Siding lift for replacing siding on a 2nd story wall.

The bottom of one of the siding panels on the North side of my house was starting to rot from the bottom.  The old siding is made of what feels like cardboard.  A number of years ago I got involved in a class-action suit against the siding manufacturer and receive un-remembered thousands.

It’s actually lasting fairly well except certain parts so I’m just replacing what needs replacing with Hardie cement board siding.  This particular one has been on my mind for a long time marked as rather difficult because it is on a 2nd story and I have nobody to help me.

I spent the last few months looking at it and designing ways to do it in my head.  I was set on using a hand cranked winch and using a pulley on the eaves to hoist it up.  The other day, while sitting in the hot tub, I came up with a better plan.

Using two 15 foot 2x4s, cross members and a pulley I could just crank a 80 lb panel up there and slide it right into position all by myself.

Yesterday I built the mechanism and today I removed the old siding and hoisted the new one right into place.  My plan worked perfectly and cost me around $50 for the hoist and $30 for the siding.

Damn I’m good.  Natural born engineer here.  Congratulate me.

 

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Winter Front Siding Project

IMG_0018I’ve been patching it and ignoring it for around 10 years now but the siding in the front of my house needs to be replaced.

Right above the roof of the porch, where the rain drips and splashes onto the siding, the rot is beyond repair.   It doesn’t look too bad in the picture but a lot of the surface is caulk and paint.   Fine for me but not good when it comes time to sell the house in a year or so.

The majority of the siding is just fine but you can’t find exact replacement planks so the whole thing has to go.  Major bummer.  I’ve decided that this will be my first winter project.  There’s no way in hell I would do it during the summer because it is 100 degrees and humid as a newly opened dishwasher door right after the wash is done.  Not gonna do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent.

Now that winter has come,  I am ready to tackle it.  I’m going to rip off all the siding, and window trim then put some house wrap on.  Next I will use some Hardie Fiberboard Siding.  Home depot doesn’t sell any style other than the plain white plank shown below and I want a little texture like the old siding does.

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It has surface texture but not really any other look.  The old siding had a simulated shingle look that set my house apart from all the others.  Hardie does sell a simulated shake style but it is significantly more expensive and I would have to special order it.  Bleah.

Fortunately my awesome brain came up with a great plan.  It’s really inexpensive too.

IMG_0017I’m going to take that regular 12 foot long siding plank and use my cut off saw to just cut slots in the board.  I went and picked up a single plank today for experimentation.

First I score and snap the 12 foot plan into three 4 foot lengths.  That way it will be easy for me to handle all alone by myself and should line up with the wall studs.

Next I measured out 6 inch lengths and marked them with a pencil.  (48 inches divided evenly by 6.)  All I had to do is slice on each mark with my cut-off saw.  The blade length automatically determined my 6 inch reveal.  The result pictured above looks pretty damn good.  I’m sold.  What do you think?

Each 12 foot plank costs $6.95 and I calculate the whole side of the house should end up costing me only $344.  Shit yeah!   Totally worth it and it will fit in my Prius.  I guess I’ll just have to get myself psyched up.  The hardest part of a large project is getting started on it.  Once you get going you wonder why you waited so long then suddenly it’s done.

Do I not kick ass?  What would you pay for me now ladies?

The next morning:

OOPS!  There’s a flaw in my plan.  Do you see it?
It came to me last night while I was lying in bed.  The slots are too long and there is about 3 inches of open slottness between each row.  Air and water would go right through slots to the sub-wall. Hmmm.   I’m going to have to recalculate.

I can reduce the reveal from 6 inches to 4.25″ maximum.   That would raise the cost to $410.  Around $100 more.  I guess it’s still worth it.  I won’t be paying labor to anyone so it’s still a steal.  I’m not sure I like the smaller tile look but I’ll let it grow on me.   It’s not too bad.  What do you think?

 

 

Built my model house

It’s July 4th 2017.  I am happy to have a day off from work.  Really not knowing what to do to celebrate Independence day, I decided to just stay home.  It’s far to hot outside and the world is far too crowded anyway.  I asked myself, if I could do anything I wanted on my day off, what would it be?  The answer was stay home and enjoy the time.  Besides, where’s lonely guy going to go all by himself anyway?

I had a brain idea the other day to build a scale sized model of the house I want to eventually build.  I did some googling and ended up on Youtube watching Adam Savage build a model of his childhood home.  It looked easy enough so today I popped by the store and picked up three sheets of foamcore board.  Thanks Adam!

I already had a 3d drawing I did on my computer using Google Sketchup and another using a program called SweetHome so I already had the dimensions on record.

I spent a good portion of the day measuring, cutting and hot-gluing my model together.  It’s far from finished but at least I have the basic framing done.  I might also build some furniture and accessories.  I’ll probably print out flooring and tile and glue it to the floor and walls where appropriate.  It might end up being rather detailed by the time I’m done.

You can see the room layout.  The roof slopes from 8 feet in the back to 12 feet in the front.  The large front room will be the kitchen and living room.  The back side is divided into the bedroom and the bathroom.  You can see a piece of the roof that shows how it overhangs the front to shade the top windows which will be electrically operable for air flow in nice weather.  It has a nice 10 foot wide porch that stretches the whole width of the house.  I’m really going to enjoy that.  I’ve always wanted a large porch to sit in my old-man rocking chair.

All the rooms are very large and spacious including the bathroom which will have huge shower and laundry rooms.  The kitchen is huge an will have a lot of counter space plus a large island.  I never have enough counter space in my current kitchen.  The whole house has a fairly modern and clean look while being very simple to build.  The simplicity is reminiscent of early house design before families exploded and houses became unnecessarily large McMansions.

It’s a 1/24 scale model and the design is completely my own.  I probably should have gone into architecture.  Apparently it’s in my blood.  I understand my father built a scale model of his dream house once too.  That’s kind of cool to know since I don’t remember much about him.

I believe I will be able to build this house pretty much all by myself.  I did the Sketchup model board by board as if I was actually building it.  That took me a very long time but that was during my last job where I had nothing else to do for 8 hours a day.

I really like the way this foam-core model turned out.  I impressed myself again.  I never cease to amaze myself.  It just goes to show that one can do anything he puts his mind to.

 

 

TARDIS almost finished

Last year I, crazily enough, decided to build another TARDIS to sell.  Thought I might make some extra cash.  This will actually be my third.  My 1st eventually rotted away in the back yard due to rain infiltration.  The second is on it’s way to the same end due to lack of maintenance and rot.  It might still have a year or two left in it if I don’t do any upkeep.  Just too lazy and it’s way too hot outside.  100 degrees in the sun is most unpleasant and the winter slipped by before I had time to do any upkeep.

So the third was intended for sale on Craigslist.  It costs me around $400 in parts and a year of labor so I expect to get at least $1500 to make it worth my while.  More if possible because I’m not going to build another one anytime soon. I’m pretty sure this is my last one depending on how well it sells.

Number three is almost done.  Just a little more wood work, preparation and paint and it will be ready.  I may even have a buyer lined up.  There is a restaurant here in town that is known for such novelties.  They had an interview in the paper with the owner who said the he would like to add a TARDIS to his collection.  I’ll probably go and hit him up when it is done and see if he wants to buy it.  If not, I’ll put it on Craigslist and I’m sure it will sell quickly.  If not that, I’ll keep it myself to replace #2.   I’m sure that as popular as Doctor Who has become, it will be an easy sale.

 

 

DIY Outdoor shower with hot water

I’ve been wanting an outdoor shower for years for many reasons.  The primary reason is that using the shower inside fills the house with humidity that is extremely unwanted in Texas in the summer.  Even the exhaust fan doesn’t help significantly.  An outdoor shower avoids all of that.

I finally decided to do something so I shopped around on the internet finding the cheapest one from Walmart.com for around $29.00.  I almost went with that but what’s the fun of buying one that’s already made.

Not sure exactly what I was going to do, I went to Home Depot and looked around at the parts.  I finally decided to go with a simple PVC pipe design.  I bought a single 3/4″ pipe and all the parts I would need including a $4.50 shower head.   I could have gotten a nicer one but this is a prototype that I wasn’t even sure about.  A cheap one is fine.  The whole thing cost me $24.00 after taxation.

The most complex part might be the bottom.  It needed to stand by itself so I used a T fitting as the base.  For a third foot, I used another T to come out the back and connect a faucet.  Any cheap faucet will do so it will connect to a hose.  Yes, it works in reverse but that’s fine.  Actually better if you think about which way the pressure goes.  I used a washing machine hose to go from the faucet to the garden hose.  I had it handy so it cost me nothing.

The top of the shower consists of a simple 90 degree bend, a 45 degree bend and a screw on adapter for the shower head to attach to.

After verifying everything fit together, I cemented it all together and waited for it to cure.

A cold shower may be fine for some people but warm is definitely better.  I like to take my showers in the evening so I am clean when I go to bed.  Not a big fan of sleeping in my own filth.

I connected the other end of the garden hose to the drain faucet on the water heater.  The hose runs through a hole in the garage where other pipes and wires pass through.

In the summer I keep my water heater set to a lower temperature.  A lot of heat is not required during the summer and it saves money on gas.

Before you do this, I must caution you that using the drain valve may cause it to leak since it has usually been sitting unused for many years.  Don’t worry too much though. You can buy a replacement valve at Home Depot if necessary.  This kind of connection is also not good for permanent use because the hose could burst and flood the house.  If things test out OK, you could replace the valve with a pipe to the exterior and put the valve outside.  I might do just that if the shower works out as a long term thing.  In the meantime, be sure to turn off the water at this valve when you are not using the shower to avoid unnecessary leaking.

So there you go.  The whole project took me around an hour or less.  Easy peasy and funly wunly!

 

 

Another four solar panels added to my system

I got the bug again and bought another four solar panels to add to my system.  I had to take up all the current panels and move them over, build another rail mounting system and splice together the power cables.  It took a few weeks but I finally got the first of the next four on the roof.

As you can see in the image, the new panel is the one showing 559Wh. It’s not easy for a person to accomplish such a feat when one has nobody to depend on for assistance.  Luckily, with a good brain and the right tools one man can move the mountain.

The hardest part was getting the panel itself up to the 2nd story without killing myself.   I tried using a rope to pull the 40 pound panel up the ladder but it wasn’t going to budge.  Fortunately, I still had the special hook I fabricated last time.  Using the hook made of welded steel angle brackets, I was able to move the panel up the ladder one rung at a time.  I took a break to make sure I was fresh then pushed it up onto the roof.  I didn’t really feel especially unsafe at any time so I’m going to say it is a good system.  Getting them down when I move may be another story though.  Sure wish I had a crane.

The weekend is over now and I’m out of time and energy so I’ll see about getting the other three panels up, one a day, over the next week evenings.  Best to not overexert yourself when doing something dangerous.

Solar power is awesome and especially affordable when you do it yourself.  This is something that makes life worth living.

See a live interactive view of my system.

My Future House In The Woods?

mynwhse
Actual picture of the house.

This weekend I hit the road to look at some houses and land in a small town.  Something my broken heart yearns for. I had a number of potential candidates printed out so I spent the day on the road.

The first house I looked at was the best match with what I am looking for.  It is a partially dilapidated, home-built, country house located on 6.8 wooded acres of land about 15 miles away from my small town of choice.  I usually do my house shopping on my own first before contacting a realtor because I don’t want to waste his/her time with my window shopping.

Looking into an open window showed that the house was empty and surprisingly did not smell exceptionally horrible as I expected.  A little pet urine but nothing really nasty.  The front door was locked and had a sticker on it with words about tress-passers being shot.  A little scary but there was nobody there.  I walked around the outside to the back where I found a large step past a missing deck to the back screened patio door which was not so much a door as a piece of highly worn plywood.  The screened porch area contained a nasty washer and dryer.  I was surprised to find the back door not locked and hanging open.  “Come on in.”  it said.

The house is only 1000 square feet consisting of a large living room, good sized kitchen, big enough bathroom and a good sized bedroom with a strange office/2nd bedroom just of the first bedroom.  I would use it as an office.

The metal roof has been leaking in a few places and the ceiling had collapsed.  Not too bad though.  The structure looks good and a new roof and drywall work will fix it right up.  The floor is a mess.  A hodgepodge of mixed media from nasty carpet to bare sub-floor.  Not a big deal.  I can do flooring.  The hot water heater seems to have sprung a major leak at one time.  It was located in a small box in the bedroom closet.  Due to the leak, there is mold on the closet walls.  I can fix that.  The leak must have been large or went on for a while because some of the dirt under the house in that area had been eroded by the flow to about 6 inches deep.  It doesn’t seem to have compromised the pier foundations.  That’s good.

The bathroom was pretty messed up.  A large but fancy tub was rigged with an electric on-demand water heater sitting on the sink plumbed through a gaping hole in the drywall.  I guess the water heater was gone for a while, while people still lived there.  They tried to make do but were obviously not plumbers.  It looked bad but nothing I couldn’t fix.  I would replace the tub with a walk in shower and replace the sink and toilet and put down new tile.

The kitchen was also a mess.  The old cabinets would have to go.  I would get rid of the bar and move the sink from the wall to look out the window.   After a remodel it would make a nice sized kitchen that would suit me well.  There was the 4 foot square hole in the ceiling where the leak was.  Parts of the drywall was falling where the seams were.  I would replace it all anyway.

The living room is not in bad shape.  Replace the old carpet, remodel the fireplace wall a bit to remove some built in bookcases and paint would be sufficient.  A large sliding glass door leading out to the missing deck would be replaced with a nice french door and a new deck and stairs.

I was a little surprised to see that there was no air conditioning or heating system in the house.  I don’t know how anyone can live like that.  I would put in two high efficiency Mitsubishi split heat pump systems.  One in the living room and one in the bedroom.

The exterior is not high quality but in decent shape.  I would probably replace it with cement board siding anyway.

The house is set back maybe around 100 feet from the road and completely not visible from the outside except to passers by the driveway entrance.  The driveway leads through the brush offering nice privacy so I can run around naked at all times.  The tall pine trees are alien to me and were scary.  I like them though.  It’s one of the things I like about the area.

I braved a walk through the brush and fallen trees toward the back of the property which is the largest area.  About halfway I found a seasonal stream that would run when it rains.  On the other side, more forest.  I didn’t go any further.  Satellite images show that it is rather thick.  If I cleared out the underbrush in the middle it would be pretty cool.  I would build a bridge over the stream.

Back at the house I found a outdoor shower and a decent sided shed that would make a good workshop and tool storage building.  I might put in a larger one.  An old MG convertible car sat low on the ground.  I wonder if that is included.  It is probably not easily revive-able but I might give it a shot.

The place needs a LOT of work but it is actually around 80% what I am looking for.   The other land and houses I’ve looked at over the last few years have been in the 5% or less range so 80% might be a keeper.  I like the fact that it needs remodeling because that will give me something fun to do.

Now I have to decide whether I am man enough change my life like I want to.  I could easily move and take a year or two off to remodel then look for a job in the town.  Maybe I could get into something completely different than computers like house inspecting or real estate.  I wonder what is involved in getting started in that?  It would be nice to work on my own schedule for my remaining years.

I would only be 1.5 hours away from my mom so I would not feel so bad about leaving her like I would if I moved to Colorado.  Technically, this plan is a go.  Mentally…not sure yet.  I’m sleeping on the idea for a while before I do anything rash.

The asking price is $99,000.  More than I think it is worth in that condition but I might try to see if they will accept $75,000.  If they sell for 75-80 I would feel OK with the deal.  I have 89K in my extra money investment portfolio so I could pay cash for the house and skip the mortgage.

I could sell my current house for $140K or rent it out for a few years and make $1100 a month off of it.  Sell later.  Maybe.  It would be nice to have the income if I wasn’t working.  It would at least pay my Obamacare bill plus more.

I wrote to the realtor on the sign but he hasn’t responded.  If I don’t hear from him in a few days, I’ll try a different realtor.  He isn’t even local to the town for some reason. I would rather deal with a local anyway.

I’m taking it slowly.  In the shape that it is in, I don’t think there will be too many buyers right away.  It has been on the market for around 160 days as is.  Maybe that will help me get a good price.

The more I think about it, the more I like the whole idea.  We’ll see.