Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)

My house is weird.

It is a post-WWII home in a post-WWII neighbourhood (albeit, a quarter of the houses have been replaced since then). My house, built of leftovers from the nearby elementary school, has been expanded at least three times. Once to get a proper basement in, then to add to the back (and presumably add the entry-way), and finally to expand the back full-width (where the laundry room resides now).

Before the last expansion, there must have been a pad for the oil tank, and when the final expansion was complete, a room was built around it (haphazardly at that).  This room didn’t have much… the tank, a door, a small hole in the wall to rain the water into a sump pit, and a gaping hole to the outside world (2′ x 8′) (only covered up by lattice)!

As big as that hole is, I found out the hard way that in some cases it is not big enough.  Time passes, and my oil tank was getting old.  I ordered a replacement, and found that it didn’t fit into the hole (as the tank is too deep).  I even found out that they had to cut up the old oil tank into three pieces to get it out of there.  What gives you may ask?  Well, the driveway was redone a few years before I bought the house, making the hole a couple inches shallower.

So what’s the good of an oil tank room that doesn’t have an oil tank?  Luckily the room is on the north corner of the house, and can be converted into a cold storage room.  But first, I have to do a few things.

As noted in the title, this is part one of the journey.  At this point, this is still a work in progress.  With that out of the way…

The first thing to do is frame the exterior.  But I have a problem.  Water gets in frequently, as the foundation here is below the driveway (or, grade).  I need to build up some, or I will still get constant water issues and the frame will rot away in a few years.  So why not brick?

I originally thought all I would need is a single layer of bricks, but after some measurement, two tiers seem to be the requirement.  So to Rona I go for bricks (two dozen), a bag of mortar, a trowel, and a few two-by-four’s.

I ripped out the old lattice, and dug out the mud that built up over the years leaving foundation and asphalt.  Eager, I took some quick measurement, cut my first two-by-four and screwed it above, in place (known as the “header”).  I then mixed up my first batch of mortar and (tried to) smooth everything out.

Laying brick is easy, but getting everything level first is hard.  I ended up failing regarding the first step, as a third of the way through laying the first tier, the bricks started to “step up.”  I took a step back and looked, there was a hump in the middle!  Since there was little I could do as this was caused by the foundation, I tried to fix it in the second tier.  I made some headway, but I ended up smoothing out the top after that tier was done.  Time to let it dry, and that was the end of day one.

Day two had it’s own interesting pieces.  With the mortar still curing, I cut and placed the “footer”, on top of the brickwork.  I made it tight enough to hammer into place.  I then took it out, laid down roofing water-shield on top of the brick, and then put my two-by-four on top again (this time with stud markings) and in place.

Now it’s time for the studs.  I noticed that nothing is square, as I went from over 19 inches down to 16 -something.  Worse, As I placed the header and footer so they are 3/4 of an inch away from the wall top and bottom, once I placed the studs, none of the studs were plum.  All of them were “kicked in” at the bottom between half an inch to an inch.  Oh well, you work with what you got.

With the studs in place, it was time to make another trip to Rona for more supplies… more screws, nails, and asphalt.  Once back, I secured the studs with the screws, nailed the lower part of the frame down with the concrete nails, used roofing nails to fold up and secure the weather-shield, and then filled the gap between the brick and the driveway with more asphalt.

Finally, to say “to heck with this project for today”, I trimmed down the lattice and placed it back into place.  The screws I had weren’t long enough for some places, so it has that “kicked out” look.

Hopefully I can properly replace this with some boards next month, and from there, you can read on with part two.  Cheers.

The exterior with lattice replaced, and asphalt added
The exterior with lattice replaced, and asphalt added
The interior featuring frame, brick, and weather-sheild
The interior featuring frame, brick, and weather-shield
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)

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