September 8, 2014

On Hold: Building the New Goat Barn

Inside view of our front door.
It started with the front door. I leave it open in the early morning and evening to catch the cooler breezes that blow through. During the heat of the day, it's shut. One night at bedtime, Dan went to close up and the front door wouldn't shut. The door had somehow shifted and was catching on the moulding. Dan finally got it shut with a hammer and screwdriver, and then we talked.

The new goat barn was slated as the very next big homestead project. I am so ready for it. But the front door made us revisit a project that was further down on the priority list, one I hadn't deemed as important, the front porch.

The front of the house when we first moved in (2009). I loved that it was
screened, but we never use it. Summer evenings would be the time,
but it catches the blazing late afternoon sun making it too hot to enjoy.

Why not simply replace the front door? We actually have a new door, purchased our first year here. Unfortunately it's more complicated than simply removing the old door and putting in the new.

Exterior shot of the front door. It's small - 34" x 79"

It starts with the doors being different sizes, the new one is a larger standard, 36" x 80". The living room walls are cement board, so making a larger opening isn't as simple as it is with drywall. Then there's problems with the threshold, and that's where the front porch comes in. Because of structural problems, the existing front porch really needs to be torn out, foundation issues addressed, and then rebuilt. That includes the porch ceiling, which looks like it wants to come down by itself anyway. Then comes installing the new door, and while we're there we might as well address replacing the old windows and siding as well. It's a huge project and one we haven't looked forward to.

The siding is in better shape here than the rest of the
house. Still, we'll put up new and paint. Photos of what
we've already done here (back), and here (side).

On the plus side, an energy efficient front door and windows, plus being able to add insulation to the walls, will make a huge difference in the energy efficiency of the house and its comfort level. The old single glazed windows and ill-fitting front door make those rooms like an energy sieve; difficult to warm in winter and difficult to keep cool in summer.

Most folks probably would have re-done the front of the house immediately. It looks pretty bad by urban and suburbanite standards. If we belonged to a HOA, we would have been fined long ago. But our goals are different than most folks which means our priorities are different too. We're less about aesthetics and wanting to fit in, and more about accomplishing what will help us be more self-sufficient, more self-reliant. This project does fit into those goals, we just wanted to get other things done first.

"Tearing Into the Front Porch" - getting a start on that floor.


Quinn said...

Oh Leigh, do I EVER know the feeling of big plans derailed by (more) pressing and even bigger projects! I am casting concerned glances at my roof on a daily basis, wondering if I should be pricing materials...ugh.
Nice that you and Dan work on these things together!

Su Ba said...

My, that's going to be a big project. My husband calls jobs like that the interconnectiveness-of-all-things. As you noted, it's not just a simple door upgrade. It's the whole dang porch!

We have a job on our house that we have been putting off until last.,..the bathroom rebuild. There's a nagging little roof leak there, but if we're putting on a new roof to fix the leak, then we should realign the rafters to abut properly to the new hallway roof. If we're going to the effort and expense of building the proper roof, then we need to build the new bathroom walls because our plans call for enlarging the room. That means moving the electrical and plumbing. But if we're going to do that we might as well move the outdoor water line to its new location so that it doesn't get covered in concrete when we eventually pour the pad for the outdoor soaking hot tub that will be adjacent to and accessed via the bathroom. It has to be moved when the bathroom gets enlarged and rebuilt, otherwise it can't be accessed. The whole job means that we need to buy and install the new windows, new bathroom door, build the new shower, flooring, etc. Egads! Just in order to properly fix the little roof leak.

Anonymous said...

My front porch needs work too. The floor is simply sheets of particle board, put in well before I bought the place 17 years ago. The leaky porch roof finally weakened it enough at the top of the stairs to cause total failure. I was gifted a bunch of Trex deck boards from a friend and had hoped I could simply lay them over the decking. Nope, too tall for the doors to open. And then I looked under the decking, to discover that there is no real structure under there. So I have to redo the whole thing from the ground up, without disturbing the room added on to the side, and working quickly enough that the County doesn't become interested in what I'm doing. If only my body would cooperate with working quickly! And before I can breed the ewes this month I have to totally re-fence the front pen which is almost more baling twine than wire. But Sweetie fenced it with the wire upside down and not stretched, so it was totally destroyed by ewes sticking their heads through to get to the greener grass outside the pen. So I am cutting it off in small sections that will fit in the van for taking to the dump. About half done with the demolition, then I can start putting fence back up correctly. Tired just thinking about it!

Dawn said...

We also have a never ending list of jobs many that all join up together and one cannot be completed without doing at least four or five other jobs, the joys of owning property :-)

Sandy Livesay said...


Energy efficient doors and windows makes it comfortable inside the house along with cutting the cost of heating or cooling your place.
Our front door is now sticking, the weather has changed, and the house has shifted a bit. The joys in living in older homes.

Leigh said...

Quinn, a roof is another huge project! I find that too often little urgent things push to the surface and eat up cash reserves I'm trying to set aside for big projects. It's never easy!

Su Ba, I had to grin at your description of fixing the lean in your bathroom roof. It's so true that house projects are anything but simple!

Oh Sue, that sounds like a disaster. Both are huge projects and both necessary. Have to keep the fence intact though. Too bad our blogging circle didn't live closer together. We could have monthly work parties, going from place to place!

Dawn, that is so true. And even with knowing there are a multitude of steps, there's also knowing that there may be hidden problems once we tear into it!

Sandy, that is so true. We saw a difference in the kitchen comfort level after we replaced the door and windows there, but the biggest difference was this past summer now that the hall, bathroom, and our bedroom are done. The difference is huge! Not only in comfort but in energy savings. That's a big motivator in doing the front of the house.

Farmer Barb said...

I have read all the comments and I have lived that life. But the fact remains that you have a LEGAL space there. It may need re-everything, but I see some nice sitting bench high space under the windows that could be used for empty canning jars. I see windows that could be fitted into the people space of the goat barn. My goats like to look out the window when they ride in my truck (yes, like dogs.) Screened in space makes me swoon-y. I had a front porch in one house we lived in and I was out there ALL the time when my babies were small.

I know how much your darling Dan has to do to build everything you do, but one can only ignore the Elephant in the room for so long. I wish you luck and patience. We have NEVER started any construction project where we did not find the figurative can of worms inside, waiting for us...

mzgarden said...

If it's of any help, you are SO not alone, as others have posted. With our 120+yo farm house and neglected 5 acres, the small jobs generally contain a surprise gift that just keeps on giving.

tpals said...

My next BIG project is saving my parent's house and will involve lifting the entire house up and off so the foundation can be demolished and replaced. Obviously, this isn't a diy, but will be very expensive and require massive prep work.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you have to put off doing the new goat barn :/ My first thought was "buggers"! But I understand how it goes. I need to replace my back door, but trying to find an actual door that will fit this mobile home is proving tough. I can't wait to see your end result though, you guys always do such amazing work!

badgerpendous said...

I know it's not optimal, but at least we get see how it goes and learn from what you figure out! :) Can't wait to read your posts on it.

Unknown said...

Laughing out loud down under because you know how i like to make things pretty. You probably think im judging you and that this is my main focus but such is the magic of blogworld. You dont see what hasnt been done or how bad they got before they finally got repaired or spruced up. The front door and windows were painted recently but before my friends and family had badgered me for years about how bad it was and how i should be maintaining the house. Im more focused on the back yard where we live, not the front. Id love to take all my plasterboard off and insulate every wall but that's not going to happen either. I love enclosed verandas, perhaps you could plant a deciduous tree that would provide shade in summer and allow in winter heat.

Mama Pea said...

Funny how an unplanned event can shift a To Do item to the top of the list. (For us it was the excessive snow load on various parts of our roof this past winter!)

Yes, the front porch and your entry door/front of the house are going to be a biggie and, sad to say, you'll probably encounter more "problems" once you get into it. But it has to be done and I know you and Dan are up to the task. Sorry, goats.

Kev Alviti said...

With the homesteading like we do, we sometimes forget that the most important bit is the Home! I'm the same, concentrating on projects outside when I should try to finish a few projects in the house! Your like us, budget and time dictate what and when you can do things but having a list of proprieties is important and, like you, ours isn't set in stone and chances weekly!
Don't be down about it, Your new porch will be great I'm sure and your enjoy it for many years to come!

Sarah said...

There is a saying that people plan and G-d laughs. Sometimes his sense of humor might make us question a bit. On the upside the new windows will help with heating and cooling.

Leigh said...

Barb, one of the reasons we've put this off for so long is because of those elephants and worms, LOL. I can see it with a porch swing. We probably won't rescreen it though. I've thought about trellises or a pergola for shade, but that would have to be sometime down the road!

Mz Garden, I like that, the surprise that keeps on giving the unexpected! We sound like we're on similar paths; our house is about 90 yo, and it and our 5 acres were long neglected too. Sometime I think we'll never catch up!

tpals, yikes! I mentioned something similar to Dan, when he first lamented not having a basement. I suggested we could lift the house up, dig one, and rebuild the foundation. He nixed that idea before it was barely out of my mouth. :)

Stephanie, Dan is convinced it would have been easier and cheaper to build from scratch, than to try to repair and retrofit everything. Stuff nowadays is definitely not the same sizes! One problem he has is that our house was built with true 2x4s. Today's "2x4s" are more like 1.5x3.5. Makes for some challenges.

Garrett, in spite of having to wait on the barn, I have to admit it's fun to explore ideas and options and plan what the new porch will look like. Of course there are always those unplanned surprises that pop up once we get into it!

Lynda, I have to confess that once we get started with the planning, our ideas get quite elaborate! I really like the look we've chosen for the house and admit I'll be glad to get this done. I've thought about a trellis for vining plants or a pergola for that shade. I did plant my almond and crabapple tree in hopes they'd provide some shade on that side of the front porch and house, but growing is a bit slow. :)

Mama Pea, good thing the goats don't care! LOL

Kev, that's so very true. And I have to say we've definitely learned over our years here to be flexible with our project list! I admit that not this project is upon us, I'll be glad to get this one done.

Sarah, with winter coming, I've thought the same thing about the new windows and door. In reality I'll probably have plywood covering those openings for weeks at a time, LOL, but getting the whole thing done will be a huge relief.