Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Liquid Tension, Jun 6, 2014.
I hope you're chronicling all this. It sounds like a hit show.
Shoveling snow... again.
"This !&#$@ House"
Funny you should call it that. There are certainly days when I wish I hadn't started this project... but now I'm in too deep to go back.
Thankfully the heating bills are falling rapidly. January's usage was 30% less than the oil company predicted based on previous usage patterns, and I haven't even finished fixing the walls yet. Even though there are times I wish I wasn't neck deep in it, I am thankful that my initial goal of a 50% reduction in heating costs (that I thought was maybe a bit optimistic) is looking like it's easily achievable. I'm wondering if a figure more like 75% is achievable at the moment. That would be very nice.
Even though it was cold out today I decided to just take it on the chin and fix up the holes in the outer face of the wall. I got 8 of them before reaching a place where I could barely feel my hands, so found one last one to fix to use up the cement I'd mixed and went back indoors. I also took the chance to cut the last part of a concrete block into three strips, which I'm using to fix the larger gaps in the inner face of the wall. It's handy being able to put a wedge of concrete in place and mortar around it, rather than having to fill a 2x8" space with mortar.
The room that I've been working in had a really nasty cold spot, even having stuffed it with two cans of building foam it was giving a reading of 32 degrees before I did the work outside. Having done the work outside within an hour it was reading 41 degrees, so obviously something good is happening. Everything is disconnected in that room - no light, no heat, nothing - so it will take a while for the heat from the rest of the house to work its way in. I bought a thermometer to keep in there that reports the highest and lowest temperatures for the last 24 hours, and when I set it in the room it didn't feel cold in there the way it has done. So hopefully that's a bit more saved off my heating bills....
Every time I make changes worthy of the name I take new thermal images of the outside of the house. They continue to improve, which is reassuring. A couple of places that were clearly visible as hot spots (relatively speaking) are much less so now
Did you ever imagine you'd be this handy in so many areas of the house?
I'm definitely not a DIY type of guy.
Me neither. Everything that needs doing, I calculate how many shifts of overtime to get a pro to do it. I get exhausted just reading Tango’s posts.
And more shoveling. I think I get a break until Tuesday.
Shovelled this morning at work. 2°F...-16.665° C
Light powder tonight.
Supplemental oxygen concentrator for overnight.
Sounds like a model-A.
EDIT: Fixed it. Now sounds like a Suzuki.
In my previous home I was afraid to cut into anything more tricky than a floorboard. I rewired most of the house but that was about it, much more than that and I paid someone to do it.
Here I don't know why I suddenly decided I could do things myself. Probably because it's tricky to find someone who can actually get on and do the work. At my old house when I needed a sparkie to come and do some work on my breaker panel I had someone around in two days. It took three days to get a plumber, until I found a company I really liked and they could usually get somebody to me within a day or less, particularly for a small job they could fit in around other jobs. Here I have to find out who is worth talking to at all, then of course the ones that know what they are doing are booked well ahead of time. I gave the electrical contractors the go-ahead to replace my breaker panel in July and they didn't get to it until November because they were up to their eyes with other work. In September a stonemason told me they weren't taking on any more work for the year, and wouldn't even come and look at my job.
It's also handy here because I've got the space to get away from the work if I need to. I never dreamed I'd be doing this kind of stuff, and in fairness there are many times when I wish I hadn't started the project (usually when a wall comes down and I find another hatchet job behind it). I'd still be wary of doing anything that is inherently structural, simply because an initial consideration is what happens if the job goes wrong or if I can't finish something I started and need to wait for a professional. If I can't live with the consequences then I won't start the job.
One big advantage this house has over my previous house is that it's hugely bigger. In my previous house there simply isn't space for the tools I have here, so I'd be stuck almost before I began. Here the biggest issue I have is keeping everything organised - I want to build some long benches in the basement so I've got a consistent work surface and somewhere to keep things that aren't currently in use, but the plan for the basement is still somewhat fluid and I don't want to be building things only to have to take them out later.
The really interesting idea I have for the house is to take out the supporting center wall for half of the house and replace it with two supporting columns either side. It would mean I could have a beautiful central stairway upstairs, and another over the top to the attic. I'd need to finish the attic, and I'm not sure I even want to think about the implications of building two supporting walls before knocking out the existing one, but I suspect the result would be something to be proud of. It would also mean I could move the basement stairs, which would be a bonus.
Incidentally, the room I was working on when I mentioned the nasty hole I fixed seems to be holding steady at 55 degrees. Since it has nothing between the room and the exterior brickwork, and it has no heating in there at all, I think that's acceptable. That area of the house is kept at 61 degrees on the thermostat so it's not losing much.
On the other hand my study, that also has no central heating in it (it's an old house...) drops into the low 50s and sometimes into the 40s unless I leave an electric heater in there. Hence the desire to get the sensitive stuff out of there, pull down the wall, and fix the gaps in it. Hopefully then I can save a load more heat.
It really is quite remarkable to think that some of the smaller jobs, and some of the jobs that may take time but are cheap in terms of materials, can potentially be paying for themselves within a day or two. Last year there were times during the coldest spells when we were going through $25-30 worth of heating oil in a day so, in very crude mathematical terms, a 30% reduction means saving $8-10/day when the weather is at its coldest. If I can save $4/day by using a $3.99 tube of caulking, it seems like a no-brainer to me. A 20lb bucket of cement mix is $12, and a large can of building foam is $9. With numbers like that, I don't worry too much about the cost of the materials I'm using because they pay for themselves so quickly.
Yesterday's epic was a generous portion of Frustration With Boxes. I bought a dado stack for my table saw, in the hope of making boxes quickly and easily. Sadly the reality is that it was neither quick nor particularly easy. The first attempt at a custom box joint splintered, the second kinda-sorta worked but I had to spend a lot of time cleaning out the dado channel with a chisel and even then nothing was quite square.
Eventually I got a box made up but it isn't a particularly pretty box. It is the first time I tried to build a box, so I shouldn't feel too disheartened. Thankfully I was using some offcuts I salvaged from a skid at a local cabinet store, so didn't start using up the rather nice red oak board I bought in order to make a box. I've been watching videos on YouTube about making boxes, and thinking that maybe the thing to do is invest in a router. I've got a bunch of plywood I can use to build the 'benchtop router table" I've seen listed (complete with video to show you how to turn a board into a bench).
I stopped by the sawmill today - they usually let me go out into the store room so I had a rummage through their offcuts and picked up something like five random planks of wood for $7. Most of them are pretty nice - one is a bit coarse but I figure a quick pass through the saw and it will come out OK. If it doesn't, I'll take it to a friend who has a planer and make it pretty, then work with it.
Tango, as far as building temporary walls to hpld up a ceilng while you replace a supporting wall with columns check with the This Old House people (I think the address is thisoldhouse.com). They have done this numerous times and will be happy to guide you. (Another possible address would be askthisoldhouse.com)
Shoveling more snow.
It's getting pretty ridiculous at this point. Even those who've lived here for years have not seen this much in a winter in 20 years.
We got creamed Monday and are supposed to get a bunch more Friday.
Honestly, I'd love to make something like this happen but I'm really not sure I want the costs of the associated work. To make it happen I'd need to finish the whole of the attic space, which is likely to be a $25-30,000 project assuming I can do all the work myself and don't bother doing things like telling the property tax people about the extra finished space in my house. Then on top of that I'd need the work to create the new staircases with all the disruption that would bring.
I was out last night between 10:30 and midnight shoveling off my carport roof because it was starting to creak. Now I have even larger piles on my driveway and nowhere to put it.
I ended up not shoveling snow yesterday. Usually when one of us goes out to shovel the other goes out to help (it's a shared driveway) but they started when I was right in the middle of some work on a new box design that I really didn't want to be abandoning part-way through. So this time they did most of the work. Other times we do all the work, so it's not a big deal... just don't want to be leaving them to it all the time.
Along the way I came up with a nice pretty box, which works and is just the right size for what I need. I also came up with a little thing to glue to the front to hold business cards. Later today I'm going to one of our local stores that sells my greetings cards, to deliver the box for them to use. At present they've got a little plastic thing that works but holds very few cards. I'm hoping the owner is going to buy more cards, to fill the larger box She has expressed interest in more of my pictures featuring local landscapes, so I'll take a few of those up too. And while I'm there, I'll be buying dinner for tonight
Finished clearing the driveway after last night's snowpocalypse. My neighbour kindly came over with his snow-blower to help clear some spots. I think the current average depth across our front yard is close to 5 feet.
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