224) Studio Window Finishes

by Gail on November 16, 2015

It’s only been 4.5 years since we built the studio. The whole family uses it for projects, especially at Christmas time.making a bag

chair upholsteryWe had a fold-down bed built in there for guest accommodation.wall bed open

But, the deep window returns and sills have been sporting the truly rustic look all that time. Until now.

The 20’x20′ studio was built with insulated concrete forms, and the sills are nearly 12″ deep. There is 3″ thick styrofoam outside, and 3″ inside, with 8″ of concrete in between. The concrete floor has 3″ of styrofoam insulation underneath. The studio is sturdy and snug.rustic window sill

To prepare the returns for finishing, we had to shim, level, add filler (plywood and dimensional wood), cut away excess spray foam, trim the slot wall, and chip away concrete that went bump. studio before

Then, measuring once and cutting twice (rather than the sage advice, “measure twice, cut once”), I cut beautiful 1/2″ fir plywood to size. Of course, the pieces didn’t quite fit the spaces, because they really were wonky. Tops and bottoms were not the same size. One window had been installed slightly twisted, plus not level and plumb. Too much fussy-cutting, as we say in the quilting world.

I applied Varathane finish (three coats for the sill, two for the returns), sanding lightly between coats.cut fir panels

Then I nailed the panels in place. They still needed adjustments, so I added more shims and sanded the edges where they didn’t quite meet precisely.

The whole measuring, cutting, trimming, painting, shimming and nailing process had to be repeated for the white trim pieces.

Then, filling the nail holes and spaces I couldn’t get perfect. 

I’d say it was worth it – it’s so pretty to look at now. window sill after

window well with vignette

Wasn’t cheap, though, I insisted on real wood, none of that short-lasting mdf stuff that off-gases. The materials cost about $550. Lucky the labour was free!

Sharing with Cozy Little House, Coastal Charm, Savvy Southern Style, The Dedicated House


223) Adding Water Storage

by Gail on August 27, 2015

We’ve had a four-month drought here in the “rainforest” of southwestern British Columbia.

When we built our house and landscaped the yard, we installed a 2000 gallon rainwater storage cistern. The water is used to flush our toilets and water the garden.

I never knew how much water we would need for those purposes, but now I do. For the first four normal summers, the cistern did the job, because we had enough rain.Gail Hunt Rooftop Garden

Last summer was hot and dry, and I had to fill the cistern twice with district-supplied tap water.

This summer, I’ve already filled the cistern four times. 

We’re on Stage 4 watering restrictions: NO use of outside taps.

Any water we need to keep our trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and veggies alive has to come from bath/shower/dishwater (greywater). Plus, we’re encouraged to bathe less often and conserve water inside.grey water for garden

What I’m getting at: we should have installed at least another 2000 gallons-worth of water storage underground when we were building.

The best we can do now is add water storage above ground. I have had two rain barrels, but they’re inadequate. watering the orchard

So, we had Alli and Paul of Rain Farmers , a new business on the Sunshine Coast, haul and install two new tanks with a total of 721 gallons of new storage (or approximately 3000 liters).

They water the garden by gravity feed.

The round 421-gallon German-made Hercules tank is located in an area not too visible from the house. The “before” photo is below. Scroll down for the “after”. It will need to be filled from the cistern with the pressurized standpipe.

And here’s where I chose to have the 300-gallon narrow profile tank installed to collect water from the downspout.

The overflow goes back into the storm sewer.

You can see that it’s hard to hide! I plan to build a little seating area/shelter/plantings that will cover most of it. But, that could take years at the rate I’m going here. I spray-painted the white pipe black, because that’s what I had on hand, and it’s better than white. The big Leaf-eater attachment (at the top of the photo) keeps debris out of the tank. It’s a sealed system with no light allowed inside, so shouldn’t be troubled with algae.

Alli and Paul were efficient and enthusiastic. They arrived when they said they would (or gave me notice if they had to change the times.) I recommend their services.

And, I like to support local entrepreneurs. That’s one of the tenets of building green.

Now, let’s see if I can keep my valuable plants alive. pallet planters

Rain is expected tomorrow. Talk about timing!

Brussels sprouts in remay


Sharing with: Savvy Southern Style, Tuesday Garden Party



222) Concrete Countertops – Prototype

February 16, 2015

Well, I know I declared This Green House finished in 2014, only 5 years after we started building. But, the truth is: there will always be more tasks when you build your own house – some of them fun, and some of them fraught with difficulty. Concrete countertops fall into the second category for me. […]

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221) Merry Merry at This Green House

December 23, 2014

I’m wishing you a wonderful and warm holiday season with family, chosen family, and friends. A story: A  year and a half ago, I applied for a GST/HST rebate on our build. A few months later, I received an answer from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), telling me our rebate was denied, because the agent decided that […]

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220) Greenhouse at This Green House

November 11, 2014

Oh, boy! I’m excited! We have finally built that greenhouse, on the concrete pad that was poured ‘way back here. We were gifted 25 plates of tempered glass from a condo balcony remodel that was headed for the landfill. Some of them were used in our balcony railings and one was broken. Sixteen odd-sized pieces remain. WWOOFer Tim re-measured […]

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219) R.I.P. Bosch Angle Grinder

October 8, 2014

Just as I was nearing completion of the stone facing on the greenhouse, my trusty Bosch Angle Grinder died. My masonry teacher, Serge, said I would go through 2 or 3 of these before the house was done. It has seen me through the masonry on the whole house exterior Plus the pizza patio Plus […]

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218) Fold-down Bed

August 5, 2014

As I mentioned in this post, we’re working up to twenty beds in This Green House. The studio has already been used as an add-on bedroom (see this post: Make Your Own Bed) but we wanted something more comfortable and permanent. After Rob the carpenter was here doing our “Sprint to the Finish,” I sent him […]

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217) Rainwater Harvest Waterfall Feature

July 21, 2014

  Whenever we tour new visitors around our house and yard (quite a common occurrence here), there’s a lot of interest in our water feature. We have quite an elevation drop from the entry level to the back yard. So, to indulge ourselves myself with a luxury, we hired a rainwater harvesting contractor to build a […]

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216) Patio Plantings

June 24, 2014

Our patio has been functional for a few months now, and we have even had a few pizza parties. I haven’t yet reported on the plantings around it, so this post outlines my rationale for the landscape design. It’s a challenging slope – maybe 50 degrees. WWOOFers (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I have […]

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215) S.T.T.F. Final Day (11) Loft Beds

May 28, 2014

I have told you about the construction of curtain frames for our loft’s twin beds. Rob, our Sprint to the Finish (S.T.T.F.) carpenter built them, as well as doors for the storage underneath. Inspired to re-create the romance of train bed berths, I asked him to craft valances from the same tongue-and-groove pine that we […]

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