Sunday, January 24, 2010


Heat's on in the big house, now that the weather is in the 50's. Ah well. It's still progress.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finally back to building!

New target: the east door on the carriage house. The ultra-frigid weather of two weeks ago is gone, but there are still some serious drafts howling through our nice new family room, so this effort is important.

For orientation, note that you can see the sunroom roof through the transom of this door, and the Japanese maple that's between the buildings. In the backyard picture from July, this door is to the far left of the picture, and it is directly under window #2.

The cord hanging down is my quick-and-dirty wiring for the security light outside; part of this project will be to wire that properly and insulate the arched space above the transom.

As always, the first order of business is to fix plaster. First, I removed the inner board of the arched space (look at those arched bricks - aren't they neat?) to see what fell off. The large chunk of plaster at the right above that arch did so, and so I took my caulk/adhesive and glued it back in place. I caulked the right side of the door (light showing), then I mortared the missing plaster there, right on top of the caulk. The left side of the door is in better condition, for whatever reason.

This is getting to be my pattern for this plaster. I'm using mortar as a base layer, then patching plaster as the top layer. I'm sure the patching plaster isn't as strong as a true plaster top coat, but this is working OK for smaller areas like this. And you can't beat mortar for strength, assuming you mix it right. (Ahem.)

Anyway, that was yesterday's work. Today, I put a deadbolt on this door. The old lock was missing, so there was a 1-1/2" hole in it. This is not what we in the building trades consider winterized. So now it's better.

Friday, my HVAC friend is coming, and we'll have heat in the big house for the first time. (Ahem again.) Then we can get back to plumbing over there. So more on that in the days to come.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The pipes froze anyway


The good thing is that since I had at least shut off and drained part of the plumbing, the part that froze (in the big house's kitchen) didn't harm any of the pipes. Judicious application of space heaters has thawed some of the problem - but still no water to the carriage house yet.

I clearly should have wrapped these pipes with heat tape.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Not The House

Even crazy house people need a vacation from time to time, so we're visiting friends in Puerto Rico. This is a picture taken at the Campamento del Caribe, which is run by some of those friends, who happen to have an apartment free until the 10th. We had to drive to Atlanta to get affordable air fare, but it was so worth it.

In the meantime, back at The House, nighttime temperatures are down to 9 degrees or so. Yeah, I drained the plumbing in the big house as we were leaving - I haven't gotten that flue replaced, so no heat there yet. So far it hasn't been an issue, but as cold as it is, I think it most certainly will be now.

So - happy New Year to all! In lieu of resolutions, I just have a to-do list.

  1. Big house heat

    • Flue and chimney liner (to be done by an HVAC friend of mine)
    • Ductwork as needed (to be done by me)

  2. Winterization

    • Carriage house
      • Weatherstripping around two downstairs doors
      • Deadbolt on "utility door" to replace present 1" hole
      • Insulated board for small window on south corner
      • Still a little caulking/plastering above the south wall and in the closet area on the southeast corner
      • In the event of warm weather, the most urgent mortar replacement work

    • Big house
      • Urethane in obvious holes in basement walls (mortar later)
      • Boards over vents under first back addition
      • Board up two basement windows on east basement

  3. Gutters, sometime prior to the spring thaw

  4. Carriage house bathroom
    • Attach and plumb vanity

  5. Carriage house electrical work
    • Replace stolen ground wire outside
    • Overhead light for washer/dryer area
    • Separate circuit for bedroom to permit use of air conditioner

  6. Carriage house paint and trim
    • Paint walls and trim in bathroom
    • All window trim

  7. Equipment closet in big house
    • Reroute incoming DSL into closet in dining room
    • Add an electrical outlet there for the Linux box

  8. Carriage house garage area
    • Remove superfluous fiberglass insulation (40% complete)
    • Still some miscellaneous plaster, and more paint, aye!

  9. Dining room
    • Remove and scrape wallpaper (30% done, thanks to daughter)
    • Remove all damaged plaster on walls
    • Remove damaged drywall from ceiling
    • Restore plaster on walls
    • Drywall ceiling
    • Paint (I'm still liking that semi-gloss ultra white)
    • Clean and maintain the woodwork and buffet
    • Shore up under floor (soft spot from long-standing leak in roof fixed in 90's)
    • Polish floor

  10. Carriage house kitchen window (after spring has sprung)

  11. Remainder of big house

    • Upstairs bathroom plumbing
    • Addition of sink in kitchen
    • Cleaning
    • Electrical systems: oh the humanity!