30 Aug 2015 @ 4:58 PM 

Last fall I started construction on an 80+ foot long water feature for our back yard. I hired Brian Male of Alchemy Group to help me with it. Most of the rocks came from my parent’s yard who had a water feature that they didn’t want any more. Some rocks were also found in my yard. It has a switch with a photo sensor that turns on at sunset. It is set to run for 4 hours into the evening so we can here it when we got to bed at night. The switch also supports a remote control for us to turn on when ever we like. Mostly, we just enjoy sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the sound of the water.

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Categories: DIY Projects, Hobbies, Home Improvement Projects, Status Updates
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 @ 04 59 PM

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 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:58 PM 

This is what has been keeping me busy this fall. I began my construction of a water feature in the backyard. I won’t be able to finish it until next year when the weather warms up again, but I got this much of it done before the cold winter weather set in. I’ll write more when it’s done.

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Categories: Around the House, DIY Projects, Home Improvement Projects
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2014 @ 05 44 PM

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 27 Oct 2014 @ 3:30 PM 

I wrote an earlier post about preparing to build a playhouse for my kids. This summer, I began construction on it.

During the cooler months earlier this year, I finished making some designs to use for planning and building. I already had an idea of what I wanted. I did some searching around on the Internet to find other ideas to get what I wanted. Since I live in an area that gets a fair amount of snow, I needed to make sure the roof was going to be able to hold a snow load. The roof pitch I found people suggesting for snow was a 3:12 pitch. I used this to help with the dimensions based on the area I had prepared in the backyard. I also looked up in our city’s building codes to make sure I wouldn’t need a building permit. According to their website, anything under 200 sq feet would not need a building permit. I had to make sure the design would fit within that number.

I took two semesters of an AutoCAD class when I was in college. I was able to find a free and open source computer aided design program (LibreCAD) so I could draw some building plans(treehouse-plans-PDF). Once I had some different views drawn, I was able to come up with a list of lumber that I would need. Since it was a decent amount of lumber that I was getting all at once, I had the lumber yard deliver it to my house. My little Nissan Versa couldn’t carry much at one time.

I called the utility location service to come an mark the underground utilities. It was not an encouraging layout as it had things running directly under where I planned to put the playhouse. I went ahead and layed out where I wanted my poles to go and began digging. As I got deeper, I used a hand trowel as I didn’t want to cut into something I would regret. I did not have a lot of experience with laying things out for digging and keeping them square. This showed once I got further along in the construction as not everything lined up as I had expected. If I were to do this again, I would have figured out how to do more to make sure my poles were measured more accurately.

I placed rebar in the ground to measure out where I wanted my poles. PVC pipe from previous irrigation projects was used to cover the sharp tips of the rebar.

I placed rebar in the ground to measure out where I wanted my poles. PVC pipe from previous irrigation projects was used to cover the sharp tips of the rebar.

Holes for poles have been dug

Holes for poles have been dug

By the time I had the lumber delivered, I had the holes dug for the poles. I decided to go with a two foot depth. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of how to place a pole without it being buried in the ground. Now I know about a bracket you can buy that lets you pour concrete and set the bracket in the concrete. The bracket sits on top of the poured concrete so that you can place the pole in the bracket to be secured. This gives the added advantage of keeping the pole out of the ground, preventing rotting of the wood. Since I wasn’t aware of this method, the poles I used are pressure treated 6×6’s. I bought some water proofing stuff used for the exterior walls for basements. It was a runny, black, tar type substance. I painted it on the bottom of the poles where they would be underground with the hope that this would keep the water out of the wood.

The bulk of the building materials I had delivered in my driveway. This was followed by countless trips to the local home improvement store.

The bulk of the building materials I had delivered in my driveway. This was followed by countless trips to the local home improvement store.

Since I wasn’t very good at squaring up the poles, I used the lumber I was going to be attaching to the poles to help with getting things square before I poured the concrete into the holes.

This was as I was preparing to pour concrete in the holes for the poles.

This was as I was preparing to pour concrete in the holes for the poles.

The angle iron shown on the front two poles was acquired by my father when he was working on a construction site. They were part of a tower for an antenna that was being dismantled. They are 1/4 in galvanized angle iron. These two pieces were sunk into the ground. Holes were drilled into the angle iron so I could attach them to the wooden poles with carriage bolts. I chose to do this as this part of the treehouse had the potential to bear a shock load. The wall here in the future is going to be a climbing wall with the potential of having a zipline attached to this side as well. Probably over engineered, but I was OK with it.

After the poles were set, I began construction of the frame for the platform base. I used pressure treated 2×8’s with the floor joists on 16 in centers. I used lag screws to attach the frame to the poles and joist hangers to secure the joists to the outer frame. I then placed more lag screws on the ends of the joists to further secure them to the frame.

Here the platform frame has been put together. The lag screws have not been put in on the end of the joists yet.

Here the platform frame has been put together. The lag screws have not been put in on the end of the joists yet.

More »

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Categories: Around the House, Family, Home Improvement Projects
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 27 Oct 2014 @ 03 30 PM

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