Monday, May 25, 2015

Finishing Touches

Anyone who has ever built a home knows that the small finish projects have a tendency to languish on the "we'll get to it list" once you've moved in and settled in to "real life".  We are no exception to this phenomenon.

One of the biggest finishing projects on our list is the upstairs bathroom.  We had some forward motion over the winter, and I had been delaying posting with the thought that I would do so once it was completely finished.  But progress has stalled again - and the shift toward outside projects has begun to take precedence.

Dean admits that he is a finish-phobe.  He has a LONG history of getting projects to the 85-90% finished stage.  

I, on the other hand have a finish-fetish!  There is almost nothing I like better than finishing up a project and stepping back to admire and enjoy our handy work.

So this post is about finishing things, and this is what we've been up in that vein...

Upstairs Bathroom

The window sill and window trim

Baseboard trim

The closet is getting it's finish trim.  The doors will come later.  I had been periodically checking the stock at the Habitat for Humanity Restore to see if we could pick up some bargain doors, but was not able to find the size we need, so we ended up ordering new doors.  They have been painted and are awaiting installation.

The tub surround has been tiled and grouted and awaits the installation of the fixtures.  

Speaking of the fixtures:  In what has now become our modus operandi, there were several missteps involving the shower/tub trim fixtures.  It started we me ordering a somewhat pricey set of trim fixtures  - a LONG time ago - like when we were first building.

Now that we are actually ready for the install, we discovered that the shower trim is NOT compatible with the Symmons shower controller valve that was already plumbed  in.  So we can't use it!  AND, I can't return it because it has been literally a few years since I bought it.  Oh well.  We CAN use the shower head and the tub spout -  and have now acquired the compatible shower controller trim.

Downstairs Bathroom

Since we moved in we had been using one of those shower caddies that hangs over the shower spout and is secured with suction cups.  It was very unsatisfactory as the suction cups did not hold, and is was always wiggling around and threatening to fall off the shower arm...

So Dean fabricated a shower caddy from stainless steel that is secured to the shower surround with screws - no wiggling here!

He put these neat little metal loops to slip the razors in and a nice soap dish that can be taken out and run through the dishwasher when it gets all gunky!

Stair painting

I finally got around to painting the risers of the stairs.  Here I am cleaning up the bits of paint that got on the treads.

Finishing the deck

Dean felt that the top rail needed some extra stability, so wanted to add a piece of wood underneath, and it was his idea to make it a decorative element by drilling a pattern of wholes.  I think it  adds a nice touch!

Marking the posts for the wire railing.

I finished staining the deck last week, so all it needs is the installation of the wire rails to be completely finished.

I scored these deck chairs from a free-cycler.  I am not a great sewer, but my plan is to attempt to make some cushions for them

Finishing the garage/barn

The side of the garage has been in this state of partial paint for quite a while.  In fact, our UPS delivery guy teases Dean about it almost every time he delivers a package to us.

A big part of the reason why some of these things get delayed is because moving the Genie lift is a big project in itself.  Hook it up to the truck, trailer it to it's new location, lower the stabilizing feet, adjust the level, etc.  

So, Dean is always thinking about the most efficient use when considering Genie placement.

In this case, from this placement of Genie, he worked on adding the vent at the gable peak, starting installation the soffit enclosure, and partially finished painting the unpainted section.  Because she has a limited reach, it will take another Genie move to complete this side of the garage.

That's it for now.  Still plenty of things that need finishing, but of course we are also on to new projects like the shed we are building.  Stay tuned for the details!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Making lumber

During the late fall and early winter, Dean busied himself cutting down a bunch of the big tall pine trees on the property with the intent to have them cut into lumber.

Logs lined up along the driveway - in the cue for the sawmill

We hired a sawmill guy - Hank - who brought his portable sawmill to the property and spent a couple of days cutting.

Dean's job during this part of the project was to use the ATV to drag the logs up to the sawmill.  From here, they are rolled into place on the arms of the machine and lifted up into position for cutting.  I thought I shot some video of this, but I can't find it...

Hank's dog Ben - a very friendly giant long haired German shepherd was on the job site.  He weighs like a hundred pounds!

Here's some of the output.

When Hank was done we had a big stack of lumber, and a big pile of sawdust!

We ended up with 6 x 6's, 4 x 4's, and a bunch of 1 x and 2 x stock of various widths in 8 and 10 foot lengths.

From here, we had to move all of this lumber into piles for drying.  

We used the truck and worked together to move the wood to several areas around the yard where we stacked it for drying.

We had some supervision from Missy.

The wood is stacked neatly with these separator strips of wood in between to allow for air flow.

And here it sits for about 6 months before we can use it to build things.

We plan to use the lumber to enclose the soffits on the garage, and to build a shed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to build a deck

Our original house plan includes decks on both the North and South sides of the house.  We put up the ledger boards for these back when we were shingling and finishing the exterior.

I proposed to Dean that we tackle building a deck this fall, and I really wanted to start with the North side because from there we can hear Locke Brook when she's singing and it would be a nice place to sit and enjoy a cocktail while listening to her song...


Before we could start on the actual deck, Dean wanted to get gutters up on the shed dormer that is on the North side of the house - because once there is a deck, Genie would no longer be able to get in there.


Do we go the the home center to buy gutter?  Of course not.  We are going to make our own using PVC pipe - Oh yeah.

One length of PVC pipe cut in half yields two lengths of gutter.

So the first section of gutter is ready to install and Genie has been moved into position


her batteries are dead.

So it's off to Sears to buy new ones which goes down like this:

  • Drive 30 min to Sears
  • Drive 30 min home and get the wallet you forgot
  • Drive  30 min back to Sears and pay for batteries
  • Load up car and drive 40 min (because now the school buses are on the road) back home

New batteries ready to be installed

Now that Genie is all juiced up, we got to work installing the gutter.

So here we go.  The gutter is attached with sheet metal screws.

The next section of gutter is glued to the first.  Later the joint was sealed with silicone caulking.

Downspouts were added.

and now that the gutters are done WE CAN START ON THE DECK!

We started by putting in the footings.  We used the preformed ones.

Using the backhoe to dig, the first footing goes in...

One footing in - two more to go.

In the meantime, I was put to work nailing 3 of these 2 x 8's together to become the main beam for the outer edge of the deck.  Dean was very happy that we got to use these 16 penny 3 1/2 inch hot dipped galvanized nails that he got from his father and had saved for about 25 years!  At first I was like - "what we aren't using an air nailer for this?"  But it actually felt really good to swing a hammer.

With all three footings and the upright posts in place, we are ready to raise the beam.

Next the joists went in.

And then the upright posts for the railing.

And now we are ready to lay down the decking.

Angie loves being out on the deck!

With the railing cap in place, Dean gets to work on the lower level gutters.

The plan for finishing the railing is a cable wire system kind of like this.

But this will likely have to wait until spring...

Here is the deck after our first snowstorm of the winter.

  In closing, I started this post a few weeks ago having no idea that by the time I finished it our sweet little Angie would have passed away.  

We certainly enjoyed the heck out of  her in the short time she was with us...