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.

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.

And so I finish my week of paid time off–you cannot call this a vacation, a vacation is very different from this–doing the same tasks with which I began: laundry, mowing the lawn, and cleaning up.

Looking at my To Do list… This week was a failure. I am not ready for carpet. The ceiling has not been painted. Hell, the drywall hasn’t even been primed. It’s been that kind of week. Sure, I did a bunch of stuff, finished parts of this project, fixed some stuff that had been bothering me, and I’m far closer to the end goal of getting carpet in this basement. But I can’t help but think this was a failure of a week.

cleaning up the mess

I have a Nest thermostat story, but I think I’ll wait to tell that one. I need to step away from the Nest family of products for a day or two. Why, you ask.

I have been defeated by a Nest Hello doorbell. This should be easy enough. I don’t have a doorbell, so everything is new–transformer, chime, Nest Hello, even the wiring is new. All new. Still not working properly. The doorbell rings and rings and rings some more. I’ve looked at the Nest documentation, I’ve watched YouTube videos, I’ve tested and metered and checked everything and it still doesn’t work properly. In the end, frustration set in and I ended up frying the transformer. I hope that I didn’t also fry the doorbell camera. I go back to this later in the week.

Cracks in the drywall seams on the south wall of the basement. No cracking since I started this years ago. They weren’t there Thursday. They weren’t there yesterday. Today… every seam has a fine crack along it. WTF. This is beyond frustrating.

everything is cracked

I am exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Spiritually. And tomorrow I go back to work… that should make everything better. Fortunately, it’s only a 3-day week. I can do this. No worries. Later.

I broke down and went to Home Depot this evening. I bought tools that I know I already have, which is frustrating, and I took the opportunity to fill up the gas canister for the lawn mower. Who has more fun than me?

Today was just another day of finishing drywall. Doesn’t make for very good pictures, so I’ll share with you some doodles I did during a meeting a couple weeks back.

meeting notes

My back is very sore!

That is all. Have a great day.

drop ceiling / soffit
drop ceiling grid / soffit
wiring straightened
wiring for lights
put wall back together
tunes, tools, and time off to relax and enjoy life

Just kidding. Lots of drywall mudding, sanding, seeing errors, mudding, and sanding. But pictures of that are boring and hard to see any change. Maybe once things are primed. The ceiling grid is up, but it’s not hung from wires yet. I spent an hour in the garage yesterday trying to find my hanging screws and the special bit that goes with them… How can I never find what I know I have in my garage? Anyway, I’m not making a run to Home Depot just for that. Wiring for the shelf lights is done and the wall at the bottom of the stairs put back together. I decided against rerunning the three electrical wires that run across my basement and opted instead to just straighten them up. It’ll have to do. I feel really close to being done with the drywall.

I’m sure primer will change that opinion. I’m going to go eat and let my back freeze up nice and tight. Oh, btw, thanks to my neighbor, Ted, for saving me a trip to the hardware store and for giving me a piece of ceiling grid.

I’m out of here. Later.

Yesterday did not feel like a productive day. I did a lot of stuff and was working until after 8 pm, but it doesn’t feel like it.

More spot fixes of the drywall. Hung one light and rehung another. Finished building my suffit. And then at the end, because things were getting out of hand, I cleaned up my workspace.

a little something to hide the plumbing

I need to pick up some 2-foot long cross-ties for the ceiling grid. I’m going to put a light in that space next to the main plumbing drain line.

things got worse than this before I cleaned up

I cleaned out and started working on the laundry room today. But so far, the absolute biggest pain and least fun thing about this has been finishing those shelves I built net to the stairwell. So many corners and so little space to work.

Lunch is done, back at it. Later.

Saturday, I did all the usual stuff mowed the lawn, did laundry, and some yard work. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a project day, as we had a graduation party to attend, those things usually fall around mid-afternoon and kind of eat up a day. This one was no exception, 3-6. Only difference is that Friday night we got a call letting us know that the family was coming in for this shindig. So we threw in some house cleaning on top of the other stuff. Turned out to be unnecessary, as no one came to the house. Which was a good enough excuse for us to go to dinner at the new BBQ joint in town, City Barbeque. Their food was really good.

Today, I started in the basement. I don’t have any pictures, but then nothing much I did would look like anything to you anyway. I started by doing some mudding and tapping of the shelves by the stairs, mudded some rough spots around the basement, addressed all the torn up spots on the wall where the cat has torn things up… crazy cat. While I let that dry I pulled the staples out of my existing wiring so that I can either rerun it or pretty it up before I paint the ceiling.

Afterwards, I pulled open the wall at the bottom of the stairs where I need to add an additional wall stud to sturdy up a stretch of drywall that had too much flex in it. When it flexes like that the mud cracks and then it looks like sh… terrible. It looks terrible. But now that the wall is open I think I’m going to add lights to the shelves on the other side of the wall. So now I’m adding more electrical to the project.

I also, came up with an idea to box in the plumbing and add one more light to the basement. So, I worked on getting the soffit built for that part of the ceiling. I think that’s about all I did today in the basement.

whatcha' got there?

We ordered chinese food and about 8:30 I stopped working, cleaned up, had some dinner, and watched a movie, Skyscraper. Food was good, arrived in about an hour, and the movie was pretty typical action movie stuff. Enjoyable but not particularly noteworthy.

Tomorrow, more drywall, more carpentry, more electrical, and more fun. Later.

Crafting station. Gone. Stationary bike. Removed. Assorted shelves, rugs, and clutter. Outta here. Lots of tools left, but I may need some of those. Otherwise, the basement is wide open.

School is out. I’m done with Biology and with any other classes until next fall, when I hope to be starting the bachelor’s program at Ferris State. In celebration, I’m taking a week off work. In preparation for my vacation I have cleared out the basement living room area. This means that all the other rooms in the basement are now extra full. But it also means that I can get down there and work my ass off. The plan is to make this my only focus for the coming week. From the time I get home on Friday and until I go back to work on the second Monday following, I am making it my mission to get the basement done and ready for carpet. I want this thing done folks. Enough is enough.

  • I have some drywall finishing to do.
  • I want to box in some of the ceiling and straighten up the wires so that I can spray the whole ceiling.
  • I need to prime and paint the walls.
  • I need to prime and paint the entertainment wall.
  • I need to hang a light.
  • I need to flush some of the nails in the floor and secure a couple of pieces of plywood.
  • I need to do a couple small carpentry tasks.

That’s the list. I’m not going to worry about putting trim down until after the carpet is in, because I think it’ll just be easier that way. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’ve got to get this done. Worst case scenario and I don’t get it done; I have the Friday after Independence Day off and that’ll give me four extra days. But I’m not counting on those days. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

How are those shelves in the basement coming along? So glad you asked. They’re coming along nicely. I’m pretty happy with them. I ran out of plywood, so I’m missing a few shelves. I had a small issue with the trim boards lining up due to that sheet of plywood behind the first two units, and my lack of proper compensating for said plywood. But I was able to use a couple shims and even things out pretty close. A little bit of filler did the rest of the magic. Once it’s all painted you’ll never notice that particular oopsie.

I may need to sand down the pieces next to the doors, as the clearance is pretty tight and I imagine that the paint will come off where it rubs. I’d love to hear your opinion on whether I should add a strip of trim between the doors. I’m thinking I should to keep the look consistent. Let me know.

all trimmed up and ready for sanding
missing four shelves

I took these pictures before I changed out the lights, so they’re a little dark. Sorry. Anywho, that’s the update on the shelves in the basement. Later.

The basement living room is pretty good size, I’d say it’s a bit over 14′ x 20′, but it was also pretty dark. It’s got a low ceiling, even lower duct work, and it was lit by two of these.

even with a bright bulb, this doesn’t cut it

Something needed to be done, and that something was to replace these fixtures. Which is what I did.

As I mentioned, the ceiling is low; an inch or so above 7-feet. With that in mind, I wanted something that I could put up into the spaces between the joists. I had considered a couple different fixtures, but spontaneously went with these Hyperikon 1×4 panels I found for less than $50 a piece on Amazon.

Hyperikon LED Troffer 1×4 Ft Panel Edge-Lit, Dimmable, 40W (100W Equivalency), 4000K Day Light, 4000 Lumens, Drop Ceiling Light, UL & DLC – Pack of 4

There were two issues with these panels that I had not anticipated. The first is that the electrical connection box isn’t built into the fixture, the way it is in the more expensive fixtures I’ve previously gotten from Home Depot. Instead, it sits on the fixture like a little box, which makes flush mounting to an existing ceiling impossible. The second issue, and this is probably the reason for the first issue, is that these are designed to go in a ceiling grid or be wire hung, neither of which is my plan.

Fortunately, I have an entire joist space to work with, so the electrical connection isn’t an issue. And I have some extra drop-ceiling grid materials left from when I did the bedrooms down here, so I can fabricate some frames to sit these in. I could rip down some 2x4s to narrow up the joist space and then screw the ceiling grid Tees in place to make a frame. Which is what I did and it worked out quite well.

ignore my laundry drying on the exercise equipment.
note the 1×1 lamp next to the drill motors.

I bought the 4-pack intending to put two on each side of the duct work, but between the plumbing, gas line, and support framing I was only able to use one on the northside of the basement. I have a 1×1 panel that I’m going to put in the darker area in front of Lady Ronn’s craft room and I’ll pick up another to go in front of the laundry room/bathroom area.

It makes a huge difference. Most notably in the area of my craft station. It might be nice to put all these on a dimmer (and that’s possible with these fixtures), but as of now I have not done that.

Sorry about the mess. It seems that all my pictures show my place as a wreck and I guess it is in the areas that are under the influence of project fever. Someday I’ll show you nice finished spaces that will be the envy of all my neighbors. Today is not that day. Later.

Couldn’t get into see my doctor today, but I did talk to a nurse who had me go to the urgent care. The doctor there says that what I’ve got is a stye and that the body will take care of it on its own. And then he followed that up with a prescription, not to be used unless my eye starts to have a yellow or green discharge. Thanks, doc.

For the record, if I have a green discharge coming from my eye… I’m going back to the doctor. But, at this point, it is definitely better than it has been.

The plan for saturday is to get up early and do my homework assignment and then get back to working on the basement wall unit.

something like this

I didn’t pick up the plywood for the backing on those tall units, but I can definitely get the shelf pin holes drilled and make the shelves. We’ll see what happens. Later.

Spring project season has begun. It actually started last weekend, but I was busy working on the basement and didn’t find the time to give it an official kick-off post. The first project for the season is building the shelves for the basement entertainment wall.

Lady Ronn mentioned, during a recent discussion of what we should do next, that she would like the basement and laundry room areas finished. Both of these projects have been in that ongoing-but-never-ending state since she moved in… 6-years ago by my count.

I guess finishing the basement is a reasonable request given how long it’s gone on. It’s one of those projects that I was going gangbusters on when I thought all three of the boys were going to be here with us. But then I realized that I was going to be doing this all on my own, and then they started moving out, and then it was just a place we walked through to get to the laundry room. But I really want to get it done enough to put some carpet down.

Last weekend, I cleared all the old shelves and moved the basement clutter around so that I could have room to build. Then I built and leveled a 2×4 ladder to act as the base for the new cabinets and shelves.

sauder shelving is on the way out

Getting a 17-foot ladder down the stairs and into the basement wasn’t going to happen, so I had to do it in two pieces. Which didn’t make leveling it up any easier. But here it is, leveled, shimmed, and screwed to the wall. Time to start laying out the cabinets and the shelves. The plan for this wall is making it necessary to raise the outlets up and out from behind the cabinets. So, that is what I did yesterday. You can see that I also built the center section below where the future TV will live.

framing in the project

Today, I’ll finish rewiring the new outlet locations and get the frames up for the tall shelves that go on top of the cabinets. I decided to go with adjustable shelves on these two pieces, so I picked up a Kreg Shelf Pin Jig and I’m looking forward to checking that out and seeing how well it works. I should probably patch the mess I made of the wall, as well.

Once I get the two towers built I can start on the face frames, but that’ll have to wait until next weekend. Later.