Okay people I normally don’t put crap on Instagram but There it went… Re-doing this bathroom in Blackthorn. What’s wrong with it? Let me tell you: the floor is done with peel and stick plastic tiles. They installed vanity but were too lazy to pull out the old tiles which didn’t line up with the new vanity. No filler strips on the right side or on the back side leaving ugly gaps visible. Who did this?

If you’re going to use cheap peel and stick tiles you might as well do a crappy job installing them too. No sense lining up the tiles. Leaving a gap is a place for water to get in and wreck your crappy job. Good idea!

I was informed after complaining about peel-and-stick tiles that they shrink with time.  Most likely installed without gaps

Either way, who did this!?

Around the beginning of November we had a strange weather system come through the region. It was mostly fog and the temperature was just low enough to have it form ice crystals on everything. As the icey crystals grew, it started to snap the electric lines from the weight. Our power was out off and on for a week. The longest duration was 2 days.




Since the house is relatively new, most appliances are very efficient to run.  This means that the power consumption is low, requiring a smaller generator.  I have a 3000kwh generator which can produce a peak of 4000kwh The generator ran the following items in the house and was never running under a load:

  •   Furnace with high efficiency DC motor
  • Tankless gas-fired hot water heater
  • 2 small chest freezers
  • Refrigerator

I have been meaning to put a plug end on our well pump so we can get water.  People connected to municipal water systems don’t have to worry about this but for me I have to power my own water pump.  The farm across the highway uses a tractor generator, or as it’s commonly called a PTO generator


Septic tank on Beam truck
Delivery truck in position for unloading septic tank

What am I talking about?

City dwellers don’t have to worry about septic maintenance  stuff except in their portable RVs where they might have a sewage holding tank. I’m not talking about RVs here.

My house is on a septic system, meaning I have to look after the maintenance of my sewage.  In my world, stuff that goes down the drain doesn’t just disappear off my property automatically.

“To kick start your septic, throw an old steak in the tank” is what I heard a relative say when I was talking about my new septic tank being installed.  “What? Does it have to be a good cut or just a round steak?”

That’s crazy talk but it would work.  However, you don’t have to throw anything into your septic tank.  In fact I would recommend you stay away from the tank.  Keep the lid on the tank and don’t take it off.  Especially not to throw good food down the hole.  Don’t put good money in your septic tank either.  By that I mean those store bought chemicals that have weird names

Don’t take my word for it.  the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Commission has some great articles on home building/ownership.  Here’s the link to “Your Septic System” and a quote from the article:

Some manufacturers promote the use of septic tank “cleaners”, “starters” or “enhancers” to aid in the digestion of the waste. These products are typically of little value and are not recommended.

When we moved into the new house, complete with new, empty, clean septic system, we followed some very old traditions to get the septic system working. We held a house party with lots of food and drink.  The result was a lot of #&$! going into the tank when everybody used the bathroom.  From there anaerobic bacteria took over.

Mother nature can be really helpful.

here are some more pictures of my septic tank installation.  Click on the picture to go to the full size image.

Septic tank installation
Tank is being lowered into the big hole

trench with ladder during septic tank installation
trench with ladder during septic tank installation

Septic Tank with Collar on Top
Septic tank placed and collars installed


The summer is over and I’m back at it with the website journal.  Summer is usually a very busy time for home improvement.  There are many jobs that require warm temperatures.  In August I put Stone Effects on an aging concrete landing.  I didn’t bother to take photos to show you since the job was a small one and the home owner wanted to finish the front after I disappeared. 

I got a referral through Facebook.com, and I don’t even have a facebook account.  It made me think that I should rush out and join the masses however I have a hard enough time maintaining what I’ve already built in cyberspace.  The job was for an allenbock retaining wall – or three of them.  The home was 1 year old and already having problems.  The driveway, walkway and flowerbed retaining wall were sinking.  The soil had not been allowed to compact before these outdoor features were installed.  The homeowner wanted to tie into the flowerbed  border with Allen Block with stairs leading to the down-slope side of the house – that’s why he called me. Ultimately I said no to the job since the existing problem needed to be addressed first. 

When a new house comes with “New Home Warranty” it’s much like one of those electronics that you buy where there is a sticker on the back that reads “Warranty Void if Removed”.  Even during the construction process, if the home buyer invokes small changes to the drafted plans, it can void a portion of the home warranty.  This was the case for the job I mentioned above.  It turned out the homeowner had requested the flowerbed and a very small extension of the walkway.  Additionally it was the homeowner who contracted the paving of the driveway.  My guess is that the home builder is not going to repair the sinking items for free – if at all.  I didn’t want to get in the middle of a name-blame game.  So, is the home builder good, bad or plan evil?  It’s a tough call since I understand both the home owner and the builders side of the issue.  Neither one is to blame.  If I was the home builder, I would offer to pay for the walkway at 75% and the flowerbed at 30% and nothing for the driveway.  My guess is that the home builder will try and ignore the homeowner’s phone calls.  That’s bad.

On another job site I was asked to install flashing along all fascia boards where there was rain gutters.  When rain came off the roof it would, through surface tension,  follow the drip edging and run down the fascia board instead of dripping off the shingle and into the rain gutter.  I could see the water stains but upon inspection, I declared that everything looked proper and could not see how the problem was happening.  Luckily it rained that same day and I climbed up the ladder and saw first hand what was going on.  The drip edging was a stock item, meant to be installed on roof pitches between 3 and 6.  This roof was a 12 (12 inch of rise for every foot of run) or a 45% angle. Also the shingle over-hange was not long enough.  Bad contractor.  It’s a simple thing to order up custom flashing from a siding company to match steep pitched roofs.  It’s also simple to measure the shingle over-hange but a common mistake by amateurs to be short.  For this home owner it was too late to get warranty – the company was already bankrupt.  So, I ordered custom flashing and put it up.

While I was putting up the flashing the same house had a back-up in the sewer line.  It was found that a pipe joint near the septic tank had failed.  I was told by the owner that the problem was fixed at no charge.  Good contractor!  When the joint was inspected it was found that the wrong glue was used on one joint.  the contractor confided in me that he remembers what happened:  It was starting to rain.  He was running out of materials and glue.  It was getting late.  He was getting tired.  Hungry.  Frustrated.  He grabbed another can of solvent glue.  Just go. Get it done.  Back-fill in the dark now. load the digger.  load the tools.  Is that the right can of solvent I used on that last joint?

We all make mistakes.

In construction a mistake can be very costly to correct.  The contractor came after a full days work with his crew and fixed the pipe joint – a 4 hour job.  I’d be surprised if any of them got paid.  They definitely didn’t get dinner that day.