Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Rebuilding Windows

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Ed. note: I wrote this post in April 2009, and didn’t post it because I wanted photos. Life happened. The photos didn’t. Here’s the post without photos although I hope to have an exterior photo series later. We have windows in all window holes as of December 2009, but some still need to be rebuilt and others have been rebuilt but not installed. We can do this because we have an excess of windows, having ended up with some new windows in the house rebuilding process.

We (Don, that is) removed more than half the windows in the house so we can tune them up and put them back in. It’s a good time, despite being winter when we started (it’s spring now), since there’s no plumbing to worry about freezing. (Or electric or drywall or people, for that matter.)

I wasn’t involved in the actual removal of the windows, although I understand that Don spent some of his time leaning out the 2nd story windows. We used our SpeedHeater to warm up the glazing to the point that it’s removable, and use a putty knife to get the glazing out. (We use a piece of thin plywood, wrapped in aluminum foil, to reflect the heat away from the glass. It seems to work since we haven’t broken any glass at the deglazing stage.) After Don removes the glass, we heat the window frames and scrape the many layers of paint off.

Then, we prime the window sash with a 50:50 mix of mineral spirits and linseed oil, let it rest 48 hours, and prime with oil-based primer. The primer has to rest for one day before we paint it with latex paint. Or oil paint, I suppose, but we’re using latex. We paint just the interior with the latex paint at this point because you can’t efficiently paint the exterior until the glazing is in.

Then, Don lays a thin bead of latex caulking on the interior part of the window frame, sets the glass in, adds a multitude of glazier’s points, and uses DAP 33 putty on the exterior. (He heats the putty in a garage sale slow cooker that we also use to strip the hardware. That makes it much more malleable and more homogenous.) The installed putty rests two weeks before priming. We’re letting it rest at my folks’ house so we can paint it at a reasonable height off the ground.

Speaking of my folks, that’s where we’re doing the work. Daddy has kindly let us borrow his garage for the winter.** (Heated! With electricity!* And lights! And, did I mention, heat!) We’ve borrowed their guesthouse for window work, too, including the hardware stripping. (Recipe: hardware, dishwashing soap and water in a slow cooker. Cook until the paint bubbles up and softens so you can sponge it off. This also works to remove the mastic from the ceramic wall tile we salvaged.)

*Well, it had electricity, except during the four days we spent there during the ice storm.

**We ended up borrowing the garage bay through the summer and into the winter again. First for windows and then more recently for additional storage. We borrowed the guesthouse for living in. I hope we are out of both before next summer.

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Flooring Letter

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Dearest Reader,

I will try not to worry about catching you up on all that has happened since I last wrote five months ago except to say we have drywall, primed walls, color on more than half the walls (including ceilings), one flush toilet, one cold water sink, at least one electric outlet on each floor, switched lights in some places, and no heat. And Daddy is still dead. I will also not wait to post until I get new batteries in my camera. The Little One is asleep and I want to post before she wakes up.

We have no heat because the city won’t let the gas be turned on until we have passed our final inspection. Or until the weather gets real cold. Whichever comes first. The city claims to be concerned about people clogging their furnace filters with construction dust and burning out their furnace. We are grateful for the soy insulation since it keeps the house fairly warm, even with the single-glaze windows (which Don has rebuilt so they are much tighter than they were). And we are grateful for the working windows and good cross-ventilation since they let the house warm up quickly when we open them during the day.

So, we’ve been dealing with the floors since they are a dust source. We pulled and denailed most of the floors last year, but were planning to leave the living room alone. Were. Then we decided we should pull them while we’re at it so that we could install a border around the whole dining room/foyer/living room. It turned out most of the living room floors had dry-rotted, so it was good we had lots of Dallas flooring. We barely had enough Fayetteville salvage from four bedrooms, the kitchen, foyer, hall, dining room and living room to reinstall in the family room, kitchen, hall, and laundry room. We put down roofing felt which I hope will deal with the dry-rot. Previously, there was no moisture barrier between the downstairs rooms and the basement. (The Fayetteville floors are red oak, and the Dallas floors are a mix of red and white oak.)

We installed a nice log-cabin border, and learned how to fit pieces in between the borders. Much slower than straight laying of floors. Although the Dallas salvage floors were cleaner than the floors we pulled, they had more bad ends. (We had to pause while Don’s floor nailer spent a week in the shop, so he painted for a while. I was fairly picky about which pieces we used for the border, which also slowed us down.)

We’re refinishing the pine floors upstairs. They have no subfloor (or else they are the subfloor), but they’re old pine and they’re sanding out pretty. We laid a new floor in my sewing room, too, of mostly quartersawn oak because its subfloor was plywood and new. It turned out to be a good thing that I racked most of it before I got bifocals (progressive lenses, actually) because bifocals make all the growth rings and edges of the floor curve up around my peripheral vision. I was seasick after racking for about an hour with bifocals.

Don drove to Alma, Arkansas to pick up a U-Sander a week ago Thursday. It is supposed to be very safe for novice floor sanders to use. It is indeed safe, but very, very slow on newly laid salvage floors. After an afternoon of using it, we rented a drum sander as well. Our neighbor (who also helped us get started on laying floors and laying borders) uses the drum sander to take the edges and top layer of finish off the floors, and Don goes along behind with the U-Sander and palm sander to do the finish work.

We paused Saturday a week ago to go to south Arkansas to bury Daddy’s cremains. Or Don paused on Saturday – the Little One and I took Friday off, too, for a 15 hours in the car, touring Arkansas with my mother, brother, and niece. We missed the NE quadrant, but saw everything else: from Fayetteville, to La Hacienda in Conway, through Little Rock, to Monticello for the night. Then on to Fountain Hill, Crossett, Hamburg, Magnolia, Wickes, Duckett, Old Potter, and home. Deer season opened Saturday, so we saw a lot of dead deer and pickups on the side of the road and a lot of people wearing blaze. I wished we’d been wearing blaze at the cemetery – it was late in the afternoon, and I was a bit worried. However, nobody got shot. Always a good day when nobody gets shot at the cemetery.

Since then, Don and the neighbor have been sanding all day and into the night. We’re fortunate that the neighbor comes with one of the Little One’s best friends, so the Little One plays all afternoon and into the night. Don has just left (7:30 a.m.) for what we hope is the last push to finish the drum and U-sanding so we can return the rental sanders tomorrow and enjoy Thanksgiving without dust. I spent a while yesterday filling nail holes where we face nailed. I have some more to do today after the Little One wakes up.

I think we’ll sweep the floors and dust down the walls tomorrow morning so the dust can settle over Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, we will finish cleaning sawdust out of the house and apply a low VOC finish. (Hard oil, followed by wax, followed by a wax finisher.) We’ve decided not to stain the floors, although the hard oil packaging says it may add a hint of amber color.I hope it turns out as nice as I expect. Don keeps saying how much better the floors (and the house) are coming out than he expected. He’s right. A father-daughter house-hunting pair was walking through the neighborhood yesterday, and stopped to discuss housing prospects. (She’s a Vendorville transfer.) Our front door was open, and they both commented on how beautiful the floors were.

Perhaps I will post again soon. Hope all is well with you and yours this Thanksgiving.

All my best, Lisa

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Architects and next steps. Oh, and Easter, too.

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The architects have their as-built plans drawn up, and now want to talk about next steps. I am curious about the as-built plans since I have some trouble still understanding how the house is put together. I’m afraid, however, that I’m not sure what our next steps are. I listen to Don talk about ways to rearrange the inside of the house, and nod approvingly but cluelessly … I know I want the porches back, working bathrooms, a kitchen somewhere between the size of our last two, a place (or four) for Christmas trees, and functionality and flow, but I’m not catching the vision yet. Maybe the drawings will help.

I’d like to do things green. I’d like energy-efficiency, whole-house fans, permaculture (maybe – just learned that word this week), reflective sheathing, quiet HVAC, a room to call my own, a space for the Little One that doesn’t put her at risk inside the computer, a way to use most of our salvaged materials, accessibility, and I’d really like access to my stuff.

It irks me that I can’t just pull out a reference book about house styles because it’s in storage. It irks me that I had to buy a full-price zipper to finish an Easter dress although I have zippers in storage. It irks me that I had to buy a grater and a Bundt pan* to make a carrot cake because our two graters and three food processors and two Bundt pans and countless 9×13 sheet pans are in storage. It irks me that I can’t give away stuff because it’s in storage. But, that will all change some day. I just hope that it’s before I quit reading, sewing, and making carrot cake.

*I did wind up buying a silicon tube pan, which was kind of neat. I’m still not sure what I think about it. It still requires greasing, and it’s floppy so I’m not sure how easy it was to clean. Don did the clean-up.

We had to get ready fast for Easter because we went to Eureka Springs Friday/Saturday after spending Wednesday evening in the emergency room, and got back Easter Eve. We had big to-dos scheduled at church, followed by brunch with friends, so Saturday night, I ran to Target to help the Easter Bunny out and get necessary fixing for baking, and baked, then glazed Sunday morning while making sure the Easter basket was filled and delivered to the Little One, and dying eggs in between. Don had boiled eggs Tuesday, and we were expecting to color and dye on Wednesday, but three hours at the hospital messed up those plans.

The Little One had specific expectations involving the egg hunt this year. Two or maybe three Easters ago, I managed to persuade her that she should hide the eggs for Don to hunt. I have no memory of what we did last year, although I know we dyed eggs, and we did a hunt at church. It was very cold. The church egg hunt wasn’t enough this year. Instead, we went out to the Hill, where I was told to hide eggs for her, Don, and my mom to hunt. Not my dad because of his ataxia. So I did and they did. They found all but one hard-boiled egg, which seems pretty good to me.

I’m not clear what the Little One’s position is on the Easter Bunny. She has lots of [invisible] friends who are magic, and she’s Peter Pan’s sister, plus she talks to Tink[erbelle] and writes notes to Ozma [of Oz] with some frequency. She also pointed out a watchdog dad from Washington yesterday as evidence that Santa Claus is real. He has a white, furry beard.

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Energy Audit

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

One of the first things I would like to do with our house, if we ever get to buy it, is get an energy audit. I’ve read about energy audits here and here in house blogs, and I want one of my very own. I’d like to know what the professionals think would be a wise use of our resources. 

It looks like our electric company, Ozarks Electric Cooperative in Fayetteville, provides free energy audits and $5,000 loans for making certain upgrades, and others in the state do, too. (That last link has a nice collection of “Arkansas Homeowner Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.”) I know that there are lots of things to do for a house besides gouge its eyes out replace its old windows — and many of them have a bigger impact on energy efficiency.  I want a checklist (and a house).

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