Posted by: John   in

Since I have been with Laura, my project priorities have changed a lot.  I have done a lot of project stuff around the house.  Here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Replaced the water heater. This was a biggie because the old water heater was just not producing enough. We maybe were getting 10 gallons out of a 40 gallon tank. I replaced it with a nice new 50 gallon tank. And, since I don’t do things halfway, I put in a 12 year unit.  Between it, the expansion tank, and some piece parts, it ended up costing about $750.
  • Relocated the thermostat. I am not sure why the builder put this in the hall that is right outside the laundry room and garage, but they did. I moved it to the wall between the kitchen and the front room. Since then, the house temperature is a lot more stable and I know it is saving us money due to less energy used.
  • Cleaned up landscaping in back yard. The grass itself was pretty good, but deeded weed killer. The bushes were overgrown and in some cases, nearly dead (last winter was hard on plants). The areas between the concrete barrier and the fences was just dirt. I signed up for the Zamzows lawn program and got some of their weed killer. The yard itself is now fantastic. I cleaned out the junk from the dirt and put down a layer of bark mulch. We chopped out the dead branches and parts of the bushes. This took a few weeks and several trash buckets full of dead branches. Because I didn’t want to have the lawn equipment out in plain view I installed a temporary cedar fence at the back corner of the house and put a tarp there to cover the equipment from the weather.  Additionally, I got some LED landscaping lights that I placed along the concrete edging.
  • Painted some walls in the house. With the exception of the kitchen and dining room, the house was completely painted in a milk-chocolate color. It’s a nice color, there is just a lot of it. I convinced Laura that painting some walls a different color. The trim is done in a medium tan (the same color the kitchen/dining rooms are). I picked a lighter tan color for the accent walls. There are now accent walls painted in the living room, both halls, master bedroom and bathroom, and one bedroom. I painted the other bedroom two shades of blue with one white wall. Overall, the house has become much brighter and happier.
  • Changed and installed some lighting. The can lights in the kitchen had CFL bulbs in them. I replaced them with LED floodlights. That made all the difference. Bashing the builder again, there was virtually no light over the kitchen sink. I was able to install an LED can light over the sink, inset into the decoration platform. There was power on the wall that I was able to tap into. I installed 3 switches, ran power inside the wall and was able to install some plugs in the top of the platform. One switch directly controls the sink light…having it there makes all the difference. The other switches control two single plugs (one goes to some lights in a picture alcove that will be used for the wedding trinkets). There is also live power in the same block for general use if wanted.  I also have removed all CFL bulbs and replaced with LED’s. Much nicer light. Both bathrooms lost a total of twelve 60 watt bulbs, being replaced with twelve 8 watt LED bulbs. The wholly inadequate hanging light in the office was replaced with a ceiling fan. I took apart the hanging fixture and found that the original light fixtures had been removed and a chintzy one that had been put in. I rebuilt it and put in proper fixtures. This light replaced the one in the hall that was on the peak of the 12′ ceiling. The hanging fixture lights the hall much better and makes it look a lot better.  The garage had two fluorescent fixtures. One did not work at all (but I am sure was drawing power) and the other flickered badly. Of the four 8′ bulbs, only 1 was really doing anything. I took these out and replaced them with some 20 watt LED strip fixtures, 3 on each side. These are easily daisy chained with included inserts. All of these only draw 120 watts total and the garage is very well lit.

Upcoming projects

  • Attic space access. The attic area over the garage is used for storage. Access to the space is limited to a hatch about 20 by 30 inches. It is hardly big enough to get through, much less move anything else through. I am going to install a pull-down stairwell that will make accessing the attic much safer and more convenient. I am going to put it in a different location than the hatch so the car does not have to be moved. There is no floor in the attic so I am going to install some flooring. That will make it so we can walk up there without having to worry about falling through the ceiling. Two layers of OSB will do the job nicely. Not only will we be able to move around, we will be able to set stuff anywhere. I am going to install some lights on a switch and also some shelving. We should be able to organize what is up there better and also have better storage space. I may also install an attic fan to help ventilate the area.
  • Garage exhaust fan. Laura’s family are smokers, but they don’t smoke in the house. Instead, there is an area set up in the garage. The smoke sometimes gets pretty thick when several people are over. I am going to install an exhaust fan that will pull air from that corner of the garage and vent it outside. Along with removing smoke, it should give the garage a slightly negative air pressure, keeping smoke out of the house by drawing air from it.
  • Pet door in the wall. There is a pet door in the outside door in the garage. The problem is that the door between the garage and house must be left open for the critters. I am considering putting a smaller pet door in the bedroom wall by the back door. This will allow the critters to go outside but we can keep the garage door closed. This will help the keep smoke out of the house, keep house temperature more stable and prevent the dog from getting out front when the garage door is opened.
  • New dishwasher. The old one is the original and 12 years of hard work later it is close to on its last leg. Time to replace it.
  • New kitchen stove. We are considering going natural gas. I will need to have someone plumb in a gas line to the kitchen, but that should not be difficult at all. The gas line for the furnace and water heater are right behind the stove in the garage.


I have a couple of projects going right now that take up a good portion of my time.

  • Importing pictures, negatives and slides.  True, film does not crash.  But it is also impossible to look at.  I have discovered lots of negatives and my sister brought over a ton of slides from our parents and grandparents.  I do not have a slide projector.  Nor can I calibrate my eyes to view negative colors.  I do have the Epson Pefection 2450 scanner though.  I have scanned all the slides (some from 1958 that were just perfect!) and am working my way through the negatives.  Then comes the process of sorting and figuring things out.
  • Sorting through the boxes of genealogy stuff.  This is a huge work in progress as I am scanning tons of pages.  Mom kept a copy of every letter she sent and received while looking for family history information, in the days when typewriter was king.  I am not really interested in keeping 20 boxes of paper, so I am scanning all of it and sorting it out into Adobe PDF Portfolios.  They can be printed if desired, but can also be shared a lot easier.