Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meanwhile, inside.....

With the passing of the autumnal equinox and days now getting shorter than nights, time to work on the house after the paying job is almost nil. In just 5 weeks, the time change will make for even less, in fact by the time daylight savings time ends, I will be arriving home in the dark. Not a good thing, considering the siding has not started going up yet.

Meanwhile, since it is now dark by 7:30, I have turned to working on the inside projects in the evenings. The new covering has started going up on the library walls and is quite pleasing. It goes well with the map colors on the ceiling and accent wall.

I added a new bookcase, one of those inexpensive, put together yourself types, in black so it matches the computer armoire. Instead of using the cheap cardboard back provided, I used pieces of the wall paneling from window holes to back it. This makes it look like open back shelves against the wall. I also added a "crown" to it so it would match the old bookcase I already had in the room. This was such a simple little project, I was surprised at the difference it made in the look of the piece.
Once the paint has time to cure, the books stacked on the floor will go back in the old bookcase then the third set of shelves can be emptied and painted. I've ordered a roll of window film which has a leaf pattern on it. It looks much like the pressed glass I used in the center of the front window. It will be applied to the fixed window in the library which is 16 inches wide and 70 inches tall. This skinny window does not lend itself to a lot of different treatments so this decorative film looked like a good fix and will tie this window to the front one.

A die hard bibliophile, my relationship with books began when I was barely out of diapers. I would pester anyone in reach until they would read to me and by the time I was 3 years old I could "read" my favorite book "The Hide and Seek Duck". Mind you, this was way before Sesame Street or "Hooked on Phonics, in fact, this was before my family even owned a TV. If you must know the truth is, I actually had the book memorized and believe me, a reader did not want to try to skip parts because I WOULD know!

When I went to school and really learned to read, the die was cast, I was destined to love books for the rest of my life. Being an introvert by nature, I relish my private time and need seclusion regularly to replenish my spirit. Books have always fit into this time, being companionable without expectation. When I discovered the public library, I was in awe. To see an entire building devoted to books was amazing and over the years I spent a lot of hours wandering among the aisles of books. Now I am going to have my very own library, complete with a crystal chandelier. Very decadent!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moving on

I think this pleases me. It isn't perfect, a good eye will quickly pick out the errors but the overall look isn't bad. I'm more than half way through the stripping and wrapping portion. I'm actually rather proud of myself, although I am in my third summer of renovation, completing as much as I have was no small task. The best part, all the work has met a standard that I consider acceptable. Some of it is just plain good!

The house should be significantly more energy efficient when I finish everything. The first step was putting new windows all the way around, replacing old, wood sash, single glass windows, many of which had gaps where the sashes met. Aluminum storm windows helped but were not enough to stop the cold winds of a northwest Kansas winter. The last few years I resorted to putting plastic over the inside of the living room windows and when the wind blew, the plastic would "breathe" in and out with the gusts.

The other big factor should be the house wrap I am adding. Over half the house had no wrap at all or totally useless wrap. This shield long ago lost all it's protective properties, looking and feeling more like a child's construction paper that was soaked then dried out. I have occasionally kept my bill from the gas company, which lists fuel consumption for the prior 12 months so this coming winter I will be able to compare to last year to see if the difference is obvious.
On a positive note, I have actually encountered very little termite damage, although there are definitely termites in the area. I have found them from time to time when a log or board is left lying in the yard for some length of time. Apparently, much of this old yellow pine which is used almost exclusively on the original part of the house, is not very tasty to the little bugs. I have found a few boards that they have attacked, probably less than a half dozen, but no active sites.

The front of the house is starting to look naked now, with over half the siding removed. The trim is off the window and will have to be rebuilt as I did not get it done the way I want it the first time. There won't be much time to work on it during the week since days off will be severely limited in the next month or so. Two other workers are out on medical leave now so it will be hard for anyone to take time off unless it is an emergency. Of course, if it starts snowing, THIS could be an emergency.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Although I am still thinking about hiring someone to put the siding on, I seem to have gotten my second wind and moved on this week to trim out the windows on the north side. The double window required considerable reworking as the window frames, which I used as the base for my replacement windows, proved to be pretty much unattached inside the house structure. I filled large gaps on either side of the windows with boards then used long screws to attach the frames to the house. Extra space, I filled with insulation and expanding foam spray.

These windows were also the ones pictured in an earlier blog, which had their sills and drip caps pounded off with a hammer. The sill could not be completely replaced without taking the windows back out and tearing the old frames out, so the shattered sills had to be planed down as smooth and level as possible to allow for attaching a new sill extension. It was rather labor intensive but it went well and the new sill looks like it could have been there for years.
Strange, making improvements on the house with the emphasis on making them look old. The drip caps are also wooden. I bought piece of "drip cap" at the lumber yard, it was actually galvanized Z flashing but this was not the look I wanted so with further research I found the profile of wood drip cap then found some preformed, at Menards.
I'm fairly pleased with the outcome on this window, although it is off slightly but advice from my supervising father was to forget it as no one would notice but me. That is probably true. I can get a little anal about my projects, which is why they sometimes take so long and don't always get done. I want what I do to be done right and when something is off, I can sometimes double or triple the time and effort involved by taking it apart and redoing.

This is why I have a problem with hiring someone to work on the house. I absolutely hate when I hire someone to do a job for me and find that I could have done it better. This happened the first time I hired someone to roof my house. The job was poorly done, there were places that leaked, they did not replace decking that had deteriorated, just went over it so there were soft spots. I did learn a lesson about checking for references with that and when I had the roof done the next time I was satisfied with the job.

Perhaps I should not be so picky about these things but when I pay someone a few thousand dollars to do a job, I expect to be happy with the work. I also find it rather offensive when the advertise themselves as experienced at something yet do a shoddy job that I could improve on. Oops! Got on a rant there. Personal annoyance there, easy to get going on the subject. Enough of that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Three day weekend!

Great opportunity to get some work done on the house. At the end of day three, for the first time I am really wondering what I have gotten myself into and thinking about hiring someone to hang the siding. I found the north side rather daunting, primarily due to the number of intrusions into the wall. There four separate holes for wires related to the phone and Internet then the defunct central air unit contributes two more. I was able to work out the house-wrap issues, with some creative cutting and taping. The prospect of installing the siding however was frightening. Getting someone out to disconnect everything in order to feed the wires through holes in the siding just seems overwhelming. I had already dealt with the prospect of having the electric company come out and disconnect that utility but until now had not thought about the holes in the siding installation is likely to require.

The idea of seeking help on the siding is becoming more appealing. Installing the windows was not intimidating, trimming them has been fun as was the painting of the gables. Up to this point, I've really not seriously considered turning the job over to someone else but I am just feeling tired. Perhaps that is the crux of the matter, I am just plain tired and don't feel like doing more. On the other hand, if that is the problem, a few days should make a difference. Guess I will see how I feel about it tomorrow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Moving Tool World

The last of the repair and trimming on the south side is finally done. I started on the north side last weekend so my living room windows have been covered with house wrap since Tuesday. Rain was expected so wrapping was important as the walls were down to bare pine sheathing.

With work done on the south side it made sense to move tool world to the north side. Actually, getting the canopy out of the south yard was past due, the grass has suffered from being covered for 3 weeks. Having 10 gallons of sawdust sprinkled over it didn't help either.

The canopy was moved today, along with the scaffold/ladder but the tools will wait until tomorrow. The rest of the north siding needs to be removed but the project is complicated by the fact the phone boxes and connections are on that wall. They will have to be carefully detached and suspended so the wires are not damaged while the siding is removed from under them. The process will then have to be repeated when applying the new siding as the boxes cannot be left detached in between.

A week later and tool world is in full swing on the north side. Being a pop-up, the legs of the canopy pull out after the cover is on to get proper height. This has worked out so I can drop the tent down to about a four foot height for the night, providing better protection for the tools.

The goat next door enjoys the activity when I start popping the canopy back up. He starts butting the fence when I start work. His "mom" has been gone for about 3 months, visiting kids. Someone comes to feed the goat and the macaw but I think they are lonely. The bird will squawk and today it sounded like it was trying to imitate the sound of the sander.

I find myself talking to the goat when I work. I've been feeding him pears that fall from my tree and he gets excited when I toss them over the fence. He stands on his hind legs then lunges at the pears. If they are green, he will smash them with his horns so he can eat them. I think he is starting to look forward to my arrival, he will trot right over to the fence when he hears me.

With dark coming earlier every night, work time in the evening, after I get home from the paying job, is getting limited. A couple hours is about all the time available now so things aren't moving real fast. I was to have off most of this week to work on the house but the real job infringed on it so today was actually the only day I stayed home and I took a couple hours out of it to write a letter and make several phone calls.

Oh well, tomorrow is Saturday, no work pressure. My dad will come visit but he may find himself set out under the canopy to "supervise" while I finish trimming out the windows. I should be able to finish that portion tomorrow then will move to the front of the house. I may spend some time tomorrow checking on possible workers to help get the siding up when I finish with prep. For now, I think the dogs have the right idea. They are all sacked out on the library floor.