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Best friend's house burned on Easter

Help Support House Repair Talk:

jmr106

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It may seem strange, but I'd probably look into some kind of online fundraising for the family, such as GoFundMe. You'd be surprised at how much people will help out. I've seen people raise $30K+ when they lost their house.
 

zannej

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JMR, my friend has a gofundme. It's been shared numerous times but he hasn't even raised $200 from it. People are more likely to donate to someone to get veterinary care for a cute dog or cat. Or give money to a cute girl who wants a new laptop or to go on vacation or something.

I don't know if I'm allowed to post the gofundme link here.

Anyway, the 6-year-old is getting worse in his behavior. The school had to call his grandfather (because the mother couldn't be reached at work). Kid was stealing stuff, talking back to the teachers, screaming, and generally being such a pain that they felt the need to call in a parent or guardian. But then, this is the same school system where the principal once called my father in over an "urgent matter" because my brother drew a picture of a hand with a middle finger extended and threw it in the trash. Another kid dug it out of the trash, they photocopied it, and called my father down from work as if my brother had done something really heinous.

Kid is going to see a counselor tomorrow.

Even though the electrician hooked everything up, the power hasn't been turned on yet because they said the inspector needs to come look at it first. My friend has been waiting for days for the inspector to show and they won't even give him an ETA or return his calls.

I brought over some power tools and helped my friend repair a hole in the floor. I couldn't help much physically, but I handed him tools and gave him some suggestions to help (like using a block against the plywood to help tap it into place to not damage the plywood) and held some stuff up while he secured it. Then I picked up food for him and his girlfriend and drove the girlfriend to work.

I did notice a plumbing problem that will need to be fixed. The girlfriend had been washing stuff in the sink and I noticed that there was soapy water dumping out under the trailer. I looked and discovered that there was no PVC or proper drain attached to the sink. Instead, it looked like a hose to a vacuum.



I went to look inside and saw that the old plumbing had previously used an AAV. Currently, they have this hose duck taped to the drain with no trap.


The old plumbing was ABS. My friend is thinking of changing the duck tape monstrosity out for PVC and using a fernco to hook to the ABS. I'm not sure the AAV works though. There is probably a reason they disconnected that stuff.
 

zannej

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I wanted to update on this: My friend ended up breaking up with his girlfriend and selling the trailer to her (well, she was *supposed* to buy it but she never paid so he's out the $). He got his fridge back from her and started fixing up a house that belongs to his late grandmother. It's a smaller house with a larger yard. The bathroom is larger than the one in the burned house but the kitchen is smaller (the kitchen is actually smaller than the bathroom). It still needs some work.
Someone went in to steal and destroy anything of value that was left in the burned house. Found some of the belongings on the neighbor's porch and suspect some of the grandkids were the culprits.
My friend's father was helping with some of the repairs but they had a falling out bc the father got high on meth and tried to kill him and the father passed away in November last year.
The upside is he found a girlfriend who is very supportive and sweet. She's great with his daughter, cleans up, cooks for him, and doesn't pull the mind games his ex did. They are now engaged.
He still hopes to someday fix up the burned house, but it won't be anytime soon.
 

Mastercarpenty

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A nice-to-hear update. All too often our hearts want to take us places where our brain screams "NO!" and when that happens you'd better stop, step back, and think about it awhile. But most people don't. We humans often do stupid things!

I'm a recovered drug and alcohol addict, 14 1/2 years clean and never going back, and I can no longer tolerate being around people with those kinds of problems. Even if they're helping me get something done. You just can't trust them or know what they'll do next. The best thing you can do for them us to let them feel their own self-caused pain and misery until they make the decision to clean up their act. I know that sounds heartless but as long as they can find a way to continue living with their addictions they will keep on doing that, so helping them during that time is actually hurting them even more.

Houses that sit open and unoccupied tend to go to crap rather quickly so I'm hoping your friend can get going on the burned house soon; otherwise it may be better to demo it and start all over, possibly re-using whatever good materials can be salvaged from it. At least then you can create the floorplan you want!

Phil
 

zannej

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Thanks, Phil. I'm glad you got over your addiction and have been clean. My friend's father had been an addict since his teens and was in his mid-40s. He was in and out of rehab over 20 times, but his parents (mostly his mother) kept enabling him. My friend was living with his grandparents when the father attacked him (the father was also living there). The grandmother was away on a trip and the guy got thrown in jail (but with $0 bond). As soon as the grandmother got back, she bailed him out and brought him back to the house despite the fact that her grandson had a restraining order against him. She chose her son over her grandson-- and the grandson is a law abiding good guy who always helps out, never did drugs, doesn't drink, and is trying to do do something with his life. His father stole from everyone constantly and was unemployed. But because the mother kept bailing him out and allowing him to walk all over, he just continued to do it. So, my friend had to move out because he couldn't be in the same home as his father. The really sad thing is, the incident made his father get serious about getting clean & as far as we know, he hadn't used drugs in at least a month but he got pneumonia. My friend is taking it hard, but he's moving on. I promised his grandmother I'd look after him so he knows he can call me any time of day or night if he needs help.

I'm going to help him do some painting and try to find something to put on the floor so his daughter can move in fulltime. It will be better for her to be away from her mother. She currently doesn't have her own room at the trailer.
 

Mastercarpenty

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At 58 and with growing health issues myself, I've come to realize that it is a total waste of everything to try to help those what are not trying to help themselves. My next-door-neighbor keeps her adult daughter up, and that girl is strung out on prescribed Methadone. When one Doctor tries to wean her from it she just goes to another- she does not want to help herself by quitting. As a consequence I will not help her Mother who us a really great person in every other way. That part kind of hurts me but I can't support an enabler any more than a user, for the end result is the same. Sad to hear his Father didn't get to enjoy being clean long before he died, but we're never promised a tomorrow. Had he cleaned up earlier there would be much less sadness and much more success in your story, and without enablers maybe that would have happened.

Kind of getting off topic with this but you and your friend do have my sympathies and I hope your future days are better ones.

Phil
 

zannej

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I highly suspect that the constant drug use weakened his system and that if he'd gotten clean sooner & stayed clean he might have lived much longer-- but then, when it comes to the medical treatment here (or lack thereof) he might still have died anyway. And sometimes I wish I could use a time machine to go back and find the jerk who got him (and many other children) addicted to drugs in the first place. He got the mayor's son hooked as well as several other people I knew (all of whom are now dead). I was told he was a boy scout leader who started giving the kids mild drugs, then started getting them hooked on stronger stuff and used them as mules. He was active in the community and went to church every Sunday and pretended to be an upstanding guy so all the parents trusted him-- and since he used the kids to hold and transport the drugs for him, he didn't get busted & when the kids said he was their dealer, nobody believed them.

I get off topic all the time. LOL.

Right now my friend is trying to tackle the rodent infestation in his house. They are coming from the attic and there is no access to get in to the attic (well, there is a small hole, but even his size zero 76lb fiance can't fit through it).
 

Elizabeth Lynn

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Wow that's awful! They're very lucky no people were injured. Is the house repaired or did they decide to move into a new home?
 

zannej

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The burned house is still un-repaired. They are trying to fix up the other house, but my friend's grandmother recently passed away. She raised him and was more like a mother to him so he's devastated. Things are further complicated by the fact that his grandfather is disabled and completely dependent on others to care for him but the two surviving sons are not in a position to help. The older one lives out of town and the younger one his an emotional wreck who has been drowning his sorrows with alcohol & isn't reliable. So my friend and his fiance are now staying with the grandfather. There are some repairs that need to be done there. Before she passed away, his grandmother got frustrated with the waste from the washing machine backing up in the kitchen sink so she just put the drain hose for it out the window. The plumber who did the kitchen and laundry room didn't put in plumbing vents and didn't have a proper standpipe for the washing machine. But, my friend now has a bleeding ulcer and doesn't feel up to tearing open walls to fix things. I'm hoping things will work out for him and that he'll finally catch a break.
 

zannej

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Update: My friend has given up on the burned house but another friend of his is fixing it up in exchange for getting to live in it once it's fixed enough.
My friend's grandfather is one of the most aggravating people I have ever met. When my friend was staying with him the old man would try to call them on their cellphones while they were in the same house as him & then would pound on their door & wake them up at 2am. My friend temporarily moved back with him to help him out after the grandmother died (we think the stress from the grandfather plus the loss of her favorite son was too much for her heart). His surviving children blame him for their mother's death & don't want much to do with him-- but he also lies, won't take care of his own responsibilities, & acts like a needy little baby. He was really being nasty to my friend when he had a dislocated shoulder from a work accident & the fiance had a broken arm. I now realize that the grandmother had my friend's father around as a buffer so she wouldn't get nagged to do things all the time and she was the buffer for him bc the grandfather's nagging could be spread out a bit so there was at least some relief. The old man has been disabled for a very long time but he's more able than he acts (and he's proven it by doing stuff for himself) but he constantly calls my friend & harasses him even though he's no longer living with him. Old man drives up in front of his house and blares the horn like a jacka$$ until someone comes out. He calls when he knows my friend is at work. Sometimes he'll call 8x before 7am. I could write a novel about how annoying this man is, but my friend loves his grandfather & still helps him out even though his grandfather has repeatedly screwed him over financially. It seems like most of the people in his life just take advantage of him.

They have moved in to his maternal grandmother's old house which had become a meth house. They found all sorts of needles & drug paraphernalia. They gloved up, bagged stuff up, dumped it in the trash and warned the trash guy to just turn the can upside down instead of taking the bag out.

The place was a total disaster, whole back wall fell off the very back room of the house, roof leaked & destroyed the tiny kitchen, and the bathroom had to be gutted & have the floor from the joists on up fixed. There used to be two separate rooms from the front door to the middle room and then the kitchen. Someone took the wall out between the room next to the kitchen & the front room to make it a single room. For awhile there was indoor/outdoor carpet but a punk that was mooching off of my friend ruined it. Ended up getting some new carpet in, new sectional sofa (my mom bought it bc she was tired of having nowhere to sit when she came over). Got a new door on the bedroom along with a schlage knob. Got a schlage knob & deadbolt for the front door but the door itself was damaged by someone trying to break in.

Put tarps on the roof to stop the leaking & it's worked. Abandoned the old kitchen to turn it in to a large pantry/storage room. I had two old metal rolling shelf thingies down at the workshop just collecting dust so those are in there. We still need to put up some insulation for that room and get it sealed up nice & tight. Put an accordion door on it (apparently that's what his grandmother had there before.

The room that is now the kitchen had just been empty before. The floor is just plywood right now & is all wonky. Walls are all crooked as well-- they lean backwards. We brought in the fridge from the trailer (his ex still never paid for the trailer). People have to go through the daughter's bedroom to get to the bathroom & back room. Have to enter the bathroom to get to the back room (which used to be the laundry room but the floor pretty much fell out). I helped him put the sliding glass doors back up (even though the can't slide) just to cover the opening where the used to be when they & the wall fell off. Still need to build up the structure more, fix the floor, & get that room insulated, but for now it is free of leaks & there's carpet padding down on the floor. The washer & dryer were moved in to the bathroom. My friend got the washing machine on clearance (open box/display) at BestBuy & it works great. I found the dryer & pedestals on facebook marketplace. It was a long drive but it was worth it given the cost of those appliances. The price for a washer & dryer plus 2 pedestals was a little over the cost of one pedestal.

Found the range hood at a liquidation store for $79 (retails for $180). Found a used Samsung smoothtop stove for $200. It needs something fixed to make the oven part work- LCD touchscreen went out but my friend knows how to fix it once he gets the parts. Reused the old sink but got a nice countertop on a discount. Got the base sink cabinet from Lowes-- the front looks nice- has oak trim but the sides are flimsy mdf. Found an over-the-sink kitchen rack for extra storage. I have the 30"x24" wall cabinet stained & ready to go up once the window trim & curtain rod get moved out of the way, the range hood can go up next-- it's already wired up with a plug.

Found a nice stainless steel sensor trash can that opens & closes automatically for $35 at the liquidation place (retails for $120+).

Slowly moved in the other base cabinets & got them stained then got the pantry cabinet. Planning the wall cabinets next. I'm going to try to get all of the dimensions in to sketchup to do a room layout to see how much space he has for stuff-- he wants to add a small breakfast nook.

I'm hoping the ceiling doesn't go any lower than 94" over where we want to put the wall cabinets.

Should I make a new thread to show the progress of the renovation or just use this one?
 

havasu

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Just continue in this same thread IMHO.
 

zannej

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Ok. Will do. The burned house is not being worked on now because the friend who had been fixing it up got a job offer in Alabama for a job that pays a lot more than jobs around here & gives him $100/day per diem so he left for there almost immediately. Cost of living is higher there but sales tax is about the same. Its larger than this place so there might be better medical.

My friend is still struggling to make ends meet. Some of his paychecks haven't been clearing on time (sometimes not clearing for a couple of days after they are put in) so he's had late fees on stuff that is due the day of or right after he is supposed to get paid. He's also had some health issues & other life stuff that made him miss work a few times & bc of the wreck he was in years ago his body is giving him more trouble. He has a bone spur on the inside of one of his vertebrae that is growing toward his spinal cord. It causes him pain but he was told it's inoperable due to the location.

I was away on a trip when he put up the wall cabinet & range hood. He's very happy with it bc he now has light above the stove. He put the cabinet on upside-down from the way I'd intended & I noticed some spots that I'd missed with the stain so I will have to go over and remedy that maybe tomorrow. The walls are all wonky & ceiling slopes down so the cabinet looks odd against it, but it's better than just wall above the stove.

I wish I could find some of the earlier pictures I'd posted of his kitchen that I saved somewhere to my computer but don't remember where.
Here are pictures of the progress:

Stock photo of 60" sink base cabinet from Lowes:
Msinkbasestockpic.png
After staining & putting on VC Dimensions Labrador "granite" Formica countertop & installing sink. + over-the-sink rack from amazon.
Mitchnewcabs1.jpg mkitchencabstouchup3.jpg mkitchenrangecabsfridgesink1.jpg
Since the Lowes cabinet only had oak for the trim but mdf for the frame & sides it was rather fragile & pieces broke off during installation & we wanted something sturdier (after we patched the holes with fiberglass mesh & gorilla tape to keep mice out). I coated all of the mdf & unfinished edges in water sealant to protect things. Next up are photos of the base cabinets & corner cabinets from Surplus Warehouse (made out of plywood and trimmed out with oak). We got an 18", a 12", 24" (I think-- could have been 36" but I don't remember) & the corner cabinet. Didn't realize the corner cabinet doesn't go all the way back to the wall so we had to try to adjust it & bc the walls are wonky & the shorter side was just a tad too small for the corner one to fit forward as far as the other base cabinets, we bumped it back a bit. Still need to level it & secure the countertops properly.
Here's the picture of the base cabinets after they were set in with the countertops set on but untrimmed.
Mitchkitchennewcabs2.jpg
First coat of stain:
Mitchkitchennewcabs3stain1.jpg
Later we trimmed the countertop & added edge trim + another coat of stain.
Mitchnewcabs3.jpg
Pantry cabinet we picked up on clearance from Surplus Warehouse (it had been "water touched" so it was 40% off plus another 10% off for military discount) before being stained (my brother photobombed):
mitchkitchenpantry1.jpg
Pantry after 1st coat of stain
mkitchenpantry1.jpg
Wall cabinet for above-the-range with the range hood upside-down on top of it. It was a $180 range hood we got for $79 at a liquidation place bc it was open box but wasn't damaged or missing anything. (My brother decided to photobomb again).
DaveMitchkitchenrangehood1.jpg
(continued in next post)
 

zannej

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More pictures of the pantry:mkitchenpantry2.jpg mkitchenpantry3.jpg mkitchenpantrycabstouchup2.jpg mkitchenpantrycabstouchup3.jpg
After staining the sides:Mkitchenpantrystained1.jpgmkitchenpantrystained2.jpg mkitchenpantrystained3.jpg
Wall cabinet after staining (pre-installation):mwallcabstained1.jpgmwallcabstained2.jpg
(continued in next post)
 

zannej

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Here's the stainless steel motion sensor trash can that retails for $120 but we got for $35 at the liquidation store:Mitchkitchenautotrash1.jpg
As an aside, my sister got a similar one that randomly opens when people walk by & she joked that it was like it was asking to be fed so we started jokingly apologizing to it when it opened & we didn't have any trash to put in it & would say things like "I'll feed you later!"

These are the pics my friend sent me while I was away- wall cabinet & range hood installed:mwallcabinstalled1.jpg mwallcabinstalled2.jpg
It took the B&D Matrix w/ various attachments & a Dremel tool to cut away the window trim to make it fit.

I got some unfinished oak toekick trim that will be used to cover the seams on the toekick of the base cabinets. Hopefully we'll have enough left over to use on the upper sides of the pantry so we can add hooks & stuff for hanging oven mitts & such. I was pricing out the pre-made hook rails & they were horridly expensive so we can just make our own for much cheaper if we just buy the hooks. We're considering using some sort of faux stainless steel peel & stick vinyl to put on the bare side of the pantry to make it look better, but the way it looks now is starting to grow on me & it would be a pita. I suppose we can find some other shallow things to hang on the side as well.

Due to the ceiling & floor being so uneven, it will be a challenge to get the rest of the wall cabinets in & given the options available in cabinet sizes, they will have to go all the way to the ceiling rather than being level with the top of the pantry cabinet. The cabinets only seem to come in 30" height & there would not be enough clearance for stuff underneath if we dropped them the 7" or so to the pantry's top. I played around with the layout in sketchup to figure out what would fit & how it would look but I did it when we thought we had 10" but the ceiling drops 3" from the side of the room with the range so we only have 7". I have not yet adjusted that in the sketchup file.
Rough sketch of the possible layout:sketchupcabinetlayout2.png
 

zannej

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Thanks, shan2themax!
I wish I could find the pics I took earlier of the old kitchen (in the former meth house- not the burned house). The subfloor had rotted, some of the joists had rotted, windows were falling out & it was a total mess. Had some pics of my friend working on it & when he had put in a temporary countertop & sink (the sink that was re-used for the new kitchen). It was absolutely tiny & he couldn't get a working stove in there. It was smaller than the bathroom. The roof leaked & destroyed pretty much everything so he had it sealed off for awhile. The tarp on the roof has stopped the leaks so he was able to add some paper & fiberglass insulation but it didn't help too much in terms of temperature regulation. He completely covered up the windows bc it was cheaper than replacing them & he didn't need windows in this room. We got him some Reflectix double-sided insulation & the tape for it. It was getting drafty with the weather turning cold so he finally put it up & sent me a picture. This room will now be a walk-in pantry. I think eventually he may add a chest freezer.
Apparently the reflection from the insulation makes the room very bright when the light is on but he said that it's nice and warm now.mwalk-in-pantryinsulation.jpg

He wants to add tin/metal to his roof to replace the shingles but he wants to just put it straight over the existing roof & tarp-- I don't think that's the best idea though. Or would that be ok?
 

oldognewtrick

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He would be better served to strip the roof, fix any deteriorated decking, apply a high temp ice and water shield, then his metal roof panels. Simply putting metal over the existing mess is like putting lipstick on a pig. It will at some point fail and he will have a bigger mess.
 

zannej

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He would be better served to strip the roof, fix any deteriorated decking, apply a high temp ice and water shield, then his metal roof panels. Simply putting metal over the existing mess is like putting lipstick on a pig. It will at some point fail and he will have a bigger mess.
That's what I thought. He'll have to find a time when the weather isn't too cold or too hot & isn't raining-- which is tough in our area. It went straight from being in the 90s one day to being in the 40s the next. When it was warmer it was raining. I'll have to talk to him about the roof thing, but he'll have to save up some $ for it. He still needs to get a replacement vehicle for the truck that had the engine go. It very rarely gets below 40s here but it gets incredibly hot so heat is more of an issue than cold.
But with the climate change things have been weird. It used to snow only once every 20 years (and I was around for both times) and then it snowed 3 years in a row- but only for a few days. They don't even sell ice scrapers here bc it's so rare & everything shuts down if we get an inch of snow bc people here don't know how to deal with it.

Last year got particularly cold & we had bursting pipes all over. At least now my friend has a heater in his house & has that room insulated.
 
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