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Day 704 – We’re PODS people


May 30, 2012 – The day of reckoning has arrived! Okay, it’s more of five days of reckoning which really is the period of time we have to get our WHOLE HOUSE packed up and moved out so that our floors can be refinished. We have wood floors under the carpet of our house, and as part of our ongoing (but nearly done) addition, we are having our floors sanded and sealed. Then, these “old” floors will match the “new” floors we’ve placed in the new space.

The 16ft long temporary home of our stuff

The POD arrived a few days ago, and we’ve been busy packing it up.

Our boxes…a few of them…

In addition to the packing, we have a myriad of last minute things to do to prepare for sheetrocking. The sheetrockers will come in after the floor goes in, but there is urgency in getting things done now so we can pack up the bathrooms (where we’ve hung the sheer wall) and the stairwell.

Drilling holes for the sheer wall for pipes in the bathroom

Sheer wall going up

Day 695 – We’re being floored!


May 22, 2012-

The flooring of our new addition began this week. We are working with a flooring contractor we know, who is matching our existing wood floors (which are under carpet – more on that later) with the corresponding new parts of our house. For example, our main floor is white oak so the first floor of the new addition will match. The second floor is fir, so we are replicating that upstairs too.

When the new flooring is down, the fun begins because we then get to…..move out of our house! Yes, in early June we have to move EVERYTHING out so that we can rip up the carpet and refinish our existing floors. When it’s all said and done, it will all be sanded with a natural clear coat and hopefully look really cool.

We have a POD coming next week to help with furniture storage, and a few inspections to go before we are at the finishing stage with the floor (insulation and shearwall). oh yeah, drywall has to go up before then too.

It’s going to be a crazy, crazy, crazy next few weeks as we race to the finish. Some pictures to entertain:

Pre-floor install:

White oak awaiting install

Fir flooring wood. The plastic sheeting goes underneath it all

After day one on install:

Upstairs fir flooring in the new hallway

Weave of old and new floor

Upstairs new fir flooring, unfinished

Day 685 – Insulation


Batts and bundles waiting to be installed in their new home

May 11, 2012 – Today our insulation contractor arrived and installed the batts of insulation for our new addition. More specifically, we were told it was the “bat crew” that was to do our install, so imagine our dismay when two very non-Batman and Robin characters show up, and not even in the Bat mobile either. No capes, no Penguin and no Joker. Oh well, we have insulation now which I am very grateful for.

What’s the first thing we noticed after the crew left? Well, aside from the smell of the insulation (I have a cold, but I’m told it sticks awful) we noticed that it is so quiet in the new parts of the house now. It’s almost like it eats sound. It’s so weird. After nearly two years of an echo chamber – a freezing echo chamber at that too – it was so odd to even have your footsteps not be noisy.

With the batts filling the wall cavities now, it also helps define the space – rooms look more like rooms with walls, and the ceiling has a contour to it as opposed to just open ceiling space.

The product our contractor went with is the “Ecobatt” by Knauff Insulation. We didn’t select it per se, but it’s a non formaldehyde, 61 percent recycled material so it’s what we might have chosen were we given the choice. As I mentioned before, it seems to have an initial odor, but since I can’t smell it I also can verify if it’s dissipated at all after ten hours of being up. It’s made from sand – weird, yes – and has a darker hue then the pink insulation we’ve hung many times in the past.

First floor with insulation (note the marble slabs on the floor are not included with installation)

We were initially planning on doing a polar blanket-type insulation (and here) which is basically a thin closed cell foam layer mated with a layer of loose fill fiberglass to make a airtight, highly efficient barrier. But cost is what drove us to go with the batts ultimately. We had some overruns elsewhere, and figured we would be better off putting our money into things we could actually see, because at the end of the day, most of our 117 year old house doesn’t have any insulation anyways.

With that done, we are still working on some of the outside elements. We need to bring the inspector back to approve the insulation, then we get get our sheer wall up in the bathroom areas and finalize our bid with the Sheetrock crew. Could we be done by July? Maybe?!?

Day 684 – We’re wired (and approved)!


Yes, after weeks and weeks and weeks of waiting – we got the wiring finished and approved by the city! Even though we passed, we had a few things to clean up from the inspection, namely some fire blocking to install and some smoke alarm boxes that needed to be grounded (who knew those things were code? And how do you ground to plastic box anyways?). Nothing is “hot” in the new addition yet (electrical-wise), as even though it’s all connected, for safety we just need to hook up a wire in the box in the basement to get current.

Next steps? Insulation, which should begin tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!

Day 681 – Life in the gutters


May 7, 2012 – Spring has finally sprung in the Northwest, or at least until the rain comes back again. And what better way to celebrate the lack of rain than by putting up gutters! Yes, those two things don’t logically go so well together, but dry weather makes for much easier work outside doing just about everything.

Ever since our porch collapsed last year and subsequently got rebuilt, we’ve been making due without gutters. Instead, we’ve had large 6 mil sheets of clear plastic serving to keep the weather off the porch. Aside from being really noisy in the winter wind, the plastic worked great, but didn’t let in a lot of light and certainly inhibited the view.

With the weather being what it is, we thought it would be really great to start to using the porch space. We have a few things to do to the raw structure to get it “complete”, and one of those was gutters. The porch is only about 10×14 or so, and our builder let us know that for a gutter contractor to come out to install on the space that small, it would likely cost several hundred dollars. Instead, we went to Home Depot and priced our their do-it-yourself aluminum “K” style gutters and found their pricing to be something we could more easily budget for.

First step was getting the fascia boards up on the rafter ends, so last weekend we went to Parr Lumber and got the same primed Cedar we’ve been using elsewhere for trim, and used that for the fascia (our builder used the same stuff too, so we knew we were probably okay with keeping it consistent). It was up fairly easily, and nailed by hand because it wasn’t really worth breaking out the compressor and nailer for just eight nails.

Last week, we went back to Home Depot and picked up our gutter supplies  – two 10′ runs in 4″ depth; a corner piece for our only outside corner; two end pieces to terminate the gutter sections; some seam sealant; two 10′ downspout lengths; screws (not nails) to anchor them up; and two downspout sections. And yes, like most of the rest of the raw materials else we’ve needed to buy, it all fit in our minivan. Swagger wagon to the rescue!

Like a lot of the other work we’ve been doing on our house, hanging gutters was something I had never done. Cleaned? Yup. Fixed? Sure. Just never had to install them. Luckily, for people in my situation, Google is there to help, and there was a wealth of info on what to do.

I first took measurements of the corner piece, as it was one of the critical pieces that would help determine the overall length of the main sections. I added .25 inches to it’s size to accommodate for the wrapper section that would join the corner piece to the main gutter run. (Wrapper? Oh yeah, I forgot to buy that. ) I then measured the overall run, minus the corner, and cut the first gutter section.

Slope is critical in a gutter because without it, water won’t drain. Heck, even with slope, water still doesn’t seem to drain the gutters I already have, but that’s another post. I opted for a slight slope of .5 inch per 10 feet or so, which on my small porch, I just simplified into .5 inches per side, leaving the end of the gutter with the downspout a full 1 inch lower than the other end on the gutter on the opposite side.

Hanging wasn’t too bad of an experience, once I got the vertical placement correct. I pre-drilled the holes for the hanging screws ahead of time, so mounting them was a bit easier.

Day 667 Part Two: The Blood and Guts Thriller


Let me start out by saying that aside from sore muscles and the occasional blister or sliver, I have not had ANY accidents on our remodel project.

That is, until today.

I was digging holes for a new gate that will go on the North side of our property, behind the addition. I’ve dug post holes before, so no big deal. I dug one hole, then the other. When done, I set a 4×4, 6′ pressure treated post in each hole to check for correct placement. In order to check that the two posts were level, I grabbed a spare 4×4 pressure treated post, and set it horizontally on top of the two vertical posts along with my level. Thankfully, both were level.

In looking down at one of my post holes, it occurred to me that I needed to dig some additional dirt out from the hole so that the concrete I was hoping to soon pour would be able to go all the way around the hole. I got down on my hands and knees and started to dig, but the horizontal post was in the way. So I began to move it out of the hole. What I forgot was that the 4×4 pressure treated post was still laying horizontally across the top of the two vertical posts. When I began to move the post I was digging around, it caused the horizontal 4×4 to come crashing down on my head.

Ouch. I can’t recall the sound it made when it hit – I’m sure it was a THUD, complete with the circling birdies you always see in the cartoons – but it really, really hurt. You know that reaction you have to hold your head when you hit it accidentally? I did that too, but it didn’t make the pain go away. And when I pulled my hands off my head, they were streaked with blood. Freaky! Never had that happen before. I tried to keep my cool (because, by this time I had an audience of my children) and went inside to grab a towel and some ice to apply to my head, and do what any sane man would do: Call my wife.

The gash in my head was sure a bleeder. My wife was great, and she (and one advice nurse) figured out that a trip to the urgent care clinic was best. There, I was given four staples in the head to help close the nice gash I got from the wood. I get them out in a week. Much thanks to my wife for helping me through this, and not beating me with the 4×4 for making a careless mistake in the first place 🙂

My head gash, much later and much cleaner, with four staples.

Day 667 – Slate haulin’


April 22, 2012

The spring weather has been getting to our brains as of late, and making us think of all there is to do outside on our project. So while we wait yet one more week for our electrical to finish up, we have been slowly getting in gear for outside work.

This past weekend, we carted two carloads of slate from my parents house to ours for what will become our backyard patio. The slate was salvaged from when my parents redid their backyard patio many years ago. Back when they remodeled, they opted for concrete aggregate over the slate, and saved the slate in piles in a corner of their yard. They are moving, so the soon-to-come listing and sale of their house prompted some cleanup, and the slate came home with us.I have no idea how much in square footage we have in slate, but we hope to finish our patio and have some leftover to do a walkway.

The first load of slate

The plan for our backyard patio will have the slate resting in a bed of sand, with some low growing plantings or moss interspersed around the stones. We got our idea from This Old House, who had a writeup on a similar project in their March 2012 online edition. There are some really cool colors in the slate, but they basically fall into either a blue/green or red/purple hue. I hope to post some pictures of the really unique tiles that have both colors swirled on one slate.