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high desert. small house.

Days 165-173: A Week of Plumbing Planning

Saturday, 12/26
Another day of fencing fun.  We started by purchasing another 40 posts and making the two trips from the store to transport them.  Then up the hill we go…

We called it a day at 5:15pm.  We hammered in posts around the ENTIRE perimeter.  The next project will be continuing to run barbed wire and adding brace posts where needed.


It’s a tad difficult to decipher but this is an image of a juniper that required extensive sawing to establish our fence line.  The dirt to the left looks like it was tilled because of the branch dragging.


Woodrat nest built in/around several large ledge/rock pieces.

Tpost repair

T-post repair – We hammered in the t-post that Brian is holding but hit rock just as we were nearly sunk into the ground.  When we removed the post, the end came off.  This has happened before and we have then used the naked posts as the diagonal corner braces.  In this instance, Brian was ANGRY at the post and decided to smash the end with a rock to reconnect it.  As shown above, he was successful.

T-post has cactus removal tool

T-post cactus removal tool – This is a massive cholla we had to cut to make a straight string line.  How do you move a giant cactus covered with dangerous spines?  Simple – use your t-post!


Woodrat nest made almost entirely of cholla poops.


“Rain drops on moss-blobs and woodrats with den-rocks…Bright shiny t-posts and private land night walks…Small turquoise house, perfect it seems…These are a few of my favorite things.”


The final t-post (on the right, near the red garage) will be connected going back at a diagonal angle to the space right between those big junipers.  If you look hard enough, you can see the tops of two t-posts back there and Brian’s brown figure.  This is a tricky spot since our final t-post is about 12 inches from that garage.  Our neighbor will have to organize their stuff a little better but they’re cool and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Sunday, 12/27
We woke to about 2 inches of snow and very slick roads.  We heard the plows going in the middle of the night (and by plows, I mean a mobile chainsaw factory…they were loud and bizarre sounding).  We hung out at the apartment for longer than usual, waiting for the sun to come out and the snow to melt.

Brian used the time to research our plumbing options and we deliberated about whether or not to use the poor weather as an opportunity to go to Las Cruces and pick up stuff.  By the time we took the dogs to the property around 11am for a bathroom stroll, we still hadn’t made up our mind.  We ended up flipping a rock to decide – the gnerbly side landed up so we stayed and worked on the fence.

We brought the sixth run of barbed wire down the hill and made it to the cholla garden before the spool ran out.  We also took a new roll up to the far east corner and started a new run of wire on the top of the property.  The flat territory and straight run of t-posts made this the easiest wire run yet.  We made it to the south corner, put in the diagonal braces and then continued the wire back down the southwest side, ending near the massive juniper we cut the day before (which is more than halfway to the red garage).  Progress!

Monday, 12/28
I went to the shack and Brian left early for Las Cruces.  The mission – oil change and new tires, pick up sharkbite removal tool from Home Depot, purchase a load of tri-ply panels and lastly, purchase plumbing supply stuff.

We thought he’d get back by 3pm but it was more like 8pm (EIGHT P.M.!).  No work on house.

Tuesday, 12/29
Some electrical parts started arriving.  A local electrician that said he’d bend our conduit for the service entrance has declared that they aren’t available until next week.  So the service entrance and electrical work has to wait.

We switched gears to plumbing and started looking at the local selection of materials to finish collecting what we needed.

Wednesday, 12/30
More of the same – research, analyzing our plumbing diagram and purchasing.  Brian is going to compile the results of his plumbing research and publish it all as a separate post.

We have had to make a surprising number of decisions with the plumbing that we (or at least, I) were not expecting.  Things such as –

  • The code says the bathroom vent should go straight up and out of the roof.  We do not want any roof penetrations, so we plan to run the vent along the inside wall and then out an endcap.  This required discussion of whether or not we would like the look of that and if there were any local exceptions to the code that set the precedent for us to do it.
  • Do we want an outdoor faucet?  If so, we need to get parts to run the plumbing.
  • Should we vent the bathroom fan into the house or run the system to the endcap and outside?  Our initial impulse was “Just let it go into the house.  It’ll add extra humidity.
    • EDIT:  So, I forgot something – Our HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) will be running 24/7, exchanging internal air with external air (with minimal heat loss).  So if we did install the bathroom fan to vent into the house, any humidity would then be whisked away outside by the HRV.
    • When we originally discussed this HRV plan, we did understand that the other purpose of the fan was to remove a particular class of odors…to which we said, “ah whatever, poop smell is no big deal and the HRV will handle it.”
    • EDIT:  After publishing this, Brian reminded me that since we added the roof to the bathroom, the question of poop smell and humidity circulating in the house was no longer the conundrum.  Our original plan had been to not put a roof on the bathroom.  With no roof, no bathroom-specific vent would be needed.  The bathroom air would mix with the house air and it would all be vented through the HRV.  This is an unconventional approach, likely has no precedent with the inspector but might slide and be approved.
    • Since we decided to close in the bathroom, we’ll definitely be required to have a bathroom vent that exhausts to the outdoors.

Thursday, 12/31
Cleaned oil off of the Harbor Freight hole saw set.   Brian wishes Harbor Freight marked which of their products were covered with oil at the factory.  He would not buy those ones; the cost savings is more than offset by the cleaning effort.   Aside from that, more of the same.  We have a few questions that we’d like to ask the plumbing inspector but we have found it is difficult to get a hold of anybody during the holiday time.

Another question that has come up is whether or not to finish the lower walls with 4×8 sheets of thicker 1/2″ plywood; versus the 4×4 sheets of 1/4″ try-ply we used at the top.  We used the 4×4 sheets at the top because they were lighter and easier to attach.  Near the bottom, it’ll go faster if we use 4×8 sheets.  Plus 1/2″ will feel sturdier than 1/4″.

The question we have come up against is do we want to purchase 4×8 sheets that are smooth sanded hardwood zero-formaldehyde & soy-glued AT $39.99 EACH?  It’ll be more convenient but more than twice as expensive as the equivalent amount of tri-ply paneling.

Friday, 1/1
Happy New Year’s, y’all!  Everything was closed.  Plumbing planning continued.  The image at the top is Brian’s supply plumbing plan created over a picture of the plumbing wall.

We have decided (and confirmed with code precedent) that we will/can run the plumbing vent alongside our interior wall and out an endcap despite the lack of UPC 2012 support.

We decided yes to an outdoor faucet and added the materials needed to our next shopping list.  We also decided that we do not want poop smell in the house and need to work out our fan exhaust system.  Lastly, we are going to continue with the 4×4 paneling all the way down the walls except for the bathroom, where we will use 4×8 sheets of ‘Purebond’ plywood.  With 4×8 sheets we won’t have to add additional horizontal blocking at the seams every 4 vertical feet.

Saturday, 1/2
Very little time due to after-work shopping and declining sunlight.  We prepped to run fencing for our one hour of light and had an unexpected visitor right as we were leaving to hike the hill.  It was another case of someone who was familiar with our project and wanted a tour, to ask questions, etc.  After ten minutes, we insisted we really had to get to work and took to the hill.

Forty-ish minutes of fencing and then the day was gone.  This may sound crazy, but fencing is FUN!

Sunday, 1/3
We woke early and hit the road to Tucson.  We had to make some purchases for the business and pick up a few more PEX fittings from Home Depot.  While we were there, we ate the most delightful salmon sashimi either of us had ever had.

Unfortunately, we did not get home until 8:15pm so no house work accomplished.  It was a slow week in terms of progress but we did make a lot of decisions and also conducted a lot of research.

Salmon Sashimi - And it wasn't served on rice! It tasted amazing.

Salmon Sashimi – And it wasn’t served on rice! It tasted amazing.  [You can tell from the wiped-clean plate in the background that we were hungry.  That had been a plate of kung pao chicken which was also stupendous.  We will definitely be returning to NEO Malaysian and Sushi.

We were pretty desperate for dinner on our way out of town. We waited until we cleared Tucson so we didn't get stuck in traffic and found a place that was all by its lonesome, with no restaurants in either direction for 20 miles. After being seated and waiting for 15 minutes to be achknolwedged, we were about to leave. At that point, the waitress materialized and took our order. Boy were we glad we did. Another fantastic meal. My medium-rare hamburger was cooked to perfection and the sweet potato fries were delicious.

We were pretty desperate for dinner on our way out of town. We waited until we cleared Tucson so we didn’t get stuck in traffic and found a place that was all by its lonesome, with no real restaurants in either direction for 20 miles. After being seated and waiting for 15 minutes to be acknowledged, we were about to leave. At that point, the waitress materialized and took our order. Boy were we glad we stayed. Another fantastic meal. My medium-rare hamburger was cooked to perfection and the sweet potato fries were delicious.  [The white stuff is bleu cheese.  I’m particularly fond of bacon and blue cheese burgers.]  Brian said his pastrami reuben was also excellent.

One Comment

  1. pex is good

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