Slow Renovation

May 21 2003

I started extending and renovating about 10 years back and I am still at it. To help me to motivate myself I am making this log of the "progress"

My wife is complaining about the drips off the porch roof making a noise as they hit the ground (no gutter). My solution of putting some soft bark on the ground did not hold water for long so I have started work.

The aim is to replace the fascia and fit new guttering across the front and tie it in with the old stuff on the side which will be replaced when......

Today's effort was to make a cutting jig for the fascia. The part the power saw slides in is made from hardwood floorboards and utilises their groove with the top edge removed. A few wedges were also made to hold the fascia. The length to be cut was measured with a long bit of steel bracing after placing a nail at one end to support it.

When cutting a piece of sacrificial timber was placed at the end to stop the break out splitting that occurred at the first try.

May 30 2003

Painted second coat to both fascia.

Cut guttering and fitted corners. (I know the length of fascia I hope )

Made a tool to hold one end of the fascia when I fit it.

Marked location of brackets on fascia.

Picture shows the small section of ridge capping with the fancy end made by the roofer. If you look at the first picture you can see how it slides under the roofing iron and makes a neat end. There was a electricity pole on the side of the house when the roof was done and the ridge capping was not finished. The pole was eliminated after the porch was added and now the gutter will be able to run around the corner and the down-pipe will be eliminated.

June 6

Getting the dryer off the wall to replace the belt was enough for my back for this week so I looked for something easy. I will eventually need 4 more of the curved trims to to match the front for the side of the window awnings so decided cut them out. I made these instead of buying them because they were $15 each, not made of cedar and the timber was about $28 for the total 8 required. Using a hand held power jig saw is not the way to go as with thick timber the cut on curves rarely remains on the line top and bottom. If the blade is not at right angles to the base it is obvious that when cutting a curve the underside cut will be on a different line to the top and about half an hour was spent adjusting the saw. When cutting it was still necessary to check and to swap sides frequently.

There is still a lot of work sanding, filling chips,priming,undercoating and painting these. I discovered that for this sort of job one of the new jell ball points makes a good marker.

June 17

Up went the fascia. I had to plane off the top in places because the new and thicker roof battens overhung where the fascia was to go but the old one had had the same treatment back in 1909. Being single handed I used the tool I made to hold one end. Some packing behind was required to keep the fascia straight. I am always needing bits of packing and will be on the lookout for some very thin 3mm ply to add to the 6 and 11 that I have a stock of. Because of the age and the possibility of splitting the ends of the hardwood rafters I fixed the fascia with 100 mm thin counter sunk head screws (chip-board type thread) after pre-drilling holes in the hard as iron wood.

July 25

Eves covered in.

August 7

3/4 round fitted now on to the other side.

August 18

The Fisher & Paykel fridge was the subject to a recall to prevent the door falling off and the man they sent out noticed that we had a Skyline metal garage about 25 years old like his and that he had needed to replace the gutter. So I checked mine and found a couple of patches that had rusted through and needed the tar and canvas treatment. It will be interesting to see how long this fix works for. While I was at it I painted the rusty parts that had formed where the dripping water had worn away the colourbond coating.

August 25

My old cement mixer has been out in the weather for 9 years. It was protected with a bucket over the motor and a tarp (just a few threads left). After renewing a few bolts and greasing it I turned it on and it blew the leakage safety switch. The leak was in the 3 pin plug, it had dangled down and filled with water. It is now ready to go and has found a home in the garden shed.

The thing is difficult to drag about as it tends to tilt and smash onto the switch. This happened once too often so I fitted a protection bail made from scrap steel.

September 3

Undercoated the Jarra (hardwood) architrave that will surround the windows. It is a shame to cover such timber but I want something that will last.

September 4

Designed picket fence and side gate.

September 13

Last 4 days were spent getting the fascia up and the eves covered. Getting the old fascia off was dangerous as you are up a ladder levering off long lengths of timber that can fall at any moment.

September 20

Guttering up and down pipe fitted just the 3/4 round and the last section of eves around the back to go.

September 25

All finished, now on to the side gate. For 25 years we did without a side gate but next door's dog is fixated on our yard and given half a chance she will inspect every inch for a hour and ignore any call to heal. The temporary gate made from scrap reinforcing mesh has lasted 9 years and would probably go another 10 but it is not a thing of beauty or is it? Update. The gate has found a new home nearby.

3 hinges of this style worked well.

October 3

Ordered fence and gate wood except for the plinth and cut the gate pickets using the same jig I had used for the fascia with the addition of a plank and a stop so it was not necessary to measure for each cut. To improve the smoothness of the cut I purchased a 40 tooth thin TC blade and it was worth it. Started on chamfering the ends of the pickets but was forced inside by rain.

October 6

All pickets chamfered and primed.

October 13

Gate up and only a coat of paint and some screws on the diagonals to go.

The method used was to fit the rails and braces across the gap, screw on the pickets, cross my fingers and cut the rails.

This guide was used to mark the screw holes. A mark was made on each picket where the top of the top rail was to go then the guide was used to mark the screw holes. After the picket was screwed on at the top the guide was placed so the ears rested on the bottom rail then the lower screw holes were marked. At the ends where I could not use the top of the bottom rail because of the diagonal I just turned the guide upside down.

I filed out a section at the top of the pad bolt frame that allows the bolt to slide when it is upright thus allowing the bolt to also be used to hold the gate open flat against the fence. Note also that the pad bolt frame overhangs the edge of the gate. I did this to help prevent the gate from swinging past the fully closed position which could rip it off the hinges. The other side of the gate has a bolt that slides into two plastic tubes rammed into the ground at the open and closed positions.


Paint defects

When I marked the pickets I stacked them up and ran a line across their sides then left them in the sun and they stuck together. The original primer was coated with an oil based primer undercoat then coated with PVA gloss (this process was recommended by the timber manufacturer). The oil based primer separated from the original primer.

The holes I drilled for hinge lag screws worked ok for the pine but were too small for the hardwood post and I broke the head off one. There is no neat way to recover from this mistake and from then on I used a bigger drill and grease on the screws.

The left hand side post extends below the wall and when the rails were cut in the middle the weight on the lower hinge caused the timber to bend and the gate to drop. It was fortunate that the post was located over the pier as I could fit a block between the pier and post thus fixing the problem.

6 months on and (no other work) 2 other mistakes have come to light. I had to shave back the edges to stop the gate binding. Next time I will leave 1 clear cm. The other problem is the gate rises and falls with the weather and the bolt will not slide home so I reshaped the strap from a "U" to a box.

October 21

Gate finished. I used a 1 1/2 inch brush and after doing one side with PVA paint the brush had dried paint coating the metal band and the upper 1 cm of the bristles. As I had stopped for lunch I cleaned it and then I wrapped a strip of plastic film around where the paint had dried (metal band and 1 cm of the bristles). When using it on the other side I noticed that some paint worked its way up the bristles and under the film but it did not dry and cleaning it was a snap.

October 24

Cut 78 pickets and prepared the fake window cill by rounding the front edge sloping the top and routing a drip grove under the front edge of some 75 x 45 treated pine. I had intended to use a more exotic timber for this job but it can easily be replaced if it cracks up. I also chamfered the rear face so that it would sit square on the sloping weather boards.

October 28

Cill fixing

Worked out how to fit the window sills without marking the front edge by slipping the top of some scrap blue aluminium plate up and under the bottom of the window frame and screwing the plate to the wall below the cill. I had thought about this problem for ages and like many problems I only found the answer when I was actually doing the job.

October 31

Set up a "factory" in the yard and chamfered the pickets with a router.

November 11 2003

Window trim finished. I should have made the sill a bit longer.

May 2005 Yes 18 months have passed.

The pickets have all been primed and painted and are hanging up in the shed.

old gas meterThe gas company replaces the gas meters every 15 years but when they did the new meter like most new things was smaller so it was left stuck up in the air. They damaged the old lead pipe and patched it up with a stickey bandage that kept springing leaks. You can just see the bubbles formed when it was brushed with a water and washing up detergent. As I want to shift it away from where the new fence will go I arranged with a local plumber to fix it onto a special meter bracket and to replace the lead pipe.

September 2009 Front picket fence.

The front fence has been there for at least 50 years. Some of the timber had rotted. The concrete posts have tilted and some had split where the bolts have rusted.


levering out a post

The first post to come out was the corner one and it was necessary for me to resort to a lever because of its weight. All the digging and effort was eliminated for the other posts when a couple of jacks were used.

Jacking out post

Pier showing morter

These  two 6000kJ jacks and a couple of mechanical ones from a car wreckers were bought when I needed to reconstruct the brick piers that supported the house. 

There must have been no cement at the time the piers were constructed and mortar was used which had turned to sand. There were 56 to do and I spent many nights under the house over about 6 months.

fence detail

Half finished. The plinth is H4 treated pine sleepers with a chamfered top edge running to near the ends.  The sleepers I had delivered were warped and bent but I will try to use them. The posts are H4 treated pine and were selected for straightness, even so I made sure the remaining bow faced outwards.

I started the second half but the gate post was bigger than the others and although it jacked out easily shifting it was a pain. Work is delayed until my back recovers.

The pickets were evenly spaced with the aid of an online calculator I wrote that produces a marking list. Paling spacing calculator

last of old ence

The old concrete posts went into the ground further than they stuck out but they still tilted over the years.

The wood had rotted in places but most still had strength and a good colour inside.


This guide was used with the saw for cutting the mortices and with the router for the decoration.
The "V" from the router and the cut from the saw made line up easy. Some allowance had to be made to get the face for the router level with the surface because the posts were not all perfectly square in section. A design for routing would be better if the guide was clamped flat to the surface being routed.

long view of house

20/9/09  Some top dressing is required on the right hand side. The calculator above would have been useful when I made the porch trim.

Things still to do


Front garden beds (start without permanent edging at first)

Front path.

Hard standing for car.

Cover in  below floor level around perimeter..

Fascia and guttering at rear. ( *see below)

Reclad the E wall. (* see below)

Fascia and guttering on E wall. (* 9/2012   Gave these jobs to a builder see below for lessons learnt)

The builder experience. Under construction