How to lath your house…

On November 5th we passed pre-wrap and that night Mike and I boarded a plane to the Dominican Republic. For an entire week neither of us thought about our house. It was heaven.

Well, mostly.

Funny thing is, even when we are on vacation we can’t escape a diy project.

That’s Mike fishing my wedding band from the bathroom sink we dismantled, then put back in place. So gross.

We booked this trip back in February, way before we began this crazy path to self destruction addition.  I’m glad we did, because neither one of us would have planned this trip after we started our project. It felt soooo good to sleep in a bed where I didn’t have to duck and climb over Mike to go to the bathroom. The uninterrupted shower was nice too. But by the end of the week I was really ready to go home. I missed cuddle time with the girls and I missed our trailer. For reals. I missed our home.

We weren’t very surprised when we got home and not a single thing was done. Deep down I was hoping some magical fairy would come and finish our house…or my dad would drop in and lath it. Not so much.

I once worked on an Extreme Home Makeover, it’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished in a week with unlimited resources and funds.

So not our story.

One week of doing absolutely nothing makes it really hard to go all out on the house. I felt like a VW bus at the end of Sunday fun day trudging up a steep hill back home. Friday and Saturday, our friend came by and helped Mike finish our rough plumbing. My dad came out on Saturday and Sunday and directed a couple of loaner lather. Yes, The Captain did make an appearance.

By Sunday night our house was looking more and more complete. And what did I do you ask? Not much. I thought about nailing in all the truss clips that needed to be nailed in, but that was as far as I got with that assignment. In-fact, I’m pretty sure the girls did more construction this past week than I did.

Like the house they built for their “pet” beetle?

I made a solid attempt at plumbing some pex/shark bite connections. That crimping tool is really hard. I look pretty ridiculous trying to crimp those rings. I wouldn’t let Mike take a pic – no one wants to see my poop face.

I made no less than three hundred trips to Home Depot. The great news is: while at Home Depot I ran into our inspector (doing some project of his own – apparently he too suffers from the same disorder as we do) and he said we could call for lath inspection before combo as long as the drywall was loaded in the structure! “Ok,” you say, “so what’s the big deal, I don’t even care what lath is?” That means that we can put up the siding and trim on the front of the house. That means I will finally have a job again. The trim job is my job.

What lath actually looks like – a big black and silver Christmas present:

The back views:

The front:

The front is going to have lap siding, so we will just be putting paper on it, The Captain is coming out this weekend to help us.

Interior before and after lath:
lath6_second_story_addition  lath5_second_story_addition

Lath is the first stage of stuccoing a house. It starts with a wire that is strung in a zig zag pattern along exterior studs that do not have shear wall for the paper to back up to. Then, paper is applied over the wire or shear wall with staples. This paper has to be a specific poundage based on the job’s unique needs. Next can either be more wire or sometimes foam and then wire. We chose the to go the OG route and have paper and then mesh wire. There is even paper with wire attached already this is called Grade D. Did I lose you yet? I’m boring myself…


So how exactly do you lath a house? Well, I’ll tell you how I do it. I call my dad and a couple of local lathers who all get together and do it for me. If you are really good at wrapping really big presents, you may be able to lath a house. However, IMHO, and as the daughter of a plastering contractor, have a pro do your lath/stucco job. This is the outside of your house and the most exposed part of it. It should be done right by someone who has done thousands, and in my dad’s case hundreds of thousands of jobs. Aside from paper poundage there are special pieces of metal such as L metal, J metal, rib lath and corner-aid that all have specific spots they need to go – and that is just the lath part…don’t even get me going on the plaster. Remember how I said in construction sometimes you just get lucky? Having the right connections is part of that, I’m just lucky The Captain is my dad.

The key to any diy job –  particularly one as large as ours, isn’t so much doing everything absolutely all by yourself, it’s using everything you have at your disposal to get the job done…whether it’s as small as a text to your close friend the electrician for advice or a drop in by your friend the plumber who works for pizza and beer and the occasional trip to La Cocina. It takes an incredible amount of trust in the people around you that they will help you out and a great deal of knowledge that the job is getting done right. Do I have all that knowledge? No, but I’ve got a pretty awesome husband and google.

Up Went the Roof and Down Came the Rain!

Mike and I couldn’t be happier that we subbed out the roof. After spending several days on the roof tearing it all off in the searing July summer sun this was one job I was not looking forward to. For one, the new roof is 10 feet higher than the old roof and two, it’s absolutely miserable work (and I might have a slight fear of heights).

However, watching professionals do it, who do it every day for a living, was one of our best days. We were able to sit back and enjoy someone else working on our house. It made us wish we had a bigger budget because this whole addition thing would be soooo much nicer if we were just casual observers rather than hands on lunatics. I can’t count how many times Mike and I looked at eachother and said, “I wish we could just pay someone else to come and finish this whole thing.”


But we can’t. We promised eachother and ourselves we would stick as close to our budget as possible and at the rate we are going we are dangerously close to only going over a little bit – and to be honest our rough estimates were ridiculously low (we knew this though so we were mentally prepared to go over).

Things we didn’t budget for that we are glad we splurged on:
1. Upgrading our existing HVAC with new ducting and an entirely new system that matches our new one for the second story
2. Bit the bullet and went with a tankless water heater because of venting issues
3. Replaced the retrofit window in the girl’s old bedroom because it leaked
4. Pulled off all of the stucco on the south/west wall (thanks dad there you go “selling” your product)
5. Re-wiring/plumbing the old house to be more cohesive with the new

Things we have re-used:
1. The beam over the old porch was reused for the beam that goes across the new porch
2. The insulation in the garage attic and walls were re-used for the garage walls and by the ac wall
3. All the old trusses were cut up and the wood was re-used for fire blocking throughout the house and to build the pony wall in our shower and a few soffits around the house.
4. The old bathroom air vents
5. Most of the old copper lines
6. Some of the old electrical wire we pulled out was able to be re-run  and the electrical boxes for lights and switches and outlets were able to be re-used
7. Our front door
8. A few of the recessed lights we had to remove during demo will be re-used

Things we saved by buying on discount or on Craigslist:
1. Recessed lighting 20 can lights for $80. #winning
2. Bathroom vent/light normally $100 bought it for $20
3. Friend who sells Milgard $1200 for windows
4. Bro-deal on the roof: 2k for labor + materials
5. Tempered glass for our shower: $200
6. Pedestal sink for Jack and Jill bath: $40
7. Bath-tub in the J & J bath from a ding/dent store: $75
8. Home Depot sale on American Standard: Master Bath bath tub: $470
9. Loads of stuff from OSH on clearance because it was going out of business: 30-50% off cost.
10. Lots of friends who work for free (or at a loss when they have to go to the ER and get stitches)

Things we plan on doing ourselves still:
1. Finish plumbing
2. Finish electrical
3. Drywall (although we plan on paying someone to tape and texture it)
4. Building our own vanities for the Master Bath and the downstairs old Master (maybe Evie’s room – the jury’s still out on if we are letting her have the downstairs room)
5. Re-running the HVAC and installing the new HVAC
6. Tiling/flooring
7. All the trim/millwork/stairs and railing
8. Exterior finish work: siding/trim
9. Decking on balcony and railing
10. Re-landscape the front yard

That list is a little overwhelming. But, I think we can do it.

And now for a round of picture updates!

Before the roof went on Mike and I had to finish “boxing in the the eaves”. These 2×4’s give us something to adhere the lath to for stuccoing our eaves, they are 2′ OC. They went up pretty easily but took a couple of days to complete. The gable ends were the toughest. And no, we didn’t pound them into place with a hammer, Mike was just putting the 2x in the right spot, we used a nail gun.

Before the roof Mike and I finished putting in all the windows and doors, it felt soooo good to use my key again!

The roof going on. The delivery was $35 and this included them loading it onto the roof. Totally worth it.

Papering the whole roof:

The transition between the old roof line and the second story wall. This is called a “cricket”. Mike built it with 3/4″ OSB, then the roofer papered and torched it then covered it with custom flashing. Because of our roof shape, a lot of water can pool here during rain, so Mike built this to slope away from the wall and roof to prevent the water from pooling and destroying our wall/roof.roof1_second_story_addition

Up close view of all the vents we had to put through the roof before the roofers could come:

The finished roof, almost ready for pre-wrap this Tuesday!

Before our pre-wrap inspection, anything that is going through the exterior walls has to be in the walls like the AC lines:

Climbing to the second floor is so much easier now that we have temporary treads in:

And just as the roofers finished up it started to rain. I’m happy to say the roof worked, there were no leaks!

Getting Ready for Pre-wrap Inspection

Getting Ready for Pre-wrap Inspection

The pre-wrap inspection is coming up and we are scrambling around trying to get ready for it, because once it’s done we can seal the outside of our house and get it rain/hail/snow/apocalypse ready. That’s important because last week we had a little scare. I had to go off for work and Mike was just getting home from work and the weather report said rain, and the clouds in the sky said rain and wouldn’t you guess it, the freaking rain coming down said rain…and ironically the day before was sunny and the day after was sunny but for freak’s sake today was rainy.

We also had an inspection we weren’t 100% ready for.

I kissed Mike goodbye and wished I could stay and help…I even posted on Facebook asking people to come give him a hand (it got two likes but no comments…). And Mike put tarps and the leftover 10 mil visqueen from our slab (guess we aren’t selling the leftovers on CL) over the entire roof – in the rain. He said the rains stopped just as he finished. Nice. I wish I could show you pictures but apparently Mike wasn’t able to take any.

For the most part everything looks ok, I can’t see any rain damage. But it did remind us of how close we are to rainy weather and how far we are from being ready to weather it.

This past weekend my dad came out and helped us put in a few windows and an old friend helped Mike do some plumbing. Monday, while Mike was at work and before I picked the kids up from school I finished putting in the “fill” pieces of OSB around the rest of the windows and exterior doors. On Tuesday we finished putting in all the windows and the balcony door. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we finished putting most of the vents through the roof and boxing in most of the eaves. And while I was at work Friday afternoon Mike rebuilt the roof on our patio that we had to demo to add the second floor trusses.

The roofer is coming on Tuesday to paper the roofs. Oh, did I mention we are using one of our 3 get out of jail cards for a roofer? Yes we are. The roof is something that we could do ourselves. However, it isn’t that much more to just hire it out and with the scare earlier it didn’t take much convincing to tell M he needed to get someone else to help. Coincidentally, our neighbors up the street had gotten some wind damage from the Santa Ana winds last week (again, another reason why we want this thing sealed) and the roofer dropped his card off. M (I swear, he knows everyone in Awesometown), knew him and we got the bro deal.

And that is basically where we are at.

The list of things we need to do before our inspection:
2 or 3 more bathroom vents
1 more furnace vent
The electrical outlets/light fixtures for the exterior walls/soffit (balcony light, porch lights, garage lights and flood light on the side yard by the trailer)
Boxing in the eaves on the old gable and back gable
Install the front door
Plumb the hose bib to the balcony
Knock down 6″ of plaster from the old wall on the side yard leaving the lath and paper
Something else I forgot.

Not too shabby. I’m thinking that list could be knocked out in under 2 days.

Sorry about the lack of pics, maybe later I will only post pictures.

Trailer Trash

It’s been about sixty-seven days, sixteen hours, twelve minutes and fifty-seven seconds that we’ve been living in the trailer. But who’s counting? And for as many people who ask me how the build is going, just as many people ask me about living in the trailer.

I didn’t realize people would care so much.

I usually just shrug and say, “It’s fine.” I’m not really sure what I should tell them.

‘Cuz that’s just how it is, it’s fine.

It isn’t mind blowing, life changing, or fantastic. I’m not fulfilling some life long desire to live in a camper and explore the world. I’m sharing 220 s.f. of living space with my two Labradors, two daughters, my husband and our beta fish Pepper parked in our side yard.

It’s just fine.

I’m not dying. I’m sure others have had it worse. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking this post is a complaint. Because living in the trailer is just “fine”. (Who am I trying to convince anyways?)


“It’s fine” is comprised of many “just deal with it” sort of living conditions. We share a community laundry basket. I don’t really have anywhere to put our clothes. The clothes we dirty go in an old hamper liner until it’s overflowing and I have to make a trip to the laundromat, while at the same time we deplete the laundry basket of the clean, folded clothes from the last trip to the laundromat. It’s a fine line between chaos and utter chaos.

Next I store fruit in a bucket on top of some other stuff that’s in there just for camping trips. I’m not sure what’s in the bucket under the fruit, but I try not to think about it, because I’m over caring.

We are currently having issues with ants. I’m not sure where they are coming from, where they are going, or what they are after. Every day it changes, sometimes it’s the sugar, sometimes it’s the bread, and sometimes they are just after the water in our toilet (yes, we have a toilet). But the one constant: every single day they are there. As if sharing the trailer with three other people, two dogs and a fish isn’t enough, I have to share it with three million ants, eighty flies and a couple of lizards too. The beauty is I can kill most of those things.

Another question people ask is if we are still able to shower/bathe/cook/poop whatever in the house. In a one word answer, “No”. We haven’t had water or gas in the house for sixty-seven days, sixteen hours, twenty-four minutes and forty-eight seconds. I make due cooking in my “highly efficiently designed” trailer kitchen – mostly crockpot and microwave dinners. I haven’t used the oven since I set the trailer on fire. As for the shower – well, I sit in the half bath (the bath is literally half the size of a regular bath tub) and clean up that way. The water heater is a 6-gallon tank. By the time I get the water temp just right (somewhere between scalding hot and freezing cold) the hot water runs out. The girls take a bath. And Mike…I’m not convinced he showers at all.

In the very early days of living in the trailer we had not diverted the house water into the trailer line. We had just filled the water tank on the trailer with a hose and shut the water off to our house. Mike went away to work and I was left with the girls and a quickly depleted water supply. Suffice it to say, by the time Mike came home (two days later) the girls and I had all enjoyed showers with pure, filtered bottle water from the “mountains and springs” of Arrowhead. My hair never looked so good.

Most days I feel like I live in a luxury portable toilet. So, I spend a lot of time working on the house. Living in the trailer pushes us every day to get the house closer to completion because, just “fine” sucks.

Just in case you’re curious, here’s some pics (maybe this will get you over to my house in sympathy)

I title this next picture: Lost All Shame

Our “Media Center”:


The rest of the kitchen (‘cuz you know…it’s so big it wouldn’t fit in one pic…):

Tons of storage:

P.s. If you’re wondering what’s going on in the house, don’t worry, it looks amazing. We are just re-running all of the old plumbing, gas and electrical we had to remove from the first floor when we were demoing everything. It’s like slow rewinding our demo days. 🙂 Next time you ask me about living in a trailer, relate it to something you saw on my blog, such as, “How’s taking a shower sitting down these days?” Or, “Ever figure out what’s in that bucket under the fruit?”

P.p.s. That orange bucket under the ice maker in the last pic, that’s my “fruit bucket”.