Saturday, July 30, 2016

Scrambling in All Directions

My work on the house these last few weeks has gone in a zillion directions. We've had a lot of very hot, humid days. When the heat and humidity wipe me out so that I have to cut back on the more strenuous activities, I move to my long list of little things that need to be done...

No one would believe how long I spent getting the shingle guide installed on the bottom of the north wall of the house. Part of the challenge was handling the 24-foot-plus length of the board all by myself on that steep slippery hillside. The bigger problem was that the northwest corner of the house is just about sitting on the ground, so there wasn't enough room for the guide to fit. I ended up cutting the last five feet of the guide to fit around the stumps, roots, and lumpy hillside.

Finally, the guide is set level and straight for the first course of shingles!

A nice thing about working on the north side of the house: all the beautiful flowers.

One tiny project: I grabbed a piece of 3" PVC pipe out of the trash that the plumber had thrown away, and I cut a short piece of it... use in the bathroom as an easy way to store my hair dryer.

I removed the electrical box that was installed over the shower and replaced it with this light that has its own junction box built in. (Ignore the insulation sitting up there. It was pulled out of the ceiling when the plumber drilled the vent hole up through the roof. I want to confirm after a big rainstorm that the roof is not leaking around the vent before I re-install the insulation in the ceiling.)

This junction box for a light that will hang in the bathroom next to the window and over the sink has been bugging me for awhile. See how close to the corner of the bumpout it is? I've been thinking that the box is so close to the corner that, once the wall boards are installed, the light fixture won't fit.

I dug out the light fixture and held it up to the junction box. Sure enough--the light was not going to fit once the wall was done. So...I pulled out the insulation, removed the box from the stud, added a board as a spacer, and reinstalled the box.

I held the light fixture up to the box to confirm that it will fit.

And I reinstalled all the insulation.

Yes, I did cut a gazillion tiny pieces of cedar.

When I started assembling them, I had all kinds of trouble. I was trying to use stainless steel finishing nails, but the wood pieces were too delicate for that--even with pre-drilling the holes. Once I switched to using staples, the cupboard went together a little easier.

Finally, I ended up with a shelving unit that is less than 3" wide and over 45" high.

This shelving unit is for a hidden space in the bathroom. The alcove next to the shower in the bathroom bumpout is going to have a built-in cabinet with shelving. In the left side of the alcove, there is a space between the studs that backs up against the side of the shower. Here is the shelving unit starting to be slid into that hidden space.

When it's completely installed, you can't see it...

...unless you stick your head into the alcove to see it.

I made another, smaller shelving unit to put in the top part of the hidden space.

Here's a peek around the corner to see it.

Just standing in the bathroom and looking at the alcove, you can't see all the extra shelves. I have plans for little hidden gems that make use of all the spaces in this house!

One last little project: Here is the start of my TV hanger--a piece of maple cut into a circle turntable. Combined with a lazy susan and a TV ceiling mount, it should allow me to install my flat screen so that it folds up out of the way when not in use but will also spin 360 degrees when it is dropped down.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Plumbing 2

Big realization: the outdoor spigot could not go where I had planned (on the outside north wall, near the northwest corner; on the inside beside the toilet). In order for it to be frost free, it has to extend quite a ways into the house, which means it really should go into an interior wall on the inside. I don't have many interior that meant it should go in the closet wall.

This is one of the reasons I had not shingled the outside of the north wall yet; I knew I needed to consult with someone knowledgeable about the locations for everything. I had installed trim to accommodate the outdoor spigot in that northwest corner. Over the weekend, I moved the spigot trim, and I installed two other pieces of utility trim as well. In this next photo, the closest three pieces of trim are the ones I just installed. The closest one will hold the FairPoint (land line phone) box and the outdoor electrical outlet. (I know, I know, just go with cell phone service. I've heard that many times. I'm happy with my DSL Internet service, though, and that comes through the phone line, so that's the way it is for now.) The next piece of trim houses incoming power service. The third one over is for the relocated outdoor spigot. (The last two trim pieces that have been there for awhile are for the dryer vent and the water meter.)

Today, the outdoor spigot got installed.

Also installed: the water lines, drain, and vent for the washer and outdoor spigot. This next photo is from the closet side.

This is from the washer side. It may appear backwards, but I decided that access to these things needed to be through the back of the closet. Since the washer and dryer will be stacked up against the closet wall, if the controls faced the washer, I'd never be able to reach them.

It is hard to get perspective in this next shot. The camera is tilted back and up, looking through the ceiling joists toward the ceiling. The water lines have been run along the back side of the ceiling joist to bring water from the north wall over to the south side--for the shower and the kitchen sink. The long silver piece on the right is the track the pocket door will sit/slide in.

Here are the water lines installed for the shower and kitchen sink.

Higher up, here are the water lines supplying the shower head.

And here is the shower control.

This is the vent for the shower, toilet, and two sinks--punched up through the ceiling/roof.

That vent from the outside.

Wow. What a difference a few days can make!

P.S. No, I still have not received my money back from the plumber who took a deposit from me and never did any work. My complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the state Attorney General's office hit dead ends because the plumber chose not to participate. The city police department would not accept a complaint from me for "theft by deception" because they did not think they could prove "intent." The state licensing board and state plumbing inspector referred me to the local police department, Better Business Bureau, and state Attorney General's office. Yes, I have gone in circles a number of times. This has all been quite an education! I had no idea how easy it is for someone to take your money in exchange for work, not do a stitch of that work and, then, keep that money--with no accountability, no penalty, no threat of arrest, and no threat of losing the professional license used to "sell" the service in the first place. My only remaining resort is Small Claims Court, but I've been warned that, even if I win my case, I might never get my money back. Is this system broken, or what?!

Also see:
Plumbing 1

George trying to find a cool spot in this heat and humidity.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Plumbing 1

No one pass out or anything! Plumbing work got done on the JayBee today. Hooray! Years in the making...and, then, just a few hours later, there is plumbing. Good thing we started early; it is killer hot here today.

Today's work was all about the PVC venting. Now there is a toilet drain. This was a bit tricky because the C-channel trailer framing was right below where this needed to go. The toilet will end up a few inches out from the wall, and the drain has a funky twist in it--but it's in!

Below is the venting for the toilet, the kitchen sink, and the shower. I take full responsibility for the fact that it is installed in the wrong wall! After it was done, I was staring at it and thinking something just didn't look right. Then, I realized that I had wanted to install it in the wall behind where it ended up--so there would be more room on the kitchen side for shelving and storage. Installing it back in that other wall would have meant having to move the electrical wire... Bummer. It is where it is now, though; I am not going to move it. I will just have to build around it when finishing off the kitchen.

Below is the vent for the bathroom sink. It wraps up through the bathroom ceiling...

...over the shower, and hooks up with the other vents.

The shower drain was installed, and the shower stall itself is now installed as well. (No more pulling it out, shoving it back in, etc.)

More plumbing work will get done on Monday...

The water supply lines are not going in until the walls are finished because they will be attached to the walls (and, where they would be visible, I will build little cupboards/shelves/whatever around them). I guess I better get busy...or at least busier.


Also see:

Monday, July 11, 2016

AGAIN! Plumbing...NOT (Hard to Believe, I Know)

My regular followers know that I have been trying for years to hire a plumber to run the plumbing in the JayBee. No exaggeration. Years.

My latest/current plumber was scheduled to arrive early this morning to start installing plumbing. Since the inside of the JayBee was completely trashed (insulation and spray-foam bits everywhere, and no room to move), I got up at the crack of dawn (truly, I got up with the sunrise) to clean the place out. I moved out tools that I'm not using much at this stage of construction (to open up some space), I rearranged everything to empty out the west end of the house--where all the plumbing goes, and I vacuumed the whole house. I opened all the windows (for air flow), I ran the power cord for the plumbers to use, and I hung out the awning (to keep the place cool while the plumbers worked).


I waited.

And waited.

Got so bored waiting that I mowed the whole lawn.

Went back into the JayBee and trimmed some more cured spray foam from around the windows. Cleaned up the resulting mess.

Did all the little tasks and chores I could think of.

At 1:45pm, I called the plumber and left a message that said that, since he hadn't shown up and hadn't called, I was assuming he was not going to be here today--and I could leave to run errands.

At 2:00pm, the plumber called me back. Said he'd lost my number (second time in as many calls that he has said that). Told me way too much information about medical issues and procedures... Anyway, we're rescheduled for Friday. I will not be holding my breath. In fact, if he shows up and installs some plumbing, I just might pass out!

In the meantime... wildlife encounters.

This cardinal was loud today. Caught him flying...

...and singing in this bush.

A new drop in the driveway from an eagle. (Each of these things that eagles drop in the driveway are always completely gone the next day. I don't know if the eagles retrieve them, or if a raccoon or other critter cleans up.)

I did not catch a photo of the most exciting encounter. I was starting to walk down the driveway to take something to the trash bin, when a fawn bounded around the corner at the bottom of the drive and raced up the driveway toward me. I froze and gaped. Such a cutie--spindly legs, and large white spots. It kept sprinting until it was about 15 feet in front of me, and then it took a sharp turn and bounded into the woods. Even though I could no longer see the fawn, I stood still and waited. I thought another deer (its mother maybe?) might follow along. Nope. That was it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Progress Through Tedium

For those who might have this misconception... Not all of house building inspires brilliant application of one's creativity. Much of it involves slowly grinding through repetitive, boring tasks so that systems are built in a consistent and complete way (and end up functioning well)--even if that work and function is all behind the scenes, not visible in the finished product.

I have been immersed in these kinds of tedious tasks for more than a week now. (The timing is good for this at the moment because the last few days have been gray and cooler.) I have sprayed tons of yellow, low-expanding, insulating foam around windows, the door, and narrow cracks. I have sprayed tons of orange, insulating, fire-blocking, moisture-sealing foam around electrical boxes. I have taped potential leaks in the vapor barrier. Case in point: This next photo shows the breaker box with orange foam sealing the holes where the wires enter or leave the box, and with red circles of tape sealing all the holes in the box.

All of the kinds of spray foam specify in their instructions that you're supposed to fill the spaces and cracks only 50% and allow the foam to expand to fill the crack as it cures. I know this instruction very well, but I just cannot seem to follow it. Partly this is due to the fact that, when I have forced myself to follow this procedure, I invariably end up having to go back and fill in gaps; partly it's due to my penchant for being thorough. It's just so much more satisfying to fill the crack until it's full. Thus, once the foam cures, it is obvious that I have used way too much foam, and I then spend all kinds of time trimming the excess foam.

More baffles installed.

I have also been trying to think through any additional framing support pieces I should install before I finish installing insulation--especially in the walls. For example, now that I know how I want to build the clothes closet--with half of the closet pivoting completely open on a piano hinge--it made sense to install some support for that piano hinge. See the lighter-colored 2 x 3 I just installed in the wall below.

From another angle... The blue tape on the floor outlines where the right half of the closet will sit when it's closed. That new framing support now sits behind where the piano hinge will attach that back corner of the closet to the wall.

One coat of sealer applied to the loft chair...

... and one to the folding, flat chair.

How do I keep myself on task when so much of what I'm doing these days is boring?
  1. I have been binge listening to seasons 1 and 2 of Serial. My son has been recommending these podcasts to me for years, but it has taken me until now to follow through with listening. Very engrossing! Definitely helps with the tedium. I pause the broadcast when I run a power tool or leave the JayBee for something; I turn it back on after.
  2. I find myself pondering during the day some of the things I have been reading at night. Here's a quote that has stuck with me for days: "There are moments in life that are between: between the blow and the pain, between the phone ringing and the answer, between the misstep and the fall. One that comes to everyone is a moment, or three, or five, between sleeping and waking, when the past has not yet been re-created out of memory and the present has made no impression. It is a moment of great mercy; disorienting, like all brushes with grace, but a gift nonetheless." [from All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming] I have thought about some of my moments of disorienting grace--when I've been suspended between sleep and wakefulness. I have also thought about many other kinds of inbetween. Then, when I realize how far down this or other rabbit holes my mind has burrowed, I end up laughing and thinking: "A mind is a beautiful thing to waste."
Bear visiting. "Just what are you doing in here for all this time, anyway?!"

George complaining that we haven't had a good walk in days.

I took the Fourth of July weekend off from house building. Perfect weather!

Here is what remains of a thoroughly devoured fish sitting on the riverbank. Skeleton intact!

Kayaking on the Kennebec with Frida, Paula, and Lily (patiently huddled under a sun-blocking tee shirt).

We saw and heard so many leaping, thwapping fish! No photos of them, though.