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Tap in the SubFloor, One Tile at a Time

3 min read The old basement walls were built from the vinyl tile flooring straight up to the ceiling and attached to 2×2 furring strips that were bolted straight to the painted concrete walls. I want to improve the insulation of the basement and also the air circulation so that no mold will form in dead air cold spaces. First step: install a DriCore sub floor system.

I’m working with a dry basement (generally) but I did notice a little mold on the back of some of the knotty pine and drywall I moved from the original “finished” space.  The walls I took out had been built from the vinyl tile flooring straight up to the ceiling and attached to 2×2 furring strips that were bolted straight to the painted concrete walls.  I want to improve the insulation of the basement and also the air circulation so that no mold will form in dead air cold spaces.   Continue reading “Tap in the SubFloor, One Tile at a Time”

Back to the Basement: Getting up to speed again after some outside work

< 1 min read Having taken a little break, it’s time to get back to work.  I had a little trouble positioning myself on the “what’s next list” so I worked backwards:

Having taken a little break for, first, the MREA, and then successive visits from my BFF and a group of out-of-town family, it’s time to get back to work.  I had a little trouble positioning myself on the “what’s next list” so I worked backwards:  Continue reading “Back to the Basement: Getting up to speed again after some outside work”

How to Choose the Right 2x4s for your DIY Wall Building Project

2 min read Not all 2x4s are created equal and when you are taking on a construction project its important to start with a bunch of good ones.  

Life is hard enough without dealing with bowed, cupped, or twisted studs.  I’m getting ready to start framing the new walls in the basement and I wanted to get the job started well by picking the right lumber for the job.   Continue reading “How to Choose the Right 2x4s for your DIY Wall Building Project”

Exterior Progress: Nearly done with North and South Gable Ends

6 min read I spent the (spectacularly hot) week of my birthday pushing forward on the painting progress.  Knowing I’d have someone around to spot me, I planned to do the high-up, platform work on the south gable. 

I got started on re-painting the house last fall right after we the sale closed.

The tired green color and peeling paint were about equally unappealing to me and I wanted them gone.  Plus I wanted to get some plantings in to replace the hedge I tore out and I knew that new plants wouldn’t appreciate drop cloths, ladders and the general tramping around that painting a house takes.

I knew it was going to be a tough job, made a little tougher by the lead paint underneath the green – which meant I’d need to follow proper safety procedures when scraping and sanding and the year was getting cold fast so I committed to just doing the front face of the house – the east – for the fall and coming back to the rest this year.

Continue reading “Exterior Progress: Nearly done with North and South Gable Ends”

In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair

3 min read Saturday, I gave  a lecture at the MREA Energy Fair in Custer, WI about the joy of working with my parents to design their timber frame, straw bale, passive solar house, Underhill, completed four years ago.  Here’s some of what I said.

If you happened to attend that lecture, the work I’m doing now might seem very different.  After all, remodeling a 1950’s ranch LOOKs pretty dissimilar to building a timber frame, sod roofed house from scratch.  However, I feel strongly that both projects come from the same place – a desire to use buildings to live lightly on the earth.   Continue reading “In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair”

And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere

3 min read Because, come on, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve spent the last two weeks struggling through the muggy heat to de-lead and prime the north and south walls of the house and prepping for my upcoming talk at the MREA Energy Fair but when I think about design, I’ve been thinking about concrete and wondering what I can make from it.  Pavers?  Planters? Benches?  The possibilities are endless.   Continue reading “And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere”

Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House

3 min read Cliff May was an artist: a saxophone player turned furniture designer who inspired a modern housing movement. Today I meditate on his 1946 style book, Western Ranch Houses.

For my birthday, I took a break from scraping and re-painting from precariously balanced ladder platforms … just kidding, I was up and painting on the platform at 7am.  However I did STOP at 8:15 when I hit the milestone of getting the second coat of paint on all the area that needs a ladder jack platform to reach.  Then I took the rest of the day off from manual labor.  Instead went down to campus to the Kohler Art Library to (metaphorically) check out Cliff May’s 1946 Sunset Western Ranch Houses.  Continue reading “Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House”

The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding

4 min read Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house is not a job for the faint of heart but with these tools you can get the job done!

Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house (especially if it’s in rather bad shape) is not a job for the faint of heart.  It’s hot, sweaty, dusty work that requires at least SOME ladder work.  If you like pinching pennies and feeling a sense of accomplishment, by all means take it on.  If you are looking for easy, fun DIY that people will admire … maybe choose another project.

For me, painting a beat up wall in an ugly color into a new smooth color of my choosing is about the most fun I can think of, and is well worth the labor.  Stay tuned for my discussion of how high on ladders you have to climb to paint a single story ranch in an upcoming post!

Continue reading “The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding”

Progress: Pouring the Concrete Slab was Pretty Easy!

4 min read I poured a mother freaking 28 square foot concrete slab in the basement this week … and it really wasn’t that hard. Here’s how I did it (hint: I roped my parents into some of the extra manual labor!)

I admit, this was one of the tasks I’ve been most excited about … and afraid of.  I could, of course, have asked the plumbers to repair the slab they tore up when their work was done but I’ve never worked with concrete before and wanted the chance to try my hand.  When I saw the size of the hole I had a few second thoughts in the end it was a really fun time to fill it back in.

With the right tools (another post) the job was really pretty simple. Continue reading “Progress: Pouring the Concrete Slab was Pretty Easy!”

Progress: There is a Huge Hole in the Basement to get at the Under-Slab Plumbing

2 min read Two weeks ago I took the most dramatic step yet in bringing the basement plans to fruition.  A crew of plumbers showed up at 8 in the morning with jack hammers and tore up a big patch of concrete slab in the basement.  

This is step one of removing the ridiculous open-to-the-laundry toilet and shower arrangement.  They carted off the broken basement floor chunks, removed the old plumbing and then did  the underground rough in for the new 3/4 bathroom. Continue reading “Progress: There is a Huge Hole in the Basement to get at the Under-Slab Plumbing”