Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fun with Rain Barrels

the Labradane

Yesterday K and I visited some fellow housebloggers at City Homestead. They live not far from Lake Merritt here in Oakland, and had lamented not knowing how to make a platform for some rain barrels they bought a while back. I'm not 100% done with the insanity here, but I knew that was something I could help with. So while I showed them how to build a sturdy platform, K headed off to the Y.

The work went pretty quickly since they'd already bought the necessary materials. The most time-consuming was leveling the ground to put the concrete piers, and that was pretty easy because the soil had been dug up before to remove plants. It was nice to get to put faces to the names behind the blog, and both K and I enjoyed meeting their dog, Augie, who's got a lab personality but closer to great dane size. He's rescue dog, and a large bundle of energy.

finished platform and barrels

Monday, November 16, 2009

Final Inspection Passed!!!

Ican hardly believe it, but the final inspection was passed. The inspector left a little while ago. After all my anxiety about there being some punchlist items to do (or worse) before we got finaled, it was actually a little anticlimactic. He reacquainted himself with the plans (it's been a while since the last building inspection) and asked some questions. He took a look around, and made sure I had access to under the floor and above the ceiling, there were fluorescent lights where needed for Title 24, et al, then took a brief look at the electrical panel. GFCI breakers for the two small appliance circuits, AFCI breaker for the bedroom, and we were good to go.


Now to finish the trim, figure out the flooring, etc. But woohoo!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


ladder to nowhere

I've been slowly working towards getting ready for the final inspections. I called Tuesday to schedule them. I anxiously awaited the call this morning between 8AM and 10AM to find out when they'd come. The inspector asked if I'd had my zoning inspection yet. Huh? Oh, yeah. I'd had to go through a design review way back when when I'd first submitted the plans. Not because the addition is very big (~350 sq. ft.) but because the percentage of the addition versus the existing house was above 30%. But it turns out that any addition has to get a zoning inspection before the final building inspection. So now I'm somewhat less anxiously awaiting a call from the zoning inspector so I can set that up.

In the mean time I'll work on all those things that aren't quite done yet, like the bit of trim outside near the kitchen windows, the corner trim (I still have to figure out how to mill that or build it up from parts), and figure out what we're going to do for flooring in the kitchen and dining room. Staining didn't work because the wood filler, while stainable, took stain very differently than the rest of the wood (even with pre-stain treatment applied), so right now it's a choice between painting it and real linoleum (tradename Marmoleum).

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

That Stinking Feeling

Not to be confused with that sinking feeling, this was a smellier issue that confronted us the other week. Before I headed over to Casa Decrepit the Saturday past for some demo fun, K asked "does the bathroom smell funny to you?". Yeah, it did smell a little funky. Uh, oh. I mentioned it to Ayse that afternoon while we were working, and she said one of the most common causes is that "something's blocking the vent stack. You know, it crawled in the vent stack and died...but I mean that in the best possible way. :-)"

So I came home, cleaned off the roof (it gets slippery when there are lots of pine needles on it), and snaked the main vent stack. Over the next several days I tried various other things. I took apart the sink trap and snaked that drain and as far up as I could reach in its vent stack and lateral to the main. I checked that the shower trap had water in it, since a trap without enough water can allow sewer gases into the room, and we don't use that shower much any more. Snaking that drain is difficult because of the drain mechanism, but I tried covering it and the corresponding overflow. After each thing, there was no real change -- the bathroom still smelled funky.

So with much trepidation, I drained the toilet and removed it. I discovered two things: the flange was broken, and part of the gasket embedded in the wax ring was missing. Neither of those would necessarily cause the problem, but they were worth fixing in any event. I temporarily plugged the hole with a damp towel while I purchased a repair flange and a new wax ring. I had to chisel out part of a couple tiles in order to get the repair flange to fit, but I was encouraged I was finally on the right track.

With a lot of grunting (toilets are heavy), I lifted the toilet back into place, cleaned up the mess, and aired out the bathroom. All seemed well until a couple days later, when K asked, "does it still smell funny to you?". Arrgh! Indeed, there was a much fainter but still pungent smell noticeable. I then recalled having seen extra deep wax rings, and realized I probably needed one for this toilet because the repair flange and tile made for a slightly deeper space. So I purchased another wax ring, removed the toilet again, replaced the ring, and heaved the toilet back into place.

So far, so good. I haven't noticed any smell in a couple days, so the problem may finally be fixed. Of course, it could just mean my nose has gotten used to it, and the next guest will politely inquire if we've noticed that smell...