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high desert. small house.

Days 1-6: Shed Research & Planning

[Now that we are living in the house, we are going to consider the next phase as general ‘finish work’.  This will include the interior trim, shelves etc and outdoor projects.  As will the other phases listed on All the Posts, we will again restart our post counting.]

Monday, 8/1
Happy August everybody!  The peace and quiet of our house still surprises us daily.  It’s a profound difference.  It spills over into us – we’re peaceful and quiet.  The animals have picked up on it and are much easier to live with.  Sydney’s panting has decreased by 80% and Trooper is biting his poor foot less.  Fred bird is back to chattering away to himself and filling the background with bird speak, something we haven’t heard in months; maybe since we moved from the trailer to the apartment back in April 2015.

By living in our new found peace kingdom, the other stress in our lives has decreased in perceived severity.  Worries at work?  No big deal.  Extra evening domestic responsibilities?  No sweat.  Sometimes it even feels fun.

The shed of scraps has become a more urgent matter as we realize we need somewhere to store our building stuff AND we need a safe place to lock the bike.  We started exploring our options during the day, looking for used sheds on craigslist.  We are also very interested in a shipping container but we run into difficulty when we strategize how to get it back behind the house.  We don’t really want to take apart the steps leading into the house but we are okay with having a dirt moving machine come in and carve out our hill a little bit.

The best deal we can find on a shipping container is $2,100, which includes the transport of it from Las Cruces.  We are still waiting to hear back from the excavator we previously worked to get a quote on the earth moving and placement of the container.  For a hand-built wooden shed, we created a rough list of materials needed, priced it all out at the hardware store and came up with ~$1,100 for a generous 12′ x 12′.

Brian feels it will go up really fast and not go over budget.  I’m on the fence on both counts.  But we need to do something.

We ended the day with some hardware store visits, a trip to the library and some outdoor time with the dogs.

We made loads of hold-laden phone calls this morning. We terminated service for natural gas and power at the apartment and called the town utility department to request our water/sewer lines be marked. We need to start eye-balling the location for the mailbox and gate posts so it's helpful to know where we should be most careful digging.

We made loads of hold-laden phone calls this morning. We terminated service for natural gas and power at the apartment and called the town utility department to request our water/sewer lines be marked. We need to start eye-balling the location for the mailbox and gate posts so it’s helpful to know where we should be most careful digging.  [Here Brian has marked the property line with old socks.]

Dinner in progress in our new cast iron skillet. We are going to add a shelf at some point soon and the microwave will go up there, further creating more space.

Dinner in progress in our new cast iron skillet. We are going to add a shelf at some point soon and the microwave will go up there, creating more space.

Crazy clouds during the afternoon.

Crazy clouds during the afternoon.

Cloud alien sucky tool spotted during the drive home

Alien sucky cloud spotted during the drive home.  Can you see all the people it’s removing from the mountainside?  Scary stuff.

Tuesday, 8/2
Brian noticed a leak at the shower head dropear this morning so he delayed coming into work to address it.

2016-08-02 07.04.40

After reseating the shower head stem a full additional thread by hand, these imprints persisted for the rest of the day.

We had another day of agonizing over the shed decision.  We heard back from the excavator – $368 to cut out the hill, move the container and spread the base course (we added the base course spreading because he has a 4 hour minimum).  So, we are looking at $2,468 for a shipping container or $1,400 (I included $300 extra because it seems every project we do is over budget) for a wooden shed.  The container could be in place by the end of the week, no man hours required from Brian.  The shed has an unknown timeline because it has to be built by one person and both the availability of local materials and inclement weather can cause unforeseen delays.

There is something really appealing about the shipping container being ready to go with little effort.  It means we could immediately get the stuff out of the house, finish the trim and start on our outdoor work.  However, given we weren’t expecting to spend much extra on the shed of scraps, $2,468 seems like a huge price tag.

Near the end of the work shift, after talking about this for nearly 5 hours, we came upon the idea of using small, plastic shed kits.  This was initiated by the discovery of an outdoor box that could store the bikes.  If we got something like that, we would only need an additional (and larger) outdoor box to store the tools.  This led to plastic shed kits.

We don’t have internet at the house yet so we decided to arrest our internet shed research and go look at the local stores.  There were ZERO options locally.  So….back to the house, dinner and then sleep.  Not the most productive start to the week, but some planning progress is being made.

Wednesday, 8/3
We made our decision early in the morning and found it in stock in El Paso, TX.  Brian helped me get through the rush and then left around 10:30 (not on the bike).  The shed we are interested in is the US Leisure Keter Stronghold 8’x10′ and comes packaged in 3 boxes.  Thanks to the extensive reviews and Q&A on Home Depot’s website, we were able to ascertain the size of the boxes and confirm that they would fit in the Fit.  Hopefully, Brian can setup the foundation on Thursday and start the shed…and potentially wrap up on Friday or over the weekend.

After we add the cost of the cement blocks and plywood for the floor, the total for the shed is ~$850.

Likely location for the shed - this is at the back of the building pad, to the east, just beyond the bar ditch. Our idea here is that it is accessible but out of the way; and it also provides a nice privacy block to the chaos next door.

Likely location for the shed (Just beyond the giant cardboard, kind of adjacent to the fallen tree)- this is at the back of the building pad, to the east, just beyond the bar ditch. Our idea here is that it is accessible but out of the way; and it also provides a nice privacy block to the chaos next door.

The El Paso had the model we purchased assembled in the parking lot so Brian got to check it out prior to purchasing.

The El Paso Home Depot had the model we purchased assembled in the parking lot so Brian got to check it out prior to purchasing.

The Home Depot people were concerned and then amused when Brian insisted that the 3 (quite large) boxes could go inside/atop the Fit. Once again, we forgot to take a picture. But at least this picture shows they made it to the building pad....a feat definitely not accomplished with the bicycle.

The Home Depot people were concerned and then amused when Brian insisted that the 3 (quite large) boxes could go inside/atop the Fit. Once again, we forgot to take a picture. But at least this picture shows they made it to the building pad.

Thursday, 8/4
Brian spent the afternoon ferrying lumber, cement blocks and plywood to the house from the hardware store.  After work, I ran to the laundromat while Brian started cutting the 2×6’s for the floor platform.  When I returned, Brian had brought all the lumber into the house to assemble the platform.  The reason behind this – The house floor is flat and will make it easy to get the 9, 2×6’s attached in-plane.  We set it up, screwed it all together, took it apart and stored the boards back outside.  Tomorrow, it’ll be very easy to re-assemble.

Bug discovery -

Bug discovery – giant grasshopper.  Similar in size to a humming bird.

Brian cleared out the center of the house while I was gone. Trooper is doing his 'flat dog' pose because I've just left and he's sad about it.

Brian cleared out the center of the house while I was gone. Trooper is doing his ‘flat dog’ pose because I’ve just left and he’s sad about it.

Assembled 2x6s with mess in the background. Where's Sydney?

Assembled 2x6s with mess in the background. Where’s Sydney?

Friday, 8/5
Brian assembled the floor, dug out the ground where the blocks were to go and then moved the blocks into place.  I came home around this time and we did a super speedy run to the hardware store to purchase one more 4×4 piece of lumber for piers.  Next, I helped him carry the 2×6 platform over to its destination.

We had a storm system moving near us, generating loud and frequent thunder.  We hurried to finish what we could before any big rains appeared.  While I held the platform roughly level, Brian attached some scrap 2x4s to create temporary legs on the downhill side.  We used our 6′ level to adjust the platform to level, then measured the distance between the cement blocks to the place we wanted to attach the 4×4 piers.  We started cutting the 4×4 to make the piers and just finished the final one for the back row when the rain started.

We took a break to go inside and eat and returned to our task when the rain stopped.  Prior to losing all light, we were able to attach the 3 rear legs and lay a tarp in place.

Crazy cloud attack I saw on the way home.

Crazy cloud attack I saw on the way home.

During our dinner break, I let Fred out to do his normal chaos routine. Thank goodness we have a dog like Sydney to keep an eye on him.

During our dinner break, I let Fred out to do his normal wild bird routine. Thank goodness we have a dog like Sydney to keep an eye on him.

Despite her vigilance, she can't always stop his mischief. He flew over into the kitchen area, landed in the bowl of coconut milk I was about to heat for hot chocolate and then frantically scrambled onto the edge of the bowl. Here, his feet still bear the evidence of his poor landing.

Despite her vigilance, she can’t always stop his mischief. He flew over into the kitchen area, landed in the bowl of coconut milk I was about to heat for hot chocolate and then frantically scrambled onto the edge of the bowl. Here, his feet still bear the evidence of his poor landing.

Platform assembled outside in the driveway.

Platform assembled outside in the driveway.  Brian was able to move it around with the forearm forklift straps.

Blocks set up where the shed will go (note neighbor's yard in background).

Blocks set up where the shed will go (neighbor’s yard past fence in background).

I had to take a break during the transport of the platform. Note to self: Work on grip strength

I had to take a break here during the transport of the platform. Note to self: Work on grip strength

Brian attaching the 2x4 scraps as temporary legs.

Brian clamping the 2×4 scraps as temporary legs.

Cutting the 4x4. Rainbow!

Cutting the 4×4. [The entire rainbow was visible but I couldn’t get back far enough to capture it.]

Three back legs attached.

Three back legs attached.

Tucked in for the night

Tucked in for the night

Saturday, 8/6
Big morning of roasting at the Bean Vivant.  We are about to place an order for new coffees so we’ve been roasting a lot of sample beans.  We are particularly excited for the berry coffees this season and have already chosen 2 naturally processed beans from Costa Rica and Ethiopia and a surprisingly fruity washed coffee from Rwanda.

I took the dogs for a property hike this morning. With the fence incomplete, it isn't really a relaxing route. I had to worry about Trooper lagging behind the whole time. Because the brush is so dense, it only takes a moment for him to disappear and he might find himself on the wrong side of the fence. Maybe we'll stick to Boston Hill until the fence is done.

I took the dogs for a property hike this morning. With the fence incomplete, it isn’t really a relaxing route. I had to worry about Trooper lagging behind the whole time. Because the brush is so dense, it only takes a moment for him to disappear and he might find himself on the wrong side of the fence. Maybe we’ll stick to Boston Hill until the fence is done.

Brian had cut the final three posts and adjusted their cement bases by the time I arrived after work.  I held them in place while he made the attachments.  Next, we carried over 2, 4×8 sheets of the 3/4″ plywood, put them in place and – using their corners as reference – checked that the structure was square.  We also did a diagonal measurements and found that it was DEAD SQUARE – not just like within a 16th, but dead on exactly the same measurement.  Super lucky.  With square confirmed, we drilled holes in the plywood and drove in screws.  Next, we measured the gap, cut the third sheet of plywood, set it in place and attached it.  Floor complete.  With the remaining rays of sunlight, we covered the floor with the tarp and rested some junk on it (scraps of Smartside, the garden hose, the dog’s water bowl, etc) to prevent the wind from taking it away.

Plywood

Plywood placed.  Attaching some blocking to help prevent any joists rolling.

2016-08-06 19.36.11

Some focused storming.

One Comment

  1. Great job!
    This is the agonizing pace of real life!

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