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Frustration!

Work on the house has reached a temporary standstill. I have the parts I need to weld together, but my neighbors’ welders are only available on their schedule & a limited time basis. The solution is obviously to buy my own welder. A Lincoln-Electric stick welder is easily bought ($300) + helmet ($100) + misc accessories ($150).

Problem is that I don’t have the 220v outlet or the RV pedestal that I have been trying to get my electrician to install for months. All on his schedule & I seem to be at the bottom of the list.

The plumbing is coming up short as well. Backhoe dug the main ditch, but I still need a certified plumber to connect the sewer line & connect the water taps. The ditch will likely end up going all around the house & connect on both ends to the two existing taps. Plumbers are asking $5,000 for the whole project: 1/2 up front & 1/2 on completion. When I ask about portions & segments of the project, they still want large minimums. Their simple question is: “When do u get your mortgage money?”

*Sigh*

If that’s not the worst part, day job is yanking me around & jobs are slower & farther between: smaller paychecks. We aren’t starving, but it’s not enough to seriously move forward. New job? Has potential problems w other personal issues. Grass may look greener but isn’t.

Bought a used pickup truck ($500). Transmission went out on it 3 days later! It’s sitting at work & has potential for use as a locker for work stuff. Instead of big V8 van, I can get a motorcycle to run back & forth to work (60 miles one-way) & save a bunch of money on gas.

Van has issues but hopefully the bike will get me through & let the van rest until I can find a replacement for it, either another big van or a small bus.

The cheapest decent bike I can find is $1500, but a newer bike that I found locally is $3600. Credit union in Kermit is willing to work w me on loan for $3600 bike & help rebuild my non-existent credit. A reasonable $800 down & <$250/mo for 12 months. Awesome. W a current fuel bill of $125/wk in my van that's chump change. New job might affect the loan approval also. 1 year on the job counts for something.

Decisions. Decisions.

Welding & Good Neighbors

Two weeks ago, I purchased the 2″ square tubing that I needed to make the window & door frames. I bought the chop saw a few weeks ago & finally opened the box to cut the numerous 45* angles & shorten the 20′ lengths of tubing to fit in the van for the ride home.

Last week, I talked again w my neighbor on the next street about using his 110 welder, but he was skeptical that it’s low power would successfully weld the tubing. Instead, we asked his neighbor next door who graciously loaned us his full-size full-powered unit complete w rods & truck.

Time was getting late by the time it was ready to use, but we got one door frame successfully assembled. The next day, we spent nearly 5 hours assembling the window frame.

Billy (my neighbor) was doing most of the welding, but he’s an older guy & was getting quite tired after only half the frame was together. I offered to finish the work & did the other 2 corners myself. My angle cuts weren’t perfect so we had to do some fill in (old nails) & other work arounds. All-in-all it didn’t turn out too badly. I laid a decent line, possibly better than Billy.

However, what did turn out badly were my original torch cuts. The frames aren’t the right size for the openings. The door frame will need to be cut shorter, so that’s no big deal. The door we planned to install is quite a bit smaller than the frame, so we might end up adding onto the current door to make it large enough to fit or making our own custom doors. Could be fun. The window frame is larger than the opening, but the window frame does fit the window w ~1″ of ‘slop’. Close enough to install it.

2 more windows and another door to go!

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Backhoe & Power

Sorry it’s been so long since the last post.
1) Hired a backhoe & operator for $85/hr which dug a nice water/sewer ditch for my main line on the outside perimeter of the house. It’s only on the north side for now. (see pic)

2) He also cleared out a bunch of weeds, leveled some of the sand, & moved the stairs from the font of one house to the side entrances of my new house. (see pic)

3) Electricity finally got turned on last weekend, & contractor installed an outlet for me to connect my power tools to. Awesome! Laid down the plastic vapor barrier & cut & screwed in all the plywood for subfloor. Now I can start building the 2×4 stud walls on the inside & trim the windows & doors! Lots of progress FAST!

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Contractor Issues

The month of August was a wash. I’ve spent all month piddling w working around the property because I’ve gone as far as I can without water, sewer, or electricity. My electrical contractor was either on vacation or on other projects. TX-NMPower couldn’t give me a straight answer on power turn-on process. Finally I got them to assign me an ESI number, gave it to the retailer, & should have electricity to the main box by the 17th of Sep (cross fingers). The contractor will drop me a power outlet to plug in power tools so work can continue, but I’m not sure when he’ll actually install the RV power panel.

Texas One-Call for utility digs has not revealed anything. Gas line is not “in danger” so they didn’t mark anything. Water & sewer is in the alley & already marked back when we were talking about a new tap. Phone is the only thing left. They should get their stuff marked by Monday night or it’ll get cut w trencher next weekend. Scheduling the water plumbing install is another matter entirely. Sewer would still need a cold tap done by master plumber, but at least the trunk trench is dug.20120909-093249.jpg20120909-093437.jpg

2 Water Taps & Sewer Taps Pre-Existing!

Just got off the phone w the Kermit Water Dept. The two houses on the property that are / will be demolished still have active water & sewer taps! I was told that their lines were cut, but they weren’t.

Both water taps are certified @ 15 gpm which could be accessed w two meters & tied together for a combined 30 gpm into my house or left separate for independent water connections on each half of the house. Thus a problem on the north side would not necessarily affect the south side & vice versa.

The existing sewer taps are also usable but only on the 2nd half of the house as it expands south because of the way the sewer line has to angle. I’ll talk to the plumber about the possibility of using it now. Lots of savings!

Since I already paid for the water tap, I get $320 back. That will go toward either the plumber or electrician. Yeah!

Yard Cleanup

It may not have been clear in the photos in the last post, but we’ve been clearing out the property as well. When I started working the property last winter, there was no vegetation anywhere except some trees next to the houses. When spring hit, the entire property popped out in sagebrush, sand spurs, & other scrub plants that are almost wholly unwanted. Further, the years of neglect have allowed the neighborhood to toss trash such as beer bottles on the property. It’s a bit of a mess. Obviously, leather boots are a necessity to walk around on the property to protect the feet from plants & glass, but I’d rather work the land so that the entire property can be walked barefoot.

For the time being, the process involves raking the dead plants & big glass together for disposal. As the containers go into place, the process gets more focused & easier. Since we’re going to working on the sewer & water in the area of the garage / driveway, we’ll be focusing our next effort there to pull out the sagebrush & eliminate the glass. (Found an old Coke bottle w the Monahans, TX stamp. Sold it for $10!)

When the water, sewer, & electric is in, we’ll be moving onto the property w our RV for full-time living & to speed construction. Cleaning it up is important because of the little kids that will soon be running around. It’s not going to be kid-friendly for a while, but it will be educational.

Water & Prep for Stucco

For some important stuff done this weekend. W the new address now official, I paid the bill on getting the water tap.
Permit: $70
3/4″ Tap: $300
Deposit for water service: $50
Total: $420
Even better, they said it’d be done by Friday. So next weekend, hopefully the backhoe can be there to dig the 5′ deep, 3′ wide ditch we need to lay both the water & sewer line to the RV & two containers. Kid’s container will be added in Phase 4, but we can stub out the water & electric now.

Further, I bought a bunch of 36″ stakes & drove them into the dirt at the edge of the back of the container & one end to prep for stucco. As soon as I get the doors & windows framed, but before they’re installed, we need to add the stucco on the outside. There’s a good video on YouTube of a container that was stuccoed & ended up smooth on the outside w artistic touches. We’re not going artsy but ‘smooth’ & uncorrugated is good enough.

With the roof already planned to be done in 3 parts (deck, house, garage), I can stucco the roof at the proper angle then join the deck & garage into it later. The majority of sites suggest spraying the stucco for some good reasons: speed & consistency. The main issue I have is the speed issue. If I had an experienced crew to help, it’d be different but w 2 of my kids helping, I’m not sure I trust them to be consistent in producing enough stucco fast enough. More than likely, I’ll need to go slower in order to make the batch, spray it on, i& let them do the troweling. A good crew could possibly do all four sides & roof in one day w enough supplies. That’s my other issue: how much total cement, lime, etc. am I going to need for each side. 11’6″ x 40′ almost unbroken for the back wall is going to take quite a lot of raw materials. As u can see in the pic below, I built some simple wooden stairs also.

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