Living A Simplified Life!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Trolls On The Roof !

Ok, they aren’t really trolls, but an entire army of roofers!  When they said they’d bring a “crew” I figured maybe 4 men at most.  Well there are at least 8 of them up there, but they are moving along so fast I’m having a hard time trying to count heads! Turns out I was pretty close; there are actually 9 of them.

They promptly arrived at 8AM and after moving my car out of the driveway so they could place their collection bin there, they had a group laying out tarps on the ground to catch the old shingles and nails beginning the process of removing shingles at the ridgeline.  For those of you who don’t know what the ridgeline is, it is the upper most top of your roof and then they work down to the edges.  They use tools that actually look like a farmer’s pitchfork and then a shorter hand version as well. With the pitchforks they are able to remove reasonably large patches of shingles all at once.  They work in teams, one loosens up the shingles with the pitchfork and the other gathers up these loosened shingles and takes them and dumps them into the collection bin.

While outside visiting with the roofing contractor and the general contractor, we learned that the decking on the house was 3/8ths of an inch whereas current standards are 7/16ths of inch plywood.  They have totally removed all old shingles from the house and are now working on the patio and garage roof. A true testimony to how well the old roof was installed is that the  house decking looks good, there is no water damage at all.  They were quite surprised to say the least. Now the patio roof might be another story.

By 9:30 the scraping sounds of the pitchforks had stopped and I begin to hear pounding. There’s no way I think that they can already be laying shingles, so I walk out onto the covered patio and gaze up to the roof top to see what is going on.  They are now in the process of either pounding in loosened nails or using tools to pop off nails that were holding on the old shingles in preparation for the new roofing felt paper and shingles. I learned that the name for these tools is called a roofing hatchet. One end of the blade has a chiseled hatchet end and the other looks like the business end of a hammer.

Next came the installation of a metal flashing strip on the small piece of wood that forms the edging of the roof decking. The proper name for this piece of wood is the drip edge and the metal strip is called the drip cap.  It is here that you often see rot and mold damage where water runs off the roof into your gutters and if gutters are not kept free of debri and water doesn’t run off properly, you will find this type of damage and in turn causes damage to your fascia board.

At 10:20 AM some of the workers were already laying the roofing felt paper on the front of the house. The paper is put on starting at the bottom edge of the roof and working up to the ridgeline or the peak of your roof.  .This paper is secured in place with staples and I am listening to the rhythmic sound of their staplers as they move across the roof. After the paper is laid, they mark plumb lines for the shingles.  Now the house is completely covered wit the roofing felt paper, as well as the patio and the garage roof. 

Time is now 10:57AM and I am hearing the thud thud thud of bundles of shingles being laid up on the roof.  They are strategically placing them in different areas of the roof to enable the roofers to easily open the bundles as they progress along.   I should start hearing nail guns going shortly.

Break Time 11:11 AM and for my cats this is an opportunity to come out from their hiding places under my bed to get up on the window ledges to see if they can figure out what all the noise was about!  Bradley, my parrot is actually handling this pretty well (he is the one I worried about the most) only letting out a few high pitched squawks when he heard them using the staplers directly above his head!

12:20 PM Lunch break is over and once again the sound of staplers is echoing above my head.  I also hear the sound of the air compressor being started up.  

One of the things that have to be watched carefully when using a pressurized nail gun to install roofing is that you need pressure gauges on both the compressor unit as well as on the nail gun unit. If too much pressure is used, then when the nails are shot into the shingle, it will go right through the shingle and you will get leakage at some point in time.

Shingles are now being laid!  There are certain areas that require being worked on first before all the straight run pieces are laid in place.  The “valleys” of your roof as well as around vent pipes and wind turbines.  Valleys should be covered with a special mineral-surfaced, roll roofing material .First, a wide strip of metal flashing is placed down the center of the valley, from the eaves to the top of the ridge and then this special roofing material is placed on top of it.

I watched as several of the men were putting the shingles up on the front of the house.  You start at the very lower edge of the house with your first row of shingles with what is referred to as a starter strip. Once the starter strips are in place and shingles are run up the exterior edges of the house they begin filling in the rest of the shingles. It is too difficult to try and explain all of this to you but I found this fantastic article which you can use as reference.

Expect The Unexpected

As in all projects, you have to always expect the unexpected.  In this case, they had already been forewarned about what we considered a “soft spot” in the patio roof.  I let them know the approximate location and advised them to be careful; I didn’t want anyone falling through! Sure enough, they found it and luckily no one fell through or was injured.  The decking was rotted and upon pulling it out, they found that an entire rafter was basically gone!  I truly had expected that they would find more roof damage than what they have found. Upon inspection of a piece of the wood that “was” the rafter, it appears to be water damage that caused the problem.  I was fearful it might have been termites but upon inspection of the wood, there were none in there. They did find some wasp nests though!

Off to the lumber yard to secure an 18 ft rafter board before they can continue roofing that section of the patio and garage.  In the meantime, the men are picking up debris from the yard and throwing it into the dumpster bin, while the other team continues roofing the backside of the house.  The front is entirely done and as I stand back and look at it from a distance across the street, I am so glad I chose the slate color that I did.  There is just a hint of green in with the gray and it is really pretty.  I have chosen a very dark charcoal gray paint for the eaves, soffit and fascia boards and will continue to have the light mint green as my accent color on my shutters, front door, the louvered panels on my patio, garage door and fencing. There is just enough of a hint of green in the shingles that this should be a very striking combination of colors.

New rafter is now in place along with the decking and they are finishing up that side of the roofing.

I went outside to check on the progress and they are pretty much done with things at least for today. It looks all that is left is to return my TV antenna to the roof and that is about it. Most of the yard has been picked up with just a few plastic wrappers that shingles came in and their personal tools that need to be gathered together.

It is now 5:30 PM and I am very impressed by the speed and professionalism at which they completed their work.  All tools have been picked up, trash removed, the yard checked thoroughly for fallen nails with a magnetic device and a courtesy knock on the door to say we are done and thank you for using our company. If you live in Oklahoma and need a good roofer, I would highly recommend them. They offer you state wide service on roofing, siding and windows.

Precision Exteriors
Robert Maurer, Owner
405-703-2955 or  405-877-703-2955

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hot Hot Water!

The Hawk Mechanical team arrived this morning with tools in hand to install the new water heater.
This will be a 40 gallon, gas unit and sits inside in my laundry room.
They first had to rip out part of the top part of the closet that it sits in so that we could have access to the top of the tank if necessary for maintenance. Luckily, it came apart easily and with ease so that the carpenters will have no problems making a cover access door.

There was a bunch of replumbing needed to hook up the new unit. New connection pipes and overflow valves to be installed to the outside of the house.

Once they finished up, he had me come out there and gave me instructions on the new unit. If you ever have to have new appliances or wiring etc done in your home, be sure to talk with your repair people to know exactly what they did so if you ever have to have future work done, you can be knowledgeable when you speak to whoever does your work.

This unit has a little glass pilot light window that you can look through and check to see if the pilot is lit. No more having to lay on the floor, remove a tiny access panel and peer in there and have to take a match to light the pilot. Now all I have to do is turn some levers, and hit a button and it will relight automatically.

Since this unit is now up on a stand, 18 inches off the floor, there is also a drip pan and relief valve so that if necessary water will not only drip into the pan but also be directed outside with the new overflow valve.

He also showed me where the valve was if the water gets too hot and instead of blowing the unit sky high through the roof, it will trip this emergency valve and water will go out the overflow valve. He also showed me the valve at the top of the tank where if necessary, we can turn off the water coming into the tank and where the gas valve shutoff valve was if we need to shut off the gas. Living in Oklahoma, where natural disasters do occur, you should know how to shut off all your utilities if necessary.

Thank you Hawk Mechanical for doing another awesome job!

Another Step Towards Completion!

Well today marked the final day for the Red Hot men to be here!
What a great couple of guys and they do terrific work.
They popped in here about 10 AM or so this morning and were finished about 3 PM
Today they had to get back up into the hot, insulation itchy attic and run the wiring for the patio area and the garage work. Outlets needed to be installed and light fixtures as well as a new plug for the garage door opener unit. The sad part is, I was told that the electric opener unit itself is broken and needs to be either repaired or totally replaced and the door itself is hanging up on the track because of the center arm to the opener and the side hinges don’t want to turn the right way to make the bend to go up!

If we end up having thunderstorms tomorrow, which it looks like we may well have, I probably will have a crew of carpenters here doing some work. They would be able to work out on the patio, because it has a roof over it and install the outside siding that needs to go on the new wall they put in. They could come inside and cut the dryer vent hole and also the access panel area that has been decided upon for the closet where the water heater will go so that we can have proper access to the top of the tank if it needs repairing.

There is also a small area of sheetrock work that needs to still be done on the living room wall and then a repair area in the bathroom which got damaged during this remodeling.

As things stand now, it will probably be Saturday before the roofers can get here because of rain predictions; otherwise it will be Monday or Tuesday.

The new double pane windows should be here sometime early next week and we should be able to get them installed in a day if the weather holds out for us later on midweek.

Then there will be a small amount of gutter work to be done and painting and we will be finished!

I truly feel we will finish up long before our deadline date. These workers have been absolutely fantastic!

The General Contractor has several other jobs going at the same time, another here in Norman and at least one or two others up in Woodward. He is juggling crews around so that all of the subcontractors follow each other in logical order and there are no delays in work schedules. The unpredictable weather we have had this month is the only real hindrance. Much to everyone’s surprise we have had an abundance of thunderstorms this August and normally this is Oklahoma’s driest month!

I know most people don’t like remodeling jobs but I have to tell you, I have gone through several as well as build my own home in Texas and this has by far been the easiest one so far.

Some things that you will need to look at when choosing a contractor:
1. be sure that they are licensed and bonded in your state.
2. Ask for references of past work they have completed and contact the people about their workmanship and promptness in completing the job.
3. Find out if your contractor will be doing all the work themselves or if there will be subcontractors that you will also be working with. Make sure that all are licensed and bonded.
4. Find out if any special permits are needed in your city and if they will obtain them or if you will be required to obtain them.
5. Have a contract which you both will sign and have copies off, showing the work in detail as to what is to be done for the amount of money you will be spending. Have a starting date (work must start within X amount of days of signing this contract) and work must be completed within a given period of days. You may want to add a couple of extra “bad weather days” into the contract depending on the time of year the work is to be performed.

If you have a General Contractor with Sub-Contractors
1. be sure that any changes in the contract be they wanted by you or by the subcontractor, need to be approved and cleared through the General Contractor.

2. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the work of any of your sub-contractors, you need to contact the General Contractor to settle the problem.

I have made it a point to ask each of the subcontractors for one of their business cards which I will be keeping on file. I will also be writing a note, to Monte my General Contractor at the completion of this job discussing with him about each of his subcontractors and their work. At this point in time, I have already talked to him about Hawk Mechanical and Red Hot Electrical as being top notch in professionalism of personal manor and quality of work. I also told Monte that I have already written them up on my blog and his carpenters, roofers, gutter company and painters will also have promotion here also. I am looking forward to working with each and every crew because if what I have already seen is any indication of the types of people Monte has working for him, they will also be top notch!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Red Hot Men and Hawks

I know I am terrible, I knew that would get your attention!

Today there was a flurry of activity around here! The plumbing men from Hawk Mechanical were here to install the air conditioner compressor unit and the men from Red Hot Electrical were here to work on all of the extensive rewiring that the house needs.

I think the men from Hawk were totally amazed that the compressor that they were removing was actually still in working order! It appears that unit has been here since the house was built back in 1963. The outside cover was so sun beaten and faded the side air fins were bent as well as it was a small unit. That is probably why my electric bill has always been so high in the summer time even when I would try to be conservative and not turn the cooling down as low as I would have liked in order to feel more comfortable.

They went right to work, setting up a new type of pad to set the unit on and get it installed so the electrician could hook up the unit. The new pad amazed me. It looks like it is made out of stone, with a pebbled surface but it is like a box cover, rather than a solid piece of stone. I didn’t ask but I am pretty sure it was made out of some type of precast lightweight material. They didn’t seem to have much trouble lifting it and putting it into place.

They will have to return to install the new water heater but I think the carpenters need to return first to do some cutting on the closet area where that will be sitting. Because of the new code standards, they will need to bring the water heater up off the floor, probably at least 12 inches to 18 inches. There was some discussion as to whether they would be able to get to the top of the tank to service it if the closet remains as it is.

The electricians were here all day and will need to return probably tomorrow to complete the rest of the outside work on the patio. They had to run new 220 wiring for the dryer which will be brought into the laundry room from the little outside patio storage room where it now sits. That is going to be such a blessing not to have to walk outside in the winter to put clothes into the dryer! It is going to be so convenient now!

They also had to run new wiring for all the smoke detectors that are now in each bedroom and in the hallway. The new building code requires that each bedroom and the hall leading into those bedrooms have a hardwired smoke detector. Hardwiring means that they have to be wired into your electrical circuitry rather than the battery operated units that you buy at the store.

I felt so sorry for Mike because he was the one who had to go up into the attic, crawl around in all the insulation material, being careful to find the joists so that he didn’t fall through the ceiling and run all the wiring through the holes. Of course it wouldn’t have been quite as bad if he hadn’t forgotten his cover-up jumpsuit! But there he was, in his short sleeved red tee shirt, emblazoned with their yellow logo and a pair of gray knee length shorts and tennis shoes crawling around in that itchy fiberglass blown in insulation which he said was about three feet deep! At lease one of our worries was solved we weren’t sure if we were going to have to add additional insulation to bring that up to code!

They had to also do some major rewiring and reposition a breaker box for the air conditioner unit. The existing connection had a break in the line, where the metal conduit has worked its way loose at a joint and had left the electrical wiring exposed and it had frayed. The decision was made to move the breaker box over closer to the compressor unit and thus eliminate the need to run another new long piece of conduit piping and to attach it to the exterior wall of the house.

Once the compressor unit was hooked up and charged with Freon, I couldn’t believe how quickly the air inside the house cooled down. There was an immediate difference in not only how cool the air was but the volume of air that is now coming through the ceiling duct work.

There was lots of ribbing going on when Doug started to take out the old sensor light unit at the back door. It hadn’t worked in so long, I wasn’t sure if there was a short in the electric switch, the lights were burned out or if I didn’t know how to operate the settings on the unit. After some testing, it was determined that the light unit it self was kaput! He asked me if I had another light fixture of if they would need to go get one, since I wanted another sensor unit installed. I told him nope I didn’t have another fixture but I had plenty of flood lights, and I went to grab the bag out of the shed and low and behold there is not one but two sensor fixtures and one box of two flood lights and all along I thought it was three boxes of light bulbs. As I rummaged around in the sack and pulled out my treasured find, I came across the receipt. They were purchased back in July of 2005! Doug and Mike both began teasing me about my “good intentions” and I told them, I don’t mess with electricity! I had purchased them on sale with the hopes that my son could get up here from Texas and install them for me.

Red Hot Electrical is out of Mc Loud, Oklahoma and also works all over the state of Oklahoma. They not only do residential work but commercial work as well. If you want good dependable workers that know their trade, give them a call

Red Hot Electrical
Mc Loud Oklahoma

I must say I have been very impressed with each and every crew that has worked on my house thus far. Not only have they been professional and courteous but they have cleaned up after themselves, not leaving a mess for me to have to follow behind and pick up after.

Depending on the weather and how much still needs to be done up in Weatherford, Oklahoma on a project, the roofers should be here either Thursday or Friday but if we get rain as predicted, it may be Saturday before they can begin.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick Tips from the Air Conditioning Man

Quick Tip on Saving Money from the Air Conditioning Man

Well, I sure learned a thing or two today when the A/C man came to look at the furnace unit and the outside compressor unit . We will be replacing the compressor unit outside with the remodeling we are doing and the furnace stays because it is a York and only a couple years old and has a good SEER rating.

I told him that I have been keeping it a lot warmer in here lately than I normally do after I had an extremely high utility bill last month. I had made a conscious effort this year to attempt to lowering my bill. My rule of thumb has been, if it isn’t being used, unplug it! Be sure to do laundry in cold water and take cooler showers. Still I had a $113 electric bill.

He said to me “Ma’am do you always keep your fan set in the ON setting rather than in the Auto setting?” I said yes because I had heard that by keeping the air moving it will help lower your utility bill. Boy oh boy what a false assumption that was!

He told me that by having the fan set in the On position, you are first of all keeping that fan running on low. The attic temperature can reach 140 degrees in the summer and since my air ducts run through the attic, those ducts are gathering heat. With the unit set at ON, what is happening is that hot attic air is now accumulated into the duct work and coming back into the house raising the inside air temperature even a couple of degrees. When the A/C unit now kicks in, the fan is still running on low and using more energy now to try and cool the inside air.

By setting your thermostat at a comfortable level and putting the fan in the AUTO setting, you’re A/C unit will kick in when it reaches that preset temperature and start cooling your house. Not only is the air in your home being cooled down but also all your furniture and flooring (carpets) also. By maintaining an even temperature you will require less energy to heat or cool your air and the unit will not run as frequently.

I asked it I might share this information with all of you on my blog and he said please do. People nowadays need to save as much money as they can.

Hawk Mechanical
405- 275-5330
Shawnee, Oklahoma
P.S. they travel all over the state of offering service so don’t let the fact that they are out of Shawnee keep you from calling them for service. They have gone to Cushing, Eufaula, Tishomingo, Yukon and others cities too numerous to mention, as well as in the Oklahoma City metro area.

I would love to hear your energy saving tips, so please feel free to share with us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pardon My Dust!

Please excuse the mess we’ve got some major reconstruction going on here!
No not on the blog, at least not yet, here at my house!
Let me tell you about all the wonderful things that have been happening to me lately which is certainly a welcome change after all the worries of this last month with my children and their health issues.

I applied for a special program about two years ago through our City where they had federal money to assist people who are considered low income to assist them in bringing their homes up to building code. As you can imagine, there were many people who applied for this money and I finally made it to the top of the list.

The way that this money works, is you are allowed up to $25,000 for home repairs that will bring your home up to present building code. It is actually a lien note that is attached to your mortgage. You must be a homeowner and live in your home. It is actually a reducing lien so if you live in your home one year after work is completed and then sell (or die) 75% of the note needs to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of your home. If you live in your home two years and sell (or die) then 50% of the note is to be repaid and at three years 25%. At the end of the fourth year, 0% is to be repaid.

The people from the City, who are responsible for overseeing this money, have you complete paperwork and then schedule a walkthrough on your home to see what all needs to be done. They take pictures of the interior and exterior of your home and measurements of the entire house and every room, even draw up a diagram of your house.
They access everything that is needed to repair your home. Then back to the office, put a pencil to the costs and decide exactly what can and can’t be done with the money allocated.

You then have another meeting with the City people to determine exactly what is to be done. They will also give you a list of alternative repairs that can be included in case there is enough money left.

Then everything goes to a bidding process with general contractors with a close date for the bids and once all are in, a contractor is selected. Once this happens you return to sign a contract with that General Contractor and the City and work must commence within 5 days of signing and the entire work has to be completed within 42 days. That means your General Contractor must be very diligent in scheduling his crews so they will coordinate together to get the work done in a timely fashion.

Work has begun here and I will take you on our journey as we complete this process.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Is So Precious-Reality Sets In

I have to say this last month has been one that has been extremely trying for me personally and for all of us as a family. The reality of how quickly things can go from being good to awful can happen in the matter of a heartbeat! The feeling that one life was to be cut short and another not even able to begin.

First my son Brian, a grown man with a wonderful future still ahead of him, went from having stomach pains, which he had been to the doctor about, to being rushed to the hospital with what he thought was a heart attack. Testing followed and even though other tests had already been done about a week before where it was determined his gallbladder was operating at approximately 81% efficiency, after making sure it wasn't his heart they did additional tests on his gallbladder. They went ahead and decided that surgery was in order and when they got in there they found a blocked bile duct.

This scare for him was enough to make him realize that you never know when your time is up and even though you think you might have many years still to live, you need to put your personal house in order. He realized he hadn't made out a will and if it was his time to leave this earth, the government would be the one who benefits and not his family.

Then there was another life and death situation with my daughter's unborn baby girl. She had been having preterm labor pains and they started way too early in this pregnancy. At 23 weeks her doctor ordered her to home bed rest. Now granted, she was given permission to sit in a chair or on the sofa as well as to lay in bed, but she was totally forbidden to stand on her feet longer than to walk from one room to the other. No housework whatsoever! So it was time to step in and give her as much assistance as she needed. I really don't mind at all because it gives me an opportunity to enjoy her company as well as time to play with my grandchildren.

So now we are down to just an additional 8 weeks of bed rest and then she can get up and resume normal activities because she will be very close to her due date. The fun part is going to be to find enough activities to keep her occupied between now and then.

So first on the agenda was to work on baby books for the 3 children she has already. With JT she had to bring his up to date from the time that Taylor was born and then bring Taylor's up to date from the time Abby was born and with Abby it was get everything out of the shoebox and start her baby book! Abby will be 2 the middle of December and the new baby sister is due in November! So Christy brought over a bunch of scrap booking supplies and Heather went to work! Within 2 days she had all the books up to date and done. I was hoping it would take her at least a week or two!

Next was a baby quilt that she was wanting to make for a friend at church who is expecting soon. I figured this ought to keep her busy for awhile but boy was I wrong! She sat at her sewing table cutting out blocks and stitching them together and by that evening she had the entire front of the quilt done. To put in the quilt stuffing and the backing will take her no time at all.

Heather has asked me to teach her to you think that will take her some time to master? I doubt it! She'll probably be whipping out booties, bonnets and blankets in no time flat! All I can say is I hope it takes her the next eight weeks!