Home Ownership


I have a decent one around here someplace but with the construction, everything is ‘in a box somewhere’. I’m thinking it might be the switch I had since they both were dead but I’ll figure it out eventually. If nothing else, I’m already committed to a small run of wall conduit on the one wall. It wouldn’t look bad to run it the rest of the way down the room with new cable.


That’s the idea for when I build a house. Have tri-colour and warm white LEDs arranged in the coving around the ceiling all powered from a 12VDC rail. You can have the room white, or D•I•S•C•O M•O•D•E!!!… or y’know, just a pleasant orange or something for the evenings…

Quickest test ever… you need a button cell or AA/AAA battery, and a LED. Tape the battery to the L&N of one cable, test the other end with the LED. If the line is damaged, the LED won’t light.


Tore down the fence yesterday that had been propped up for too many years by the previous owners. A wind storm came through last winter and snapped off one of the pressure-treated posts at the concrete line where it had rotted away, so I planned on doing it this year anway, but just didn’t start earlier.

I spent most of the day digging up the concrete where the posts had been secured and discovered that whoever put them in only used about 1 foot of concrete to secure them and left the other 1 foot at the bottom of the 4x4 post was in direct contact with the dirt. I don’t know if the fence was 60 years old or not, but if it’s the original one that came with the house, that would be another shortcut the builders took. But on the other hand, I’m thankful they didn’t use more concrete because that much is just barely what I can wrestle out of the hole by myself. Four down, seven more to go. The dirt is very hard and compact at that depth, so it’s slow going.

What I will be putting in will have better reinforcement and the posts that the double gate will be attached to are 4x6x10’ to resist bending from the weight of the gate, even though it’s a lighter-weight build-it-yourself metal frame. I may not be able to put them up for over a week if the rain keeps up like the forecast says. Once that’s done, I can work on the rest as I feel like it.

The rain came in tonight just about on schedule, so I stopped for the evening and quickly hooked up the Halloween lights to pull double-duty as a hazard barrier. I will be running another set next week to help guide people in between the “inflatables” I will have along the walkway up to my door. Last year, a couple people cut through my lawn from the side and nearly tripped on the tension wires keeping them in place, so this time, I’ll leave a channel and use the lights to guide them in if they go that way again.

These are the ones from Home Depot that can be a steady orange, a steady purple or alternate between the two. So now I have das blinkenlights to go along with the yellow “caution” tape to keep people out of the construction area.


This past week was the start of the other half of the project. Things I learned:

  • It was a lot of long, slow and hard work doing it by myself, but worth it, and I got a few compliments from passers-by on my efforts.
  • Having a vacation just after Daylight Saving Time means you have extra time to adjust to the time change, but it means you lose an hour of daylight you could be using to this work.
  • How to build a rig to convert horizontal force into vertical force to lift the plywood boxes out of the ground that I used to create new holes for the posts to go into. Removing the original concrete meant making the holes a lot larger, so I had to fill the dirt back in after setting the forms and pack the dirt back down.
  • If you want to get the posts straight, run a string for the height you want and another to orient the posts against, then strap levels to two sides so you get it lined up vertically in both directions. Rubber-coated GearTies work great for this. Only had to re-orient two posts after I realized I needed the second string mid-way through placing them.
  • Retighten the strings when they begin sagging and stretching after absorbing moisture or rain overnight.
  • Hammer nails in part-way on the bottom of the post so that it will be locked into the concrete for extra stability.
  • If I did this right, the posts won’t have to be replaced for a very long time, but when they do, whoever does it better get a backhoe because there’s about 300 pounds of concrete around each post. For the gate posts, it’s probably 500.
  • It’s amazing how just a few ounces of water can make the difference between a good concrete mix and concrete that’s a little too soupy.

And finally:

  • Technically, I think I lifted 7 tons’ worth of concrete. (45 80-pound bags in four moves: off the store pallet onto the cart, then into my truck, then out of my truck to the work site, then lifting each bag into the mixing pan). Plus dragging the concrete back and forth inside the pan with a hoe to mix in the water.

Now I can move on to cleanup and putting the rest of the fence and gate together, but I need a break and those parts can be done at a slower pace as weather permits.


Hey, wanna come over to our house? I got some projects for you… :wink:

But seriously, DH is trying to figure out how to lay hardwood flooring, but I’m nervous about spending all that money and then messing it up. He is not known for being terribly handy. Or patient. And its not like we can send the three kids away for a week while he completes the task… I really wish my dad lives closer so he could help with suggestions and encouragement. His arthritis won’t let him do the work, but his brain has enough construction knowledge to build a house. Literally.


This is what’s currently keeping winter out of my garage


Needs more duck tape.


Seems legit.


Not sure whether this is better in the new shiny thread or here, so…it’s going here.

I picked up an ecobee3 this afternoon. Been wanting a wifi-enabled thermostat for a while and figured it was down to either the Nest or ecobee3. Then I recalled @Lee_Ars’s troubles with the Nest and went with the ecobee3.

Installation took about 15 minutes, pain-free. I’ve got it hooked up with its app on my phone & iPad, and wired into HomeKit (an Amazon Echo will be set up on or around Christmas too).

Only reservation right now is that because of where the thermostat is mounted, it drops to “unoccupied” mode very quickly. I have a feeling I’m going to be shelling out another $65 for a pair of remote sensors to augment the one that came with the unit.

I was going to get both the ecobee3 and Echo from Amazon, but Lowe’s had them for the same price and with my Lowe’s credit card I got an extra 5% off plus instant gratification.


I manually set the schedule I wanted, since I work from home and Laura & I have a pretty well-established routine. No need to worry about the thing trying and failing to learn (which was also a problem with the Nest). Also, with only one central air unit (i.e., single zone), I haven’t found the remote sensors to be worth a single damn. All they do is waste electricity by having the air run longer to cool off or heat other rooms. It’d be a lot better with a multi-zone system where there’s actually some granularity of temperature control, but for single zone it’s silly.


Oh how I wish for a thermostat. Our boiler has a timer, and not even the IO on the board for a thermostat. Considering it was made in the 90s and thermostats were The Thing at the time, this is maddening. Shelling out for a new one would be just as expensive as cutting the gas off altogether and getting an electric pass-through boiler (as in, not an instant water heater but one that has elements wrapped around a pipe that goes back and forth inside the cabinet. Like a reverse radiator, when you think about it).


My furnace was installed in 1925, upgraded from coal to natural gas at some point after that. I have the classic round fake brass thermostat, on a furnace with no moving parts.


Buy the other sensors. They are worth it.

When we finally got to the end of the HVAC project I had them move the thermostat placement (it’s not hard really if you can expose the wall or ceiling at all) to a more central place and we ditched the old Lowe’s Iris thermostat for an EcoBee3. At first we just had that with the spare sensor upstairs in the computer room. It handled the two floor temps okay but then I went out and bought a few more. I know have 3 with one in the bedroom and another in the kitchen and I plan on getting another couple sets for the other rooms. The more sensors you have the better the system can even out the temp in the house. The ‘follow-me’ is useful, but the cats keep setting off the rooms so I’ve turned it off. But it’s a fantastic improvement over the old one and the house is heated much better this year.


Lots of stuff has been going on at Dismal Acre but we worked on the library at least since it needs to be ‘finished’ for the tree this year.

The library is now painted though just with white primer. The floor is in and I put the trim down this weekend. The big thing is we got some of the bookshelves mounted. We’re floating some Billy Ikea bookshelves along the walls. The floor is too uneven to just have them on the floor and this way they are up out of the way of any cats who get any ideas…

I only got 2 up this weekend before I had to stop. I plan on the same 1 narrow and 1 full on the other side of the fireplace and then on that other wall, another 2 full sized bookshelves.


Creative use of the Ikea shelves. I need to stop by an Ikea when I finally get time/interest in redoing my basement office area.

Basically, I think I can arrange one of the smaller “4x2” open bookshelf units such that it allows us to aim a projector at an angled ceiling, which is one fo the only surfaces in the house that is nearly usable for projecting on.


I’m not looking for it to learn, just recognize when someone’s home. I have a traditional schedule set up right now, basically mirroring what our old thermostat did. dakwife works mostly at home, but day to day her schedule of when she’s at home vs. on the road visiting clients varies greatly, so I was hoping that the Follow Me feature would let her come & go without having to manually change the settings.

It’ll be simpler when we have the Echo set up, she can just say “Alexa, I’m leaving” and “Alexa, I’m home”. If I can get Home on her phone to recognize the ecobee, she can do that through Siri today.

As for the temperature sensors, we’re also a single zone but due to the layout & orientation of the house, temperatures can vary widely so having it even things out is a big plus. Right now, it’s 71 in the dining room (1st floor, north side of the house) right now, but 75 in our bedroom which is upstairs and on the south side so it’s getting a lot of sunlight. Her office is also on the south side of the house, so a sensor in there might help keep the heat off longer as the average across the house would take that room into account. In the winter, upstairs might be 4-5 degrees cooler at night so in the past we’ve had to set the thermostat higher to compensate (set downstairs warmer to get upstairs “warm enough.” With the sensor(s), that’s taken care of for us.

@Darktan I usually get Amazon & Lowe’s gift cards this time of year, so I’ll put sensors on my “we’ll think about it” list. That gives me a month to see how this gadget settles out. I have precious little data at the moment as it’s only been installed since Friday and the weather has been uncharacteristically stable over the weekend. However, I scraped my windshield this morning, have a projected high of 63 tomorrow and snow in the forecast for Saturday so that’s changing :slight_smile:


I’d love to stop by Ikea but the closest one is in a foreign country.


Guess I’m lucky with 2-3 in decent range. If I leave early, I could even stop on the way in to work!

I’ve been working on rebuilding my office. I got a nice corner desk from Ikea years ago and used to have a really nice setup with the corner desk and a traditional desk. I gave the traditional desk to my wife when we moved in to the house, and now my move to a more traditional desk and put my gig rack rack-mount boxes in the corner. I already planned ahead and got a wheeled base for them earlier this year.


It does that in Smart Home/Away mode. I should probably move a sensor or 2 so the cats stop setting them off, but if it detects no one in the house it’s supposed to go into the Away mode even if you have it set as a home time. You can also integrate it with IFTTT rules. I toyed with a geo-fence that would turn the thermostat into Away or Home mode at a certain distance but Gratch doesn’t use IFTTT or GPS tracking so it would only work for me. But this Sunday we went out and it did go into Away mode while we were gone for a while. The voice control sounds like a good solution too. I haven’t bought into that just yet.


Guys, given the recent scare with IoT things, what do you do with your IoT things to keep them safe? Just a slight derail, not intended to be a full-on derail :blush: