News Archive: November 2019

25 November 2019

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, all of my efforts are focused on mopping up bunches of little loose ends, but most especially cleaning: a home under construction is constantly dirty, with tools, dust and debris everywhere.

24 November 2019

I'd not been happy with the look of the bathroom sink backsplash, so I reworked it with a mix of wood and tile. I lived with that for a day, but decided it still wasn't working, so I ripped out the remaining bullnose and replaced it all with wood. Then, once I added the trim piece to the countertop edge, it all clicked.

The final touch was the medicine cabinet door. I wanted the door to blend into the surrounding wood, so I set it flush with the frame—plus, it's the same wood I used for the headboard, entertainment center and kitchen island. Incidentally, this marks the first 100% completed cabinet.

I also knocked out a kindling box and firewood crib for the wood stove.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is bearing down on me like a runaway freight train, and just to pile it on, I'm dealing with a sick cat...

23 November 2019

I've got to say, the Drolet Escape is a very fine wood stove. It works exactly as advertised—even better than I'd expected. Within a half-hour of lighting it this morning, I was down to a t-shirt, and the heat pump shut off for the duration. The only downside (if you want to call it that): I can easily become transfixed by the fire, and sit for long periods of time just staring at it. This is especially effective with Anugama playing in the background—several times I almost nodded off.

I also got very lucky in that the flue connector location on the stove allowed the stove- pipe to be perfectly straight (no elbows), resulting in the cleanest-looking installation possible. So the day is being spent learning how to operate it properly—it does take practice to understand its operation and get it to perform optimally. I can now keep the living space within a few degrees of my target temperature, with zero smoke.

22 November 2019

My wood stove is installed and beautifully functional, although it was a real nail-biter arranging for the last leg of the trip. The 485-pound crate arrived in a 45-foot tractor-trailer that could bring it no closer than the main road, so I asked a neighbor who owned a front-loader to lend a hand. Fortunately he was both home for the day and most agreeable, so the stove made it up to the house—just as it started to rain. Oh, and the truck driver was a real hoot, which made for a very pleasant time for all concerned.

Fortunately I own a heavy-duty handcart, so my helper helped me muscle the stove down the stairs and into place on the pedestal. In gratitude, I gave him the honor of making the first fire. The house got a bit of smoke in it, but ask me if I care!

21 November 2019

As I awaited scheduling information about the delivery of my wood stove, I did a bunch of little stuff, like caulking the toilet base, framing the medicine cabinet, and adding the bullnose tile around the bathroom sink backsplash—half of which I ground to make my own corner bullnose pieces. Note the awkward jog to clear the electrical fixtures on the right; the left side has the same arrangement to avoid one end of a (yet to be installed) towel bar. I'm not all that thrilled by the final effect, but I suppose it'll do.

But the big news of the day was the arrival of the tempered glass shelves for the china cabinet. Get this: I used leftover light fixture parts to make the shelf supports. The results exceeded my expectations.

20 November 2019

The bathroom floor grouting is done, making it the first room in the house to have a 100% finished floor.

19 November 2019

Mostly piddled around. Found an issue to correct: the access door for the air handler had warped. I also started grouting the bathroom floor, but I can only do so much at a time before my knees go on strike.

18 November 2019

All done—ready to entertain. Now I'm thinking about making my own sofa chairs...

17 November 2019

I've just started building my own furniture.

16 November 2019

Good news: the shower doesn't leak anymore.

15 November 2019

Finished off the corner trim for the kitchen island, then wrapped up tiling the closet/laundry floor. It'll be horse race as to which room will officially have a finished floor first: the bathroom or the closet/laundry, since the tiling is done in both but they both still need to be grouted.

14 November 2019

The kitchen island was grouted first thing this morning. Then my helper assisted with the removal and replacement of the toilet so I could tile under it, which completed the bathroom floor tiling. The only major item left to do in the bathroom now is the bathtub, and owing to the cost, that's quite a ways off.

13 November 2019

After completing the shower repair, I tackled the trim on the kitchen island so I can finally grout it.

12 November 2019

The shower repair is very nearly done; all that remains is sealing the new floor tile and caulking the wall-to-floor joint. Then it'll be another three-day wait until I can use it again.

11 November 2019

Three steps forward, two steps back. My shower sprung a leak: water was accumulating along the bottom edge of the wall in the bedroom. Not good! It took me a while to find the cause, but the other day I noticed a crack in the grout along the front edge of the shower seat. I immediately realized I'd made two fatal mistakes in my haste to build it back on 19 September. Mistake number one: I made the seat part dead flat instead of sloping it down a little, so water was accumulating on the seat, and once the water found the tiniest little path under the tile, all hell broke loose, because of mistake number two: I hadn't sealed the plywood before tiling it. The ply quickly swelled and cracked the grout, and once that happened, water freely entered the space inside and made its way along the floor to the bedroom wall. As I began tearing it apart, the scent of rotting wood made it painfully apparent that I'd either have to completely rebuild it, or just tear it out altogether. I chose the latter as the path of least resistance. (If I need a shower seat, I'll just buy one.)

Now comes the task of reconstruction. I must replace the damaged sheetrock, seal everything up, and then retile the walls and floor. So... no showers for a week. While the dust from that mess was settling, I made some headway tiling the closet/laundry floor.

10 November 2019

Low-key day today—really low-key. Recently I purchased some cheap rustic napkin rings online (in anticipation of Thanksgiving), and out of the blue was struck with the notion it might be fun to make a holder for them. So, I screwed a piece of wooden dowel left over from the coat closet hanger rod to a scrap of trim cut into an octagon, then hit it with some stain. And there you have it: a really obscure little conversation piece ("What the hell is that?").

In other news, my HVAC guy was supposed to come give the system a once-over and also fix a minor glitch. All he did was make excuses why he couldn't do the work, so now I'm thinking about looking for a new HVAC guy.

9 November 2019

The bathroom floor tile is all done except for the area under the toilet—that will require careful planning and a concerted effort; I may wait until help arrives later next week.

8 November 2019

Continued tiling the bathroom floor. I'd have finished today, but I received more bad news regarding the TCO approval, and I retreated into music.

7 November 2019

Tiling the bathroom floor is about half done—that is to say, about half the tile is down. That doesn't mean the job is half-done; I'll still need to remove the toilet and tile under it, and then grout everything. But a good bit of work is finished, especially cutting most of the odd-shaped tile pieces.

6 November 2019

My concerns about getting the wood stove moved into place have been quelled. It pays to chat with the staff at your favorite watering hole: one of them actually volunteered to come move the stove—and I didn't even really know the guy (although I think he knows I'm friends with the owner). Meanwhile, the County Health Department septic system approval saga continues along like a square-wheeled cart. I may be dead before this gets sorted out. Then, in the midst of the chaos, my bar stools arrived—yes, they're remarkably similar to my (temporary) living room seating. I'm not thrilled with them, but they'll do.

5 November 2019

With the wood stove pedestal done, I was faced with an aesthetic quandary: its lovely natural slate finish made it stick out like a slightly sore thumb—that is, it wasn't visually tied into the room surrounding it. Since it was the same height as the base under the picture windows, it immediately suggested that the window bases ought to be finished in natural slate as well. Then, why just do the middle of the room when all of the window areas would benefit from the same treatment? So I dashed out to get more slate. Now the room has a common thread to tie it all together—again, all because I couldn't get the wood stove I'd wanted.

Curious how, every so often, one thing leads to another and it all ends up better than it might have otherwise. Some people might present this as evidence that "it was meant to be," but I don't believe in fate or Divine Intervention; I do, however, believe in happy accidents.

4 November 2019

I'm ready for the wood stove. My single concern now is getting the stove in place: I'll need to hire someone to do it because the thing weighs over 300 pounds, and must be brought down two flights of stairs and hefted onto the platform:

3 November 2019

From one day to the next, there's almost no knowing what I'd be doing. Early this morning I started investigating ways to buy the Osburn wood stove I wanted, when I discovered that the unit had surprisingly poor reviews. So I began a search for the highest-rated units, and found the Drolet Escape 1500, which not only got top scores everywhere I looked, but was half the cost of the Osburn 2200. So there was an excellent chance I could buy it this month! But what about the floor tiling? I decided to build a pedestal for the stove, which would not only solve the floor tiling problem, but would place the unit at a more convenient height. As icing on the cake, the pedestal would have angled corners to reflect my home's visual aesthetic and make up for the loss of same with the Osburn. Thus I switched gears from work on the bathroom floor to preparing for the eventual delivery of a new wood stove—just in time for the onset of cold weather.

In the image below, the black outline is the wood stove, and the blue is the pedestal, which will be 10 inches high and clad in natural slate. Incidentally, as an added bonus, I've wanted to use slate somewhere in my home but never found an opportunity.

2 November 2019

With dozens of competing projects vying for my attention, it's a tossup as to what I might tackle at any given time, and since everything must get done eventually, often it doesn't matter. Today I focused on tiling the bathroom floor. The process is just like a puzzle: tiling the floor of a space that's constantly used requires that it be split in half—or even thirds—such that there's always either bare floor or tile that's set for a day on which to walk. Thus I wouldn't be able to tile the entire bathroom floor in one shot, since I don't have a second bathroom to use. Tiling is an enjoyable process, and especially in this case because I'm challenged to make some rather oddly-shaped pieces. So far, I've got the tile laid out and all of the pieces cut as needed for the first pass; with luck, I'll have them laid tomorrow... unless I switch to some other project, that is.

Also, with cold weather upon us, I've been able to evaluate the HVAC system in heating mode (I've updated the page with a report at the bottom).

1 November 2019

No progress today since I've had to deal with more headaches from the County Health Department. It seems they want to perform permeability tests on the fill material used in the disposal field. These tests were originally done during construction, yet for reasons known only to the County, they want new ones. This is going to cost time, money, and emotional health.

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