Working Around the House

I haven’t posted much lately. This is because I’ve been keeping myself busy with house maintenance stuff. It’s too hot to go outside, so the garage is not any different than it was before the electrical panel was installed. This causes some distress, but it’s even hotter in the garage than it is outside… So, it can wait. Besides, I need to make a 4-inch change to the walls I built around the chimney. Apparently, there is supposed to be a 4-inch air gap between the chimney and the wall, or so says the building inspector.

The screened patio is being stymied by the fact that no one in Grand Rapids can get me the vinyl siding J-channel I need to match the house. Four years ago I picked up some siding for repair from Fox Brothers… but they’ve gone out of business or sold themselves or something. Whatever the case, I know what I need — Driftwood is the style and Canyon Clay is the color — but I can’t get my hands on it.

Which leaves the inside projects. I’ve been working on the basement while Lady Ronn tackles the front room upstairs.

well, now.
ceiling refresh
laundry room

patch and paint

Nothing is quite 100% done. But progress is being made.

Joys of Home Ownership

Just a quick update on all the home renovation going on around these parts. They’re still working on fencing in the backyard. They’re working hard, but I can’t get them to put a full day in and just get it done. Last night they completed most of it, but there are still a few slats that need to be put up and they haven’t built the gate yet. They ran out of slats so I can’t blame them for that and I made them resize the gate, so that’s probably my fault. But it just was not going to be big enough. Word is that it will all get completed today.

finished and half-finished

I wrote parts of this earlier, the latest update is that, the fence guy could not find pickets or lumber to finish up. He’s going to try and get back here tomorrow, Friday at the latest. Well, at least with my garbage can gate I can put the dog out without putting him on the leash.

Monday they dropped the shingles on the roof and all the extras in my front yard. This morning the roofers showed up before 7:00 a.m. and before I was even out of the shower. So there was a bit of a scramble to get dressed, move cars, and calm the dog down. But by the time I had was ready to leave for work at 8:00 a.m., 3/4 of the shingles were already off of the roof. They told me the roof would take 2 days and at this point I would be surprised is they weren’t done early.


Done in one day. They started at 7 a.m. and when I got home at 5 p.m. half the crew was cleaning up and the other half were finishing up the little details. A different crew will be coming by tomorrow to put up the gutters. Amazing how fast a crew of 6 or 8 guys can get something like this done. They came back and picked up the trailer at about quarter to nine.

We’ve already put the plants back on the patio. I should hire more things done. This DIY stuff takes to long.

Inside the house, Lady Ronn and I have been just as busy prepping and painting the front room and the hallway for paint. We’ve taken down the light fixtures, patched and sanded the rough bits, and painted the ceiling. Which is always the worst part of painting, except all the other worst parts. With that done we’ve moved on to drywall patching the spots where the thermostat and doorbell used to be, fixing all the minor imperfections, edging in the walls, and painting the trim. It’s not going as fast as we had hoped, but it looks pretty good.

I installed a fancy, aluminum hose reel on the back of the house. I used to have a plastic one there but it did not hold up very well. Hopefully, I won’t hit this one and tear it off the wall with the riding mower.

In unrelated news, The unemployment claim for Lady Ronn was closed on the 20th and she was told to refile. Not sure what that’s all about, but we took care of that last night as well. Not sure if that means she won’t get a check this week.

Dates Have Been Set

More updates on the home improvement front. Today, I took phone calls about both the roof and the electrical upgrade. They’ll be here to start on the roof next week Wednesday and expect it to take two days. The utility company has scheduled the electrical work for the first day of July. And as I mentioned yesterday, the fence will start this Thursday. Lots of exciting stuff and good news around these parts.

But not everything is happening around here without issue. I need to pick up some vinyl j-channel and a few pieces of siding so that I can cut in the new back door for the garage and go around the framing for the screened patio. However, I’m not 100% sure what I’m looking for. The company that I picked up siding from last time has moved, changed names, and apparently changed names again. They’re still in business, just wouldn’t know it without a bit of research.

Anyway, I went there this morning to get what I need, only to find that they’re not quite open yet. What with the Covid-19. Their counter and showroom are closed to the public. You can call and place orders for pick-up… but I don’t really know what I need. So, I went online and found their website and their product list and realized that if you’re not an existing customer you can’t order from them online. But maybe now I have enough information to make a relatively informed phone call? Maybe. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

I haven’t gotten around to making the flower boxes for my privacy screen, but Lady Ronn is making the best of it with a bit of power washing and some other planters. Looks pretty good to me. I’d make the boxes, but my garage is a giant pile of tools and even if I could get to my saws, I wouldn’t be able to find anything else. Yet another thing waiting for the electrical work to get done.

Oh… I also requested an estimate for a 12×20 concrete slab for the shed, a new driveway, and a new garage floor. Not sure a couple of those are realistic projects, but I’m interested in knowing how much that’d cost. Because you never know. Depends on how much home equity line of credit money is left after this first round of projects is done.

That’s it for today. I think tomorrow I’ll give my two cents on the riots, black lives, and the LGBT stuff that’s been in the news lately. Later.

I Hope This is a Long Summer

A friend asked me, today, if I was playing guitar. I had to laugh, because, I don’t really play the guitar, so much as I practice the guitar. To play infers some degree of musicality to the thing. There is really very little music being made here. But, yes, I continue to wrestle with this project I’ve embarked on to learn to play the guitar. I’m working on simple bar chords and the G and C chords and transitioning between the two. I’m not finding it particularly easy. I think I’ve hit the first wall. Really, what I need to work on is timing and counting out my measures. I’ve been a little frustrated and I must admit that I haven’t dedicated near as much time as I promised myself. I was told by Guitar Center that it may be August or October before they start in person lessons again, so I really need to rededicate myself and get on top of this whole discipline thing.

I think my fingers are getting better, but I am not a “natural” guitarist. This is all work and not much fun. Enjoyable, but not fun.

I’ve started a series of summer projects that I’m contracting out. I put a deposit down on getting my roof replaced. Should get done in the next 3-weeks or so. I’m having the same company, Avalon, replace my chain link fence with a pine, shadowbox privacy fence. That starts this coming Thursday. And I’m getting the electrical box, meter, and drop upgraded to a 200 amp circuit. Oh, and I’m getting a breaker panel added to the garage as well. That was supposed to have happened last Thursday, but storms in the area caused the utility to cancel the appointment due to address outages. Very excited about getting all that done.

I’ve got plans drawn up for a 12 x 20 shed with an attached 8 x 8 greenhouse and a 4-foot wide porch. The plan also includes screening in the covered patio and building a deck over the open patio. The deck will extend 6-feet past the existing patio and wrap along the side of the covered patio. I’m going to have to get a permit for all that work. You know what… here’s a picture. That’ll save a thousand words.

the red items are the changes/additions

Oh, and because I haven’t put enough on my plate, I’m just waiting for the inspection on the electrical stuff before adding a door and drywalling the garage. Maybe then I can get the garage put back together and get the car back inside. And of course, I really am getting motivated to get the laundry room and common area of the basement finished, primed, and painted.

We picked up paint for the front room and plants for the planters at Home Depot on Saturday. Those are things that probably need to be done as well.

I’ve got a lot of plans. Maybe too many plans. It’ll be fine. Later.

That Was Fast

I had heard that two part resin cures faster when there was more of it, but I did not expect this.

wasted resin

I know, I mixed too much, but I wasn’t sure how much I needed. I was working on the stream, waterfall, and pools in the cave diorama… I poured some. I adjusted my damns. I tweaked my cotton ball rapids. And then I went back to give my resin a stir and pour some more. Hot. Solid. Done.

So, I wasted half a cup of clear resin. I should probably check the set-up time on this stuff before I do another batch. I didn’t have this problem last night, but then I only made about a quarter as much and used it all pretty fast.

Lessons learned. Later.

Additional Storage

I started my day off with grounds in my coffee, moved on to some emails being ignored, and then went to the basement to try and put some ceiling tiles up that should have been done two years ago. The ceiling tiles started, because I wanted them out of the garage where they were both taking up space and expecting to get destroyed with all the moving and shuffling going on out there. I had intended to put up the ceiling after the drywall was done, but screw it. They’re up now. I’ll work around ’em.

Doesn’t look like that big a deal. Am I right? It was not much fun, but I was listening to Artemis by Andy Weir while I worked. Nothing like a little corporate sabotage on the moon to take your mind off your troubles. I need to raise that trim on the door. Stupid ceiling.

There is a main drain that runs about a quarter inch above the face of the grid along the wall there. And there is some plumbing and a gas line as well. Oh, and there are like three full tiles… everything else needed to be cut. All of these things made this a bit trickier than it should have been. But I got it done and I hope I never have to replace any of those tiles, because about half of them were a pain-in-my-ass to get in place.

Once that was done I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some doritos for lunch, like I’m in 4th grade, and went back out to the garage. I decided to order drywall for the walls. I ordered 12-foot sheets from Menards, because that’ll mean less seams and because Home Depot couldn’t deliver that to me until May 8th. Should be here tomorrow. But because it’s supposed to be here tomorrow I need to get the other wall cleared off. Unfortunately, I’m running out of floor space to put things. Fortunately, I have a van in my driveway that gets almost no real use.

Well, it’s full of garage stuff now. Hopefully, things I will not need anytime soon. But don’t be fooled, the garage is still a mess of stuff and I’m not done yet. At this point I can’t imagine a scenario wherein I get this stuff put back where it belongs for months. And because I know you were worried about the whole email thing. I received a reply tonight, just about 7:30. Timely. We’re shooting for Friday to do the work. Now all I have to do is arrange the access. Nothing to it. Later.

Insulation Installation

I had no work again today. There are a couple things in my que, but they would not be considered ’emergencies’ and until I hear otherwise, those are the only things I’m supposed to be doing. So, knowing that I need to get back on the home project wagon, I started thinking about where to start. Which unfinished project most needs to be completed.

As I ran through my list I kept coming back to the same situation; if I do X, then I will need to do Y in the garage. The garage as workshop is more and more a thing as less and less of the basement is available for such things. Now the problem is that right now the garage is a mess and there’s twenty-four bundles of insulation taking up the floorspace. I needed to get that insulation out of the way, but there is no place to put it. Which means, in order to get it off the floor, I need to put it in the walls.

Like I said, everything keeps pointing back to this project. This itchy, nasty project. So that is what I started today.

I managed to get one wall insulated, which isn’t terribly impressive. But most of the time was moving things out of the way. That one wall was pretty full. All the rakes, shovels, and yard implements were hung on that wall. There were two tall cabinets full of tools and parts mounted on that wall and a tall stack of drawers (also full of tools) in the corner. And there were two small workbenches on that wall, both cluttered with tools and parts. And best of all, most of the exposed wall was covered with pegboard and the pegboard was hung with even more tools. I had to move all that stuff just to get to the wall. I kinda ran out of places to put things.

Now that the insulation is up, I need to sheet that wall with something–drywall or OSB–probably drywall. Which means I need to get to the home center and buy some board. Which means I need to figure out where any outlets are going to be and wire those in, which means I’ll be doing more mudding, taping, and sanding. Which means… this is going to take a bit more than one day.

A question: Is there any reason I should not put a drop ceiling in the garage? My ceiling space is not useful for storage, as I only have 2×6 rafter ties up there and they are 4-foot on center. If I wanted to do storage, I’d have to frame in some sort of ceiling. That seems like a lot of work and I would need to consult someone about how to best do that sort of project. I’m thinking a drop ceiling with some insulation laid on top of it would be a more practical solution. Any thoughts?

Mailbox Project

One of the visitors to my neighbor did a bad job backing out a few years ago and the mailbox has sat at an odd angle ever since. I never thought my mailbox was anything special, but that didn’t really add “character” to the damn thing. But even still, I didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity to fix things. We have a group of three mailboxes on one post and none of them are in great shape. My mailbox has been in need of replacement for probably closer to two years than I’d like to think. I have been threatening to replace it and my neighbors boxes for a good long time, but haven’t gotten around to it until this past Sunday.

24-inches + some space for gravel

I’ve spent some time putting together a new mailbox post. It’s nothing special, just a few pieces of 4×4, 2×4, and scraps of the 5/4 deck board I used to build the privacy screen in the backyard. All treated pine, of course, because I don’t want to make another one of these over the next 20-years. I used some 8-inch long lag screws to give the arms some strength and rigidity, the rest of the connections are just coated deck screws.

I coated the whole thing with three coats of black stain. I stained the bottom bit that goes in the ground, not that I needed to, but I thought it might help the post resist rotting. Only time will tell if it will or not. I also added a black hook to the bottom of each support post, but I’m not sure how those will hold up to the weather. I don’t know if they’re meant for the outdoors.

I debated between plastic and metal for the mailboxes, but the large boxes only come in metal at both my local Home Depot and Lowes. So, that’s that, metal it is. I secured the mailboxes to the post from inside the boxes, so the screws should be that much less likely to rust, as they’ll be out of most of the weather.

Of course, I followed all the appropriate guidelines when it came to placing my new project at the curb.

usps mailbox guidelines

I’m quite happy with the job I did on applying the vinyl numbers to the front of the boxes. The numbers on the sides I’m less happy with. Those damn reflective number blocks are ugly and damn hard/impossible to reposition once they come in contact with the metal. It’s not terrible, but I thought it could be better. Here’s the final project.

new mailboxes

So there you have it, new mailboxes for myself and my neighbors. Both of whom offered to give me money, but I refused. It was my idea. I didn’t ask anybody about it. I just did it. Let’s consider it my gift to them and a little bit of neighborly goodwill.

One thing I do want to mention. A thing I would do differently if I did it again. That bit of trim at the bottom was an after thought, and if I had thought about it, I would have added it after the post was set. I like it and I’m glad I put it on. But it’s just big enough to make getting the cement into the hole a bit of a chore, as it pretty much covers the hole. I managed, but it would have been easy to have simply put those pieces on after the fact. Later.

Offline Privacy

I took half a day off yesterday to take advantage of the weather.

Monday, my neighbor helped me get most of the remaining planks on the front and back of this shadow-box style privacy fence. Thanks, Ted. But we ran out of boards before the fence was finished. I grabbed another half-dozen boards at Home Depot and headed home to finish up this part of the project. Once the boards were finished I added a LED post cap on each of the posts.

I still need to trim the board length on the end. And I have an idea for a possible end cap. I don’t think I’m going to stain or paint this, but I may not have the final say in that decision.

As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, I’m looking forward to finishing up the landscaping on the ground and using that new pressure washer I picked up last year on the siding. Probably going to use it on the patio as well. Really, I just need to clean everything up here in anticipation of getting a new patio furniture set.

I’ve got a plan to add a big flower box on this side of the wall and make some smaller planter boxes to hang on the slats. But it could turn out to be a storage bench. That decision has yet to be made.

But with the longer days, I’m getting back in the mood to do some more projects around the house. Which is a good thing, as there are a lot of projects that need to be done.

Warm and Sunny

Today, was a beautiful, sunny, fifty degree day here in Grand Rapids. Yesterday, was not too shabby either. It makes me impatient for spring to get here. I took advantage of the weather to straighten up the garage, get rid of some scrap, and put the finishing touches on my new lawn tractor.

I arranged a pick-up of a bunch of stuff I just wanted gone, using a scrapper that I found on Facebook, Elite Scrap Metal Pickup. Which cleared that busted patio furniture off my deck, a couple file cabinets out of my basement, got rid of the metal sled that my lawn mower came on, and a bunch of other metal bits and bobs that I felt were cluttering up my life. The guy showed up with a pickup and a trailer, loaded it all up, and made it all disappear. Nice guy, too. I’m very glad to have the stuff gone, to have not had to pay to get rid of the stuff, and to have had to do little more than collect all the stuff into a pile. Really worked out for me. Hopefully, it worked out for him as well.

As I mentioned earlier, I finished putting together my lawn mower. Which means, basically, I put the front bumper on and assembled the bagging assembly. I also took time to break down the boxes and clean up the mess around the initial delivery and assembly, which took place when it was significantly less than 50-degrees outside. I love the way this thing looks like a gokart, what with the tube frame and tiny tires. The battery came charged, which was nice, and the rest of the assembly was pretty simple and straight forward. I would go so far as to say that getting it off the shipping frame was the worst part of that. Mostly because I was doing it in the cold, at night, in a cold dark garage.

electric riding mower with bagger assembly

Check out the charger sitting on the corner of the work bench there. That thing has a serious heat sink built on to it. I realized after putting this all together, that the extra blades that came with the bag kit were different than the default blades… I didn’t bother changing them out, because, I don’t really think I’ll be doing a lot of bagging. I’m a fan of the mulching mower… it’s less work.

Also, I haven’t really had a chance to test the limits of my snow blower, but I have used it three or four times to clear the driveway. Never more than an inch of snow. But I was happy to see when I checked that even after 4 uses, the battery still had one bar on the charge indicator. I could probably have run it one more time, but I decided to throw the battery on the charger.

snow blower vs van. ready. fight.

Never having had a snow blower before, I was completely surprised by the amount of snow that blows back on you when you throw that stuff up in the air. I guess, sacrifices must be made for saving my back.

In short, I love trash pick up and I’m happy with my big purchases to this point. That’s it for today, I’ve got to go practice guitar. Later.