Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blood, Sweat and Tears

OK, so that is a title of a band and not a song but still in the same general theme. I don't know, maybe it is a song too. Anyway, my computer is wanting to be ugly to me right now and not let me download new photos so I am having to depend on photos I just happen to already have in the computer. These are a little old but hopefully I will have things straightened out soon. We are almost done with the roof. Just putting on the final trim and flashing. My finger, a nail and my hammer all met in the wrong combination here and that's where the blood is from. Metal roofs are a little aggravating to work on as they can be very slippery and trying to hold a bunch of stuff and keep from sliding around can be difficult at times. I did start to name this post "Things We Said Today" but what I said after I did this probably would not be good material to put up. I have been told by other construction workers that I have a dirty mouth. I have tried to curb that habit as much as I can. It aggravated me more that I was dripping blood all over my new roof than anything else.
The ridge cap was easy to put on but I need to find something to stuff under those open areas between the ribs to keep bugs and wasps etc. from getting up there and nesting. They make a Styrofoam weatherstripping that is made in that configuration but it is solid and does not allow for ventilation. Because of the way my roof is insulated, with the Iso board immediately under the roofing, the ribs serve as vents and I don't want to clog them up. I need a porous material that will allow air to pass through but not holey enough to let bugs etc. Make sense? We thought of something like Brillo pads (the plastic ones) but I'm not sure. Any ideas?
I'm getting down to picking colors and stuff like that. We are just about ready to close up all the walls and the block and stone wall under the house should start soon. My septic system was approved and I am getting bids on that now. I think I stated before that Alabama has recently passed a law that homeowners can no longer install their own. That sucks but in a way it's nice that I will not have to do that. Maybe I will have some photos soon of the tiles going in the bath and stuff. I'm still arguing with the BFA over that but I think budget will win that one.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Over The Hill and Far Away

A lot of people have been curious as to where Allen and I live right now while the house is being built. We were talking about that the other day and there happen to be an article in the local paper encouraging those who were homeless to seek assistance from local resources. They included a checklist in the article to help people determine if they could be considered homeless or not. I think Allen and I are right on the edge. We live in the back of a store basically. We rent a small "apartment" from Fred who very graciously lets us live there for a very reasonable price and it's right next door to our land, which is handy. We sort of have a kitchen and bath although we have to walk next door to Fred's to take a shower or bathe on the porch which I love to do in warm weather. Now, don't get excited; it's fairly remote. The neighbors are not getting a show. At least, I don't think so. The photo above shows my house from Fred's back yard. In the summer you can't see anything for the foliage.
This is the view from our little porch and on the left there you can see my handy-dandy shower rig. Works pretty good. We often come out early in the morning and have deer standing all around in this area. As I am building the house (or trying to) completely out of pocket, this arrangement helps tremendously on living expenses. It's a little restrictive at times. I can't cook certain things and we have a fairly small refrigerator. Things like that. It's one, big room basically so you can't have big parties and Allen loves to stand right in the way in the narrow path through to the "kitchen" while I am trying to cook and so I want to choke him sometimes. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices to have things happen the way you want. It's a fairly comfortable little place though and we get along pretty good there. I grow various herbs and veggies on the deck too. However, after 2 years, I'm getting very anxious to be in my house.
On the subject of the house, we have acquired a free water heater and installed that and hung more sheet rock. We (I, really) also finally decided on the lighting arrangement on the clerestory wall and wired for the ceiling fans. Allen found the faucets for the shower and so I just need to come up with the shower head and we can proceed with tile in the shower. We have just a little more wiring to do for some exterior lighting and plugs and lights under the house. It seems like it never ends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Let's Go Get Stoned

Some of you may remember that title from an old Ray Charles song. I think that I have become obsessed with rocks lately. I look for them everywhere; I'm constantly searching for just the right rocks for my wall. I have plenty on my land but I want more...lots more. I have a huge pile that I have collected so far but I am fearful that it will not be enough. So, I am always dragging more home, digging around to unearth what I think might be a prize rock! Allen keeps hoping that I dig up a gold nugget about the size of a watermelon ( and I do too) but nothing like that so far. I have even been given rocks as gifts from those who know about my obsession. Some of them are pretty cool looking and I plan to lay them in a prominent location in the walls I'm going to build.
The roof is getting very close to completely finished now that the weather is cooperating some. We installed the ridge cap and some of the flashing under the clerestory windows etc. Then we ran out of screws so Allen ordered some more and decided to swap the edge trim we had for some with a lower profile he thought would look nicer. So, when that comes in, which should be this Thursday, we can complete the roof. We have finished stubbing out all the interior plumbing and so have been able to close up the bathroom walls. Allen got a water heater from the power company and we need to install that this weekend. Hopefully it will not operate a lot after I get my solar water system installed but it is needed now and will be a good storage tank later. Lots more to tell you about the next chance I get. I have been transferred to another job and we are doing concrete form work so I am pretty tired when I get home. This job is a little closer to the house though so I only have to get up at 4:15 a.m. now. Bleeh!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I am starting to pick flooring and some of the inside finishes now. This is the slate flooring that I will use in the bathroom. I picked this up off a job 7 years ago and have been storing this stuff all this time because I knew one day, I would be building a house. This was all leftovers and was going to be thrown away so I asked if I could have it and the flooring guys gave it to me. There is a lot more, I just couldn't get it all in the photo. It is going to be just about enough to do the bathroom floor but I may have to pick a tile that will go with it to fill in a few spaces. This flooring does have a definite pattern to it but because it was drop, I don't have equal counts of all the sizes so I am going to have to get creative with the layout. I am also in the process of trying to find a tile that will go with the slate to do the shower stall and tie it all together. I have cleared a space on the bedroom floor and chalked the outline of the bathroom floor there so that I can assemble the slate floor within this outline and move it around etc. and then when I get it like I want it, just move it a piece at a time into the bathroom. Hopefully, I can get this worked out soon.
I have been saving material off job sites for about 8 years now. Unfortunately, the construction industry throws away tons (literally) of good material. Not because we want to but because we just can't find places for it. I always encourage people to try job sites if you are looking for materials and it doesn't have to be a certain color or whatever. I mean, you have to take what's there but it can be some great stuff and with a little imagination you can make it work out fine. I got a good bit of marble flooring off one job that I might use to make a medallion in the kitchen floor. It is not near enough to do a whole floor but I have always wanted some kind of mosaic thing in the kitchen. And Karl, one thing we usually always throw away is rebar. That is one item that we almost always have too much of but not enough to sell for scrap and so it just gets chucked. For anybody that wants to look for stuff on jobs; always ask for the superintendent, be nice and obey their safety rules.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

That a blind man came and dug two large holes in my yard and charged me $400.00 to do it. And then I realized that it was not a dream at all but really happened and that was my perc test! Well, there was a little more to it than that but I did finally have the perc test done although I still have not received the results back from the county. What you do is call a surveyor and tell them what you want, they will come out and locate approximately where the septic tank and field lines will go and then dig 2 or 3 holes with a backhoe. Now, in the past, the surveyor actually does the whole test but something must have changed because he only prepared the hole for the county who came out about 2 days later and actually performed the test. What they do is fill the holes with a certain amount of water and time how long it takes the hole to empty. Too fast or too slow can both be a problem. The surveyor said my dirt looked good and should not be a problem. Then the surveyor files this at the courthouse and the county will contact you and tell you how many feet of field line etc. that you must put in. Here, we can put in our own system but I don't know what it is like in other states. Some may require that a certified company do it. Anyway, after the septic system is in you have to call the county again and they will come out and look at everything and if it is OK you can cover everything up and proceed! As in all cases when hiring a contractor, please call at least 3 to get a price! We got prices from $400-$600. This guy was a bargain and yes, he had a guy with him who dug the holes that was legally blind.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shower The People

I'm a bit behind on what's been going on with the house but I just have not had time to post as much as I would like. This was done a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to have the whole sequence on at once. We determined the final shower size and installed the curb and drain for it and then installed the shower pan with the bottom row of Durock installed over the upturned edges of the pan.
The pan is just a thick rubber membrane basically that you can buy by the foot. I have bought just about all of the plumbing stuff from a plumbing supply house and they beat Lowe's or any of those places pretty good on prices. After you install the pan make sure not to walk on it if you can help it with shoes on or you might poke a hole in it and then you would get yelled at like I did. I didn't poke a hole in it but was told to stay out!

OK, so next we mixed up a setting bed for the shower floor consisting of sand and Portland cement at a 2/1 ratio. I mixed it pretty dry as you can see here; just enough water to get it to stick when you squeezed some in your hand. You want it stiff because the bed will be graded on a slight slope to drain and if it is wet the cement will want to level itself out.

At the thickest outside edge the setting bed is 1 1/2" and with about 1/4" per foot slope that makes it about 1" at the drain. Allen spread the mixture around and tamped it down with a trowel and then graded it with a short stick. We had grade lines marked on the Durock. You just keep tamping and grading and adding a little more if needed until you get it smooth. It does not have a slick finish like concrete but is smooth and even. I came back the next day and soaked it down with about 2 gallons of water to help it cure well. Concrete and such do not dry, it "cures", so keeping water on the slab helps the cement to reach its fullest strength. In the summer time if we pour a large slab of concrete we will often hose it down regularly for several days to make sure it does not cure too fast.
We have done much of the plumbing and almost finished the roof this weekend but ran short of material. I will try to get more up soon. The weather has been absolutely beautiful here and was great for working.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All Things Must Pass

It is very difficult to come up with a song title that in some way relates to plumbing but I was proud of myself for this one. I have to admit I had some help from a list of Beatle's songs though. Anyway, we have ran most of the plumbing drain and vent lines under the house. We are using PVC for these lines and will use copper for the supply lines. One issue we have had is how to limit the number of plumbing vents in the roof. I would like to have as few roof penetrations as possible in the metal roof, for looks as well as to cut down on leak possibilities. Metal roofs are just a little harder to seal around stuff like that than shingles roofs. What we decided to do is to combine the vent for the shower and bathroom sink and only have one roof penetration there. There will not be a roof vent for the kitchen sink but this is OK if you run an oversize drain line. This is what they do for sinks that are in kitchen islands where there is no wall to vent up through.
We also ran oversize drain from the bathroom just to help out on account of those 2 fixtures being combined. So, we have 2" PVC to just below floor level where it flares into 3" drain lines. Should not ever have any trouble with this but just in case, Allen put a clean out on one end. The septic tank will be located near what will be the front center of the house when the whole thing is built so all the lines are running in that direction with 1/4" fall per foot. The surveyor who did my perc test staked a general location for the septic tank but I think I can move it around a little. I have to get that finalized though before I will know exactly where everything is going. I still have not heard the results of the test. Allen said they came out and completed the test last Friday and are supossed to mail me something. We also started the central vacuum system. I love these things. The collection canister will be under the house and I will have 2 plug ins in the house. You get a 30' hose so that should be plenty. I ran the phone lines too but have never gone to the phone company and requested service. I guess I need to do that. If satellite service were better out here I would just have everything on that. Phone, TV, computer etc. I hate cable everything. We have a lot of trouble with it around here.
I am on a quest now to find the shower fixtures and tile! I am picking out finishes! I'm so excited!

Monday, March 05, 2007

What A Wonderful World

A few things are starting to bloom around here and I occasionally get a strong whiff of spring but it only lasts a few minutes. I'll be very glad when it gets warm. I really do not do well in cold weather. I planted these crocus, (croci, crocuses, crocamungi?) for Allen and many of them are blooming now but I was suprised at what a short life they have. The blooms only last a couple of days. I also read that deer LOVE them so I don't know how much longer they will be with us. I did not know that before I planted them. I am trying to cultivate a lot of native plants that deer are not particularly fond of since repellents don't seem to work well and I don't want to have fences around everything.
We are getting a good bit done on the house and I hope to post several things soon. There are just not enough hours in the day sometimes. If spring is arriving where you are, then step outside for awhile and enjoy it for me! And you!