Archive for the ‘House’ Category

More House Wiring

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Saturday was challenging. We took advantage of the cold to climb in the attic and run a whole bunch of Ethernet. My roof is really low. The high point is about 5ft and I’m 6ft. I’m really sore. In two hours, we ran 7 cables. The new computer room (closet) needs at least a wire for Internet. I took the opportunity to add a lot more wires. A wire to the kitchen for that AppleTV, which is on the other side of the living room. Two for one.

There were a few discoveries. Like the box of Ethernet cable I left up there from last time, plus wire cutter and a drill. We used up that 500ft box and another 50ft of additional cable. I drilled one hole for the computer to discover that the boards were 6-8″ thick. When we went to run the Kitchen cable there was already a hole drilled. That really saved a lot of energy at the end. It would have been difficult with all the air vents and chimney.

All the major locations have a run to the attic hole. Some locations have other runs. Like between the old and new computer rooms and the new computer room and the kitchen. Though that last one was a mistake. Measure before you cut. The attic hole is close to the house phone line, before it splits. I’m very excited to cut it and rewire the house phones through a DSL filter and put the DSL router closer to the telephone box. So, all the runs to the attic are for getting Internet from one spot. I’ll drop a battery backup up there and run the DSL router, wired Router/Firewall, and Pogoplug off it. I’m really excited at the prospect of faster Internet by cutting out all the interference from the house telephone wiring.

The wall wired Ethernet should make it easier to plug in most anything. At this point, the house is basically networked. Yay.

Computer Changes

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I’m very excited about the changes to the computers in the house recently. The wires are moving off the floor and computers are going in and out of the computer room.

One Mac Mini was moved into the bedroom to make video files from TiVo and VCR tapes. It’s a new one and unfortunately they only work with digital TVs (none of mine) and I had to resort to dragging in a computer monitor to put on the floor. This really bugs me. Now though, I have run coax cable from the bedroom to the kitchen and computer room and move the computer. The new Mac OS 10.6 should arrive on Friday and this little gem is the only box to get the upgrade. It’s been working great at transcode DVDs to AppleTV and iPhone formats. The VCRs can move with the Mac Mini too. Clears up a lot of clutter.

The cable used to run along the floor and stop in the guest bathroom. Now it goes through the walls and runs down the hallway (still visible) to the kitchen TV. We’ve been using the AppleTV a lot and it only spits out digital, which is very expensive to move around the house. VCR, DVD, and TV all work fine over the coax. The new wire cleans up the signal a lot and we want AppleTV in the kitchen without spending $200 to do it.

So, I checked an older Mac Mini that I wasn’t sure of, one that can output analog composite video, and discovered that it works fine. Better than fine since it can play on any of my TVs. With the proper cable that is. Which will come in on Friday too. This Mini was 10.4 and is upgraded to 10.5. It’s flakiness came from a possible botched upgrade from 512 meg to 2 gig. Seems like the upgrade was successful. This little gem will go in the kitchen TV. I need to run an Ethernet wire to this spot, but the wireless is ok.

Running the wires along the wall is annoying, but the attic is just too hot, cramped, and awful it’s worth it. The drop in the kitchen works for both the kitchen and living room. That’s very handy. This wires most of the house; kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and one bedroom (computer room). Though I still need coax and Ethernet to the bathrooms and a bedroom. And the “server closet” in one bedroom might need to move to the garage or hall closet.

I’m really hoping for new Macs in September or October. Not so much to get a new one, but to get a current one on clearance for $200-400 less. Maybe, a 24″ with 4 gig and a dedicated video card. The Minis are fine and I love my overheating upgraded Cube, but I would really would like to have transcoding take 1/3 of the time and to have at least one powerful machine. For a long time I wanted a Mac tower, but I just don’t have enough work to make up the $2200+ price tag. This box would replace the Cube as the desktop machine and I could use it as a spare web browser. It will output S Video to a TV, a very handy ability.

A little separate note on cutting off the cable..
The antenna works well and money spent on cable has gone to buying cheap movies and TV series at Walmart. The AppleTV has been a gem, but only because we rip the DVDs we buy and transcode them for it. All the shows are in one enormous list. Purchasing though Apple is ok, but they have not obtained new episodes and shows for everything and rental fees and terms are outrageous compared to Hastings, and downloads take hours or days through standard DSL. There are cheaper boxes that do the same thing, but without iTunes, and I would have chosen one of those if I were doing this again. The Mini going in the kitchen is saving transcoding time and space and $200+ worth of hardware. It’s outrageous how expensive it is to push a component video signal 50′ vs coax.

House Projects

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Dang it. My legs are tired.

The blog hasn’t been updated in a little while, but writing has stopped. There’s a tonne (British) of stuff to post from the past two weeks. The start the latest projects have been coming along well. I would still be at it if I could stand.

The MBR door is closer to down. Just not smooth enough.

A few of the other doors still have issue. Only one has been hung, but that’s because a closer look at things got me off on other details. And because these doors are kind of shitty. The installer messed up the spade drilling of the keyset and I did the same thing on the Master Bathroom door. The wood veneer is very, very thin and weak. Still haven’t figure out how to fix this so it doesn’t show.

When I got to looking at the hinges I discovered a beautiful coppery brass on the side that hasn’t seen the light of day in 40 years. This set me off to removing all the hinges on all the doors, boiling to remove the old paint, and polishing mostly clean. Then I noticed the closest doors had not been painted on the inside. Those two went into the garage for a sand/prime/paint job. One is done and another will be done in the morning.

Also, the pantry door doesn’t hand quite right and previous attempts to fix it only work for a little while. Turns out it has unique, sealed, aged bronze hinges and the screw holes in the door frame and door are huge. This is also an air intake for the AC. There are cheaply installed grilles on the bottom and when you close it they thrum. This is its own project. New grilles, which might mean on the other doors with grilles and some way to stop the thrumming. The screw holes have been wood filled and sanded. The door is being painted.

There’s still the matter of the steel backdoor, it’s replacement trim, and the laundry room cabinet doors. The door primed up well and it’s painted. I used a brush and the lines from primer and paint blend to give it a wooden appearance like the other doors. Cheap easy trick. The trim finished sanding and priming last weekend. This weekend was painting and installing. That went well. Love the pneumatic nailer. White wood filler in the corners and in a bead between the door frame and trim. All to kill the dark 3d lines that our eyes are good at picking up. Still needs a light touch up.

The laundry room cabinets have been very time consuming. To my great annoyance they don’t fit. F**k! Too narrow. I installed them anyway to get them out of the way and feel the the room was more complete. It also shows what the room and by extension the kitchen and maybe bathrooms will look like. Except for the dark spaces between each door it looks very good. I made some mistakes when I was staining; color variations and the edges aren’t good. It’s ok for a laundry room.

The pattern for all the other cabinets will probably been new doors worked up by myself with the current off white color on the frames and antique brass hinges and pulls. The doors are smooth without any pattern to make them easy to clean. Same goes for the handles. The wood grain is the pattern to present a natural feeling mirroring the floor.

Some of the research into natural methods of staining and painting have presented some other options. Tung oil and variations might be an alternative to polyurethane. I’m looking for sustainable, effective, very long term, safe (non-toxic) products. ‘Poly’ is plastic which is not good for the environment, is toxic, and photo-degrades. Tung oil (pure) is from a nut that can grow on most continents. It seals the wood and can be used in marine environments. Surprisingly, it’s edible in the pure form. Most of what you can buy in hardware stores has been mixed with petroleum distillates to alter color and evaporation time. People with nut allergies might have a reaction. Repairing nicks and cuts is very easy. The section is lightly sanded and the the oil reapplied a little at a time over a couple of days. A similar action with poly sealed wood is to remove, sand the whole piece, and reapply. The question is whether the color will match the floor.

Let’s see..

The window sill is ready to install. Though that brought up the issue of the window. I like plants in the windows and that room would be great for holding a garden window sticking out of the house and holding two rows of houseplants. That window and the kitchen window would be good garden windows for cooking herbs.

This week I was thinking about the laundry room, all laundry rooms really, and making Christmas presents, and what else I could door to clean up the appearance, reduce lines, and remove places for dust and dirt to collect. Spaces behind the washer and dryer are magnets for dirt, fuzz, and powder light dust. The machines have to pull away from the wall for all the connections to fit leaving a place for things to fall into. So, I drew up places for a kind of table shelf that can “seal” in the cables, cords, and hoses. The tricky part will be making it easy to access. Every design includes a hinge to flip up the shelf top and gain access. Cords have to come out too. This is the next project and that will be about all I can think of.

For now.

Eco Friendly Paint Links

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Catch Up Notes

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Added legs to the old backdoor turning it into a tall work table in the garage. Smaller doors would work better for this. The hollowness of the door doesn’t make a good workbench. Had to screw some spare plywood sheets on top to ensure that the screws going through the door into the legs hold. Doors make good table. The hole for the door knob in the middle makes a good pass through for electric cords.

The door installers sucked.

The stain that most closely matches the floor is Pecan, though the dark streaking of the floor isn’t brought out by the stain. Funny how that works out since there are 5 Pecan trees in the back yard. I reviewed 6-8 different stains. Possibly I-something Pine + Honey(?) Oak. The oak is much better at bringing out the dark streaks in the wood. Maybe a 1/10 addition of oak stain to pine would really match the flooring.

This weekend I removed the MBR door and began finishing it. Staining the MBR door is not as high quality as I would look. Staining is hard.

On several doors I removed all or one hinge, boiled the hinges to remove the paint, and polished them. Now, I have to chisel out the hinge insets in the new doors and get more hinges to boil and polish. Lowe’s no longer carries my beautiful, heavy, shiney, copper(?) tinted hinges. All hinges now are cheap steel painted gold and marketed as bronze. Rather gaudy, ostentatious, and a little ugly.

Bought the remaining wood and hinges for the laundry room cabinet doors. Sanded the shit out of the crappy wood and routered the edge to match the existing doors. Looks good. Feels great. Ready to stain like the MBR door.

Got the materials to fix all the doors; replacement trim, exterior white paint, QRound for outside…

Finished “The Places in Between”. Laptops rock. Need another set of iPod speakers for the garage. That covers the kitchen, bedroom, and garage. The computers play in the office.

The cabinet doors set the style for the kitchen. Right now I’m thinking, replace the doors, hinges, pulls with single sheet pecan stained boards with antiqued bronze hardware. Repaint with the off white trim color. Replace stove, stove top, faucet, counter top, hood, etc. More work to do.

Would love to door the kitchen next, but should really need to do the two bathrooms next. One right after the other.

Looked at Windows. A window by itself is $100. Doesn’t look hard to knock out and replace. What gets me is the use of plastic on everything and the inattention to detail like mold lines. Also, the window is bordered more widely than the old steel windows. This reduces the amount of light by reducing the hole size for light. Another thing is that plastic is going to make a sucky window component, because it is photoreactive. No matter what you do plastic falls apart under the sun unless it is painted or shielded.

The replacement materials available at Lowe’s and I assume at most places is quite disturbing. Materials are made as cheaply as possible and maintenance is not reasonable or possible.

Compare the materials in my house, which are 40+ years old vs the current materials. The windows are now steel, single pane, cold in the winter, and feel very lossy. The new ones are plastic and will degrade in ~25 years becoming brittle and prone to crack around the glass. This forces the windows to be complete replaced.

The door hinges are solid metal. I was able to removed them after 40 years, clean off the paint, polish, and reapply. The new hinges are painted bronze. Polishing will remove the paint and leave steel. So, in 40 years if the paint is still on them they have to be replaced completely. Cleaning and reattaching is not really an option.

Really anything that is plastic is suspect, especially if it faces the sun. Glass, concrete, steel, wood, hair, and plant fibers are better materials. They are either long lasting or easily repair and replaceable. Plastics leak toxic materials into the home. Be aware that polyurethane on wood evaporates over time.

blah bluh blah blah blah

No one’s getting to the bottom of this post. Even I’m bored by now.

Door Issues

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

The doors installed very quickly, but on close inspection there is a problem with every single one. I attribute this to an excessively busy schedule. It took 5+ weeks from the time I placed the order to the installation. Three weeks in shipping and another 2 to get an appointment. The installation was for one and half days and it only took one.

After this experience I readjust the formula for determining whether I should to the work or contract. I would have considered most contractors better than myself for the simple fact of having done X at least once more than myself. Now, I figure in the cost and time of doing, for example, one or two doors all over again. In this case, the materials was about $1000 and each door at ~$90. Versus the contracted project at just over $2100. Redoing a door would have cost $90 and 2-3 weeks. The project would have cost less. The time is unknown, because I haven’t fixed all the contractor mistakes, which I would have done myself along the way.

Overall, the appearance in drastically lower than I would accept from my unskilled, unacknowledged self. This experience reiterated what Marie discovered when Lowe’s applied her flooring. I’m aghast at the quality of work, which I would never accept from myself. This lowers the value of my home, but the whole point was to raise the quality. A Lowe’s contractor will never work on my house again. Jessica suggested going directly to Pella Doors. If I have another task again I will go directly to the contractor and leave Lowe’s to supplies.

Door Issues:
Back Door
Wood frame that the storm door is installed into and which is exposed to the elements is not pressure treated, cedar, primed, painted, or covered except by a bit of porch.
Trim around the door is the wrong style.
The corners were caulked instead of wood fillered. No sanding, rough appearance.

Guest Bathroom
Door doesn’t close.
Hinges are not inset.
Door handles are not inset.

Office Bedroom
Damage to inside of room around door knobs. Covered in white caulk and around the mis-sized hole for the door knob.
Depending on weather the door rubs along the top.
Hinges replaced with rounded ones leaving a square inset in the door frame.
Hinges are not inset.
Door handles are not inset.

Bamboo Bedroom
Holes not completely drilled for the door knobs. Knobs not installed.
Hinges are not inset.
Door handles are not inset.

Master Bedroom
Door handles are slightly mis-inset.

Master Bathroom
Door handles are slightly mis-inset.
Hinges are not inset.

Back Door
Removed the storm door, prime and paint the exposed wood, replace the door.
Cover the wood with treated trim boards.

Remove trim, replace trim.
Fill corners with white wood filler and sand to unnoticeability.

Guest Bathroom
Remove door, chisel out inset for hinges, chisel out inset for door handles.

Office Bedroom
Remove door knobs, sand down around door know, patch with wood filler, repaint.
Replace hinges with square ones to match the house.
Remove door, chisel out inset for hinges, chisel out inset for door handles.

Bamboo Bedroom
Drill out for the proper door knob fit.
Remove door, chisel out inset for hinges, chisel out inset for door handles.

Master Bedroom
Remove door know correct size of inste with a chisel, reinstall.

Master Bathroom
Remove door know correct size of inste with a chisel, reinstall.
Remove door, chisel out inset for hinges.

Installing D..

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I would like to tell you about the installers putting in the doors, but my freaking Web Host is blocking the post. Seems the word Door is evil and must be banished.

Doors Installed Tomorrow

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

The doors arrived yesterday and I’ve spent the past two days painting and staining. Heavy, solid sons of bitches. The installers are scheduled to descend on the house tomorrow and the next day. 7 doors. Screen door plus steel back door. Then 4 bedroom and bathroom doors. And the master bedroom door, very pretty.

The four regular doors look fantastic. No nicks, cuts, scrapes, or other marks. And I sanded them between primer and paint so they are very nicely smooth.

The stained door isn’t even half way to finished, but oh well. They can hang it. I can pull it down, finish and rehang it. Crossed fingers.

So, I’ll be working from home the next two days. Can’t wait till they are finished.

Doors are in..

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Lowe’s called and the doors are in. Now the installer is supposed to call.

Doors Ordered

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Ok, so I purchased the doors yesterday. Tried to do it the day before, but that was just one of those days when everything goes wrong. For example, I barely bumped my toe on the kitchen cabinet and split the nail. I went to turn in my code and the code reviewer was out for the day. I went to setup a meeting and my logon doesn’t have access. I got to Lowe’s right after and jacked around for 30 minutes, because the guy handling my special order was on break or something. Two computers were supposed to come in and instead I got the $30 USB card part of the order instead of the $600 computer part. After my bike ride, I tried to take my watch off. It wouldn’t come off. So, I tore it apart while taking it off. All day these petty, stupid little things kept happening. None of this is too out of the ordinary. All on one day is annoying.

Thus, it’s not too suprising that my debit/credit card wouldn’t work to purchase the doors. I was the guy holding up the one cash register for everyone. And I had to walk out w/o actually buying the bulk of the order. The topper happened the next day. A 1 dime suspicious purchase had triggered my card to be locked. After a call to the bank, they had actually tried to reach me earlier, everything was straightened out and the doors should be ordered. 1 dime. Stupid little things.

House Doors

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I’ll place the order for the doors today. It comes out to about $300 per door on 7 doors. Much more expensive than I would like, but it’s worth it. Someone else will do the installs. All the bedroom and bathroom doors become solid core doors. The Master Bedroom gets a pretty wooden door. And I get a working exterior back door with storm door. The original storm door was removed who knows when.

They will drop the doors off one day and install another. That way I can paint and stain. The pretty door should be stained to match the vinyl floor; something like an oak or pecan. Four doors to paint. One to stain.

Doors Update

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

They measured for doors today. It took 5 minutes. I had them do almost all the interior doors; both bathrooms, all the bedrooms, and the backdoor of the laundry room. Right now, I’m thinking slabs, the door only, inside and a whole new hung exterior door.

Begin Washroom Remodel

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Yesterday, I started work on the laundry room. It’s a small room between the garage and kitchen with a backdoor, window, huge cabinet, and of course the washer and dryer. The floor, like the kitchen, is vinyl laminate glued down. This is the first room I see when I come home. The window faces the backyard and has a good view of a couple of garden beds.

The walls are texture similarly to the hallway. The walls are the same color as the kitchen. Like most of the house the vinyl laminate doesn’t exactly meet the wall. The backdoor seems to be a hollow interior door that used to also contain a screen door. It’s not a bad room, but a little beat up and sloppily finished.

The plan is to sand the walls similar to the hallway and paint it the same yellow color. Rip the trim boards out and install new ones. They are cheap and Christopher showed me how to do them easily when we did the Yoga room. Quarter round or shoe molding will cover the gap of the flooring. The cabinet will be a second color, perhaps matching the upper bedroom color. This keeps the two tone pattern of the other remodeled rooms. Finally, the backdoor will be replaced with a steel external door.

Right now, the washer and dryer are moved out and I’m removed the 3-5 layers of contact paper they put down in the cabinet. After that it’s tape and prime. For the door, I was thinking of buying one and having it installed so I could see how it’s done.

Hop Bed Plans

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

This, I think, is the plan for the bed of hops that will climb up the trellis and on the pergola. The goal is to create a wall of annual vines with a mix of plants both attractive and sustainable. Only the most minor and slow acting of fertilizer should be needed. The overall impression should be a natural woodland setting. Stand-in plants should be planted in case disaster takes certain plants. After all, the hops have done poorly 3 years straight. Struck down by some leaf disease.

From shorter to taller.. Alyssum forms a white and green carpet and acting as a green mulch 3″ tall. A mix of warm season annuals; nasturtium, petunia, zinnia, marigold,.. Then scarlet runner beans and night scented tobacco climb the trellis with the hops. Other pole beans can be planted to fill in holes.

Diggin in the Dirt

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

My workout for the week is done. With the Meditation room finished I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was cold and windy outside. A good day to work outside then. I sweat like crazy, so cold days are very good.

The two ground beds (12 X 5 and 12 X 4)) haven’t been touched since the first good freeze last year. Though one of the has big clumps of parsley that grew through the winter. I decided to use my mom’s technique for preparing a garden. Just flip the dirt over. Both beds are 1-2″ higher that ground level from having been flipped last year. I used a deep narrow shovel this year to make them even higher. They also got lengthened towards the fence and I used the old, shallow, wide shovel, because the clay is so dense.

The parsley is still growing, though I dug around the roots. In a month or so it will bolt. Yay, for the parsley. Didn’t know it was cold season, over-winter crop.

I found some surprises in the dirt. Potatoes from last year over wintered just fine and except for the shovel marks are a good size to make again this year. Sweet potatoes are a different story. They can’t survive the freezing we get here. There were lots and lots of big fat earth worms in some parts.

Before digging I added green sand, Yum Yum, crushed egg shells, expanded shale, and vermiculite. That should do it for fertilizing. Flipping the soil usually means you need to wait a month for it to decompose and be really good. Now, I just have to figure what is getting planted where.