What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
jca
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by jca »

Replaced short sections of wooden underhang and facia, now caulked and ready to paint when the weather improves...don't want to know how many times I climbed up and down the ladder
gadget73
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by gadget73 »

had the joy of taking apart the washing machine to clean the drain trap. Full of coins, lint, a label, and 5 years of general nastiness. Stack unit, pump on the bottom with no access panel. Drier comes off, washer comes apart from the top down. 2 hours of not a lot of fun, but at least I didn't have to buy a replacement, remove the downstairs toilet, remove the back door, and exchange machines.

Have I mentioned my house is stupidly designed?
tn535i
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by tn535i »

So you would have to remove the toilet and the back door to get the washer out? My house was built in the 1930's and the idea of appliances as big as they are now wasn't considered yet. I've had to remove some doors and things but not a toilet.
vinceg101
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by vinceg101 »

tn535i wrote:So you would have to remove the toilet and the back door to get the washer out? My house was built in the 1930's and the idea of appliances as big as they are now wasn't considered yet. I've had to remove some doors and things but not a toilet.
Common problem.
Consider that most of the small houses from the 1920's up to the 1940's weren't even designed to house a refrigerator of any size let alone the beasts everyone seems to have these days. This was our problem in our Kitchen; we lost a lot of real estate trying to find a functional place for one.
gadget73
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by gadget73 »

tn535i wrote:So you would have to remove the toilet and the back door to get the washer out? My house was built in the 1930's and the idea of appliances as big as they are now wasn't considered yet. I've had to remove some doors and things but not a toilet.
The toilet wasn't an original feature. I have a utility room with the heater, washer/dryer and water heater in it. There is a door to the outside big enough to get things through, and a skinny door into the kitchen. The toilet was added later and it happens to be just far enough away from the outside door to let it swing but thats it. The door is slightly recessed in the wall so it won't swing back to the wall. You can get some things through without removing stuff, but its a PITA.
garageboy
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by garageboy »

I have to preface this by saying since moving into my ancestral home a couple years ago, I've systematically removed all the bulbs throughout this 84-year-old house and replaced them with LEDs. I am particularly fond of the Philips products, including their candelabra-shaped bulbs with normal bases (4.5W), as well as their "SceneSwitch" bulbs which switch between a soft white, a daylight, and a warm glow. Each setting is found by turning the light off and on and cycling through the settings. And it remembers the last setting when you turn it off. Clever and simple.

But I wanted to start replacing some wall switches with smart dimmer switches, and there are too many to choose from. I decided upon a GE Bluetooth In-Wall Smart Dimmer... for the outdoor sconce on my porch since I wanted to operate it on a timer instead of the motion detector it had been using. One had to install a special Bluetooth app to talk to it. As it turned out, as the only device, one needed to be within a few feet of the switch... making the whole idea really, really silly. But I liked the timer aspect of it, and it has worked reliably. But I wanted to go further.

I have a mogul (E39) base standing lamp from the 1920s with a 100-200-300 watt bulb that would heat up the room. Since they also had a "GE Bluetooth Smart PlugIn Dimmer", I decided to find a bright LED Philips bulb, get a E26 -> Mogul base converter, and simply use the dimmer with that fixture. I decided to install another In-Wall Smart Dimmer for the gorgeous dining room chandelier. It now has six 4.5W LED bulbs in it, but even though I'm using 27 watts instead of at least 360W (if not 450 or 600), the bulbs were way too bright and the dimmer helped.

So the two things I learned were critical: as these are all using Bluetooth, they communicate with each other in the exact same way a mesh network works. From a marketing perspective this is genius -- the more of them you use in your home, the stronger the network is, and the easier you have reaching any devices. And now, on two levels of the home (there are 4), I'm using 3 (soon to be a 4th in the garage for floods) in-wall dimmers, one plug-in dimmer, and four plug-in switches (where I use the SceneSwitch bulbs). The more I add switches, the better it works because of the strength of the mesh network. Very slick. The other thing I learned is that the in-wall dimmers require a neutral wire. You can use a ground jumper wire (they provide) if need be.

Philosophically, I have concerns about smart homes and smart appliances. When it comes to light circuitry, I do NOT believe in smart bulbs (too expensive when they break), I do NOT believe in special weird-bulb LED fixtures where if the bulb goes, you're replacing the fixture because no one will be selling the replacement bulb at that point, and I do NOT believe in putting the logic in the fixture itself (like some Halo recessed fixtures). I believe the best place to place the logic is in the switch. I will be replacing an old inefficient halogen flood light outside next spring, and I will probably use a standard outdoor fixture, with standard outdoor LED dimmable floods. And I'll put those on an in-wall smart dimmer.

Finally, the last thing I got was one of those Halo bridge devices that basically connects the Internet Of Things Bluetooth network that all these devices speak on, to my WIFI network. Now there was no way, as an IT Security engineer would I place the devices on my existing network, and using a "guest network" for these devices didn't seem enough, so I'm using a physically separate router that only will have IoT devices on it. Right now, there's only the one Halo device. As with all security, you simply need to make it difficult enough for the criminal to move onto the next guy. That keeps everyone out except the government, and if the government is trying to break into your shit, you have bigger problems. And if you're still reading this far, the last thing I did was name all my lamps after South Park characters and integrate it with Alexa. So I can say, "Turn on Cartman to 50 percent!" and it does...

Since I just had to install a new steam boiler for the house this winter, and I live alone, I'm definitely going to get an Ecobee 4 thermostat and some sensors to measure temps in order to properly balance out my radiators (put adjustable valves on all the radiators; some were 84 years old). I need to be able to be certain to turn off the heat when I'm not home, and have it kick in 20 minutes before I arrive home. My hours vary, and the ability to change the heat with my phone or computer is important. I will be installing cameras on the property (recent burglaries in my hood) but not the type that force you to buy cloud space so they can get you for a subscription, as recent news indicates poor security protecting your data. The cameras will be a homegrown system. I may also have electronic curtains in one room, but that's a couple years out.

I don't trust locks (or my garage door opener) to these devices. Anyone else getting into smart home devices? Thoughts?
gadget73
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by gadget73 »

I read things like this, and it motivates me to make sure as few things in my house are connected to the outside world as possible

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/01/21/ ... le-attack/

A lot of those IOT devices are not very secure, and the companies that make them aren't always good about patching security issues.

I'm actually in the market for an honest to goodness mercury thermostat for heat/ac to replace the spaztastic digital POS in my house. I did that in the garage and now the heat works when I need it to.
Mike W.
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by Mike W. »

gadget73 wrote:I read things like this, and it motivates me to make sure as few things in my house are connected to the outside world as possible

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/01/21/ ... le-attack/

A lot of those IOT devices are not very secure, and the companies that make them aren't always good about patching security issues.

I'm actually in the market for an honest to goodness mercury thermostat for heat/ac to replace the spaztastic digital POS in my house. I did that in the garage and now the heat works when I need it to.
I go back and forth between a very high level of caution such as you are suggesting and giving myself a dope slap saying it's the 21st century, get used to it.
garageboy
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by garageboy »

gadget73 wrote:I read things like this, and it motivates me to make sure as few things in my house are connected to the outside world as possible
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/01/21/ ... le-attack/
You are 100% correct. This is precisely why I will not trust door locks or doorbells that connect you to their servers. My camera solution will be home grown. And I isolated all IoT devices on a physically separate network.
tschultz
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by tschultz »

New kitchen light fixtures and new refrigerator. House upgrades add up $$-wise!
sail_or_drive
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

Reorganizing my Garage.

I realized that I had never given much thought to how my garage was set up; I never felt I had the funds to do anything with it. I still don't have the funds but have a good collection of plywood and dimension lumber left over from past remodels. I also had used old rolling Sun Micosystem Cabinets for "closets" and they just did not work. I have a 2 car garage with four feet on either side of the door.

Before and after pictures of the right side:

Before there were 4 computer cabinets, 3 sun, one shark rack. They were superbly built but were 3 feet in depth, no room to get by at the door and they blocked a nice west facing window.

Image

After. The racks are gone, much lighter. This part of the garage is still a work in progress (AKA, a mess). I plan on having a work table in the corner near the door to do any painting/gluing/things that are flammable.

Image

Before and after pictures of the left side:

My neighbor got laid off his job and is a carpenter by trade; he built the cabinet in the pictures here for me. I did the paint. The only thing we bought were the bike rack and the closet doors and hardware. Hence the "Desert Mud" paint color.

Before:

Image

After:

All of the cruft that did not go to the good will or the dump wound up in here:

Image

And the bikes wound up here:

Image

Here is a picture of the closet/shelves under construction:

The construction/code gang here will probably call out having the circuit breaker box in the closet. If it becomes an issue I will take off the door.

Image

On the right side of the garage nearer the furnace I built what I would call a "fastener cabinet". All due respect to the cabinet makers it would be generous to say it is a cabinet. But. It fits and I only had to buy hinges. Notice the caster under leading edge of the door.

Image

Image

Even though the load rating for the hinges was 180 lbs, leverage dictated I do something to stabilize the door so it won't turn the door into a parallelogram so I put an industrial strength caster under it. I had to repeatedly shim it and hang the door to test given the floor dropped going away from the wall. Not much, but it did not take much to make it unworkable. I install pilaster strips in both the wall portion and the door so the shelves are adjustable. What is in there now are tools and my specialty tool-boxes; masonry tools on top, green box is paint brushes and painting tools, yellow box is all the shitty little houseware stuff, bottom orange is plumbing tools (pipe wrenches, etc). I have a couple of crates of spackle, nails, screws, sandpaper, etc. that I originally envisioned here so I will probably have to re-think it all.

Image

I hope this does not bore anyone over-much. I am medically retired and have a long list of house jobs I want to do and realized I was treading junk every time I went to do some small chore. Suggestions are most welcome, criticism in any form is alright too. I am making this up as I go along.
Mike W.
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by Mike W. »

sail_or_drive wrote: Jul 27, 2020 9:37 PM Reorganizing my Garage.



I hope this does not bore anyone over-much. I am medically retired and have a long list of house jobs I want to do and realized I was treading junk every time I went to do some small chore. Suggestions are most welcome, criticism in any form is alright too. I am making this up as I go along.
Not boring in the least. I like your idea of a caster at the bottom of that door/cabinet.

This spring/summer was supposed to be the great backyard/house upgrade, but a pandemic got in the way so I don't even want to go rent tools and so much of what I want to do hinges on doing something else first. I got solar in just in time, but money to spend on other stuff, but it's not the right time. :evil:
tn535i
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by tn535i »

sail_or_drive wrote: Jul 27, 2020 9:37 PM Reorganizing my Garage.
I've enjoyed this thread. And I've done many many money saving and recycling of used things for jobs similar to yours. I think those stay in the basement or garage but up in the 'real' part of the house I'm the other extreme usually So I go from perfectionist (where I think my work matches any professional) to near hack (no offense meant). But what really matters is if it makes you happy and works and is convenient. Sometimes I think the 'hack' work is more fun than the other. It's about like building a tree fort when you were kid from scavenged lumber and nails from construction sites. Thank God I never fell out of any of mine!

I've lately been helping my son with a few projects at his house so not much happening at my own. I might take a few pictures to share. Son has some of the nicest storage since I sprung for those boltless shelving units as a Christmas present and then we cut particle board and put polyurethane on everything. We also built a huge shelf across the top of the garage doors suspended by threaded rod with a center section off the beam that can be used to lift his motorcycle. Recently finished turning concrete basement walls into nice insulated drywall so that it looks just like any interior with a small bathroom and kitchenette going in under and beside the stairs. Makes for a nice home theater room and he has a vintage pool table down there to boot.

I would never advocate restricting access to the service panel personally and at work it's a huge No! But homeowner's can do what they please and little chance of getting called out for code violations. I've done many things a pro would need permit and inspection and at home or with my son we try to follow code. On my bathroom remodel a while back (in this thread previous page a couple pictures) I actually called the codes people and when I told them what I planned to do the guy said "It sounds like you'll be alright... No inspection needed". I'm sure everything I did was much better than the circa 1935 stuff I tore out. I'm imagine I met some level of codes that existed between 1935 and 2020 :)
south26
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by south26 »

Mike W. wrote: Jul 27, 2020 11:36 PM
sail_or_drive wrote: Jul 27, 2020 9:37 PM Reorganizing my Garage.



I hope this does not bore anyone over-much. I am medically retired and have a long list of house jobs I want to do and realized I was treading junk every time I went to do some small chore. Suggestions are most welcome, criticism in any form is alright too. I am making this up as I go along.
Not boring in the least. I like your idea of a caster at the bottom of that door/cabinet.

This spring/summer was supposed to be the great backyard/house upgrade, but a pandemic got in the way so I don't even want to go rent tools and so much of what I want to do hinges on doing something else first. I got solar in just in time, but money to spend on other stuff, but it's not the right time. :evil:


Are you happy with solar? We are so far, biggest bill so far this (hot!!!) summer has been 50 dollars.


Andy
Mike W.
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by Mike W. »

south26 wrote: Jul 28, 2020 2:07 PM
Are you happy with solar? We are so far, biggest bill so far this (hot!!!) summer has been 50 dollars.


Andy
Not really at least so far. I'm generating a ton of Kwh, but I'm still getting billed for using Kwh. The local utility PGE is of course infamous for it's fires and explosions killing many people, so ethics probably aren't high on their list, nor is customer service. I'm generating more than expected, almost 1,000 Kwh a month and historical usage has been in the 500-550 a month range. This last bill was lower, $40-50 including gas, but they're just robbing me, they're thieves. They used to put the meter reading on the bill but no longer do so since it's going down, but somehow that doesn't matter. But that's not news. I suspect it will all work out eventually, but perhaps not quite as well as I'd hoped.
south26
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by south26 »

Our system is smaller, we are around 700 kWh.

If we were not having such a hot summer we would be good, but with all of the 90s we are just not making enough.


Andy
sail_or_drive
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

tn535i wrote:
I've enjoyed this thread. And I've done many many money saving and recycling of used things for jobs similar to yours. I think those stay in the basement or garage but up in the 'real' part of the house I'm the other extreme usually So I go from perfectionist (where I think my work matches any professional) to near hack (no offense meant). But what really matters is if it makes you happy and works and is convenient. Sometimes I think the 'hack' work is more fun than the other. It's about like building a tree fort when you were kid from scavenged lumber and nails from construction sites. Thank God I never fell out of any of mine!
It's good to hear you appreciate my rescuing old building materials. I take no offense at your "near hack" comment as the project is a hack from the get go to the finish, excepting my neighbors work; he was patient with me being so cheap (call it frugal) and did the best he could with what I provided

The front of that rolling cabinet came from a house built in 1929. It's 1/4 ply and as I worked with it found that one of two of the edges were pretty sketchy/rotten. I could bang the card for a sheet or two of plywood, and should have now that I consider it.

My brother in law is a civil engineer and was a carpenter for 15 years before that. He has built two of his own houses from the ground up. If he does not know something about building, he knows who to tap to ask about it. He remodeled two of my previous houses; he would show up on a Saturday, lay out headers or footers for walls for example and leave me to fill in the studs in the intervening time between then and his next visit. He had the advantage of running everything past his structural engineer who would provide drawings based on the pictures my b-in-law would take of whatever the structural subject was. We waterproofed a 1000 square foot basement, inside and out; each wall took different approaches all were french drained. We remodeled the space in that basement cutting out 5'x5' egress windows. I dug spacious wells and my b-in-law taught me how to lay block to line them.
In spite of this, I remain a construction/woodworking/carpenter hack. What I did learn is the difference between quality and hack, and where it counts. In this case I am sideways of the electrical code. I am going to talk to a fellow I worked with in IT about the panel; he was an IBEW member for a number of years before working with me and will know. I am pretty sure the doors on that side of the cabinet will have to go, as well as the shelf underneath it. I dug, but could not find the local code, Google found this:
Last edited by sail_or_drive on Jul 28, 2020 11:42 PM, edited 1 time in total.
sail_or_drive
Posts: 381
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

tn535i wrote:
I've enjoyed this thread. And I've done many many money saving and recycling of used things for jobs similar to yours. I think those stay in the basement or garage but up in the 'real' part of the house I'm the other extreme usually So I go from perfectionist (where I think my work matches any professional) to near hack (no offense meant). But what really matters is if it makes you happy and works and is convenient. Sometimes I think the 'hack' work is more fun than the other. It's about like building a tree fort when you were kid from scavenged lumber and nails from construction sites. Thank God I never fell out of any of mine!
It's good to hear you appreciate my rescuing old building materials. I take no offense at your "near hack" comment as the project is a hack from the get go to the finish, excepting my neighbors work; he was patient with me being so cheap (call it frugal) and did the best he could with what I provided

The front of that rolling cabinet came from a house built in 1929. It's 1/4 ply and as I worked with it found that one of two of the edges were pretty sketchy/rotten. I could bang the card for a sheet or two of plywood, and should have now that I consider it.

My brother in law is a civil engineer and was a carpenter for 15 years before that. He has built two of his own houses from the ground up. If he does not know something about building, he knows who to tap to ask about it. He remodeled two of my previous houses; he would show up on a Saturday, lay out headers or footers for walls for example and leave me to fill in the studs in the intervening time between then and his next visit. He had the advantage of running everything past his structural engineer who would provide drawings based on the pictures my b-in-law would take of whatever the structural subject was. We waterproofed a 1000 square foot basement, inside and out; each wall took different approaches all were french drained. We remodeled the space in that basement cutting out 5'x5' egress windows. I dug spacious wells and my b-in-law taught me how to lay block to line them.
In spite of this, I remain a construction/woodworking/carpenter hack. What I did learn is the difference between quality and hack, and where it counts. In this case I am sideways of the electrical code. I am going to talk to a fellow I worked with in IT about the panel; he was an IBEW member for a number of years before working with me and will know. I am pretty sure the doors on that side of the cabinet will have to go, as well as the shelf underneath it. I dug, but could not find the local code, Google found this:
Last edited by sail_or_drive on Jul 28, 2020 11:41 PM, edited 1 time in total.
sail_or_drive
Posts: 381
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Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

tn535i wrote:
I've enjoyed this thread. And I've done many many money saving and recycling of used things for jobs similar to yours. I think those stay in the basement or garage but up in the 'real' part of the house I'm the other extreme usually So I go from perfectionist (where I think my work matches any professional) to near hack (no offense meant). But what really matters is if it makes you happy and works and is convenient. Sometimes I think the 'hack' work is more fun than the other. It's about like building a tree fort when you were kid from scavenged lumber and nails from construction sites. Thank God I never fell out of any of mine!
It's good to hear you appreciate my rescuing old building materials. I take no offense at your "near hack" comment as the project is a hack from the get go to the finish, excepting my neighbors work; he was patient with me being so cheap (call it frugal) and did the best he could with what I provided

The front of that rolling cabinet came from a house built in 1929. It's 1/4 ply and as I worked with it found that one of two of the edges were pretty sketchy/rotten. I could bang the card for a sheet or two of plywood, and should have now that I consider it.

My brother in law is a civil engineer and was a carpenter for 15 years before that. He has built two of his own houses from the ground up. If he does not know something about building, he knows who to tap to ask about it. He remodeled two of my previous houses; he would show up on a Saturday, lay out headers or footers for walls for example and leave me to fill in the studs in the intervening time between then and his next visit. He had the advantage of running everything past his structural engineer who would provide drawings based on the pictures my b-in-law would take of whatever the structural subject was. We waterproofed a 1000 square foot basement, inside and out; each wall took different approaches all were french drained. We remodeled the space in that basement cutting out 5'x5' egress windows. I dug spacious wells and my b-in-law taught me how to lay block to line them. That was just the start; window replacement, refinish wood floors, widen closets, rebuild stairways, built-ins; on and on. We did similar in a subsequent house before moving to the suburbs.

In spite of this, I remain a construction/woodworking/carpenter hack. What I did learn is the difference between quality and hack, and where it counts. In this case I am sideways of the electrical code. I did not consult with my b-in-law, foolish move on my part; he pointed it out as son as he saw it. I am going to talk to a fellow I worked with in IT about the panel; he was an IBEW member for a number of years before working with me and will know. I am pretty sure the doors on that side of the cabinet will have to go, as well as the shelf underneath it. I dug, but could not find the local code, Google found this:
Breaker panel must be at least 4 feet off the ground, but no higher than 6 feet. The panel door must be able to open at least 90 degrees. Working space around the breaker panel must be at least 30 inches wide and 72 inches from the ground up.Aug 31, 2016
I have some work to do. Thanks for your comments as my father and uncles used to say "you are a gentleman and a scholar". Also, thanks for mentioning the panel in such a diplomatic way. You hit my conscience with a (gentle) cattle prod. Also, I really, really, really like the work you did on your bathroom. My wife came up behind me when I was looking and asked if that is what I was going to do with a bathroom project we have planned. "Uh, yeah, sure" said I. :D
Last edited by sail_or_drive on Jul 28, 2020 11:52 PM, edited 2 times in total.
sail_or_drive
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

It appears I am a hack at posting as well. If a beamter sees this, please delete the first two posts if you would.

Thanks.
vinceg101
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by vinceg101 »

I was just thinking about adding to this thread, and timely since my most recently completed project (well, 95% at this point) is in the same vein as sail_or_drive's: Storage. This whole pandemic thing has been a mixed bag: while we are forced to say home when not working (it’s not like we went out much anyway), work has been kind of the opposite. It’s been one of the only times where the economy and labor down-turn hasn’t affected the construction industry (at least here in SoCal). So while I see a mounting list of house projects that need my attention, and the perfect soci-political opportunity to tackle them, I’m chained to my PC working on 3 projects at once.
As typical with me, I just can’t seem to stop making work for myself and it seems that owning old cars and an old house just enables that trait; both are in constant need of something. Take for instance one of my two closets in my house.

My company occupies the larger of the two bedrooms in my house and it has the larger of the two walk-in closets, this closet does the heavy lifting for a lot of both personal and business storage. (The closets are a bit of an anomaly for a house of this vintage, 1927, both actual walk-ins, with windows.) We really haven’t done much with the Office and its’ closet since we moved into this house 21 years ago and it has been showing. This whole project started with me needing to repair the plaster ceiling that had popped off the wood lathing underneath it (it was actually a half-assed drywall repair patch from an obvious roof leak long before we bought the house) and, as typical with me, mission creep set in and my task list got a lot longer.
Given the size of the closet, 64”x77”, over half of it was dedicated to file storage with shelving above it. We have/had two metal flat file cabinets for decades that we’ve been dragging around with us first from apartment to apartment and then finally to this house. They house some work files, a lot of old school stuff, photo prints and a vast poster collection (I grew up in an analog world, so paper is the bane of my existence). The big one is the largest they make for 36”x48” media with a footprint of 42”x54”, the smaller one for the smallest standard of 24”x36” and has a footprint of about 30”x40”. It has always been a challenge to find a place to put these, especially that larger one. Once you find a place, they tend to stay there forever since moving them is a royal PITA (empty contents, remove drawers, move carcass, rinse and repeat). So, when I found that these things fit in that closet (barely), in they went and there they stayed. 21 years of life built up around them: clothes, office supplies, X-Mas wrapping, pillows, bowling balls, etc. You get the idea. All that made the closet rather intolerable and unmanageable. The other major “job” for this closet is to house my company’s computer file servers. This has evolved from varying sized towers with attached NAS drives to the recent iteration of three NAS drives. Since we do not have AC in this house (we live on the Westside at a reasonable distance to the ocean so we have a pretty mild climate except for a few weeks of the year), this closet gets pretty warm; I needed to address some air circulation issues at the very least when opening the window isn’t an option.
So, when the failing ceiling became too much to ignore anymore, I got to planning the project. Planning is my thing, I seem to live for it. Whether if be a car project (see my Front End Overhaul thread for that proof) or a house project. I have countless running spreadsheets, CAD files, task lists, etc. for every project I have past, present and future. So I toiled over designing every aspect of this closet with many variations of cabinets and shelving and their arrangements until I got one that worked (it’s surprising how many variations you can come up with for a space this small). I was supposed to execute this project back in March and April when work was slower, but I pulled a muscle in my shoulder bad and pinched a nerve in my neck that wreaked havoc on my life for the better part of 2 ½ months. (Ironically, I injured myself prepping for this project by trying to move replacement metal flat file cabinets that I picked up off Craigslist; more on them below. Getting old sucks, avoid if possible). So, it moved down calendar until last month when work was busy. Naturally.

The first part was to empty the contents and purge. Purging feels good. Really good. It is best done when you’re in a total objective state of mind and back a trash can up to the door and just toss. One trash can, one recycle bin and a large pile of donation stuff later I had the contents pared down to the essentials. (I have no real pictures of what this closet looked like before these few here, but trust me it was rather embarrassing at how bad it looked. I suspect we all have closets like this, so use your imagination).
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I then set about procuring the needed supplies and materials namely two new metal flat file cabinets. Since most of my poster collection and other media could be in a smaller cabinet, I started looking for the mid-sized cabinets (these are designed ostensibly for 30”x42” media) which are about 6”-8” smaller in both dimensions than the largest ones. I already had another of the largest cabinets in the garage shop handling the bulk of the company’s files, so it was there for anything I had that was larger than could fit in the new smaller cabinets. Turns out that there is an abundance of metal flat files out there on the used market since most every Architect, Engineer, Designer etc. has gone digital. There are warehouses full of these things selling for pennies on the dollar compared to new. Most are older ones from the ‘70’s and are tanks compared to the flimsier new ones (not unlike the E28 vs. anything newer). In January I found a pair of Hamilton Manufacturing cabinets (built in Two Rivers, Wisconsin) from the early ‘70’s on Craigslist that belonged last to San Diego State University, out in the boondocks of Beaumont (about 92 miles east of here).
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Best part about these was that one of them was the rarer 10 drawer version (usually they are only 5 drawers). The smaller drawers worked out better for organization of the posters, so I was jazzed.
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The price was fantastic also (about $200/ea.) and after some consternation about how I was going to get these home, the seller offered to deliver them for another $70. Awesomesauce. The other items like a new light, an exhaust fan misc. hardware was all on a list and ordered at the appropriate times.
The exhaust fan was an addition to help with any excess heat gain from the servers (however since switching from the tower PC to the NAS’s the heat output was cut radically) and general air circulation to avoid dust, mold and/or fungus (old paper you know).
So, after more design fine tuning of the cabinetry & shelving to better organize the crap going back in, I bit the bullet and scheduled it to start Memorial Day weekend (it’s not like we were going anywhere). The big disadvantage to moving this down calendar to now was back in March/April I was planning on just plowing through the whole project in 10-14 days, but work in May/June made me change that to a weekend-only project. That prolonged the whole closet displacement experience which was felt in several rooms of the house and the garage shop (and by extension my back yard).

Relocating the clothes wardrobes & coats to a temporary rack in the bedroom, setting up the servers on my desk in the office and emptying the existing flat files (transferred to the other flats in the garage shop) were on the first weekends’ agenda.
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Next few weekends were demolition to remove the existing cabinetry & flat files and rough Electrical for the light, exhaust fan and switches (the closet only had an old-school pull chain incandescent exposed bulb). The existing small casement window needed refinishing also.
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Once all that was done, it was time to repair and/or replace the plaster ceiling. I was prepared to do this myself; how I had no idea since:
A. I hate drywall work
B. I had no way of transporting several sheets of drywall
C. It’s a small space and all the work is overhead working around upper shelves
D. I’m terrible at drywall and more to the point coating and finishing it
E. Did I mention I hate drywall work? Mostly because I’m pretty bad at it.
After a few calls to some contractor contacts I lined up “A Guy” to stop by one week to take care of it. He even did the demo of the existing plaster ceiling. Best cash payment I made on this project.

In the meantime while the drywall was being scheduled and done, I got busy in the shop making sawdust. I am at best a pro-hack when it comes to woodworking and while being a life-long passion of mine, I am more of “production” level kind of cabinet maker. Meaning that most of what I make is pragmatic and purpose-design & built cheaply and efficiently. I learned long ago how to dovetail joints and hand plane exotic woods, but most everything I make is far from that (in fact I’m sure I’ve forgotten how to do that stuff now); paint grade or birch plywood is more my speed these days.
So after (more) CAD layouts and planning I got my cut lists and headed off to my favorite local lumber house: Anderson Plywood in Culver City nearby. Damned few of these old-school shops left these days, you know the ones housed in a hundred year old bow truss warehouse, racks of plywoods of all colors and flavors, more racks of exotic hardwoods and veneers, and most importantly: people who know what they’re doing and talking about.
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One of the greatest thing about Anderson is for a modest price, they will mill down the plywood stock all you want, which is good since it was the only way 3 sheets of ¾” plywood was fitting into the CR-V to get it home. Anderson is a hopping place at any given time and not open on Saturday, so there are waves of cabinet makers, finish carpenters and guys like me jockeying for the few loading spaces and lining up for milling (all of whom laugh at me shaking their heads when I show up in the Honda and look at all that plywood; I love proving them wrong when it all goes in. With room to spare.). They had a deal on pre-finished Birch ply so that cut my workload in half but did change up my finish strategy. I think it was for the better going from paint to natural wood. (Seriously for the additional $10/sheet, I couldn’t have bought the amount of polyurethane needed to do all that, let alone the time.)
The big problem with too much crap in ones’ life is space is a zero-sum game, if you’re not diligent about culling and organizing, you pay down the line for your laziness. The shop in my garage is a prime example of this; I spent the better part of a day clearing out space just to get to the centerpiece of this shop: My JET 10” cabinet table saw
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This and the outfeed benches attached to it were to be instrumental in me completing this project. After some much needed tune-up, cleaning and waxing the table, the saw was ready for primetime. First weekend was milling down all the panels and pieces to final sizes:
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I had two equipment drawers that I was reusing from the previous closet setup, so that ended up taking a fair amount of time to get it all sorted out (in the end it was still off a little; oh well like I said: I’m still an amateur).
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Back inside, now that the plaster was finally dry, it was time to paint. After a few weekends in between shop time, the room was finally done with its’ primer and two final coats:
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After some milling and installing of some Red Oak edge strips, I was ready to go for the first round of cabinet installation:
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Flat files in first; this required some physical labor assistance as even the empty carcasses still weigh a bunch not to mention really cumbersome. (Thanks, Phil).
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Followed by the tops and shelves and a new server rack:
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Fitting the drawers and rack and adjusting them to work took the better part of the whole next day, but finally:
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Final installation of the fan, light and window shade happened in there somewhere
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All that was left was to move everything back in. I almost hated to do that since we were getting used to that room being nice, neat and clean; it almost never looked this good.
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That was all up to last weekend. Just a few items left to figure out and complete, namely some paper and board supplies and putting the weatherstripping to that window (which is all part of my on-going exterior door & window rehab, which never seems to be done.) The only other item is an on-going re-organization and cataloging of the poster collection, but that seems like it will take the rest of my adult life.

I know, it’s only a small closet, right? Why I am going on about such an inconsequential thing; but in life you have to celebrate the little things or you’ll go mad. And in today’s world right now, this is a big victory.
Cheers.
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cek
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by cek »

Nice work Vince!
sail_or_drive
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by sail_or_drive »

All that was left was to move everything back in. I almost hated to do that since we were getting used to that room being nice, neat and clean; it almost never looked this good.
It looks good loaded and I feel empathy about the "have to move 3 tons to get to the 1 ton" vein. Living that now. Thanks for posting, gives me some inspiration.
tn535i
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by tn535i »

vinceg101 wrote: Jul 30, 2020 3:53 AM I was just thinking about adding to this thread,

I know, it’s only a small closet, right? Why I am going on about such an inconsequential thing; but in life you have to celebrate the little things or you’ll go mad. And in today’s world right now, this is a big victory.
Cheers.
Well done and well said. Your place is a few years older than mine but I recall a lot of even older houses where some sort of storage closet with a window was pretty common and usually on the second story. I love old true divided lite windows like that but hate the glazing and repairs. It's only really worth it if you have the old glass that distorts the outside world just a little. It needs a little distorting for me to tolerate it.

I wish there were a place like Anderson near me... We have a good local hardwood shop that even has it's own mill nearby but nothing like that.
Mike W.
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Re: What Did You Do To Your House Recently?

Post by Mike W. »

Wow Vince, tip of the hat to you. Big job, well organized as befits your profession, and well done. And well documented!
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