Archive for House Projects

I’m beat.

I just spent the last 12 hours working like a mad man in order to tear off my roof. I ended up only getting half of it off… Every single nail fought me all day long. The whole time I’m doing this, I’m knowing that it is supposed to rain tomorrow.

The plan for that was to put down all the tar paper, which can act as a temporary roof. Then cover the tar paper with plastic. Good plan… but then when I tear off the last row of shingles, I find that the bottom boards are rotting. This means that I have to replace them before putting down the tar paper. You always start at the bottom when putting on tar paper, so that means that my plan is toast.

So, I just finished spreading out the 4mil thick plastic all over my roof. Currently the only thing between all my belongings and the weather, is $30 worth of plastic. I stapled it like crazy, but if a strong wind/thunderstorm comes through, then I’m screwed. The worse thing is, that it’s calling for solid ran for the next week.

My backup plan is a second roll of plastic. I’ll staple it on the inside of my roof, on the edge of the rafters. If any water gets in, it should run off to the outside wall. Hopefully some of it will go out the eaves, but most of it will probably just drop down the inside of my walls. If the plastic falls off, I might just climb up there in the rain and spread the tar paper. I’d half to rip it all back up and waste $60+ dollers, but that would be better than having to replace my drywall and insulation.

After such a long day of work, I should feel satisfied… but all I can do is worry about the rain.

I’m so tired that I don’t even feel like drinking a beer.

Ok, whining session over.

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Shingles are heavy

Shingles on a palateI’ve been carrying 80lb bundles of shingles up my fancy new ladder for the past two days. Each bundle covers 33.3 square feet. Three bundles makes a “square,” which is the roofing term for 100 square feet. My roof is approximately 14 squares, but I have 17 squares of shingles. 17x3x81 = 4080lbs or roughly 2 tons!

The trick is to carry them on your shoulder, which makes it manageable, but exhausting. My plan was to carry 9 bundles a day on Wed through Sat and then get the rest on Sunday. One of my neighbors, who is the chef at work, stopped by tonight and helped me carry five or six up, very helpful!

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My fancy new ladder

New ladder made out of 2×4’sWhen I ordered the shingles for my new roof, I realized that I don’t have a ladder. After a stop by the hardware store to see how much ladders cost, I decided to use some scrap wood I had laying around to build one. Luckily I found some 10ft 2×4’s, which when put at a 20° angle do a nice job of reaching to the top of my roof. I took some other scraps and made 18″ wide steps. These are attached at the same 20° angle so they are nice and flat. It turned out very solid and I’m very happy with it so far.


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The first major house project: new main panel.

Fuse BoxBreaker Box

The house was equipped with safe and reliable fuses that were specially fitted with devices (fusetats) that would prevent you from screwing in a 30 amp fuse into a 20 amp circuit. (See left picture.) Even so, our home insurance company wanted to charge $1000 more per year because we had fuses!

After talking with the power company and my local inspector, it looked like I could replace my existing panel with a 100 amp breaker box. The power company is picky… if you want to modify anything upstream of the main panel, they require everything to be brought up to 200 amp level service… which is expensive and not necessary when you have all gas appliances. Luckily, I managed to make the change without touching anything up stream. I did have to push the box up onto the existing conduit because the main service wires weren’t long enough to reach inside the new box. Luckily, the inspector was ok with my giant grounding clamp solution which bonded the conduit to the box in a much different way than normal. One of my main wires just barely reached the main breaker, but I managed to clamp down on it pretty hard.

Overall, this project cost less than $200 and was completed in around 15 hours, stretched over a few days. Pretty good investment if you ask me… it should pay for itself in just a couple months.

Next weekend it will be a new roof!

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