adding insult to injury

Category: House (page 1 of 2)

The Basement Cineplex

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to describe what I put together for my home theater system after I posted pictures from my projector. The home theater isn’t quite complete yet. It’s still missing some pieces and the room that it all has to go in isn’t finished.

I picked up a infocus screenplay 4800 for $499 from I’ve got it mounted with a ceiling mount from ebay, $12.

It’s only an 800X600 16:9 native screen but it looks great in the dark.
Any sunlight at all will kill it. It’s key to use a pc for your dvd player because it will work as a resolution-doubler. DVD’s displayed with a projector look impressively better through a pc compared to component outs on the DVD player alone. The 420p out of the Xbox is impressive as well. I don’t have any hd games or hd cable so I haven’t seen it do anything better than dvd quality.

For my home theater PC (HTPC) I have the following:

Athlon 1.4 running Windows Media Center 2005
1 GB Ram
GeForce FX 5900XT 128 mb DDR 8x agp graphics card
DVD Player generic 8x
CD burner lite-on 24x
Hauppauge mce 250 tv/radio tuner card: 140
Chaintech AV-710 Sound card with 7.1 optical out. SpDif passthrough is a must if you use your own reciever. ($25 from newegg)
Yamaha HTR 5750 (component switching, and component to s-video
upconversion are a must – for hdtv, ps2’s, and xbox)
Klipsch KSW-12″ powered sub
bose 301 bookshelf speakers for the front
bose 201’s for the rear
Bose VCS-10 center chanel

What’s left?
PC case that is quieter than a shop-vac
Build a screen, either with screen goo or out of normal projector screen material… i’m leaning toward the goo at the moment.

Finally, well… I’ve got to actually finish the basement.

Building the Deck

deckthumb.jpgI called in a great crew on Saturday to build a new deck. I’ve talked about building it since the day I bought the house over two years ago. I was pumped up to get it done. The guys worked fast and furious. We had the framing complete by noon including the steps. It’s amazing how fast a project can go with the right people and the right tools. The crew size was cut in half, down to two, at about 3:30, but we still managed to get all the decking done and the main support spindles in place before we called it a day.

Now that we had a great head start, I could finish the rest of the project myself. I spent most of Sunday avoiding the rain drops, and continually bringing my electric tools in and out of the rain. I got a little bit done, but with so much time wasted running to Menards and the Home Depot and didn’t have much to show for my efforts. My circular saw burt out, I had to get a few more materials, and I had to buy a cordless drill upgrade. My puny 14.4 volt Skill Drill would only last about 20 minutes… then take 4 hours to charge. I couldn’t get anything done. I have a wired drill, but it only has two speeds, balls-to-the-walls or off. I kept stripping the heads on the screws.

Sunday was a pretty good day. After some head scratching I finally decided on how I wanted to do my railing. I’m happy with the result, but fabricating all the spindles added a lot of time – I think it was worth it.

If all goes well I should have it done this week.

Photo gallery here.

Deck Days

I’m fired up. I’m refinancing my house to get rid of some bad debt, and to more easily afford to finish off the house – most importantly, a deck. I’ve been to Menards no less than 3 times designing it. I’m going to go to the Depot and sit down with a deck designer as well just to be sure. I’m thinking it will be 14′ by 18′ with stairs and angled corners.

But, before I can put the deck in, I need to do some landscaping. I’m going to put in rock where the deck will be and then continue it around the house – I may even put in a few plants to kill and some of those ubiquitous solar powered lights that exactly every house in my neighborhood has.

Hopefully I’ll have a bit of dough left over for sheet-rock and stuff for the basement, but to make that happen I’ll have to get rid of the helicopter landing pad and built in swimming pool I was planning for the deck.

Well it’s complete. I’ve just sold my house to myself for more than I paid for it. Now I just have to wait 72 hours before the loan is final.

Asian Lady Beetle Death Spray

These damn Asian Lady Beetles are a nuisance. They were originally introduced to control crop and tree destroying pests, but as with any ecosystem disruption, they’re now wreaking havoc across the country and Canada – they just don’t have enough predators to control them.

I am now their number one predator. The stinky little bastards are swarming the outside of my house, scanning for any point of entry. I could pay 300-500 dollars for an exterminator, but that’s a waste of money – besides, I want to kill the little buggers myself. The beetles die from most any simple detergent. Get the kind that attaches to your hose for external cleaning, and spray the house down. Yelling “It’s On Like Donkey Kong” before unleashing the death spray, and chuckling fiendishly while hosing the building down adds to the enjoyment as well as stares from neighbors. Those suckers will drop dead in no time, and you get to clean your house

Slowly Progressing

I had about 150 projects to do this weekend and got a good many of them done. I have one room in the basement that I’ve now wired for cable, network, and phone. I also redid the insulation and plastic vapor barrier for the room. All I have left is to build a TV cabinet into the wall in this room and it’s ready to sheetrock. Almost one room down, three to go.

Professional tip: Don’t go for a run before you put in insulation. Sweat and the pink stuff seem to like each other a lot. Damn that stuff is itchy.

I’m Ready to Rock!

I finally got around to calling the inspector to take a look at the plumbing, heating, and framing in the basement. He said it all looked good, and gave me the go ahead to start sheet-rocking. Basically all of the inspection is complete until the final inspection. I have to get it all done by january, or pay for another permit, so I’d better get off my ass and get to it.

I have a bit of piddly work to do including low voltage wiring, putting concrete over the hole in my basement floor, and ducting in the bathroom fan (insert stinky poo joke here). Maybe if I get on my horse I can have the main rec-room set for football season. Mmmmmmm big screen.

Ready for Inspection

After the work my Uncle, cousin, and I did on Friday, my basement is ready for inspection of the plumbing, heading/air conditioning, framing, and water pipes. Basically after this inspection I can sheet-rock everything and finish the entire basement. I’ll put pictures up as soon as Dream Host fixes a permission that they hosed on my gallery directory.26 hours later they fixed it so here are the pictures – not real exciting and probably not worth the wait.

That leaves one final inspection at the end. Then I can reappraise and refinance my house (I’ll be lucky if that’s before the end of the year). Then, with my property mortgage insurance gone and my lower payments thanks to a 2% drop in my interest rate, I can afford to build on a deck.

In Ground Pool

Having an open hole in your basement after a torrential rainfall the night before may not be a big deal, unless your hole goes deeper than your drain tile. If this water rises much more I’ll have to fill the hole in so the sided don’t undermine the concrete. Then, when I’m ready for inspection I’ll have to dig it back out. Not a big deal really; besides now I can say I have an in-ground pool in my basement.

Laundry Relocation Project

existingdrain.JPG.jpgMy dad and I rented a jack-hammer and a concrete wet saw to burrow our way through my basement floor for the washer drain relocation project. As I’ve mentioned before I’m moving the laundry room in my basement so I can have an office; currently I have a laundry room and a separate furnace room. After the move the laundry and furnace will be in the same room.

The biggest obstacle was busting out the concrete to move the drain about 5 feet. We also ran the new 220 power to the dryer and ran new waterlines for the washer and wash tub. It took us all day saturday, and I still have a few minor things left. One of which is ducting in a new dryer vent and the move will be complete.

After that, the next step in the basement is the duct work for the cold air returns. Then it will be ready for inspection. Once I pass inspection I’ll put in all the low voltage wiring (cat 5, coax, phone, fiber). Then sheet-rock, finally.

Summer is fast approaching*

Well I finally had my basement electrical rough-in inspected, and it passed with flying colors. He seemed a little jealous of the bachelor pad in progress… he was about 60 years old so it seemed a bit odd that he liked the planned bar/fridge location so much.

Now I don’t have any more excuses for busting my basement floor out to relocate the the washing machine into the new laundry room – oh is that going to suck.

Another project that I’m planning on tackling, before it gets too hot, is a brick patio out back. I can’t afford a deck right now, and I’m getting a little tired of grilling in the driveway. So I figured I could put one in on the cheap. We’ll see if I ever get to it.

*note: you can tell summer is getting close here in central Minnesota because the salt is almost washed off the roads.

It sucks… water

This weekend I updated my sump pump system in my basement. Originally the sump pump discharge hose went directly into a wash basin in my basement. This is problem because it’s illegal to dump sump water into a city sewer system, and it was dumping sand down my drain and would eventually clog my entire sewer system out of the house. Hey, everybody has to go sometime.

So, I plumbed it up the wall and out of my house. It would have gone much smoother if I would’ve had a 90 degree drill, but I got by with a 1.5″ bit and a reciprocating saw. It’s doesn’t look pretty but it worked; besides, the ugly holes will be inside the wall, and I was able to cut a 2″ hole with a circular bit through the steal siding – so it’s clean where it’s visible out of the house. It now dumps out into my lawn, where it can soak back in and fill the sump well again – wait how’s that better?

Trading Inspiration

coverWhile watching Trading Spaces at 3:00 Sunday afternoon, I thought “shoot, I can do that”. So I decided I needed to paint at least one room in my house some color other than white.

I hopped up and started taping my upstairs bathroom. Then I headed off to the home improvement holy land and picked out some paint. The only things I can remember painting were a fort and a model rocket in fifth grade, so I was lacking in the skill department. I believe I set a world record for “slowest cut-in” on the ceiling, but it didn’t turn out all that bad – and it only required one coat.

The only real problem is that I’m color blind. The color I thought I saw on the little color swatch at Menards was a silvery steal grey color, but turns out it was pretty much baby blue. Oh, and when I took the picture I was still shaking, high from the paint fumes so it’s a bit blurry.

Basement Project – Step 2 complete

coverThe wiring went well this weekend. We’ve got it completely “ruffed in”. Which means it’s basically ready for the initial inspection. Unfortunately, that means all my pull string lights are still pull string lights.

Step 3 was supposed to be, run 4′ of pvc pipe to new washer location through 2×4’s, but according to city building codes it’s now run 4′ of pvc pipe under the concrete floor.

So, I’ll have to break out the basement floor in a 2′ by 6′ area to relocate the drain for my washer and wash tub. You see, to get another bedroom I’ve altered the original builders plans by combining the separate utility room and laundry room into one larger room. This gives me an office/bedroom to make it a four bedroom house rather than a three. It’s worth the effort, but I’ll have to rent an electric concrete wet saw and a jackhammer to do it. Then re-plumb the drains under the floor. And finally, put in new concrete over the hole. A 20 minute project just turned into a day (or two depending on how much re-bar is in the floor).

Basement Project – step 2

It’s time to wire the basement in. I’ve got a friend as well as my older brother coming to help on Saturday. Today my uncle, the heating and refrigeration expert, is going to stop by to point out where my returns will go so we don’t run wires through walls that need ducts. We’ll be putting in smoke detectors, wiring for lights, fans, and outlets. Maybe a little cat-5 and tv, but only where it’s convenient. The code isn’t so strict on low voltage stuff, so I plan on doing that on my own. I looking forward to getting rid of the pull string lights.

Also, damn Home Depot loves me.

Basement project

My dad, my older brother and I framed in the basement on Sunday. The actual labor took us less than four hours, but the head scratching, eating, and a trip to Menards kept us busy from about 10:30 until 5:00. Family help is the best, and It looks great – well, at least it looks better than a pile of 2×4’s.

We didn’t get around to moving the washer and dryer, but that’s okay because I will probably do that on my own. It’s a lot of busy work, ducting in a new dryer exhaust, re wiring the 220, and re-plumbing the washing machine into the new wall. I’ve got to re-plumb and move the wash basin as well.

The next step is for me to wire in the cat-5, phone, and coax to basically every room (upstairs and down), and then hire a friend to wire in the lights and outlets.

Starting, finishing the basement

Operation frame the basement just got the green light today – my permit application was approved. My brothers and my dad will be over on sunday to frame it up. Right now it’s just plastic over insulation and no interior walls. I should really take some pictures… maybe tomorrow. I’ve got all the materials piled in the basement for this phase of the project.

I figure the four of us should be able to relocate the washer, dryer, and sink to the soon to be built laundry/utility room and plumb it in. The laundry room is currently where the office is, I’m going to combine the furnace room with the laundry room and that should give me room for an office. On Sunday we should also get the walls for all the rooms in place. Electric is next, then I think it will be sheet rock.

Here is a mockup of what we’re up to. It’s far far from accurate to scale, but give me a break, I made it with a flow charting tool in a hurry.

Final inspection

Today my old apartment goes through final inspection. If things go the way they have been going, I’ll have to replace the roof and rebuild the entire apartment complex before I see a single cent of my damage deposit. Wish me luck.

Update: I am a cleaning machine. They didn’t charge me for anything other than the garage door opener. They didn’t even notice my halfassed spackle job (painters nail filler spackle and toothpaste works everytime!) I had my rear surround sound speakers mounted with sheetrock anchers which left 8 quarter sized holes in the wall.


Here is the view out my sliding glass door, where my deck is going to go… someday. Hard to believe by the view that I live less than a mile from the Mall. The real danger though is the fact that I’m only half a mile from Menards and Home Depot. After living in apartments and the dorms for the past 8 years, I was so ready.

Big Move – Phase 1

Phase 1 of moving into my know house is underway. Again, the closing is July 15th and I can actually move in on/after that day. Anyway, phase 1 follows the philosophy of “if you throw it away, you don’t have to move it”.

Made an offer

I just made an offer on a house. I’m freekin’ out. I have to wait until monday to find out if they’ll accept because there is another offer on the table that is contingent on the sale of the offerer’s house. No one buy a house until Tuesday! Ya hear me?