Sunday, November 12, 2006

Time and money saving techniques...

That failed.
When you’re going through a project like we are, you look for ways to save time and money. We’re not talking about scrimping on structural elements, but little shortcuts to speed up the process and save money. As it turns out, some of our efforts actually cost more and took more time. So, in recounting these, we’ll remember them the second time around. Yeah, right.

Staining the deck
We plan to replace the deck, eventually… It’s part of the five-year plan, certainly not in this early stage. We decided to stain it, but didn’t want to spend the money on the stain we really wanted. So, we purchased an “oops!” five gallon drum of paint and thought we’d tint it. Fat chance, green doesn’t want to be brown no matter how much black and brown tint is added.

So, we spent $5 on the green stain, $5 each on three tubes of tint and ended up buying the good stain for $105 on sale at True Value. So, a newly stained deck for $125. Not bad. Our plan to save ended up costing us $25 additional. But, it sure was fun to play Jackson Pollock for the afternoon.

Michael is convinced that we can use the green on the inside of the shed. Works for me.

Utility Cart
When we first moved in, our first big purchase was a riding lawn mower. We love it. It has a 54” blade. I can tell you that before having so much grass in the backyard, I wouldn’t have considered, or bragged, about a lawn mower blade. It really does make the job faster… and it has a drink holder. Neat.

We wanted to purchase accessories for the mower, but hadn’t determined what we really wanted or needed. In clearing out some of the backyard, Michael found an old utility cart. An accessory we had considered purchasing, but now we could restore this one (we love projects…).

So, he searched for new tires online, after two tries and $40, we had tires that fit. We also put 2 layers of Rustoleum brown paint on it. We already had the paint, so that didn’t really cost us anything. Our cart has seen better days though, and it is a little soft in some places, and you can see through some of the metal. But, we love the utility cart and use it almost every weekend. Recycling at its best.

Of course, we could have purchased a brand new one for $140 ready to go. But then there wouldn’t be a story.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lost & Found (Part 1?)

I’ve heard that hospitals keep the odd things the doctors pull from bodies. We’ve uncovered some odd things as we worked on the house… Not sure all are worth noting, but here are the top three. I’m still stumped on some. It’s like reading the first part of an article and having to wait until the next month for part two. I guess these mysteries will continue to unfold as we move along in the project. Or, we’ll just make up stories.

Hot and Cold Water Hookups behind the Drywall

There was a soft spot in the wall of our dining room. It felt almost like a drum as you ran your hand over it. Definitely thinner than wall board, but thick enough to provide some resistance. When we realized that we wanted to take down the wall in the room, we went right for the mystery spot in the wall – a little higher than waist high, but not as high as a light switch.

We found water hookups in the dining room a mere 10 feet from the kitchen sink. We really thought we could incorporate this discovery into the design of the room. If you watch any home and garden show – it’s all about the water feature. But we’re covered in that area – a pond and the Bay – who needs more than that? So, there they are. When we rerun the plumbing, they’ll move or come out. But I still have to ask why?

Electric Cords from the Shed to, well, not sure yet...
This past weekend we were cutting down trees in the backyard (a new hobby of ours). We noticed electric cords coming from the ground so we pulled on them – of course. They went into the shed and then back out again on the other side. The one cord came from under the shed and joined up with a hose. The pair then went into the phragmite it’s an invasive plant that looks and acts a lot like bamboo. Michael and I decided to follow it (anything to take a break from real work) into the weeds.

It started off rather easily – we kicked and pushed our way into the phragmite while following the cord and hose on the ground. The plants got thicker as we made our way in and it got harder to get through, but we stayed right on top of the cord and hose. These plants are about 8-12 feet high – it felt like we were explorers in our own backyard. We got about 30 feet into the dense plants and decided this episode was to be continued.

Part of me really wanted to track it down, but the other part of me likes making up the story of where these cords will lead us. I just hope we’re not inadvertently stealing electricity from our neighbors.

The inset in the pictures is a close up of the cord, you can see Michael through the tunnel we created in the phragmite.

Our very own junk yard

As we’ve cleared part of the yard, we’ve found a rusty utility cart, a rusty drive shaft, an even rustier axle … a theme? We’ve pulled out chains and water pumps, rods and filters. We’re not sure what kind of car was parted out behind our house, but we have hopes of putting it back together.

No, not really.

What now?
These odd things make me consider incorporating some mystery in our new construction. Not sure if you’ve ever visited the Winchester Mystery House, but if you have you definitely know what I mean. I’d like to have stairs that lead to nowhere or a secret passageway to the next room. Maybe even a trap door.

The Poison is in the Dose

Whoever said that hadn’t met Michael.

Our yard has a “wooded” area. I think real estate agents would call it that, Michael and I just think it’s a big mess. So we decided to clean it up. Clear some brush, tear down some vines, cut down some trees. You know, basic yard work for lumberjacks.

Well, it seems we found some poison oak. More accurately, Michael seemed to have found some poison something – he’s covered. Sorry about the picture (I did make it small). Eeeeewww.

You’ll see our progress on the yard in a future entry, once the itching stops…