Saturday, July 25, 2009


Tomorrow, Jay Harding (Harding Electric) will be stopping by. We told him that we have finalized our electrical plan. We have realized that if we ever want to move in our space, we must hire some people to do work we know we could do ourselves - if we had time. So we are continuing to scrape together what money we can and hiring what we can.

Our plan for the interior is that Dave will lay all the fixture boxes because we are very, very specific of where we want them and not just on the nearest available stud. the outlets we are not as concerned about. We hope that Jay will give us a quote on doing the outlets, the switches, etc., and pulling all the wires. We are hoping that we can line him up for about two weeks from now. We shall see how everything goes.

We like working with Jay and he has done work for us before.


In trying to save money we have tried to do as much as we can ourselves. To save some money on the electrical work we contacted our friendly local electrician, Jay Harding of Harding Electric (585) 329-1784, in Palmyra. He came out and talked with Dave about what Dave could do and purchase and what he, Jay, could get at a better cost.

Jay told Dave what to buy and also told him that the electrical box should come off the damp outer stone wall. Jay suggested Dave build a frame to hold the new electrical box on, just forward of the wall. Dave liked the idea and got to work. Jay came back and rewired everything, put up the new box and also removed the barn from the house, which was something we had wanted done since we bought the place. Cost: $500.


These first of these pictures shows some of the debris that I had to clean off from the top of the stone foundation and around the sill. Corn cobs and all. The next picture shows the remnants of the shelves loaded up to take to the recycling/landfill center.


This remodeling project has taken eons longer than I ever thought it would. Part of the reason is for stuff like the stove (see earlier post) and things like moving the electrical box.

The bottom picture shows what we started with. The old electrical box is to the left and then this big old set of shelves had to be taken down (my job) and all the wires overhead moved. The picture on top shows the wall after I removed the shelves.


Well, we had been hoping to foot the bill for everything with savings. We decided to take the big gulp and obtain a loan to get the heating and cooling system that we think is best. That is, we are going geothermal.

Again, we talked to several contractors at the Rochester Home show. We contacted three of the contractors we talked to. One never called me back. The other two were Geotherm, Inc. (Jesse Cook) ( and Energywise Partners, LLC (David Neale) ( We received comparable quotes from both companies and were happy with both people.

We ended up going with Jesse Cook for just a couple of reasons. One of the reasons was that he wanted to put in more piping for the water to flow through and the other was that he also wanted to hang the heat pump from the basement rafters instead of on the basement floor. Dave also felt Jesse was a little on the perfectionist side, a lot like himself. Dave liked that.

We took Jesse's quote to the bank and received a loan for the work. Jesse is also going to supply the duct work and the whole house heat exchanger. Of course these last two things were not figured into our loan so we are scraping together more money.

The duct guy that Jesse uses will be in next week to make the holes where the ducts will go. He expects to be at the house about four hours. That's cool. He will come in later to install the ducts.

Just the geothermal system will be $20,000 plus. Gulp.

As stated everywhere in this blog, we are in this house for the rest of our lives, and God willing, we will have long healthy lives. So, with that said, we are also looking at our lives as we age and retire and want to keep our monthly expenses as low as possible. We should be able to heat our home for about $400 a year with this system.


Our insulation change was decided after attending the Rochester Home Show this past winter. We talked with several contractors but liked Mike Jag of Jag Construction ( Jag offers spray foam insulation and we liked what we heard. It is more expensive but the trade offs seem to be worth it. It will take only a few days to completely insulate our house and the insulating properties will be spectacular. Plus, Mike gave us a 10% show discount and there are tax advantages as well that made this a wise choice. We expect the insulation will be coming in within the next month.

Another point I got snitty about with Dave was that I felt like we are going to have to triple insulate the walls and this irritates me. First, we will be adding pink fan-fold insulation to the bare outer walls between the studs. This is for the foam insulation to adhere to. Next, the spray foam goes in (3"). Then, we have been told by another energy solution person (see later post) that we need to make sure there is no way for convection to occur in the walls, which will cause moisture. Therefore, we will be adding bat insulation on top of the foam. I'm irritated because it will be a three-step process now and also because it will cost us even more money. But, I don't think there is any choice. We move forward.


Our heating issue is a saga in itself.

Dave thought we would be using bat insulation. Because our studs are a weird size we felt we needed to build out every single one of them. This has added an enormous amount of work for us.

Dave also thought that he would hire this company in Pennsylvania to create a duct design for us. We did that and he gave us a great design and designed it within our constraints. The name of the company is Comfy House and they did a good job. This work cost us under $500 but we thought it was well worth it.

The problem is, we changed our minds - on the the insulation and on how we were going to heat and cool the house. They aren't kidding when they say changes cost money. Read on.


Again I had the panicky thought of what if I screw this up? My clean piece of paper (home) and I'll pick the wrong colors.

After meeting with Bruce (see previous post) I realized that he was looking for what kinds of colors we planned on using in the house. I thought I had been thinking of pale yellow and maybe a little blue but I wasn't sure and didn't want a French kind of style. I have never felt comfortable with color but I seem to usually be able to put things together fairly well. But now...I just didn't know.

I went to Border's and found a book that I love. It's called THE COLOR SCHEME BIBLE by Anna Starmer. It has saved me. This is how it works:

The book is in sections by color. For example "Pinks." Then each page in that section has a description of the colors and what they are drawn from. But the best part is it gives a base color (like for walls), say Cranberry, and then gives you suggestions for complementary colors. For Cranberry it gives you dusky pink, soft stone, sage green and black. It also tells you where you might use these other colors (on the walls, furnishings, fabrics, etc.).

Dave and I agreed on a scheme for most of the house. We are going with an ivory with complementary colors of pebble, fern, green leaf, and orchid. The den, which is mostly Dave's creation is going to be in forest, celery, soft fern, and dark forest.

Again, by picking our color scheme we can move on to other things with this focus in our minds.


We're not just letting the corn grow (though it is and has tasseled out almost overnight).

One of the things that was overwhelming me the most was the lighting options. I literally searched thousands and thousands of lights online. One of my problems is that I'm a little indecisive. The other problem is is that I like many things and many styles. I have a hard time focusing. I was all over the place.

I was scared. I equated this fear to looking at a blank piece of paper and being expected to write something exceptional. My new home was a blank piece of paper. I didn't want to screw it up.

Dave and I get along really well. If you don't you should NEVER undertake a project like this. It will certainly be the death of your relationship. I kid you not. But, just because Dave and I get along really well does not mean we don't get upset with each other and our predicament. Yes, friends, we are in a predicament.

Even though the lights are the last thing you hang, you have to know pretty early on where you are going to hang those lights and where you want outlets and switches. An electrician can't do his work if he doesn't know where to do it. Long before you know what style or paint you might choose, you may have to figure out what style of lights you want. Woe is you who doesn't have a clue. I didn't have a clue.

So Dave and I had a battle. He was home on a Friday as a vacation day and he was meeting with a contractor. I took a half day of vacation and was thrilled to come home and work along side Dave. Instead we argued. I left in a huff. It was over lighting and how we were having such a problem deciding what to do. I became rather childish (okay, I admit it). I took the car and left and said I would be home later. I let the car take me where it would.

The car got to the end of the road and said, "Turn left and go to the lighting store in Newark. Turn right and go to Tuthill Lighting in Brighton." The car went right.

I drove to Brighton, about 35-40 minutes away in the Rochester area. I had seen their Web site ( I walked in the front door and was greeted by Bruce Bellwood, owner. His family has owned and operated this store on Monroe Avenue since 1924. I figured they were a good bet. It's one of the best decisions I made.

Though the showroom was not terribly large, I felt they could do anything. I know they could by their Web site. Bruce immediately simplified my problems. He said you need to think of only three things in each room, not what style or what fixture.

1. Ambient lighting - lighting the general area of the room (ceiling, perimeter, etc.)
2. Task lighting. Where in the room will you need to have light to do things like knitting, sewing, reading, etc.
3. Accent lighting. Mood lighting, anyone?

Bruce said that once you figure out that stuff, the rest is easy. It makes you focus which I needed desperately.

Bruce gave me several lighting catalogs that I could borrow. He also said that as a service they can take our floor plan and digital pictures and load them on their large-monitor computer (which was sitting on top of a large table in the showroom with chairs all around). Then he could walk through each room and we could all make decision together.

I asked the inevitable because money is pretty tight right now. "How much does this service cost?" Bruce's reply was, "Nothing. I make money on my products." I was sold.

When I got home, Dave met me with a smile. Bruce and lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I hoped Dave would agree that we should use Bruce and Tuthill Lighting. He wholeheartedly agreed and even called Bruce the next day to set up an appointment to meet with him.

What Bruce needed -
1. A floor plan.
2. Digital pictures (even with the house in studs).
3. A text file or document that explained what we liked and disliked, what our thoughts were on color schemes and why we had made some decisions we had. This was not as hard as you might think because we had already figured all that out before we started this project.

I was able to email everything to Bruce by that Sunday. Our appointment was that Wednesday. It was quite fun. We sat at the table and there was all the information I sent Bruce up on that large monitor. He walked through our house with us as we talked about each room and how we would use the rooms. He made suggestions and got us thinking about things.

The next step
What Bruce asked us to do before our next appointment was to walk through every room and pretend we were living there and go through the motions of turning lights on and off, figure out any mood lighting, and how people move through the house, including the entrance, stairs, baths, halls, etc.

This was not an easy task. I believe it took Dave and I three hours to do this but it was well worth the effort. We realized we needed fewer lights than we thought which saves us money. We realized that in a couple places we still aren't sure of the style and so we are using light fixtures we already have until we can be sure.

At our next appointment with Bruce we got to go through lights and decide which ones we wanted to order. This was the fun part. Again, we sat at the table and looked through all different lights on the Tuthill Lighting Web site. We were able to refine our choices and placed and order for several fixtures. Even Bruce was excited about some of our choices. We left a down payment of half the total and are excited about our choices.

NOTE: You may believe that picking lights this way would be expensive but we compared prices and felt the prices were very comparable AND we got this great added services. We also got some very interesting fixtures that we will be proud to have in our home.

NOTE2: One of the other things Bruce suggested and we feel was a good thing was to put dimmers on everything except lights in cupboards and closets. It really does make sense and it saves quite a bit of energy.


I'm up from the basement again. I just helped Dave snake about 40 feet of stove wire from one part of the basement (near the cistern) to the electrical box. Why stove wire, you say?

About two weeks ago our existing stove shocked (electrocuted?) me - up both arms. Scared the daylights out of me. A few weeks before that it had also zapped me but not as bad. Dave was feeling sorry because he knew there was probably a short in the stove. About the stove - it was 1970s-era, avocado green. A Tappan. It had had a good life. We were hoping to be able to use it until we redid our kitchen in Phase 2 of the Hardy House saga. Well, we had to do something.

We THINK we want to do wall ovens and a stove top when we redo the kitchen. The last thing we wanted to do right now was put money into something we didn't feel we would be using in the future. What to do? We went to Lowe's (they seem to be getting a lot of our money these days). We purchased the most inexpensive stove/range we could find. It is a Whirlpool and cost about $350.00 as it was 10% off from $398. We took it home with us where it sat in the barn until last week when we moved it in the kitchen. Dave spent all last Saturday working on getting the stove hooked up when I know he would have rather been working on the house. Of course, I told him if he wanted to ever eat again, I was going to have to have a stove. (I have now been without a stove for about 4 to 5 weeks our of 7.)

NOTE: Whenever you do a major remodel, it helps to have an outdoor grill and frozen meals made up in the freezer that you can microwave. Or, you can just go out to dinner a lot.

Anyway, Dave hooked up the stove and guess what? The new stove was live. Hmmmm. You know what that means, right? The wall wire was bad. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy we became aware of that so we could fix it before we had a fire. See the picture? Not pretty. The aluminum was just breaking off. Dave thinks that as he was working on the house and moving the wire he was braking it on the inside.

So the stove circuit went off again. Dave went to Lowe's who was out of stove wire and was told, "Sir, we can have it for you in about two weeks." No - Dave wants to eat. He also checked The Home Depot. He felt they were too expensive. The cost of the wire was between $1.50 and 1.90 a foot at these two stores. This morning we went to Colacino Electric (another fine Wayne County store) in Newark and we were able to purchase the wire for under $1.00 a foot. We were happy about that.

So maybe today I will again have a stove.


Not only are we being visited by chipmunks this year, but we have seen three snakes which is about 2-3 more than last year. We have had rather damp weather and I don't know if that is part of the problem.

This picture is of a milk snake (at least I think that's what it is). It's pictured in a bucket so it looks bigger than it was. The snake was not in the house but we think the mother may be living somewhere in the basement.

A couple of nights ago, Dave was working in the basement, dismantling the old furnace ducts and he comes into the house where we are living and says, "I knew it! I knew something was going to freak me out eventually!"

As Dave was removing one of the ducts from the furnace his eye caught some discoloration in the corner of the basement next to him. Only it moved. He thinks it was the mother of the snake in the picture. He estimated its length at about two feet.

I was asked for assistance in trying to find it. I was not an eager participant, let me tell you. But being the good wife, I, not too quickly, ventured to the snake pit. We never found her. We are hoping she found her way back outside.

We don't kill snakes we find. We let them be unless, of course, they are sharing our living quarters or seem lost. Dave scoops them up and takes them to the edge of our property and lets them go.


Yuck! We continue to have some issues with our cistern (yes, it still exists) and it holding water - not much - a few inches maybe. I just returned from holding the flashlight so that Dave could use the leaf rake to scoop two dead chipmunks from the water. I assume they got in through the sill and dropped into the water, drowning quickly. I hope so for their sake. I cannot believe we used to use this water, even though it was only for a very short time. I am so disgusted. At this moment, Dave is burying the little critters at the edge of the cornfield.