Wednesday, November 26, 2014

All Buttoned Up For Winter

While we had gotten the new window in a while ago, we were waiting for our rough-in inspection to pass before we could put the siding back on.  I was starting to get really, really nervous with the prospect of having a blanket of snow come before we had finished.  Last winter, we didn't make it, and one side of our house (near our mulled window in our bedroom) was un-sided for the whole winter.  While it turned out fine, and we did finish that this spring, I didn't want a repeat this year.

October 15th... Plenty of time.
Needless to say, I've been itching to get our siding back on since our rough-in inspection passed last Thursday... but the weather was not cooperating. After quick glance at the weather last Friday, and I decided to add Tuesday and Wednesday to my days off this week. They were [supposed to be] very warm with no rain in sight.  We could easily get everything done in two days, and if not, no sweat... the rest of the week looked fine.

Come Monday and the forecast didn't looks as great as it had.  Tuesday still looked great, high 60° and clear. Wednesday high 40° and rain.  Wednesday night, we had our first winter storm warning - 6" snow.  So Tuesday was it, with a rainy buffer on Wednesday.

So we ran around like crazy yesterday.   And of course, there's no pictures when you're running around like crazy.  My Mom came over and took care of the kids, made us food, and :::loving sigh of appreciation::: cleaned our neglected kitchen

Jon got most of the siding up by himself while I made the window frame. The frame is made of  PVC, just like the other windows we've installed. We used a trim from the stealth line from Versitex. we picked the middle profile in the image below.  It has opening for the window flange on one side and one side and d something like an integrated 'j-channel' on the other.
Personally, I think it really cleans up the way vinyl siding looks around a window, as can be seen in the two comparison pictures below.   However, framing the window trim does require a little more work than, say, a picture frame would, and it did cost a little more.  Not much more than using regular Versitex PVC trim, though.   I think it's totally worth it.

I used the historic sill, at the bottom , also PVC by Versitex.  Like the other windows, I beveled the side edges to match the front.  Again, a bit of time consuming detail, but I think it looks much nicer that way.

I did prepaint the siding for all other other frames... but I skipped that for this one.  Next year, I'll paint it.  It's just for protection anyway, it's very close to the same white the PVC came in.

Actually the frame from the boy's room.  Nearly identical though.
Once the siding was on, and my trim was done, we went around a caulked and filled in the screw holes on the trim... And then we did that to two of other windows that we installed last year and hadn't done yet.  All running around to try to get the caulk in before it dropped below 40°F... which wasn't supposed to happen until 12PM... but the caulk is supposed to have 24 hours to cure.  We'd had some trouble with the typical 35 year DAP caulk on another window, so we used silicone this time.  We'll see how it goes, I guess.

Once that was all done and we had dinner, it was dark and around 8PM..... and we still had to get the pump jacks down.  One of the poles had gotten pretty worn, and we did have some trouble getting one side down.  Still a few hours later Jon and I had managed getting the jacks and platform off, and poles down, and the last pieces of siding that was off (for the pump jack stands) was put back on.  We decided it was time for the poles to be retired, since they were getting worn, and we don't have an immediate plans for them in the future (can I get a whoo-hoo?)... so we chopped them up and brought them in the house.  We fixed some other siding issues we had noticed, and then called it a night.

It was a wonderful feeling.  We worked hard, and I was cold and tired, but our house was all set for winter.  Added bonus, my kitchen looked better than it had in months.  My Mom even took out the trash, recycling, swept everywhere, did every dish and cleaned the stove top until it was sparkling.  I didn't even want to leave the kitchen, so I sat there enjoyed some hot cocoa and checked my email... which contained another weather advisory.  Now the storm was to start at 10AM, with more snow predicted. 

I feel so relieved. Just for fun, here's the progression of that side of the house.

And now....

I snapped this picture at 10 this morning, when I went out to collect our garden pots to put the shed (and get all the shovels).  Such a pretty new window.... And I'm so glad being on a ladder 20 feet up isn't in my near future anymore.

But here's the real kicker.  This is just 30 minutes after that last picture.

And then 2 hours after that.  Boy did we cut it close.

Feeling thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy your snow!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Let there be light!

 As mentioned in my planning post, we wanted to put a window in the end of Eve's room, because it gets so little light.  Well, we have.  And even though it's been in for about a month, I'm still surprised at how much light there is every time I walk in there.

There's actually been such a hiatus because, well, 1) when there's work to be done I don't post... 2) we're not done yet and 3) we haven't had power in the living room for a while.  I'm actually running the computer off the extension cord right now.

I'm gong to keep it short, but here's the gist.  We realized we needed an electrical permit... so we've actually added on a fair amount of electrical work (in the rooms we were already working on) to our other plans.  So that's the big reason why this 'simple' project isn't done yet, and why I haven't had any time to post.

Enough updates, back to the window. So the process was simple  Cut hole.  Remove insulation. Move outlet.  Frame wall.

Now it was time to cut a hole in the sheathing and put this guy in it.  We were so happy to unbox the window see how big it was (It's actually the same size as the boys one we put in on that same side).  It's been hanging out in our basement since we bought the other windows for our house and we cannot wait until there are no more windows in boxes waiting in our basement.

As we've done before, we set up the pump jacks.  Jon started by digging holes for the bottom of the posts.  We saved the platform and poles in our basement from last time, so it was an easy set up.

...besides the whole 'height' thing.

We were able to successfully put the first pole up, and had Eli try it out for us.

Not to be outdone by Jon, I put the second pole up.  We braced the bottom and got the platform on.  Note, we didn't put in the lower set of  braces, like we did last time (above the door line).  We should have.  It make the experience much more stable, and less...harrowing.

If you're wondering more about pump jacks, you can check out my post here.  We did make a video though, to help clarify how they actually work.  We're a little rusty using them right off the bat, but we get there.

So there's a little lapse in pictures, but we got the platform up to the top and I pulled siding off while Jon started to cut out the board with our oscillating flush-cut tool.  He made sure not to push the tool through until I had the siding off and house wrap removed.  In case you're wondering, Jon had driven some nails into each corner so I could find where I needed to remove the housewrap... and so we could hear eachother better he made a small hole ... which I later found out was a tri-force :)  Such a gamer.
Once Jon got to the last cut, I hopped down, got the kids and we all watched the light come in. 

Moment of anticipation...

And it's out!

Of course it had turned to dusk by the time we had taken the wall out... but the effect was still pretty big.

So after a quick post to Facebook (hey, I was excited!) we started getting that window in.  It was a gorgeous fall day, and it smelled so crisp and cold... but that's not really great when your paying to heat your house...

After doing an install this many times, we were able to wrap it up pretty fast.  I got the housewrap, flashing and shimming all ready (while Jon made dinner).  After we ate, we put the window in.  We've found it works best if Jon stays outside and screws it all in, and I stay inside and shim.

Movie magic, and it's done.

That's pretty much it.  Now it has to sit in this state until our rough in inspection. We are loving how much light we get in there.
(Whoops, didn't have a daylight 'after' picture.  Took this today, so it skips ahead a few steps...)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Framed Closet

As usual, when I get to working on stuff, I don't get around to posting as I go.  So back in the beginning of October, we started with the first on our current remodels to-do list - moving Eve's door and framing the closet.  It actually went surprisingly fast.... with just a little snag.

We started here, long room, with an offset entry.

Once the room was clear, we started by killing the power for both the "lights" circuit, and the "Bedroom 1 & 2" circuit.  Then we removed Eve's door and door frame carefully, which came out well enough that we can reuse it for the new opening.

Then the real demo began, and we started carefully taking out sections of drywall... which the reality set in on how many stinking outlets we would have to remove... along with the disappointment when we saw there was one cord passing through from the attic to the floor below (to what...?) which we now had to relocate.

We pressed on anyway, and documenting as much as we could about the wires, started taking out more studs and more drywall.

Pulling out some more wires and drywall and the form really started changing for the better.

Once most of the drywall was out, I started building up the edge of the right side of the new door. The two flat 2x4's were existing (for the edge between the boys room and hallway).    I kept the other side of the drywall in, so we could cut it flush to the framing when it was done.

But before we could go further framing any more of the closet or the new door, we really had to get that mystery wire figured out and moved.  We traced the attic side of the wire to the 2nd floor smoke alarm, in the hallway right here. We disconnected that side to help with the demo (it's laying on the floor in the pictures above).  Since those smoke alarms are way old, and getting replaced with this build anyway, it wasn't that big of a deal.  We had a few guesses to the other side, and it turns we were right.  It goes the first floor smoke alarm, then the basement smoke alarm, where the circuit ends.

Still we were tasked with moving the stupid thing from red arrow 'A' to red arrow 'B'.  We decided the best option was putting it in the little gap between the doors.  To do that, we did have to cut two small holes the popcorn ceiling below to pull out a staple and fish for the wire.  A little bit of a bummer, but I did save the cut ceiling piece. Hopefully we can get the ceiling looking seamless again.

Once the wire was all sorted out, we could get framing again.  We removed the rest of the drywall on the hall side, really opening up the place.  Then I was able to quick throw up the other side of the closet door.

And then frame up the other side of Eve's room door.  You can see our "mystery wire" running up the center pillar now.  It's still not connected in the attic, but it's progress!  (Note, it is stapled to the side, but we later moved it to the center per an electrician's recommendations.  It gives a little more clearance when screwing up the drywall).

With that little section in the walls are really coming together.  All that's left is the wall between the closet and Eve's room.

Didn't take much at all.  I chose to add in an extra stud to one side for a closet receptacle (up high for a dustbuster) and switch for a closet light.

It took us about 6 days to do this much, which wasn't bad at all considering most of that was during the work week.

But the demo got us to thinking... the amount of electrical we needed just to move what was in the current door, seemed to warrant a permit. Jon called, and it did indeed require an electrical permit - they had forget to tell us when we got the building permit. And since we needed a permit (at no extra cost), we did decide to add on to our load a lot more than originally intended (also at no extra cost), like closet light and outlet I mentioned above.... as well as a few other things that we were still deciding on.  That's really where we start getting into time delays... but I won't get ahead of myself, and end with the nice quick build!  Yay progress!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Playmobile Castle & Bow and Arrow Part 2

Our little Isaac turned four not too long ago, and with his birthday came some handmade toys (of course).

For the last couple holidays we've suggested to family that play-mobile figures would be a nice addition to our toy set, so we've gotten a few.  They get quite a lot of use, so I thought I could make something for a good setting.

I thought about this castle, by Melissa and Doug.  It was more than I wanted to pay, so we'd have to really like it to buy it for him.  And after seeing it in person (at our friends house) it was definitely fun, but much bigger than we wanted to store, and a little... flimsy for a four year old.  There was one that stood out to me on etsy, but it wasn't quite what I thought the boys would like.  I did, however, like that it was simple, open ended and made out of chunky solid wood.  I could do that.

So of course, I made one of my own design.  This was one of my favorite types of projects.  I went to the basement, looked at my scrap wood, and with a calculator in hand, started sketching.  I pulled the design together from what I had on hand, and sort of modified it as I went.  And since nothing went crazy wrong (think bow project last year), it was actually really fun to construct.  I tried to keep it as simple as I could (yet still kept adding features), and embraced the imperfections.

The one big failure I had was with the center door.  I had a wider board and constructed a nice looking curved doorway.  On the last section to chisel out, the thing split in two.  After a hunt, I did find a little smaller board, and decided to go with a super simple door opening instead.

One 'big' design change I made last minute.  There was supposed to be three sides of crenelations (had to ask my husband the name) around the top of the towers.  The last set was going to go where the arrows show above.

But when I put them on, the towers seemed too overpowering, dominating the smaller-than-planned center wall (in blue).  Plus, I actually like the open, more cohesive play area that was there before we put them in.  So with Jon's guidance, we nixed those, and put in a crenelated wall on top of the doorway.  I'm super glad we did, it flows much better.

I didn't initially expect he was going to be enthralled to get it (he even had to warm up to last year's Link Costume), but after seeing the reactions the big kids had to it when I showed them it while I was working on it that morning ("When is he going to get it?" "Can I play with it after he opens it? ""Can we do presents now?" "6'clock? Wah, wah wah..."), I thought it might get a fair amount of play.  Sure enough it's been a well played with toy.

So here it is!  I actually managed to take a few nice photos of this project, for once.  Quite fun to set up for, I will have to admit too.

I drilled a few holes for the accessories to have a place to sit.  It looks a little odd empty, but really fun when filled.

...And just for fun, 'cause at this point I'm totally just playing with my kids toys... "Oh, hey there.  Is this your horse?..." "Why, yes...

To wrap up the castle... Things I would do different next time.

  1. I would plan it ahead of time.  Fun to prototype, but most of the changes below would require some planning.
  2. I would buy poplar or maple as my base wood.  Really, any harder wood than pine would do.  Once I saw I only had pine on hand, I loosened up my expectations considerably.  Pine is so soft, the pieces didn't even make it out of sanding without getting all dented.  I just rolled with it, and did a marginal job with everything else.
  3. I would have routered anything I could have.  This project yells 'router me!.. but my Mom had needed hers back for a project a while ago and I didn't ask to borrow it recently.  So, I went with more of a 'hand-scraped' look.
  4. I would have tried to camouflage those pocket holes a little better.  They do look better in real life than in the photos, but those are the 'paint grade' pocket hole fillers.  I expect stain grade would look a little better.
  5. I didn't want a rope for the bridge (to break) but a small chain might have looked cool.
 That's about it.  I am really hoping to get this plan (and other plans) on my main site this winter.
To keep this post moving along... Next up, our bow failure!  Yay! Wait.  Boo! The preschool-friendly bow and arrow set I made last Christmas...  broke. 

Sadly, this is how it looks after only eight months.  (Mind you, there were several adults ::cough, cough:: who played with this bow too.) After all the drama Christmas Eve, I knew that was my last attempt at DIYing a bow.  Even cellular PVC wouldn't hold up to to repeated flex (nerding it up here, I bet the modulus of elasticity of PVC is low.  Must... Not... Google... It).

Anyway.  I gave up and bought a bow.  I wanted one that would shoot straight (enough), so like last time I researched, all toy bow sets were out.  However, there was one real one that caught my eye, The Bear Archery First Shot Bow.  It was only $10 with Amazon prime shipping, so I went for it.

But, because this is a toy for a 4 year old, there's no way I would hand him a real bow and arrow set, and say "Have fun Link!"  So, I removed the packaging and hid the real arrows (to be stored with my real arrows).

Although the last set of indoor foam arrows were still working fine, we made some new ones that were just a bit longer.  They seem to fit the draw of a bow just a bit better.

Also, because the bow has an arrow rest, we decided to omit one of the fletches.  We figured it would just get ripped off in the first go.  I shaped the dowel, and handed the rest off to my hubby.  Jon got his creative juices flowing and made unique fletchings for each of the new arrows.  They're pretty cool.

And as for how it works- Well like last Christmas, it's really fun... for bigger kids/adults.  Isaac still doesn't have the hang of it.  And since the draw is a little stronger (but still doable), he's using it mostly for pretend play.  Which is really why we wanted to give him the 'toy' version.

However, even this set up with the foam arrows pack a punch.  I have to be really careful I don't break a window when I miss the target (pssht, like, almost never..), and we always clear the 'range' when we're actually shooting at a target.  It is a real bow, and it does have quite the twang.  I would have loved to have a lower draw weight, but I haven't seen anything along those lines yet.

Yep.  So that's that for this years set of preschool presents!