Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weekend Plans, More of the Same

Well, I had planned to spend the long weekend hauling out rolls of vinyl flooring but my niece decided to go back home early so I had to re-sort my to-do list.  Now I will focus on things I can do myself like more bathroom plumbing and a million other little things that need to get done.  I went to Home Depot after work today and bought a window.  I don't know if I will get around to installing a window this weekend but at least I have it in the car.  Installing a window isn't really something that can be started and then put on hold for a week or two so I have to have time for the entire project.

I also bought fiberglass insulation for some spots on the wall that need insulation and paneling, a pan to go under the water heater, I exchanged the sink hose for (hopefully) the right one, 2 more gallons of Kilz paint for the hallway, smoke detectors, a yard light, and more Great Stuff spray insulation for around the window.  After using the gift cards that I got for my birthday, my total was only $28.  Not bad.

After work tomorrow I plan to buy some chainlink fence panels for the yard between the mobile home and the barn/shed.  It is only supposed to be 81 degrees on Saturday.  That is unusually low for this time of year and it will probably be our last cooler weekend for a long time so I want to spend some time on my outdoor projects.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Secret Project Reveal

My secret project is revealed!

Water is a big problem out here in the desert of Tucson.  A well would cost me $30,000 and I don't have that kind of money.  My goal is to collect rainwater but right now I don't have any gutters since I had my old garage demolished.  When my excavator guy was out here making a pad for the barn-shed, he had a water truck come out to keep the dust down.  That gave me an idea.  He said the truckload of non-potable water costs $150 and it can hold 3,500 gallons.  Water tanks are a few thousand dollars which I don't have and I needed something fast, so I thought, why not a pool?

I picked out a pool that is 15' diameter and 48" high.  It holds 4,200 gallons.  I needed the 48" height to comply with the Pima County rules for pool fences.  For above ground pools, if they are 48" then no additional fencing is required, I just have to lock up the pool ladder.

I bought styrofoam sheets to protect the pool liner.  The pool came with a flimsy tarp to use as the base.  My niece and I set it up on the old garage slab.


The water truck arrived on my birthday, just like I had planned.  It was great to see it fill.  I wanted to jump in.


It wasn't quite enough water to reach the pool filter holes but that's ok.  I will be relying on chlorine and the pool cover to keep it clean.


So, I have 3,500 gallons in my temporary reservoir.  I am hoping the pool lasts for 2 years.  It cost $350 plus $150 for the water.  When I get my gutters set up, I will use the pool for any water overflow.  If I don't need to have water delivered again, this project will have cost me $21/m for the next 2 years plus the cost of chlorine and probably a replacement pool cover when it wears out.  If I buy 3500 gallons next year too, my cost will be $27/m.  

This water will be filtered and moved to the water tanks connected to the house as needed.  The kitchen faucet has a Brita filter on it for filling the dogs' water.  I will continue to buy  bottled drinking water for me and my nephew.  He prefers Arrowhead while I am content with the cheapest generic water.  I rarely drink plain water, mainly I use it for cooking.

I am happy to have my water problem solved for the moment.  I hope it won't spring a leak or anything.  Now I need to get those other water tanks connected to the house.  My bathroom plumbing is going slowly but I did buy the correct connector hose for the toilet.  The one for the sink faucet was the wrong size so it is back to the store for an exchange and then on to the next project which is hooking up the water pump, water heater and water tanks.  It is slow going but there is actual progress every week so someday it will be finished.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Truck Tale

As you know, I still have 2 vehicles.  Not selling the truck turned out to be a good decision because it has been very useful with the mobile home remodel and my niece using it to get around town.  Later on, my nephew will use is to learn to drive and to get to school.  But keeping 2 vehicles is not cheap.  Back in February or March, I needed to replace the battery.  Then, I noticed leaking from the radiator and that had to be replaced.  A few weeks ago, my niece got rear-ended and luckily, the driver was honest and stopped to exchange insurance information.  Even though the damage wasn't major, my niece took it in for an estimate and I got a $570 check.

Can you tell it's a little lower on the right?
On Monday, I took the day off for my birthday and worked on my property.  My niece was there with the truck and I was looking for bungee cords when I noticed that the back tire was cracked along the tread and I could see the metal inside.  We stopped what we were doing and went directly to the tire store (and In and Out Burger) and $300 later I had 4 new tires.

I hope that is all of the truck maintenance that I need for a while.  I am looking forward to only having one vehicle again after my nephew goes off to college in 2 years.  I only have one car in my early retirement budget.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mobile Home Project Update

I am so tired tonight but I should at least give you a quick update on the project.  I bought self-leveling floor resurfacer and then chickened out and bought pre-mixed floor patch.  The floor leveler weighed 50 pounds without water and I thought my floor might not be able to support it.  Also, the reviewers on HomeDepot.com all said it sets up really fast and I didn't want to mess it up and have to replace the floor.  The pre-mix floor patch worked fine, just like frosting a cake.


This corner looks the worst.  Floor patch, old dog door, damaged paneling.  I'm thinking about putting window here which is why I haven't replaced the paneling yet.  The ceiling needs one more piece of paneling also.


Here's the view from the other corner of the living room.  My niece has started to paint.  I like it better white. It just might look not terrible when we are finished.  Of course, it's hard for any effort not to look better than it did.  That's one reason I like working on the mobile home.  Even my amateur efforts pay off.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mid-Week Ramblings

My father was moved out of the rehabilitation facility and in to a new nursing home.  That is good but it doesn't really feel good because I know it is just a matter of time before he gets sick or falls again.  My niece decided to stay here until the end of June or beginning of July.  Being able to rely on her to help my parents is priceless.  And as an added bonus, she will continue to help me with my renovation project.  Both my mom and my niece are at my mother's house tonight.  It is the first time I have been alone in the house since my dad broke his hip 7 weeks ago.  I didn't get to be lazy the entire evening because my foster dog started training class tonight so it was get home, feed the dogs, quail, water plants, go to class, get home at 7:20.  This foster dog that bites strangers is turning out to be quite a project.  I was sure he would get adopted right away and I would only have to move my 3 dogs out to my property.  I have 10 weeks to get him and my other foster dog adopted.  Unfortunately, I will be busy all of those weekends so I can't attend adoption events unless I take time out from the renovations.  Anyway, Friday afternoon the gutter people are giving me a quote.  I figured out which gutter bracket extensions to buy for a gambrel roof without fascia board so if the gutter quote is out of my price range (which it is going to be because I don't have any money budgeted for it) I can buy the pieces myself and put them up.  That's the idea, anyway.  It sounds so simple in my head.  Also, the guy with the jack hammer is coming out to try to hammer my anchors in again.  The company that I bought them from, American Earth Anchors, sent out replacement anchors and told me to only bury them 18" instead of 24".  I also bought rebar and my coworker welded eyes on them to attach metal cable.  I need to go buy the cable tomorrow.  I'm going to have all 12 of the anchors buried and hope that at least 6 of them pass the 400 pound pull test that I am supposed to have done.  I will be so glad to move on from the anchors.  I don't have a lot of money left but I can at least put some skirting up because the barn-shed is part of the dog fence.  Some day I will actually get the time and money to work on the inside of the barn-shed. But, for now, all of the plans are still trapped in my head.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

In With the New

Same old story.  The weekend flew by and I can't believe tomorrow is Monday.  We didn't get a lot done because, first, I needed to sleep in.  That might have been one of the reasons that the weekend disappeared so quickly.   Next, my niece and I went to Home Depot to buy paneling for the ceiling and styrofoam for a secret project that I will tell you about next weekend.  We got out to the property at noon and had lunch.  My niece finished ripping up the vinyl sheet and tiles and all of the nails.  I worked on caulking around the tub, getting the vanity out of the box, and putting up one sheet of paneling on the ceiling.  We need one more sheet to cover the hole in the ceiling but I need to cut it first.

The vanity looks great and I am excited and scared to hook it up.  I have to drill a hole in the side for the drain pipe.  It looks so pristine right out of the box.  I don't want to damage it.  Having the new vanity cabinet and faucet make me want to paint the wallpaper or put beadboard and trim halfway up the wall and paint the top half.  Maybe I can fit it in to the schedule.  


I bought the tall bar sink faucet because I might want to wash something in the sink and I like having more room to work.

I still haven't decided on the final plumbing configuration mostly because it involves adding a switch for the water pump and water heater and I haven't done that before.


I unpacked the water heater and found this dent.  I don't think the damage is serious but I will show the photo to the people at Home Depot just in case.  It is terribly heavy and if I take it back I will have to wait a few more weeks for a replacement.  It is a 15 gallon water heater and they are only available on-line.

Next Friday I will take a half day off again and we will wash the living room floor with bleach, patch the holes, and paint it along with the walls.  We also have Mother's Day on Sunday and my birthday on Monday which I am taking off to work on my property (of course).  I never would have guessed that I would be renovating a mobile home for my 43rd birthday.  It's not a bad thing though.  I like a challenge.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bumps in the Road

You might have noticed that I didn't make an extra mortgage payment for April.  I decided to keep the money to pay my niece for her help on the mobile home project.  Then, yesterday, she says that she might be going back home to Washington.  Darn.  I was looking forward to having her help me all the way through July.  Then, I noticed a greenish leak coming from the truck.  Ugh.  So, half of the money went towards a new radiator.  I am freaking out again because I only have 11 weekends left until school starts and possibly no helper.  More short cuts will have to be made.  Somehow I will have to get 3 rolls of 12' vinyl flooring through the door by myself.  I added a 10-ft-Quick-Support-Tool to my Home Depot "want" list in case I have to screw panels on to the ceiling by myself.  The fence will probably be made from chainlink panels with 1/2" x 3ft. wire mesh buried 6 inches down.  The block wall will have to wait.  All of these alternate plans are zooming through my head and making it hard to focus.  I want a weekend off!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Demolition Days

Another busy week of buying supplies and a weekend of demolition.  But first, a little fun.  My niece wanted to see the band Switchfoot at the Pima County Fair.  That's not something I would usually do but I decided to go with her.  Besides the temporary hearing loss and gross fair food (stay away from Chicken on a Stick), the band was good and I recognized a few songs from the radio.  The best part was when the lead singer came in to the crowd to sing to us.


Back to work.  We cleared out the hallway and the middle bedroom.  Next steps, wash the walls and floors, repair siding and even out flooring, paint, add vinyl flooring and trim.


I finally decided to part with my dog-ruined recliner.  The entertainment center went out too.  Particle board soaks up too many nasty things.


I removed 3 strips of water damaged ceiling tile.  All known leaks have been fixed.  Next weekend I need to buy paneling or drywall to nail over the hole and paint it all.


My niece tackled the old vinyl flooring and the single vinyl tiles that I had nailed down to patch the floor when a certain destructive foster dog had some fun (the same foster dog that ate my recliner).  The living room floor is halfway cleared.  Next Saturday will entail more prying up of flooring, removing nails, cleaning the floor and painting it before I buy new vinyl.  I don't have much furniture left.  2 tables, one bookshelf, and one small dresser were all that were salvageable.  


*Flashback Photo*
The brown dog's name was Mandi and she certainly thought my house tasted good.


11 weekends left before school starts.  We are rapidly running out of time.  I bought the bathroom sink and cabinet but it is still in the box waiting to be assembled.  The water heater arrived but it is also in the box waiting for me to decide where to put it and then to figure out which plumbing connectors to buy.  I will have all week to think about it since I won't get back out there until Saturday.  Tomorrow I get to visit the dump and unload the truck at lunch time.  It will be good to see it go.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mobile Home Remodel Update

Whew!  These projects are never-ending!  12 more Saturdays until I need to have this place livable.  Here are a few photos to get you up to speed.

The tools that I ordered online arrived.  They are lovely and I already used the nail gun.  It's fun!


You will be happy to hear that my bucket toilet also arrived.  This is for any immediate bathroom needs in the barn-house, not that anyone is moving in just yet.  It is super-water saving because it uses sawdust, not water.


I cut an access hole in the back bedroom which I am using for storage.  It gives me access to the water heater closet.  I need to fashion a door to seal it off.  The wind tore off the outside door and now rain gets in.  When I stuck my head through the hole I saw an angry wasp guarding a nest.  Eek.  I had to evict them.  I need to buy some sort of semi-flexible plastic panel that can be glued in the space and then caulked so water and creatures don't move in.


There was a non-functional floor vent in the bathroom.  I used a little too much Great Stuff foam.  It looked like a loaf of bread.  I cut it off and glued a metal sheet over the hole.


My niece was brave enough to tackle the roof.  She rolled on elastomeric roof coating until it ran out.  I need to buy more this week so she can finish.


I practiced my demolition skills on the bathroom vanity.  It was disgusting and now it is gone.  I saved the sink and hope to use it as an outdoor hand washing station eventually.  I am running out of money fast so the 1980 wallpaper and paneling will most likely stay.  The new vanity will be purchased this week.  Nothing fancy, just the basic $50 cabinet and sink from Home Depot.


I'm going to have lots of fun figuring out the plumbing.  I am replacing the water pump, water heater, and hoping to add some black hose on the roof for solar hot water.

My niece took out the old caulk and scrubbed the bathtub.  I looked under the mobile home and it turns out the floor isn't rotted so that is good.  That's right, the classic 80's yellow tub can stay.  New caulk is on the shopping list.


Those are all the photos from last weekend.  The anchors for the barn-house failed.  I hired a guy with a jack hammer to sink them but the cable broke and the driving rod bent on the first one.  I need a new idea for anchors.

And finally, today I got home a little early and I was determined to fix the door lock on my truck.  My niece is driving it and it has been very difficult to lock.  I've paid for it to be fixed twice but the fixes didn't last.  I watched YouTube videos, read forum comments, and a coworker lent me the manual for the truck.  I felt confident that I could get the door panel off and I did it!  Then I messed around with the door lock until I found out what was wrong, a misaligned set-screw. 


 I fixed it and put it back together.  Hopefully, this fix will last longer than the other "fixes".  If not, I know how to disconnect the automatic locks so at least we will be able to lock and unlock the door easily.  I am so glad I finally tackled that problem.


I am taking a half day on Friday to get a head start this weekend since my niece and I are volunteering on Saturday morning with the water conservation group.  That means I need to buy my supplies Thursday evening so I had better get organised.  There is so much that needs to be done!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spending Money

I've been putting it off for so long but I finally spent some money on new tools.  I found some cordless tools online, specifically, a reciprocal saw for cutting out door and window holes, and a brad nailer.  Then I asked the opinions of some coworkers who, of course, has conflicting recommendations.  Then I went to Home Depot to look at the tools and hold them.  There were so many choices that I became quickly overwhelmed and left without buying.  The next day I remembered the reasons why I wanted the saw and nailer, for specific jobs, looked them up online again and ordered them.  I will have to wait a week for them to show up but for purchases like that, I prefer to read reviews and info online and not go to the store where there are too many choices.

I also started ordering components for the electrical system, the breaker box and breakers.  I know which wire to buy but I need to measure so that I buy enough.  And I bought an electrical tester kit which tests wire, outlets, etc...  It will be fun to play with the outlet tester in my mobile home.  At the same time, I am trying to figure out the best way to bring water to the bathroom.  I have a water pump outside but the outside switch isn't very convenient.  I bought a new RV water pump for either the mobile home bathroom or the barn-cabin's bathroom.  I also haven't decided where to place my water tanks for ease of access.  Next week the gutter company will come out and give me an estimate.  I hope it is under $1,000.  Straight gutters on the mobile home and the barn-cabin don't seem that complicated.  I'm not looking for anything fancy.

For hot water, I am looking at a 12 gallon water heater.  A lot of people like the instant hot water heaters when using propane but I have been happy with my 6 gallon electric water heater.  I plug it in 15 minutes before my shower and it is hot enough.  I'll let my nephew have a little more hot water in his bathroom.  I also plan to buy 100 ft. of black hose to put on the roof as a solar hot water heater.  I've never tried it before but it should work here in Arizona, land of the burning sun.

Packages are starting to arrive.  Some fun, most practical.  I bought some solar lights for the barn-cabin that are supposed to arrive tomorrow.  Those are fun although I'm not there at night so I won't be able get the full affect until I move there.  I really want to fix up the yard, put up fencing, a pathway, shade cloth and cool twinkly lights but I think I'm jumping ahead.  There is plenty of more important work to do.  Saturday we will be doing as much as we can with the mobile home bathroom and living room.  I hope we get a lot done.  I love seeing progress!  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Vinyl Flooring: Not as Bad as I Thought

So, back to the mobile home, I was only going to rip out the carpet and paint the floor in the back room but my helpers had other ideas.  My niece wanted to paint the walls and ceiling and my mother thought vinyl flooring would be nice.


Funny story about the closet.  I told my niece that she didn't need to paint the closet but then she got paint on the wall when she was painting the floor.  I said she could just even out the line and leave it as a 4 inch stripe.  I left and when I came back the white was now 2 feet tall and she said that should couldn't get the line straight.  I had to step in and paint a semi-straight line to end the madness.  After all, I pretty much only have around 12 Saturdays left before my nephew's return and this is only a storage room.  We need to move on to making the bathroom functional right away.


The vinyl flooring view from the other side of the room.  I was skeptical about vinyl because the other sheet vinyl that I bought was thin and cheap.  This new stuff is still economical at 87 cents a sq.ft. but it is so much thicker and glue is optional which means it won't curl at the edges like the cheap stuff.


I like it so much that I want to use it in all of the rooms of the mobile home and probably in the barn-house too.

Next on the list, move everything back in here plus what is in the second bedroom so I can put vinyl down everywhere else.  I'm even thinking about putting vinyl over the gross tile in the bathroom.  Out of sight, out of mind (as long as the grout doesn't smell).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It Has Arrived

It's here!  The barn-shed-cabin or whatever I am going to call it, is here.  The delivery driver made it up the road without a problem and was already backed in and ready to unload when I drove up.


It was a long and careful process of unloading and leveling but the driver was very good at his job.


 All set up.  Now, so much to do!  Tie-downs, skirting, steps will be the top 3 on my to-do list.  Oh, and gutters.  I hope gutters aren't too hard.


It was toasty warm in the loft.  Not much head room.  If I had ordered this shed custom, I would have had the loft floors lowered.


The to-do list for the interior is too long to list.  Insulation, electricity, plumbing, drywall...


Between the mobile home and the barn-shed will be my snake-free area (I hope).  I need some ground cover delivered, maybe mulch or bark and rock for where we park the cars.

It's all coming together!