Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cold weather

I miss heating with a wood stove. I miss the smell of a wood fire in the home. I miss cutting wood. In the forest, I miss that adrenaline rush of planning and felling a tree. I miss splitting wood, especially by hand. Each strike of the maul is like a mini battle of will. Can I convince my body to brutally and precisely repeatedly strike the log until it surrenders.  I miss stacking wood into long rows neatly ready for curing. I miss seeing the stacks of wood, so similar to a fully stocked larder, ready to heat our home.

It is cold here in Berkeley this morning. Not cold like it is in the rest of the United States. The sun will rise, it will bask into our front room and warm our poorly insulated home. By 9:30 am it will be very comfortable. Right now at 5:50 am I am cold. We don't have a real heating source. We could plug in some electric oil filled heaters.

Last time we did that it cost us a fortune on the next electricity bill--worst of all it wasn't really that much warmer.

We have an awesome woodstove

but I'd need to reline the chimney. I have done it before when we lived in Missouri. The main obstacle is there is no place to efficiently get wood. Plus the lining materials to do the job are about $700.

My Berkeley solution will be solar/radiant heat. I just acquired the final expensive part for our solar thermal system. I needed the pump, it had to be strong enough to lift my solar storage water to the peak of our roof. I couldn't afford to buy one since they are about $700. I was gifted two of them, one as back-up. They were from a commercial radiant heat removal. The plumber was going to throw them away.

Now I just need to finish the kitchen so I can install our solar heating system.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Kitchen remodel ensues...

I had to tear up the rotten flooring down to the joists.

I put in new sub-floor. The eventual final finish will be cork. 

This sub-floor was salvageable it just smells like La Brea tar pits. I scraped off the old tiles and tar to a level surface. 

I am starting to put sheet rock back on the ceiling. I insulated the exposed attic space and wired cans for the proposed lighting over the dining table and cutting board island. 

These three light cans will center on the table. See my crazy foam board and foam spray combination insulating?

This the wall behind the refrigerator, wall-oven, and pantry shelves

I'll plaster this back nice when I finish out the rest of the room. 

We got a Christmas tree the other day.

And, Georgi is a monkey girl.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Moving the main support column

We are getting our kitchen cabinets from IKEA. We priced around and looked at the competition. We decided on IKEA because they have wonderfully designed modern space saving and uber-convenience features. IKEA also has an awesome kitchen designer in browser app. It is sluggish but worth the trouble.

The problem I was having is we have a couple of columns (bumps) on both long walls that support a huge beam. It was making it impossible for me to position cabinets. Originally, I was going to hack into the affected cabinets and just have the column crowd into them. Not a pretty solution. As I got more and more involved I realised that this crowding wasn't going to work on fancy cabinets because things like glass shelves and complex lighted drawers can't abide this sort of thing.

Here is one of the columns, the one on the other side of the room. They were pretty much the same.

Here is the exact beam a few days ago.

the plastic is attached to it, just to the left of Kassi.

I wanted to move the support column into the wall cavity. The overhead beam didn't extend into the wall cavity so I had to get creative. I hammered in a 4by4 shoring to support the beam leaving room for me to work on the old column. I also used a bottle jack and another 4by4 to ever-so-slightly lift the beam. The house creaked in protest. My adrenaline was coursing through my body. I do stuff like this at work all the time but having a safety net of a corporation and insurance keeps my head cool. Here I cannot make any mistakes because I cannot afford them.

I had to remove the old column and floor blocking. The blocking was bad and the column was in my way. I opened up the wall bay and made room for my new beam. I still needed to attach the vertical column to the beam and decided on a steel angle bracket that I could hide within the sheetrock compound.

I went to the local steel yard and got a big piece on angle-iron. I buy steel from them for work all the time and I told them it was for me personally (almost free). I drilled the stump of angle-iron and notched my cut to length 4by4 post.

Here is what my bracket ended up looking like.

And here it the new column hidden in the wall cavity in all its glory.

Sorry, it is a bit blurry. On the left you can see my insulating efforts. I buy rigid foam insulation, cut it to fit then I foam the edges to make a hermetic seal. I cannot use fluffy fiberglass insulation because my old house doesn't have a vapor barrier and any absorbent insulation acts like a sponge and causes things to rot. Someday soon I'll insulate, hang a vapor barrier and re-side my house.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New back door

Here is what our old door looked like.

I took out the door and that old window on the right. I installed a temporary header to carry the rafters while I ripped out that door and made the opening large enough for french doors.

I reused the removed siding and patched the window hole. 

Tabitha helped me tear up some more of the flooring and clean the mess. See the new window on the right? 

Here is the new larger opening. We can actually see our backyard.

New french doors.

This is their new home.

These doors were a pain in the butt to get hung properly. Between the old house and manufacturing discrepancies it took quite a while to get them to operate smoothly.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Kitchen progress.

The windows and door came today. I tore out the old crappy back door. The hole must be larger for the double french doors. I had to support the roof while installing a new header over the french doors. 

Panorama photos are great but skew things so much it is difficult to tell what is going on. I am standing where the fridge will go and spun from the back door toward the makeshift kitchen behind the plastic on the right. Tabitha and I installed the two windows on the exterior wall of the dining area. 

Tomorrow I'll install the french doors and probably tear up more of the floor.

Kitchen remodel

We are in the throughs of remodeling our kitchen. We are moving the kitchen toward the center of the house. I moved essential kitchen "things" from the old kitchen area (the new breakfast dining area) to a cramped makeshift kitchen.

This photo Kassiopeia is standing right in front of Fritz-the-dishwasher looking into the deconstruction zone.

Toly and I are tearing off the old drywall. I needed access to re-wire and re-plumb. I am enlarging the windows for a light dining area. Windows are waiting for me to pick them up. I must eat breakfast first.

Kassiopeia, her awesome hair, is helping bag the old walls.

The wiring was scary. Knob and tube, and romex wired together in-wall. sketchy...

Homedepot supply run.

Toly is an excellent helper. 

keeping busy

Tools in hand, learning life skills that will serve him well. 

Work like this is always a family affair. I can't imagine doing this stuff without their help. Tristan will always do the crappy job because he understand that is usually the MOST helpful thing he can do.

I'm off to get my windows...

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