USER HINT: Right click with your mouse and – if you have Windows 10, select “Read Aloud” so you can watch the sun come up while drinking your coffee and having today’s column read to you. (I have taken to this tool many times to help proof read this column. Hasn’t helped, but I can drink coffee…)
Weather woo-woo? Yeah, oddly. And all swirling around my deck project. Odd story with many moving parts, so let’s start with the weather angle.
You see, this is a rather circuitous ramble consisting of two parts. The first of which is weather. Which is divided and taken in two pieces.
No! We are not talking about runaway climate hysteria. Though we caught a whiff of it in AccuWeather’s “Summer 2021 edges ‘Dust Bowl’ summer as hottest ever contiguous US.”
Clear Thinking pointer: Around here, a comparison where the “hottest ever” was by a miniscule one one-hundredth of ONE degree – whether it comes from NOAA or not – is likely disingenuous hypology at best or (more likely) crooked hysteria-whipping toward a political end, at worst.
Our measurement consciousness requires that any time a “science claim” is made data is inspected. Stories using terms like “margin of error” (existent during the Dust Bowl), let alone no mention of 10-degree (and more) heat islanding changes, can only be viewed with suspicions normally reserved for Prince Andrew and Hunter Biden. That said…
The second weather player is the weather just west of Cancun. Where the remaining high functioning parts of NOAA have their eyes on the weather system which could turn into a tropical storm and which help power a very wet week ahead here in East Texas. And inch – or more – is in the cards.
Part Two of the Shop Woo
15-years back, thereabouts, I built a really nice deck on the front of the house. If you’ve been a long-term reader, you may remember Mr. Prideful’s picture of it:
Since that glorious beginning, Southern Weather (can’t bring myself to say “climate” without gagging) worked its magic. Since we run a tree farm, renewables like wood do matter.
Out with the Old!
I am the “demon of demising.”
If you’re not familiar with the term, it pops out of commercial real estate when a Lessee is getting T.I. (tenant improvements) done. One of the contractor line items is “demising the space” – which means getting it back to the original “as built” from which the new construction will begin. (more demising details here).
Taking off the old deck this week began with the bare basics:
Not shown: The pry and crow bars.
Once the tools had gotten the deck and building separated, it was time to bring in the real power tool to haul off the resulting mess:
OH that? Mean the electric chainsaw in the bucket and the half-ladder? You don’t seriously think I’m going to hand-carry (schlep) things when I can drive all tools and materials around, do you?
A couple of cool mornings and it was done. All but a few large pieces like this one…
(Blue Arrow in picture: Recycled joists in good shape.)
The others were easily picked up by the “Iron Horse” and taken down to the burn pile. Well away from the house.
Then came the inspections…how big would the dry rot problem be?
Actually, there was surprisingly little. BUT there was SOME.
If you look carefully at the picture above, you’ll see this particular mobile home was sheathed with a 1980’s popular siding product which over time turns into a cardboard-like surface. Keeps the weather out, sure. BUT (Tip #1) if you ever purchase a mobile home (as in new) don’t buy anything that doesn’t have HardieBoard or HardiePlank.
(Tip #2) The other thing is once you find dry rot, keep peeling things off until you get to good wood.
The white lines are where I will be cutting back to when the sun gets up a little more.
The name of the game here is to get everything open so you can see the problems, make good measurements and do a craftsman-like repair.
What had speeded up the premature aging of the deck was the run-off from the screen porch roof. Unaddressed, it was simply a few thousand cycles of wet-the-dry. Here’s another “work in progress shot…”
Circled area: See how the top of the treated 2 by 8 joist was eaten by dry rot?
Good news is that none of the dry rot had gotten to anything structural. As a result, I’ll be able to simply block-up a series of “nailers” and install new sheet goods. Between some Bondo for the seams and caulking where needed, patching is a breeze.
(Tip #3) Come back next Sunday and I’ll show you how to do a credible job of patching. This is one of those skills picked up when young that has been one of the most useful of all…never fear an accidental hole in plasterboard (or plywood, or cheap mobile home siding or even sheet metal when doing body work) again!
Thoughts on Mobile Home Construction
To our thinking, mobile home, versus site-built, is a LOT like the differences in opinions between ultra-light sailing boats (*and catamarans) on the one hand, and deep displacement boats.
Theory of the catamaran crowd is that if you have a sailboat which can reliably make 20 knots, you can get safely out of the way when major weather systems come up. Cut and Run. The Deep Displacement crowd can’t do that – what being limited to hull speed (1.34 times the square root of the waterline length). Instead of Cut an Run – because they’re too slow – the heavy displacement boat crowd just heaves-to and slugs it out.
How does this relate?
The Ure family – when comes to home construction – has been in both camps.
Pappy was a “hell-built for stout” fellow. His idea of “decking” was quarter-inch spaced 2-by-4’s vertically. He figures they would span 5-feet safely and that’s how the ramp into my childhood hillside home was constructed.
On the other side, I really LIKE mobile home construction. Done right (which ours was sort of) they will carry the snow loads and such. Remember, we had almost 10-inches of snow on our roof here last winter.
But the real attraction is less material. Which means a little more engineering but a LOT better cost per square foot.
The two biggest improvements in mobile homes in the last 30-years have been the increased popularity of “Northern Insulation” packages (using a 5 1/2-inch sidewall. The other has been the advent of “full height” interiors. Mobile homes can feel “small” but that’s because (again, saving money and energy) the early ones had 6-foot 10-inch sidewalls. Some even lower.
Want to mention that there are some great technologies coming which could be applied in mobile homes, but even in site-built have a huge payoff in reduced energy costs while at the same time being much more resource efficient.
Take a look at the T-Stud website over here and prepare to have your mind opened.
I argued long ago (in a Peoplenomics report) that with the advent of monster-sized UHD TVs there’s no longer a need for windows, either
What comes in view is the windowless R30 sidewall home (Even the studs from T-Stud can be R-19 and that’s with a thermal barrier so whole wall figures of 30 may be doable especially with spray-on foam in addition to fiberglass batting. R50 in the Ceiling is just a matter of how much insulation you want to buy.
Learning from Disney
The reason I like mobile homes is they do just one thing very well. They keep the weather out.
First time I made the mental leap from “hell built for stout” was when I studied a close-in aerial view of Disneyworld long ago.
What you’ll discover is that a lot of my favorite rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (escapes or Elaine calls it “transporting interiors”) look on the (unseen from the park) outside like industrial warehouse buildings. Spoiler: They are.
Reading nearly a dozen books on Imagineering that has gone into it all is the realization that yep! The main function of a building shell is to keep the weather out and contain hot and cold on the inside.
Which is why my friend Clayton had such a cool Barndominium, too. Huge building. 60-year steel building, right? Big enough for three SUVs and a good-sized tractor. But also inside it was 3,000 square feet of living space with nearly that much storage overhead. With 6 and 8-inch walls with meticulous craftsmanship, it was economical to cool and heat.
Clayton’s barndo – like the rides at Disneyworld – was all about interior design. His place went for a huge amount of money when sold. Because the interior was totally tricked-out and upscale. Just like Pirates or the Mansion are location scenes, that’s what Clayton’s place was. Terrifically neat. And fun to design and build.
Which circles back to the lesson. I got so sick of people telling me “If you’re successful, how come you live in a trailer?”
Pirates lives in a warehouse. Your point?
People don’t understand as much as they think they do. Elaine and I love being able to smash out walls and remodel a lot. Because we don’t live in a box. We live in a cross between linked dioramas and movie sets.
Now the Woo-Woo Part
I was thoroughly pissed Saturday morning. The Scottish-surnamed lumber yard in Palestine, Texas screwed up and failed to get my $1,300 lumber order out Saturday. So I called them up and being pissed, had them put the whole thing on hold.
“We can have it out to you first thing Monday – that’s when it’s scheduled for…”
“No. It was scheduled for today. Put the whole thing on hold. May have to cancel the whole project now…”
I was furious: They were going to bring out my new siding in the rain? Dump it onto what will be a muddy spot by then? Nope.
Then it hit me. This was a message from (Universe, God, the Dude): “Slow down, George. Not so fast. I’m going to pace things for you. You can work on your deck and siding next weekend…”
I’ve been accused by many of being hyperactive. Almost drip energy at times. Never been a “Stop and smell the roses” kind of guy.
Now, seems I don’t have a choice. The trade-off is my grudging admission that all things are connected in the Universe.
But instead of stopping to smell roses, can I just stop and smell the sawdust, instead?
Of course he can!
Yeah, perhaps we’re all ruled by Zeus the Construction Supervising Cat. He asked me to help him set up a SubStack site…say, you don’t think he’s going to go into competition with us, do you?
We just don’t know it.
Write when you get rich,