Archive for August, 2007

A Fence At Last: Privacy Has Never Felt Better

Aug 31, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

dsc06327 A Fence At Last: Privacy Has Never Felt Better Sweet Mary and Joseph, the fence is finally finished. What was expected to be a two day build turned into a week and a half long fiasco that involved myself (the disgruntled homeowner), the misfit fence crew, their boss man (a voice in the phone), and my local home store sales manager (the vigilant savior).

I thought it was a done deal yesterday until I got a call at work from the sales manager. She asked if I was happy with everything and I explained that we loved the final product but the main gate was a little funky at the bottom (uneven due to it being on a sloped driveway). I admitted that I hadn’t done a thorough check on both sides even though I signed off that the job was complete (should have known better). She agreed that they should have done a better finish job on the gate and said that during her walk-around she also noticed a couple other things – some nails that hadn’t been driven all the way flush with the pickets and they hadn’t put back in place a small portion of my neighbors edging that had been pulled up when they dug one of the post holes. I also remembered seeing a few nails that were supposed to have gone into the cross beams but missed.

So the crew leader came out AGAIN today, which for him is an hour and a half drive, to do about 15-20 minutes of work. I can imagine how happy he was and I wouldn’t be surprised if he curses my name for the next several weeks.

With the fence in place, I’ve been working on carving out some planting beds around the perimeter of the yard. I have pretty good vision for this portion of the project and I really love how it’s turning out. We’ll need to have some massive quantities of mulch delivered to fill the beds (10-12 yards) and we’ll also need to do some plant shopping, though knowing what plants to buy is a friggin’ mystery to me. I may call a landscape designer and have them draw up a plan which I would then implement. I got a quote for that once and it was about $200-$300. Money well spent as far as I’m concerned. Plant shopping just stresses me out. I think I may have a fear of plants. I’ve never been good at caring for them and have had many die under my watch. It’s the kind of thing night terrors are made of. I never know which plants are best suited for the different areas of the yard – low sun, high shade, part shade, high sun…are you kidding? Just give me something that looks good throughout the year and requires very little maintenance. I’m sure those kind of plants exist, right?

4footfence.thumbnail A Fence At Last: Privacy Has Never Felt Better dsc06323.thumbnail A Fence At Last: Privacy Has Never Felt Better

Another thing that has come to mind now that the fence is up is getting a patio or deck built. This will be a Summer ’08 project that I seriously cannot wait to dive into. Already I’ve been spending more time out in the yard and with a true outdoor living area in place I may never leave. Hallelujah. My oneness with mother nature is just beginning.

Getting Rheemed: My Furnace Is How Old?

Aug 29, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

rheemfurnace Getting Rheemed: My Furnace Is How Old?In 1978 gas was 63 cents per gallon, Star Wars hit the big screen, and after being down 2-0, the New York Yankees won four straight to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. The Bee Gees were storming the air waves with hits like Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever and after 30 years Volkswagen stopped producing the Beetle, essentially putting an end to the long tradition of playing the painful “slug bug” game during long road excursions.

In the midst of all these cultural events, my furnace was born. She was big, she was green, and she was mighty. And though I adopted her, it was never clear what her name was so I called her Rhonda. I’ve known Rhonda now for the past three years and I’ve found her to be quite dependable though her efficiency is lacking a great deal.

Wondering what her age was, I contacted her manufacturer, Rheem. I received an email with Rhonda’srheemfurnace1.thumbnail Getting Rheemed: My Furnace Is How Old? manual that to me was full of gibberish and though I’m still not sure what her efficiency rating (AFUE) is, without a doubt my neighborly engineer will be able to help me figure this out. I’m guessing it’s around 65% AFUE. That would mean only 65% of the heat produced by Rhonda is being utilized in the home while 35% is shooting out the chimney. That’s 35 cents lost for every dollar spent on heat. When you consider the fact that you can purchase 90%+ AFUE nowadays, it makes me feel like a toad knowing I could be saving money on my energy bill instead of allowing it to blow away. So I’m certain that Rhonda’s days are numbered, though with so many other projects taking precedent over a new HVAC system, I’ll continue to string her along for at least another year or two or until she decides to join the other furnace angels in heater heaven.

I just hope that if she does decide to quit on me, it’s not in the dead of winter during a record-breaking snowstorm. And as for what we’re considering should that day come sooner than expected, well, I’m pushing my neighbor to do an article on the subject – and I’ll base my decisions off of his suggestions. Should be interesting to see what he delivers. And I promise, no equations from him this time.

Fence Progress: The Nightmare Continues

Aug 26, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

fence2 Fence Progress: The Nightmare ContinuesIf you’ve been keeping up with my fence debacle, you already know that things have been going far from smooth…miles from it actually. After I brought to the crew’s attention the 34 posts that weren’t set deep enough in the ground they returned the next day with a “driving auger.” It had mini tank tracks and the driver would stand at the back of the unit and control the arm of the auger making the process of digging the holes nearly effortless. They used this machine to pull out the incorrectly installed posts and dig down to the proper depth.

It just so happens that the weather wasn’t conducive to this type of machine being on my lawn, which led to track marks in a number of areas throughout where the mini-tank pivoted too sharply and dug into the soft underbelly of the turf. Then there was the narrow area between my neighbor’s house and mine that really took a beating. The back and forth of the treads pounding on the soft grass made it look like a worn Lambeau Field after a muddy overtime gridironfence3.thumbnail Fence Progress: The Nightmare Continues battle – mostly brown with small patches of green. And there was no explanation, no apologies, no, “I know we beat the hell out of your lawn but sit tight cuz someone will be comin’ directly to fix you up.”

All I got was my neighbor letting me know there were pieces of concrete in their yard and the corner post that butts up to their fence was as wobbly as a drunk frat boy during rush week. So they had to come back and add more concrete to the hole. Needless to say, they finally sunk all the posts again and managed to put up the cross beams and pickets along the back line of the yard. Actually, looks pretty nice and I will be unbelievably relieved when this project is complete.

Throughout this process we’ve had to get our local home store involved since they’re the ones we purchased the fence through, and they’ve been surprisingly helpful, coming on-site to work directly with the crew and ensure they go about things in a professional way. They even extended my warranty an additional six months to cover a couple of seasons of potential frost heaves. Trust me when I say we will not go through a home store again when large projects that involve subcontractors are involved – they simply can’t be trusted.

And that’s my final answer.

Damage from the Storm

Aug 25, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

stormdamageg Damage from the StormHigh powered wind and rain did a number on a couple houses in my neighborhood this past Thursday night. The one pictured to the left (2 streets down from our home) was dealt a serious blow as a large branch from the looming oak tree snapped, causing significant damage to the roof and sunporch. My neighborhood is full of old homes dating back to the early 1900s and possibly older. Although the destruction could have been far worse, even seeing this amount of damage left a bit of a sinking feeling in my stomach. I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would be to deal with something like that – hearing the loud crash as the tree slams into your house, keeping out the rain as it pours through the roof that is now split in several places, and managing the cleanup and repairs, not to mention calming your young kids if you have any.

Makes me feel good about our decision to remove the large, hollow branch that hung over our driveway and the corner of our house. When these things happen I can’t help but wonder what if. And how the flip side of a $150 decision could have wound up costing me a whole lot more.

The heavy rain and high winds lasted less than 10 minutes – isn’t it amazing how much can happen in such a short period of time?

The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 Skins

Aug 23, 2007 |  by  |  House Plans  |  Share

cedar a The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 Skinscedar b The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 Skinscedar c The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 SkinsI love being given the power to choose. From the flavor of ice cream I want for desert, to the type of music I want to play on my iPod on the way to work, to the type of video camera I’ll be purchasing in the next couple months. Choice is empowering and gives me the opportunity to be unique in my own way. Taking this concept and applying it to a house plan is a first for me and I think it really sets Epic Homes apart from the truckloads of builders/developers who put together subdivisions full of bland cookie cutter homes that lack character and unique designs.
This 2,560 sq ft. (not including a finished basement) craftsman house plan satisfies my love of choices by offering three unique exterior facades to choose from – each quite distinct from the others. Whether it’s altering the roof lines, columns, or the actual siding, there is much that can be done to make your home look and feel different from the homes around you.
In addition to the exterior, the interior offers a spacious open floor plan with 3 bedrooms and an optional 4th. The 3-car garage is a bit much, though to be honest I wouldn’t mind having the extra space to convert into a workshop. I have no doubt these houses would be fairly expensive to build. The details that go into Arts and Crafts style homes typically equate to a lot of dollar signs, but for me quality doesn’t come cheap and what you get in return is often well worth the money spent. It seems Epic Homes understands this. I only wish we had more local developers who feel the same way.
House Floorplans:
cedarweb1 150x150 The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 Skinscedarweb2 150x150 The Cedar: A Craftsman House Plan with a Choice of 3 Skins