Home Improvement Projects

When we bought our home in 2016 it was a fairly typical Oak Island house built on pilings to protect from flooding. It had a small section under the house finished for storage and in 2017 I divided that to create a 100 square foot office for me in the front section and storage in the rear.

A year or so later, I removed that wall, moved my office to the back corner, and used the entire room as a workshop.

It was too small for a workshop, so in 2020 I enclosed almost the entire other side under the house to create a 400+ square foot workshop.

That made for a much better workshop. My office now had the entire original storage area, which was now used mostly for storage. All was good for the next 3 years. Then we decided we wanted to properly finish the interior of the storage room. It was already insulated and had a nice exterior door, so the only things that needed to be done was a small amount of framing to remove a double door, frame around electrical and plumbing service, and open a small pass-through (not really a door) to the downstairs bathroom. That plus drywall, paint, and proper flooring would give us a really nice downstairs area.

But since my office was located in this room, I first needed to build a new office. When I built the workshop in 2020 I did not go as far back as I could have, leaving space for me to park my kayak behind it, between the back wall and the rear stairs. We decided to enclose that section using the same materials used for the workshop to create a 12′ x 7′ office area.

To save money, I moved the glass double doors from the workshop to the new office, the solid double doors that used to lead to the storage room to the workshop, and enclosed the last area between the pilings. It’s a small office, but more than enough for me, and very easy to heat and cool.

Now that the office was moved, we could concentrate our efforts on the real project. Since there was very little framing that needed done, I decided to start with the drywall. I tore out all the old plywood and paneling and relocated the plumbing line for the exterior spigot. I spent a little extra for moisture and mold resistant drywall because this is the lower level and it is hot and humid along the coast.

Not wanting to move major electrical or plumbing, I decided to make a “closet” around the hot water heater and other hard-to-move things, and not drywall inside that area.

For cost and ease of installation, we chose 7mm vinyl laminate flooring, a couple gallons of light green paint, mostly reused and donated trim, and voila! A very nice area, complete with loft and access to the bathroom. It took about a month of nights and weekends to complete this project with a total cost, including the new office, of less than $3,000.

Workshop Construction

After several other home improvement projects at our new beach house (Fence/Pool/Deck/Landscaping), it was time for me to turn my attention to building a workshop. If you know me, you know I can’t go more than a year or two without having a kit plane project to work on. Even though living at the beach is allowing me a lot more time for fishing, kayaking, bike riding, etc. the old aviation bug was bound to bite again, and it did. I decided to build another Zenith CH650 Zodiac kit plane because it is large enough for Missy and I to fly in comfortably, has good cross-country capabilities, and is easy to build and fly. As far as airplanes go, it’s also fairly inexpensive to build and maintain, and I have quite a bit of experience with this design and construction techniques.

Because of local building and zoning laws, I was limited to a shed that is no more than 150 square feet, so I designed a 12×12 building using SketchUp. This is a very small place to build an airplane, so my goal was to maximize the available space as much as possible by having 8-foot ceilings and a steep roof with large overhead storage lofts. The area should be large enough to build most sections of the plane, though I will certainly have to move it elsewhere for final assembly. After initially designing the building with a Gambrel roof, and even building the required 4 piece trusses, I decided that roof was going to be too difficult to build, mostly because I am so scared of heights. I changed it to a Gamble roof after installing 3 of the 10 trusses. Here is the final design drawing.

The building would end up having internal bracing using OSB sheets in each corner and hurricane straps to hold the trusses to the top plates and foundation. Everything was built on 16″ centers, and is at least as strong as my house. In the end, the actual building was VERY similar to the drawing, though I did make a few tweaks here and there.

Construction began on August 6, 2017. I did not, yet, have my permit, so I was limited to what I could build under the house. I framed the walls, without the OSB bracing so they would be light enough to move when that time came. A few days later, I built the roof trusses that I would eventually not use.

I received my building permit about 10 days after I applied for it, so it was time to start building. I wanted the foundation to be similar to my house. Since our yard is primarily sand and can flood easily, that means building off the ground is needed. I decided to go with 9 4×4 posts sunk deep into the sand, sitting on top of a crushed rock foundation and mounted in concrete.

12′ 4×4’s were attached to the foundation to make an elevated skid, and 12′ 2×4’s were placed on 16″ centers to form the floor joists. These are all pressure treated.

The following week, Missy and I installed the 3/4″ plywood floors. They are not pressure treated, so we did our best to keep water out. That ended up being a losing battle, but a valiant effort.

Moving the walls from under the house to the platform was not real pleasant, but Missy and I managed without any help. Standing up the walls and temporarily bracing them only took about an hour.

The walls were internally braced with 7/16″ OSB. Even though the exterior sheathing is structural, negating the requirement for internal bracing, I wanted the internal bracing both for added strength (we get hurricanes) and for a place to mount shelves, pictures, drawings, etc.

We started installing the trusses for the Gambrel roof. As it turns out, this was incredibly difficult to do. First off, I am scared of heights, and the top of the roof was well over 15′ above the ground. Second, because we were working so close to fence and pool, it was a major PITA to handle these trusses and get them to stay put while adding more.

So, before this project got any uglier, and before anyone got seriously hurt, I changed the roof design to a simpler Gamble roof. It would have a steep pitch for maximum storage space in the lofts, and I designed it so that each side used exactly 3 sheets of plywood, with no long cuts required. Thankfully, by brother-in-law, Mike Daniel, sacrificed 3 days of his vacation to help me in the very hot and humid summer sun while doing the roof.

Now it was time to install the exterior sheathing/siding. I used the pre-primed composite sheathing from Lowes for this. I can’t say enough great things about this stuff, though at $30/sheet it is pretty expensive.

Paint, windows, and trim installed. Almost done! This was September 17, 2017.

After getting really tired of water getting inside every time it rained, Missy and I struggled to get the roof paper installed. Somehow managed to get it laid down. No more leaks! I did pay a local builder $225 to shingle the roof, which I felt was a very fair price. I turned my attention to completing the doors, entry ramp, trim, and paint.

September 24 was the “done” day. That marked the end of major construction, and of the backyard looking like a construction zone! It would pass inspection a couple of days later.

I needed electrical service, and while I would love to have installed a 50-amp sub-panel in the workshop, I had already spent more money on this project than I had planned. I had to cut a corner here and run a single 20-AMP 120 volt line from the house to the workshop. The 125′ of #10/2 UF-C cable cost over $100 alone, but is certified for direct burial, so long as you go at least 12″ deep. I had to cut a deep trench about 110′ around the pool to the house to bury the cable. I thought I was going to die 🙂 The line feeds into a 20-amp switch that I can use to kill all power to the building. Previously, our pool used an above-ground wire that ran along our fence for power. That wire was removed and the pool now plugs into an exterior outlet on the shed, which looks a whole lot nicer. Behind the building is a small resin shed that holds my air compressor, which I can turn on and off from inside the workshop. This means I won’t go deaf when the compressor kicks on, and the neighbors will probably appreciate the extra quiet as well! I also didn’t lose working space inside to the compressor.

In the end, and less than 2 months after starting the project, I have a very nice workshop where I can build my next kit plane. It’s tight (cozy if you’re in real estate) but will work. The total cost was about $2600, including the $100 or so I wasted trying the Gambrel roof first, and the $225 I paid to have the roof shingles installed. Now that I am moved in, I just need airplane parts to arrive!

It’s Only Been 7 Years!

OK, my last posts from 2010 talked a lot about keeping this blog more up to date. Fail! So before I mention some of the things that have happened since then I will talk about why I decided to rekindle this old blog. Going forward, this blog will most likely be about me building a Zenith CH650 kit plane. Yes, this is number 4, or 5, so it really is time for me to actually complete a kit plane. I am almost 49 years old now and if I want to have a least a few really nice years flying around in my own plane I need to get busy! There will be other stuff here too, not everything will be about aviation, though I have severely curbed my involvement in politics, open source software, and many of the things I enjoyed when I was younger. I choose to concentrate now on things that make life more fun and enjoyable, avoid conflict/drama, and generally chill out.

So, what has happened since 2010….

  • All of our girls grew up! Halle is a freshman in college, Delaney is working and raising Anya, and Haley (Bug) is a junior in high school and starting to look seriously at colleges and schools to attend after graduation.
  • Missy and I moved from Cross Plains, Wisconsin to Oak Island, North Carolina in March 2017. We live 1/2 mile from the beach, 3 hours from my mom and sister, and Missy’s sister is 2 hours away. The weather is great, and we love it here. The only downside is that our girls are not with us as much as we’d like.
  • Our oldest daughter, Delaney, had a baby girl, Anya, in 2016. She is our first grandchild. I am now Papaw!
  • My grandma Opal passed away in 2016
  • My father passed away in 2015
  • One of my best friends, James, passed away in 2014
  • I ran for public office in 2014, Dane County Supervisor, and received 43% of the votes. For a conservative in Dane County, that is a win! 🙂
  • Missy and I celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2017
  • I bought, and sold, a 1992 Corvette after painting and restoring it (mostly)
  • I started a Sonex kit plane. These are very cool, but not practical enough for our needs.
  • I got VERY (too much so) active in state and local politics from 2010 to 2014 and helped grow the Dane County Tea Party into a powerful political force. I served on the Board of Directors and was eventually elected President. We did many great and successful projects during this time that, I believe, were instrumental in changing the political environment in Madison and Wisconsin as a whole.
  • I am still with Quest Software, though it has been a rough and rocky road. We were bought by Dell in 2012, and they closed the Madison office and let nearly everyone go, except me and one other person, because we actually worked for groups in California. Dell tired of software in 2016 and we became Quest again. I am now preparing to start my 10th year, the longest time I have been with a single employer by a long shot. I work in the software licensing group and have been doing the engineering for our licensing systems for the past 3 years.
  • I served 1 year as the President of the Middleton, WI chapter of EAA and Missy and I were co-coordinators for the Young Eagles program
  • I spend a great deal of time these days fishing, working on home improvement projects, and am active with our local EAA chapter
  • I bought a real nice fishing kayak that I am TRYING to enjoy. I haven’t got the feel for it yet, so either that will come in time, or I will stick to fishing from the beach or buy a boat.
  • Since I haven’t been SCUBA diving since our honeymoon in 2007, I did a recertification class after we moved to Oak Island. I plan to dive a lot more, though that will likely wait until next spring/summer. I’d really like to learn spearfishing.
  • Missy and I quit smoking and started vaping. We figured vaping was safer/healthier than smoking, not the menion much cheaper, and we’d do that temporarily while we quit. That was 6 years ago 🙂
  • I sold my 2006 Ford F150, which was my favorite truck ever. These days I drive my dads 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT that I inherited from him, and Missy has a 2014 Ford Escape. Having only one car payment is nice, and I have enjoyed fixing up dad’s truck and using it. When I got it, it had been sitting outside for years and was quite an undertaking to get it up and running again. But it has been a great truck since then. We thought it was dead when we got it.

There has obviously been a lot more that has happened since 2010, but those are the highlights and lowlights. I am looking forward to building the CH650. I ordered the tail kit about 2 weeks ago and it should be shipped early next week. I had to build a workshop to build it in first, so that will be another blog post.

Kentucky Ice, Windows 7, and Remodeling

This has been a busy week around the Osborne house. Last weekend I installed the beta of Windows 7 on my Media Center (DVR) computer and it worked great. So well in fact, that I also installed it on my home development computer, which is also working great. After totally hating Windows Vista (other than Media Center), it is refreshing to see Microsoft making some great improvements as they work closer to the next version of Windows. Windows 7 is much faster than Vista, and quite possible even faster than Windows XP, so far so good.

My family in Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana got hit hard by the big ice storm and have been without power for 5 days now. Those in Indiana are okay now, but my dad in KY is still without power. After not being able to contact him for 2 days I almost drove down to KY myself on Friday, but they were able to call just before I was going to leave. I planned to take them a generator, gasoline and other stuff. Instead, Missy and I were able to locate a generator for them in Champaign, IL and bought it yesterday at a Menards in Madison. My dad is going to drive the 4 hours today to get it, and then 4 hours back home. They have heard that it may be up to 3-4 weeks before they have electricity.

On the house front, I finished painting the upstairs bathroom yesterday, reinstalled the wood trim, a new toilet, replaced the electrical outlets and switches, and installed a new sink drain. Today I need to install the new shower doors and the bathroom will be finished. There are many more little jobs to do as well, but the house is looking very nice now.


So yesterday I decided that I would paint the upstairs bathroom, red. Missy had already primed it with a grayish primer and it was calling my name. I applied the first coat and a lot of primer showed through, so I knew a second coat was needed. Missy painted behind the toilet where I could not reach, but neither of us could get behind the tank. I decided to just take the tank off and paint it right.

SON OF A BITCH! The tank only gave moderate resistance to being taken off, one bolt was a little rusty, or shitty, or both, but it came off. I removed the tank and almost lost my lunch. The amount of crap, hair, and generally nasty, funky crap back there made me want to puke. I wiped it a little just so I wouldn’t have to see it any longer, and Missy finished it off. The paint then went on quite nicely.

Missy and Halle purchased antique brass fixtures to replace the old wooden ones, and I made a trip to Menards to buy a new light fixture that would match, and some more paint. I am on a first-name basis with the people at Menards at this point. Kelly in plumbing also helped me pick out a new shower door and glass, the old one is shot. It of course matches the new fixtures. I have never installed a shower before, so this should be interesting. I got the painting almost done yesterday, but being a worknight I had to cut it short about 11PM. I plan to finish the job this week so I can enjoy the Packer-less, Panther-less, Jet-less Superbowl on Sunday.

Home Remodeling Update

We have been working real hard the last week on completing some of our home remodeling tasks, mostly painting, but also some electrical changes and replacing the old patio drapes with new vertical blinds. So here, in no particular order, is some of what we have been doing.

The Old Dining Room Ceiling Fan. Also note the off-white EVERYTHING paint.

The New Dining Room Fixture and Tan Paint with White Ceiling

We started by painting the ceilings a much better white. The painting project had its “moments”. I had just finished painting the hall gray and was half way through the family room when Missy yelled “STOP. It’s Purple!” She was right, the “gray” paint was drying purple. Do over…

Purple Hall

Purple Family Room

The purple had to go, so we made a trip to our local hardware store and bought “Papala”, a brown-tan color. The results were much better!

Tan Hall

Tan Family Room

We watch a little too much HGTV and TLC, so we had to add an accent wall!

The Kitchen is Now Blue. Missy added stickers to the existing tile to spruce it up.

The New Microwave

So that is what we have been up to. Here are a few more random shots of how it all came together.

Dining Room

Foyer. We don’t think the original “green” paint we chose works any longer. That will be a near future project to repaint it and the stairs going down to the basement.

The Old Foyer Fixture and Hideous Wallpaper!

The New Foyer Fixture and Green Paint. It will have to be changed now.

New Hall Fixture Too

Final Blog for 2008 and While Still in my 30’s

Happy New Year everyone! This is the final blog entry for 2008, and the last blog entry that I will be able to write while still 30-something. 13 hours from now I will hit the big 4-0! I still cannot believe that. My mind is still a teenager, my body is about 65, so I guess 40 is just an average 🙂 I suspect that the hangover tomorrow morning will take me just a little longer to recover from than it did last year.

We have been busy in the Osborne house this last couple of weeks, so I will summarize here what we have been up to, starting with the most recent. For those of you that have been to our wonderful home, you know we are still suffering from 85-year-old-lady-itis. That is the need to make our home that was owned by an old lady into a home for a totally cool and hip family. We have been making some nice progress lately, with much more to come over the next 2 weeks.

The biggest thing that has been stuck in our crawl was this horrible abomination of beige and stained steel that was our stove vent. It was a HUGE hunk of metal, with nasty grease and God knows what else permanently stuck to it. I cannot even describe this beast, but here is a picture of it:

The picture does not even do it justice. It was just horrible, and I am sure it was almost as bad when it was new. It had to go. So we came up with a plan. We would move the cabinet above the refrigerator left 2 feet, move the cabinet that was there to go above the stove, and move the existing microwave cabinet down 6 inches. I would also have to move 1 electrical outlet and install one new one. Maybe a picture will help:

Missy was horrified as I started demolishing the kitchen, but in a couple of hours we had made a ton of progress, and she was able to relax.

Missy Horrified

Me telling Missy “I’ve Never Done This Before”

The “Vent Monster” is Gone!


But we made good and steady progress.

Measure 10 Times, Cut Once

Almost Done

And just like that, it was done! To my complete and total amazement, all of the holes and bolts lined up perfectly on the first attempt. The new microwave itself is a Samsung that we bought with our Christmas and birthday money (Thanks Mom, Dad and Grandma!). Not an expensive one, but a HUGE improvement over what we had before. Eventually all of the appliances will be brushed metal and black, but for now the beast is gone!

We also bought paint to finish the upstairs. I start my new job with Quest Software on January 12, and am officially on severance now from Workflow, so we plan to get some real work done between now and then. We are going to paint the ceilings and all remaining walls upstairs in the family room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. I will post before and after pictures as we go.

In other news… We all had a wonderful Christmas. I found out just before Christmas that I was going to be offered the job with Quest, which took a huge weight off my shoulders. Santa Claus was very nice to the girls this year and brought Delaney and Halle each an Acer One notebook computer they wanted, and got Bug a DVD player and MP3 player that she never puts down!

Delaney Could Not Stop Jumping Up and Down!

Bug Loves Her DVD and MP3 Player

Halle Cried Tears of Joy When She Opened Her Laptop!

The girls of course also got many other great presents from Santa Claus and their grandparents. So everyone got what they wanted, the girls with their laptops and other electronics, Missy got a new digital camera (though we had to return it, but will get another one), and I got a good job! Yes, life in the House of Osborne is very good, even though the King will turn 40 tomorrow! ICK! 🙂

A Week’s Gone By

I am starting to get lousy at updating this blog, I must improve. This last week has been insane. There was a block of over 80 hours that I slept less than 20 minutes, working constantly in the middle. A short break, and then another 20+ hours in a row. Then came a blessing in disguise. Seems construction crews in Cleveland cut my company’s fiber optic lines, giving us developers a much needed afternoon off yesterday.

Even though I was tired, I decided to install the laminate floor in the cat room and hall. Most of it is quite easy, though tight spaces are very hard. You do have to get creative sometimes, and I have a couple of small repairs to make, but I like the look of it very much. Our custom built hall was square within 1/8″, which was sort of surprising to me 🙂

I almost finished the hall last night before bed, leaving just a couple more boards to install. The office will be next. Missy and I did manage to get everything painted in between, so just the floor and trim remains. One more solid day, looks like Saturday might work.

So anyway… Green Bay won their first real game of the season, beating the Vikings. I must admit, Aaron Rodgers looked pretty good. Brett Favre and the Jets (aka Bretts) also won their first game and Favre looked good.

The last time we went to Menards they were closing out their patio furniture, so we bought a nice two seat slider chair with a small table in the middle and a matching glider bench seat. Hard to believe but those actually took about 6 hours to assemble, but they look nice. Much better than having a bar stool and office chair on the back porch. That was so ghetto.

So that’s about it for the last week, I’ll try to post here more often.

The Real Reason for Global Warming

See the problem? It is almost 1AM and it’s sunny outside, at least according to Yahoo! Weather 🙂 I just looked. It’s dark.

I have worked about 40 of the last 48 hours on getting my online ePrescribing software running well. We have just over a week to go until we start certification, and I am excited, but also have a lot more to do. Everyone at Workflow is working some serious hours these days getting a lot of new features written. We are doing some great work, but it is starting to take its toll on the developers too. But we are a resilient and talented bunch, and will make it through this push just fine.

I can only work about 10-12 hours at a time, and then I need a break. Not to sleep, I am quite good at avoiding that, but to grab a bite to eat and put 30 minutes or so into my basement project. I think it helps clear the mind to do something totally unrelated to your work every now and then.

I usually take these breaks when I get to a point where I am stuck, a mental block brought on by frustration or fatigue. It’s funny, but I take a break and pick up a paintbrush, or run more electrical wire, and I start thinking about the problem at hand. I almost always come up with the solution when I am doing something other than sitting in front of the computer.

I am sure there is a scientific explanation for this, same for when you wake up at 4:15AM out of a dead sleep and know how to solve a problem. The brain works in mysterious ways.

I did a short break last night and watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. I enjoy hearing him, he is inspirational and a joy to listen to. Imagine what it would be like to have a president that is smart and personable. Sounds like a great idea to me. Plus, I just don’t think I can handle any more old white guys. It is time for a change.

I am impressed by the Packers new 2nd/3rd string quarterback Matt Flynn. We went 1-3 in the preseason, but I don’t put much weight into that. It was obvious the coach was trying some new things, it just didn’t work out that well. Flynn looked rough in the first games, but in game 4 he really shined, and threw a couple of incredible passes and scrambled like mad. I guess he got tired of getting leveled. He sort of reminded me of another Packers quarterback… What’s his name… Number 4… Broke every record known to man… 38 years old… Retired and then wanted to come back… Oh well, it will come to me.

Seriously, this kid has a long way to go before I even consider putting him in the same league as Favre, but he was impressive. Much more so than Aaron Rodgers. All the media talks about Flynn competing with Brohm for the 2nd string. Don’t be too surprised to see Flynn getting some serious field time this year while Rodgers sits on the bench, he looked much better than Rodgers.

So I am guess I am done rambling. It has been a long week, and will be a long weekend. I am hoping to score a block of about 6 hours somewhere, I think I can get my office almost ready to move in if I do. But work matters are pressing, so some things in life may just have to wait.

Time Flies

I used to be so good at keeping my blog up to date, but things are still crazy around the new house. I am still managing to work about 55 hours a week on my normal job, while slowly tackling the ever-growing “Honey Do List”.

The office and new hallway are coming together nicely, I think I am finally ready to paint and am planning to do the primer coat this evening. I have never sanded so much drywall mud in my life, and I sure won’t miss that job! God is laughing hysterically at my original plan of 3 days total 🙂

We had to buy a lawnmower and found a sweet deal at Sears on a lightly used Snapper self-propelled. My grandpa used one of those for many years so I am hoping for the same luck.

I stumbled upon an even sweeter deal Saturday. I had planned to take the girls garage saling for a while to kill time while Missy was at work, and had not planned to buy anything myself. That was until our first stop. A lady was selling a pillowtop Sealy Posturpedic California King mattress, box springs, and frame for $25. It had only been slept in a few nights, she did not like it, and they put it in storage for 2 years. Missy and I needed a new bed very badly, our queen size bed is only a year old but we both wake up with back pain and it sags in the middle. The girls and I decided this would be a nice surprise for Missy and we brought it home. The lady I bought it from warned me that the frame might not be the right one, and she was right. But rather than buying a frame to fit it, I just modified the existing one using left-over 2×4’s from the office project. An hour later we had the most awesome bed we’ve ever owned, and yes, Missy was very surprised and very happy with us.

I installed a new garbage disposal this morning, at 7AM. The cats woke me up around 5:30 and I could not get back to sleep, so I made a Menards run very early and bought a new GE disposal, made in China of course. Dang, even GE makes their stuff in China. So $69 and a pretty nasty cut on my finger later and we can now shove all kinds of crap down the sink.

I bought a cat door, which is still in the box waiting for me to install. I have a plan for making a “cat house” in part of the basement. Their litter pans and some toys will go in there, and it should be sufficiently sealed off from the basement that the smell is contained. If they wake me up tomorrow at 5:30 AM, their dead rotting carcasses can also be found there.

On August 9th we attended the first annual GulliFest, honoring the memory of Halle’s dad, Mike Gullickson, who was killed in a snowmobile accident February 20th. Everyone had a great time and there were no problems at all. The bands 4 Below and 4xDaily performed until late in the evening. We are all looking forward to next year!

So that’s what we’ve been up to lately. Painting, removing wallpaper, eating and breathing drywall mud and dust, mowing the grass, and putting stuff away. We still have a solid day of work to get out the duplex and that will have to happen this coming weekend. We are hoping to get a good chunk of our security deposit there back to put up a fence for the dogs. I say that will only take 1 day 🙂