Home Repair

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Home Repair: Blow Me Down! Part Deux

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Well, sir, the neighbors cut up and carted away their runaway roof last night, and beneath it, the shattered remains of our storage shed. I was hoping that we got away with little damage, but no. BTW, the green chair in the foreground — it’s not ours, and it’s not the neighbors’. Hmmm.

Below, the damage to one of our trees, and a temporary solution for the busted mailbox.

Home Repair: Blow Me Down!

Monday, March 12th, 2012

So here I am, freshly back on the red-eye from a trip to California, trying to catch some sleep as dawn begins to light up the east, when the power goes out. The wind begins to blow. And then blow bigger. And bigger. And then, so suddenly that it sounds a collision between freight trains right outside my bedroom window, there’s this massive, shattering rumble and crash.

We stumble outside, and it’s dark and pouring rain and muddy, but there’s no missing this huge pile of debris in the side yard. A true OMG moment. We’re convinced that part of our roof has blown off. That’s my daughter Kate in the above image, moments later, just before we began frantically removing furniture from the room behind her. But then we realized that there was no way the roofing material could wind up on the other side of the palm tree. Indeed, the palm tree has prevented the debris from smashing against our house.

It’s our neighbor’s roof, blown off and deposited over the fence.

Out front, there’s a weird mass of twisted metal and vinyl. OMG gives way to WTF.

The above picture is neighbor kid Kaeo DePonte, who lives in the house in the background at left. The wreckage is a 12-foot trampoline that was in his yard, and it took off like a flying saucer — missing his fence entirely! — and flew across the street and impacted with our Norfolk pine. Note the broken branches in the yard. The pine tree, like the palm tree out back, prevented serious damage to our house.

I took the above two pictures with my iPhone and transmitted them to the newspaper’s City Desk, and they put them online, and they were widely reprinted around the world, because the notion of storm damage in Hawaii strikes editors as “news.” Whatever.

But what kind of storm was it?

Kate and I jumped in the car and began a street-by-street damage assessment, mapping the debris field, hoping to chart the progress. Pretty soon, a pattern emerged:

A large red dot is substantial damage, a smaller dot is lesser damage, no dots is no damage. This is only what we could see from the streets. It was clearly a path instead of general damage, so I suspected a tornado, although not a large one. The path is only a couple of houses wide.

The newspaper used our datapoints to create a generic storm-path map, but I think the above actually tells the story better. Whatevers.

Later on Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed that it was a tornado, beginning as a waterspout that slammed ashore in Lanikai, where damage was much more serious than in our neighborhood.

This morning, however, our steel-pipe mailbox post simply fell over, snapped at the base. Storm damage!

Home Repair: Let there be light … and fans

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The Freedom Rail has been installed, and the miles and miles of electrical work has all been hooked up and the breakers thrown. Suddenly, it’s getting civilized in there.

Home Repair: Getting Benched

Friday, January 27th, 2012

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Construction continues on the actual workbench area. I’m beginning to think it’s over-engineered. The supports are 4X4s lagged into the steel studs. But I wanted some knee room …

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Home Repair: Motioning That Table

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The time has come to construct a workbench to build stuff on. I’m using standard Formica countertops in a marble pattern, so my eyeballs will get a workout trying to find small parts — and naturally, the pattern I chose from Lowes, they decided never to restock again — and then I decided that the little lip shelf on the top needed to be deeper and more robust. The answer was to dado an edge from a treated 2X4, then glue it to the back of the countertop. Above, that’s what’s going on with all the clamps. (Look in the background and you might make out the pencil line on the wall that indicates the table height. I chose 29 inches. That unpainted portion of the wall is where the floor tiles were leaning while they were installed. That whole wall needs a second coat anyway.

The top edge of the countertop is protected by painters tape. After the glue dries and the clamps are removed, the slot between countertop and dado is filled with wood putty (love that ACE Hardware stuff) given a couple of days to dry and then rough-sanded level. Then, the entire top of the 2X4 is given a glaze of wood putty to cover any problems. When that dried, the whole thing was carefully sanded with an orbital sander until the blue paper tape appeared. That was the signal to stop sanding. Below, the tape is being pulled off to reveal the neat seam. Next step is to reapply tape and paint with primer, while the countertop supports are jimmied together and bolted to the wall studs.

And your eyes aren’t fooling you. The original tape was green, the second tape is blue.

Home Repair: Doors and trim

Monday, December 19th, 2011


I have a busted foot, and yes, it hurts. But the really annoying thing is that it’s keeping me off ladders. So the work this past couple of weeks has consisted of laying in materials for the final construction push, hanging doors, installing trim and baseboards and making a stab at grouting. Last night, doorknobs and deadbolts were installed and for the first time, the room is secure…

Home Repair: Doors!

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Looking kind of rough as I install doors, but the trim and primer, once finished, should tie it all together …

Home Repair: Fun With Tile

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

If you’re counting, yes, there are four different sizes and colors of tile here. That’s what happens when you’re using recycled and reclaimed ceramic tile — there’s never enough. So you might as well have fun with the various selection you do have. These are laid and awaiting charcoal-colored sanded grout. Then the wall edging will go in. I suppose I could blame the various sizes of tiles, as well as the surprising uneveness of the concrete slab, but the cold hard fact is, I shouldn’t give up my day job and become a tile mason. I’m terrible at it.

Home Repair: Time to Tile

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The walls have their coats of paint, and now attention turns to the floor. Laying tile is tedious and kind of zen, and you discover that commercial tiles really do vary slightly in size …

Home Repair: Molding

Friday, October 7th, 2011

… and the molding is going into place around the ceiling of the outside lanai. It’s looking very much like a porte cochere at a hotel, isn’t it?