Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The importance of good drainage

 Now that the rest of the dividing wall is down, you can see the whole space that will become the greenhouse. We will put a new wall up with a barn-style sliding door in it for ease of moving heavy loads and large plants.
 Can you say water damage ? The sill plate and studs were just shot.
See the wavy edge where the corrugated tin was embedded in the concrete ? That's about all that was holding the wall up !
On Saturday we finished taking down the dividing wall between the garage and the future greenhouse. The prior owners had built them in such a way that the run off from one roof went right down the side of the next section and did we ever find wood rot ! Apparantly the only thing that has been holding the tin wall up at all is the fact that it was buried 4" into the concrete at the bottom, because the sill plate and the bottoms of all the studs were complete mush.

And, here's why progress is going so slowly right now:

Dang ! It's HOT !!
We plan to get framing started and an add'l support beam installed over 4th of July weekend but we are also taking some time off for some fun !

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take a deep breath.....

Well, no pictures this time. We made some progress Saturday but remember at the beginning of this blog when I said we each had a vision but I wasn't sure it was the same one ? I guess it was bound to happen that our visions didn't mesh. The definition of communication is to express your thoughts and have them received as you intended them to be. A break down in communication occurred; we back off and cooled off and talked it out and we are ready to move forward. We are a good team and we complement one anothers' strengths and weakness but even good partners, heck, great partners disagree occassionally.

Oh, yeah. When you work with old, old windows one is bound to break. Now that we have that out of the way we can move ahead....what can I say ? Crap happens, glass can be replaced and hopefully the story will be funny someday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More demolition and a few good finds

You can see where the roots of the tree lifted the blocks and started the morter to crumbling. Dear Husband removing the last block. Not to say the wall was falling down, but he and I took it down in about an hour. The other half of the wall is metal and studs, but the studs are water rotted so it comes down next.

 The is the big work table we got at the auction for $10 and the industrial fan we got for $40.  DH's boss says he has a motor that will work on it and we can have it for free -- my favorite price ! Speaking of free, the 5 red vent covers and the barrell mover under the table were freebies ! Someone at the auction bought a lot and didn't want this part of it, so they gave it to us !
 This is my big, giant wheel barrow I bought for the whimsey of it. That's a quarter in it for size comparison - I think it's cute !
Lastly my yard sale find. These are four sets of shelves, two larger and two narrower sets. The legs are in the box to the right. The yard sale was over and they hadn't sold these. I cruised by a couple of times and finally found someone out in the yard. We settled on $35. for four sets of shelves that are plastic, so they won't rot, won't rust and if I have a plant that is diseased I can bleach them.  I am pretty happy with all the purchases but am anxious to get building again. DH has a weekend off (finally !) and we're planning to get into forward motion again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Plan B, or is it C ?

We had meant to keep the concrete block wall that was existing between the garage side and the green house side.  A little investigation uncovered deterioriating morter and futher prodding showed us that the whole wall was built without a hint of rebar. The holes in the blocks were stuffed with newspapers dated 1951.  DH leaned on a bit and it shifted and that was all it took. Now, that wall is coming down to be rebuilt. On the plus side it gives us the option to put in a barn style sliding door that will make it pretty easy to move large plants, loads of soil, shelving etc. in and out.

Here is the offending wall and a few of my salvaged doors and windows.

I got a great deal on a massive work table and an industrial exhaust fan at the auction Saturday night, I'll try and get pictures posted soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Things are starting to go up !

First, the building inspector doggies check with the builder and decide construction can go ahead. What a relief !

Then, the old roof over the garage part has to come off to make way for new framing and a new roof over that half of the garage and the greenhouse.

We are using bits and pieces of old metal roofing and siding for the roof. Since I have such an odd lot of stuff we laid it out like a patchwork quilt on purpose. I like my "roof of many colors". Did you expect it to be made of glass ? Most greenhouses are. But here in North Texas, we have two things to worry about with a green house --- Heat and Hail. We get hail every spring, from pea sized to soft ball sized. People who live in hail free zones can't imagine balls of ice the size of your fist raining down but it happens here with disheartening regularity.  We had polycarbonate panels on our chicken house for light, one hail storm and that was money down the drain. Those poly panes shredded like wet kleenex !  It will be much less trouble to keep this shed style green house warm in the winter than it will be to cool it in the summer (and spring and fall LOL). We will have one entire south facing wall of windows and then windows on two of the remaining 3 walls and believe me it will be plenty of light !  Big black plastic water barrels will provide radiant heating in the winter.
So, with the old roof off new supports go up and then the roof. Construction at last !

Don't try this at home !

The first picture is a load of lumber we bought at a local auction. It is "seconds" meaning some pieces have minor damage, bark, or are curved. I priced long lumber for rafters at the home stores. Once you get past 10-12 feet it gets really expensive. Our estimate at the home store was nearly $800 before sales tax. We paid $245. for this load.  We can work around the blemishes, and we won't be doing finish grade stuff with it anyway.

The next bunch of pictures are tree removal (duh !). I've said it before and I'll say it again, this was SCARY AS HELL and I'll never do it ourselves again if I can talk him out of it. I know my husband was raised to be independant and self reliant. He just doesn't remember that he doesn't have his dad, uncles or cousins helping him; just his 5'1" tall 53 year old wife.

The sound of a large tree splitting is frightening, the thump of it hitting the ground is terrifying. My job was to back the tractor up to keep tension on the ropes to guide the fall. I am so short I can only reach the pedals if I teeter on the front of the seat and I need both feet to stomp the breaks hard enough to stop the thing.   Holy crap, have I mentioned I was scared ??

I know I am going to hear from the tree people who object to removing big trees. Well, me too. HOWEVER these are what the locals call "piss elms" and they are weak trees that grow fast. These are dropping major limbs in every wind storm. I call them widow makers. They also make millions of seeds, which blow in the wind, hit the roofs, slide down and drop to the ground and germinate. Which is why they are so close to buildings. No one in their right mind would plant one on purpose, especially right next to a building.

It seems like for weeks all we did was destroy things, when were we ever going to build anything ?

The order of operations....

My dear husband works 40-60 hour weeks with 20 hr. minimum commute time. He usually works every other Saturday, and sometimes every Saturday for a couple of weeks at a time. So, sometimes we chose the next job in the progression based on how much time we had, rather than what might have been the next logical step.....I know, I know, it's not standard construction proceedure. Oh, well.
Which is why we dug and poured foundation trenches so early in the game. It's also why it is sometimes worth the money to rent time saving equipment like this trencher. The whirling blades make short work of tight spaces and tree roots.
This machine requires a good bit of upper body strength to control and navigate !  We sold a pick up truck load of scrap metal for enough to pay for the rental of this and lunch. Not a bad trade, eh ?

Before CONstruction comes DEstruction..

So, we had old structure to remove. We started this when the weather we pretty cool, light jackets until you really got warmed up working cool. We miss those days now that it is upper 90's and low 100's every day.
After de-junking the scary old well house, most of it had to come down. Our first plan was to keep the dividing wall between the garage and the green house, We planned to replace the shelves you can see here with sturdy ones that don't tip forward and unload their contents to the floor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do we have a plan ? We don't need no stinking plans !!

This is what we're starting with. The structure behind the tree, to the left of the parking area. The tree has to go, and it's big.  There's another tree that has to come down as well. Tree felling is scary as hell and we were crazy to do it ourselves.  My hairy half fears nothing, and has a big tractor.  I don't suggest anyone do this themselves unless they've been trained for it and have safety equipment. Us, we were just lucky that the angels protect fools I guess. First we started tearing out the old well house. That round-ish thing on the left is the new well. It's temporary house is an old water cistern whose bottome has rusted out. Did I mention I am a scrap scrounging fool ? I like to say I am "green" and recycle, but I've been scrounging long before green was the thing to be. Once the greenhouse is built we'll recycle the concrete blocks we're tearing out in order to build the new green house into a new well house.  We have a general plan, or at least I thought we did when we started. The hairy half says he can see it in his head. I think I can see it in my head too, but I'm not sure were watching the same movie KWIM ?
A big part of the overall plan is to "do it on the cheap".  I don't have a big building budget and I don't want to dip into savings much. So I set out to convert some resources. First, gold is at an all time high, so I sold my class ring, another broken ring and dh tossed his class ring in as well (shhhh, don't tell his mom).  That was a good sized chunk of cash !  Next, we scared up all the scrap metal we could find. Bits of old fence, barn tin, dead appliances etc.  Sold that for scrap weight, and it was a medium sized chunk of change.  This, plus my saved up windows and stuff, was our seed - so to speak.

We're building a greenhouse !

I had a little greenhouse at our last house. It was made from a play house my brother in law had built and his kids had out grown it. It was just about the only thing I missed when we sold the house; and I've missed it for 10 years.  We've talked about it and talked about it. I've been saving bits and pieces in the loft of the barn for years to use in the greenhouse, someday.  Well, someday finally got here. We've decided to do it as a lean to against the barn we use for a garage, where there used to be a well house. The well went dry and a new well was drilled, and the old house fell into disrepair. But the well shaft is still there and clear enough to use for a drain.  I saved an old sink for years and years to use in the greenhouse, someday. I'm going to position it over the old well hole and have my water run down into it. The new well is near by so we can plumb water into the green house from it. The old well house was a dark, damp spooky place where junk went to hide and mulitply. But, it was somewhere to start.