Monday, June 29, 2009

Last weekend the temperatures were back over 100 degrees, which obviously means I need to work outside and kill myself trying to get some more projects completed.

First things first though..Thanks to Linda Tsoi and Bank of America - We have refi success!! and in a BIG way, buying down our rate with 2.5 pts, we were able to knock our mortgage down from 6.6375% to........4.25% on a 30 yr fixed loan!! This reduced our payment by a whopping $1,100/month!! Our breakeven for the refi is 19.5 months. Happy Happy Dances all around!

Although most of the nice weather projects have shifted the focus outside, inside projects are also getting shorter too. The skylight is the best thing since sliced bread on 95% of the days, allowing plentiful light, warming the house in the winter, allowing adequate venting in the summer and showcasing the atruim area in general. It is the other 5% of the days that the heat transfer is a killer, especially in a house without A/C. The roof and windows intalled last year have increased the comfort coeffiecient significantly and we have acheived an ~20 degree delta from inside to outside on the hot days, buttoning eveything up and attempting to seal out the heat. But on 100+ degree days like this weekend, this still makes for a pretty hot 85+ degree house. We had investigated some sort of shading system which would allow us to block the skylight on these days and keep the heat gain from the skylight reasonable. The two suggested solutions were a panel of honeycomb shades and a larger motorized covering. Both choices were in the $5,000 range for something that literally would be used 10 days a year. Instead, Lorinda has come up with an ingenious method to shield the skylight heat transfer on the 5% days like this weekend that it is unbearably hot outside. Using the longest curtain rods we could find that match our interior, Lorinda was able to create grommeted curtain panels in plain white to hang a horizontal sail shade. She and Jane (sis-in-law) pulled the curtain as tight as possible to minimize the center sag. The result is a sail shade that still allows a lot of light into the house, but reflects a significant amount of sunlight as well, working to keep the house cooler. In addition, the grommets make it a 1 minute affair to extend the shades to the closed position, while the design keeps them unobtrusive when in the open position. All this for 1.5 days work and $200 in supplies!! That's a $4,800 delta that perhaps we'll use next winter to get a mini-split A/C installed using the Federal tax credits for energy-efficient utilities (note: buy seasonal goods in unseasonal time for best pricing) Kudos to Lorinda!!

First on the list was a filter box to shield the water filter from the sun, which denegrates the filter housing. I had previously purchased the 2x4s for framing and set off to building. Of course my neighbor Kevin came over midway and helped with his astounding number of specialized tools which made the job easier. I also had help from my brother-in-law Hendrick. We also made use of some of the eichler siding leftovers and kept the sides looking like the house. The scraps also came in handy in creating a new enclosure for the siding where there was a defunct main shutoff valve, now has two main exits headed to/from the filter. All that is left is to caulk and paint the enclosure and to get some mounting hardware for the front facade. It was waaaay to hot to caulk - let alone primer and paint the enclosure, so the project remains unfinished.

Last week, Lorinda and I also mounted a number of hose reels to make watering a bit easier since we have not set up the drip lines in the garden area yet and there is no irrigation to the front tree, nor the older tree. It is getting to be too late in the year to plant now and will most likely wait till September to finish planting the front landscape. We did however spend a fair bit of time at Yamigami's in Saratoga planning the landscape choices. So we know approximately what we will plant and thankfully it is a little bit of a wait on the expense.

That said, we also spent time at Peninusla Bulding Supply to get the remainder of the hardscape materials. This includes .5 ton of rocks to border the birch tree, 1.5ton of rocks to fill the walkway and sitting area behind the address sign, 5 gallons of concrete sealer for the walkway, back patio and retaining wall walkway and some firebrick and mortar for the firepit construction. Our neighbor Joseph works there and also has some flagstone extras in his yard that are the right color, so we will construct the firepit out of the extras, yipee.

Finally, I beat the sun and stained the front lattice fence before it was ruined by the lawn watering.

Next weekend is Fourth of July, so no projects are planned, but I hope to get the rocks in and the pathway/patio powerwashed and sealed the following weekend. I must say, the list of projects is getting noticeably shorter and the firepit/gutters will be the outside projects for the rest of the summer with the front planting happening in the fall. *Edit* I got the rocks in that weekend too as July 4th plans fell though.


Anonymous said...

hello - congrats on the refi! Can you please share Linda Tsoi's contact information? I'd appreciate it!

B. said...

Linda Tsoi
Mortgage Loan Officer
Bank of America Home Loans
Office: 415.436.5202 Fax: 415.436.3242

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Linda's info!

Rambling Penelope said...

would you share with me- how did you mount the atrium curtain rails? I have found that ikea sells curtains with the grommet already installed (on one side anyways) but what about the rods the curtains are on? and how do you open them? are rods attached to the atrium roof area somehow?
thanks! we have a flat roof eichler with a very hot sunny atrium needing affordable sun covers!

B. said...

Hi Penelope,

The shades are Ikea curtains! Just four sets put together. We lopped of the second set of grommets and sewed them together on each half.

The rods are standard curtain rods purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The longest ones were "just" enough. To support the rods, the brace mount went right in the middle, with additional supports at each end, for a total of six.

To open/close we just use the pole from our skylight that opens the windows to slide each half open. Got to work each side a little but is open in less than a minute. Considering they are mostly open, its no bother. Any mop handle will do..

Good Luck!