Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Waiting Game

So now everything hinges on moving this house. Maybe its the time or year or the nature of house movers but no one seems to be in a hurry. Its a tad frustrating but we are grinning and bearing it.

Tomorrow we are picking up the rented jackhammer to go to town on removing the handicap ramp that is in the way of how the house will be shifted to leave the property. Of course the ramp would have to go anyway as it would be directly outside the back french doors of the new house facing the wrong way and as much as Ziggy begged it to stay as his new skateboard ramp, no such luck. Its outta here.

Hopefully we will get a moving day nailed down in the next few days, we can't move forward till we at least have a date and for sure have this house gone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stage 2 - Moving the House

Now that our permits are just about ready, financing in place and contractors waiting in the wings our next step is to move the existing house on the property.

We have been looking for a new home for the house and have been inundated with responses of which most didn't pan out as people don't really think through the whole home moving issue.

At last we found a great, local family who have land and just need the home. They have been coming over everyday to prep the house for moving and have single handed removed the roof and loaded it onto trucks to move to their place to rebuild.

All the trusses and wood framing was in fantastic condition, a testament to the shake roof and the great job it did protecting the structure for over 30 years. 

The roof needed to come off completely prior to the house moving as it was an addition to the structure after the fact and was too tall to transport. The family will rebuild the roof over the house once its in place on the new property. 

They found this cedar shake that told us the roof was added in 1976 (the house was put on the property in 1973) and the shakes came from local trees and were hand split by the original owners. Every shake was removed and transported to the new property. They will use them for the chicken coop roof and some other applications. You can no longer have a wood roof in California, fire hazard.

Kyle and I also removed the back deck and front porch that were added onto the house. These were not as good construction though we have salvaged all the decent wood from these for use as shoring on the new house and a temporary deck around the camper we are living in till the house is complete.

The interior of the house is comprised of wood walls and ceilings. It was quite a feat of work and must have taken ages to complete. The walls have sheets of wood that are over 2" thick, 8' tall and up to 4'wide. All this wood was cut and milled on the property so Kyle and I pulled out quite a bit of what we wanted for the new house and can't wait to integrate it into the design in the loft area, doors and kitchen. 

It wasn't easy to remove these pieces, they were on there so well it would have taken an unprecedented act of Mother Nature to tear them down, or Kyle and I. We had to be so careful so as not to damage the existing walls or crack the wood - NOT EASY. It took up to an hour to remove one panel, we tweaked, used crow bars, made wedges out of 2x4, tried to pop nail heads just to list a few techniques we used to get these puppies off. And they weigh a TON. Now starts my fun of pulling all those nails out of the boards.....hours of enjoyment in front of me. The wood we left will be used by the family and they have some great ideas for it as a built in dining room and some other tricks up their sleeves.

Its great to know that just about all the parts of this house will be re-used and so little has gone to waste. It also makes you think hard about how you construct a house and the products you use. There is some real junk out there that doesn't last and results in some terrible waste.

The final pieces to the removal include demoing the front concrete pathway (hopefully give that away on Craigslist), cutting power and water to the structure and then at the last minute splitting it in two for transport. Both Kyle and I and the family can't wait to get it situated in its new home so that they have a house and we can jump into starting our foundation.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Love with Two Wheels

I just came across this stunning reno - its a 1954 Airstream (drool in itself) that has been completely renovated by Timeless Travel Trailers for Orvis and is being auctioned off.

Check this shizz out -

It includes reclaimed wood floors, calico hickory veneer siding, leather upholstered seating, all aluminum (that's Al-U-min-ium for the Brits) shower, flat screen TV and blue ray, and a wine rack. SOLD!

You can see more stunning pics HERE and if you have a spare $100k, take a bid, hey its for charity.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Difficulty of "Giving" Away a Home

So as we teeter on the brink of breaking ground one of the last and major hurdles is to magically get rid of our lovely current abode seen here - (sans the drill rig)

After an ad went up on Craigslist the first time - 17 calls in 10 minutes had me pulling it down IMMEDIATELY and quite excited about the interest. It seemed that the world wanted a free home and that we would have no trouble getting rid of it.

Enter - Stupid Humans. Sorry, that might be harsh but honestly, people don't think when they see FREE, they just react, engage brain and common sense later.

So here is my ad: 
We are looking to give away a 1972 Arctic Mobile Home La Cruz Double Wide

It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, extra room, laundry room. Kitchen includes full cabinets, dishwasher and oven. Bathrooms include all facilities. 
It measures 60X24
We will remove the roof, porch and deck prior to moving so it can travel.

Not sure where I went wrong with the wording and I had to reread it a few times to make sure I hadn't inadvertently said RV, on-site etc...

Here is an example of some gems we got in response to the ad, I weeded out the ones that were so hopped on some kind of drug that their messages sounded like they were 2yo:

Respondent 6: Yeh, I am interested in the home for free.....details, details.....Oh, I need land to put it on? Okay, never mind!!!
Yes, you need somewhere to put a 60x24' HOUSE - its not an RV!

Rsepondent 8: Will it fit on my 20ft trailer and can I move it in one trip?
Ummmm, its 60ft LONG - don't think 20ft trailer will do it and its 24ft wide, you would take up the ENTIRE road, doubt the county is gonna like that.

Respondent 12: Hi, I am interested in your double wide mobile home.
Huh, what, where am I, what mobile home, Uhhhhh, its 5:02AM on a Thursday morning, why on earth are you calling me NOW!
Well, can you take my number and call me back with more information about it?
NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even find my feet let alone pen at this hour.

Respondent 13: Why are you removing the roof?
Don't think our neighbors will be thrilled with losing power as you drive down the road with a 20ft tall house tearing out the power and phone lines as it goes and you better hope there isn't a tunnel on that route to your place.

It will never cease to amaze me the ability of man to miss so many obvious logistical issues when reading an ad.

Monday, November 28, 2011


So things are finally happening - slowly but happening. We close on the loan hopefully in a week and a half. So the next big hurdle (although that is the HUGE hurdle in itself) is to magically eliminate this from our property.

There is a lot of interest in people wanting to take it which is our first hope but moving it is a challenge living on the Divide and being surrounded by canyons and there seems to be an issue with moving a mobile home of this age so we are checking that out today. (Though I hope that no more interested people from Craigslist call at 5:15am again)

If that option fails then we will demo it and send what we can for parts to a mobile home dealer/owner, recycle the rest and re-use what we can - no, not the molded shell sink of faux marble, happy restore will get that!

So once this lovely abode is gone we will break ground and we can't wait. I will never be so happy to see a big whole in the ground.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Container Clairol Color #4

The two storage containers we installed alongside the workshop for storage got a makeover today. We acquired on container for free from an insulation company in Redwood City and the other container Kyle had in Sonora. They were white and blue prior to this makeover.

Now they are a lovely green that matches the base of the workshop. Next step is to build a roof over them to drain the water away from them and keep the sun off of them. I am also pushing for new doors as container doors are cumbersome and difficult to open and close, that might be wishful thinking though.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shake, Rattle and Roll

11:30pm PST the shaking started and I just thought it was Denali scratching. Well, low and behold we had an earthquake. Check it out here on USGS. The open star is where the epicenter was and the red filled in star is where we live.

This was my official first earthquake so it was cool that it was at our farm. Well, that was the excitement for tonight and Denali and Ziggy slept all the way through it. Wolf was behaving strangely, makes me wonder if he knew something was coming, not sure if they have that capability.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Goodbye Princess Puzzle

On Saturday we lost Princess Puzzle. She was 14yo and the vet thinks she had a stroke. Puzzle has been the matriarch of our puppy family for many years now. Her adoration of my mom was second to none. She was the loveliest of ladies but yet as tough as they come and known for taking a few kitties out in her time. 

Puzzle was rescued by my mom at the Fair Hill International 3-D event in 1998 right by a driving hazard named "The Puzzle". She wasn't with my mom 10 minutes when she got caught up in her leash and broke her leg (the thought was it was a previous break, unhealed). So Bagel and I's first introduction to Puzzle was her flailing around with a cast on her leg for a few weeks.

She was a great traveler and it wasn't long before she moved with my mom and Bagel down to Virginia. Throughout her life there were multiple trips to Arizona and California among other states she had listed on her passport.

She was the softest puppy and you could tickle her ears for hours. Obviously a very tolerant one (as seen in the shot above), she was very patient with "the boys" and when Wolf joined the family they became thick friends.

A few weeks ago Puzzle flew out to California to retire in the sunshine with no stairs to deal with and a nicer climate. She adapted well, bonded with Wolf again and enjoyed snoozing in the front of the house in the sun, barking at the deer that weren't there and coming for cuddles every 15 minutes.

Puzzle is buried at the house in California overlooking the property. She is sorely missed but we had the best life with her. She was a pure pleasure. So incredibly loved.

Payback on Eco Home Upgrades

A great graphic from the website One Block Off the Grid
As we know, increased insulation and leak proofing are your biggest and easiest bang for your buck. Especially for homes built by building companies and/or older homes. They don't go the extra mile on insulation and sealing leaks so its worth a close examination to increase your house's efficiency.

Home Solar Power Discounts - One Block Off the Grid

Friday, September 16, 2011

After it went Wrong

Things go wrong - all the time but I figure as things go awry while I am working on the workshop or the trailer or our cabin in Twain Harte, I am learning (what NOT to do, not necessarily what TO DO) and hopefully things will go better on the house.

So to improve the trailer prior to move-in I wanted to paint the bathroom. I had to have one room in that thing that didn't scream early 90's bad trailer design with hospital walls. I wanted to paint the bathroom a bright, clean white. Into the fray with nasty, old paint (that I thought would work as a good primer coat) in 90+ temps in the trailer (no hook-ups for the A/C yet) I went to work taping off the edges and painting away.

After a complete coat I resigned that this paint had had better days better decades so I broke down and got a new gallon of bright white, semi-gloss LOW VOC (of course). 3 more coats (who knew hospital walls were such a baneful adversary) I stood back and smiled at the nice fresh feel it gave when you walked into the tiny room. Now wait for it - I went to pull off the tape before the last coat dried but didn't score the edges - BIG MISTAKE. I have read every blog on painting, every DIY Network, every This Old House episode, everything on how to paint and pull the tape off, you always cut the edges to get that clean look (you also don't use decades old paint left over from previous home owners as your base layer).

Needless to say huge swaths of painted surface came off along with my favorite Frog Tape. FAIL!

So with a visit from Jessica Ely, a little brainstorming and a quick trip to THE DEPOT. We amended the situation with this.

I was so upset with the painting situation I forgot to get a shot of the great peel. I gotta get better at taking shots of the bad stuff. But the remedy consisted of 5 sheets of this cool glass tile that was ridiculously easy to install - I mean a 3-toed sloth could of done it. There are a few tiles that look wonky and that is because the trailer back wall bows out, thus distorting the lines. Sometimes you just have to work with what you got.

The great part is that Jess and I bought 6 sheets of the tile, which was on clearance ($4 per sheet) and when I didn't need the last sheet THE DEPOT refunded it, they are truly awesome with their return policies.

I need to finish up the caulking in the whole bathroom, some touch-ups and then a big clean but it looks pretty good in there. I also have a new shower curtain and rail to go in there as I ripped out the old DOOR, who puts a DOOR on a shower in a trailer! I also want to add some shelving above the toilet too so stay tuned for that.

So the take-away (I hate MBA buzz words) is don't use decades old paint -DUH! Don't paint when its over 90 degrees (just like it says on the paint can) and score your tape before ripping it I said, a 3-toed sloth would have more success in DIYing the trailer.

Note - yes, I would love to rip out and destroy that countertop but that's not going to be realistic at this point. Gotta put the limit on the trailer reno and because trailers are always irregular sizes and funky angles and nooks and crannies its a nightmare to retrofit so faux marbelized, plastic counters it is.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let there be Light for Laundry

We installed some homemade light fixtures in the workshop bathroom/temp laundry room. Kyle picked up four colanders and converted them into light fixtures and they are perfect. 

They give off lots of light with their great CFL bulbs and have that industrial feel and ARE NOT bug catchers.

We are working on the plumbing in that room in preparation for when we get the tractor back from being fixed and can finish all the trenching for the water lines across the property. Yes, we are experiencing a significant schedule delay!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Truck Lined Boots

Kyle is brilliant (at least I think so). He is always thinking out of the box and comes up with great solutions to problems that I would NEVER have thought of.

Recently he got 2 new pairs of Blundstone boots, the greatest boots ever made in my opinion. He got a pair for working on the farm that have steel toes and a pair that he will keep "for good". For any of you that know Kyle, wearing a non-working pair of boots that aren't caked with mud is pretty dressed up for him.

The steel toed boots that he got for the farm always get pretty scuffed very quickly. Because of the steel front, the leather doesn't give when it hits anything and thus the leather gets a hard wearing in a short time.

So enter Kyle's thought process - Rhino coat type of covering does a great job protecting my truck bed, why wouldn't it work for my boots! But of course.

He used Truck Bed Coating by Dupli-Color and taped off the toes of his boots and applied to clean leather. He then let them dry and this is the result.

Will let you know how long it holds up. Even if its only a few months, its easy enough to reapply continuously.  And of course I love that he has patent leather toes now!!! Bling Bling....

Learning plank

So we are moving forward with the house building. The county are making us demo our current house before we start on the new house. We are making slow headway with installing the new water and power lines, more on that in a later post.

With our current house getting ready for demo we will be moving into a 32ft trailer. Its actually really nice for a trailer with a separate bathroom, big bedroom, two La-Z-Boy recliners in the pop-out (that is RV talk for little bump out) and HEAT!! Which I am really excited about, it will be much warmer than our current house this winter.

I decided to do a few upgrades to the trailer, one of which was install new flooring to replace the carpet. Nothing worse than someone else's carpeting. So I looked for the cheapest laminated hardwood stuff out there as a) its a trailer and b) this was my first foray into laying hardwood floor so I knew there would be a learning curve, or plank.

We found this stuff at Costco and at $1.56/sqft it was financially ridiculously doable and destroy-able should the effort go array. We chose Golden Aspen color as it was light and you wouldn't want anything too dark and heavy in a little space like a trailer.

This stuff is a floating floor and it clicks into place on both the long and short sides. Sounds easy enough. Of course fitting this into a trailer meant that after all said and done, there were only 2 boards that didn't require ANY cuts of any kind. Phew, a lot of cuts, angles, re-cuts, re-measuring, cursing, cutting the wrong side, more cursing, re-measuring, re-cutting and running to Costco to buy another box.

I will say I tried hard to utilize my skills of efficient resource usage to minimize how much I would need and use. Which was going well until I realized these guys have you over a barrel.

You can see here how they click in place so there are overlap edges and underlap edges. So as you move and cut this design forces you to use a new board for EVERY cut. So if you have a board that you cut in half to fit into a spot, you cannot use the rest of that board because it now doesn't have the correct form on the top. So they trap you into buying A LOT more boards than you would need and leaving you with an immense amount of waste. NEVER again. A complete waste and very disappointing. The only redeeming quality is its CARB compliant and made of 74% pre-consumer recycled material. Look at all this waste, whole box!

The other issue is that it ruined 2 saw blades making the cuts, should have used the tile cutter after scoring. Needless to say Kyle wasn't happy when he went to cut a thick piece of wood for his project and the blade started smoking....Ooops.

The floor does look good. I added quarter round on the edges which finishes it well. I spray painted the registers using Oiled Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint by Krylon. It will be much easier to keep clean. I started in the bedroom and you can see some of my mistakes but I learned a lot in the process and by the end really go the hang of it and was utilizing some other tools to perfect my cuts, angles, edges and seams.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog Comments

So I am hoping my commenting issue is finally fixed and that all can comment freely and without having to register or give up their first born. I did have to add that horrible word verification part as I got a ton of spam about World Domination etc.. and I need no encouragement in that department.

If you still have issues with commenting on the blog, email me and I will try to fix it, try being the operative word here.

thanks for hanging in there and reading, all 7 of you!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Greening your roof Greenpeace Style

This is so cool, literally cool....cooler.
Greenpeace is trying to encourage residents to switch out their dark roofs to white and they are using these great images to sell their appeal.

Here are some facts about white roofs if you weren't sold from my previous post on the impact of roof color. Thanks to Inhabitat, as always, for a great post - Love them.

"A roof covered with solar-reflective white paint reflects 90 percent of sunlight as opposed to the 20 percent reflected by traditional black roofs. This reduces energy use and air conditioning costs immensely. This equated to $735 million a year, according to Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, if 85% of the buildings in the US are to implement white roofs."

Former president Bill Clinton is also an advocate for the cause, saying on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “Every black roof in New York should be white, every roof in Chicago should be white, every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar surface roof anywhere! In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week.”

Read more: Greenpeace Uses Adorable Animals to Encourage Painting Roofs White | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slidin' Doors

One thing we are keen to incorporate into the house are sliding doors. Wherever it makes sense to put them and they will fit we want the door to slide and not swing. Some might be pocket doors and others might be just fixed to the wall.

You lose a little wall space but you gain a lot of space inside the room and hallway by eliminating the swing.

You can also use all kinds of reclaimed items to make the doors out of as they don't have to be perfectly square and plum.

Its also cool to see all the different kinds of hardware you can use and displaying that is part of the charm.

It can get pretty  rustic and the handles can be made out of anything as they are just pulls and not the click into place knobs.

One issue is that they aren't always secured shut and with one puppy that is quite adept at opening and closing doors there may be rooms we want to ensure he can't get into so you can get creative with locks and bolts.

I love the double doors, makes such an impact when you open both to reveal the next room.
Ohhh the drama!

This one below is my favorite, I love the window panes, very British but you have to have a set up like below or else it will look odd when its open against a wall. Maybe as a pocket door for a bathroom and you could frost the windows to let light in.

These are such great, cool, eclectic options for the house, each door can be different and unique and we can do them ourselves as there is a lot of room for error. You can take a regular door and rework it so it rolls instead of spins. The one thing is you would want to watch the weight of the door, nothing to heavy for the weight on the hardware at the top as well as the weight to push it closed could get to be a headache.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Up on a Hot Tin Roof

I hope not - but we got the color chart from the roofing manufacturer so we can start the, what will probably be a lengthy, deliberation about what color our roof will be.

There are lots of color choices for standing metal seam roofs but the important part in choosing is the TSR or Total Solar Reflectance value assigned to each color. TSR is the sum of ultraviolet, visible and near infrared (IR) reflectance. Ultraviolet makes up 5% of the electromagnetic spectrum, visible 43%, and IR 52%. The 52% long near infrared wavelengths are invisible to the eye yet provide a significant portion of the suns energy heating the earth’s surfaces.

Yeh, aren't you glad someone else gets to run those calcs!

Here is what the Unpainted Galvalume looks like on a lovely pink, what I hope is beach house (our house will not be pink).

I really like this look and think it will go with the house well. Best of all its TRS is 68% which is one of the highest values you have have.

Re-Nest just did a great post about a cool organization that is promoting white roofs to reduce heat absorption. The White Roof Project is raising both money and awareness to turn dark roofs light. They have some great research available but the upshot is:

Black Roof White Roof
TEMP Outside 90°
Roof Temp 180° 100°
Inside Temp 115° 80°
Reflects Sunlight 25% 85%
Saves Electric Bill 0% 40%

Of course there a many other factors that a cooler roof influences but these are the biggest bang for your buck so to speak. And our house won't have A/C so we won't see any $ savings but we will be cooler and when you don't have A/C you will do whatever it takes to keep that place cool.

Back to my handy dandy color chart.

UPDATE - here is a good example of the color we are leaning toward, though its not set in stone yet.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Toy

Seems like new toys arrive at the farm every few months or so....fortunately most of them that come earn their keep and then some.

This one is  no exception. Our new arrival, a backhoe......okay, simmer down, I know you are excited.
Here is the first and last shot of him all new and shiny and clean, won't ever look like this again. More pics of him in action soon.

Anyone need a pool dug - or some "other" kind of deep hole?

Pallet Walls Complete

So update on the house is we are about ready to break ground. Few little final things to complete and one LARGE thing to complete. The LARGE thing is that we have to move out of and tear down our existing home. No small feat. Before we do that though we needed to renovate the little bathroom in the workshop to accommodate our fridge and laundry until the new house is finished. It also was just in dire need of an overhaul.

This is pretty much the before look -

It had a toilet and tiny sink that had seen better decades and there were a lot of appliances in there when we moved in.

Well we gutted, tore a wall out, cleaned, insulated, caulked, primed, painted and then we needed to cover the walls. Not being fans of drywall I thought it would be fun to re-use pallet wood to cover the walls.


I ripped apart some free pallets we scored from Jen M. and Zach B. (otherwise known as Zen and Jach) and spent more days than planned measuring, cutting and getting them up on the wall. I learned a lot during the process, like next time make sure the pallets are all alike.

For the other walls I used some old wood we had from the little picket fence that sat outside the current house that we ripped out as soon as we moved in.

And the last wall was done using some old fence panels that we also got from Jen and Zach before they moved to the northern tundra (Portland).

The whole process was kinda long and a bit tedious and would have come out better had I not been so frugal utilizing every tiny little leftover piece but all in all for a workshop bathroom I am really happy with the outcome. Pallets ROCK!

We still have some things to do in the room like get the plumbing in, the on demand, tankless water heater (love you) is already up. We need to get the light fixtures up and the sink and toilet in and I think I will throw a coat of Linseed Oil on the walls too. But its slowly coming together and will be great to have a potty in the workshop again, that 500ft treck to the house is a kicker.....