Monday, November 23, 2009

Meetings & plans

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who has written and said they enjoyed the blog. Thank you especially for your words of encouragement - we know this is a marathon project and we'll take all the good thoughts and advice we can get! We'll make entries as often as we can to keep you up-to-date on our progress.

Being a weekday, we didn't get anything done on the house. However, I did meet with the city arborist as well as another pest control company during lunch today.

The arborist had great news: most of the trees we thought weren't doing well are actually Cedar Elms, a native Texas elm tree which drop their leaves during the winter. This year they dropped them quite early due to the drought. The advice was to leave them be and see if they come back in the spring - the arborist thinks that they should.

We actually only have one dead tree on the property, a Post Oak. There is apparently a die-off in the area that is NOT due to oak wilt, since Post Oaks are fairly resistant to oak wilt, but rather seems to be a natural die-off of the older trees. The dead tree is not endangering any structures on the property so we may leave it standing as a habitat for woodpeckers.

The other Post Oaks on the property seem to be doing ok, but were affected by the drought. The arborist recommended vertical mulching to help these trees out. I hadn't heard of this before, but it seems fairly straightforward if rather time consuming given the number of trees we have on the property. However, we want to keep those trees, so we'll help them in any way we can!

Tomorrow I will collect all three estimates from the termite companies and compare, then choose one to do the treatment. The two estimates we have so far are very close, and both were done by smaller companies that have been in business for a while. We like the idea of being able to call the owner if we have a question or concern, instead of going through the larger company where we might get a different person every time. We may end up calling each company and asking why we should give them our business, but hopefully we'll be able to make a choice tomorrow and have the treatment done by the end of the week!

The hubby took some samples of various construction substances around the house to have them tested for anything icky. We should get the results back by Wednesday afternoon. Regardless of what is or is not in there, we'll be wearing our respirators for the dust. We also discovered that we can dispose of our tear-out stuff by the truckload, so now we need to get the camper out of the back of our truck so that we can fill it with construction material!

Finally, I did some higher mathematics today to figure out how much water our cisterns would hold if they actually worked. High school geometry says that the volume of a cylinder is equal to 3.14 times the radius squared times the height of the cylinder. The cisterns probably have an interior diameter of 4 feet, and are about 20 feet tall, so that's 251 cubic feet of water per cistern. There are about 7.5 gallons in a cubic foot of water, so that's about 1900 gallons per cistern, or about 3800 gallons total. That's a lot of water - about 1000 gallons more than the four of us currently use in a month! It seems worthwhile to do what rainwater collection we can, even if we just use it for the horses and the garden. So we'll be looking into refurbishing the cisterns and building the barn for maximum rainwater collection.

Now, for the planning section. Yesterday I mentioned that we wanted to re-tile the pink bathroom and put tile in the utility room and hallway connecting them. Well, here's a sketch of what this section of the house looks like now:

Current "master" bedroom. Notice that you enter directly from the carport, and that the utility room is part of the bedroom. Baaad layout! Click to embiggen the picture. (Image not to any known scale!)

New "guest" bedroom with a hallway. The guest bedroom will actually be the master bedroom until we get the addition put on... more on that later. As ever, click to embiggen picture.

Anywho, this week we plan to put in a wall to create the new bedroom and finish up the prep work (including ripping out the tile we found under the carpet) that needs to be done so that ceramic tile can be laid in the new hall, bathroom, and utility room. Once the wall is up and the prep work is done, we'll have our tile guy come out and do the tile. We're also going to hire a mason to move the door from where it currently is to where a window is... we need to get him to take out the brick below the existing window, then put it back in where the existing door is. In other words, we're turning a door into a window and a window into a door. We'll also have the tankless hot water heater installed at some point soon - the hubby meets with a plumber tomorrow morning to discuss installation and get a bid. We already have one bid from Texas Water Heaters, but we're getting another one from a private plumber we found on Craigslist. It looks like a job we could do ourselves but in order to get the rebate, we have to have a licensed plumber do the installation. We've run the numbers and here's what we get for rebates:
  • Federal rebate is 30% of the cost (including installation/labor costs), up to $1,500, which equals about $800 for us.
  • Texas Gas Service rebate is $300.
  • The City of Sunset Valley is offering a $500 rebate.
Total rebates equal $1600. The cost of the new Rennai tankless heater is about $1200-$1400, so even with the additional expense of having someone install it, we come out ahead with the rebates.

Ok, that's it for tonight. Hopefully we can get some work done tomorrow since the hubby is taking the afternoon off work - certainly there's lots to be done!

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