Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday's Thoughts and Other Stuff (What's Up?)

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Photograph by
Senior Airman Amber Williams
I apologize for not writing sooner, but a lot has been going on. Well, really one thing, fixing the homestead.

As I have probably told you, Katniss' mom passed away in April of this year. It was sudden and slightly unexpected. We figured she had at least another decade before dying.

We were wrong.

She was complaining of being tired, so we had her go to the emergency room. A common event because Katniss' mom would get dehydrated. A few bags of I.V. fluid, and she would be fine.

Not this time.

She had a small bleeder in her intestines that couldn't be stopped. Katniss' mom decided not to go through with an operation (5% success rate). She died with family around her.

Katniss' mom  was cremated. According to her wishes, we had a small ceremony, no obituary, where Katniss and I with a few extended family interned her ashes at a family burial plot, in a local cemetery.

Needless to say, Katniss inherited everything.

 For a few weeks, Katniss and I went 'round and 'round about what we were going to do. One plan was to rent the farm house and build our home about 100 feet away. Another was to rent the farm house and stay where we're already at, and ... so on.

I finally told told Katniss that we had only one choice, move to the farm and sell everything else.

And, ... That's what we have been doing.

Katniss has been selling off stuff on Craig's List and on a local for sale website. We have also been donating stuff like crazy to the charity stores. Trashing stuff has been an option, a few times.

If you are a follower of Katniss on the facebook, you probably saw these pictures

The 'Great Room' with some of the stuff already sold, given away, or trashed

Then, .. We went to work.

We had a 20 cubic yard dumpster delivered to Lavender Hill which we began to fill with ...

At first, we were going to just rip down the acoustic tile ceiling and do some 'updating' in the Great Room and that's it.
The project grew, and grew, and grew. Talk about mission creep.

We ripped out the old, faded paneling, so we could insulate and hang drywall. The walls had R-5 insulation.
And, ... The electric was 100 amp service with pull and screw-type fuses  ...
And two wire with no ground wire. Definitely not to current building codes.

Since we had the walls open, we figured that we could do some 'minor' improvements.

One of these was to enlarge the existing doorway from the kitchen to the Great Room

Before and ...


The doorway went from being about 30 inches wide to over 5 feet wide. Now, two people can easily walk through without bumping into each other.

While I was tearing out the wall covering, enlarging the doorway, ripping down the outside deck (hey, the dumpster wasn't full, yet) Katniss was hard at work tearing out the two upstairs bedrooms' closets.

It went from this ...

to this.

I have to be truthful about the above picture. It's what's left of the closet on the other side of the wall.

Katniss' dad, had put some nice built-in cabinets with .. lots of nails.
We almost had to use an 8-pound sludge hammer to get the cabinet frame out, but Katniss and I prevail using a carpenter's hammer and ... beating the sh*t out of the boards.

If you ever want to know what it's like to use a hammer to defend yourself, swing a hammer  ... like you mean it, about fifty times.

A little after all this, we hired a private building inspector to come look at the place. He was helpful. He suggested, since we had the walls and ceiling open to strengthen the ceiling's joists. As he walked across the Great Room's floor, it bounced, too.
So, ... We decided to also tear out the floor.

Like the ceiling joists, the carpenters 'sistered' new 2X10s to the existing floor joists by gluing and screwing lag screws into the existing joists, ceiling and floor.

Turning them into 4X9s.

It seems the original lumber was 'true' dimensions, the 2X4s actually measure 2 inches by 4 inches, same for the 2X8 ceiling and floor joist.

We're glad we opened the floor, too.

The ventilation ducts were loose, and the crawl space had a dirt floor. We decided to spend the extra money to seal and insulate the duct work and lay down 10mil plastic sheeting to help control moisture in the crawl space and basement.

The owner of the electrical company joked that we would recoup the cost of the duct work insulation in about ... 10 years.

But, he was like us. He said 'Since you have the floor open, you might as well do it.' Ha, ha, ha damn mission creep.

Needless to say, the Electrician (the owner's son) was happy to walk between the joists instead of crawling around the dirt floor.

Here's some pictures of his work.
New wire but still the old electrical fuse box

Conduit for future upgrades, so no one has to crawl around under the floor, once the floor is installed.

Once the Electrician was finished, we laid down the plastic vapor barrier.

I can't find my pictures, but it looks nice.

The vapor barrier is 10mill thick and  translucent white with black strips from the sealing tape. I had to section it out, one half at a time. Katniss' Great-Grandfather had stacked huge rocks as support for the house's center post and her dad had poured two concrete columns to provide further support when he remolded the house, around 1962.
A picture of the stacked rocks and one of the concrete columns (upper left corner)

With all this work needing to be done, Katniss and I went to the American Southwest to visit her stepmom for five days.

We had a nice visit, mainly sat around, played cards, and talked.

Her driveway ...
Just kidding, ha, ha, ha.

Katniss' stepmom lives in a nice subdivision blocks away from Walmart, several grocery stores, and ... anything else you would need in a medium sized town.

While we were gone, the carpenters laid down the plywood sub-floor. It was nice not having to carefully walk on the floor joists. Plus, moving from place to place was a lot quicker.

With that done, I started putting up the insulation. I was going to use R-15 for the walls, but I would have had to order the insulation and the cost would have been almost double over just using R-13.

From this ...

to ...

to ...

to ...

 to ...

to this!

Since we had the extra plastic, from the crawl space vapor barrier project, I decided to add a plastic vapor barrier to the whole room.

I also added R-30 insulation to the ceiling as a sound barrier and to thermally insulate the room from the rest of the house, just in case, we have to heat only one room, during an emergency.

So, ... That's what we have been doing.
Laying down the plastic in the crawl space was a great idea. A few days ago, I was under the floor, insulating around the sub-floor with spray foam. Except for a few spills on my clothes, from the spray foam, I was clean. It wasn't like that when I insulated the heating ducts.

I apologize, for some reason, I can't get the article to keep its format. The text and pictures keep bunching up : - (

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