Shangri La

Shangri La

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hookup

Last Friday I did a day-trip to Shangri-La for the well hookup. The evening before, Taylor Excavating was on site to dig the trench from the well to the cabin. Record Concrete had left a hole in the foundation for the water with 2 PVC pipes that extended 4 feet beyond the foundation walls. As Dan Taylor had done the foundation excavating, he knew right where to find them.

On Friday, I rolled in at about 8 am, and Green Mountain Well pulled in at about 10. While I continued the electrical work - completing the rear lighting circuit and beginning on the bathroom - they installed the pressure tank, ran the lines, and lowered the pump into the well. After I made the electrical connection (they can do a run directly to the fuse box, but aren't licensed to tie into the line I had already provided), we fired 'er up. Pump? Check. Pressure? 50 lbs - Check. Cold, fresh water? Check.

We're in business.

Dan Taylor was back by 2:30 to fill in the trench, and by 5 pm I was back on the road. For those of you keeping score, the well package rang up at $6545, and the excavating $440. Water ain't cheap, but we sure are happy to have it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I am the Walrus

LSW here. Time for a little lightening up, wouldn't you say? The Vermonster has been busy brainstorming solutions for a few weeks now, but I think we've got it all figured out. We've organized the items in, what I believe, is a manageable and less stressful punch list. Now we can kind of take it easy, actually.
On our last trip to Shangri-La, we came upon several wonderful sites. This:
and this:Oh no, sorry. That's from the Museum of Natural History in New York. But we did discover wild strawberries growing on our property!
Now allow me to get a bit philosophical here for a moment. When we started this project, I wasn't so sure that it was a wise decision. After all, we're two people with no building experience, and one of us is clueless when it comes to things mechanical. One of us is also very clumsy, so it didn't really seem like the smartest thing to do. But I will admit (just don't tell the Vermonster), that this has been quite a learning experience for me. Today while I was at the gym, I actually chose to watch HGTV over the Food Network. They were re-doing a backyard and building a Japanese pagoda/deck. The host asked the owner of the house, "Have you ever used a nail gun?" The big, burly guy said, "No," and I was like, "What? Come on, wuss!" Because, you see, I believe that once you've used a Paslode, you can do almost anything.
Now I can change the belts in the vacuum cleaner. I can take the grill apart to clean it. And you know what? I even know what a fuse box is for. I may not have been able to light up a dollhouse in 7th grade science class, but check me out now, Mr. Vince! I can wire up a cabin for a microwave, stove and lights while simultaneously entertaining a 4-year-old. So while logistics like septic vs. well plague the Vermonster at night, I've been going to sleep feeling like Wonder Woman.

On Optimistic Estimates

Well, the fix is in: The revised septic is going to cost me about $6,700. Certainly better that the 11k+/- we were facing with the mound system, but significantly above the $5k I budgeted (and the $3,500 I was secretly hoping for). The same day the estimate came in, I happened to learn that psychologists long ago identified a systematic bias in humans toward overly optimistic estimates - even when those humans have experience with the thing being estimated. I don't have experience with estimating septic systems, but it helps to know that it wouldn't have mattered if I had. *sigh*

My original hope for this year had been to finish the siding (which means also building the front porch), install the electrical, hook up the well so we had water on the property (even if it was only through a hose) and get the septic installed. Doing this would mean that we could stay overnight and the exterior of the property would look finished - at least to the extent that the grass and grading would be complete.

The well, however, was about 2,000 more than I expected, and the septic looks like it will be the same, so something is going to have to wait. Our options:
  • Scrounge about $700 to put the septic in and wait on the well and porch
  • Finish hooking up the well, complete the porch and siding, and tuck away the remaining $2,500 toward next year's work.
I was on my way to arranging for the septic, but the LSW has convinced me that we should finish the well. Her reasoning? If we go with the well, porch and siding, at least we can say that everything we began this year is finished, and we have the option of staying overnight on occasion. If we go with the septic, we have the biggest remaining item out of the way, but only the electrical will actually be done, and we still can't use the place.

As always, I've asked Dan Taylor of Taylor excavating to take care of the trench from the well to the cabin, and Green Mountain Well will complete the process by adding the pump, pressure tank, hookup, sanitizing of the system and water testing. These items are supposed to come in at about $3,000 in total, and rest assured I've included a cushion to compensate for the so-called 'optimism bias' this time.