We’ve done a lot of changes around here, but the garage was the first “room” that we officially can call finished! Here’s a look at it before we moved in:
The picture above is a picture taken from the MLS listing for our house. Probably 10 minutes prior to taking this picture, the major load bearing beam above the garage doors was painted orange. There is also a matching orange paint spill on the drive way (which we later power washed away). Anyhow, by the time we looked at the house the paint was already bubbling and peeling on the beam. Odd, right? Well, the beam was about 30% rotted- you could peel the paint off with your fingers and then start picking away the beam… with your fingers! We knew going into the purchase that it would have to be replaced.
Notice the style of garage door. That is the original style door from 1958- kind of like sliding barn doors. The thing was, they didn’t look great- they were veneered with the same fiber board siding that veneers our house. They were using the original rusty hardware- so only one door actually slid. We weren’t happy with the design- basically, you could only have one side of the garage open at a time. Our goal was to be able to park a car in the garage, and we knew that, given my driving skills, we needed a wider opening. That also meant that the vertical support beam in the middle of the garage had to go. Oh, and there wasn’t a garage door opener (I had to use my full body weight to manually open the one side that actually moved). In a perfect world, we would have kept the original door style, but to us it wasn’t practical, so we decided to put function ahead of form… which is probably sacrilege to Eichler enthusiasts.
On the interior there were even more issues. The elephant in the room was the moldy corner in the front right (when viewing from the street)- just next to the electrical panel. There was obviously a leak there (though not in the roof) that had been going on for quite a while. In the first week we lived here Andy tore out the moldy drywall which let the corner air out a bit.
The next issue we had with the garage was that there was a sliding glass door from the garage to the atrium:
Back when this was Mirabelle’s place, there was a bedroom in the garage which was entered through the atrium via a sliding glass door. We debated whether or not to remove it because we used it quite a bit, especially given the difficulty in entering/exiting through the garage doors. In the end, we decided to get rid of it because (a) our garage is ugly and seeing it from the interior of the house was not aesthetically pleasing and (b) the door wasn’t built to code which effectively weakened the house plus it was a little dangerous.
The final problem with the garage was its lack of organization- no work area, no storage area. For several months we just had piles of stuff everywhere. It really irritated me every time I saw it- like I was living the life of a hoarder.
So here’s the step by step of what we did:
First, we (and by we I mean Andy) removed the moldy drywall in the corner of the garage (sorry, I couldn’t find any before pictures… Let’s pause here to acknowledge the fact that we lost a LOT of pictures recently in a tragic computer incident) let me paint the picture with words: Holmes on Homes would have been appalled. Enough said. The next project was to remove some more drywall so that we (and by we I mean Andy and my brother in law Shawn) could do electrical work- both the main panel and sub panel are in the garage- so all electrical lines originate from the garage. Some of that electrical work was to enable some overhead shop lights which Andy hung.
Then came the big project: Replacing the beam. This step was so big and intimidating that we actually called in help in the form of Kevin Sullivan- an amazing contractor who knows everything about Eichler homes and has every tool known to man (and he’s a genuinely nice guy). The basic procedure was to remove the doors and the windows above the doors then to support the beams running perpendicular to the one we were replacing. Then, the to remove the problem beam. It was heavy.
I think it was at this point that it was discovered that the former mold-ridden area had serious rot, so the vertical posts (2×4’s and 4×4’s I think) got replaced. Once the old beam was out, the new beam went in. Because we were eliminating the center support, the new beam had to be steel reinforced. It was heavy, heavier than the original one. In the process of putting in and trying to level the new beam, Kevin realized that the roof line was not level because the right side of the garage was several inches lower than the left side. They ended up jacking up the right side of the garage by several inches to compensate. It was pretty crazy. Good thing Kevin was here- he wasn’t freaking out like I was.
Once the new beam was in, our plan was to just rehang the old doors and wait a little while (until our bank accounts replenished) to get a new garage door. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were planning to go to a BBQ at my boss’s boss’s house. We had an hour or so before the BBQ, so we sent Kevin home because we could handle putting the old garage doors up our selves. BOY WERE WE WRONG! At one point Andy and I were holding the 6’x6′ wood door and Andy had to let go but as soon as he did the door basically feel on me. Andy was screaming “let it fall, let it fall!” (actually, that wasn’t the last time he would scream that). At the end of the day we barely had the doors leaning against the garage and just started screwing random scraps of wood everywhere we could connect garage to door. We never made it to our BBQ. I think I got up in the middle of night to make sure nothing had crashed down. Needless to say, this accelerated our purchase of a new garage door.
We chose a roll-up door with four flat panels from RW garage door in Vallejo who also did the installation. It was reasonably affordable and had a much more modern look than the ones with raised panels- at least in our opinions. When we made the purchase over the phone, we were told that we would need a low profile opener which we bought, but the installers said that wasn’t necessarily true (although a traditional opener would have been more visible from the exterior through the windows). At first we were upset that we spent the extra money for the low profile one, but in the end we decided we liked it because it is SUPER quiet and unobtrusive. Right now the door is white- we are debating the color (Andy likes white, I want it to match the color of the house when we paint the house). We’re VERY happy with it.
To handle the interior organization issues, we built a work bench for Andy out of some 4×4’s and an old door we had. We insulated the interior facing wall and added peg board to the interior facing wall as well as around the work bench. I went wild buying peg board accessories and hooks- all from Sears (using my “shop your way rewards” points). It makes me really happy because it gives us organization. The wall opposite the work bench is lined with shelves from Costco ($300 for two sets spanning 12′ all together) which you can see to the left of the picture below:
The last project we tackled was removing the sliding door to the atrium- which was pretty easy. We even sold it for $70 on Craigslist. Once the slider was out we had a giant hole between the garage and the atrium:
Andy re-built the wall which required the re-running of some electrical wire:
Then we attached siding on the atrium side of the wall. The siding we chose is “Eichler Siding” that we bought from Jeff Nichols (another very nice guy and very pleasant to work with). He only had the rough finish in stock at the time- and since the rest of the atrium is a smooth finish, we had to use our palm sander to get it smooth:
Andy and I took turns sanding, which took a LONG time and gave me a tension headache as well as the motivation to upgrade my orbital sander to the RIGID R2600 which is amazing compared to the old Black & Decker “Mouse”. After sanding, we hung it and then primed it. According to some instructions on Jeff’s site, he strongly recommends priming the bottom and even some of the back- which is very difficult to do once it’s hung- so if I had to do it over, I would do the priming first. Oh, and this stuff LOVES primer- I think I used about a half gallon on this 6’x9′ section. Now it’s hung, trimmed, primed and almost ready for paint (I need to work a little wood putty magic to compensate for the fact that the installer-Andy- was just a beginner). It’s beautiful:
Here’s the garage side:
Here’s the whole garage today:
(Please pardon the dresser/night stand combo blocking the shelves- that’s another project for my RIGID R2600)
As you can see, there’s plenty of room to park a car and it’s relatively organized. I’m sure Martha Stewart’s garage is much neater, but compared to what it was like before, it’s heaven. Having a home for all of our stuff makes it much less daunting to start tackling a new project. Having an area of the house “finished” to our liking gives us hope that other areas could be finished some day too.