Whoa, this is exciting. This is the project I’ve been waiting for since the first-time-homeowner tax incentive was announced in February 2009, since I bought the house in May 2009, since I signed a contract for labor in April 2010, and since I received my credit in October 2010. It finally happened, 18-months after I moved in. My new house siding is UP, and I’m really psyched to show you the final outcome – surely you heard me squealing with glee all week.
I guess by now, you’ve probably seen the exterior of the house in my before/after’s, and from when we built the deck and took down the front shutters. The siding was a white (dirty) aluminum, and had probably been there since the 70’s, if not earlier. Over the decades, the homeowners before me have added (and removed) railings, porches, and strange light fixtures to the siding; they’ve not-so-gracefully slid their cars against it; they’ve painted it. What I’m saying is that it was in really (really, really) lousy condition (as was the roof, maybe a metal roof would be cool). I definitely didn’t buy the pretty house on the street, but I hoped to bring it up to par with some of the neighboring homes which had received new siding over the past few years.
As any home improvement professional or site would recommend, I picked a slew of people to talk to and quote with. I investigated many, and whittled the list down to quote with 4 people – an individual contractor who came recommended from a friend, and three local well-known siding companies. I challenged each party with quoting me the project a few different ways:
My #1 choice for siding was cedar shingles and boards – an effort that would have taken the house back to a more traditional state, like many homes I covet. Each company quoted way out of my price range for cedar (like, triple my budget, although that wasn’t a huge surprise). In the back of my mind, I worried that a siding choice that required more maintenance would also be a deterrent for future buyers. Just for kicks, this is the siding style that I would have most preferred:
I also asked the bidding contractors to consider and price my options #2 and #3, which in design, would have been like Option #1 (shingles and boards), but in different materials — cement fiberboard (like HardiePlank – so pretty, so reliable), or vinyl. Both were still out of my price range, although not as much so as cedar, and mostly because shingles in any material cost more to make and to install.
The fourth and final option quoted was basic vinyl siding. The prices of two companies were still within my price range (narrowing down the options!), so I asked for a final meeting with both company’s representatives to talk through the project, and see if one resonated with me more than the other. In the end, it ended up being an easy decision. Even though I conceded and went for the basic vinyl siding (no shingles), they upgraded the “corners” to be wider-than-normal, and selected wider boards (5″, instead of the more common 3.5″) for no extra cost. All of this happened in April 2010, as I (impatiently) awaited my first-time-homebuyer tax refund.
In May, my siding company called to say their wholesaler was raising their prices, and gave me the option of purchasing the siding in advance. They offered to do it on my behalf, although I only had 24 hours to make a color decision (!!… but I loved the heads-up and chance to save some money by buying before prices increased). Cody and I had a long night contemplating between 4 shades of gray. I decided on Victorian Gray (Ovation, by Mastic) because it felt like the best compliment to my very-light-gray roof… I didn’t want siding that was considerably darker than the roof was, because it just wasn’t a look I liked. In the end, it wasn’t a very difficult decision. Bonus, in the right sunlight (and especially beside my eggplant-colored doors), it’s got lavender undertones (sort of like my bedroom paint) so it doesn’t look like a cinderblock wall.
And then sat back and waited for my tax refund. And called the IRS… a lot. And waited. Nothing like waiting 40 weeks! Once it arrived (and after I broke down crying out of happiness), I called the siding company to schedule the construction! In 8 short weeks from that “go” date, the crew stood in my driveway ready to rock.
I took the whole week off from my 9-5 to observe, and learn, and make sure the job was going well. The boxes of materials (siding, insulation, and other goodies) were delivered to the driveway the morning the crew was due. Once they all arrived, the white siding became coming down… fast! Pete and I were interested to find that the original wooden siding was actually in really good condition (and it was a heart-wrenching decision to side over it again, when all it really needed was a good scrape and re-paint). We found some “treasures” (if you want to call them that), like a second milkman door, and old handwritten measurements. I like stepping back in time when I find details like that.
Two dumpsters landed in my driveway that morning too – one for trash, and the other for the aluminum (did I mention that I scored a generous discount on the project by requesting that they recycle the scrap?). Dumpster man crushed my neighbor’s evergreen shrub, the only casualty of the project, but I’m all over getting it replaced for the owner. In any case, the delivery of the dumpsters in my narrow street was fun to watch…
We learned fast that it’s hard to watch excitedly without making the crew feel like they’re being watched – seriously, we were just so excited to see how it all came together (DIY’ers at heart – always trying to glean knowledge from others)! Here are some of the pics of the demolition! Eeee!!
The crew had to take down the pergola (which fortunately was easy, since we had just used screws to install), so it sat in the back yard for a few days. This ended up being a good thing, because I still needed to do the weatherproofing on it, and it was completely within my reach the way it was positioned in the grass.
In the first 8-hour work day, we watched the crew remove all of the aluminum, and begin to install insulation foam to the walls. It was amazingly pass and felt SO GOOD to see the worn white siding gone!
I was so excited about day 2 that I could barely sleep. I woke up at the crack of dawn and drank coffee as the crew did their thing – all of the white corner pieces, and some of the siding actually began going up in the morning on the second day! Of course, I kept taking photos to document every step. There was a lot of old conduit piping installed on the old siding that didn’t have a purpose anymore – we found 3 pipes with live wire that went nowhere, so Pete cut off the electricity, and disconnected the wires altogether. The metal pipes were able to be sawzalled off too, and the crew was able to conceal an outside light wire under the new siding – very exciting, much less “excess” hung on the outside of my house now.
The crew uncovered the only “problem” on Day 2. The issue was that there were a few pieces of rotten boards in a corner of the house, and the side needed to be reinforced so that they could hammer insulation (and eventually siding) into it. They offered us a carpenter at an additional cost, but we were fortunately able to strip out the damaged area and replace the wall really well with some plywood that I had saved from a previous project. Resourceful!
We seized a major opportunity with dumpsters on-site. I cleaned the whole garage and basement, tossing out odds and ends that never made it to the curb (old blinds, broken storage containers, old deck posts with huge cement bases, among other things). We also helped Pete’s parents clean out part of their attic (once again, thankful to have a rough Jeep that can carry anything), so old pieces of scrap drywall, window panes, broken chairs, and mouse-lived-in fabrics made it into the dumpster too (I’m no hoarder, I throw out everything).
By the third day, siding was well-underway. More observation ensued, and since it happened to be a warm-ish day, we also decided to try and repair the wire that brought electricity to the garage – when we were disconnecting wires, Pete found that the garage power was only buried just below the soil, but not in any sort of reinforcing conduit, which I immediately imagined being sliced with a shovel blade. A quick trip to Home Depot allowed us gave us the tools we needed to disconnect the existing wire, flow it through a plastic pipe, and rebury the cord safely into the ground.
Day 4 was the first rainy day. The crew requested a shorter day, but still got the siding done on the whole back of the house and partially on the front. I love this progress. Oh, and I had thought Cody would bark or be scared by all of the nailing and shouting, but he did well, just missed naps as he walked around the house following the voices.
Day 5 was the final day! They were able to complete the hard-to-reach attic window, which naturally I was worried they had been forgetting about, and TA-DA, here are some final pictures! So pleased with the outcome, the crew also re-installed my exterior back deck light (although I bought a new, upgraded fixture for them to put up instead of the old, broken one). The pergola went back up, and the house has a whole new look. The shutters are not being reinstalled, but a new front porch, second pergola, and new storm doors will be installed in the next few weeks if the snow holds off. Check out the final results!