On Friday, July 1st, I started finishing out the little building I had Affordable Portable build in my back yard, as that little building is going to become my office. Yep, that’s right… I got kicked out of my own house! Actually, I was pretty adamant with Christine that “We are moving (or something) so I can get some work done around here!” After many trials and tribulations, we decided to stay in our house and to build me an annex in the backyard.

While my original plans were to have a finished building on July 5th, I soon realized (along with a little help) that that goal was a little overzealous, to say the least. And while we didn’t meet my original goal, we sure did do a damn good job getting the building done (for the most part) on the 10th.

So I’ll try to tell the story of how we (Frank “Grandad” Kamp, Christine, Jack, Josh Janicek, Marc Swendner and myself) finished out my new office over the past week in 100+ degree weather.

On Thursday, June 30th, I hung the electric boxes and dug 90 percent of the trench that the electrical, cable, and phone conduits were going to go be buried in, from the corner of the house to the clubhouse. That sucked. It was hot and the ground was hard. Not quite as hard as Josh’s backyard, but I hit rock about 8 inches down.

On Friday, Frank got to Austin around noon, and I knocked off work around 1:00 or so. The first thing Frank and I did (ok, wait, I think we went to Home Depot first) was install the air conditioner (and Frank did most of the work). It was hotternhell outside, and we were going to be working inside the building for the most part, so I followed Frank’s lead, and we got the A/C running off an extension cord immediately.

Next, we started cutting holes in 2×4 studs and pulling electrical wire, phone and cable wiring through the walls. Once the wiring was in, we started installing the fiberglass installation in the walls.

On Saturday, Marc showed up early, and helped us put the insulation in the ceiling. Josh showed up later and helped too. Then the three of us put the conduit in the ground, pulling wires through as we went.

Oh, to heck with telling you what happened each day… the days all run together at this point.

By Monday, with Frank, Josh and Marc’s help, we’d installed all of the wiring, the power subpanel, insulation, conduit under the house to the main power panel and the phone and cable box. We’d hung most of the sheetrock on the walls, and had a nice cool building to work in.

On Monday Frank and I finished the ceiling insulation and hanging the sheetrock on the ceiling (that took a little while), then we started floating and taping (actually, Marc started that over the weekend, and we finished up).

After the sheetrock was up, we started sanding. And patching and sanding. And patching and sanding. After about the third day of sanding (it felt like it took that long even if it didn’t) we decided to build a custom desk in the clubhouse, to help line up the sheetrock where the rock was meeting between studs and wasn’t actually meeting.

So, Frank installed 2×2′s on the walls, where the desk and custom shelves would fit later. That helped the floating and taping go faster. We sanded one last time and started painting. And painting. And painting.

We put three coats (Christine pitched in on the third coat) of Ralph Lauren textured paint (Garden Wall with a River Rock finish) on the walls and ceiling, and it looks great… though I’d tell anyone that asked not to paint with a textured paint. It sucks, and is really hard to do right. We still have one or two spots that don’t look perfect.

After painting, we started installing the desk and shelving, which looks fantastic if I say so myself. We used thick and sturdy 3/4 inch Birch plywood for the desk surfaces, stained with Minwax Honey Pine polyurethane (2-3 coats, depending on whether I forgot if there were 2 coats on a piece already). Oh, and Frank installed a really nice oak parquet floor late into the night.

Frank put in all of the trim around the doors, windows, the A/C unit (inside and out) and the floor. I finished up the desk tonight, and am exhausted.

The building really came together yesterday (the 9th day of the building process) with some minor finish work happening today (I just needed to finish installing some shelf supports and staining the desk tonight)

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how much help my buddies and Frank were in accomplishing this project. I could have never done this in 10 days myself. Hell, I don’t think I could have done it in 30 days. Josh and Marc really helped with the heaving lifting. Marc let Frank and I borrow his big power miter saw and his orbital sander. Without that miter saw, I think Frank or myself would still be hand cutting miters for the trim. The orbital sander also made short work of all of the sanding we had to do. Thanks Marc!

Frank really outdid himself though, and is the shining star of this project. He took my vision, improved it in some places, and worked tirelessly for 10 days straight. His expertise on the tasks required to do this job came in extremely handy too… from wiring the outlets, to tying in the 220 volts that power the building, to connecting the phone line and cable, to how to properly measure and cut sheet rock, to how to drive a copper ground rod eight feet deep into the ground… and how to properly cut a piece of plywood with a jigsaw… and on and on… It’s amazing how many little jobs there are when finishing out a building. I think Frank probably worked 10 hours a day minimum for 10 days straight, which let me work some during the day over the past week, while he progressed on the building.

Thank you so much Frank. I don’t think I can thank you enough for this project.

The finished project really looks great and will be the perfect work environment I think.

I picked up a really nice DeWalt 18v cordless drill, skillsaw, flashlight, and sawzall during the project somehow (funny how using Marc’s good cordless drill sold me on the idea that I wanted on, and then Dewalt’s rebate/freebie offer talked me into buying the 4-piece set).

I used every carpentry skill I knew on this project and learned a lot more new skills and really had fun building this building… though I’m really tired of going to Home Depot now, and I have a lot of crap in my garage that it’ll take a few weeks to get rid of (left over sheetrock anyone? The City of Austin won’t haul away “remodeling materials” so I’ll have to hide a little bit in the bottom of each trash load below a few bags of trash so they don’t notice it in the bin).

I’m tired, so I’ll point you to the photos of the process. I’ll post a few more later next week after I’ve totally moved in.

Next weekend: Landscaping around the building… ugh… oh, and Dub‘s getting married.