brittadotcom (brittadotcom) wrote,

back to bettering Brittahytta

Various projects small & large have been completed recently for my house. I'm still behind on writing up the little things I did before the Clue party that were mostly furniture, artwork & accessories, but I'll catch up with the more recent projects right now.

Kitty-inspired bug protection ;)

There were ugly metal shingles covering the little triangle above the screen structure and the roof angle when I moved in. I had to take them down to get to the splining channel when I replaced the torn screens with pet-resistant screening my first year here. Since the metal shingles were ugly anyway, I didn't put them back up. I had thought of making a screen triangle to close up the area, but since not many bugs seem to fly in there anyway, I never worried about it...until now!

Since I have kept my screened patio fairly picked up since the Clue party, I have been letting the kitties out there when it's warm, which they absolutely love. So far the pet-resistant screening is doing well, since they have climbed those screens without affecting them, even though I shoo them down as quickly as I know it's happening. However, I heard some screen climbing then a new noise - it was Onyx standing on top of the screen structure, right in the open triangle! He could have just jumped down the other side & taken I had to revisit my original plan to close up the triangle.

I investigated making a custom screen, but it was going to be expensive supplies and a big hassle to do it right to fit, so I decided instead to use scraps of insulation foam in my shed, leftover from building gravestones & walls for Halloween. I measured & cut to size, wedged it in, and it stays there on its own so can be removed at any time. It is also holding an extension cord inside a channel to power the new chandelier on a corded dimmer switch that you can see in the foreground. I used the leftover foam scraps to close up the rest of the corrugated metal channels where other bugs could enter. Now that I have no patio screen door, I have pretty much completely sealed the screened patio against flying bugs, as well as against kitties escaping... ;)

Foam pieces cut to fit and painted to match, then in place on the patio

New Skylight Shades

I'm trying to do everything else I can to deal with the heat without installing AC. Not only is AC not very "green" but I don't want to sacrifice any yard space for a compressor, so unless I could have it on my roof, I don't know where it could go. I really only need it when it gets really hot, otherwise I can cool off enough to sleep overnight well enough with fans and cool evening air. My roof will need replacing in a couple years, and I think I will do a polyurethane foam roof that will give me R24 insulation where I only have R4 or less now, and I have heard about similar houses in Mountain View not even feeling they need AC installed after putting on that kind of roof. If the thin film solar is available for non-commercial use by then, after the roof is done I might consider home solar again.

Until then, I need to keep the sun from baking my house, since even with all my curtains closed, my skylights would still beam sun into my rooms, and then with no cross-breezes, it takes forever to cool down. I had a couple ideas to block out my skylights like foam or cardboard last year, but a neighbor told me about special-order slatted blinds they got at Home Depot, so I started investigating. I found some much cheaper online for free shipping, but since they were custom & non-refundable, I started with only the hottest rooms, the living room & kitchen. Fairly easy to install, so my measurements were good, and I think they are making a difference, even if only a little bit. Remote control motorized shades were over 3x the cost per shade, and my ceilings are low enough even a short person can just stand on a chair or stepstool so not worth that expense to me. These are Verasol white blackout fabric with aluminum fabric on the outside to reflect light and heat. For winter I can open them up again just by standing on a chair. So far the tension of just the shades are holding them almost horizontal, so hopefully they won't sag over time, since they are designed for this instead of shades for vertical windows. These are less than $100 per shade from SkylightShades, and I plan to order for my other 3 skylights soon.

Living room and kitchen skylight shades installed by me

New Front Screen Door

The only cross-breeze in my house comes in the front door through kitchen out the patio. It cools down the house well in the evenings if I can leave the front door wide open, but bugs are a problem as well as curious kitties. When I was deciding if I wanted screens with the new french doors, I saw the retractable screen door display so researched online. $129 would get me one for the front door, so at Home Depot I bought the last one of that brand which unfortunately had an open end plus the other box end was munched pretty badly. As I was checking out I asked the cashier if I would be able to return it if it was so damaged I couldn't make it work, and he said "Look how it rang up"...$0.01! LOL...for that price I would find a way to MAKE it work! I got it home all excited to put it up, but all the screws & plastic accessories were missing, as I found from downloading the installation instructions since those were also missing. I entered an online request for replacement parts that said "shipping charges may apply" and waited...and waited...then the same week everything else was scheduled my parts came in the mail free of charge! My dad helped me and we added a chunk of MDF since we were afraid the base channel could get stepped on & broken off, but left the rest of the project for me to finish at my request since he was only getting frustrated. I can say that because of the little rip & how the screen was wrinkled that I probably would be disappointed if I paid $129, but only paying 1 penny and some effort, I am very pleased with the results! ;)

New Retractable Front Screen Door

New French Doors

My patio sliding door was a pain ever since I moved in. It was very heavy, no rollers on the track, so even with copious regular doses of silicone spray, it was really bothering me when I had my whiplash last fall. The previous owners had keyed the latch from the outside to be house entry from the garage patio door, but I could never make that key work properly. I had been pondering kitchen redesign for a door directly from the garage, but I was realizing I would lose a lot of garage storage and kitchen cabinets that way, then I found a pre-hung exterior steel french door set at Home Depot for $299 that would fit my sliding door opening, and be a deadbolt keyed lock & doorknob to match my same housekey & other doors. Home Depot told me $600 install, but with supplies and extra delivery fees because it was so large, my final total, with just the painting left for me to finish, was actually $1500 all supplies & installation, tax, delivery & takeaway fees, plus almost $300 of brick & a couple bags of sand since they said I was paying the $80 for the whole truck, so might as well load it up with anything I might want delivered anytime soon. I am happy with paying that total for these results, especially after seeing the work involved would probably have had my dad & me just frustrated, since neither of us have ever installed pre-hung doors into stucco. ;)

The supplies were delivered May 22nd, to which I added a pallet of brick to do my front pathway, which I am still digging, but that guy said it was too windy for just him & me to carry this heavy 72"x80" door into my house, so I has to wait until other guys came from Home Depot to help. Good thing I was working from home all day so that was not a big deal, even though a bit disorganized. I could have scheduled the install a couple days earlier, but I timed the install day for the Friday I was already working from home for the last concerts when my parents were also arriving. Nothing like having parents arrive to dust everywhere & workers still in the house! ;)

The workers arrived about 8:45am, hung plastic and taped some on the floor, but the hammer-banging to crack out the stucco around the door was SO LOUD I took my computers into my bedroom to reassure the kitties while I kept working. I came out to a dust cloud hovering in the air at eye-level, so I'm glad the housecleaners were scheduled the week after! They finally finished around 3:30 or 4pm I think, doing a decent job but nothing I would consider premium quality. I had to cut a tiny piece of molding myself to fill in the mitered corner baseboard to the dining room wall, and since I'll be revising the kitchen anyway hopefully soonish, I didn't worry about the other side where the baseboard is about 1/2" short to the casing trim around the doors now. I have painted all their spackle & the door trim now, but the sheen isn't cooperating, which I will also not worry about since I intend the walls to be painted beige anyway when the kitchen is remodeled. I still have another week of waiting for the stucco to dry before I can paint that to match the house color. Currently the doors stay put well just standing open against the walls, but someone not as careful could slam open the door & bash a hole into my wall with the doorknob, so I still need to get some doorstops. I've seen some magnetic ones that look pretty cool so I need to find them before 4th of July for the next big party.

I haven't even left via the front door since my new doors were installed, since I can lock up the french doors from the outside on the patio, go out the garage patio door, get in my car & leave. Now maybe I won't care as much about finishing my brick pathway across the front yard, but I think it will still be easier to mow around the flowerbed, keep rogue grass out of the flowerbed, plus be easier for any guests to park in my driveway and come to the front door. :)

Old Sliding Door vs. New French Doors

French Doors completely open...ah, what wonderful party flow space this will be! :)

New Window Trim

Another "easy" cosmetic enhancement of adding facia board trim around my skinny window frames has been on my list since the very beginning but always on the back burner. This project got pushed to the front after I saw the beautiful window box my dad made my mom for her birthday. When I raved about it, he said he would make me one for my birthday, but the new trim had to be in place to measure. Voila another project for Dad & me to do in less than 24 hours my parents were staying...this always happens! ;) Unfortunately it was a stucco fight with breaking handfuls of drill bits and sending Mom to the stores to buy replacements, even an extra facia board, but it all got glued to the house with just enough screws to hold the seriously warped facia boards in place. I caulked them the evenings this week, then painted on Saturday and they look so nice now! Can't wait for my window box for the back window, but it already is such a huge difference from when I moved in!

Side window before & after trim

Living room window before & after trim

Front window before & after trim

Ready for my window box! Backyard window before moving in, now after trim added

Fear not...more projects will appear here for your reading pleasure as I have the time & motivation to document them... :)
Tags: brittahytta, house, remodeling

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