Interior and Furniture

Seven months later and I just realized I never posted pics of my finished interior.  I submitted pics to the Tiny House Competition back in November but forgot to post them on my own site.  Sheesh.  Here they are (plus a video house tour at the bottom of the page):

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I have, since, added a shelf to my closet and rearranged some things.

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Storage loft in bathroom.

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Workstation sitting

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Workstation standing.

 

 

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My computer workstation is made from an Ergotron clamp-on laptop arm and an Ergotron clamp-on monitor arm.  I deconstructed the laptop arm and drilled 2 holes through the back of the clamp plate and then screwed 2 lag bolts through it into a stud.  I took the clamp part of the monitor arm off and the post fit very snugly into the top of the laptop arm post.  I covered up the plate and lag bolts with a box I made with a false back.  I painted the box silver and it blends in quite nicely.  The box holds various cables, a portable hard drive, and a Playstation controller.

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I reupholstered my office chair and took the bulky plastic back off it.  I covered the back with heavy-duty Cordura and screwed directly through the fabric.  This took an inch or two off the profile.

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I’m really happy with how my sink shroud turned out.  I wanted it to follow the lines of my sink so I had to taper it two ways, top to bottom and side to side.  I thought my head was going to explode when I was trying to figure that out.  Good thing I took geometry twice!

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My design process/chaos.

More angles with this chair and I did add more of a slope than what is in the drawing.  I really like mid-century furniture design so I found a pic of a chair with similar lines and drew up a plan.  I found a hardwood seller in Portland that carries thicker boards than Home Depot and I picked up a roughsawn 8’ piece of poplar for $12.  I was very happy with the price and the sales people were super friendly and didn’t treat me like a little girl who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  I will definitely be going back there.  And thank you, Aunt Kelly, for riding all that way with lumber on your shoulder.

I was able to get most of the pieces for the chair and footstool out of that one board and used stock from Home Depot for the thinner pieces, like the arms and rails.  I used leftover plywood for the back and seat.  The footstool and seat cushions are made from a spare couch cushion mom had up in the attic.  I did have to buy a cushion for the back at Jo-Ann’s Fabric, which was the most expensive part of the chair.  I found the upholstery fabric in the clearance section.  In total, it cost $75 to make the chair and footstool, much less than the $400+ Wayfair was asking.  We won’t talk about how many hours of labor I put into it…

It is very comfortable and rugged.  I tried to make it as space efficient as possible, taking up a smaller footprint without sacrificing comfort.  The footstool slides nicely underneath and out of the way.  I am hyper-critical when I look at it and see all the things I could have done better but, for my first chair, I’m pretty happy with it.  It was also my first time working with poplar, or any hardwood, and I really enjoyed it.  Thanks, Mike, for letting me use your planer!

I’ve always liked working with my hands and making things but building my house has given me more confidence and a passion for woodworking.  Dad and I want to start building a woodshop on the back of his auto shop this summer.  Right now I am helping my parents remodel their basement and there are many upkeep jobs to do around the property, so the woodshop is definitely not a priority but it’s fun to plan.  I used my new-found hobby to make xmas gifts, a poplar easel for my niece and a bird’s eye maple lazy-susan for dad.

I also want to thank mom for all her help.  I may have designed and made all my furniture but she did the worst part…. staining and sealing.  Ugh, I have no patience for that!  Thanks, mom!

Sorry, to everyone following the blog, for the lack of updates.  Writing does not come naturally to me and I never know where to start.  I think the hardest part of this whole project has been writing the blog but I very much appreciate the support I’ve received through it.  Please forgive my radio silence.  I will try to write a post very soon on what life has been like for the last 7 months living tiny.

Air Quality

When I started building I knew nothing about venting or even that a house needs to “breathe” (fortunately, dad knew all about that).  I knew I needed an exhaust fan in my bathroom to remove moisture but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I have pretty severe allergies to grasses and molds and, thus, never open my windows, so I saved a lot of money by buying fixed windows.  I have one large slider window that is opposite my front door, which can create a cross breeze if needed.  The slider is also large enough to be a second form of egress.  My priority was insulation and making my house as air tight as possible.  While researching this I discovered new terms such as CFMs, ERVs, HRVs, passive house, etc.  Soon my head was swimming.  If I couldn’t crack a window, I needed to find another way to exchange the air.  This being Maine, I couldn’t have any old ventilator letting in icy air in the winter; yet, most heat recovery ventilators were too expensive or overkill for such a small space.  Plus, I needed to consider how the air would be filtered.

Luckily I came across a small energy recovery ventilator made by VENTS for rooms up to 343 sq. ft. and it had two MERV6 filters (not exactly HEPA quality but better than most units I researched).  It was expensive but a necessity that fit all my requirements – small with duct fitting within a 4″ wall, decent filtration, and capable of operating in colder weather (claims to be effective down to -4 degrees).   I don’t have any way of testing the actual airflow but I do know it’s doing something…  When mom was painting in the bathroom she turned the exhaust fan on to lessen the fumes, which created a new problem…  The drain pipe was hooked up but the P-traps were not installed, I had stuffed rags in all the plumbing openings, and the fan sucked fumes from the sewer out around/through the rags and into the house.  That smell will haunt me forever.  When we opened the window it broke the vacuum effect and all was right with the world again.  Once the ERV was hooked up it provided the same relief as the window, so I assume I am getting fresh air through it.  Below are the specs on my ERV and how it works:

Model:  TwinFresh Comfo RA1-50-2

TwinFresh-Comfo-opisanie-1-new-7001

Benefits:

  • Pending patent on ceramic ERV core:
    • Apparent Recovery Effectiveness is ≤90%
    • Recovers heat and moisture to reduce heating costs in winter and air conditioning costs in summer
    • Efficacy 5.7 CFM/W – Twice as high as the Energy Star requirement
    • Whisper quiet operation, as low as 0.2 SONES
  • Stainless steel outer hood:
    • Modern design that fits any interior and exterior
    • 100% corrosion proof
  • Plug-&-Play installation:
    • No special skills required
    • No balancing needed
    • Through the wall installation. Compact unit design
  • Multifunctional wireless remote control
  • Almost no maintenance required
  • Washable filter and core
  • MERV6 air purification
  • Antibacterial treatment of ERV core and filters

Design:

TwinFresh-Comfo-opisanie-4-700(2)6

Control and operation modes:TF-Comfo-2-mode-3508

 Operation:

The ventilator is designed for both extract and supply ventilation with energy recovery function.

  • CYCLE I. While warm, stale air is extracted from a room, it passes through the ceramic energy core where the heat and moisture is being accumulated. After the ceramic core heats up, the ventilator automatically switches to supply mode.
  • CYCLE II. As the clean, fresh air from outside passes through the ceramic energy core, it absorbs moisture and it warms up to room temperature due to to the accumulated heat. As temperature of the accumulator drops down, the fan switches to extract mode and the cycle is renewed. The ventilator changes its operation mode for supply or extract ventilation every 70 seconds.
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Ventilator hood and microwave exhaust fan vent.

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Interior ventilation unit.

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Bathroom exhaust fan.

The bathroom fan is mounted above my dryer and the duct work runs through the loft floor to the front of my house.  I also have an over-the-range microwave that vents to the outside.  And my dryer also vents to the outside.

Toward the end of July, I started waking up in the middle of the night with sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose – full-on allergy attacks.  I’ve dealt with allergies all my life but I’ve never had them wake me up before.  Since this was a new phenomenon, I started worrying I was allergic to something in my house.  Then I reasoned that I had been living in my house for over 2 months with no problems, so that was unlikely (phew!).  Symptoms progressively worsened and it started to look like my old nemesis, aspergillus, was back.  CT scan showed multifocal advanced sinus disease.  I meet with a new surgeon tomorrow.  This will be my 6th sinus surgery, assuming that’s the plan, which it usually is.  Since surgery appears imminent and I don’t think I could get any worse in the meantime, I’ve been taking advantage of this time and doing some landscaping, planting bushes and pulling crabgrass.  All of the seed mom spread turned to crabgrass.  It’s hideous.  A while ago dad and I laid a path to the pool deck with 4 inches of gravel and built up the area around it with loam.  I plan to lay pavers next summer.  I think I might’ve enjoyed a career in landscaping if it wasn’t for my allergies.  I may even buy a good face mask and plant a raised vegetable garden next year.

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I call the large shrub Gracie and the smaller one Dwight.

Anyway, back to air quality… sorry, I got distracted.  With all my sinus issues, I should be more concerned with what is in my air.  This was a good wake-up call.  I am considering investing in an air quality monitor such as the Birdi or Netatmo, or a basic CO2 and humidity meter, and see if I need to buy an air purifier.

 

 

Plumbing

I shouldn’t have waited so long to write about the plumbing.  We did the majority of the work back in November and it’s not fresh in my mind.  I will do my best to recall the steps.

The first step was convincing dad that PEX was the way to go.  PEX was not commonly used when he was in the building business so this was a learning experience for both of us.  I had originally planned on going with a “home-run” layout, using manifolds for the hot and the cold but, as I started laying the foam in the floor, I realized how hard it was going to be to cover the pipes and, as a home-run layout has many more individual pipes, it would be very time consuming.  Plus, I didn’t really have the space in the interior walls to house the manifolds.  Dad was against the home-run setup from the start so he was very happy I came around to the traditional trunk-and-branch layout.  FineHomeBuilding.com has a simple explanation of each system here.  The benefit of using the trunk-and-branch is that only the main lines are run through the floor joists with short lines off them to each fixture.  With such a small house, I really don’t see any downsides to this method.  The reason we chose to run the pipes through the floor was because we had a deeper space to insulate there, 6″ as opposed to 4″.  We did shim the shower and toilet wall out to accommodate the insulation and the pipes.  We also shimmed out the interior closet walls to make room for where the sink PEX lines overlapped the PVC drain.

Thankfully, while I was still in the design phase, dad clued me in to how much simpler and cheaper it’d be if I kept all the plumbing on one end of the house (i.e. bathroom, kitchen, and water heater as close as possible).  With my bathroom sink being about 4′ of pipe away from the water heater, I have instant hot water.  Ironically, I never use hot water in that sink.  Some people seem to be sketched out at the idea of having a bathroom so close to the kitchen…  I don’t see what the problem is if you have a door between the two.  Then again, I live alone…

We borrowed a cinch-ring crimper tool and a tubing cutter from my dad’s friend.  The connections are very easy to make, it just takes a little muscle.  After seeing how fast everything connected, dad was a believer.

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We put together a gauge to check for leaks with a PEX fitting on one end and a ball valve and compressor nipple on the other end.  We capped the ends of the pipes, connected the gauge, hooked up the air compressor, filled the pipes to 100 PSI, and shut the valve.  I nervously kept checking the gauge.  Overnight it dropped about 15 pounds so I filled a spray bottle with soapy water and methodically sprayed every fitting.  I remember thinking “this doesn’t work, it’s not high-tech enough,” as I had sprayed all the fittings and didn’t see any bubbles.  I called dad up and explained the situation and he asked if I had sprayed the gauge.  I had not.  Dad was the brains behind the gauge but the problem was he left me to put it together.  Sure enough, I sprayed one of the seals on the gauge and bubbles galore (that sounds like a Bond girl).  We swapped out the fitting and the pressure held!

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Don’t worry, we used a braided stainless steel connector for the hot water.

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Washing machine lines.

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Main trunks and lines for bathroom.

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Kitchen sink lines.

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Kitchen sink vent.

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Vent pipe through ceiling.

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Washing machine vent and drain.

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Washer hook-up box.

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Sink support and drain.

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I hired a plumber to make sure we were up to code and he connected the rough plumbing PVC drain and vent pipes.  The shower P-trap hangs below the foam in the floor and I wrapped that with fiberglass insulation.  If I had to do it all over again, I would probably build the floor up or at least put the shower on a riser so I could keep the plumbing within the floor and insulate around it better.  The sewer drain pipe is suspended from the trailer frame at a 3/10 pitch and connected to mom and dad’s new septic tank by a pipe that comes up through one of the boxes we built into the slab.  The drain pipe was a major source of stress for me when we were moving the house onto the slab.  There was barely any clearance and I would definitely have to modify this if I planned on moving often.  The main water pipe comes up through another box in the slab at the opposite end.  This pipe runs underground into my parent’s basement and connects to their pump.

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Scary moment during the move.

When the sheetrock was up and we were ready to put in the shut-off valves on all of the fixtures, a lot of time had passed and we had returned the PEX tools.  I ended up borrowing a crimper from my niece’s mom, Carri (the noted out-law whom I still call sister).  It had belonged to her stepdad, Tony, who passed away.  I feel fairly confident in saying Tony would’ve loved the tiny-house movement and would’ve been my go-to guy for all things plumbing.  He was dedicated to his trade and I am honored to have been able to use his tools and have him on the job, in spirit anyway.

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Tony’s tool. The PEX tube extension was his invention for better leverage.

My water heater’s capacity is 30 gallons, which is more than enough for me.  My showers average around 5 minutes, I use the “ecowash” setting on my washer, and I hand wash my dishes as I dirty them.  I’ve never understood why anyone would waste precious space in a tiny house with a dishwasher.  Even if I washed every dish I own at the same time, I still wouldn’t have half a load.  I guess it would make sense if you were washing baby bottles or had a large family…

I thought maybe plumbing would be my forte, and I do like designing the layout of the pipes, but I can’t handle the anxiety of possible leaks.

Countertop and Bathroom Door

I sent the subcountertop up North to my brother’s shop where he had a sheet of stainless steel earmarked for me.  The steel was surplus from a plow fabricator.  Mike cut out the shape and sink hole, and had a local metal shop bend the backsplash up, and then he welded ALL of the sides.  It looks like one continuous sheet of metal, you cannot tell that the sides were once separate pieces of metal.  He did an AMAZING job!  I am told that welding stainless is a tricky process (something to do with the heat), which makes it even more impressive.  When we got the countertop back home and put it in place, there were a couple spots that had warped away from the subcounter and flexed when you pushed on them, making that metal-bendy noise (that is so a technical term).  Dad cut off the corner braces and angles that Mike had welded to hold the stainless to the wooden subcounter and we spent a couple hours sanding the grinding marks and scratches out.

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Thanks for the pics and video, Jess!

Mike sent a scrap of the stainless down for me to test different glues and see which had the best holding power.  I spread contact cement on one half and Loctite Ultimate Power Grab on the other and clamped a scrap board to each side and let them cure for 48 hours.  Both boards were solidly cemented when the clamps came off.  I decided to go with the Loctite because it was easier to apply and wasn’t as smelly as the contact cement.  Dad and I screwed down the subcounter, spread the Loctite evenly over it, and set the stainless top in place, clamping the edges and spreading out the pressure as best we could to get as much uniform adhesion as possible.  The next day we took the clamps off and it was rock solid and level.

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Next we tackled the sink.  I had searched the internet, trying to find the biggest sink that would fit in a 24″ base cabinet and this particular sink said it would and it did; however, there was no room for the clips that hold it in place.  Again we turned to our old frenemy, silicone, and applied a generous amount to the underside of the sink rim and clamped it in place.  We installed the faucet and hooked up the drain with no leaks.  The next day I took the clamps off the sink and it was fully adhered with no flex.  I spent the rest of the afternoon hand sanding the countertop.  I started with 150 grit and worked my way up to 800.  Sanding metal is very messy but very rewarding.

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I made a butcher block dropleaf using sixteen 1×2 pine boards on their edges, gluing their faces together.  Dad drilled 2 holes through the width of the piece and I glued 3/4″ dowels through the holes, leaving a quarter of an inch of the dowel poking out on both sides.  I drilled corresponding 1/4″ deep holes into 1x2s I had saved for face pieces on the front and back and then glued those pieces as caps.  I’m not very patient when it comes to gluing and clamping but I dutifully let each stage set up for 24 hours.  I had originally planned to run the leaf through the planer to get a uniform thickness but it ended up being about an inch too wide to fit through the planer so I had to block plane it by hand.  Hand planing is one of my favorite things to do, so I didn’t really mind.  I was limited to 2 bar clamps and 2 wood clamps when I was gluing the pieces together and had to make it in two sections of 8 pieces (plus the 2 face pieces) and, when I glued the 2 sections together, I ended up with a pretty big cup to the leaf.  I started out with a thickness of 1-1/2″ and by the time I was done planing, it was down to 1-1/4.”  I sanded it, softening the side edges and making a full bullnose edge on the front.  Mom mixed up the perfect shade of stain and I stained it and she added 3 coats of water-based poly to it.  I mounted the dropleaf to the edge of the counter with a piano hinge.  I had found sliding table leaf supports at Rockler and screwed them into the underside of the counter, cutting out a hole through the back of the fridge cabinet for one of them to slide through, and used these to support the leaf but it doesn’t feel very sturdy.  I plan to make hinged brackets to replace these.

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Side note:  A few weeks after we finished the counter, dad had one of his friends try pulling the boards off our test piece of metal, to show how strong the glue was, and the Loctite side popped right off.  This is kind of scary but dad had left it out in the rain and changes in temperature, and that was almost 2 months ago and my countertop is still holding strong.

I had stupidly ordered my bathroom door as though it were fitting within the door frame, not thinking it would need to overlap anywhere when I mounted it to the sliding door hardware.  I ended up adding an inch to the top and adding 3/4″ strips on the sides to add privacy.  I also hadn’t considered how far down the mounting bolts would be and ordered a hollow-core door.  Dad fixed this by cutting tubing the thickness of the door and we drilled holes in the door the size of the tubes, inserted the tubes, and ran the bolts through them with big washers on the back side.  This worked perfectly!  Dad also cut down the door hangers to end where the middle panel starts on my door.  I mounted the track above the door and installed the floor guide.  I found a neat door handle in the cabinet pull section of Home Depot.  I still need to pick up a pull for the bathroom side of the door.   This was the cheapest barn door kit I could find and I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it slides.  I mounted a cheap full-length mirror to the back, using Command strip velcro picture hangers.  I love everything Command strip!  When these first came out I was very wary of using them but I had my hair dryer hanging on a Command hook for years and years and it left absolutely no mark when I took it down.  They’re magic!

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It’s Electric!

I have done some wiring in my vehicles and can follow a wiring diagram but I hired an electrician because I am terrified of getting zapped and I didn’t want to wire something wrong that might mess up my computer someday.  My electrician, Everett, used to work with my dad and grandfather when they built houses back in the day and is good friends with our cousin, Wayne, who stepped in one day to help run the wire.  He ended up using way more wire than ever anticipated because, instead of running the wire through the walls, he brought the wire up through the floor to the outlet and then back down so the majority of the wire is run through the floor joists.  I believe this was because most of the outlets and appliances are on their own breaker.  I’m not even going to pretend I know anything about this.  Everett said you might think it’d be easier to wire a tiny house but, since my house has all the same electrical connections of a normal-sized house it took about as long.

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Safety Supervisor making sure Everett wasn’t going anywhere.

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Everett, Dad, and Wayne on a not-so-fun day.

I have a 100 amp electrical panel.  The main wire comes up under the trailer through one of the boxes in the cement pad.  This wire runs underground and is connected to a service disconnect box on a post about 15 feet from my house and, from there, runs underground and through dad’s shop to its own meter.  I have an outside outlet on the front of my house and 3 more under the trailer, one of which is for the heat tape I will be wrapping around my water pipe this winter.  We had originally hooked the main power in on dad’s shop service but every time he used his welder my lights flickered.

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Electrical panel, schlemetrical panel

I did get brave enough to wire my lights and that was kind of fun.

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I had coax cable running underground from the “big” house to underneath my trailer and had mistakenly thought I could hook up a new modem to this and share the internet.  I was wrong.  Apparently this is possible but you have to register your modem with your cable provider and pay like it was a new service.  After I scratched that idea I looked into MoCA (multimedia over coax), range extenders, access points, etc.  Because I will be working from home, I need a reliable internet connection and all of these options were iffy and too expensive to try.  I decided to go with a wired connection and then spent days researching fiber optic, cat5, cat5e, cat6, and so on.  Cat5e was the cheapest option that met my needs.

Because of some sick gremlin that lives inside of me, I decided to wait until the temps were in the 80s and mom had laid grass seed before digging a new trench to lay the cable.  The details are kind of hazy (repressed memory, perhaps?) but, in short, I couldn’t pull the cable up through the pipe the coax ran through and, in the process, I ended up pulling the coax out of the pipe and couldn’t get it back through.  I had to extend the trench below the cement pad while dad used a hammer drill to make a new hole to pull both cables up through the pad.  Then I had to cut out a chunk of sheetrock around the old coax outlet in my house and make a bigger trough in the foam insulation to pull the Ethernet cable up through the wall with the coax.  I bought a stripper/crimper tool and tester and connected the Ethernet cable to the wall jack.  Lo and behold it worked!  I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was.

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Where’d that backhoe go?!

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On a side note… after filling the trench back in, mom sprinkled grass seed and, because it was freshly “tilled,” we had a lush strip of grass between the houses well before the rest of the lawn filled in.  You’re welcome, mom.

Orange is the New Black?

I probably spend more time at Home Depot than I do with my family and friends.  While I believe in supporting your local lumber yard, I have to say I’m a little intimidated shopping there.  What I like about “big box stores” is that I can browse and compare products, buy as little or as much as I need, and can shop and compare prices online.  Lowe’s is fine but the closest store is 30 miles away.  You all know how I feel about Menard’s… (picture the movie Clifford and his obsession with Dinosaur World) but the closest store is 800 miles away!  The HD is 11 miles from home, much more doable.

Home Depot also offers many perks that I was unaware of before I started my build.

  • Volume Pricing Discount:  Don’t be afraid of the Pro Desk, it’s not just for contractors.  If you know you will be purchasing more than $2,500, take your material list to the Pro Desk and ask for a bid and they will give you a quote of how much you’ll save (usually at least 10%).  It may take a while to get the quote, which is fine if you prepare your list ahead of time.  I’ve had them call me back within a day, yet, they’ve also prepared the quote while I shopped around.  I’m not sure what dictates the wait time.  This service is a great benefit if you group different phases of your build purchases together.  One big drawback is that you can’t get a bid for online-only items.  There are exclusions to what can be discounted but usually anything in stock is included.
  • Pro Xtra Loyalty Program:  I’ve had mixed success with the Pro Xtra program.  In theory, it should be a great tool for contractors, though you don’t need to be one to join.  It boasts you can manage and track your purchases, and receive volume discounts on $1000 purchases, bulk pricing, and coupons.  The coupons are great and I use those frequently (usually something like $10 off $75).  I haven’t had luck with being able to manage my purchases.  When I first started placing orders, I’d tell them I had a Pro Xtra account.  This didn’t seem to mean anything to anyone, so my purchases never were linked to an account where I could view my history.  Eventually I stopped mentioning it.  All in all, I do suggest signing up for this, if only for the coupons.  You will also get notifications of times when they will be offering the volume pricing discount for purchase totals as low as $1000.
  • Price Matching:  Like many stores, they will match competitor’s prices and beat it by 10%.  Of course, there are limitations and exclusions but this is pretty honorable and I find they do their best to keep their prices comparable to or lower than the other chain stores.
  • Special Buy of the Day:  This is a limited time offer that changes daily.  You can sign up to receive emails notifying you of the daily sale.  These discounts can be significant, i.e. 70% off; however, they are only good till midnight or while supplies last and they may not be something you need at that time.  Yet, sometimes the fates align and the offer is for flooring that you had your eye on.  You never know…
  • Project Loans:  This is pretty much a limited time store credit card to use while working on a project.  The card is good for 6 months and you are not charged interest during that time.  The APR is fixed and super low, 7.99% as of writing this and you have 84 months to pay off your loan, though you can pay it off at anytime.
  • Veteran/Military Discount:  You receive a 10% discount if you show them your military ID.

There are also drawbacks to shopping at Home Depot, as there are with any chain store.  My first large order had a few mistakes but I wrote a letter to the manager, explaining my situation and all the errors, and he was quick to contact me and make up for the inconvenience and discrepancies in costs.  In fact, I think my letter was well circulated throughout the store and I felt like all eyes were on me when I went in after that, though, that might have just been my paranoia.  I was very nervous but everyone was super nice and went above and beyond making sure I didn’t have anymore trouble.

Who Were Those Masked Men?

 

I built my bed with a 2×4 frame and a hinged plywood top that lifts up and I’ve stored rarely used items underneath in the back.  I built 2 drawers into the center front of the frame and keep my clothes in them.  I made panels that attach with magnets to cover the end cubbies on either side of the drawers.  I store shoes in one and my computer battery backup is in the other.  There is a gap before the open framework at the foot of my bed and I run my computer wires through the opening there.  There is a side cupboard that runs the length of my headboard and I have awkward shaped items in there, like my yoga mat and sleeping bag.  I store my fabric in the small shelves on the side of the headboard and whatever else I can on the long shelves on the front.  I plan to add doors to cover the top 2 long shelves.  I white-washed the wood partly because I wanted to keep it light but mostly because I have no patience for coats of paint.

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One day while working on the bed I was interrupted by pure cuteness.

How could I be expected to get any work done?!  I spent most of the day checking on them in the tree.  They disappeared in the early evening and mom and I were kind of glad, figuring they decided to go back home.  Two days later, on the way home from getting groceries, we spotted them around our hedges by the road.  Mom had talked with a man from a wildlife rehab and he said something had probably happened to the mother if they were by themselves and out during the day and that we should catch them in a fishing net and bring them to the rehab.  A fishing net?!  We’re not fishermen so we improvised with a wastebasket and sheet.  We took them to the rehab, which is run by an amazing elderly couple who had their hands full with a house full of raccoons and several outbuildings and pastures with other animals.  I don’t know how they do it.  It is clear that they put the animals needs before their own.  If you’d like to read more about their wonderful work or make a donation please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/coteswildliferehab

Appliances, Shower, and Sink

I’ve been living in my house for almost 2 months now.  I’ve been super busy finishing up everything and helping out my mom after her hernia surgery and I haven’t had time to keep the blog up to date.  I will try to fill in everything in the correct order…

Dad hooked up the plumbing to the hot water heater and the electrician connected the wires.

Dad and I installed the washer and dryer, which was a nightmare.  We had to stack them before we put them in place because we wouldn’t have access to the stacking kit screws once they were in the cubby and we couldn’t use the dolly because the shower base was in the way.  We had to put boards down to support the weight of the W/D while we turned it so it didn’t damage the lip of the shower.  Then we tried “walking” the W/D into the cubby, which didn’t work since it was a very tight fit with no wiggle room.  I don’t even want to think about all of the different things we tried.  Eventually we ended up prying it up on top of strips of hardboard with scraps of carpet under the feet and slid it into place.  Then we had to pry it up again to get the hardboard and carpet out.  The combined unit is definitely the heaviest item in my house.  Hopefully it lasts many many years and never needs maintenance.  I might cry if I have to move it again.  On top of all of that… as I was following the directions on hooking up the dryer I realized something didn’t match up.

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There was no water inlet connection like the manual showed and I was pretty sure I had bought a steam dryer, so I contacted Samsung which was not helpful in the slightest.

 

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I’m sure Bhavana is a swell person but they seem to be lacking in the knowledge of their products.

Apparently my model doesn’t have a steam function and they do not have a manual for my specific dryer.  Also, they have discontinued this model and there is no info for it anywhere on the world wide web, which I find a bit unsettling, but it is working great and dries my clothes super fast.

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I hadn’t considered the size of my stove plug and had placed the outlet at the standard height, like regular wall outlets, and this caused the stove to stick out farther from the wall.  I ended up drilling through the floor and bringing the wire up into a floor-mounted outlet, which the stove slides nicely over.  This was dad’s suggestion and it worked out well.  I did have to cut out the sheetrock all the way to the floor, to free the wire from the insulation and wire staples, and then patch it back up, which wasn’t fun.

The guys from Central Maine Heat Pumps hooked up my heat pump/AC unit.  This was my biggest splurge and I haven’t regretted it.  I did a lot of researching and pricing last year, thinking I could get a unit a lot cheaper online and install it myself.  In the end I reasoned that, in Maine, temperature is far too important to mess around with and by buying it through an authorized installer it is warrantied if any problems come up.  The estimator I met with was great and offered me an older, cheaper model that they were phasing out, instead of trying to up-sell me, which I really appreciated.  I used the heat about 2 times in May and it seemed to work well, though next winter will be the real test.  I am loving the AC!  I keep it around 70 degrees and then turn it off at night and it stays comfortable until about mid-morning.  To have no fans or AC at night in the middle of July… I have to say, all the pain of cutting insulation was well worth it!  Plus, my electric bill is only $30, you can’t beat that with a stick!  What?

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I had installed DensShield tile-backer board for my shower and dad taped and mudded where it butted the MR board when we were drywalling.  I was reading up on how to tile a shower and came across scary warnings of backer board failure so I sanded off all the mud on the DensShield, much to dad’s dismay.  After reading more about DensShield, I realized we had drilled the sheetrock screws too deep and my sanding it was not such a good idea, so I took it all down and put up new sheets, not countersinking the screws this time.  Then I taped all the joints with Fibatape (that’s a real product, not my Maine accent) and thinset.  I painted Redgard on the area to be tiled, three coats on the joints and screwheads and 2 coats all over.

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Goes on a pretty pink…

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Dries red.

I consulted my cousin, Wayne, who is a professional, and he lent me his tile saw and grinder.  Wayne used to build houses with my dad and grandfather and has been a huge help during the build.  We often call him when dad and I have different opinions (I think dad has him on speed dial).

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He also fostered my brother and I’s love of the Dukes of Hazzard.

There is definitely a learning curve to tiling a wall and, now that I have the hang of it, let’s hope I never have to do it again!  I went with 12×12″ for the field tiles and 2×6″ for the bullnose trim with 3/16″ grout lines between the bigger tiles and 1/8″ for the trim tiles.  I used sanded ceramic tile caulk for the corner grout line and where the tile meets the shower pan.  This stuff is amazing!  It’s basically silicone that dries to look like sanded grout.  It’s color matched and blends right in.  I used regular white silicone around the outside of the shower base and floor and where the tile meets the wall.  I also did 2 coats of sealer on the grout.

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The special WingTite shower drain I had to buy, because we got carried away installing the shower base and didn’t think ahead, installed quite easily.  I installed the mixing valve and trim and dad put up the shower head.  My first couple of showers I thought someone was using the water at the “big” house (I’m connected to mom and dad’s pump) because the water pressure felt like I was showering from a watering can but, when it kept happening, I realized it had to be my shower head.  I took down my shower head and took out the watersaver contraption, very easy to do.  This was a good and bad idea.  While I had excellent pressure, I also was having a hard time keeping the water from spraying outside the shower.  My first attempt at rectifying this was to get an adjustable shower arm.  This helped but looked funny and leaked a little.  Next try was a right-angle shower arm.  This did work but I was still getting some overspray onto the walls so I found these nifty shower splash guards that attach to your shower curtain.  These with the right-angle shower arm work great.

For some odd reason they do not sell round corner-shower curtain rods anywhere that I could find.  Mike to the rescue again!  He had a stainless steel railing that came off the bow of a sailboat.  Dad bent it for me.  I sanded and polished it and mounted it with $3 flanges!  Shower is finished!

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Dad and I installed the bathroom sink, mounting it on the steel plate he made.  The sink drain that came with my faucet didn’t work with my sink, since my sink has no overflow holes, and I had to buy a pop-up drain.  I plan to build a wooden shroud to cover the pipes under my sink.

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I built my own medicine cabinet using 1x2s, routing out a groove for the mirror/panel, and biscuiting and screwing the stiles and rails.  I then hinged the doors to the 1×3 frame I made around the opening.  The inside is lined with aluminum boxes I had locally fabricated.  I installed shelf rails and had 3 glass shelves cut at a local auto glass shop (also had my mirror cut there).

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More to come very soon, I promise!

First Guest, Noisy Neighbors, and Steps

I promised my very special little cousin she could sleepover during April vacation, thinking I’d be moved in by then.  Well, I have not moved in yet but that didn’t stop us…

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I had hoped my noisy neighbors wouldn’t keep us awake…

They didn’t…

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I told dad I wanted very minimalistic steps where the wood set in the frame.  We had some miscommunication in the beginning but he graciously fixed them so they matched what I pictured.  He was going to teach me how to weld so I could make my own steps but we just didn’t have the time.  Maybe he’ll teach me how to fix my rocker panels this summer, instead.

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I plan on running a couple horizontal cables in the spindle area.

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I’m not sure what I’m doing here but, golly, doesn’t my ankle look slender!

 

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Stamped right on the top of my handrail.  I’m not sure what to make of this…

I still need to sand down the treads and paint the rail and frame a matching gray.

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Dad delivered on the minimalism!

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There’s quite a bit of landscaping that still needs to be done, but we have had some growth…

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Flooring

Dad helped me scribe my bathroom floor onto a template and I cut out the vinyl.  I had already cut the lauan subfloor back when we installed the shower base.  Dad laid out a 4-inch grid on the lauan for me to staple it down and we snapped lines on it where the PEX runs, so I’d know where not to staple.  So, what did I do?  I got trigger happy and shot 3 staples on the do-not-staple line!  I already have enough anxiety worrying about leaks!  I shot a test staple through scraps of lauan and plywood to see what damage I might have caused and the points barely broke through.  I feel fairly safe that I didn’t puncture the PEX; however, I didn’t want the pipes to rub on the points as they expanded and contracted, so I pulled those staples out.

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When I glued down the subfloor last fall, I had noticed that it wasn’t level.  Dad thinks maybe a joist humped up.  He couldn’t think of an easy fix to this so he sanded down the top of the rise in the plywood and we shimmed the drop.  Luckily it was the second-to-last joist and my bed will be covering the area.

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I was excited to start laying the Pergo.  The prep work took the most time, trimming the door jambs and casings, laying the underlayment, and trimming the tongue off the first row of boards, then it was smooth sailing.

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Mom has been working on priming and painting the trim and caulking the gaps.  I have been working on the baseboards.

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I painted the cabinet and added quarter-round trim.

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The vinyl for my bathroom is very plush, almost as thick as my Pergo.  It was a remnant from a local flooring store.  I applied an “X” of double-sided tape to the floor where my washer and dryer will go and around the perimeter of my shower base and at the threshold, and then loose-laid the vinyl.  I installed most of the baseboards but still have a couple more to cut.

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Bathroom vinyl installed.