Monday, May 14, 2012


It has taken me a while... but to my credit, I have had this shed us-ably completed for at least a week or more now so I am not as bad as the time difference makes it seem.  So on the last post, I was working on the floor joists and the outside frame and had basically completed that much.  From that point I laid and secured the tongue and groove floor sheeting and painted it.  At that point, the weather again became super wet rendering this project useless to continue for a few days or so.  Once things finally dried out I was able to resume work.  
 This is the back wall, right up against the white vinyl fence.  Because it went right against the fence I pre-built the wall and painted it since I would not be able to do so once the wall went up.  I was sure to give it a few coats to help it last as long as possible.  Once it was built I had to have Preston cruise over and enlist Suzanne's help as well to lift this heavy pig into place.  I secured it with the two 2x4's until I would build the two side walls.

I went a little while without pictures as you can see.  The framing of the sides and front went quickly so I lost track of documentation.  Here you can see the completed west side and north back wall.  Also the framed front including the door which will be a generous 4 feet wide.  

Close up of the side wall as well as the beginning of the  roof trusses right on the end. 

Again I went a while without getting proper documentation but you get the idea here.  I was able to get most of the siding up and then my Dad came and helped me cut the steel roofing sheets as well as secure them down and water proof the screws.  I also got all the roofing trusses up first and had to come up with some tricky math and measurements in order to make them work.  

Another view of the front.  You can see I started to pre-paint some of the siding panels but due to the speed with which the framing went up I ended up just installing all the siding and painting what was left later.  

Here is an inside view of the roof and west side wall.  Before I installed the roofing sheets I put up the 2x4's between each truss.  I had to do this because the trusses and the sheeting were oriented the same direction.  Had I not done the 2x4's I would experience a little bit of warping with the roofing sheets.  

This is just a view of the West wall.  You can see the shed is pitched to the back.  I hadn't installed it when I took the picture but there is now a rain gutter on the back of the shed.  More than likely I will end up building a rain barrel for the shed as well so I can collect even more water for watering my goods in the garden.  

I finally installed the doors and began the annoying painting project again.  I started with the grooves so I wouldn't have to fight them with the roller.  

Here is my nice wide door.

 I started putting things away.  This shed will be organized much better than the last one so I have as much floor space in there as possible.  I would love to have a work bench/shelf on each end of the shed so I can work on or clean items out there.

 Here is one of my shelves/work benches.  I specifically built it so it would be high enough to store equipment underneath, again, this was to provide me with as much floor space as possible.  Since this picture was taken I have installed another shelf, one that hangs from the ceiling, on the right side of this picture.

I finally finished painting this thing and installed the ramp my Dad built for me.  I stacked the excess wood to the right there and tilled up the garden in front here and planted my peppers and tomatoes as well.  The only thing left to do really is the trim now which I will more than likely take my time doing since school starts back up for me this morning, in about an hour. 

I will continue to update on the shed, but for now, the shed is complete and usable and it feels great to have a decent piece of work out there rather than a rotten piece of junk that became an eyesore in the yard.  Suzanne and I are so grateful we could build and have this new shed finally and are already enjoying the benefits of it.  Shout out to Suzanne for her help and patience with this project, the countless hours of being abandoned inside with Wyatt so I could finish this project; to my Dad for his donation of work scrounging up wood, the roofing panels and the ramp, as well as his help installing the roof; and to Preston for cruising over on short notice to help me lift the back wall into place and secure it to the flooring. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

More Home Improvements

I had some serious plans for the early part of this week to accomplish a great deal on the shed.  These plans however were hampered by really wet weather here in SLC so far this week.  I was however, able to find some other ways to stay busy with my time and keeping up on the home maintenance and improvement front.

One of the nice effects of the shed project is that I had to dig almost a full yard of soil out of the footprint of the shed in order to keep the new floor joists and framing out of the dirt where it would rot.  Because of this we had a healthy surplus of soil just sitting around waiting for me to find a use for it.  The previous owners of the house were so nice as to instal an automatic sprinkler system, but weren't nice enough to make sure the soil was tamped back down on their lines nor were they nice enough to level the soil back out.  The problem we have been having because of this, is that water tends to pool up near our foundation during the wet months.  The dogs of course seemed to always find this mud hole and make it worse.  So naturally I was quick to find a use for all the extra soil we had laying around!

As you can see, the soil follows the contour of the depressed area of the yard against the house.  This is where I spread and tamped and raked some of the extra soil to fill in.  The yellow grainy stuff you see spread on the soil is all the grass seed I spread to reseed this area.  After this shot was taken I then raked it into the soil about 1/16-1/4 inch deep.  Suzanne and I are very hopeful that this will turn out well and not turn into a disaster.

This was probably the easiest of the projects from the last few days.  We have these air intake vents on the front of our house and they were quite rusty and I felt like they had become an eyesore on the house.  So I took them down and painted them while I painted some decorative door trim for our basement bathroom remodel.  They are actually white now and look much better mounted on the front of the house!

One of the more pesky but non-urgent problems Suzanne and I have had with the house was the mailbox post.  The previous post was maybe 1/128" thick steel pipe that was almost completely rusted through in most areas.  In fact it was rusted out in the middle and the previous owners of the home had put a PVC pipe around it to keep it upright.  Classy right?  Yeah that's how we've been reppin our mail the last couple years.  Well, due to the rain, I went to my Dads and hit him up for some work and materials and he threw this bad boy together right quick while I worked on some angle brackets for the shed.  This is 3/8" thick galvanized steel 3" pipe.  To top it off, or rather, to bottom it out, I threw in about 100 pounds of concrete to keep this nice and solid.  No more punk teenagers screwin around with our mailbox, twisting it around and whatnot!

 About a month ago, I popped in at the West Jordan utility complex and reserved a neighborhood dumpster for the shed project.  I knew I would have quite a bit of trash and had no way to dispose of it, so this was the best option.  It finally arrived on Wednesday and I was able to put all my trash in it before the rest of the 'hood threw their items in.  This is a 3 day reservation so Suzanne and I have had to endure having this 20 foot long 8 feet wide bright orange mini-dump with the word "Crip" tagged on the side, parked right in front of our house.  It's definitely been worth it though!

  The best part of the bad weather and the down time of not being able to work on the shed has been being able to hang with this cool kid.  Nothing beats time with Suzanne and our sweet little man.  This kid is a stud!  This was a night where it was just the Alexander men at home and this was the net effect. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Shed

Adding to my list of things to do, Suzanne and I decided this was the year for a new shed.  We've had a "tough shed" ever since Suzanne first moved into the house.  I use the quotations because tough is not the word I would use to describe this shed.  Even when Suzanne was first looking at the house, her Mom had come with her to check out the house and when they checked out the shed, her Mom got stung by a yellow jacket that called the rotting shed floor home.  This is just one example of problems we experienced with this shed.  I could go on and on about the problems Suzanne and I had with this shed but to just list a few:
  • The floor was rotting through, including many holes that had broken clean through.
  • The front and sides were rotting through.
  • The doors were hanging by one hinge each because of the poor quality of building materials.
  • The shed was in a weird spot in our yard.
  • There was not enough room for all of our tools and equipment.  
  • Because the doors only hung by one hinge, the doors could not be properly secured.
  • The paint was haggard and had peeled most of the way off.  
  • The shed was not level.
  • The shed did not have a foundation and was sitting directly on the soil so the rate of rot was rapidly accelerating.
  • The position of the shed provided too much shade on out garden area.
  • The shed had an overall shabby appearance and made our yard look cheap. 
There.  Like I said, I only listed a couple of the reasons we loathed the old shed. 
Anyhow................... A couple of years ago I helped my dad build a new shed in his backyard that was to some serious industrial standards and ever since then, Suzanne and I have wanted one like it in our yard.  Having one would greatly improve the quality of the overall shed, the aesthetics of our yard, and the amount of space we would have to store and maintain our equipment. 

Now, in order to begin our project I first had to tear down the old shed.  I started by relocating all of our stuff to the garage to protect and secure our goods.  Then the fun but pesky part of demolition began. 

 The most difficult part of the demolition project was the roof by far.  The shed had been re-shingled once so there was two layers of shingles on the roof.  Because of this cutting through the roof with my reciprocating saw was eating my blades like there was no tomorrow, so I left the roof sections largely intact.  My aversion to using up blades only caused me more grief because I had to figure out how to remove 200 lb 8ft long sections of the roof without assistance.

Here is one of the 8ft sections I removed.  I had to set it down and take a break before tossing this pig over the gate like a real man!  

Here, I needed to prop that pig up to keep it from collapsing on my head with all the shingle nails poking through to impale me while it was at it.  I removed the section just to the right first because it was shorter and lighter and then I removed this section last.  

Finally down to just one wall and the floor.  I avoided this wall till last because I hadn't wanted to deal with my wood pile quite yet.  Eventually I took care of business and removed the whole thing, section by section. 

Here is an example of the stellar construction were were dealing with here...  As you can see, the 2x4's under the floor sit right in the soil there, facilitating the rotting nature of the shed.  I'm fairly certain the hole right in the middle of the photo is the hole the yellow jackets used to victimize Suzanne's Mom.  This was one of the worst areas of rot we had going on in the floor but there were other holes elsewhere.

This was the front of the old shed.  Originally I was just going to remove the bulk of the front wall and rebuild it all, but the rot had gotten so bad through both the siding and the framing that there was just no way to do it that way.  

Yet another example of the rot of the old shed. 

Here lie several sections of wall awaiting the city dumpster I have scheduled to come so I can dispose of all this stuff once and for all. 

Another view. 

Construction on the new shed finally began after demo was completed.  My dad came over and helped me lay out the foundation with the Transit, so all 6 pier blocks are nice and level with one another and the building as a whole is nice and square.  Then we busted out the outside framework.  

Here is the outside framework and the floor joists mounted every 16 inches on center for some serious floor stability.  Notice the shed being build above ground here...  not straight on the soil so this one rots in a year or two like the old one.  This one will be built to last.

This is an ongoing project so this is all I have right now, but Suzanne and I will check back in in a few days to update the completion or near completion of this project.  Also coming soon is the before, during, and after of our basement bathroom remodel which I haven't completed, nor posted about yet. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Letter to MSNBC

 In light of the recent Anti-Mormon campaign waged by MSNBC, I decided to write a letter expressing myself to the CEO, The O'Donnell Show, and the Public Relations department.
I’m a fairly understanding person.  I understand that sometimes a person mistakenly says something that they didn’t mean to say, or something that didn’t come out quite right.  I am also not so naïve to think that these “mistakes” can’t become pattern.  As I sat and watched O’Donnell rant about Mitt Romney’s “Mormon Problem”, I can’t help but notice a growing pattern in his and MSNBC's rhetoric of falsities and downright lies about Mormons.  My utter disgust only grew as he continued to vomit his vile speech upon the American people.  The MSNBC “news” channel has openly admitted to having a progressive and liberal agenda.  The very premise of this liberal and progressive agenda preaches acceptance and tolerance and understanding of all others.  This being said, I only see complete hypocrisy on the part of MSNBC and its hosts and affiliates.  I watched Howard Dean on MSNBC talk about how disgusted he is about a supposed GOP bashing of Gays, Muslims, Latino’s, Immigrants, and Women.  But then I see O’Donnell bashing Mormons to the point of slander on his show.  Where is Howard Dean and the rest of MSNBC standing up for a liberal war on Mormonism?  Great job, MSNBC, at upholding even your most basic tenets in liberalism and progressivism.  I’ve seen some pretty disgusting things said on both the left and the right in politics and I have seen the fallout when that does happen.  Never though, have I seen a more blatant disregard for all decency than I just saw in O’Donnell.  When someone on the right makes a statement such as this, the left, including your hosts, explode into an uproar and demand that action be taken against the perpetrator.  Now, as I said, I am not a naïve man, and in this particular case, I am not so naïve as to think a reputable company such as yours will do anything about this. 
You have thoroughly lost my business and anyone I can share this with in my, “crusade”, if you will, against your hypocrisy and pattern of false reporting. 


Mike Alexander

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rain Barrel's Finished

So Last Sunday I left off where I had made some wood cutouts to help level both barrels. These cutouts of OSB worked perfectly for my purposes and have kept the barrels on their blocks all week long even in some pretty intense wind storms without having any water in them. Now, OSB tends to easily be destroyed by nature and it's wrath so I used some really nice paint and painted both boards to help seal them off from the rain and wetness. I really made sure I got the edges since that is a particularly weak spot for moisture to do it's damage.

Here is what my OSB leveling board looks like having been painted and centered on the bricks.

Here is the general picture of the two barrels. They have not been connected yet nor has the drain line been connected yet but you can see them both level and upright due to the leveling boards beneath them.

Now for the intake, I used my jigsaw to cut a 3" circular hole in the bottom of the left barrel (remember that the bottom of the barrel is really going to end up being the top of the rain barrel). I then used a 4"-3" reducer and inserted it into the 3" hole in the top of the rain barrel. In order to keep the bugs out and to keep the ever annoying mosquitoes from spawning in there I put a piece of regular window screen on top of it and used a 4" hose clamp to secure it in place. If you don't have window screen then pantyhose will also work. Then I ran the downspout right into the reducer as my intake.

Once my intake was all completed, I then undertook the quite easy task of connecting the two barrels together using the PVC I started before. I cut two 3" lengths of PVC pipe and used them to bring the piping out away from the brick a little and then I attached another 90 degree elbow and pointed the two barrels toward each other to be connected. Going back to the leveling of these barrels... The very first thing I did when beginning this project was lay the bricks and level them. This started with pouring sand in the area and leveling that out first. Sand sort of self levels over time and settles more evenly which is why I wanted to use it as a base instead of just throwing my bricks on the normal ground where it would settle unevenly and create problems for me later on.

With all of that completed I was able to connect both barrels and attach the valve for water stoppage and release. I used a 12" piece of pipe on both sides there, and PVC T, to bring the manifold out to the valve. On the end of the valve there is a hose adapter so I can attach a hose if I wish or I can just use this to fill a bucket full of water if I want. The last thing I did was attach the drain hose to the barrel on the right using a sump pump drain hose kit I nabbed from Lowes for 10 bones.

Now, this manifold system works using the self leveling properties of water. Water always finds it's own level if it is allowed to flow freely between two points. That's what this manifold system enables here. There is no stoppage between the two barrels. So even though only one barrel has an intake and only one barrel has a drain hose, both will be at the same fill level at all times. As I sit here typing this out, it is finally raining for the first time since I finished this project on Tuesday. I am excited to see how much rain water I will be saving from this storm alone. I now have the capacity to save roughly 110 gallons of rain water at any time and to then use that to water flowers, grass, trees, garden or even in an emergency make it into drinking water, all off the grid. I hope this helps all you other DIY'ers in your home projects. If you have any questions on how to make your own barrels or what materials to use, let me know and good luck!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rain Barrels

I guess you could say my family has an affinity for things like this. We have an affinity for little pet projects and for building our own functioning tools and resources. This just happened to be convenient for me at the moment so, Rain Barrels it is.

Over the last couple of years, we have been noticing a pesky problem with our house that seems to continually worsen, especially around this time of year. The back and side of our house did not have rain gutters. This made the water from the roof drain onto the North side of our house which seems to be perpetually wet because of its shady disposition. This is in addition to whatever wetness the ground itself received directly. This combined with our rowdy dogs, most especially Zeus who runs in the mud, has created some large muddy patches in our lawn up against the north side of our house. With this in mind I noticed Lowes had a good deal on rain gutters. I mentioned this to Suzanne. Both of us were sick of the mud and the ruts the dripping roof has created in our lawn, so we decided to spring for it.

I obtained all the parts needed and installed the pig myself. It was a little tricky because of the bay window but at last I got it to work and wort it does! Now this bring us to the drainage. I didn't want it draining right by my foundation lest it flood my basement after a heavy downpour in monsoon season this summer. I also didn't want to dig a trench in my already flagging back lawn to lay a drainage pipe with the flex hose and whatnot. Now, my brother and I have toyed with the idea of creating some rain barrels in the past. I didn't wanna fool around with it then because all my downspouts were in the front yard and it could be a little unsightly to have a few 55 gallon drums chillin in ones front yard. So our new gutters created such a welcome opportunity! Especially since I love the amateur gardening Suzanne and I do in the summers and knowing how much water we pour into that, I was all the more motivated. Travis turned me onto some youtube videos which gave me a lot of different ideas, some good and some bad. After much research and a little thought, here is the chronicle of building my rain barrels.

So first of all, even though I know he wont be reading this, big thanks go to my Dad for hooking me up with the two 55 gallon drums and the cinder blocks I used for this project. Everything else I was able to obtain for some serious cheapness at Lowes. So I obtained the basic materials which were the barrels, cinder blocks, sand (which I already had), and all the PVC. I solely used 3/4" schedule 40 PVC just for uniformity and price. All of that maybe cost me a little more than 10 bones. I then disassembled the barrels.

This is an example of what a "bung" is. On the top of the barrels are two outlet holes. One of them has a plug in it to seal it up, and the other has a bung in it to provide easy access to attach a spicket. I will be using it for a slightly different purpose however.

Using the bung, which already has pipe threads, as an access point I purchased some 3/4" pvc adapters. I got one for each barrel. They are easy enough to use, they just screw right into the bung. I bought the o-rings just for good measure. I used some vinyl sealant on the threads of the adapter as an extra layer of protection against leaks and tightened it into the bung as tight as I could. I then used the sealant on the inside of the bung at the base of the adapter to make sure no water would escape.

This is a package of 1" o-rings that fit perfectly over the 3/4" adapter. I think this was less than a dollar at Lowes.

When using the vinyl sealant you always want to allow at least 24 hours for it to cure. I made this mistake on my rain gutters and sealed a couple joints with it right before we got rain and snow and have since had to go back and fix it. So in other words, once I got the adapters in the bungs and all sealed up and let them cure for 24 hours before doing anything with them.

Once my bungs/adapters had fully cured I went ahead and cleaned the threaded ports for both the bungs and the plugs in the barrel. I used a toothbrush to make sure it was clean to create a better seal for the water and a better surface for the vinyl sealant. Once again I put some serious vinyl sealant on the thread and as you can see in the photo, I sealed the top of the plugs and bungs with the sealant.

Here, I went ahead and attached a 2 inch piece of pvc pipe to the adapter using the purple primer and the blue pvc cement. On that I attached the 90 degree elbow, making sure the elbow faces outward so my manifold system can be attached.

I also ran into a snag with the design of these barrels. Because they need to be turned upside down for this operation, and because they weren't originally designed to be upside down, they have a weird mound or bubblish bulge on the top there. This makes it so the barrels do not sit on the cinder blocks in a very stable manner. To remedy this problem I used 7/16" OSB to even out the surface and help the barrels have a little more support from underneath. These barrels will weigh in excess of 400 pounds each when filled so I wanted maximum support and stability.

This is about as far as I have gone. I will record the progress as I finish and will post the completed project and the rest of the instructions when it is all done!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Favorite Little Person

Our sweet Wyatt is the most entertaining little guy. I love him more than I ever imagined.
Wyatt here is geared up ready to see his new home. We were so glad to get out of the hospital.

Such a tiny guy, weighing in at 6 pounds, 7 ounces, 20 inches long. I love how little was and he continues to grow each day. LOVE HIM!