Saturday, April 12, 2008

Status report

Yesterday we had a meeting with contractos and suppliers to get bids for the construction work. Things went ok, but I have the strong feeling we need to be extra careful and sometimes act very stern in order not to be run over by the contractors. They have a strong tendency to do things they way they're used to and that's not necessarily the way I want them done.

The plans are finalized, but the April permit hearing is full, so we have more time to submit them.

On the other hand the old lady next door just died and her house is for sale. Now we've got two options... but right now we're leaning towards continuing the pigsty project since the house next door reeks of a gut job which wouldn't be significantly less expensive.

We (or mostly my dad) also got everything we want to keep out of the pigsty, a neighbor will drive by on his tractor next week and haul everything else to the bulk waste pickup. He's also going to attack the partition walls and concrete slab with a sledge hammer - another neighbor said he likes that kind of work *ggg*

I got a splitting headache after lugging out the refrigerator (something that didn't really suprise me after two weeks of late night overtime at work) so courtesy for cleanup goes to my dad.

In the process he also found a door with a more or less working rim lock. The door itself is a plain shed door and absolutely rotted, but it's got all original hardware.

During the next couple of weeks posting will be scarce since we'll be waiting for bids and approval of the plans.

Monday, April 7, 2008


As you might have suspected I've got a tracker running in order to see who visits my blog. I'd say more than 90% of my visitors are from the US and get here via the OHW forums ( However, I do get the occasional surprise visitor... once I had somebody from Korea googling for clay plaster! Must've been a very patient person, because I checked the referrer and my blog was not amongst the first 10 pages. Another nice visit tracked back to the Czech Republic, very close to the actual location of the pigsty.
And finally, today I had visitors from the UK googling for Heraklith insulation. I even found out with these keywords my blog entry about walls is hit #2 on Google!

Side note: after 2 minor changes (correcting the floor area of the attic and adding the site plan) I plotted the final plans today. Now i "just" need to xerox all the other paperwork three times, create some kind of cover and bind everything.

Regarding the demolition work, Hofer, a discount supermarket chains (many Europeans will know the German owner of the brand, Aldi) offers a cheap electric jackhammer and we'll probably buy it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Plans finished!

The plans are officially ok!

I just need to get the layout right and have them signed by the architect. The architect also promised to get the official site plan and deed record by today and mail it to me. So once I get that and the plans signed we're ready to submit them!

Firday 11th we lined up suppliers and contractors to give us quotes, the construction supply house, a framing contractor and a plumber.

Most likely we'll leave the old concrete floor as far as possible, based from what is visible from outside this is a 15 or 20cm slab, possibly even with rebar. Unfortunately it is fairly sloped (to make sure any animalic liquids run out into the manure pit in the yard), so we have to see how far above ground we'll get. We need to build up at least 7cm above the highest spot of the current floor.

Aside of that I finally managed to get most of the tools out of our Vienna hallway where they'd been residing ever since we finished the last room in 2005 and into the new shop shelf. We definitely need to de-trash all other shop storage though... the new shelf is bursting and there's still enough stuff on the floor and any other horizontal surface.

Not so good: our 30 year old boiler in Vienna gave up the ghost late Saturday night. It had been dripping occasionally for almost 2 years, but once the pressure had dropped a little againa fter refilling it had worked, so we ignored it. Besides, we thought it was just an external valve, underneath the wall-mount unit.
Then my mom said the boiler wouldn't fire up. So my dad grabbed the fill hose at 12.30 Saturday night... or rather Sunday...
Suddenly he cursed and I ran to see what happened. The boiler wasn't dripping any more, it was running. And worse, the water was coming from inside the boiler!
The last plumber who serviced the unit had put the cover on so securely I couldn't get it off... don't ask me what he did.
We put a bucket under the unit to catch the water, grabbed a few extra blankets and went to bed.

The enxt morning much to our surprise it was nice and warm... the beast had held enough water to run!
That held until yesterday in the evening. My dad had eft the hose connected anyway, so he just needed to turn up the water a little and add just enough pressure the boiler would start.

We also got a plumber lined up for Thursday. Most likely he'll tell us to get a new boiler... but we hope to convince him of repairing it, maybe be using a band aid approach.

After all the boiler (which only heats our unit) is supposed to be replaced by a whole house pellet boiler next year, so we'd like to keep it running until then.

Wish us luck!