Archives April 2018

Shed Progress: Floor Construction

I resumed work on my shed project now that all of the other projects I was working on are finished. The next step was to install floor beams, which were connected to the main shed structure via steel ties.

The beam installation went fairly quickly. Next, I’ll pour concrete in between the beams, and once that sets I’ll lay a plywood floor overtop of it and connect it to the beams that I installed today.

Guest House Bathroom Finished

After a long saga of dealing with Home Depot and Crew2, the guest house bathroom flooring is in and the project is complete. I chose to have the tile professionally installed, floor tile is one of those things where absolute precision is important and typically it is pretty inexpensive to have done. When I built my wine cellar, I bought the tile from Home Depot and had them coordinate the installation through their Crew2 service, which handles all the local subcontracting. It was a smooth, painless, and cheap process, so I figured the same would be true here; unfortunately, it was not. When I initially ordered the tile, I was told there would be a roughly two week wait to have an installer scheduled. In reality, it took two weeks for the tile to arrive, and from there I was told it would be a four week wait for a contractor. Two weeks after that, right before I was about to leave for the Masters, I received a call and was told there would be a further two week delay because they were overbooked. I informed them that this was completely unacceptable, and worked my way through a couple levels of managers until I was able to get them to keep the original schedule.

Once that day arrived, though, the contractor informed me that the floor needed additional leveling and that while he could do that leveling, it might mean another several weeks of delays.

This was particularly annoying to me, since I could easily have done the leveling myself in the weeks leading up to this, but the Crew2 representative who measured the room said that wouldn’t be necessary. Given this, I drove to Home Depot and the made my case that they should do whatever needed to be done to find someone to do the job that same week. I found the Home Depot rep to be much more helpful, and he helped me wrangle Crew2 and get them to find a crew to lay the tile the same week. A few more twists and turns ensued, including them trying to charge me $900 for what amounted to an hour and a half of labor plus $100 of materials for the leveling, but eventually the tile was laid.

The next morning, they came and grouted the tile and installed trim. The finished product looked great!

I reinstalled the toilet and the vanity, and connected them to the water lines. Thankfully, nothing leaked.

After that, all that remained was some decorating. Here is the final result:

I am extremely happy with how well this project came out. It is the third bathroom I have built, and also motivates me to remodel the master bathroom at the lake house, which will be a fun project later this summer.

Lake House Plumbing Overhaul

This past Thursday, plumbers worked all day in the lake house (they finished after 11pm) to replace the old pressure tank, water softener, and water heater. Now that this is done, the entire HVAC and plumbing system at the lake house has been fully modernized and all of the original 1974 appliances are gone.

It took some effort to get everything ripped out due to the space constraints:

Ultimately, the new appliances are fall smaller and more efficient. There is more room in the utility room, and the new appliances will perform significantly better.

Dock is In!

This week, Deano Docks came and put the dock in the water. Unfortunately, the boat lift cannot go in yet because the water levels are still so high. All of the April snow in northern Wisconsin has meant that we have extremely high water on the Wisconsin River (and thus Lake Wisconsin). Thankfully we have a floating dock, because the part of the dock that connects to the stairs is still under water.

There is also a lot of debris floating down the river and getting stuck on the dock, which we’ll have to deal with before the boat lift goes in.

Regardless of the water levels though, the views from the dock are incredible!

Underground Ethernet: Completed

Last weekend, I was able to complete the excavation of the trench to bury my underground ethernet cable, and bury it underground. A week later, everything is still working well and the guest house now has fast, reliable internet!

At the guest house, I added an additional junction box to deal with extra cabling so there is some slack in the buried cable, making it less likely something will go wrong if the buried cable shifts position due to the freezing thawing cycle.

Once the cable was buried, I used the dirt I had dug up to bury it, and resodded grass with the grass I had ripped up.

Ultimately, I was able to get this knocked out in two days for about $200 worth of materials. An electrician had quoted be $2200, so this was a true DIY success.

Underground Ethernet

Another spring project I am working on is resolving the internet access issues that have plagued the guest house. I have tried a variety of wifi range extenders that have worked with varying degrees of success, but all have been inconsistent. To permanently solve the problem, I am going to run underground ethernet cable from the main house to the guest house, following approximately this path:

Ethernet Lines

This weekend, I setup the routers on either side of the underground line, setup junction boxes on the outside of each house, and verified that everything works with an above ground cable. In the main house, I configured a wifi extender with an ethernet port, so that I could mount it right by where the cable would exit the house.

The cable coming out of the range extender exited the house through a plastic electrical conduit, and hit a junction box with a female to female ethernet connector.

At the guest house, I installed an identical junction box with a female to female connector.

Inside of the guest house, I installed an entire new router, which is able to get internet access from the main router in the house while maintaining its own DHCP server, functioning as a separate network.

Once the weather improves, I will use a trencher to dig a trench and bury the cable outside.

Lake House Water Softener

The last plumbing task at the lake house was to get the water softener running again, and to fill it with salt. I was able to do this, although there are still some minor drainage issues to resolve for when the softener regenerates itself at night.

Regardless of that, all of the minor issues with the very old pressure tank, water heater, and water softener have made me realize that they should probably all be replaced this spring or summer. Once they have been replaced, all of the utility appliances will be new and I will have less to worry about in terms of leaks and other issues.

A future post will no doubt cover that process and the results once they have been replaced.

Water Heater Wiring and Gate Wiring

I had a variety of electrical projects at the house in Verona that I wanted to have done by an electrician, including wiring the guest house water heater, resolving issues with the underground wiring to the gate, and running underground ethernet from the main house to the guest house. The ground is still partially frozen, so the underground ethernet will have to wait. However, today I had Krantz Electric come and do the other two projects.

They were able to easily get the gate wiring resolved by replacing a GFI outlet that had gone bad on the back of the guest house. They were also able to wire the water heater, so the guest house plumbing is now fully operational!

Iron Filter and pH Balancer

When the water heater at my Verona house failed a week and a half ago, it prompted the plumber to do a water test, since our water comes directly from the well after passing through a whole home filter. When he removed the water heater, he noted that it was filled with iron deposits, as well as very basic water, which caused it to fail after only 5 years. The water test confirmed his suspicion, which was that the water’s pH was too low and that it contained a lot of iron. Further investigation revealed that the house likely had a filter to address this at one point, but that it was likely ripped out when the previous owners were foreclosed on. Therefore, he recommended that we have a new one installed, which we did. The new filter went in seamlessly, and will hopefully greatly improve the house’s water quality!

ATV and Lawn Mower Shed

After adding a bathroom and a utility room to the guest house, I wanted to free up the garage slot next to the F250, currently occupied by the ATV and two riding mowers. I priced out purchasing a shed and having it professionally built, and found the prices to be too high to justify. Therefore, I decided to build a shed myself. I had plenty of space to work with behind the guest house, and measured out space for a 20 foot by 10 foot shed, which would fit the vehicles I was looking to fit along with storage and work bench space. By putting it near the guest house, it would also be easy to wire for electricity so that I could have a light and outlets to trickle charge the vehicles. I started out with 8 vertical 4×4 treated cedar posts to form the corners of two connected 10×10 boxes to form the 20×10 shed. Each post would be set in the ground and anchored with concrete in holes that were easy to dig with my post auger.

The biggest challenge was getting all of the cross beams level along with the posts themselves. I used steel ties to fasten all of the corners, and adjusted them vertically with screws to fine tune the levels.

Eventually, I had everything set.

Once the levels were finalized, I poured concrete in each of the post holes, and used a reciprocating saw to saw off the tops of the posts that extended past the top cross beams. My next step is to frame the floor, walls, and ceiling, and then to build the roof. It will be a fun project to work on throughout the spring!