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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Next Steps on the She Shed - Electrical and Insulation

I finally have a day to myself. I thought I would start out with getting a blog post done.

Steve left for the day to go with his brother to help his dad. His dad has been undergoing some health challenges. Both Steve and his brother Pete have been going up there regularly to give assistance.

We started out the morning with a little bit of snowfall, but now the sun is out and the wind is drying up and evaporating any flakes that fell. The temperatures are cold, below average cold for this time of year in Wisconsin. With the added wind, the winds chills are even more frigid. Brrrrrrr!

I am cozy and warm and snug inside our cute little National Folk Farmhouse. I know I've been neglecting posting about our progress on the she shed addition. Today I will start where I left off and add a little more everyday. But as any of you who follow me on Facebook know, we are almost complete!

But that's too much to put all the steps into one blog post so I will start where I left off in the last few blogs.

The last blog post I had done showed how we removed the big box pantry and made a shallower opening with shelving for a pantry facing into the kitchen. Then I also had posted about adding the french door dividing the kitchen from down into the she shed. If you go back a few more posts, you can read about all of the work up to that point. Prior posts deal with removing the single garage door, adding new windows, removing the broken ugly windows on the back, and adding all of the exterior french doors and windows.

Now that I have brought you up to speed, the next step we needed to address was the electrical.

We got the proper permit signed at City Hall that allowed Steve to take responsibility for all of the electrical wiring. Homeowners are able to do all their own work via this paper, as long as the homeowner is confident in accepting the responsibility to do it correctly. He has been doing this for 40+ years and knows what needs to be done per code.  Steve had originally gone to school to be an electrician, and got offered a job partway through his schooling to work at the University doing their maintenance and electrical and building and remodeling needs. So this was easy peasy for him.

We worked together on the plan.  It was kind of fun deciding where the outlets should go, how we wanted to arrange wall sconces and lighting, and what to put where. Steve installed a rather complicated 4 way switching system back and forth across the entire span of the room to operate the wall sconces from each of the entryways as well as a center switch in the room that could dim or brighten the wall sconces at will. That way when we're already in the room and we would want to brighten or dim, we don't have to walk up the stairs to the kitchen or over to the entry way just to adjust the lighting.  I thought it was complicated wiring when he explained it to me, but he got it all wired in correctly and it tested out perfectly!

We got all the boxes for the wall sconces set into place, as well as the wall outlets below.

I found three wall sconces on a clearance rack at a local hardware store. But they were without any shades. (that is what I wanted because I had an idea in mind)   Each fixture was a different finish, so I spray painted them all to match. I had found a lady selling three leaded glass shades that match our other fixtures in the house!  Voila!  (Preview of coming attractions to see them in place in this pic below)

We were able to figure out exactly where we wanted outlets along the walls and for what purposes. Steve also added an outlet and a cable port for the antenna up high on the wall where the TV will be suspended from a bracket.

I have never been a fan of ceiling fans, (pun intended). The motion of the blades swirling around overhead tend to bother me visually and give me vertigo. But we decided we will add one to the room anyhow and pre-wired for it up high on the sloped 11 ft ceiling.  It will help with air circulation for heat and air conditioning in the future. That week, I found a really nice all white basic ceiling fan that does not bother my eyes. I think it's the movement of the dark blades against a light ceiling on a big suspended contraption that visually bothers my eyes?  This one is unobtrusive and out of the way.

We didn't do any overhead lighting. Instead we opted for wall sconces which is something I have always enjoyed. Overhead lighting doesn't work well on weaving or quilting because your head and shoulders creates a shadow on your work when you're leaning over it. I have task lighting that clamps onto the loom and other lights that shine right over the sewing machine work areas.

On the north wall we opted to mount two white architect articulating arm lights that could reach out and flex down to shine directly over my long quilting frame. Spaced about six feet apart it will give enough room to swivel them left or right to encompass the whole 12 ft area for the quilting frame. I found some really neat desk architect lights that Steve was able to adapt to hang on to the wall. I needed lights with the switch out on the head and not in the base where I would have to reach all the way back to turn them on or off.

Actually, most architect desk lights I looked at had the switch on the line cord. But I finally found some with the switch up on the end of the head that I can just reach up and rotate and they are on or off. Steve figured out a way to wire them directly to the wall.

On the exterior of the she shed, Steve mounted a light out of the side door to the South leading to the dogs fenced in potty yard. The fixture we found at the ReStore was a motion sensor type. I gave it a coat of fresh paint and he mounted it into place by the door. So every time we open the door to let out the dogs, the light goes on. He set it to stay on for 15 minutes, which is plenty of time for the dogs to do their job and get let back into the house.

On the east side of the she shed facing out over our big backyard, he put on an exterior double spot light fixture with a switch to operate it from inside of the room. Now we can flick on the spotlight and look out through the backyard at night. The light reflects off the trees and the open meadow area of our 2 1/2 acre lot. The deer come in at night, and I've already seen a big bushy fox go through. Word about town is there's a big old bear rumbling around, but we haven't seen him yet. I think he's gotten into my bird feeders a couple times, but we haven't seen the actual bear. It's a good thing that we can light up the whole area before letting the dogs out at night for last call before bedtime. Of course, they are let out in a fenced-in area close to the house and not roaming around the yard in the dark.

Before we could start the next step of insulating the she shed, we needed to make absolutely positively sure there were not ANY roof leaks. The roof is only 2 years old, but there had been a slight leak near where the gable end meets the flashing of the roof. The previous owners had puttied it up with some roofing tar. But we did see a few drips during a heavy rain. That is not a good thing.  For a garage it was passable, but not for insulated and finished ceilings and walls. Nope!

We went up on the roof, yes both Steve and I, and examined it closely. We decided that not only would we repair/replace the entire flashing area, but we would also redo the siding on the gable end as the old wood siding had some signs of rotting and seepage.

We bought some more pieces of the fibered siding laminate that we used on the front where we closed up the overhead garage door. They needed to be painted two coats before we nailed them up there. Our grandson Clayton was over one day, looking for a project and we paid him to paint for us. He was very focused and dedicated and didn't make a mess. He did very well and was quite proud of himself.

We tore off the old siding and exposed the huge wide boards which make up the walls on this house. This house was built back in the day when wide huge trees were being floated down the Oconto River to the big lumber mills here in the town. Lumber was plentiful and many of the houses are well-built with huge wide boards. Far cry from the silly little buffalo chip wood panels stapled up stuff that you see nowadays. After we exposed the boards and fixed the flashing, then it was time to seal it all in with house wrap and then apply the new siding. We very carefully sealed everything, even around the vents.

Once it was all complete, we ran a garden hose up on the roof, totally saturating that area from all angles, simulating any type of rain storm that could possibly happen.

Inside everything was bone dry. I think we did a good job!!

This brings us up to about Labor Day. We don't go camping on that holiday as the campgrounds are crazy busy and noisy. Our kids decided the same, so they all came and spent the day with us and had a backyard party!

We set out the chairs and a table full of food.  That's when I realized we should also have an exterior outlet on the back of the house for crock pots. Since we haven't insulated yet, it was this time enough to add one to the back exterior of the house.

Even though we thought we had a well-thought-out wiring plan, it was nice to be able to quick add one more feature to make it nicer. Much better than running extension cords out from the garage!

The kids had a blast here with the picnic, we took a little nature walk outback along our woods and enjoyed having our kids families visiting. We are so glad we moved back to live closer to all of the kids. We were missing one family, we hope they decide to come to visit soon.


Now it was finally time for insulation....

We were thinking about having the commercially blown-in solid foam insulation done by a contractor. We contacted someone for an estimate and he came back with a quote of over $4,000 to do the ceiling and the walls! ACK!  For a 24x16 room? That was more than our entire budget for the complete she shed!!

Instead, we measured accurately, waited for a sale, and hauled home our own kraft faced batt insulation for the walls. The r-value is a little less, but the price was under $100 on sale. Our neighbor down the road was also selling some batts of insulation for $5 a roll of the thicker stuff for the ceiling. So we bought his to add to our assembled materials.

We started first with cans of foam, filling around all of the edges and any cracks on the exterior to seal it tight. Once that was done, then we carefully put all of the batts into place. The ceiling was pretty easy to do, as I held a long rake on a double length handle to hold them up with the wide tines, while Steve stapled the edges to the rafters and wall studs.

It was amazing how the room suddenly felt warm, even though there wasn't a heat source in it yet. With all of the leaks sealed up and the insulation in place, we could tell right away that this was going to be a very pleasant room.

In addition to the ceiling insulation, we also mounted up sheets of thick Styrofoam on the ceiling for additional r-value. These were held into place with special nails that had plastic discs on them. Then the building supply salesman at Menards said this special red tape holds well to the styrofoam and you can tape all of your seams with it. The tape was a pain in the butt! It would not unroll nicely off the roll and kept ripping and tearing and sticking to the previous layer. We fought and fought with that tape but finally got it on. We decided by that point we would take a break for a few days and do some camping.

Once the camping was done it was time to start hauling drywall. Again, we waited for a sale and then 11% rebate. Our little Geo Tracker hauled home two loads of drywall in batches, so we didn't overload the trailer. Steve and I unloaded each and every piece and stacked it carefully.

One sheet at a time, we measured and marked outlets and mounted it up into place. We did rent the drywall lift to get the flat ceiling sheets up 11 ft high. We have done drywall before in the log house out on the river. It's a pain in the butt. Once we got it all screwed into place, we made the executive decision that we were going to blow our budget a bit.

Instead of taping and mudding all of the seams and doing all the drywall finishing ourselves, we asked our neighbor for a recommendation to get someone else to do it. He is a drywall hanger himself and he knows everybody in the area. He recommended a young man who did an excellent job for him plastering. The young man had been doing it for five or six years now, and was experienced and a hard worker. He would take this on as a side job and work it when it was convenient around his own regular hours with a contractor. That was fine with us! His quote was reasonable and I will write more in the next blog about the process of doing plaster over the drywall instead of just finishing it with drywall mud.

Stay tuned and I promise I will be back tomorrow!


  1. Thanks for the update your she shed is progressing. So nice to hear from you with your busy schedule.

  2. WOW!!! You guys have been really busy--Sounds like it is coming together well. Our contractor and the electrician questioned why I wanted 5 outlets on one wall of the porch when we were building the "Little House". That was what i wanted and what I got I may want to enclose it someday!! and outlets on the porch are always nice!! Glad to see you back and getting us up to speed!

  3. Wow, your room is really going to be nice. I never doubted it. You are perfectionists and it shows. Watch for snow shoes for winter. The grands will have fun in the back forty.

  4. Congratulations for pinching pennies where you can and then spending where you really want! Looks like it will be a warm & cozy room.

  5. Really nice SHED~! As usual, you and Steve are doing a super job on renovations and repairs!


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