Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oh Door Me!

I generally have a weeks’ worth of time off work over the holidays.  This year however we decided that we’d take the time and money we would spend on the trip and invest it into some improvements in the house.  The one that seemed a pretty good match for both was replacing seven hollow core doors with solid wood slab doors.  Sounds simple right?  We thought so.

This wasn’t really an immediate need for the house to function or an efficiency upgrade. This was an issue of having grown up in a home where the doors were all solid wood and the hollow core doors taunting me.  The doors were a symbol of everything I didn’t like about houses built from the 60’s on.  They were cheap, disposable and lacking in character.  We’ll invest in doors we both like better, and feel better about the house.

We started the day after Christmas, borrowing my parents van and the dad that came with it.  Our first stop was a local place called Building Value .  Perusing the aisles, a worker helped us look through if any of the salvaged doors would work for the doors we were filling. He gave us valuable information about checking where hinges were and how the door opened as well a how much space was needed for the latch.  Sadly we didn’t find any doors that worked there, nor did we find any at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.  The end of the day had us at Home depot picking up the doors for the openings that we had, except for one that I needed to pick up the next day.

It took longer to get the items we needed than expected and we were disappointed that we didn’t find ones we could re-use.  We were sure that we could still have the project done by the end of the week at that point.  Unfortunately that was not to be.  We thought we had everything we needed in the first trip but had to go back multiple times for additional hardware pieces, and widgets for cutting and placing the doors.  By the end of the week we had the hinges set and were working on the knob/latches.  Way behind schedule it was taking more than an hour per door, and my husband’s arm was tiring from slowly boring through the wood.  I stepped in to help, and made things worse.   I misjudged a the depth of where I was drilling for the latch, let it get caught and buck out of my hand spraining my wrist, and fracturing one of my fingers. 

Although the doors are up they have yet to be stained or sealed. Nearly two months later the project is not done, as I spent the majority of that time in a cast. Which lead to its own conundrums.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Upcoming home improvement:

Within the next month or so my house will be receiving a very long overdue improvement.  Needless to say I’m rather excited to be updating our windows.  We’ve only been in the house a little over two years and we are working our way through some long needed maintenance/improvements.
You see, the house is part of a planned neighborhood built in the late 1960’s. The past forty years, from what I can tell have added a sun room, a deck (both poorly), replaced the roof and eradicated/warded off possible termites.   This has left several other things original to the house, which for the time frame probably shouldn’t be.
When we moved in we did a small amount of analysis to see what we could update that would give us the biggest improvement for our improvement dollar.  I did not like what the local energy company gave me as a monthly energy use/cost estimate. We replaced, or for all intents and purposes,  added insulation to our attic. Went from an R3 rating to an R60, and believe we cut that in half.  The next step was to update our house-original heater, and the 20 year old air conditioner.  This let us run the house at a more comfortable level in the summer; we enjoyed a slight decrease there.
This left us believing that our High Efficiency HVAC was only more efficiently heating/cooling the outside world than out house. We went for quality over price, with triple pane, and low E Argon gas.   I am not sure the scope of the improvements that will be reaped from the replacement in sheer decrease in monthly gas and electric usage.  Unfortunately these will be going in just post what are traditionally our coldest months. On the other hand, it’ll be nice to have all windows able to be opened and with screens.
I’m sure there will be some improvement – going from aluminum to vinyl in the least should have a positive impact – but I’m still excited that we are taking care of this.