I spent 9 hours today working with Antonio on the house. Antonio knows his stucco, since that's his weekday job. At first he approved of my expanded metal mesh over paper and the other prep work I'd done, and he proceeded to mix up a wheelbarrow full of stucco. But when he went to apply it, he found my installation totally lacking. So we pulled it all off in a rush, since a wheelbarrow full of cured concrete wasn't our idea of forward progress, and backed it with with some 1/8" plywood sheathing that I had around. I have to admit that I'm still a bit confused about why he needed such a rigid backing for the stucco, and I'll probably explore that in a later blog to try and capture the lessons learned. Briefly, I think that he's used to completing a stucco job in a day, rather than the more traditional process of waiting days for each of three stucco layers to cure. A rigid backing allows him to do that. These houses didn't originally have rigid backing (just chicken wire over house paper which is basically what I supplied him), so I think that techniques have changed over the years. His technique makes sense if he's working for a contractor, since time is lots of money for those guys. The upshot is that he got it all done today.
Bonus chore #1 was to replace the front porch support posts. Until now, all construction action has taken place in the back. There were three posts, and all three were so dry rotted at their bases that the porch roof was supporting them, rather than the other way around. This became a matter of immediate high urgency when in the process of removing a section of porch rail to give me another egress from the porch (to accomodate my revamped native garden) I poked my screwdriver all the way through the thin veneer of paint that wrapped the dry rot. The posts are replaced now (well, 2 of 3) and I'll paint them with a rot preventer / water repellant before the house paint, making this an opportune time to pick my new trim colors, which I guess is bonus chore #2. This is following along quite well with my previous observations of Cascading Home Repair. By the way, the dry rot is undoubtedly caused by the long term absence of gutters in the front of the house. I guess I'll be fixing that problem too. Ah! bonus chore #3! Fortunately, I have recent experience. So I'll just whip all these bonus chores out before the first good rain of the year while keeping up on all the other planned ones.