Home Up


I've been talking a lot about our main attic and the new insulation we had installed, and the garage attic and the deck that I built there and the work that Justin did and the folding stairs we're installing, so I decided that all of this deserved its own page since a picture is worth a thousand words and all that.

This is the hatchway in our second floor hallway leading to the attic. Most houses in Texas have these as an access point for repairmen because your heat and A/C and usually the water heater are in the attic. Some houses have a little bit of decking where you can store some of your "stuff" (euphemism).




When you pull open the hatch there's a neat little folding stairway/ladder to unfold and help you up there.




Here you can see the metallic paint that they sprayed on the inside of the roof and the additional layer of white blow-in insulation that they added to what was already in place.



This is one of our hot air furnace/air conditioner units. We have one for each floor. Trane is a good brand. We also had a technician come out and check/seal the ductwork for any leaks. We're paying for the heat/cool so may as well keep it in the house where it belongs.




Here's a look DOWN the hatch at the folding ladder.





Here's their depth gauge showing about 19 inches of insulation in this area.





And this depth gauge is showing over 20 inches.






Now we're out in the garage. This is the hole in the garage ceiling that Justin finished off for me. It has precise square corners and is exactly 30 inches by 54 inches. The folding ladder finally arrived last week and I have a couple of carpenters coming tomorrow morning to "help" me put it in. Eva's car is sitting under the hole fight now and she wouldn't let me stand on the roof to get pictures in the attic, but later, when she moves it, I'll put my step ladder in place and get some shots of my decking, the junk that's already up there, the wall that needs insulation and all that.







Here's a telephoto up the hatch showing Justin's pulley. It came in real handy for getting the 2'x4' panels of decking up there. I rigged a sling to hold them, hooked the shackle to the sling and hauled them up so I didn't have to carry the heavy things off-balance up the ladder. Also used the pulley for hauling a lot of our artifacts, junque, and "things that we might find a use for some day" up there.
Notice the little black specks here and there in the roof - those are extra long roofing nails that penetrated the roof decking. You need to be real careful about standing up under this low roof. I may stop by Home Depot next trip and buy a plastic "hard hat" to prevent scalp aeration.




Here's the folding ladder/stairs waiting to go into the garage ceiling. The opening measures 30x54" and the ladder is rated at 300 pounds so we can store some really heavy cra stuff.




Here's my present access method - just a bit tricky with a bum leg. By the way, in the background is my Honda Pilot for those who have never seen it. I would very much recommend the Honda car line and the Pilot for anyone who wants a nice SUV. Note on the far wall the gray box just in front of the car's windshield. That's the breaker box for all the electricity in the house. The electric meter is just outside that wall, so that's where the electricity comes in for the whole house.



So the wires rise up from the breaker box and travel across the garage attic to spread out all over the house. This limits where I can put down decking to a fairly small area.








My 2'x4' panels fit pretty neatly on each side of the hatch, there was just a little bit of overlap.





I got myself a "sawsall" reciprocating saw which would have been handy when we were cutting the beams, and trimmed the overlap fairly neatly. Only problem I found was that the panels were made of USB which apparently is a cheap grade of plywood and it threw off a lot of dust and splinters. I had splinters in places that never had splinters before, including my lips and eyelids. (Goggles leaked).





Here's the wall I mentioned with the inadequate insulation. Those vertical studs are 2x4s or 2x6s, I forget which, and they have that pink fiberglass insulation batting stuffed between them. That's all that separates the garage attic from the master bathroom. Right behind what you see here are the bath tub, (that electric line is the second 15 amp GFI circuit we needed for the whirlpool tub heater - easiest install those guys ever had, the heater is about a foot beyond the fiberglass.) Straight in front of you is Eva's lavatory cabinet and vanity.



The blue material is polystyrene foam that I'll be fastening over the fiberglass for starters. It'll raise the insulation by a couple of R values and keep out random breezes. Later, I'll reinforce with something heavier and more permanent. I thought we had picked out the best builder when we bought this house, and the scary part is maybe we did, but a few of the places that are hard for the home owner to find are not really built as well as the rest of the place.  By the way, on the shelf above the insulation, to the left of the orange tool caddy, those things are compact fluorescent light bulbs. Don't know if you've heard of them. - they're a miniature coiled fluorescent bulb that fits in an incandescent light socket and gives off as much light as an incandescent bulb for far lower wattage. You might get one, for example, that gives off the equivalent light of a 100 watt bulb but only uses 23 watts.
We haven't turned into hippie tree-huggers down here, although trees deserve to be hugged, but Texas has the most expensive electric rates in the country due to politics, deregulation, graft and whatever. That's why we're doing so much to save electricity here. I'm waiting for a warm day to re-weather-strip all of our outside  doors too.




The new attic stairway in place in the garage. Just look at that snug fit that Justin produced. I told the carpenter to skip building a frame/border around it. I figure I can do that myself. Need to pinch pennies somewhere since I'm hemorrhaging dollars for the bathroom.



The stairs unfolded - we had been concerned if there would be enough room inside the garage door but there's plenty, as you can see.



A look down, again showing the snug fit between the stair frame and the rafters.



A look up the stairs. They're rated at 300 pounds capacity, so they should hold 200 pounds of me and 100 pound of junk per trip. After climbing the wobbly 8 foot stepladder and stretching the last few feet to get into the attic, it's great to walk up a set of stairs that are as solid as a built-in staircase.