Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wooden It Be Lovely

The last several weeks have been frantic. We ordered doors (unfinished) , ripped lumber for door jambs and window trim, ran those a gazillion times through the planer, then sanded, stained and finished them all.

We decided we wanted the interior wood trim and the doors to match the kitchen cabinets, so we got the stain from the cabinet company. The cabinet shop owner, Scott Selix says, "We use a lacquer based stain, then we spray on a lacquer finish." No problem, I thought, I'll just buy the stain from them and get lacquer finish at Lowe's or someplace. When it was time to start staining the wood, I opened the can and about fell over from the fumes. What the heck is in that stuff? After some investigation I discovered that lacquer is based on alcohol, naptha and ether. Break out the mask! The mask helped but a good north breeze was a blessing. We also decided to let the stain dry for 48 hours, then use varithane to finish it instead of a lacquer finish. So far, nothing has caught fire, melted, or blown up.

In our spare time, and on rainy days, we worked on inside projects, specifically grouting the tile and starting the hardwood floors. Ed did the hard part, applying the grout, and I did the rest, cleaning the excess and sponging.

After we got that finished, we started on the hardwood floors. Except for the part about being bent over a floor nailer for hours and hours, it's a lot of fun. But we're very happy with the result. We bought the Lumber Liquidator's house brand and are very pleased with the quality of the product.

This is Brazilian Cherry, and while this picture shows a lighter color than the floor actually is, the wood will darken over time to a fairly dark wood.

Then in his spare time, Ed built the shelves in the pantry. Of course they didn't stay empty for long. The things were barely up before I started putting stuff away. I think having no kitchen has been the hardest part of this entire process for me.

The cabinets come Wednesday, so yesterday afternoon, our neighbor Mike came down to help Ed get the stove upstairs. The stove cleared the stair rail by about a half an inch. I couldn't watch. And if you think that was fun, just wait until it's time to move the refrigerator!

But oh, the joys of installing a new appliance. We bought a Jenn-Air downdraft slide in range.
1. The screw for the vent hose is made with cheap metal and stripped out on the third turn.
2. The little pull ring on the aluminum filter pulled out with the first tug.
3. The vent grill is warped and doesn't sit snugly on the top of the stove.
4. The directions for programming the computer are a poor translation from whatever they started with, and you're pretty much on your own.

Given that we paid an exorbitant price for the darned thing, we were pretty upset. I was however pretty excited to see that the knob labeled "right front" actually turned on the right front burner.

This morning I finally figured out how to set the program from french to english, and to set the clock. Finally I figured out the timer. The rest I can ignore until later.

Meanwhile, Ed has begun moving in the door jambs. Soon we'll have a door on the bathroom. Wahoo!

Friday, October 9, 2009

That's A Mouthfull!

Entire electrical system, improved, updated and moved. Check.

Entire plumbing system, improved, updated and moved. Check.

Entire phone system, improved, updated and moved. Check.

All systems currently functioning. Check.

Monday morning, as promised, the excavator showed up at 06:30. I know there are excavators much bigger than this one, but I have officially named this one Digosaurus Hellatious, more commonly called One Hell of a Digger.

There is an existing pad of cement that went under the doublewide, and that had to go. But everyone was betting there would be no rebar, since the primary function of the cement was to make a managable crawlspace and get rid of a potential mudhole.


There was probably enough rebar in that thing to put U.S. Steel back to work. But that giant mouth of a bucket grabbed onto slabs of the concrete and slammed them around until either the rebar gave way or it was exposed for one of the workers to cut it with a metal saw.

As Robbie Ohrburg was running that excavator, he was spinning it around like a top, to the right, to the left, around in a circle, whirl around the other direction. I had to stop watching because I was getting motion sickness just looking at it. That guy must have eaten cafeteria lunches as a kid because anyone else would be queasy.

They wouldn't let Ed play with any of the big toys but they did let him be the stick-guy for the laser level
. It made me a little nervous to have him down in that hole, with the big bucket swinging around like a tether ball, but Robbie knew what he was about, and didn't smack Ed once. He really had amazing control and was able to move it very delicately. I told him later, "You could put mascara on with that thing!"

All the busted up concrete and all the dirt was carted down to the east pasture and dumped in neat piles. The pile is about six feet tall and about eight feet across, and I couldn't even guess how long it is..100 yards? It's like having my own personal Hadrian's Wall. Later, Ed will take the tractor down and distribute the dirt around to various places. It's mostly clay and rubble rock, that hasn't seen the light of day for a few hundred years.

By the end of the day, we had a basement dug. I can't even imagine how long that would have taken us with the tractor and the gator...months.

Sometimes it's just worth it to have the pros come out and do the job.

This morning, we had some sand brought in as a base, and to try to cut down on the mud. Of course, the cats thought it was the best sandbox ever!

Ed got out the tractor and started pushing the sand around. Sometimes I think he just thinks up these projects so he can play with the toys.
Once he has the sand spread around, he'll switch from construction hat to farm hat and take care of a few things he's been putting off.
The weather man says we're scheduled for rain next week and that means the blackberry vines have to be sprayed this week.
Next week we'll probably start some inside jobs.
The list is endless, but here are a few items.
1. Tile the coat closet and the pantry. Grout.
2. Lay hardwood flooring.
3. Run lumber for baseboards and window trim through the planer.
4. Rip same.
5. Stain and seal same.
6. Install same.
7. Install cabinets.
8. Tile counters. Grout.
9. Spoil Theresa rotten.

Needless to say, it won't all happen next week. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Simple Gifts

Ed and his helper, Taylor, started on the stairs right away. Because of where the basement will be dug, they will lay them out to go straight down. Later, he will take off the lower section and turn them toward the deck between the garage and the house. They plotted out where the pier posts should be and set those on Friday. Saturday,the stringers went up.

That was about the point where Ed realized that the main electrical wire coming from the box at the road to the main panel was currently under the concrete slab for the former doublewide, and try as he might, he couldn't pull it. It would have to be re-routed. You guessed it. Right underneath the new stairs. So the stairs were put on hold, and Ed began trenching. Yes, he tried a ditchwitch. Actually it was one that a neighbor very graciously lent us. Problem was.. it was older than, really. Anyway it wasn't cutting it (no pun intended) so he just used the backhoe.

In the meantime, Taylor was attaching the steps to the stairs. By Sunday night, we had a functioning set of stairs. They still need a hand rail, so they are a little scary, and they need more lighting at night, but it sure beats climbing up the ladder!

Every day, Ed has been working literally dawn to dusk. The excavator team will be here first of next week do dig the basement, and all the prep work has to be complete. We also have a window of opportunity because the rainy weather has held off. We know that will change in a big hurry.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Lance The Electrician was here, and he and Ed did whatever electricians do to re-wire the main panel and put new wire in the trench.

The phone line needs to be located (underground) and relocated.

There is an existing water line that was buried too shallow and needs to be buried deeper.

Thursday, I had a whole list of chores to do in town and left in the morning. Ed was already outside working. I got home just after sunset, and it was getting cold and dark. Ed was still outside with a shovel.

"I was using the backhoe, digging for the phone wire, and snagged that shallow water line. It's broken someplace underneath the concrete slab.", he said. He looked exhausted.

So, ok, one night without any water. No shower, no flush toilet.

Friday was our 10th wedding anniversary. After laying awake most of the night, Ed decided that it would be best just to cut the pipe at the wellhead and lay new pipe over to the garage. The existing water pressure tank is over 15 years old and probably should be replaced, so we'll just get a new one and put it in the garage. So, we drove to Longview for plumbing parts, got home by 2:00 pm, and Ed went to work to get it together so we could have a shower. Yea!


As Wally Wright, our Pro Hardware Store owner says, "It's not a plumbing project without three trips to the store."

While Ed fitted stuff together, I headed in for the few parts we didn't realize we needed.

By 7:00 he had everything together. It takes two hours for the PVC glue to dry so we had some dinner and waited for 9:00 to turn on the water to take showers. We were both tired and sticky.

At 9:00, Ed went down to turn on the water and check for leaks. In all the plumbing he has ever done, Ed has never had a pipe leak. The water came on fine, everything looked good, then ...gush. In his fatigue, Ed had primed the PVC pipe and checked fit, then forgotten to put on the glue. Now there was a flood in the garage, and a very tired, very unhappy Ed. He got pipes dried off and glued together. Two nights with no shower and no water. Do we wait up until midnight to shower? No, we do not. Feeling like refugees, we climbed into bed and went to sleep. At least we had a bed and a roof. Could be worse.

Saturday morning, Ed got up and turned the water on for another test. Oh, blessed water! Oh glorious shower! What wonderful gifts we ignore every day!

Sunday morning we went to church. After lunch Ed called the excavator company to see what day they would be here to dig the basement.

"Tomorrow...we'll be there at 6:30." he says.

OOhh kay. Ed started filling in the big trench across the driveway and cleaning up the site. By the light of sunset, we plotted the site on the ground, spray painting as we went, the site plus three feet around for foundation. I'm spatially's hard for me to look at a set of plans and get a good feel for how big the rooms will be. For the first time, I could stand in one spot and imagine where the rooms would be. I'm still in a daze.