The siding project involved a great deal of research, a fair number of purchases, a tremendous number of steps, and the assistance of a good number of friends and family along the way. The overall project was easily the most collaborative project we've undertaken during our entire period of home DIY, which is a bit odd given the accepted practice of asking friends to help out when moving into a fixer upper.

We were never ones to throw a house warming paint and pizza party where we plied friends with slices whilst thrusting rollers in their hands. Something about that tradition doesn't sit right with us, and the typical end result we see in homes of people that have done this, well, you shouldn't expect stellar quality from often non handy "workers" paid by the hour in pizza. (Or perhaps you should think twice about serving beer with that promised pizza.)

However, facing a hard deadline on the siding project, we felt compelled to enlist the help of others who had been offering to assist as they learned of our siding project and goals.

As I mentioned in our last post on the siding, Wendy's brother had come into town to assist in pre-priming all of the siding lengths in a neighbor's yard. This had worked out perfectly and (in spite of a minor morning shower the day after the paint) the work slated for the Friday of our planned long weekend of effort had been knocked out.

Feeling rather good about our progress, we woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, ready to take on the day, and we began preparing for next round of cavalry's arrival.

While Wendy and her brother had been painting almost all day, I had installed the lower copper drip edge at the base of the house, and I was up on the side of the house installing the Azek corner boards, window trim, and eave boards. I decided to use the Azek PVC based boards for these trim areas since they are so prone to rotting. As an added benefit, Azek boards remain stable during weather changes, reducing the amount of expansion/contraction and keeping the caulk in the corners of the siding from cracking, which keeps water out, which keeps bugs and rot away, which keeps Wendy happy.

By the time our friends arrived on Saturday morning we had breakfast ready, primed boards waiting, scaffolding setup, the tools we needed outside, and a plan to work for a good half or more of the day and just see how far we'd be able to get.

Within the hour we had three friends helping us out, our neighbor Paul observing, and Wendy and I were managing our various jobs. While our normal pace on any of our typical home projects more closely resembles the excitement of watching a snail cross the sidewalk with the occasional foot traffic to add a little drama, our home and backyard seemed like it was buzzing with activity.

Mary and Michael were organizing and transporting the dried boards from Paul's backyard back into our yard.

Wendy was cutting boards to length as I yelled out measurements.

Our friend, Bull (his nickname because he's 6'6" and shaved his head for no particular reason...twice...when we were in college and looked like Bull from Night Court), was rolling a coat of primer on the ends of the newly cut boards prior to install, and apparently posing for the camera while helping install the longer boards.

And I was laying down a thick bead of caulk in each corner, embedding the boards in the caulk, and then face nailing the boards in place.

We were running like a well oiled machine!

Due to the size of the wall we were siding, which was about 12 feet long, and the lengths of the siding we had ordered, which were 16 feet long, we wouldn't need to have any siding joints on the wall. But that also meant we had to measure each and every piece of siding very carefully.

I knew the first course of siding was the critical and most important, and that establishing a level line from which to begin would set the tone of the entire job, so I took great care to properly level the first length. I think I used three 48" levels simultaneously to make sure everything we correct.

After that first board, things started to humm right along.


Having all of the people helping out was a bit overwhelming, but in an entirely positive way. We had reached a point in a major project where we were repairing serious damage to our home and were finally able to feel like we were making some good progress. But the progress was a bit deceiving. Throughout that first day we made a serious dent in the siding application. There were a few delays along the way while I noodled through various items, like cutting a notched board for the top of the window using only our old and horrible jigsaw, but we were still rolling.

By the end of the day and when our helpers all had to leave, we had covered the lower half of our large wall with siding. It wasn't as far as Wendy and I had wanted to go, but it was looking good. The profile we selected was just perfect for our home, the way we were installing the siding felt right, and we were looking forward with balanced excitement and dread to finishing this incredibly intimidating project. Would we be able to actually pull this off? Only time would tell, and the key to the whole project was the second half of the wall, but as I said, we were feeling good. We were over the hump, and felt like we were picking up momentum.

Have you ever enlisted the help of friends or family when pulling off a big house project? If so, how do you repay them? Pizza? Beer? A home cooked meal? Even trade for babysitting? Let us know.

Comments 13


8/21/2013 at 2:18 PM
We often enlist help with things like Demo - I actually did a post on this a couple weeks ago - because we have been on both sides of the helped and being helped and watched it go well or very badly.

I've found that mainly, knowing the talent of who is helping and keeping things moving are key. We've gotten it down to a bit of a science and are always grateful for the help, but I'm also very careful to *not* ask for help on something that I am going to be very particular about. Like painting.

We also have a lot of friends who have just bought their first homes so there is a lot of DIY crazy happening. What goes around...!
Good point on knowing your friends' talent, Enya! I'd love to bring in reinforcements on a more regular basis, but that's an ongoing debate in our house. Maybe I'd be bathing in my claw foot tub by now, if only Alex would give in more frequently! Ha! :-)
8/21/2013 at 2:30 PM
We haven't done as much DIY as you, but did have my brother come over to help with our paver patio two year ago. Hubby has two herniated discs, so no shoveling or heavy lifting for him. I expect to beer-bribe a neighbor for help with the upcoming job of moving a large hutch before and after we have hardwood flooring put in the dining room.

And as an editor, I have to point out that it's calling in the cavalry (soldiers on horses), not Calvary (hill where they crucified that dude). I always, always have to check myself on that one, as it's so easy to spell or speak the wrong one! ;-)
Thanks for pointing out the error, Jan! Alex always has some...ahem...creative words in his posts, and I didn't catch this one. ;-)
I blame auto correct!!! I write on the bus on my phone. Auto correct has it out for me!
8/21/2013 at 3:13 PM
I can totally relate to the auto correct thing. When I first got my phone, it kept changing "thing" to "thong" in my Facebook posts ... oh my how embarrassing!
8/21/2013 at 3:52 PM
Ha! Auto correct is the worst. My girlfriend's nickname is "Isa" (for Isabel) and my phone constantly changes it to "USA." Makes me look way more patriotic than I actually am.
Hmm. Maybe Alex, but how do you blame autocorrect for "...the first 'coarse' of siding" that appeared in the first draft? Dork.

Jan and Laura - Thing to thong is hilarious!! Have you ever seen the site
8/21/2013 at 6:26 PM
Oh, yes, that and are hilarious!
I stand by my claim that auto correct has it out for me. It's not that my grammar is total shirt. :-)
8/21/2013 at 5:07 PM
I would love to see more actions like this in our society. The way there used to be old fashioned barn raisings. Our society has become too independent where often we don't think that we need anybody and are sometimes annoyed when people need us.

It reminds me of when I was in Senegal, and I remarked that it seemed to me that the poorest countries that I had visited across the globe held the most generous people. My host's reply was that generosity is a form of insurance in a poor society. If I give you what I have, you are more likely to give to me when I am in need. Regardless of the reason, generosity is always beautiful. You are blessed to have such good friends.
We couldn't agree with you more, Jessica! We're so lucky to live in a true "neighborhood" and have a wonderful network of friends that we support...and support us right back. Without having family in the area, we can't even begin to express how much we appreciate and value that!
8/25/2013 at 11:35 PM
Our house in Hawaii was painted a horrible brown throughout the main living area that made the small home feel even more cramped. We employed the help of some friends with pizza and beer. Needless to say my wife and I weren't enthused with the end result. Paint runners everywhere and paint on the trim. From now on I have friends help me move heavy items. That's basically it.
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