My name is David Lee. I am here to host discussions and answer questions about your building needs. I will try to help you with solutions to building care and repair problems. I have about forty years of experience building, repairing, maintaining and inspecting all kinds of structures. I don’t know everything but I will help you or point you in the right direction.
I want this to be more than a fix-it blog. Alternative means different, varied, innovative, modified, diverse or another choice. I got into the building trade primarily because I wanted some special amenities not available in existing houses. Some were prohibitively expensive to have done by contractors. Others irritated code enforcers or were insubordinate to neighborhood “protective covenants”.
I left a good paying job in the city, moved to the country, got a not so good paying job and began building my alternative home. Then I sold it, quit my job, built another house, and another. It became a way of life. I have been self-employed, and purposely ‘self-unemployed’ when I wanted to be, ever since.
Along the way I have discovered new ways to build, repair and upgrade homes and their systems. I hope to generate discussions with those of you who want to share better, more efficient, less commercial, owner-inspired, owner-controlled home building ideas. You might not make a career of Alternative Building but there are many money making alternative small businesses possible in this field. Or this blog may simply help you make your home more comfortable. If you are reading Backwoods Home Magazine or keeping up with the website you are already participating in an alternative lifestyle. Your home is an important part of that lifestyle. Let’s talk about it.
Now for the first building tip. Bob and Dianna are parging a cinder block wall and want to add color to it. Check the BHM website and find the article about this exact subject by Bill Leonard. He does not mention color additives but you can buy them at a masonry supply store by the pound. Add them to your mortar/sand/water mix while still following Bill’s advice about getting the consistency right. Add a little more than you think you need because the color fades some after the cure. That is one way.
Here is another. I once colored a poured concrete floor by sprinkling the coloring material (actually, it’s chalk) on the uncured concrete and troweling it until I got the look I wanted. This method used much less coloring material than would be needed if adding it to the whole mix, plus it gave a stronger finished color. This method may also work on uncured parged surfaces. Do a small batch to test each method before committing to the whole job. Let me know how it works, either way.
LW Thompson in Dothan, AL has a sinking floor. I suspect the concrete posts or piers have settled, causing your problems. There could be other issues but let’s address this one now. The posts may still be useful. Find a worker with a small butt. Send the worker under there with at least two jacks (hydraulic or mechanical), some blocking pieces (preferably hardwood), a good flashlight and maybe a tetanus shot. Set the jacks under the girder 6′ to 8′ apart on pads large enough to spread the pressure. SLOWLY and evenly, jack the girder up. In fact it is best to spread the jacking time over several days. It did not sag quickly and should not be returned to level too fast. That could cause other damage.
Bring the floor to just a little bit above level. Now fill the spaces between the top of the posts and the girder with blocking and let the girder back down. This fix should last quite awhile, won’t cost much and can be redone if the posts continue to sink.
I am sure the local government will take your money and issue you a permit if you go there. The contractor probably has to get a permit because he is working on a customer’s property. But, as the owner, you have the right to do your own work. If there are other factors involved get back to me.