Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Look What Followed Us Home

Last week, while connecting the washer and dryer to the new circuit panel Luke and I were discussing the laundry set we had picked up in September. After having front loaders in our last house we were not satisfied with the performance of a traditional top-loading washer. And we were both concerned that when we sell this house the buyer is going to ask for an allowance to replace the aging laundry appliances.
We agreed to start looking for another set, either high efficiency top loaders or front loaders, but limited ourselves to a $500 budget for the set. I thought we would be looking for quite a while, but thirty-six hours later we found a set on Craigslist. The dryer had recently quit working and the seller had been quoted $500 to replace the circuit board. He decided he would rather put that $500 toward a new set instead and offered the washer for $175 with the dryer thrown in for free. After doing a little research into the cost of a replacement board we decided to buy them. But after several hours of cleaning them up and more research Luke figured out that a switch on the back of the dryer drum just needed to be reset. They now work perfectly.
This $2500 Bosch set looks out of place in our unfinished laundry room. I'll have to do something about that...someday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Clearance

Even though we're still months away from beginning our kitchen remodel we're already collecting materials. During our most recent trip to Helena we happened to find a few more things for the future kitchen. First off we spotted a chandelier for over the table.
Can you see that tag? $20 for a chandelier that originally retailed for $149.
It was a great deal, but the rest of our light fixtures are oil rubbed bronze. I'll be painting it to match later.
I also picked up another display model light fixture
This motion detector light will someday go on the garage. But since we currently have a flat roof and nowhere to hang the light it will be in storage. It too will be repainted.
And our other great find? Granite
I had already planned to do the counters in granite tile and had actually picked this exact color. So image my surprise when I spotted this on clearance.
That $8 price is for the entire box which works out to $1.60 per square foot. I still need to buy the rest of the countertop materials but the total cost should come out to $4 per square foot...for granite. It's hard to believe.

Now we just have to finish the electrical, insulate the attic, build a bathroom in the basement and redo four bedrooms before we can start on the kitchen. Shouldn't take long right?

New Service

Now that the blog is up and running again I thought I should probably post about what we've been doing for the last month. In addition to replacing the plumbing and heat we also have to update the wiring. The house does not have a single grounded outlet and most of it is the original cloth-wrapped wire from 1953. Currently our power is controlled by this disconnect that supplies power to the upstairs circuit panel.
The breaker panel is currently in the hallway linen closet.
Code does not allow panels in closets and we'll be ripping out the linen closet during the kitchen remodel. So to bring the house up to code we removed the disconnect and installed a new panel in the laundry room.
While we are doing all this electrical work we decided to upgrade to 200 amp service. Northwestern Energy offered to replace service to the house for free but we had to upgrade our equipment to meet current codes. We took advantage of a beautiful November day and replaced the service to the garage. The old wire feeding the garage was rated for direct burial but since it was never buried it did not hold up well.
So we dug a trench from the house to the garage and ran conduit. Digging the trench went better than expected even though we had to go under two sidewalks.
We ran conduit to the garage then Luke installed the meter base and masthead while I was at work. Once the new equipment is powered up we can get rid of the old service on the right.
Of course we rewired the house but if you thought the last few pictures were boring then Romex pictures would be even worse. We've passed our electrical inspection but now we are waiting for the power company to switch over the service.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A Seamstress I Am Not

We don't take pictures of Rikka often. Atlas is the one who follows us everywhere and has a knack for getting into most of our pictures. But Rikka was our first dog, a ridiculously cute puppy abandoned at a stable. When she was a year old we got Atlas to be her companion. Despite being younger he has always been the leader. He's big, smart and good-looking. Rikka is his dimwitted sidekick.
We don't know her heritage, but the best guess is lab and Australian shepherd. She's got a thin coat, handy during hot summer days but not so great in Montana's coldest town. As the temperature drops she looks increasingly miserable when we put her out for the day. I built her a dog shelter to help her stay warm, but decided she needed a coat. With tuition and Christmas coming up spending money on a dog coat was not in the cards. Solution: make her a coat. I got out my old corduroy work coat that was too short and too wide for me.
It's a sturdy material and sheepskin lined, perfect for a dog coat. I'm not into sewing. On more than one occasion I have stapled my clothes down to the correct size. But I gave it my best shot and used the back of the coat for the body, the collar became the chest strap and I cut up one of the sleeves into a belly band. The result:
A warm dog coat that cost me $2.23 for velcro and bias tape. Rikka is not too sure about it so we've been making a big show of giving her treats for wearing it. Atlas wanted some treats so he had to "earn" them by wearing the jacket.
Good thing Malamutes don't need coats. Purple just isn't his color.