Christmas Tree Day 2015

It’s Saturday early evening, I’m sitting down with a beer and listening to Christmas music. For the next half hour or so I will have the equivalent of a day to myself, to relax and write.

In the spirit of the season, we went out and bought our Christmas tree today. It’s a live Norway spruce tree, or at least that’s what we think it is. They weren’t labeled at the tree farm. As is our tradition, we get the tree a few weeks before the holiday, then bring it inside a few days before Christmas and decorate it. After the holiday we plant the live tree in a pre-dug hole somewhere out in the yard. This year the tree will go out on the pond dike. Previous year’s trees can be seen just off the driveway. Once a tree graduates from home to yard, the following year it gets a string of colorful solar lights. The idea being that, let’s say we’re here twenty years. Visitors would be able to see twenty trees in the yard with colored lights on them. Fun.

Back inside the house, I’ve been slowly continuing work on the basement. I’ve started tiling my office area, and I have also essentially finished the full bathroom.  Tiling is going slow, but I think I’m doing an okay job. I got a new tile cutter at Lowe’s and I’m very happy with its performance. I haven’t really ruined any tiles yet. I think it’s got a good sharp wheel and easier action, and that makes a difference. I do need a grinder though to angle cut some tiles around a doorway. But there’s no reason to spend $80 on a tool I probably won’t ever use again. I’m going to see if I can make a Dremel tool work or, worst case, rent a grinder.

In the bathroom, all of the accessories are hung. It took me a while to figure out where the blocking was for the towel bar. In the process of discovery I drilled about a half dozen holes in the drywall, all of which I had to patch up and repaint before mounting the bar.

While figuring out where to hang up the toilet paper roll holder, I discovered that you’re supposed to mount it about 8″ in front of the toilet bowl, off to the side. Well I don’t have a wall in that location. I could have mounted the holder on the adjacent cabinet, but the wife and I both voted against that. So, behind and to the side of toilet the holder went. I think it’s fine. I don’t see how just putting the roll in a basket or a freestanding holder does anything. It’s fine back there.

As time allows I’ll continue to tile. I want to make sure I get all the tile down as soon as possible, in case they discontinue the tile style. I don’t want to be left short of tile. Then I’ll really be in trouble.

Earlier today I extracted honey from hive No. 3. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, this hive died late this autumn. We got nine frames of honey. I haven’t weighed it yet.

Next year we’re just going to manage one hive. If it gets large enough we can split it. Otherwise, we’re not pouring any more money into beekeeping if we can help it.

Actually we’re not going to pour any money into any projects for the foreseeable future. I’ve got the materials to finish the basement, except the ceiling. That should keep me busy DIY-wise for a while.

One interesting side note, I’m finally selling my trusty Rabbit. The wonderful VW that kept me company throughout our new home build, and was mentioned in many a post, well it’s time to say goodbye. We need more space and more doors in a vehicle. If you know anyone who’s looking for a great, clean car for commuting, running errands, or just starting out, let me know. I’ll make you a great deal on our good friend.

Ok, here’s today’s pictures. Time for me to go back to the real world and all of its responsibility. Cheers!

 

 

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Basement is Done (Almost)

It’s been a while but most of the basement is finally done. Or at least done “enough”. We had a birthday party the other weekend at our house for our son, and the main behind the scenes star was going to be the basement. With seven kids plus adults coming over, we needed the indoor entertaining space done, or at least presentable enough to utilize for the party.

My brother and I busted our backs getting the tile in, and trim on. I fell short of grouting the tile, and painting the trim, but overall everything looked great and we were able to use the space without a hitch.

I was exhausted for days afterwards. More so than I’ve ever been in a very long time. But it was well worth the effort. Even in its unfinished state, the basement space looks fantastic. It’s like having a whole new house. And the possibilities are endless. At the very least we can finally start unpacking and going through everything that is in the basement. We can set out some furniture from the old house, that has been taking up space and collecting dust. I am looking forward to it.

Here are my notes and photos from wrapping up this phase of the basement project. I still have to do my office space (in addition to putting the finishing touches on the main part  of the basement). I have all the materials, I just need to find the time and energy to tackle that part.

Notes:

  • I hate tiling. I shouldn’t say I hate it, but I suck at it in one regard: cutting tile. I was cutting with a tool that scores the tile then breaks it cleanly in a straight line. Problem is I couldn’t use the tool very well. I went through $5 tiles like they were potato chips – cracking them and rendering them useless. I bet I wasted close to $500 in tile because I suck at cutting tile. I wonder how much it would have cost to hire a professional…
  • We went with 1×10 baseboards so that if the basement floods, we only ruin the boards, not the drywall. To save money I went with pine instead of poplar. I’ll have to fill in or smooth all of the knots in the wood, and then prime it…so definitely more labor on my part, but the cost was 1/4th of poplar or ripping down plywood
  • To mount the baseboards to the steel framing of the basement, I ripped down 1/2″ thick blocks and mounted them using low profile trim screws. I primed the treated wood blocks, to add a layer of moisture protection. Not sure if that was necessary, but hey, it couldn’t hurt.
  • The tile looks great. Most people assume it is real hardwood. Don’t be absurd. It’s porcelain tile, silly.
  • I found a great, simple circle mirror at IKEA. It looks great in the bathroom. I love shopping at IKEA.
  • The ceiling will be installed at some later date in the future. There was the suggestion that we simply spray paint the ceiling grey to give it an industrial vibe, while saving money.
  • I suck at drywalling. I had a piece of drywall I had to put in after the plumber moved the shower head. I tried to mud and tape it, and it was a complete disaster. So I called my drywall guy and he came out and rectified the situation in about ten minutes. I don’t know why I try to be handy. I’m not very handy at all. No patience.
  • I really hope I have enough tile – I think I counted right. Because with my luck they’ll discontinue the stuff before I’m done with the office. I went out and picked up six more boxes, which I think will be enough. Fingers crossed.

Basement Progress

We started tiling the basement floor. And today the electrician started to finish up the electrical work. All of the switches and outlets are installed in the main room and bathroom. As well as a couple of light fixtures and a bathroom fan.

It’s impossible to take good photos of lights with my phone, but you can generally see what they look like in today’s photos.

The tile is going to take a long time install. This is most of a day's worth of labor.

The tile is going to take a long time install. This is most of a day’s worth of labor.

The bathroom light we bought at Home Depot.

The bathroom light we bought at Home Depot.

The caged wall sconce we bought from Restoration Hardware.

The caged wall sconce we bought from Restoration Hardware.

Basement Update – Drywall

The basement has drywall! Happiness.

Once completed this will be our first finished basement as a family. In fact, the wife’s never really ever lived in a house with a finished basement. So getting the drywall installed is a big step towards that goal.

The space actually doesn’t look all that different, or at least not as different as I expected. It does look good though. You can get a feel for the large rooms down there. And as you look at the photos you can see how we left the sheet rock up about 8″ to mitigate against any potential future basement flooding. We’ll cover that gap with replaceable plywood baseboards that can be removed in event of water pooling in the basement as a result of sump pump issues.

I didn’t install the drywall myself, rather we contracted that out. It took about a week for one person to hang, tape, mud and sand. It installed with no problem onto our Superior Walls foundation, and the metal stud partitions I raised.

To a certain extent, installing sheet rock on the foundation walls, along with caulked baseboards, should insulate the basement even more, and make for a tighter envelop on our home. Maybe once the basement is complete, and I do a few other things (all LED light bulbs for example), I will have the house re-evaluated for energy efficiency and see if we’ve improved our HERS score.

Take a look at the photos and captions for more on the drywall.

Next up will be painting all the walls. We’re going to do this next because with the floor being bare cement, we won’t have to worry about paint spills. We can get at least a coat or two on the walls, then touch up later if necessary.

Speaking of the floors, we have tile on order from Lowe’s. We went with a distressed wood look porcelain tile, which is very trendy right now. The 6″ x 36″ tile is called ‘Sequoia Ballpark Tile’, and it is $2.99 a sq. ft. which is a bit pricey. In our search we did come across tiles that are upwards of $10 a sq. ft., so everything is relative. We like the look and will save some cash by installing it ourselves. We’ll cover all 948 square feet of the basement with the tile. This will give us a nice looking floor that will be impervious to any flooding or moisture in the basement. The distressed look, with brown, white and grey tones should be timeless aesthetically, and congruent with the style of the rest of our home.

It’s very exciting to well on our way to finally having a finished basement space for work and play. This will accomplish a major house goal for us. One that has been around for over fifteen years really.