grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Friday, September 30, 2011

07-30SEP11 - Sultan, WA (house construction finally done!)

On 28 SEP, Wednesday, we received our final inspection from Snohomish County, & received official blessing to occupy our new house. As you can see from the following list of final visits by various contractors, that not much was really done for the entire month of September & the house was pretty much done at the end of August.

07SEP (day 45 of construction) – electrician came back to take care final items: connected plugs in way of granite back splashes, & officially connected hot water tank to circuit breaker panel (don’t ask how we were taking hot showers before this was done)

10SEP (day 46) – heating sub contractor returned to wrap-up AC/heating: installed heat pump (now we have AC even though summer is pretty much over for the Seattle area), connected gas stove, & installed programmable thermostat

12SEP (day 47) – gutters & downspouts installed; with the modern machinery that forms continuous gutters on site, this took less than an hour

13SEP (day 48) – finish carpenter returned to install microwave, install lock sets on outer doors (one doesn’t work), & install master bedroom double door. Also the propane company arrived to install our propane tank. Obtaining a propane tank was definitely an educational experience! First, way back when we had foundation poured we were asked where the gas would enter the house. We had no idea & depended on the foundation guy’s recommendation. Turns out three months later that his recommendation was too close to a ventilation opening into the crawl space & was against code. So after the tank was installed, Dan had to run PVC piping from the regulator relief valve to a “safer” point. Lastly, Dan asked the tank installer how we were going to bleed off the air from the tank to the stove after the pressure test & get the propane flowing? We were informed that for a fee they would return & do it, but it really was not that hard to do & should be safe for us to do. As you can see the house is still standing!

We were also told that no permit was needed for the tank installation, but one was needed for hooking up the gas stove. When the inspector showed up to check the stove, he asked when we were going to have the piping installed in the ditch we had dug & pressure tested at 60psi for his inspection? Turns out the county could care less about the stove connection, but they have many regulations concerning buried “fuel” lines. Thankfully the inspector did not charge us for his “wasted” visit & we got the proper inspection two days later. Now we have to decide how to “decorate” the propane tank. Dan wants to put a propeller on it, with a periscope, & a Coast Guard racing stripe; to have the first Coast Guard submarine. For some reason Corrie has doubts?

15SEP – not really a day of construction but the window screens were delivered; & best of all, the porta-pottie was removed!!!

19SEP (day 49) - “pressure test” of house; the house is so “tight”, that our result was twice as good as the national “green” standard

20SEP (day 50) – bathroom mirrors installed, closet shelving installed, glass doors installed on shower in master bath

21SEP (day 51) – one smoke detector changed into combo smoke/CO detector. Original plans showed CO detector, but this got “whited out” by someone unknown & the plans were approved by county. We showed plan to inspector; but we were informed that the code requires on CO detector if there is any appliance (ie our stove) that burns gas, or if you have any type of fireplace or kerosene heating appliance.

27SEP (day 52) – insulation added to air return at top of furnace

30SEP (day 53) – broken lockset to garage man door changed out. Unfortunately, contractor failed to read instructions properly (even though they were in English & Spanish), & the new lockset did not work either. So while the contractor ran off to Lowes to get a replacement, Dan read the instructions & practiced on the two working doors. When they returned Dan re-keyed the lockset & now we have three exterior doors, with working locks, all using the same key.

Although there wasn’t much activity by contractors, we kept busy by:

>>>Corrie continued to prep baseboard & door molding in small patches; Dan then installed the molding as each batch was ready, trim molding completed 29SEP
>>>Dan got tired of waiting for contractor to install interior door handles on bedrooms, bathrooms & linen closet; so he opened the boxes & did it himself
>>>built two small porches, one each for each sliding door. Both these porches will probably be replaced with decks next year, but you have to have a 3’x3’ landing outside every exterior door to pass final county inspection.
>>>we were given wrong info on locating the concrete pad for installation of the heat/AC pump; so we had to enlarge the existing pad
>>>dug a ditch for future propane tank & back filled after inspection; entailed renting a machine Dan calls a “ditch witch”
>>>bought furniture (2 lounge chairs)
>>>spread grass seed & fertilizer; continuing to battle moles; bush whacking
>>>installed propane regulator vent line, & bleeding excess test pressure from propane tank to stove
>>>rented a Billy Goat twice
>>>installed curtain rods & curtains on both sliding doors

>>>painted master bathroom & closet
>>>installed bathroom “hardware” in both bathrooms
>>>installed last window treatment in small bedroom
>>>painted the pump house to match house
>>>foamed in some minor openings in crawl space, & repaired small damaged areas of insulation in crawl space
>>>installed liquid filled pressure gauge on septic system piping

On 08SEP, Thursday, we were forced to make a garbage run to the local collection center. We haven’t really had to deal with local garbage collection since selling our house back in 2007/08. At RV parks you either take it to the nearest dumpster, or leave it in a plastic bag in front of your RV for pick-up. Sadly not many parks require recycling & we haven’t had to deal with recycling either. As part of the house construction we have accumulated larges amounts of cardboard & plastic shipping material we assumed the environmentally conscious county of Snohomish would recycle. But if you drive the material to the collection center, they will recycle the cardboard for free; but all the plastic is treated as waste & you are charged $20 for a small load. Funny thing is that if we paid for street side pick-up, we would get a big blue garbage can for recyclable materials only; & plastic would go in it for recycling?

Thankfully, Marty our tractor repair guy finally got all the parts to repair our tractor, & spent most of 14/15SEP putting it back together. There were several parts that clearly were well used over the last 55 years; & probably would have caused a major failure years ago on a newer tractor! Apparently older tractors were designed to be “used & abused”, with little or no maintenance, & often left sitting in a field unused for long periods of time. Remember the old Timex slogan – Takes a licking & keeps on ticking? Once the tractor was repaired, Corrie really got started moving dirt & leveling the “yard”!

On Tuesday, 22SEP, we had our septic maintenance firm come out to perform the first of the required quarterly “routine” maintenance on our system. Quarterly routine maintenance you ask? Apparently the county has a problem with owners misusing their septic systems to the point that they “fail” & pump untreated sewage into the ground water. Misuse can be overloading system with kitchen grease & fats; dumping chemicals into system killing the microbes; overloading system with fertilizer (ie laundry soaps) causing the microbe population to explode & then die; etc. So to solve this problem the county forces you to find a maintenance provider & sign a two year contract (ie a total of eight visits); then file the contract with the county. Of course this only solves the problems for two years! So at the cost of $200 dollars a visit, this was the first of our quarterly visits.

During all this, Corrie has been going across the street to our neighbors, Sara & Bob Johnson, to watch Sara train horses. She has gotten so involved in this, that Dan jokes that she will buying a horse & we will be forced to live here full time (even though Corrie hates the rain)! Anyway, a few minor details to tie-up & we should be back on the road to Houma, LA, within a week!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

06SEP11 - Sultan, WA (chem 101 or do drink the water)

Today we finally resolved our arsenic “issue” with Snohomish County Health District. As described in our BLOGs from the summer of 2008 the well we drilled on our property went far deeper & cost much more than we ever imagined. And it is not unusual for deep wells to contain minerals, chemicals, etc. Turns out not only did our water smell like sulfur & taste like iron, but also had minute traces of arsenic. In fact, the amount of arsenic was so small that our water was acceptable in every other county in WA state.

We were told that “all that had to be done” was install a point of use filter at the kitchen sink & ice maker. But you can’t just buy one & install it yourself; you have to have a licensed engineer submit a stamped plan to the health district first. Dan found someone that was highly recommend & gave him all our test results. Turns out the point of use filter will only work if all the other variables (hardness, iron, tannins, pH, manganese, etc, etc) are within certain limits! Naturally our water was not within these limits. So the engineer had to design a system to soften the water, remove the iron, reduce the acidity, & remove the tannins. And naturally this pre-treatment system was not cheap.

Finally it was time to obtain a point of use arsenic filter & install it under the kitchen sink. Turns out these filters are not available at Lowes, Home Depot, or plumbing supply houses. You can find them on the internet but we wanted one now, so we could take a water sample & get it tested at an accredited lab asap. It took two days but Dan finally discovered an independent driller that had one. After running water through it for an hour, we took a sample & drove it to the lab. After a week we received a report that shows no detectable amounts of arsenic. Another benefit is that our water has no smell, & tastes great.

But that is not the end of the saga. We then had to prepare a notarized “notice of well water arsenic disclosure” & record this document with county! So if you ever come to visit us make sure you only drink water out of the special spigot by the kitchen sink. Brushing your teeth in the bathrooms is at your own risk!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

01-05SEP11 - Sultan, WA (construction, mohi, & family gathering)

We started the month by Dan heading into Seattle because 01SEP, was the first Thursday of a month, & every first Thursday some of the museums in Seattle are free. The “big one” is the Seattle Art Museum (aka SAM), but Dan was interested in a much smaller one from his childhood called the Museum of History & Industry (aka MOHI). Although we have been coming to the Seattle area for over three years, Dan decided he had to revisit the museum this year because the building will be torn down for freeway expansion & the museum moving to a new location at the south end of Lake Union in Seattle. So Dan felt the need to visit MOHI one last time in its original building located on the edge of the University of Washington’s (go dawgs!) Arboretum.
Sometime ago in previous BLOGs we have discussed how often Dan & sister Sharon would be allowed to spend weekends (& sometimes entire weeks) at Grandma Jean’s on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Jean was Dan Sr’s mother, otherwise known as Dan’s paternal grandmother. On many of these occasions cousins Steve Ruttner & Rick Lee were also there. Grandpa Fred was also there, but let’s just say that he was a little bit grumpy & appeared not to appreciate all the grandchildren underfoot! Anyway, when things got too hectic even for Grandma Jean, she would load all of us into her big Chrysler New Yorker & drop of us at MOHI. Where we would amuse ourselves (usually by doing things that were not permitted) for hours. So Dan decided to check out the original MOHI before its move & modernization, to see if it was as he remembered it (even vaguely).
The first thing Dan saw upon pulling into the parking lot was a five inch 51 caliber gun from the USS Colorado. Back in the day this gun was fully operational (except for firing). One kid would sit in the left hand seat (or was it right seat) & turn the hand crank & slew the gun around in a 360 degree circle. While another kid sat in the other seat & turned their hand crank to elevate the barrel up down through about 75 degrees elevation. Now the seats are gone & the entire gun is locked down --- wouldn’t want anyone to lose a finger or get an owwie would we!?!

Upon entering the museum Dan was fortunate to catch a tour led by a docent. The museum is definitely not state of the art & has very few interactive exhibits. But it does offered a very good history of Seattle from Native American times to about the early 1990s. Key exhibits are the arrival of the Denny party, how Seattle benefited from the Klondike Gold Rush, the establishment & growth of Boeing, Sea Fair, 1962 World’s Fair, & WWII’s affect on Seattle.
Dan found one picture very fascinating, especially enlight of Seattle’s present emphasis (some say over emphasis) on the environment. The picture shows water cannons being used to “sluice” about two hundred feet of what was called Denny Hill into Elliot Bay. This created the only large “flat” area in Seattle & is now called Belltown. The picture shows some homes & businesses that refused to sell their land or move! The picture shows some of these holdouts precariously perched atop pinnacles of dirt as the surrounding area disappears right up to their door steps!

The MOHI now has the original sign from an infamous 24hr restaurant called the Dog House! The Dog House was a place that when Dan worked for the Coast Guard in Seattle, that he & friends would hit late at night to get cheap food & to “watch” the nightlife. The sign says “All Roads lead to the Dog House” & shows various “dogs” heading to the Dog House. These “dogs” are labeled – sailors, marines, blondes, redheads, soldiers, waitresses, brunettes, bowlers, lodges, nite owls, boozers, private secretaries, & golfers! Sadly the Dog House is no more.

Dan is not sure what exhibits were added or changed after he last visited in the 60s; but some things were still there – Boeing’s first plane, the hydroplane Slo-Mo-Shun IV, & the battleship gun. And this time he didn’t break any rules, & actually learned something about Seattle’s history.
Trivia – in 1880 Seattle’s population was 3,553; in 1890 it was 42,837 – what happened in ten years?

On 04SEP, Sunday, we headed to a family gathering at cousin Paul & Shannon Peter’s (see below BLOG for our last visit). The occasion was to celebrate Labor Day & their son’s, Spenser, birthday. Paul’s brother John & four of his kids were there; brother Jim was there with son, Brandon; & sister Jennifer with daughter Keely was also in attendance. Since Aunt Jan, Paul’s mom, lives on site, she was naturally there. Unfortunately, Jennifer’s husband, Mike, had recently got bonked on the head & wasn’t up to the festivities. As always, it was great to get together with relatives, enjoy good food, & in this case wish someone a happy birthday!

No contractors did any work over the Labor Day weekend but we accomplished the following:

>>>took delivery of a gas stove
>>>temporarily installed washer & dryer, test ran, all sat
>>>continued prep’ing molding & installing throughout house
>>>hand mixed & poured a three foot by three foot concrete pad to set the AC/heat pump on
>>>stacked the dryer on top of the washer to save space in the mud/utility room
>>>built a front porch & steps
>>>installed curtains in the master bedroom
>>>continued landscaping by adding plants/shrubs, & creating mulched beds
>>>misc small details; along w/cleaning of windows & wood surfaces
>>>since Corrie got to buy all new appliances, Dan bought himself a new “chop saw”