Thursday, March 15, 2018

Giving the Wall a Big Lift

A lot of barndominiums frame the residential side without a roof other than the metal building, leaving the upper part a storage loft, and that is originally how we built ours. We built the barndominium with the idea that the upper part over the residential side could be finished out someday, or that the kitchen and living room space could be completely removed by a future owner who wanted to turn it back into barn and keep the rest as an office or guest room.

We have been using the upper loft as storage, but when garage doors are open on each end, even a slight wind can topple a stack of boxes up there and a few things too close to the edge have blown down to the floor below. So when Hubby rented the lift to put up his tower and antennas on Saturday, he decided to use it the next day to build an upper wall between the residential and work sides. Hopefully, it will also keep mud daubers and barn swallows out too.

For this, he brought the lift into the barn. Not a lot of spare room, but it fit.

He also installed two LED bay lights over the work bay. If you'll notice the bright light over the garage door in the above photo, you see that the bay light has been mounted on the wall over the door. But when the door is open, it blocks all the light. But until now, we couldn't get it any higher.

During a break, the resident inspector checked out the machine.

Framed and sided with foam board insulation.

Earlier, Hubby built a closet in the loft, now attic. For now, this will be for Christmas decorations and things we don't want in boxes but don't have anywhere to put them yet. I managed to grab this photo before he put the end piece on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Completing the Ham Radio Tower and Putting up Antennas

On Saturday, Hubby rented a bucket lift and his best friend came to help put everything up.  If you read the previous post, you know there is a base section of the tower six feet into the ground buried in concrete.  After it cured, Hubby put the next tower section on with the tractor.  But he couldn't do more without a lift.  But after that, the weather wouldn't cooperate until this weekend.

First they put on the top tower section.  I wish the tractor wasn't in the way, but maybe they were using it.

Then the 2 meter 440 vertical antenna.

Next, the 2 meter beam.

And last, the triband beam antenna is on the way up.

It was a nice day on the ground.  A little windy up there, said Hubby.  Threading the antenna beams around the tower requires concentration.

Done!  All that was left was zip-tying wire all the way down.

Just after sunrise the next morning.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Setting the Ham Radio Tower

A few weeks ago when I was out of town, Hubby rented a jack hammer and took a few more feet of rock out of the tower foundation. He had had a base for the tower made last year and it has to fit completely in the foundation, with just a few inches of pipe out of the foundation for the tower to fit into. Then, he added rebar, ground rods, and yesterday, a truck load of cement. Once the concrete sets up and the wind dies down (if it ever does), he is ready to assemble the tower.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Storm Room is Installed

The same week the electrians changed out the meter box, Hubby got a call that the storm room door was finished.  Over the next few days, he finished the door wall and installed the door.  Not an easy feat as the wall is steel sandwiched between plywood and the door weighs 600 pounds by itself.   The recommended locks (there are three deadbolts) cost over a thousand dollars, so he is going to check with the company who built the door and see if they have a cheaper source.

The inside of the storm room is sheetrocked, and has an overhead light, electric outlet, an internet connection, and a ham radio connection.  Of course, most tornadoes go through quickly and most of the time the all clear is sounded fifteen to twenty minutes after a tornado is spotted.  So we really don't need internet or ham radio unless the building falls in on top of us and we need to call for help, and in that case, the antenna tower will probably be down too.  But it will be something to do, kind of like pressing the help button over and over in a stuck elevator.

When finished, the storm room will have closet space and store soft things like sleeping bags and blankets so it isn't a big waste of space 364 days a year.

After getting that room finished, Hubby was able to finish framing the closet walls and setting the pocket doors.  Except for a couple of trim pieces, the framing is finally finished!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Electric Meter, Panel, and RV Pad

If you recall, we got the first meter May first.  So why do we have a new one?  One word: Oncor.  Or maybe it should be two words, the first and last name of the Oncor representative.  Oncor is the electric provider in this area, which is not to be confused with the electric provider, TXU, who actually installed the meter meters.

The Oncor representative, who was new to his job last fall, told Hubby that it would be cheaper to run the lines underground and have two meters because of the rebates.  Since we only have one building, we were going to have one meter for the garage and one for the house.  Then the representative drug his feet at every turn and it took months to get everything installed.  In fact, I went around him to the previous reprentative to finally get electricity.

After we got the first meter, we called TXU, and then Oncor, and then TXU....  To make a long story short, the Oncor representative was wrong, we cannot have two meters on the same building. Commercial businesses can have more than one meter, but residences cannot.  One of the TXU people we talked to, and there were several, told us that we may be able to get the second meter billed as recreational; otherwise, it would have to be a commercial meter.  AND, we would have to build a second barn either way.  Finally, it was decided that we wouldn't have to have two meters after all, but we would have to have a bigger meter to handle both areas.

So here it is, the new meter on the left, and the first meter on the right.

Hubby had recently finished spreading the road base for an outside RV pad and the electrician also installed an RV outlet box with 50, 30, and 15 amp outlets.  Near it is the water faucet, now covered, and the dump station.  I bought the dump station sewer cap from RV Park Supplies They were great to deal with. Now we are ready for company with their RVs!

The last thing done by the electrician was to put a breaker box in the wall for the house.  Now we can finally get the wiring done in the house and not have extension cords everywhere.
Oh, and that Oncor representative?  He's no longer with the company.  It seems we were not the only ones he stalled and misinformed.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winding Up Again

By the third week in June, we had quit working on the barndominium.  The temperatures had reached the high 90's and with abundant spring rains, the humidity was higher than normal.  Plus, we had worked long hours every weekend and every evening until we had reached the breaking point.  I guess you could say we were stressed out, burned out, and tapped out.

I printed this quote from The Cabinet Guy at 
Now get out there and have FUN! If tempers start getting short and it stops being fun STOP!!!!! That is a good time to go get wings and a beer and walk away until next weekend. Also...Take breaks from the project for a day or a week now and then. A Project of fun and love can turn into a ball and chain if you try too hard too fast.
Of course, he was talking about building a trailer, not a house, but if tempers flare (and ours were), it's good advice no matter how it was intended.

Also, with that abundant rain, which continued through late July, we had to work on our hay field.  This land hadn't been worked in a number of years; the hay was poor and the weeds were taking over.  So from mid-June until late August, we spent every evening mowing.  Our hay mentor told us to keep the fields cut short for a year or more and the hay will come back.  Easier said than done, but I can tell now that it has made a difference.  Already, our field looks better than the one next door that hasn't been cut since last fall.

By September, we knew that we were going to be living in a trailer for quite a while, so we traded our small trailer for a larger one.  A few of our new neighbors told us that we'd probably be living in our trailer for a year or more if our build took as long as theirs.  It took until September for us to believe them.  Of course, having a bigger trailer meant we had to have a bigger truck and it wasn't until October that we found the one that fit our requirements and budget.

Usually, the high temperatures begin to break by mid-September, but this year the heat hung in there until the end of the month.  When it did, I we decided that we needed to organize our tools before starting work again.  My Our first priority was to get unneeded items off the floor and out of our way.  We lined half of the west wall of the garage with a layer of foam insulation topped with 5/8 inch plywood.  On the upper level, we put some shelves for lightweight items and a bigger platform for heavier things.  Eventually, a ladder will attach to a rail on the platform.

Last week, I started building cabinets to hold the tools and provide more workbench space.  It's pretty sad when the bumper of the trailer is used as a counter.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


I just happened to walk outside with the phone this evening to catch this sunset.

Last week we saw a deer in our driveway when we drove in at night, and Saturday we saw two deer in the middle of the day. There is evidence of hogs at the back near a creek, but so far we haven't seen one on our property. We've seen them around though, and Hubby hit one at dawn one morning on his way to work. He didn't know if he killed it because it kept running, but I saw its final resting place when I left later that morning and so did about twenty-five buzzards.

One of our neighbors named their place Hog Run Farm and I told Hubby we should name ours Hog Wild Farm. He didn't think that was funny.