Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Wires -- More Windows

Tuesday and Wednesday saw me drilling holes and pulling wire for electric outlets in the basement. I also found a solution to the power source for the light and outlet in the Boys Bathroom. They are now fully functional. As with much of what I'm doing now, the solution took about 3 or 4 times longer than what I had originally anticipated. But it's done. The bathroom can be used -- day or night.

If you haven't figured it out yet, we have a large basement. It is under the main house [900 sq ft] the front porch [300 sq ft] the addition [264 sq ft] and the back porch [100 sq ft]. That's 1564 sq ft of area which is divided up into 4 areas/rooms by unfinished load bearing stud walls, a fireplace foundation and a stairway. Ceiling lights were installed by my contractor as required by code. But no electric outlets were included in that work. I'll be installing about a dozen outlets to cover all of the areas.  Over the last couple days I drilled holes, installed outlet boxes and pulled wire for five of these locations. These five will be on one circuit and are generally located in the east "half" of the space.
You can see 4 of the 5 here. Wire was also run back to the circuit breaker box.
If you remember from a few weeks ago, when we stripped the paneling and insulation from the living room's south wall we decided it would be a good idea to replace the 85 year old windows in that wall. Pella makes a size that will fit exactly between the existing [24 inch on center] studs. So they were ordered. I got a call from the local distributor a few days ago saying the delivery would be Wednesday between 8:30 and 9:30 [and reminding me to have my check ready]. At about 8:35 the Pella truck drove down the driveway and delivered the four windows. I hope to get Jeff Sparks to install them in a week or two.
The new living room windows are in the garage waiting to be installed.
Its Thursday morning as I write this. I've been organizing, straightening and cleaning yesterday and today. This is in preparation for Sue, Damon, Drew and Leo's arrival late tonight/early tomorrow morning. Bobbie and her mom are also coming today. So 3283 will soon have seven of us here. Then, next week Mike, Lindsay and JJ will come for a few days over the 4th of July. 3283 will be filled with family -- just as it is supposed to be.

Because of the "visitors" I'm uncertain if "progress" will be slowed or hastened. I expect that I won't be posting as much. But rest assured that I'll catch up when I do. 

Remember to:
Be Happy and Have Fun
We certainly will be.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday Milestone -- Short Post

Seems like I've slipped out of my routine of posting daily progress every evening. May be because there is so much for me to do here that I crash and burn earlier. I'll try to post when there is progress to report....even if it's not every day.

Monday there was progress. Another milestone has been reached. 3283 now has a fully functional heating and air conditioning system. Yesterday morning Doug and Mike from Bremmer and Bouman arrived and finished making the final Freon line connections and installed the humidifier.
Mike is soldering the Freon line to the coils in the upper portion  of the furnace.
Yes, the heat/smoke from the torch set off the smoke detectors.
Mike also made the Freon line connection to the compressor  unit.
Doug is connecting the duct that connects the humidifier to the return air duct.
The 4 ton AC compressor is a little bigger than I expected.

They also walked around the house with me and made sure all the vents had register covers. The ones for the areas of new construction were left for me and the ones we found 'missing' [the four basement heat vents] were promised to be delivered. They said Jason from 'service' would be by in the afternoon to charge the system with Freon and get the thermostat set up. I guess it was around 12:30 or so when they left -- their work complete.

I had just enough time to call Bobbie and report on the progress when Jason arrived. He quickly set up his pressure test on the coolant gas lines and came in to start playing with the high-tech thermostat. With him at the unit, and me on my laptop and iPad we managed to:

  • get the wifi enabled thermostat to connect to our home network
  • get the network and unit to connect to the Honeywell web site, 
  • download apps to my iPad and phone, and 
  • get my iPad and smartphone linked through the internet to the thermostat.
I can now sit anywhere in the world [that has cell phone/internet access] and adjust the temperature  at 3283.  Actually, once Jason pronounced the AC to be ready to start up for the first time I changed the control settings from "heat" to "cool" from my phone while standing in the back yard.

Once the AC ran for a few minutes Jason gave the system another shot of Freon [Actually Freon has been banned for years.....but everyone still uses the old DuPont trade name for similar refrigerant gases. What runs through the AC systems now is actually a product called Forane 410A.] and pronounced the system operational.  The heat and air conditioning at 3283 are now operational.

Jason pressure testing the refrigerant gas system to the AC compressor.
Arkema the maker of 410A probably hates it when every calls the stuff Freon.
By mid afternoon Jason packed up and our HVAC system was up and running.
Evening seemed to come quickly to 3283 yesterday. It was a bright sunny day and I was expecting a typically clear sunset. But a bank of clouds formed late in the day that could have obscured the setting sun. But Old Sol wouldn't be denied. And I, luckily, grabbed my camera just as the setting sun peaked between the clouds and the horizon. Shot quickly, through a window, but a beautiful sunset none the less.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Update

No, this won't be a SNL parody. Just a quick post to describe our progress at 3283 over the past couple days. Only one small "construction" activity -- and it was more a step back than "progress."

I had wired the Boys' Bathroom last week and was ready to connect it to power. I had a nearby junction box identified as the place where I could get power. The wire was run up to it. I just needed Bobbie to help me identify what circuit it was on, so I could cut the power. We did that, and then I opened the box. Problem. As required, I set the bathroom up with a Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) type outlet. The cottage is old, and much of the wiring has no ground wire. That's what I found when I opened the junction box. And, therefor the GFI won't work. The supply wire now dangles down from the basement ceiling....while I try to identify another appropriate power source.

We cleaned, organized and prepared 3283 for the company we'll have later this week. While most rooms [downstairs at least] still have construction needed within them the furnishings have been replaced to allow for "normal" habitation. Bobbie worked her tail off getting things ready for our kids and grandkids to visit over the next few weeks.

The living room wall is still in need of new windows, insulation, drywall and paint. The front porch needs flooring. But they can now be occupied.

Saturday night...or more correctly very early Sunday morning a band of very strong storms crossed Lake Michigan and clobbered the shoreline. We were awakened by heavy rain, thunder, lightening and some small hail. But what the storm really brought was wind. The wind blown rain caused a problem that has plagued 3283 for decades: the old front porch windows leak. And Saturday night they leaked badly.Since we were awake, we saw the water dripping [flowing?] in and managed it. But we do need to identify a more permanent solution -- short of replacing 50 feet of window wall.  The good news is that the new roof held up wonderfully in the wind and rain. Test: Passed.

A somewhat makeshift but fully functional flagpole has stood in front of our deck, overlooking the beach, for decades. In my long term mental plan for this renovation I had replacing it with a "real" flagpole listed. But it was far, far down the list.  Mother Nature may have reordered my list with the storm. The winds were strong. Sunday morning the weather folk were saying 50 MPH gusts. The flagpole snapped off at the base. And was laying across a nearby bush. It will be temporarily made to stand for the near term. But Bobbie suggested that I "research flagpoles."

The HVAC guys will be here Monday to [hopefully] finish up the installation of the heating/air conditioning system. I'll be doing more electrical work. I may try to prime some trim. And, there are dozens of other things on y "list" that could be started --  maybe even finished.  Stay Tuned.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Slow Week at 3283

To all my regular followers [or should that be follower?] I should apologize for not posting for the past few days. But, it's been a slow week around 3283. Some intentional....some not.

On Monday and Tuesday I took a "vacation" from retirement and from 3283. I was asked to return to work for a couple days to help write a proposal. It was sure different sitting at my old desk staring at a computer screen all day. It was good to see all my old friends....but I think I like retirement better.

I returned Tuesday night in anticipation of more heating work here on Wednesday. But the contractor didn't show up. Actually it was almost a non-work week for them. They only made it here for a couple hours on Thursday. My frustration level with the time the heating/air conditioning installation is taking continues to grow. Though I have been assured that all would be done by next week. We do have a new fancy wi-fi thermostat that we'll be able to adjust from our smartphones; and they ran the copper Freon tubing to where the AC compressor will be located.

On Wednesday I did have a visit from an appliance repairman who tightened some hoses on the dishwasher -- and after running it for 15 minutes or so said he couldn't find any other leaks. Good News. Unfortunately when I did run a full cycle through it yesterday another puddle appeared. Northgate Appliance will be back on Monday or Tuesday to try again -- or pronounce it Dead.

I did work on wiring the relocated Boys Bathroom -- which just needs final connection to power to be complete. And, I ran some cable and telephone wire [having terrible luck attaching RG6 fittings -- Jeff R, I need you ;) ]

Then yesterday I climbed the ladder again and "finished" priming the north wall of the addition. All walls are now primed. Some hard to reach trim and the underside of some eaves remain. But we're getting close to actually being able to ...... start Painting.

Bobbie came in last night. We need to spend time trying to change this construction site into a home since in less than a week Sue, Damon Drew and Leo will be here to spend a couple weeks with us. And Mike, Lindsay and JJ will be completing the family over the 4th of July.

I hope for more progress to report next time. Or, maybe I'll just report that we've been able to sit back and relax some -- even though there is still work to be done.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weekend Ends With Signs

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were days of minor progress at 3283. Bobbie came up on Thursday evening. And, we spent time painting and purchasing. There is a lot of painting needed as part of the renovation. Probably more than I ever anticipated. The days kind of melded into one another so the painting pictures below may have been on Friday or Saturday.
Bobbie scraped and painted along the south wall.
The wall above the new back entry porch needed  to be repainted.
I worked on priming the addition.
I finished the west wall and got started here on the top of the north wall.
The west side of the cottage is all white now.
 There was also some work Friday on the heating and air conditioning. But after three weeks the work is still not complete. Doug had a helper and completed all of the sheet metal duct work [I think]. And, an electrician showed up to wire the air conditioner and install the final power supply and switch for the furnace. They wont be working until mid-week next week ... but I anticipate that the air conditioner will be installed then. And there are a few 'clean up' items to be completed before the project is done.

There is a LOT of sheet metal in 3283 that will move air through the house.
Doug and his helper balanced above the upstairs stairway to install a large return air grate.
The electrician installed the 220 volt disconnect for the air conditioner.

Sunday Bobbie and I spent a few minutes at the end of our driveway. Until then it had become overgrown with weeds and grass not yet cut in 2013...and with signs advertising many of our contractors. We dealt with the weeds and removed a couple of the contractors' signs that were there.

Most importantly, we put up our own signs.
Signs that celebrate the past, present and future of our family here at 3283. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Contractors

We are fortunate to have chosen excellent contractors to work on 3283.
We aren't complete with the effort and will likely have others to add to the list.
But, I thought I’d use today’s blog post to give each of the ones who've left their marks on 3283 thus far some widespread free advertising.
[Probably not quite as widespread as a Super Bowl ad, though.]
Here goes:

The major part of the effort was coordinated by Dan Deitz, who brought together a majority of the team we've used. He assisted with all the permits [MDEQ, County SESC, and Township Building] and acted as general contractor for much of the work. It was Deitz, obviously, who lifted the cottage, excavated for the basement and lowered the structure back onto the new foundation. Dan also coordinated and personally managed the work of the other contractors on his team.
Dan Deitz
Deitz House Moving Engineers, Inc.
2731 Coldstream Ct.
Muskegon, MI 49444

The footings, concrete block foundation and basement floor were constructed by B.F. Masonry who is located north of Muskegon. The contact information I have for them is limited [these guys spend their time laying block, not sitting in an office], but provided below.
B.F. Masonry

The interior supporting walls, new front porch floor, new sill plates, exterior banner boards and interior stairs to the basement were constructed under the Deitz contract by Jeff Sparks Builder. I also contracted with Jeff directly to frame and side the addition, frame and side the new back porch bathroom, and build the entry decks at both front and back entrances.
Jeff Sparks Builder, LLC
16528 Hemlock Dr.
Spring Lake, MI 49456

Disconnection and re-connection of water [well] sewer [septic] and gas lines were completed by Bob Tolsma Plumbing. Bob disconnected all the lines prior to the lifting of the house and basically re-plumbed the entire house once it was back on the foundation. He and his main-man Ben also installed a sanitary lift pump in the basement to allow fixtures below the main floor to discharge to the septic system. I also hired Bob to replace the sewer line from the house to the septic tank/field and to rough in plumbing for a new laundry and the bathroom in the addition.
Bob Tolsma Plumbing
A-5058 146th Avenue
Holland, MI 49423

Electrical work under the Deitz contract was performed by B&L Electric. The work included relocating the service connection from overhead to underground, repairing/replacing wiring disturbed by the lifting [many wires ran under the floor joists], providing required lighting to the new basement and reconnecting power to the garage. I separately added to the effort installation of a entirely new circuit breaker box and the “organization” of much of the existing main floor wiring.
Brian Tierman
B&L Electric & Construction
4323 Airline Road
Muskegon. MI 49444

Beyond the work performed under the Deitz contract I hired a few contractors directly to assist in the transformation of 3283. As of today I have contracted for a timber retaining wall, a new roof and the entire replacement of the heating system [adding air conditioning].

The retaining wall was built by Mervin Hochstetler from Aesthetic Gardener. Thusfar he has only built the wall, but he’s definitely in the running for planting a lawn and other landscape work.
Mervin Hochstetler
Aesthetic Gardener
Holland, MI

The roof above my head as I type was in poor shape before we began the project. It was probably five or more years overdue for replacement. We decided to not only replace the shingles on the sloped portions of the roof, but to upgrade the roof of the semi-flat dormer to 21st century standards. Because of the two different types of roofing material being installed we chose West Michigan Roofing who has experience installing both types with their own crews.
Adam Megna
West Michigan Roofing
18450 171st Avenue
Spring Lake, MI 49456

And, the last contractor working on 3283 [so far] is Bremer & Bouman Heating and Cooling. And, they are actually working as I type. Hundreds of square feet of sheet metal have been installed and more is being fitted into place in the basement below me. Their work is not yet complete, so watch future posts for updates. But their contact information is as follows.
Ron Achterhof
Bremer & Bouman Heating and Cooling, Inc.
1145 Washington Avenue
Holland, MI 49423

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The "Boys' Sink"

3283 has had a very small 1/2 bath on the back porch forever. Just a toilet and a wall mounted sink. Growing up my brothers and I always seemed to be quite dirty when we arrived back at the cottage. We were told to always wash up in or "use" that bathroom. It became known as, and still is often called, "The Boys' Bathroom."

If you've been a long-time follower of this blog you'll remember it was also the room where our electric service entrance used to be. Big Brother doesn't allow electric panels in reach of toilets so we decided to relocate the bathroom...slightly. The new room was framed out a few weeks ago, and the toilet was installed. But the wrong sink was ordered. The right one came today and was installed.

[A note on the mis-order: I found the toilets and sink I wanted on-line. The prices were good so I told my plumber what items I wanted and what prices -including shipping- I saw on line. If he and his supplier could match the price, fine....otherwise he said he'd order them from the on-line place. The item number on line for the sink was attached to a "two hole 4 inch spaced" sink.  His supplier ordered that item number. A one hole sink came. Thankfully Bob and the supplier worked it out and got the right replacement sink. But, be careful, the pictures and the specifications you see on line may not match the actual product.]

So Tuesday Bob Tolsma visited 3283 with the new sink and installed it in the Boys Bathroom. What follows are three breath taking photos of the installation and the final product.

The new sink mounts to the wall....just like the old one.
Bob is finishing the installation.
Ready for boys' dirty hands.
Mine were the first to be washed here.
I spent more time wiring the addition. And Doug worked away on the sheet metal to direct air from the furnace and air conditioner throughout the house.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Heat -- Sort-Of and More Wiring

I'm back "home" at 3283 today. I came in last night...and it was another chilly evening. I managed to sleep bundled up...and was expecting to have to "camp-in" again tonight. But, it seems that I might not be as cold tonight.

Doug showed up this morning and continued working on the heating system. Last Friday he installed more large duct work, piped the PVC condensate drain from the furnace and installed a fresh air vent that is required by code. Today he installed the PVC combustion air and exhaust piping for the furnace. We've all seen these pipes exiting through the wall of any home with a newer high efficiency gas furnace. They are usually just two 4 or 5 inch pipes sticking out from the wall...some have one of the pipes sticking up vertically a couple feet. That's what I was expecting. But, I was pleasantly surprised. Doug installed a alternative inlet/exhaust fixture. I think it looks much better than plain pipes.

The combustion air and exhaust pipes in the basement.
The inlet/exhaust fixture installed today.
Doug then attached the gas pipe to the tee installed in the main gas line by the plumbers. He had to run a number of feet of black pipe, a number of fittings and a valve in order to feed the furnace. Once that was done he made temporary electric and thermostat connections which allowed the furnace to fire up and run. And, since the duct work is complete to the two upstairs west bedrooms, I can sleep tonight with heat...maybe. The 'rub' is that the thermostat is in the living room...and the ducts there aren't installed. So, if I turn the heat on it may run continually unless enough heat makes its way to the living room to deactivate the thermostat. We'll see how cold it is here at 11:00 or so. I'll let you all know tomorrow if I sleep with the new heating system warming me.
Doug install;ed the gas line to the furnace.
With "temporary" electric power to the furnace
and a connection to our old thermostat,
Doug had the furnace firing up for he first time.
While Doug worked on the heating system, I was in the addition working on electric wiring. By the end of my day I had all the wiring in the bathroom and the switches for the bedroom light and fan 95% complete. Again, no action photos....and pictures of electric outlets and switchers are boring. But, I never promised not to bore you. Here are a few pics of what I finished today.

The outlets that will be above vanity.
The left one is a GFI plug and the right one is fed off of it.
Bathroom Exhaust Fan. Wire is run from switch, but not yet connected.
Two switches in the bathroom control the light and fan.
Two switches in bedroom. One is a normal switch for the light.
The one on the right will control a ceiling fan at three speeds.