)

Back soon -
(Don't hold your breath - "Dam" it!)
(I'm standing up for the rights of beavers, everywhere!)

Now that is funny right there.:laughing:

That was a good story Ross, I can identify with a lot of it. Now for the concrete thing, I also found out the hard way about that stuff.

I was pouring a footing with one helper, the temps had gotten up to 36 and rising. We were raking the concrete around, because the truck could get to only one spot to pour. Were were busy raking the crete and wasn't paying attention to the truck. He dump the whole load before we could get back around there.

We had almost waist deep concrete in one spot when it should have been 8 inches. We couldn't rake it fast enough, so I jumped in the crete and walked it around. I had cowboy boots on, not rubber boots. When I got through, the concrete had set up on my genes and long johns. I just cut the legs off and threw them away. I knew my legs were burning but didn't pay much attention.

When I cut the legs off and got the boots off my legs were bleeding from my knees down. I had calcium added to the concrete because it was so cold, between the concrete, calcium and constant rubbing of the sand in the concrete it laid me up for about a month, talk about sick. To this day, I have no hair on my legs where the concrete ate me up. This was way back when I was really stupid.

rossfingal 12-09-2011 10:43 AM

I was NEVER really stupid!!! (What!)
Just ignorant, young, and stupid!!
Of all the "unmitigated, gall"!
Casting aspersions, around like that -the insinuations!!

"No hair on your legs"??
Maybe you should look into a dipillatory, product for women who don't
like shaving their legs!!
I can see it (late night TV) -
jiju1943's guaranteed solution for unwanted, leg-hair!
One application - it works forever!
(Need an agent??!!) :)

Yeah, that "crete" stuff, sure can be nasty!!


(Maybe it should be "Dr." jiju1943?!)

BigJim 12-09-2011 11:26 AM


Originally Posted by rossfingal (Post 789744)
I was NEVER really stupid!!! (What!)
Just ignorant, young, and stupid!!
Of all the "unmitigated, gall"!
Casting aspersions, around like that -the insinuations!!

"No hair on your legs"??
Maybe you should look into a dipillatory, product for women who don't
like shaving their legs!!
I can see it (late night TV) -
jiju1943's guaranteed solution for unwanted, leg-hair!
One application - it works forever!
(Need an agent??!!) :)

Yeah, that "crete" stuff, sure can be nasty!!


(Maybe it should be "Dr." jiju1943?!)

I can't speak for you being stupid but I sure was:), well I was ignorant also and young.

Just sign me Dr Jimbo

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