Archives March 2018

Lake House Chandelier Installed

Back in January, I bought a chandelier on Royal Street in New Orleans. It was a late nineteenth century wrought iron piece that was perfect for the entryway of the lake house. It took me awhile to finally hang it, which I did this weekend. Because the ceiling in the entryway is angled and covered with wood trim, it wasn’t straightforward to wire a traditional light box. Instead, I simply screwed in a hook and hung the chandelier from it, and then connected the wires to a plug which could be plugged into a switch activated outlet that was conveniently place at the top of the wall next to the ceiling. The end result looks great!

Dual Water Heater Fixes

I now have hot water again at both the main house and the lake house. As I posted a couple of days ago, the water heater at the main house developed a leak and had to be replaced. Since it was an LP water heater and was also under warranty, I called in the pros to replace it.

Meanwhile, at the lake house I had to repair the hot water pipes that were cut during the demolition prior to the big HVAC project.

It was fairly simple, I just had to install two 3/4″ SharkBite valves and then use two 90 degree angle fixtures plus some 3/4″ pipe to connect them. It was a little bit more dramatic than it needed to be because I forgot to turn off the valve coming out of the water heater and thus got soaked with water when I cut one of the old valves off, but in the end I achieved victory and hot water was restored.

RIP Water Heater

After finishing the HVAC project at the lake house, I had assumed I’d be done with appliance and plumbing work for awhile. As is often the case with home ownership though, my main house in Verona had other plans. I received an alert from my SmartThings water leak sensor that there was water in the basement.

When I investigated, I found standing water and water coming out of the water heater.

It’s been a weekend of cold showers until the new water heater shows up tomorrow. Thankfully though, the heater was still under warranty, so it will be fairly inexpensive to replace.

Lake House Mailbox

The lake house didn’t have a mailbox, or any other way of receiving mail, so I installed one. The only challenge here was digging the hole, since the ground was still partially frozen here in Wisconsin. I used a gas-powered auger, plus warm water to melt the frozen ground.

Once the hole was dug, I installed the cedar post, with a metal anchor, and used 100 pounds of post concrete.

I mounted a bronze colored metal mailbox to the post, and made sure it stayed level as the concrete set.

Lake House Door Installed

One significant upgrade that I wanted to make to the lake house this spring was to replace the old door, which was a plain white door. I chose a door that fit the mid century modern design of the house, and had glass that matched the tile pattern of the lake house’s entryway.

The door also fits with the existing wrought iron storm door:

Installing the door was fairly simple, since it fit in the existing frame with only minor adjustments to the top hinge. I had to drill a hole for the deadbolt, since the previous door did not have one. From there, I hauled the old door away and the project was done.

Lake House HVAC

Usually I try to keep posts on this blog fairly short, but this will be a longer one that covers an intense week of construction. When I first bought the lake house, one of the things I wanted to improve quickly was its ability to serve as a year-round house in Wisconsin. While it technically could due to baseboard heat, it was very inefficient and needed to be kept at a low enough temperature in the winter that all the plumbing had to be winterized. Therefore, this winter I started a project to install full central heat and air. Since this would require extensive propane, electrical, and ducting work, I called in pros from RA Heating and Air Conditioning, as well as Consumers Coop for the LP work. The goal was to get the project done for a budget of $15,000, which they were able to accomplish. Prior to them starting their work, I had to demolish the basement bathroom, as covered in another post on this blog. For a quick recap, here is a before and after:

After that, RA came in and started their work. First, they cut holes in the floor for vents on the second floor.

They also started removing sections of the ceiling in the basement, including the foam insulation.

They did some further demolition to make additional appliance room.

The basement turned into a war zone of construction equipment, trim, and other debris.

They were able to cannibalize existing circuits from the old bathroom to power the appliances in the utility room.

One the prep work was done, Consumers Coop came in and installed the LP tank, and ran a temporary line from the tank above ground to the house. Once the ground thaws later in the spring, they will return and bury a line below the ground.

One of the requirements for getting LP lines installed is that the lines are fully hooked up to the destination appliances, and that a third party witnesses the installation and verifies that there are no leaks. This meant that RA needed to have the furnace in place, and enough venting and duct work ready to go.

After that, they installed the remaining vents to the outside for the exhaust for the furnace.

Next, they installed the vents in the basement to run heat and air to the floor vents upstairs, as well as to the walls in the basement. They did an extremely good job of blending the aluminum ducting with the existing wood beams and trim, in a similar fashion to how exposed ceilings in loft apartments or offices look.

On the last day of construction, they installed the air conditioner outside the house and connected it to the ducting.

They also installed a WiFi enabled smart thermostat that allows me to monitor and control the temperature from far away, which is important since I typically only go to the lake house on weekends.

After meeting with RA and reviewing their work, I stepped back in. I hauled away all of the foam that had been removed from the ceiling, and put the trim into storage for future use.

I also dewinterized the plumbing, which led to an interesting discovery: some of the pipes that had been removed with the shower resulted in a leak. It was an easy fix though, two 3/4″ shark bite end stops closed the loop, and some JB Welding epoxy solved a minor drip from two very old valves. I was able to refill the pressure tank, the water heater, and the water softener, and the house was back in business for spring. The final results look excellent, and exceeded my expectations.

New Lake House Door

One smaller project that I am planning on for this spring at the lake house is replacing the front door, which is currently a fairly boring white slab behind the wrought iron storm door.

The door I picked out is a pseudo mid century modern style door, that fits the vibe of the lake house very well:

I need to take final measurements this week to confirm fit, and then I’ll do the installation.

Tile and Concrete Stain

This week, I had the guest house bathroom measured for tile, and the tile is on order. I decided to stain the raw concrete lip that comes up at the base of the back wall instead of tiling it. Tiling would have added a lot of time and expense, and the stained raw concrete actually provides a pretty cool effect. It was a simple process that just required some minimal taping of existing trim.

After the paint dried and the tape was removed, the result looked great:

In addition to the concrete paint, I added drawer hardware and a faucet to the vanity and sink, and cut out space in the back of the vanity that allowed it to be moved into position.

Guest House Vanity, Mirror, and Tile

I have an appointment setup for this Friday to have the guest house bathroom floors measured, prior to purchasing tile and having the floor tiled. I am planning on using a tile in the following style, which fits the upscale-rustic style of the guest house.

While I wait for the tile process to get wrapped up, I purchased a vanity, sink, and mirror. I hung up the mirror right away, and assembled the vanity but left it in the middle of the room since it will have to be moved out when the floor is tiled. The mirror is polished bronze and matches the lights, and the vanity is a dark grey oak that complements the bronze.

Guest House Living Room

Now that all of the messy parts of the guest house bathroom project are done, I got the guest house living room cleared of construction debris and cleaned up. I also took the time to reorganize the walls a little bit, to make room for my ever growing collection of golf tournament flags and other memorabilia.