Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Basement

This is a protective storage case for our window screens. They've been leaned against a wall for the last year or so and I'm grateful and a little surprised they weren't damaged. I still need to make a door that will finish this little project off

Shelves for paint cans. Turns out I could have made another shelf for big cans

I added a shelf into this shelving unit and I plan to add yet another

With things in reasonable shape upstairs I've taken a deep breath and started work on the basement. In some respects it only makes sense, since it IS a part of the house, but it's a part we've mostly just brought to the most basic point of completion and then ignored. Consequently it's become a bit of a catch-all with no real organization.

My goal now is to relocate the table saw and chop saw down there and establish the basics of a workshop. I'm doing my best to avoid the temptation to just push stuff aside and move them in without any reorganization, so I've been spending time creating shelving for stuff and trying to sort out trash and putting like things together. I've made a bunch of progress. I'd also like to hook up the sink we previously had in the first floor bathroom as a garden/utility sink near the basement door.

Where I find I often get stumped is with wood storage. I try to move scrap wood on to the wooodstove burn pile as readily as I can, but longer stuff that I could use for future projects is harder to manage. How much should I keep? What sizes are best to hold on to? I'm way better at this then I used to be, but I still struggle with it. This evening Nancy had the idea of making hanging racks; I like this idea because it'll limit the amount I can store which will help with accumulation.

Anyway, the goal is to get myself set up with tools and such in the basement and then I'll recommence with woodworking projects.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vernal Equinox

March 24, 2011, at about 12:20pm, just after the vernal equinox

December 20, 2010 approximately 10:00 am on the winter solstice

September 21, 2010 approximately 12:00 pm at the autumnal equinox

June 21, 2010 approximately 12:00 pm at the summer solstice

The photo at the top rounds out a series of photos I've taken at the summer and winter solstice and the fall and spring equinox. You might recall that I got quite excited around the summer solstice last year when I found that within a few minutes of twelve noon on June 21, the only element of the decorative sun pattern on the south face of the house was the sun its self.

This discovery motivated me to document the four points of the seasonal rotation with a photo capturing the shading on the house. As expected the fall and spring equinox shading is pretty similar while the summer and winter solstice shadow contrasts greatly.

This information could come into play in the future if we ever decided we wanted to add shading over the windows in the warmer months to help keep the house cooler. I'm not sure if we'd ever get there but I guess we'll figure that out through experience.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Door Knobs

A brass and porcelain combination in the upstairs bathroom door

A brass assembly in the first floor bath door

The latch mechanism. I buffed out the rust, put in some grease and put it back together. It works great

Mortising out the opening for the mechanism

Last weekend Nancy, our friend John, and myself went antiquing and among the items we came across were some nice antique door knobs. I've been holding off on drilling the holes in the bathroom doors until we decided on the knobs and mechanisms because old mechanisms are a different size then modern ones.

I mortised out the space for the barrels and then fit the knobs. The porcelain set we've installed in the second floor bathroom door came with a connecting rod that was just a little too long. Faced with this I called up Felton next door and asked if he might have any of these common, but old-style, connector rods. Lo and behold he did.

It delights me that some old door knobs from who knows where are now an integrated and useful part of our home and will be for years and years to come. In part with this is that rod that's been sitting in a coffee can of Felton's for years, maybe decades, and is now found a new life in our house. So cool.

Otherwise, I've fixed up some plumbing issues that were needing attention and wiring up light fixtures.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


This morning the appraiser came to give the house it's final look-over. His goal is to come up with an assessed value of the completed house; the bank needs this information as part of the process of converting the construction loan to a mortgage. In anticipation of this I scurried yesterday to get a bunch of lights into place because they were the most obvious unfinished element of the house. This included installing the flush-mounted LED can lights over the living room, an old chandelier over the stairway (salvaged from Brian and Dana's house), a nice brass lamp over our bed, some light sconces in both bathrooms, and some track lights in the kitchen.

As always there is more to do, but this was enough to get us through the walk through this morning.

Today was a milestone of sorts because, provided there are no surprises with the appraisal and loan conversion, we are "done" in the eyes of the bank. Hooray! Of course we are not really done, but I suppose we could be if we decided that we were sick of the whole thing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Loose ends

The toilet paper holder in the upstairs bathroom. The top part is a shelf and the bottom holds about 6 rolls of tp down in the wall cavity

When we installed the sink the spacing of the lights overhead was off (originally based on the assumption of a longer sink) so I had to re-locate the wiring and then patch up the wall

The appraiser for the bank is coming on Thursday and I am tying up the various loose ends that would make the house appear unfinished, such as the t.p. cubbies in the bathroom, the shelf over the closet on the first floor--things that aren't that big to do, but are nonetheless incomplete. The last thing is lights and I put in a big order for lighting parts last week. I'm hoping they'll get here in time that I'll have the lights looking done, even if they're not quite. There are also multiple touch-up spots where we've cut into the sheetrock or done something that now requires a touch up.

Provided I get the stuff I need, I'll be whipping together a bunch of lights before Thursday AM.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Venting issues

See that white thing just above the back object? That is the boiler vent. The object just above that is the water spigot, and if you look up toward the corner along the same wall you can see the woodstove air intake. Still buried is the intake/exhaust for the HRV unit. I was able to stand on the snow and easily touch the roof

Our car. We got a near record amount of snow for a March storm

This morning we were awoke by the not-quite-full-on smoke alarm signaling intermittently. Not smelling smoke we quickly opened the doors and a bunch of windows in case it was a CO alarm, which it actually seems to have been.

We quickly ascertained that the boiler vent had been covered over by the prodigious snowstorm we experienced last night and today. The boiler is able to detect when the vent is blocked and will shut itself down which would prevent an accumulation of CO.

I suited up and went out to shovel the vent out. The amount of snow covering this thing was stunning. What was curious was the fact there seemed to be a bit of a bubble, for lack of a better way to describe it, around the vent. In other words there was a non-snow space that I shoveled into when I got near the vent pipe. What this makes me think is that the heat of the boiler vent gas was kind of creating its own little pocket under the snow and perhaps this was the reason the boiler seems to have not actually shut down, hence the CO alarm.

With the vent cleared and the house thoroughly aired out we shut the doors and windows and felt okay about the situation. It was a bit later that it occurred to me to check the HRV air supply duct as well. Like the boiler vent, it was also burried, and like the boiler vent it seemed to have it's own little air-space pocket in the snow once I reached it. Like the boiler vent it is venting warm-t0-hot air, so it makes sense.

We take this stuff absolutely seriously; I was aware of these potential problems when the installation work was done, but I got a bit of resistance and didn't push further about locating the venting higher up. I wish I had. The task now is to correct it.

To that end I'd already put in a call last week to the plumber about the situation, so we are going to correct it. On the upside, we are grateful for the alarm system and glad it works.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lights and a Cape Cod Sink

New-old sink in the first floor bath

Another view

Building a lamp fixture

A light hanging over the dining room table from track. We have a vision of a series of small lights hanging here at different heights

Disassembled exterior fixture about to be painted black. This was mounted on the the old garage and will now serve as the fixture that lights the walk route into the house

I've been working on installing track where we'll have track lighting in the kitchen and dining area. This required a little sheetrock work again; cutting strategic points to wire or re-wire to make what we need to have happen. In the case of the kitchen track lighting we decided to make the track tw0-circuit so that we could have some or all of the lights on depending on which circuit they are fixed in. This allows, say, the light over the sink to be on it's own circuit and switch from the rest of the lights that light the counters. I'm always a little hesitant to cut into the sheetrock, but usually it goes pretty smoothly and I'm mudding it back up in short order.

I've built up a couple of lamps and they look just fine. One is hanging over the kitchen table, the other is over the kitchen sink. More to come.

Remember that big old sink we had in the downstairs bathroom? Well, it has moved down closer to it's final home in the basement. In it's place we've finally installed the sink that Nancy's parents Lee and Lou brought to us last fall. It's a great old marble sink that used to be in the bathroom at their house on the Cape. Its kinda battered and stained, but it's got a good measure of beausage (pronounced like "sausage", as in beauty-through-useage) and looks quite handsome in out bathroom. We're planning on replacing the faucet controls because they are kinda beat up and sorta unattractive. Eventually we'll build a cabinet that the will replace the brackets that the marble sits on right now.

One more piece of the puzzle in place.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looking Back to When It All Began

Nancy here, who has been itching (just like Dave keeps scratching in this video) to submit this post!

We went to town meeting this morning. This is always a social occasion and several times we were able to respond positively and without any equivocation on our part to the question "are you in the house yet?" Funny how different a simple "yes" sounds as we've gotten so used to following it up with the qualifiers. As in "we are sleeping in the house, but everything else is still in the yurt" or my favorite, "but the kitchen isn't in yet!"

In celebration of this major milestone, we'd like to share a little clip from day one of construction. Now that we're living in the "after" here's a look back at the "before".

Although the house has been a team effort and we've had lots of help along the way from many friends and contractors, now is a good time for me to publicly recognize all of Dave's love and labor that has gone into these walls. I am very proud of all that you have accomplished Dave. With great humor, hard work, and a vision, we have a beautiful new home. Well done!

Much love,