Friday, September 14, 2018

Finishing the Lower Wall in the Barndominium Garage

Our choices for the wall between home and garage were Hardie siding like we used on the porches, ribbed steel to match the rest of the barn, or T1-11 plywood siding.  We rejected Hardie because it requires a special saw blade and the one we used to do the small amount on the front and back porches was already ruined.  We rejected the steel siding because it dents fairly easy and this will be a working garage/shop.  So we chose T1-11 despite all the complaints about it.  But being used inside, we shouldn't have much trouble with delamination.

I tested out a dark green to see how it looks with the unfinished pine and galvanized steel that we will use on the upper section.  I like it!  Then I hung the brooms and rakes to get them off the floor.

We used fake brick panels on this section just to make it look a little less odd.  It's actually the back of the refrigerator and freezer that will be recessed in the kitchen.

I don't know if I mentioned it here, but we found an auction from an appliance store and bought nearly everything for the kitchen.  Hubby installed the dishwasher here temporarily.  Sooo nice to have a dishwasher again!  When we finish the inside kitchen, the shop sink will go in this spot.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Installing Our Own Mini-Split System in the Barndominium

Last summer we bought an air-conditioner to put in a window. It did as well as anything in a building that wasn't completely sealed, open to the attic, and had no insulation in the ceiling. In other words, it was only cool right in front of it. Because of that, work inside the barndo came to a halt near the end of June 2017. When it finally began cooling off at the end of September, our momentum was gone and it was really hard to begin working on it again and we didn't work as hard at it once we started back.

During those hot months, we also cleared out three rented storage units and the added clutter made it hard to work. We've completely run out of space to put one more thing in the attic, so anything brought in is either in the way in the house or in the garage. It's hard to decide which area needs to be kept clear more. After we began work again, my main project was to start building cabinets for our tools so we didn't have to spend so much time searching for them or working on the floor. The next time we move the trailer, I'll take a picture of that. While I was building tool organizers, Hubby was wiring, and wiring, and wiring. He still has a few things to finish, but he is on the homestretch with the wiring. The first thing he did was wire the space for the washer and dryer to end our weekly trip to the laundromat, the un-air-conditioned laundromat.

This spring, Hubby decided that we weren't going to shut down when it got hot this summer. We had some bids for central air-conditioning and he had been researching mini-splits, and for our purpose, we decided that mini-splits made more sense. He used software to calculate the size units we would need based on the size of our living space, insulation, windows, and so on, and he ordered one to use as a trial in the attic. If it worked like we hoped, we would buy the rest.

He installed the outside unit onto the steel wall above the porch awning. Most people set them on the ground, but he wanted to reduce the distance between the inside and outside units, we didn't want them on the ground where they could be damaged by fireants, deer, or the neighbor's cattle, and the awning seems to block what little noise there is. Really, I can barely hear it running when I am standing under the awning and I have excellent hearing. So for that, we are very pleased.

The inside unit is mounted on the wall between the house and garage as close to center as the length of lines would allow. It was recommended that it be in a central location for maximum efficiency. It's hard to tell how well it is working because we have had some gaps over the garage doors and because we only have a half inch of foam board separating that space from the hot garage. If it is turned on in the morning, it can maintain a temperature in the high 70s to low 80s, and that was with the window a/c in the house running also. But if it is turned on when the house was hot and the temperature in the attic is already over 110 degrees, it took hours to get it down to the upper 80s. We felt it passed the test though so ordered two units for the house.

What I am not completely happy about though is that it didn't keep all of the attic at the same temperature. Hubby usually had it set so it blew toward the electrical equipment in the attic and that part of the attic was noticeably cooler than the section directly under and in front of the unit. It does have an option to have the blades in motion which would keep the air moving. In the house, we will also have ceiling fans, which will also help distribute the air.

The two house units arrived in August. Hubby has the outside unit mounted on the wall above the awning with the first unit, and he installed the inside unit in the center of the wall over the windows. Installing the outside unit was fairly simple, he just bolted the frames onto the building's steel wall posts. The inside unit was a little more involved with wiring and condensation hoses. It came with the pipe flared and ready to install. We do have to have an HVAC technician vacuum the lines and do the final test of the unit. With our attic test unit, that was only $100. (Try to ignore the junk under the awning.)

Here's a side view of the unit on the brackets attached to the wall.  The brackets were ordered separately.

I would rather have waited until the whole house was sheetrocked before hanging the inside units, but Hubby wanted to have air-conditioning inside while we insulate. So that's why there is one sheet of sheetrock here with the inside unit. I'm sure the sheetrockers will appreciate air conditioning when they come too. I just hope they can work around this unit because Hubby doesn't want to take it off again.

One unit is mounted on an inside wall, and the lines are in the garage.  When ordering, the lines come in different lengths and are already flared and ready to attach.  The inside unit lines are too long, so Hubby had to order a flaring tool so he can shorten the lines.  We've also noticed a drip or two of condensation, so after we have the siding up there, we'll run a gutter, both to hide the lines and to direct any condensation outside.  So far though, there hasn't been enough condensation to fill a tablespoon, even on the most humid, hot day.

We hadn't planned on working on that upper wall since it isn't critical, but one of our bay lights already quit working, so it looks like we will be renting a scissor lift soon.

We're not quite ready for insulation, but we are going to buy it tomorrow anyway, and not just because we need more stuff in our way. We'd like to avoid the extra expense if Hurricane Florence causes a price hike in building materials like past hurricanes have done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sheetrocked a Bathroom for Workers and Closet for Us

I see I need to do some updating, so here is a catch-up post.

When we started building our barndominium, rather, when the builder started, we rented a Porta-Potty for the workers. I always thought that was something the contractor provided for their workers, but apparently not, so we rented one. We're too far from town for them to leave when nature calls. The men didn't abuse it intentionally, but they usually left the door open, banging in the wind. The last time I saw it, the door was hanging on one hinge. To the neighbor downwind, I apologize. After the metal building was complete, we had the Porta-Potty picked up and the subs who came after that just stayed a couple of hours at a time so it wasn't a problem.

After we finished the framing and the electrician and plumber needed to come back for longer periods, we decided to rough finish one bath instead of renting another Porta-Potty. Since we were living here by then, I didn't think I could stand the smell of another portable, and since men aren't as picky as women, this worked fine as long as they were the only ones in the house. The walls were sheetrocked, but not the ceiling. The permanent toilet was installed, but we used a shop basin as a temporary sink. The framework for the pocket doors were done with the rest of the framing, but for temporary privacy, Hubby put the doors in too and then they came back out to keep them safe.

We were also bringing more and more boxes from storage in search of our tools, and began to have quite a collection of clothes and other things we didn't want to pack up and store in the attic. So we finished a small closet and put a plastic zipper wall over it for the time being. It is nice to be able to find clothes without digging through boxes, and finishing the closet gave us a chance to experiment with stains, wall texture, and paint colors.

Sometime between the last post about the storm room and the end of December, Hubby finished the walls in it and installed a clothes rod and shelf. I don't know if that will be permanent or not. I'd like to have a file cabinet in there, but space is limited if we want to have room for two people, a couple of folding camp chairs, a cat, and a few supplies to ride out a tornado and its aftermath.  Shelves, rather than a clothes bar may be a better option.

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 covered in dust, 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.