Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another insulation disappointment...

Let me start off by saying this: I'm not complaining. I'm not saying that we need financial help more than others, because, honestly, we don't.

However, I was disappointed to hear that, after I got a quote for insulating pretty much every exterior wall and the floor between the 1st and 2nd floors, that the Energy$avers grant that the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association (HCBA) offers has completely run out of money. Therefore, they're giving no other grant money this year. Meaning, we can wait until next year, but there's already a backlog of requests that get "priority" over any new request...basically, it's a "get in line" scenario.

Now, I love the HCBA...I've professed that in previous posts. I think it's an awesome, awesome association for an awesome cause. But I was kind of disappointed that they'd not said anything about it, particularly on their Web site (which, honestly, looks nice, but isn't updated that often and could be better in terms of content, overall).

So, I decided to write an email to my alderman, letting him know that I hope he can push for additional funding for this grant next year. I can't imagine actually NEEDING this funds from this grant to fix my bungalow and stay warm (like some disadvantaged folks might have to do). It's just a shame I won't be able to reap the overall rewards of having the whole house insulated this winter.

As such, I will probably have the insulation company come out and insulate all the 2nd floor stuff, as it's not as expensive as insulating the 1st floor (between the plaster walls and brick). Pending, of course, whatever else happens around here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First time for everything...

I just went to the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association's Insulation seminar today and, for the first time on anything HCBA has done that I've participated in, I was quite disappointed.

I was late, but apparently so was the speaker, as he was setting up when I walked in, about 10-15 minutes in. But, that I can forgive...not a problem.

Problem was, he didn't seem prepared enough. He asked a few questions of the group to start, answered those questions and then just meandered, train-of-thought-style, through tangent after tangent, many not even touching upon insulation and air-sealing. Further exacerbating the problem was the thing I hate MOST about these types of seminars. People ask questions of the speaker during the presentation that are so detailed and specific that no one else in the room could possibly benefit from the answer. I HATE that. Not that those people shouldn't get answers to their questions, but wait until afterward or the Q&A session to ask that stuff. This only really tends to happen when the speaker simply can't command the room with a well-put-together presentation or speech. And that's what happened here, in my opinion.

I just recently got a quote from an insulation company on doing pretty much every wall and floor/ceiling on the 1st and 2nd floors, and I was hoping to hear some good info to let me know if every aspect is worth it, or if I can buffet-style pick and choose projects. So now we'll see...I'll have to figure it out.

I also need to find another good insulation company or two to get a quote from...I've had one company out here, and although I'm pretty cool with the price they quoted me, I'd like to get another perspective too. So we shall see!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Tis a fine barn, but sure 'tis no pool, English."

Day 2 fence 5
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
The fence is DONE. Thankfully. I have way too many 8-foot 4x4 posts (several of which are bowed, which sucks), because we didn't have the energy (and didn't really need) to replace all the posts. So about 8-10 old posts made the "final cut" as it were. Yeah, they look marginally out of place with the new panels and new posts, but if they're sturdy, why go through all the trouble?

Anyway, the fence isn't perfect, as we had to go uphill a bit as we got closer to the house (who would think that a postage-stamp city lot would have "terrain"??? :) But it's good terrain, because it keeps the water flowing away from the house.

Now, the trick will be to fill and level the yard, particularly the area adjacent to the fence, so it doesn't flood. As you can see from the picture, we raised the fence up about 4-6 inches toward the alley, with the idea being that I'm going to get a load of dirt and fill that all in so it's more level with the alley (and the top of the concrete "piers" we created), and so the fence doesn't sit in floodwater whenever it does think about flooding.

So, the first test will be the first major windstorm...we sank those posts down about 3 feet, and dumped a helluva lot of concrete down there. In fact, I feel really, really, really sorry for the next person (hopefully it won't be me) who has to attempt to dig up those concrete piers. Good luck. You're gonna need a backhoe.

Of course, this whole project has left me tired and beaten down badly. So much so, I will probably hire someone to finish my basement family room. I'm not giving up on the DIY bit, that's for sure. But man, moving earth takes a LOT out of you. I'm not as dead tired today as I was yesterday, but I'm certainly more sore and stiff.

If I get any pictures of the full fence, I'll post them...but this gives you an idea.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not so great progress...

end day one 2
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
Hopefully we do better tomorrow...we got several of the old posts up, but couldn't get the rest to budge. So, we decided to cut them off at the bottom and shift the short panel to the other side. That meant we had to dig new holes for the posts. Which then meant we had to go rent a post-hole auger. As such, we got two posts in the ground with four left to sink. The rest of the posts will remain in the ground, and we'll simply hang the new panels on those posts, as they're really solid, honestly.

I am completely dead tired though. So much so, I probably will go to bed soon here. Tomorrow, we'll have four posts to sink in concrete several feet worth of panels to still rip down, and panels to hang and, in some cases, cut to size. Also, I have to place landscaping stones below the fence in the back, because it's going to be raised above the ground level to be even with the alley (it's several inches BELOW the alley right now...thus the flooding.

We need to get this done, but I think that the worst part is honestly over. Well, I mean the absolute worst part...digging up the posts/cutting them down and digging the new holes. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One way or another...

I'm getting the fence up this weekend. Period. I just hope I have enough help to get the fence up this weekend...including tearing down the current fence.

Also, I have to, in short time, figure out how much topsoil I need to raise that area back there between the garages to level or higher than the alley. I'm not gonna install the fence in a depression where water is just going to pool whenever it rains for a lengthy period of time or when spring thaw rolls around. Forget that!

So, much work to be done this weekend here! Finally, I know...thanks for being patient out there in houseblog land!