Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Front Door

We replaced all the door knobs in the house with levers.  Except the front door.  The front door has a upscale door fixture -- a Baldwin mortise lock, and I cannot simply switch out the handle.  And I can't just switch out the locking mechanism completely, because it is a large metal piece inset into a chiseled out hole in the door; nothing else takes up (fills up) that much space.  And it is getting progressively more difficult to open, as the locking mechanism ages.

So we decided to just replace the entire door.  We went to a place called "The Front Door Company".  Linda picked out a sort of Craftsman style door with leaded glass and a matching side panel.  We ordered that the first part of April, 2018.  I measured everything first so we would know what size we needed and then once we signed the order, they sent someone out to measure everything again to make sure it was right.

On July 19, the door was ready and they came out to install it.  Actually "they" was just one guy, Josh Sollars.  He did all the work of first removing the old door.

This was on a day when the temperature outside was predicted to be 102.  Partly for that, and partly to keep the dog away from the opening, I sealed over the entrance from the living room to the entry way with brown paper and masking tape, and then we closed the door to the library, so only the library and entry way were exposed to the outside.

Once the old door, and side light, were removed, the new frame was installed.

Then the new door was hung.

and the new side light installed.

Then all the trim was installed,  both inside

and out,

and the new door hardware installed. 

We have an Emtek Model 4816 Orion with Luzern Lever Handleset.

The door itself is Mahogany with a Chestnut finish.

Total cost $4606.02.  Total time about 4 months, with about 10 hours of work to actually do the installation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Replacing the Window in the Garage

Over time, we have replaced all the windows in the house.  But there is one last window from the original construction in the garage.  And it is getting increasingly difficult to use.  So I decided to replace it.

We have two options:  (1) Use the same windows as in the house, or (2) Try a different type in the garage.  Out of sheer laziness, I decided to go with the same ones we have in the house.  So, we went back to Renewal By Anderson and told them what we wanted.  They sent a salesman out March 27 to draw up the contract. $2157 for the one window.  April 6 another person comes out to measure the window so that it could be ordered.

May 4 they came out to install it.  Took about two hours. 

The next day someone else came and did the exterior mortar work to finish the installation.

I have trim pieces in the attic that match the window sills and trim from the rest of the house, and we used those.  After everything was dry and stable, I sanded the new sill and trim on the inside, and put two coats of polyurethane on it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Starting to dig up the front yard

We want to give the front yard the same treatment as the backyard -- dig out the rock, to get enough dirt that the plants are happy.  We've started by working on the corner, finishing the River of Rocks.  Now it's time to do the yard proper.

We want to stay well away from the two large trees in the front yard, and we are not sure how far away we need to be, so let's start along the property line.  The idea is to dig a trench along the property line to expose the underlying rock formations, so that we can see how much dirt, and how much rock, we have.

We start by digging it out by hand.

We know roughly where the gas line is in the front yard, from calling 811, and we should be well away from it.  It runs parallel to the property line (which we have marked with yellow plastic tape), about 6 to 7 feet from the property line (except as it gets close to the house, or close to the street).  So we have plenty of room to work before we involve the gas line.

Expanding our starting hole, we find the main water line for the sprinkler system, and some remnants of older versions of those pipes.

We continued working on this by hand for awhile, and then decided to try using power equipment, specifically a trencher.

I rented ($182.18) a trencher from Home Depot.  Came on it's own trailer.

The idea was to dig two parallel trenches, on either side of the hole that I was already digging from that hole back to the street, stopping before we got to the gas line area.  Of course, I've never used a trencher before.  It took hours (literally) to get the truck, drive to a Home Depot that had a working trencher, bring it back (and then reverse all that to return it).  So while the complete operation took about 6 hours, I only actually did any trenching for about 30 minutes.

But during that 30 minutes it did a lot of "work" -- damage really.  It completely destroyed a significant chunk of the sprinkler line.  I did not realize that the main water supply line went thru this area, and the trencher tore it and the wiring up in several places. I will cap it off, allowing the sprinkler system to run in the back yard but we have lost the two zones (10 and 11) for the front yard, until I can rebuilt it completely.

The trench themselves at places are deep, and other places not so deep.

After hours of clean-up, separating rock from dirt and PVC pipe, and moving the dirt off to the side, we can see what was accomplished.  This should put us in position to be more productive in our hand digging.

Even with this start it has still taken 3 weeks to dig much of this out, down to rock.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

New Light Fixture in Front Entry Way

We have been trying to get a new light fixture for the front entry way for years.  After replacing the office/library fixture, I noticed that there was a smaller version of it that could be put in the entry way.   Linda agreed.

Installing it was very quick and easy, although there seems to not be a way to mount it parallel to the walls.

and it is barely bright enough.

The lighting facts says it puts out 980 lumens.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New Light Fixture in the Library

The old light fixture in the library is four 4-foot fluorescent light bulbs, but they keep needing to be replaced.  So this time we decided to replace the old fixture with a new LED light fixture.  My choose a 4ft LED Ceiling Light, Hampton Bay Model 1000 532 415.

When we removed the old light fixture, we discovered that the ceiling under it was still the old popcorn texture, so we sanded it down.

and then we repainted the newly exposed area, again using the Martha Stewart Heavy Cream color that the rest of the ceilings have.

Then we installed the new LED light fixture and wired it up.

This seems bright enough, at least without the cover.  The lighting facts say it is 3000 Lumens at 4000 degrees (Bright White).

Without the cover

and presumably something less with the cover

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Top dressing the back yard lawn

The back yard grass was put in at two different times, September 2014 and May 2017, and at least last year, the older grass seemed to not be as healthy.  So we wanted to try to improve the grass with a top-dressing of compost this year.

It took 2 pallets of grass to cover each of the two areas, and so 4 pallets at 450 square feet per pallet means we have 1800 square feet of grass.  In the back.  To cover that we tried to get 3 cubic yards of compost.  Actually we got the same professional mix  that we used as dirt; it's 50% compost.  I figure the extra 50% can help to compensate some for the settling that we have seen.

This took 2 trips to Whittlesey Landscape in Round Rock (plus another 2 trips for mulch).  The two dirt trips cost $82.49 each (1.5 yards plus 6 bags of mulch to hold the tarp down on it), and then another $119.91 for 54 bags of mulch.  A total of $284.89, and one day of driving back and forth, loading and unloading. (Friday).

The next day, Saturday, was distributing the dirt around to the back yard and spreading it.  By 5 PM it was starting to drizzle, so now it's mud, but it is supposed to rain for the next two days, and that will help it settle down in around the grass roots (we hope).

It may be a bit too thick; it's hard to tell since it's so light weight.

As you can see, we didn't have enough to completely cover the lawn (I guess we needed 4 cubic yards, or to put it on thinner.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

New Garage Doors (and openers)

One of the two garage door openers has been acting up.  Checking, it was because the limit switch (which determines how far down the doors go before the opener stops) was broken, and not really in a repairable way.  It being 30 years since the garage doors were put in when the house was built, it seems like a good time to get new doors and openers.  For both sides.

Start by checking Angie's List for local companies to replace the garage doors.  Got a list of 3 or 4, and started calling to get prices and types.  The Home Depot web site actually has a good presentation of the various types and options and going thru that helped me understand what was involved.  We got two bids, one for $4288.67 and another for $4391.17.  Then I noticed that Costco also provides garage doors, thru a local company, and called them.  They took the information, and said someone locally would call me.  A short time later, it was Cedar Park Overhead, which was the 3rd company on Angie's List that I had been meaning to call.  Their estimate came in at $3877.52.  Being the lowest cost, and a good recommendation from Angie's List, we went with them.

This was for two 9 foot by 7 foot doors.  I went with a steel door with polystyrene foam insulation (R 9) in it.  The technology has changed from the cables and springs that we had to a torsion spring bar.  Torsion bars are common on larger garage doors, and now on ours too.  Linda wanted a pre-painted to look like a stained wood (Walnut, Faux wood), with windows (clear Stockton) along the top.  Long panels.

We started the process in mid-January, had made our decision and signed a contract by 26 Jan.  The order went in.  A month later, we got a call saying the doors had arrived and they were ready to install them.

The first problem was to clean out the garage, so that they could work.  We removed the rack over the one garage door that used to hold the off-season solar screens, and then moved all the stuff from the sides of the garage back into the garage temporarily so that the walls were clear.

A crew of two guys showed up at about 1:00 pm and started removing the old doors and openers, then installing the new doors and openers.  They were done by 4:00 pm.

The color match with the outside (freshly painted in November) trim is quite good.

Both doors have seals all around them.  The windows have a plastic insert on the outside that makes them look like they are 12 small panes, but it's really one double-paned window.

The openers are both LiftMaster LM8160 chain drive 1/2 HP units.  Both are driven off the one remote keypad, and we have two remotes -- one for Linda's car and one for mine.