Posts Tagged ‘home improvement projects’

Things are getting busy here at Bear and Thistle West.

It finally sunk in over the holidays that my time here is short, and if I don’t plan things out I will never finish all the projects I’ve been wanting to do before I have to leave. 

The truth is (and I’m ok with this, really), if I don’t do them, they won’t get done.  Things like painting the house inside and out, replacing the falling-down back fence, rebuilding the termite-eaten pergola over the back patio, re-laying the cracked flagstone pathways over concrete, re-insulating the attic.  Stuff that needs done before the house is sold, several years down the road – basic material condition items that will ensure it gets a fair price and we’ll get as much equity out of it as possible.

Quite a lot of work, you might say, and you’re right.  But I’m loathe to pay someone to do a job I can do myself, and I actually like building and fixing stuff, so I’ll hire out only the most difficult tasks and perhaps the ones I cannot get to for lack of time.

We bought this little stucco and tile roof house nearly 11 years ago, long before I figured out I was a farmer and needed more than an eighth of an acre to be happy; until 4 years ago I thought I had years to tackle all the basic material improvements any 25-year-old residence needs.  After two long deployments and much time on the road, my projecting window is now a mere 22 months long.


So, the time has come to do some serious planning.  And I found just the thing:  a Gantt chart on Google Docs that I can access anywhere, and update and modify as I go along.  It took a few days to populate, and I’m sure my time estimates will need to flex as projects unfold, but what a great help it is, to be able to map out a proposed schedule over the next two Springs, Summers, and Winters (and one Fall), lining up outside work with long daylight months and reserving inside work for winter months.

Will I get it all done?  Maybe, maybe not.  But check it out – I am certain to accomplish more with a plan that lets me focus on one project at a time, knowing that “all that other stuff” will have its time; and the incentive of keeping to a schedule is just the motivation I need to use every little scrap of time gainfully, whether I’m able to stick to the project schedule or not.

I’m stoked.  And I love being stoked.  It’s one of my favorite feelings in all the world.

Project #1, Attic Decking and Re-insulation, evolved into a two-phase job.  It kicked off with the installation of a pull-down attic ladder done back in November, something I’d threatened to do for years, to make the house attic accessible for plumbing repairs and future ventilation upgrades.  Every time we had to drag the ladder in from the garage and climb up through the little access hole, I swore, loudly.   

The ladder had to be framed in offset of the ceiling joists to center on the hallway; a pain in the neck to say the least.  Bear was a great help with the sawzall and demolition, leaving the framing of the opening to me, and we teamed up to get the ladder hung, one person above and one below.  After I hung a couple of fluorescent lights from the trusses I could see where to lay down plywood decking so we weren’t just scrambling around on joists and rafters, and it quickly became apparent that the blown-in insulation was pitifully inadequate. 

So after the holidays I started the decking in earnest, which required adding more insulation, one section at a time, moving about on hands and knees or ducking under the waist-high truss members.  6 sheets of plywood sawn in fourths and five bales of cellulose insulation later, I have a fine storage attic, all holes sealed with foam, plenty of space to walk around, and insulation restored.  The cathedral ceiling portions of the attic, though, still need work.

Which will be Phase Two, done at a later date, because my Project Chart has me starting the back hill terracing and retaining wall construction this week.  I’d like to get that done so my Spring garden can go in those new growing beds, which will open up the backyard for the summer’s fence rebuilding project.

It’s good to have a plan.

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