Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Firewood Done... For Now

Okay, more news on the firewood front. I tend to talk a lot about wood because it's one of the few things I actually know how to deal with. That, and making brownies. Either way, we've got two years stacked, and I can relax a little before I start working on year three, which I will cut into blocks and maybe, if I have time, split and stack in the woods. We have already gone through about half of this year's wood, so it's highly likely that we'll dip into next years wood before the weather warms up.

Also, I just wanted to mention that wood that I am burning that has been drying for two years still sizzles, which makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong. Why can't I get dry wood? My solution is to dry it even longer, but if anyone has any advice, please do tell.

Thanks for reading.

Home Improvement for the Holidays

During the holidays, home improvement becomes a family affair, and I can't tell you how cool this is. Things that I've put off doing because I am totally clueless (which pretty much includes everything) get finished and things that are broken get fixed, especially electronic items. Yet another reason to wish that our family would visit more often, but don't get me started.

First off, the FEBP, which is moving at a snail's pace. Electrical work just scares me, though guys like JH or PR are fearless when it comes to wires. JH came over and did an amazing job of wiring up most of the front door lights, but there was still the issue of the overhead light and the switch.

Well, PR looked at it and said, "Let's get to work." My first reaction was to think, "Shouldn't we put it off until next year?" The first thing to do was to get the proper tools, which included wire cutting accessories and assorted pliers. Once these were procured, PR went to work, and didn't stop or hesitate until the job was done. It was pretty amazing to watch, and not a hint of doubt or trepidation. He managed to fish the wired through a small hole to hook up the overhead light, and replaced the switch box to accommodate an additional switch. When I looked at all those wires coming out of the wall, I almost fainted.

PR also fixed the seal on the front door, and then RR took a look at our TV, which no longer works because it fell of the shelf and hit the floor like a rock. RR wanted examine it, so he took the thing apart and figured out what might be the problem. Talk about going for it, he just dismantled the TV and had a good look, no hesitation. He thought it might need a new circuit board, and said he might even have on at home and would bring it the next time they visited. I can tell you one thing, the TV will not be fixed (at least not by me) by the next time they visit. Pretty impressive stuff.

Sometimes I think we should have a TV show, The Family Home Improvement Show. I would simply be a clueless observer, of course.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Volt Meter

When I was kid, my dad had a voltmeter that I loved to play with to check batteries and light bulbs. I'd been told by JH that they were useful (of course he has one in his magic bag of tools), and I toyed with the idea of getting one, when lo and behold, when we had family over, we had an occasion to get one.

RR and PR were fixing the kid's electric motor, and RR mentioned a voltmeter would be useful. Say no more. PR and I ran over to Aubuchon and got one (actually, it's a multimeter), and we used it extensively over the course of the weekend. The kids got a huge kick out of it, too, so it was a win-win situation. I love when that happens.

We now know which batteries still have charge in them, which as any kid will tell you, is extremely useful information. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

PR to the Rescue

I'm in awe of my brother in law, PR. The guy is a home improvement master, he should wear a cape and red tights. He is fearless, and inspires me to follow in his brave footsteps, or at least be less of a spineless jellyfish.

He was here for a few days and his impact was significant. No job is too big or demanding for him to tackle, and he jumps in like it was nothing. It's pretty amazing to watch, and watch I did. First off, he fixed the kitchen light. The upper bulb kept going out, and dismantled it and saw it was a loose connection with a rivet that requires soldering. Fortunately, I had asked RR to bring his soldering iron to help fix one of the kid's toys, so PR used that to fix the light.

Next, he took on the wiring that JH had started. He replaced the electrical box, rewired it and hooked up the upper light in the vestibule. He ran into some problems with a severed wire, a situation that would have made me throw in the towel, but he persevered, and had wires coming out of every wall in the house. He managed to fix it, and now the front porch lights are ready to go.

Finally, he fixed the front door. He probably could have installed all of the siding on the barn if he'd have stayed longer. The guy is amazing. Now, if only we could get him to stay longer, then we'd have an entire shopping mall built by next summer.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Home Improvement Progress

JH came over and we (I should say he, I just watched and handed him tools) got the wiring done, but there wasn't time to get the lights put in, nor did we have all the equipment. For the record, the store did not have the switches we needed, so I need to go elsewhere.

In the meantime, the front is ready to be wired and the lights installed. I ran into an electrician at the library and he gave some advice about how to do the lights. He said what they do is use a pine board to frame the light, then put the clapboards around that. Say no more, sounds good to me.

I just need to find some wood, cut a hole, and then I'm in business. I could even put the board in without the light, but we'll see how that goes. I do, however, forsee that this could be finished and done before the new year. How crazy would that be?

Then again, crazier things have happened. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FEBP Actual Steps

This is old news for some, but I'm trying to chronicle this in proper order, so excuse the redundancy.

We managed to finally get the front step in, and I had some help getting it done. N in particular likes to help out by nailing and hammering and especially painting. A likes to help with the painting, as well. It makes for a fun day getting things done, and the kids learn the value of lending a hand, namely in the form of a happy dad.

With the step in, I could caulk the seam and put in some flashing. I decided to use shims under the step, essentially making for a double shim pitch, which worked out beautifully. It was not as apparent as I'd thought it would be, and now we can be sure to encourage water to fall away from the house.

With the step screwed in, I could put in the trim, after it was painted by my fabulous assistants, of course, and then begin thinking about putting in the clapboards as well as the lights. The lights will require wiring so that could be out of my league, but I can definitely do siding.

I'll wait for JH or PR to work with electricity. Until then, thanks for reading.

Going, going, gone...

This will probably not be the last that you will hear about these logs, but at least for now, they are gone. I can't believe it.

The process of having them carted off has been such a pain in my you-know-what that I almost don't even care what happens to them at this point... almost.

As I mentioned, I contacted CI about them, and he said he'd mill them if I could get them over there. Easier said than done. He did recommend calling his neighbor, DS, who is a logger and has a truck and a small trailer. I called and left a message, and the actually returned my call. He said I was lucky to have reached him because he is out for most of the day. He came over with his trailer and saw, and was I ever happy to see him.

He said some of the logs were too long and that they'd need to be cut. I was worried that my saw would get pinched, and he looked at me and shook his head, indicating that he thought I was a big sissy, and brought out his massive chainsaw. He told me that in 40 years of logging, he'd never got his saw pinched, and I believed it. He cut the logs like they were Popsicle sticks, loaded them into his trailer, and carted them off.

I told him I'd follow him to where they were going, but he knows CI, and said don't bother. Then they were gone. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. AND, DS is local, meaning he's a neighbor, and he can sell me log length hard wood in smaller increments than what I'm buying.

Life is good. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Log Progress

I had this amazing revelation about the whole log mess, and it might work out, after all.

During all this time that I've been fretting over what to do with these logs, I'd forgotten all about CI. I figured he was out of the picture because the guy is busy trying to build his homestead, he doesn't need more work on his plate.

Either way, I figured I'd give him a call, because the logs are in a good place now, and he wouldn't need bring his excavator. I spoke with him and he was totally cool. He said he'd be happy to mill the wood, and that he was sorry he'd forgotten, but that he didn't have a way to move the logs.

In other words, I was going to have to find a way. He did, however, suggest a friend, who I'll call. At least I've found someone willing to cut the logs into boards, so I'm about 35% there. All I need is a 10 ton truck. Piece of cake.

We'll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michaela Kobyakov for the pic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

FEBP Decisions

The FEBP is moving along nicely, and we are well on the way to finishing the step. In fact, we could possibly start putting in clapboards in the next week or so, but that could be getting too crazy, even for me.

I installed the wood board for the step, and that went fairly well. I was worried about getting enough pitch, and ended up erring on the side of caution and giving it more pitch than I might have needed. I accomplished this by putting shims under the plywood, which I then put I&W shield over, then puts shims over that.

I thought the pitch would be too crazy, though it sure as heck would shift the water away from the house, but it wasn't so bad. In fact, it looked good, and I'm glad I took that approach. I secured the board with galvanized screws, then caulked the heck out of the gap, which wasn't too bad. I then put flashing (aluminum foil tape) over the caulk, and then laid the Tyvek over that.

Is that crazy, or what? I think the setup does a fairly good job of taking into account that dreaded drop of water. Think like a droplet, like they say.

Now that the step is installed, I'll put in the trim, and then it's time for clapboards. I don't think I'll be able to paint it this season, but the boards are primed, so I can leave them until next year. I'm kind of excited.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Still Splitting

Okay, our wood is now about 90% done, and even if I quit at this point, we would be fine for this Winter, but in my ideal situation, I'd have two years cut and split, and then have a third sitting and waiting in the woods

Is this getting old yet? Have we already passed that point? Sorry about that. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to John Hughes for the pic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Still Need to Cut Lawn

I realize this is a bit of a waste of time, but I need to run the lawnmower dry before I store it for the Winter. Same with the chainsaw, though I can cut wood well into Winter. At least that's what real men do... I think. My sensei says the saw runs better in the cold, anyway, and he's a logger.

Either way, I'm wrestling with this lawn, mainly because it's covered with leaves, as well. The leaves make it hard because they're a pain to rake, and they clog up the mower. Wah, wah, wah. Can I whine a little more? I should get a flock of sheep, that would solve my problems. Then again, it would introduce a whole new set of them.

I'll get to it soon enough, I think. I'd like to store the lawnmower properly this year, something I haven't always done in the past. Help keep the carburator healthy.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Michal Zacharzewski for the pic.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ski Racks

In terms of small projects, I did manage to finish the wall racks for our skis. Now we are ready to start the ski season with right frame of mind. I lightly stained the wood just for effect, and the final step will be to secure it to the wall, which may require some stud finding, or at the very least, employing some drywall anchors. Molly bolts, as I've been told.

I will say this, as frivolous as this project may seem, I do think it will keep the mudroom a little more orderly, and this will go a long way in making it a more harmonious Winter. Plus, it makes us feel like we live in a Swiss ski chalet. How can you beat that?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chainsaw Beckoning Me

I am gradually chipping away at the pile of wood blocks out back, and it is possible that before the snow takes over, I'll finish splitting it and be ready to cut some more logs. The problem is, I had to fuel up the chainsaw to cut that maple log, and now it has gas in it. Also, I have a full gas can. Losing the gallon of gas is not the end of the world, though I might as well finish it.

The bigger issue is emptying the chainsaw tank, something that was recommended to me by the guys at Joe's Equipment. I could easily use of that gallon cutting the pile of tree-length out front, it's really question of time and getting it done before Winter comes down hard on us. According to the forecast, we may have mild weather up to Thanksgiving, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Small Steps (no pun intended) on the FEBP

I finally took out that long board that I'm going to use for the front step and cut it to size, then stained/treated it. I went with the Cabot silicone based waterproofing, which is a new product and not yet time tested, but it is water based, which I liked, and comes in clear stains.

My biggest worry was screwing up the cutting, because it's such a big piece, and if I blew it, then I wasn't sure what to do with the thing. I think I got it right, it fits, after all. I need to secure it with screws, but before I get too crazy with that, I'll need to measure out some trim, and make some flashing. I figure before I secure the board, at least I should have everything ready so that I can get it all done before it starts to rain. The way it is now, if it does rain and get wet, I can lift the board off and let it dry underneath.

Still not sure if I should put spacers under the board, though I did find a potential solution, though it would require some searching as well as more work, but what else is new?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Good Experience Thus Far With Dan Clay

I am curious to see what our final bill will come out to, but I just want to say that it's been a good experience thus far with Dan Clay, and I would highly recommend him. By far the most professional of all the excavators that we've dealt with. They returned calls ASAP, gave us timely written estimates, spelled out what needed to be done, and were up front and at the ready in terms of scheduling. I enjoyed and appreciated working with JF, his work partner.

They came when they said they'd come, and got the job done in a timely manner. They also were open to whatever changes or designs we wanted, even giving us suggestions and ideas as to how we could save some money. In the end, and I'm guessing this is standard MO, they did some final grooming, laid down some grass seeds, and put hay over that. Kind of a nice touch, though probably not so necessary, since it's late in the season and we kind of liked having a big dirt field. Also, they cleared out the area behind the barn and seeded that, so the barn has a bit of backyard, which is really nice.

For a person like me who has money anxieties, it was much appreciated. We also need some work done on the driveway, so if that ever happens, we'll definitely be calling Dan Clay.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Front Door Issue

I noticed that when we installed the front door in its new location, it did not seem to create a perfect seal to block out drafts. There was a small gap between the frame and door, and was not a big issue but will become one in the Winter. The goal here is to seal that gap. I also noticed that the door in the mudroom doesn't match up perfectly either, so it could be a limitation of the construction.

My first inclination was to just put weather stripping in the space and close it up, but my brother in law, PR, said the right was was to remove the current stripping and re-install it closer to the door. This sounds simple enough, but closer inspection to the door told me that it wasn't so simple.

Truth be told, I'm not quite sure how it should be done, and I sit there and scratch my head as to how to remove that thing and move it. For the record, I tried the weather stripping and it didn't really work, which really bummed me out.

I think in the process of man-handling that door, we may have tweaked the frame or door a bit and now they don't match up that well. Bummer. I'm still thinking of solutions, but am confident that I'll figure something out, and hopefully before the temperature drops below zero degrees.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interior Alternatives

As far as the wainscoting goes, I sure am learning a lot about interior paints. Actually, way more than I wanted to. Latex, oil, primers, low VOC, no VOC. The list goes one. So far, there is only one thing I'm sure of, and that is that everyone's got a different story to tell. It's amazing how people see things so differently, and being the neurotic, anal-retentive OCD sufferer, I don't do well with so much information. Too many darn choices.

The initial information was that we had to go oil based on the primer and then latex on the paint because the wood has a dark stain on it. Others have told me that you can just put a latex coat over it and then paint. However, two sources that are reliable mentioned that oil can seep through a latex primer, especially if it's a light color. I'm going with that information.

This necessitates something that will seal the wood, and of course oil works best with oil. My Mentor mentioned that there should be some latex products out there that will fit the bill, and to do some investigating. Yikes!

I called around, and again, everyone has told me something different. I finally called a few companies, and have thus far arrived at the following plan.

Rustoleum makes a line of primers call Zissner, and one in particular is called Smart Prime. It is a latex primer that seals and is supposed to do the job. One that is on, I'd go with a low VOC or no VOC paint. With VOC, lower is better, none is best. Benjamin Moore makes a paint called Natura that is better for the environment and has no VOC. Say no more. I've also learned that there are even organic paints made with all natural ingredients, but it gets crazy when you do the searches, and at some point you just have to make a choice. I'm also leaning to B Moore's exterior latex stain (Arborcoat) as an alternative to Cabot's oil based stain.

So I did, and that's where it stands, at least for today. Things could change by the afternoon, however, so stay tuned. Until then, thanks for reading.

Dealing With Logs

One week later and the logs are still sitting there. I do have faith that something will happen to them, it must. They are in the way of where I want them to deliver the siding, so they can't sit there forever.

At the very least, I'll cut the wood up and toss it into the woods, but again, I'd like to have the boards. I spoke to Wright's Mill and he said that he's cut as few as two logs, and no matter what, you still end up saving money. The easier you make it for them, the more money you save. Say no more.

I was going to ask Dan Clay to move them, but they finished the job quickly and took the excavator away. I may have to ask CH to help, but the guy is so busy. I am still trying to contact the logger down the road.

Something will happen, the sooner the better. This should be interesting. Until then, thanks for reading.

Fringe Benefits of the New Septic System

We had to do some quick thinking when the excavators were here, but we managed to come out the other end fairly unscathed. We were just glad that it was done, and now that it is, not only do we have a septic system ready to go, but we have a new playground to frolic in. They cleared away a large swath of the yard in order to get that system done, and in the process, cleared away a fairly tenacious plot of milkweed, goldenrod, and raspberries.

It's actually really nice back there, and I think they plan on seeding it with grass, so it will make a nice yard to go with the finished barn. Whatever be the case, the big dirt plot meant it was time to break out the bikes and do some off road riding.

It's a good thing the weather warmed up. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Septic Ideas

Since we did a fairly drastic change in our floor plan and had to do an about face on where the septic tank will be, it goes without saying that the whole scenario filled me with anxiety. How the heck were we going to pull this off now?

At least for now, the septic pipe has been laid and is now eagerly awaiting a grand union with a toilet and sink... or two, or three!

Truth be told, I wasn't that stressed, because I knew we could work something out (nothing a reciprocating saw and a hammer can't fix), but I was also just relieved to get some big challenges out of the way, namely the septic system and those darn logs (still dealing with those).

B the plumber (I still don't know his last name) came over and we talked, and he is so calm and relaxed, maybe just confident, that any concerns I had were put to rest. He even suggested something that I was thinking about, which was to shift the bathroom plan and make a small 1/2 bath next to the kitchen, just in case you're doing the dishes and beckons, and then put the bigger bathroom upstairs. This gives us much many more options for the design.

Now that the septic system is in, we have the wonderful task of coming up with a design, which based on past experience, should only take about a year. Of course, we'll need some feedback on the design from my in-laws, who will be visiting over the holidays and can chime in on what they'd like to see. This is everyone's golden opportunity to design a bathroom from the ground up, so everyone should give it some thought.

A family affair. How can you beat that?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Close to Attending to Front Step

I've been given a sign that I should get on this darn front step, and it comes in the form of nice weather. Actually, the weather has been lousy, but warmer. This means I can stain or paint in the great outdoors.

With this in mind, I'm hoping to get to that front step this week. I just got the waterproofing stain. It's the blue jug, a silicone based product that is oil-free from Cabot. I hope it works, because I'm going to use it on our picnic table (if it's safe) as well. The other can is our oil-free external siding stain, which I hope will replace the oil based weathering stain. Are we eco-conscious, or what?

Anyway, all I need to do (as if it were so simple) is cut the board to size and screw it in. Best of all, this is something A&N can help me with because they like to staple in the shims. A family affair.

I won't say too much because overly-committing myself to anything only leads to trouble.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I still haven't glued in the blueboard? Yikes, Winter is here.

Thanks for reading.

Getting Organized

In light of having so many projects ongoing, it is difficult to justify adding yet another one to the mix, but when you're training to be a real man, you can't let practical matters like time get in the way of doing things.

With this in mind, I made a rack to hold our skis up in the mudroom. Winter is usually this wrestling match with our ski equipment, especially with two types of skis and now hockey equipment, it is amazing that it even fits in the room. The skis are usually piled up in one corner, and getting them involves digging through the debris and untangling various straps and poles. Not a huge deal, but not the most organized look and feel.

Now, in the quest to make our mudroom look like a Swiss ski chalet, I made the racks. Now the question becomes, do I just put them up, or stain them first. I'm leaning to the latter, as I'm sure my Mentor would, as well, but we'll see.

Until then, thanks for reading.

to justify small projects when so many big ones needing attention, but at least something's geting done

Friday, November 5, 2010

More Septic Issues and Shifting Gears on Our Plan

This whole septic drama is getting a bit out of hand, and I realize that we really weren't properly prepared for this and could have done things so much differently. Along these lines, the excavator even said if you build three houses in a row, you build them differently every time because you are constantly learning from your mistakes.

That said, we now know that the most important thing before you even begin to build a house is deciding where your toilet is going to be. This will determine where the septic pipe will leave the house, and thus the location of your septic tank. Everything else about the house should come after that.

I know my Mentor is shaking his head and can't wait to say, "I hate to say I told you so, but... " which for the record, is simply not true, because I know that he loves to say "I told you so." Either way, we were warned from day 1 that we needed to figure out where the bathroom would be, and then indicate where we wanted the septic tank. We then proceeded to ignore these warnings and try to move forward.

Now we are suffering for our sins. The problem is (there's always a problem) that we had a design that the engineer worked with, and once the plan was finished and the design approved, we went ahead and changed it. This, of course, was because we hadn't planned properly. The original design had the septic outlet coming out the south side of the barn. This meant that the septic tank could be right next to the barn, which would then be adjacent to the leech field. A straight shot from beginning to end.

When we changed the plan, we wanted to put the tank more in the back of the barn, on the east face. This would enable us to put a bathroom in the back/middle of the barn, thus completing our preferred design. However, this also meant that the tank would be farther away, and as we've learned, we're operating on margins over here. Because of limitations on how deep the leech field can be, we don't have unlimited distances. The leech field is set, and the excavators work backwards from there.

To go that extra 50 feet would have meant that they would have decreased the pitch to the point where it was basically level and the flow would have been difficult. Plus, because there has to be a gradual incline, the pipe and tank would have been very close to the surface. This is why they had to get blueboard, which I'm wondering if they still need.

Anyway, the problems all started from bad planning, and now we know, the next time we design and build a house, which will hopefully be never, you have to start with the toilet and septic tank, and then go from there.

In light of these problems, and because the excavators were standing there waiting for an answer and we had to come up with one on the spot, we had to shift gears on our plan and move the bathroom. Now, we're going to just use a couple of trees out back, and leave a pile of leaves for toilet paper. Vermont living at its best.

Actually, we decided to take the path of least resistance and go back to the original plan. The septic tank is now adjacent to the barn, just to the south, and the pipe exiting the barn is located on the south wall, as pictured here.

Sure, it isn't optimal, but we'll work around it and figure things out. We'll meet with the plumber as soon as possible and show him the new setup and hopefully get some answers. When R and I talked about it afterward, we were pretty sure that we didn't have a huge number of options given the space and layout of the land. Our final choice was probably the best one we had without using pumps and electricity, which we wanted to avoid.

All in all, it makes me wonder how houses ever get built. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Kitchen Aid

In the continuing adventures with JH (sans the plumber's crack) and his magic bag of tools, we managed to yank out the garbage disposal and put in a new pipe. Or rather, JH yanked out the disposal, and I stood next to him and handed him tools and offered moral support. Hey, don't discount the importance of support. As Winston Churchill said, "Men can move mountains with words." As long as the mountains are made of words, of course.

Either way, to complete the project, we needed to remove the disposal to figure out what sort of drain would fit in. Measurements had to be taken, and the proper fittings purchased. In retrospect, it took a fair amount of measuring, planning, and note taking in order to maximize efficiency, for which JH is the model of. I would have not only screwed things up on my own, but would have had to have made at least 3 trips back and forth to the hardware store.

Removing the disposal was a bit unpleasant, that thing is disgusting. Plus, the hose that attaches it to the drain was filled with all sorts of fun stuff. Once it was out, JH figured out what sort of drain we'd need to replace it, as well as the pipe fitting to connect the new drain to the existing drain. He even wrote things down, which is something I never do and suffer because of it.

We headed over to Aubuchon, and I have to confess, I was impressed with how much the woman new about plumbing. She answered all of JH's questions, and new exactly what we needed. I realize it's a bit sexist of me to assume she might not know so much, but maybe I was just jealous that the depth of her knowledge was superior to mine. Ouch!

We came back and had lunch, then JH strapped on his body armor and prepared for the battle. We had to cut the pipe a little, but for the most part, it fit perfectly, and we even had the proper pitch. I'm learning a lot about pitch with the whole septic system debacle.

JH tightened the pipes, and we ran some hot water and finished tightening the connections. No leaks thus far.

Now we have a nice clean underside of the sink. R was happy, and now we have one less worry for our septic system, at least on our house. The barn is another issue, but more on that later.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Siding Enlightenment

Speaking of options, we have even more options for our barn siding. Again, the original plan was to put a coat of weathering stain and let nature take its course. The stain is an oil based product, which makes it a pain for cleaning and disposal. I'd been told that oil products were not the same as they used to be, mainly because they've made them safer. With that in mind, what were my options?

It turns out that Benjamin Moore makes a latex stain that is clear but has some light pigment similar to the Cabot Oil Stain. The product is called Arborcoat, and it is better for the environment an easier to clean/dispose. I.e., I don't have to wait until hazardous waste pickup.

I called the guys at B Moore and naturally they endorsed their product. I think I'm leaning towards it, I just need to give it a try and see how it looks. If it's okay, then I'm all for it, and we can begin the seemingly interminable task of painting the siding and then putting it on.

Then again, I have to order the stuff first. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Interior Complications and Potential Resolutions

Ah, the problems that arise from thinking too much. If I were more impulsive I would have simply left things well enough alone, but of course I had to investigate some more, and now the situation is more complicated. Then again, it doesn't have to be.

We had RH come over and give some advice about how to tackle the interior decorating. The wainscotting is just too darn dark, and we want to lighten the place up a bit. Our initial plan was to have RH come over and paint the stuff a lighter color, and he mentioned that he'd need to put on an oil primer because the wood was stained with oil. Because oil is so volatile, he would wear a mask and air out the room with open windows. The work would therefore begin in Spring.

Since there would be a long lag period, naturally I investigated into whether I could do it myself over the duration, and like most things involving home improvement, that possibility was there. The woman at Woodstock H&H said you could simply put a latex primer over the wood and then paint it. She mentioned nothing about the oil seeping through, but instead focused on the texture of the wood and recommended this stuff called Stix.

I went to Lebanon Paint and the guy confirmed what RH said, that the oil was a potential seepage problem, and that we could either use an oil based primer, or cover it with a polyurethane top coat and then paint that, with Stix.

Now I have to decide, to do it or not to do it. Naturally I'd like to tackle it, but there are so many things going on, do I need another?

Of course I do, especially if it saves us money, and furthers my real man training.

We'll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On A Bright Note

Things aren't all bad. The excavator, who has this massive machine, moved the logs from behind the barn and placed them in front, and it was a piece of cake. That excavator moved the logs like they were pencils. Now the trees are in a location where the mill guys can access them, so we may be able to finally mill them.

This is good, because I may need special rough cut boards to finish the bathroom. We may need to elevate the bathroom about 12 inches in order to get enough pitch for the waste to flow properly to the septic tank. I was told by DC the excavator that the way to do it is with 2X12 boards. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see that his project gets realized, because every step of the process seems to open up a new can of worms, and I'm not fan of eating worms.

Also, we can hopefully get the maple milled into thick boards for counter tops, but at this point, I'm not sure if we'll ever get in touch with those mill guys. Maybe they're sending me a message? There is always the portable mill, but again, I'm not sure if it's worth it to have them come over to mill two trees. I've been told it's not, but I've also learned that you can't make big decisions on someone's opinion, you have to find out for yourself.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Septic Complications Realized

It turns out that sure enough, we have some problems with our septic system. Part of it stems from our change in plans, but I can't say for sure if that is the complete root of the problem. The excavators came over early yesterday and right off the bat DC told me that he didn't think there was enough pitch from house to the tank to the leach field. The problem is, the farther the distance, the deeper everything has to go for gravity to do its job, and there is a limit as to how deep the leach field can be.

They seem to start with the leach field and work backwards. As it is, they are operating under less than optimal conditions, because the pipe is not as deep as it could be, so they are having to use blue board insulation. Today they will come and take more accurate measurements and then we have to make a decision, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.

The possible scenarios thus far are as follows: the tank will work out, though we may have to raise the bathroom in order to let gravity feed the pipe from the toilet. This is the best scenario, and the one we are hoping for. The other option would be that we have to install a pump system, which means more money (a lot, I believe), more maintenance, more headache, and more potential problems down the line. This is the worst case scenario and one that might put the project on indefinite hold. The final scenario would be to place the septic tank in the old position, on the side of the barn, and then we'd have to re-configure the layout, placing the bathroom on the side of the barn.

This is a total drag because we already anticipated putting the kitchen there, and would now have to either put the bathroom there, instead, and/or remove and re-install the windows. Not a fun prospect, but possible.

There is one more possibility, and one I should broach with the excavators. We could put the tank on the side of the house, shift the bathroom about 10 feet, then cut a huge slice of foundation out and lay the pipe through the barn floor so it would exit the side and reach the tank. This is probably #2 on our list of preferences, and might incur more cost due to the extra work cutting the concrete, but again, we'd like to maintain our layout.

We'll see where this one goes. We'll have more information today, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. Until then, thanks for reading.

BTW, N took this artsy pic of the excavator. Nice perspective.

They're Here

The excavators are coming, the excavators are coming...

We had been wondering what the status was of the excavators, since we hadn't really heard from them and past experience has taught us that working with contractors can be a bit of a circus.

I had called them and he said they would eventually bring the heavy equipment over and hopefully begin in a week or so. How's that for vague? In all fairness, the excavator, Dan Clay, has been about as professional and reliable as I've ever seen. JF has always come when he said he would, always returns calls, and has up front and straightforward about everything, so I can't complain.

Anyway, we were sitting around waiting, when two nights ago R came home from work and said there was a big excavator sitting in our driveway.


I went out there and sure enough, they had arrived. JF then called me to say that they had finished job early and would begin on our septic system this Thursday.

Whoa, are things cooking along, or what? I had to scramble out to the barn to clear an area where they will work, not to mention indicate where we want the pipes to come out. Also, I fired up my trusty chainsaw and attempted to cut that beast of a log in two. The thing is massive, and I think I cut about 99.7% of it, but it's so big I can't tell if I've gone all the way through, and I don't want the saw to dig into the ground.

Oh well, when he picks the thing up with the excavator, it should snap in two. I asked him to move the thing to where the lumber guys can pick it up, but that's a drama for another blog entry. In the meantime, if things work out right, which of course they never do, we may have a septic system installed one day. Then again, there are always complications, so stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Firewood Update

We are marching along steadily with the firewood, and may even have next years wood stacked and ready before the first snow. Of course, having said that, I now won't get it done until next year, but that's what happens when you get too cocky, especially when it is unwarranted.

Either way, I would say that we are about half done. It is amazing to me how much wood actually goes into a wood pile. It seems like I split cord after cord, but once it gets stacked, it doesn't look like that much. Then it's back to the chopping block.

We have a good system going. The kids help out, though N is more enthusiastic. He really loves to stack wood. I get a good pile going of split wood, and then the two of us start to stack it. It's actually a lot of fun working with the kids, they're really cute when they want to help out, and it really does make a difference.

I would love to finish this pile in the next week or two so I'll have one less thing to have to think about. Then again, I still have 7 cords of uncut wood waiting for me, so never mind.

Also, I am thinking that we're going to crack into next year's wood before this year is up. This always happens, my planning always seems to fall a little short, but I guess I'm still learning, and it's going to take some time. I tried to increase the length and height of the pile, but we've already used about 20% of this year's wood, and we have not gone through 20% of Winter. Oh well, live and learn.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Progress on the Siding

I am on the cusp of ordering the siding for the barn, but a couple of things are holding me back. In addition to the enormous cost of buying all that wood, I first have to figure out how much I'll need. I'm guessing around 2000 linear feet, which is a heck of a lot of wood. I have to revisit my high school math and start calculating square feet and areas of triangles. Do I need the pythagorean theorem?

I was also thinking that I should wait until the excavators are done with the septic system, because a pile of wood that big might get in the way, especially when you have 10 tons of equipment. I'm thinking within the week I'll order it, however, and then there's no turning back.

Also on the siding front (or side?), I'm leaning towards using a different stain. Benjamin Moore makes a transparent latex stain that is supposed to be top notch. I like that it's not oil, easier to clean and discard. We'll see about this one. I have to make a decision, and that is never a pretty sight to behold.

Until then, thanks for reading.

ordering siding, a lot of money, scares me
need to measure the barn and then figure out how many linear feet are needed

Mirror, Mirror, Finally on the Wall

If you can believe this one, I finally installed that mirror I got, and it only took about two months. Amazing. I lucked out in that some of the fasteners fell on studs, so they held really well.

And like all things I put off because I'm a wimp, it wasn't that bad. I sort of knew it wouldn't be that bad, it was just another thing I had to deal with, and I tend to deal with things by ignoring them. It drives R crazy.

Either way, the mirror is in, it really brightens up the bathroom, and now I can put my contacts in without losing my mind.

Thanks for reading.