Days 174-180: Snow, sones & sopapillas

Monday, 1/4
We finally connected with the plumbing inspector and received a green light on all of our ideas (ie. bathroom vent exiting out endcap instead of roof penetration, bathroom fan venting out via the floor, etc).

More shopping but no build progress.  It was wayyyyy too cold.  We did put a call into the electrician who agreed to bend the conduit but didn’t hear back.

Tuesday, 1/5
The snow storm rolled in Monday evening and accumulated through Tuesday morning.  It turned to slush as the sun arrived and just stayed damp and cold throughout the day.  We are approaching the point where we can initiate the plumbing but it’s too unfriendly outside.  Who wants to crawl around in the mud and snow?  Plus the PVC glue needs 40º F or higher to set.

While we could start the electrical, we are being held up by needing the conduit bent.  The highlight of our day – we drove down the driveway for dog meal time and found a great horned owl on our roof.  He must be here to monitor the woodrat population.  He was big and beautiful so we hope he sticks around.

Great horned owl or large medium sized house cat? You decide.

Great horned owl or large house cat? You decide.

Wednesday, 1/6
One of our customers identified himself today as an inspector of water quality at the environment department.  We learned some GREAT things about Silver City water during our conversation.

  • The water is so clean that the city doesn’t actually need to process it prior to distribution to households.  It does, probably to head off controversy, but it doesn’t need to.  Prior to leaving CT, we installed a major well water neutralization system at our house.  The homes out here that are on wells do not need to do so.  Cool.
  • We have an excellent supply of water from the mountains and our aquifer is in no danger of water scarcity threats in the future.  He said the town’s 40 year plan was well thought out.
  • We have ‘excellent gravels’ here for filtration – that is they take out contaminants without imparting any.
  • The geology provides an “ideal residence time” for the water.

Thursday, 1/7
We heard about the mega snow storm all morning.  Every time someone tells us this, we think “They have no idea what a ‘mega snow storm’ is….but that also stinks because we can’t work outside.”

There were snow flakes off and on but we felt it was appropriate to continue, full-steam ahead, scheduling stuff.  We FINALLY heard back from the electrician who agreed to bend the pipe.  Once the details were ironed out, we (Brian) dashed over to the electric supply depot, picked up the conduit and delivered it to the electrician. It should be ready to go in a day or two.

One of the requirements for the electric install is a 20 foot ‘modified ground ring’ that has to be buried 3 feet down.  We do NOT want to dig that trench so we need to rent an excavator.  We called around to the single rental company in town and got quotes ranging from $321 to $321.  In shopping for french drain gravel, we found out that the gravel yard has an excavator and offered to dig the french trench (for our drainage pipe), dig the trench for the modified ground ring  (while we put the french drain in place) and then put the gravel in the drain trench.  Oh yeah, and they’ll bring the gravel we want.  All for $375 plus $95 for the gravel. Not bad.

Now I know why online cost estimators suggest over-budgeting by some percentage.  Tasks and materials pop up every week that we hadn’t realized were part of the plan.  We go for the most economical option in many cases; except for when we have something specific in mind or we recognize a ‘you get what you pay for’ situation.  Friday will illustrate one of these examples.

Friday, 1/8
The snow really got started Thursday night and about 4″ had accumulated by Friday morning.  Not terrible by our standards but the town basically shut down.

We spent the snowy morning working and organizing our next shopping list.  One example of a basic item that might not usually be given a lot of thought is the bathroom fan.  So most people probably just get the cheapest option that is available locally.  We, however, have had terrible bathroom fans before and did not want to create a situation where we would be looking to replace it in a few years.

Some things to look for in an awesome bathroom fan once you calculate your required CFM number (we need 32 CFM)-

  • Fewer sones means quieter. Less than 3.0 sones seems quiet enough
  • More than one attachment point (i. e. hanger bars)  ensures a solid, level connection and reduces likelihood that it will rattle
  • We’d like a [non-CFL] light on it because it saves making another wiring run for a light
  • Elbows in your ducting will reduce your resulting CFM

We went with a ~$100 Delta Breez Greenbuilder 80 CFM unit (Model # GBR80LED) and ordered it on Amazon.  It has an LED light and a brushless DC fan.  And as far as we can tell, It has a whole unit power supply that converts AC to DC, like you might find in a computer.  This all-DC approach is unique vs other bath fans we looked at and seems like a smart engineering choice.

An LED is a natively DC device and an LED light powered directly by DC should essentially last forever; hence no bulbs to replace.  And a brushless DC fan – aside from allowing a gentle ramp-up of speed when the fan comes on – is a very efficient and long lasting design, especially when it comes from Delta (arguably the best manufacturer of brushless DC computer fans in the world).  Because the whole unit is DC, the power supply can be sized and cooled properly; they aren’t trying to squeeze a miniaturized rectifier into the stem of a light bulb or the hub of a fan. Sadly, no hanger bars are included but they are available if we end up wanting them.

Another item on our list was the Carlon SNO18-6R shallow electrical boxes.  Perfect for putting outlets on the arch walls where the furring strips only offer 1.5″ of depth.  We found them to be available for considerably less at Home Depot…so Las Cruces here we come.  We plan to go this weekend and will likely get another load of our TRI-Ply wall panels while we are down there.

We celebrated Brian's birthday by having dinner at one of our favorite restaurants - Tre Rosat. This is the appetizer we shared - bacon wrapped dates. Sounds weird but it was excellent.

We celebrated Brian’s birthday by having dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – Tre Rosat. This is the appetizer we shared – bacon wrapped dates. Sounds weird but it was excellent.

We do not know what this is called but it has something to do with a white chocolate moose. The crumbly stuff on the side is some kind of dehydrated peanut butter (that's what it tasted like) and the red sauce has something to do with rhubarb. It was a bizarre dessert but after a few bites to acclimate, we decided we liked it.

We do not know what this is called (fritos?) but it has something to do with a white chocolate mousse. The crumbly stuff on the side is some kind of dehydrated peanut butter (that’s what it tasted like) and the red sauce has something to do with rhubarb. It was a bizarre dessert but after a few bites to acclimate, we decided we liked it.

The dogs eat outside in all weather conditions, so despite the snow, we trekked the hill and dumped their chicken out. Nice snowy vistas.

The dogs eat outside in all weather conditions, so despite the snow, we trekked the hill and dumped their chicken out. Nice snowy vistas.

Brian down at the house while I was feeding the dog team.

Brian down at the house while I was feeding the dog team.

Saturday, 1/9
We had initially decided that Brian would pick up our Ditra floor system while at Home Depot today.  Every run to Las Cruces presents the opportunity to stuff the car with stuff we can’t find locally.   Hence the reason we always get another load of panels.  However, once he was in the aisle at Home Depot, something made him double-check the price against online sources.  It turns out we can save over $200 by purchasing it on Amazon.  So…no ditra purchase.

He made it back by 3:30ish and we unloaded the car.

Nancy's cafe was the place we ate breakfast at every morning when we first moved here and were living out of the hotel. We have never tired dinner there so we decided to give it a go for carb day. This is the Super Combination Plate that we shared.

Nancy’s cafe was the place we ate breakfast at every morning when we first moved here and were living out of the hotel. We have never tried dinner there so we decided to give it a go for carb day. This is the Super Combination Plate that we shared.  Very good.

Chile relleno - what a delight to find it had cheese!

Chile relleno – what a delight to find it had cheese!

Mexican style dessert - sopapillas!

Mexican style dessert – las sopapillas!

Sunday, 1/10
We spent the cold morning hours doing research on the panels for inside (the 1/2 inch thick, 4×8 panels that will go on the less-strong pocket door wall), cooking food for the week and relaxing.  Then we hit the property by noon-ish for more fence work.

It was much trickier than usual because the snow was deep.  But thanks to some sawing we had to do right off the bat, we both warmed up pretty quickly.

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