Author Topic: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room  (Read 7953 times)

MrSal

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DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« on: June 11, 2017, 04:16:36 PM »
For a couple of years, I have been wanting to build a tiny house. While I don't want a tiny house to backtrack the country, I actually was looking into them and always amazed on how simple construction it seems.

Also, my house is "smallish" - around 1000 sq ft - and would like to have extra space especially since I have been working from home more.

I thought of joining those ideas and make some kind of backyard office. At the same time, it could be extra space for friends/family when coming to visit since I could set it up as a small studio as well.

I was thinking something along these lines:









Something contemporary and modern...

In terms of size I was thinking on a 10x20 or 12x24 space.

I live in Central PA so I have a few questions regarding possible ways to approach this... while doing the list for my purchases, I came up with the foundation.

What to use for foundation? Should I go with s concrete slab or is deck blocks ok? If deck blocks are ok couldn't I use concrete blocks instead as well as a support? The difference in price is staggering 6.50 USD vs 1.50 USD per block.

Because my frost line runs at 2-3 feet, would I need to dig for footings or concrete/deck blocks would be ok?

My backyard is flat if that helps ...

I know this eventually will be a lot of work but I think it surely is something I am going to do. Will be taking pictures and detailing my journey for sure!




« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 05:52:00 PM by MrSal »

Smokystache

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 05:19:04 PM »
definitely want to follow your progress on this. Those models are amazing.

wordnerd

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 06:16:22 PM »
Have you read MMM's blog post on building his? It seemed to have a moderate amount of detail on foundations and such.

I'll be excited to see your progress. Good luck!
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 09:19:41 PM »
Have you read MMM's blog post on building his? It seemed to have a moderate amount of detail on foundations and such.

I'll be excited to see your progress. Good luck!

I actually did a little while ago, but if I remember he actually did a whole slab of concrete.

I was thinking of something not as labourous ...

Today while walking around, I saw one of my neighbors shed - it was a big shed maybe 10x15  or bigger. Its been there for years and nothing looks wrong. It was just the shed sitting on a few 4x4 laying flat across the floor joists, and the 4x4s sitting on top of a bunch of gravel.

In essence I dont want to have to dig 4 foot holes in the ground if I can...

lthenderson

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2017, 11:38:58 AM »
Depending on how level you want things after a few freeze thaw cycles in central PA, should determine your course of action. If you really don't care that the building remains level, sitting posts on top of gravel would certainly work. If you want your building to remain level, I would suggest a concrete pad with a rat barrier or footer below frost line in your neck of the woods. Note the nickname of rat barrier. Varmints love to crawl under buildings built on top of the ground. They love a sheltered home with a "roof" just as much as we biped animals. Concrete is much easier to seal out varmints. If varmints aren't a concern, one could sink round post footers below the frost line to support the beams and keep things level. You will have a colder floor in winter this way versus one sitting on a concrete slab.

Mr. Boots

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 08:50:37 AM »
Following because I'm interested in doing something similar.

Also - when you say Central PA do you mean Harrisburg area or more north? Just curious as I'm around Hburg.
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Syonyk

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 10:07:01 AM »
Here's my Tuff-Shed to office conversion that's relevant: https://syonyk.blogspot.com/2016/07/solar-shed-summary-my-off-grid-office.html

It gets a lot easier if you go with grid power. :)
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 10:57:23 AM »
Following because I'm interested in doing something similar.

Also - when you say Central PA do you mean Harrisburg area or more north? Just curious as I'm around Hburg.

about 50 miles north of Hburg

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 11:09:39 AM »
Here's my Tuff-Shed to office conversion that's relevant: https://syonyk.blogspot.com/2016/07/solar-shed-summary-my-off-grid-office.html

It gets a lot easier if you go with grid power. :)

do you live in a freezing area? that foundation is pretty ingenious with the wood frame at first... I might do that and just fill the frame with gravel until it;s compacted.

You spent 17k ?!?!

I was looking more towards 4-5k at the most ... I already price the structure for 2x4s, 2x6's ... joists... nails... screws...OSB... drywall... so far I am at $600 ... I will still need a truckload of gravel which is about $100 with delivery... windows ... flooring... a door... and shingles/metal ... siding... insulation.

Syonyk

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 11:15:51 AM »
do you live in a freezing area? that foundation is pretty ingenious with the wood frame at first... I might do that and just fill the frame with gravel until it;s compacted.

Yes, it gets down below zero F in the winter.  Normally, they don't need such a nice foundation - this was to work around the fact that I bought the shed prebuilt as a demo unit, so they couldn't put blocking under the floor to level things.  It's been working fine for the past year.

Quote
You spent 17k ?!?!

Counting my 3000W of solar panels, battery bank, charge controllers, inverters, and increased insulation due to low winter power input, yes.  That's mostly not needed for a grid connected system.  And I was in a hurry to get it built, so spending money to get it built faster was fine with me - I had a pretty hard deadline to have it online and debugged by for work reasons.

Also, rock wool insulation is more expensive than fiberglass, but I really hate working with fiberglass.

Quote
I was looking more towards 4-5k at the most ... I already price the structure for 2x4s, 2x6's ... joists... nails... screws...OSB... drywall... so far I am at $600 ... I will still need a truckload of gravel which is about $100 with delivery... windows ... flooring... a door... and shingles/metal ... siding... insulation.

And, presumably, a breaker panel, conduit, outlets, etc.  And some way to heat it or cool it (my AC was $500).  And lighting.  And networking.  Or not - I don't know what you're planning to use it for.

But there's a lot more into making a useful workspace than just a shed.  Sheds are cheap.  Making it comfortable and suited to year round use takes a lot more money.
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 12:25:33 PM »
Yes I know that. Electricity we already have from the previous shed.

Regarding outlets and electricity sure... I didnt price those yet but they are cheap. I have leftovers from when I did the kitchen which I can use and even if I didn't we are talking 5 outlets at most on such space... and some lighting points.

Yup a RJ45 outlet would be there too.

I think I can do it on the cheap and with a nice good quality. I am not building a bathroom so that should keep things on the low side.

For insulation, I was thinking of doing those DIY spray foam things... They are good for 800-1000 sq feet and they cost about 550$ ... so i could have the whole thing with spray foam... might be worth it - or not! Anyone has experience with those kits?

Syonyk

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 12:29:53 PM »
Regarding outlets and electricity sure... I didnt price those yet but they are cheap. I have leftovers from when I did the kitchen which I can use and even if I didn't we are talking 5 outlets at most on such space... and some lighting points.

Yeah, you're building enough differently than I built that my costs shouldn't deter you - though I do think you're lowballing the total project cost by a good bit.  I'm pretty sure I spent over $100 on screws alone for putting everything together (GRK Fasteners are amazing, and totally worth the cost).

Quote
For insulation, I was thinking of doing those DIY spray foam things... They are good for 800-1000 sq feet and they cost about 550$ ... so i could have the whole thing with spray foam... might be worth it - or not! Anyone has experience with those kits?

I opted to go with rock wool partly because my reading about the spray foam stuff indicates that it has a steep learning curve, and is hard to get right until you've done it a few times.  If you have exposed studs to work with, you should be OK to just fill and cut, but I'd been looking at a shipping container as an alternative to my office, and doing free form even depth foam is apparently really tricky.

It's nice for insulation and air blockage, certainly.  But I also had no power out here when I started building (beyond a 750W truck inverter), so there wasn't really a way for me to run any sort of power hungry equipment either.
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neo von retorch

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2017, 12:41:53 PM »
I used to live very close to Hbg!

Those model sheds look sharp. Looking forward to progress.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2017, 12:43:19 PM »
Are those fastneres structural screws? For structure nails or screws? Any pros and cons between the 2? Structural wise nails are the way to go vs normal screws...  might be cheaper to go with nails no?

Regarding costs... maybe. I havent put the windows yet or flooring but for the most part I already have the cart on Lowes with those. It states 1000 dollares however I can get 40-50% discount at Lowes through coupons and gift cards.

Yup I would have exposed studs first and then put the drywall on top. The way you did it has the advantage that there would be no thermal bridging.

Regarding electricity would a separate panel be wise? We have a 200 amp service in our house and we have like half of the breaker box still empty... thought of just using the main breaker for it. 2-3 circuits should be enough - one for the heating/cooling and the others for lighting and outlets

Syonyk

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2017, 12:52:48 PM »
Are those fastneres structural screws? For structure nails or screws? Any pros and cons between the 2? Structural wise nails are the way to go vs normal screws...  might be cheaper to go with nails no?

I'm sure standard nails would be a lot cheaper, but would have been a lot slower for me.  I don't have a big air compressor or any way to power it out here.

Quote
Yup I would have exposed studs first and then put the drywall on top. The way you did it has the advantage that there would be no thermal bridging.

Correct - and, with grid power, that doesn't matter except a few dollars a month in power costs for heating/cooling.  I wouldn't have built mine like I did with grid power available.

Quote
Regarding electricity would a separate panel be wise? We have a 200 amp service in our house and we have like half of the breaker box still empty... thought of just using the main breaker for it. 2-3 circuits should be enough - one for the heating/cooling and the others for lighting and outlets

I probably wouldn't bother with a subpanel for only two or three circuits - how much power are you planning to use out there?
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2017, 01:55:49 PM »
Are those fastneres structural screws? For structure nails or screws? Any pros and cons between the 2? Structural wise nails are the way to go vs normal screws...  might be cheaper to go with nails no?

I'm sure standard nails would be a lot cheaper, but would have been a lot slower for me.  I don't have a big air compressor or any way to power it out here.

Quote
Yup I would have exposed studs first and then put the drywall on top. The way you did it has the advantage that there would be no thermal bridging.

Correct - and, with grid power, that doesn't matter except a few dollars a month in power costs for heating/cooling.  I wouldn't have built mine like I did with grid power available.

Quote
Regarding electricity would a separate panel be wise? We have a 200 amp service in our house and we have like half of the breaker box still empty... thought of just using the main breaker for it. 2-3 circuits should be enough - one for the heating/cooling and the others for lighting and outlets

I probably wouldn't bother with a subpanel for only two or three circuits - how much power are you planning to use out there?

Not much power at all... we are talking like an office/bedroom sort of thing... a few lights - which would be LED - outlets for computer, TV and some misc.... and then for heating/cooling.

Without taking into account the heating/cooling we are probably talking not even 1000 wh (all lights on probably 30-50 wh ... then computer at 300 wh ... TV for 100 wh)


I am leaving here a couple more "models'' for what I want to achieve:









I like the idea of this one, but probably would be a nightmare to make sure everything was tight barrier wise and also weight for the structure no? I am sure it would be a nice way to keep the building cool though:




For perspective, here is my current backyard:





I would probably put it on the right corner... since grass already has some difficulty of growing there.








« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 02:00:38 PM by MrSal »

paddedhat

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2017, 06:49:41 AM »
Couple of points from a neighbor from Lancaster county.

First, don't reinvent the wheel when it comes to a foundation. You live in an area where shed manufacturer's are everywhere, and used a common platform for their products. Basically it involves treated 4"x 4" skids, or sled runners, with floor joists, a rim joist and tongue and groove plywood subfloor completing the floor system. If this is placed on well drained gravel, AND the structure has gutters and downspouts, it will last a lifetime. When it comes to shed manufacturers. you might want to think about visiting a few and getting quotes on a basic shell of the building you are looking for.

 As a retired builder, I know that we live in a unique area. There are so many Amish manufacturers in the state that building your own smaller outbuildings can be an actual waste of time.  I have a buddy in retail lumber sales. At least once a weekend he has a homeowner show up with a lumber list to price, for their shed. He usually replies with, " You can figure that EVERYTHING to complete this shed will cost you X per sq. ft. and, as a novice it will take you at least 50 hours of hard work until you are done with the roofing,  painting, building the doors, etc.......  Once you get my lumber list, price the shingles, windows, door hardware, etc.... you will end up at the local shed dealer and discover that it's way cheaper to buy one, even if you don't value your time all that much.  Do you still want to wait a few days until I can get you a price for the material?  I fist discovered this decades ago when one of my carpenters decided to build one. We priced material and labor, and discovered that the shed manufacturer's delivered  product was about $4 a sq. ft more than my cost for the delivered material.

As for DIYer, you need to really get a handle on costs before you go too far. That opening window wall on one of your pics. could easily run $6-8K. The giant, oversized, commercial grade sliding door could be $3-4K.  IMHO, I would simplify the design by eliminating big overhangs and glass that wraps the corner.   Then figure what type of windows/doors you can live with in a fairly low budget. To put this in perspective, a standard vinyl window on most sheds and garages will run $100 or so, and a steel door, less than $200.

As for some other questions, I would frame it with standard materials, including nails. I would insulate it with Roxul and use spray foam cans for air sealing, of windows doors and other openings.  I like the designs you posted, but if you want it to last, you are going to need a gutter and spouts to get the water away from the shed. If you talk to a shed builder, or dealer, they will tell you that the #1 reason that sheds fail is that they get wet and stay wet. Most don't have gutters and the water hits the gravel below and splashes up the siding. I't common to see a Craigslist ad in this area for a "Free Shed". Typically it involves the lucky winner hauling a rotted shed away, and the pictures show siding that is typically rotted, or even missing from the lower 18" of the structure.

Finally, even with a major rethinking of the window/door situation, I could easily see this project hit $6-8K in materials alone.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2017, 07:20:43 AM »
Couple of points from a neighbor from Lancaster county.

First, don't reinvent the wheel when it comes to a foundation. You live in an area where shed manufacturer's are everywhere, and used a common platform for their products. Basically it involves treated 4"x 4" skids, or sled runners, with floor joists, a rim joist and tongue and groove plywood subfloor completing the floor system. If this is placed on well drained gravel, AND the structure has gutters and downspouts, it will last a lifetime. When it comes to shed manufacturers. you might want to think about visiting a few and getting quotes on a basic shell of the building you are looking for.

 As a retired builder, I know that we live in a unique area. There are so many Amish manufacturers in the state that building your own smaller outbuildings can be an actual waste of time.  I have a buddy in retail lumber sales. At least once a weekend he has a homeowner show up with a lumber list to price, for their shed. He usually replies with, " You can figure that EVERYTHING to complete this shed will cost you X per sq. ft. and, as a novice it will take you at least 50 hours of hard work until you are done with the roofing,  painting, building the doors, etc.......  Once you get my lumber list, price the shingles, windows, door hardware, etc.... you will end up at the local shed dealer and discover that it's way cheaper to buy one, even if you don't value your time all that much.  Do you still want to wait a few days until I can get you a price for the material?  I fist discovered this decades ago when one of my carpenters decided to build one. We priced material and labor, and discovered that the shed manufacturer's delivered  product was about $4 a sq. ft more than my cost for the delivered material.

As for DIYer, you need to really get a handle on costs before you go too far. That opening window wall on one of your pics. could easily run $6-8K. The giant, oversized, commercial grade sliding door could be $3-4K.  IMHO, I would simplify the design by eliminating big overhangs and glass that wraps the corner.   Then figure what type of windows/doors you can live with in a fairly low budget. To put this in perspective, a standard vinyl window on most sheds and garages will run $100 or so, and a steel door, less than $200.

As for some other questions, I would frame it with standard materials, including nails. I would insulate it with Roxul and use spray foam cans for air sealing, of windows doors and other openings.  I like the designs you posted, but if you want it to last, you are going to need a gutter and spouts to get the water away from the shed. If you talk to a shed builder, or dealer, they will tell you that the #1 reason that sheds fail is that they get wet and stay wet. Most don't have gutters and the water hits the gravel below and splashes up the siding. I't common to see a Craigslist ad in this area for a "Free Shed". Typically it involves the lucky winner hauling a rotted shed away, and the pictures show siding that is typically rotted, or even missing from the lower 18" of the structure.

Finally, even with a major rethinking of the window/door situation, I could easily see this project hit $6-8K in materials alone.

So the gravel with the 4x4 runners would be the best option? I looked at my neighbor's shed, which is quite large, and that's how it is set up. Big mound of gravel and then 4x4s running below of what i assume to be joists.

As for the price, I am fairly confident of the pricing... i will still go around and see if Amish price it around the same area. 5K for the windows? That's ridiculous you can find it for much lower... A french door which is basically the same as that of above windows, will run 500-700 dollars give or take. If I can get them from Lowes, then take 50% off of that since I can get 50% off at Lowes. Also don;t see the above designs as I have to abide to them specifically. It;s a general idea on the design - I am flexible enoough to use a standard French door/window and some other standard windows that would look nice.

I have renovated my kitchen for about 2000-2500 dollars, which included new stove and new premium dishwasher and new cabinet doors...backsplash... cabinet handles... and paint and new lighting as well.


I noted down the spout and gutters. One question though - if I am to have a one side pitch roof as some of the pictures show, would i need them all around or only on the side of where the roof is pitching towards?

paddedhat

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2017, 09:39:36 AM »
i will still go around and see if Amish price it around the same area. 5K for the windows? That's ridiculous you can find it for much lower... A french door which is basically the same as that of above windows, will run 500-700 dollars give or take. If I can get them from Lowes, then take 50% off of that since I can get 50% off at Lowes.

Well, actually $5K probably won't get you some the windows and doors you posted. That said, you are posting pictures of architecturally designed, professionally built projects,  some having budgets well over $50K. However, as you said, if you are willing to compromise, there are much more affordable options.  As for buying a prebuilt unit, I'm not sure that I have seen any local builder here offering flat roof modern designs, but if you can find a reasonable  price from a shed manufacturer, it would be money well spent.

lthenderson

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2017, 12:58:17 PM »
So the gravel with the 4x4 runners would be the best option? I looked at my neighbor's shed, which is quite large, and that's how it is set up. Big mound of gravel and then 4x4s running below of what i assume to be joists.

With a wall full of windows in a large building on a floating surface, i.e. gravel pad with frost heave cycles, it wouldn't be my first choice. When building on a gravel pad in an area where the ground freezes and thaws repeatedly, things are going to move around and twist which could introduce cracks, break windows, etc. Those that build this way are generally building small very rigid buildings with limited inflexible objects like walls of glass and drywall that float with the ground.  They aren't concerned with it being level several years from now. As I mentioned earlier, building up on skids makes it much harder to seal out varmints from living underneath and makes for a colder floor in the winter. Not mentioned previously, it also means that you will have to build steps or a ramp to enter into it depending on the final use if it is to be well drained as mentioned above.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2017, 09:13:18 PM »
I just changed the title of the thread... It will document my entire backyard.

My backyard apart from the Backyard Office is in need of some "detailing".

We are looking to build a deck and also some areas.

The type of backyard/style we are looking to build is something like this:











So today we rented a jackhammer and we took care of a concrete step that was by the side porch kitchen door and it took away a lot of room. We took it down, will level it and build the deck in the area. A step will be built but much smaller. The deck will be under this porch area and will also go around towards the backyard.

We also took down the slab of concrete in the backyard that was sitting in the middle... this slab was from previous owners where they used to sit the shed. The reason is, when we built the fence, our property line was like 12 feet further... which we built almost at the property line.
















The jackhammer cost 50$ per day .. we were able to squeeze everything today fortunately! Lots of sweat and work but fun to do... and a new experience as well!

We filled a 4 cubic yd dumpster with concrete and we still have the concrete by the shed just laying there since the dumpster is full and we are waiting for the disposal company to haul it away! Next step is to get some topsoil and fill the hole and starting to build the deck frame under the porch.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 09:16:38 PM by MrSal »

Smokystache

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2017, 05:56:20 AM »
I've never rented a jackhammer, but you've got to feel like a badass operating one of those. And you saved a ton of money doing it!!  Can't wait to see the progress!

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2017, 08:27:32 AM »
I've never rented a jackhammer, but you've got to feel like a badass operating one of those. And you saved a ton of money doing it!!  Can't wait to see the progress!

More than me feeling like a badass it was seeing my wife with the jackhammer and a sledge hammer ripping it out to pieces and loving it :D My wife is definitely a badass ahah...

I tried making a time lapse but unfortunately the intervalometer I have is screwed up... tried using the cellphone but I dont think it did right:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpKlhIC_wT0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KL6eiPZrTQ


MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2017, 07:30:03 PM »
So quick update...


Today we started framing it out... we had to switch the swing of our gate/door to go outwards ... not only would he gain more room but also we could do the whole decking area while with the door swinging inward we would have to cut the door or something.

We are framing it out of 2x6s ... no need for footings since its a concrete slab. Pressure treated 2x6s under a porch area it should be fine. In any case, because I AM THAT perfectionist, it is still going to get a water membrane on the top of joists.

Also, I bought PVC outside trim about 1/2 inch thing. It cost like 8$ for a 16 foot strip. I cut a few 3 in pieces and placed them apart from under the frame/joists. In case any water goes there, the joists will never be in direct contact with it until it dries out.

16d Hot dipped galvanized nails and a palm nailer (in love with this thing!)

Hopefully we will be done by tomorrow at least the structure... then onto the deck boards.














Since the frame, has no room on the sides, instead of nailing through the boards, we are sort of toe-nailing it at an angle and it seems fine.


MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2017, 10:37:37 AM »
so before the boards go down... i am doing some electrical...

I want to bring some outlets from the side of the door ... as in the picture, there is point A and I want to bring electricity to points B.

I was at Lowes and the guy there told me I could do it with UF-B cable which is rated for outside, without the need for a conduit.

While I see that the wire is rated for outdoor use and even rated to bury it underground, can I use it without a conduit or not?

If i were to not use a conduit I would just run the wire from underneath the deck doing some holes through some joists until I am on the other side.

On the other side then I would just use regular outdoor plastic boxes along with a 1/2 inch UF-B wire connector that is waterproof and the respective covers for the outlets.

Any opinions?


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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2017, 11:43:14 AM »
I hate to be that guy, but have you talked to your cities' building department regarding this addition?  Reason I ask is because where I'm at that would constitute as an added room, so you may need a lot of permits.   

Although it seems as if you're taking precautions along the way, you don't want to decide to sell the house 5-10 years from now and have an inspector deem the addition unsafe for the lack of permits.

Are you framing a wall "over" the existing house one or will you only be adding 3 walls to enclose the space?  Also, will you be attaching the new walls to your roof or will you add a new roof section?

As far as what you have done so far, I see you added a plastic barrier to the previous steps but did you make sure no moisture could get past it and onto the bottom of your flooring?  Can you slide the floor framing out and pour an inch or concrete over it to prevent any moisture or insects in there?

For the step between the house and office, remember that shorter steps are not instinctive, so a person may trip when going back to the house.  A step riser should be 8"(my city code), so if you already have that height, once you put down flooring, maybe you won't need a step.

For the electrical, I would use a conduit, just for prevention against rodents and peace of mind. Since the area will be enclosed I think normal outlets will be sufficient. I guess it doesn't hurt to use GFCI ones.

Ones we know a bit more about the actual structural aspects of the room, I'm sure more educated people will chime it with their thoughts.

Nice doggies ;)
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2017, 11:48:05 AM »
adittion??

This is no addition... who said anything about walls?

Ohhh I see... because I said about the backyard office! That is a much further down the line project!!

This is the deck we are building as of now! The pictures you are seeing is a side porch where we had a concrete slab on it... we just built the framing for the deck boards to sit on. There are no walls nor there will be any walls in this!

This is just a floating deck. I see the confusion there.

The backyard office of course I will do permits and everything since it will be as you say an addition and I want it to be legal since it will add a lot of sq footage to the house.

To clarify, I changed the title because isntead of creating several threads for each of the projects I though of just having this one to update the work like a journal.

So the projects are different. It's a deck that runs from the side of the house and wraps around to the backyard, and then also a backyard office where it will be a total separate dwelling detached from the house.

The pictures above is from the side porch were we are building part of the deck, There are no walls other than the house wall, the gate to enter the side porch and a trellis with a vine :)

Hope I cleared the confusion
« Last Edit: June 30, 2017, 11:52:17 AM by MrSal »

craiglepaige

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2017, 11:55:35 AM »
Oh then yeah... I just wasted ten minutes writing my previous post lol.

So just a platform deck?  Cool.
All looks great and I would definitely use proper insulated outlet/boxes with conduit.
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MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2017, 01:17:09 AM »
Just finished doing the electrical.

I ran some conduit between the 3 points... I used flexible conduit along with water proof boxes.

I am a bit of a perfectionist so I tend to overbuild a little. I read the NEC and it seems I am to code on everything. Wire is outdoor rated UF-B so I didnt even need to use conduit it seems, but thought what the heck...

Used some thread seal to make sure connections were water tight and some silicone water proof pigtails ... the boxes were mounted in a very inconspicuous place which is nice!








paddedhat

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2017, 04:33:20 AM »
mrsal, The majority of local PA. codes have exemptions for outbuildings without utilities. Some are up to 200 sq. ft., many rural areas are up to 1000. Typically this means that you need a simple zoning permit. In my Lancaster county location, the application requires a simple plot plan drawing, and a quick site review by the town. The fee here is ten bucks. I would say the majority of projects like yours get permitted this way, then electric gets added later. Not strictly legal, but common, cheaper, less hassles, and less RE tax in the end. You also might need to be very careful about announcing to your local authorities that you are building a "home office". In some areas, this is a very different project than building a "storage building" and may be a red flag. No need to be on anyone's radar if your local area does not condone office space in outbuildings.

With regard to my previous discussion on having a "shed" built, I'm about to order a 10'x14' unit. It's being built by a Mennonite outfit. The workmanship is outstanding, every cut and fit is done to high trim carpentry standards. The unit includes an 8/12 roof pitch, architectural shingles, a fiberglass double door, two windows, and LP Smartside exterior vertical siding. The exterior is painted in my choice of body and trim colors. I would have at least $13-1400 in total supplies needed to build the thing, and it will be about $2000 delivered and set. I simply can't waste dozens of hours of my time to try to build a product of equal quality, to save six or seven hundred dollars. 

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2017, 12:12:45 PM »
if there is something i hate about the US is the freaking electrical... namely the wires! I have been wrestling to put the wires back into the outlet box for close to 1 hour! ONE BOX! Ridiculous...

The wires are so thick that to accomodate anything in a box is a serious problem.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2017, 04:07:57 PM »
Almost ready almost ready to start laying the boards:




lthenderson

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2017, 04:35:30 PM »
I simply can't waste dozens of hours of my time to try to build a product of equal quality, to save six or seven hundred dollars.

Not to mention disposing or storing leftover shingles, nails, screws, boards, etc. since you can't buy exactly what you need to build a small project like that.

craiglepaige

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2017, 03:59:35 PM »
if there is something i hate about the US is the freaking electrical... namely the wires! I have been wrestling to put the wires back into the outlet box for close to 1 hour! ONE BOX! Ridiculous...

The wires are so thick that to accomodate anything in a box is a serious problem.

Since you are using conduit it's a bit more difficult but next outlet box you do, set everything up but don't secure the box to the wall. Insert the wires into the box and attach the outlet, then slide the box back towards the outlet and attach it onto the stud.
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paddedhat

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2017, 06:57:38 AM »
The key to not going insane while packing wires in a box is what the old timers taught me, they called it "dressing" the box. You need to first cut everything to a reasonable length, six to eight inches past the face of the box is fine. Now deal with the grounds first. If you are tailing two together and adding a tail to the outlet, do it now, the carefully tuck it way back in the box, with just the tail sticking out. Now push the other wires to the left and right sides of the box, wherever they belong. The first secret is pre-folding the wires so they recoil neatly into the box and STAY there. Think of folding a long sock or map. You can even take one hand and keep it flat, then wrap the wires around your four flat fingers. In the end all of your folding, dressing and stuffing is done BEFORE you strip the wires and attach them to the outlet. After the outlet is attached you should be able to push it, with one finger, until it sits neat, square and flat on the face of the box or drywall. A properly dressed box will result in you unscrewing an outlet or switch from the box, pulling it straight toward you, and seeing the wires unfurl from the box in a fanfold shape, like picking the corner of a folded map up off the table. The problem with this is that most folks attach the outlet then think that it's a handy tool to hold while you attempt to unsuccessfully mash the shit out of the attached rat's nest of wire, until it submits' and retreats to the box. The other issue is that, like a lot of trades, this is a learned skill, and it isn't easy. I've done it hundreds of thousands of times, maybe more, and there are still times when it doesn't go well, and it pisses me off. One way to lessen the pain is to use stranded wire where possible. When running wire in conduit, individual stranded wires are much, much, easier to deal with. When going this route always be sure to upgrade switches and outlets to the clamp style which have a small square loose plate, behind the screw head,to allow you to properly clamp stranded wire to the terminal. If you have a really full box, and it is well folded, but  you need to get everything further back in the box. grab your hammer by the head and use the butt of the handle to gently push the whole group back. Finally, pay attention when buying boxes. Boxes are rated in cubic inches of volume, and they can vary greatly for the same size of opening. A single switch box can vary from 8 to 22 cu. in. volume and greatly impact the number of wires legally allowed in the box, and how much you are going to plague yourself getting everything into the box neatly. When it comes to the nail on style plastic boxes, a similar box with a lot more internal volume is often in the next bin over, and costs $0.20 more.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 07:09:15 AM by paddedhat »

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2017, 04:19:26 PM »
I will try those approaches... it's ridiculous is not even funny :D

I do have conduit however its the flexible one... I will see what I can do with those. I have already wired under the deck but left the connections to be done yet while i work on the deck which is pretty much ready

sokoloff

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #36 on: July 07, 2017, 04:35:40 AM »
Regarding electricity would a separate panel be wise? We have a 200 amp service in our house and we have like half of the breaker box still empty... thought of just using the main breaker for it. 2-3 circuits should be enough - one for the heating/cooling and the others for lighting and outlets
Yes, you need a subpanel out there. NEC only allows one power feed to any outbuilding.

I don't have the specific citation for it, so I can't recall if it's an outright prohibition (which I think it is) or just an effective prohibition (that to get around it is prohibitively labor and materials intensive, so everyone just uses a subpanel). In any case, a subpanel isn't particularly expensive and is definitely the way to go IMO.

If you're going to DIY it, be sure that the subpanel in the outbuilding does not cross-connect the neutral ("white") and ground ("bare") conductors. Those are cross-connected in your main panel (inside the house, typically) and nowhere else in the system. This means that you need 4 conductors from the main to the sub (Line 1, Line 2, Neutral, Earth Ground) and a double-pole breaker in the main panel to feed Line 1 and Line 2 out to the subpanel. Even if you don't anticipate using a ton of power out there, I'd still wire it for no less than 60A main breaker. If "mobile home feeder" is legal in your area, 2-2-2-4 MHF is good to 90A, so you could put that in a buried conduit, put a breaker in the house in the 50A to 90A range, and put the subpanel in the outbuilding and you'd have all the power you'd ever need for around $350 in materials (depending on the length of run out to the outbuilding).
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 04:44:25 AM by sokoloff »

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #37 on: July 08, 2017, 12:05:41 AM »
Regarding electricity would a separate panel be wise? We have a 200 amp service in our house and we have like half of the breaker box still empty... thought of just using the main breaker for it. 2-3 circuits should be enough - one for the heating/cooling and the others for lighting and outlets
Yes, you need a subpanel out there. NEC only allows one power feed to any outbuilding.

I don't have the specific citation for it, so I can't recall if it's an outright prohibition (which I think it is) or just an effective prohibition (that to get around it is prohibitively labor and materials intensive, so everyone just uses a subpanel). In any case, a subpanel isn't particularly expensive and is definitely the way to go IMO.

If you're going to DIY it, be sure that the subpanel in the outbuilding does not cross-connect the neutral ("white") and ground ("bare") conductors. Those are cross-connected in your main panel (inside the house, typically) and nowhere else in the system. This means that you need 4 conductors from the main to the sub (Line 1, Line 2, Neutral, Earth Ground) and a double-pole breaker in the main panel to feed Line 1 and Line 2 out to the subpanel. Even if you don't anticipate using a ton of power out there, I'd still wire it for no less than 60A main breaker. If "mobile home feeder" is legal in your area, 2-2-2-4 MHF is good to 90A, so you could put that in a buried conduit, put a breaker in the house in the 50A to 90A range, and put the subpanel in the outbuilding and you'd have all the power you'd ever need for around $350 in materials (depending on the length of run out to the outbuilding).

Woww!!

Dont I need to call the power utility company to decide the amperage?!? Or it doesn't matter?? That is awesome. In my country, you can't do sub-panels yourself or have the amps you want.

The bill is also dependent on the amperage you have - the more amps capacity the more you pay ...

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #38 on: July 08, 2017, 01:37:51 AM »
Pretty much done... I am now just playing with the trim - most likely i will use chicken wire and place some white beach rocks.

I used also a hidden fastener system - the camo screws tool... works great!








Also I am now doing electrical for the lighting landscape... I got a 300w transformer in clearance at Lowes for 29 dollars vs the original $100 ... of which I used coupons and discounted gift cards... the transformer out of pocket was 15 dollars... and the lights are cheap too - using coupons and discounted GC.







Notrhing installed yet ... still was just playing with positioning of lights

sokoloff

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #39 on: July 08, 2017, 06:26:59 AM »
Dont I need to call the power utility company to decide the amperage?!? Or it doesn't matter?? That is awesome. In my country, you can't do sub-panels yourself or have the amps you want.

The bill is also dependent on the amperage you have - the more amps capacity the more you pay ...
In the US, lots of things vary by location, so it's not possible to answer definitively for everywhere. In most places, there is a set fee for grid hookup that doesn't vary with the "size" of service you have (within the sizes offered to residential customers), a charge for power, and a charge for power distribution. The first charge is per month; the second two are per kWh. Having a higher amperage connection installed would typically need to be justified though also typically free up to a specific point in the system (where the utility responsibility ends and the landowner responsibility starts).

Again, lots of room for state, local, regional variation in the above.

Regarding subpanels and DIY installation, pro needed, permit needed, inspection needed, different jurisdictions have different requirements. Most areas permit homeowner DIY labor, though you may still need to pull a permit and have an inspection done. Some areas prohibit DIY labor, which I think ought to be illegal as it's a straight-up labor protection racket, IMO. It's fine to require inspections for everyone.

On the physics side (the stuff that doesn't change), it's the usage that determines the wire sizing and breaker sizing. That's the easiest part of the whole job, so if you can't do that part (using internet research if needed), then doing the rest of the subpanel project probably isn't wise. In our area, the utility would probably tell you to go get a licensed electrical contractor and have them work out whatever you need (and then the inspector would check that work during the inspections).

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2017, 08:49:09 AM »
Dont I need to call the power utility company to decide the amperage?!? Or it doesn't matter?? That is awesome. In my country, you can't do sub-panels yourself or have the amps you want.

The bill is also dependent on the amperage you have - the more amps capacity the more you pay ...
In the US, lots of things vary by location, so it's not possible to answer definitively for everywhere. In most places, there is a set fee for grid hookup that doesn't vary with the "size" of service you have (within the sizes offered to residential customers), a charge for power, and a charge for power distribution. The first charge is per month; the second two are per kWh. Having a higher amperage connection installed would typically need to be justified though also typically free up to a specific point in the system (where the utility responsibility ends and the landowner responsibility starts).

Again, lots of room for state, local, regional variation in the above.

Regarding subpanels and DIY installation, pro needed, permit needed, inspection needed, different jurisdictions have different requirements. Most areas permit homeowner DIY labor, though you may still need to pull a permit and have an inspection done. Some areas prohibit DIY labor, which I think ought to be illegal as it's a straight-up labor protection racket, IMO. It's fine to require inspections for everyone.

On the physics side (the stuff that doesn't change), it's the usage that determines the wire sizing and breaker sizing. That's the easiest part of the whole job, so if you can't do that part (using internet research if needed), then doing the rest of the subpanel project probably isn't wise. In our area, the utility would probably tell you to go get a licensed electrical contractor and have them work out whatever you need (and then the inspector would check that work during the inspections).

Yes I am aware of that. I'm all in favor of permits. I can do the labour and then someone can come and inspect it if needed. Im pretty comfortable with electricity... it's simple for the most part but probably I would have someone at least make the utility connection after I did most of the labour.

Thank you for your input and that's great to hear that.

In Portugal, 200 amps is unheard of at a residential home!  ... I think overthere it starts at 3,4 kVa panel which you pay X per month... i believe its 14-15 dollars of service fee, just like you have in the US. However, if you start going to higher brackets of amperage that fee goes up as well... 5 kVa is probably 25 dollars.... 7,45 kVa around 30 dollars and so forth.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 08:52:42 AM by MrSal »

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2017, 05:24:28 PM »
Quick question ...

I did the outlet outside ... do I need to have it inspected for insurance purposes or something? How does that work?

My wife's family side they are a bit of panicky pants on everything and he said to have it inspected or something so that insurance wouldn't rule out coverage in case of a fire... I am also doing low voltage 12V landscape wiring...

It seems a little bit overzealous but I would like to be 100% safe ... I know my work is safe but and to cover those basis ...

sokoloff

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #42 on: July 08, 2017, 05:32:46 PM »
No one can answer that for you without knowing where you live (and maybe without reading your insurance policy contract). The chance of a fire caused by that work is extremely remote if you've done it correctly, of course.

paddedhat

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #43 on: July 08, 2017, 06:13:14 PM »
Sal, you are a bit adrift in your concepts of electrical work, where you currently live. First, you will be drawing power from your existing service panel, so there is no utility company involved. Second the amount of amperage you provide to the shed is of no concern to anyone, nor will it impact your electrical bill. That said, you won't need much, as Sokoloff  stated, a sixty amp feed is plenty. As for any inspections, you need to check with your local town, or township. Some will want to look at anything you do that involves wiring, others are not as concerned. As for the whole insurance company angle, don't worry about it. first you would need a catastrophic event CAUSED directly by work you did, they would need to prove that you did the work, then they would need clear evidence that you did something wrong, that was the direct cause of the event. All of this is extremely unlikely, and never really happen in the real world. Course, there are always internet experts that will jump in to disagree, but don't worry about it. When I recently moved to your part of the world, the old house I bought had a glowing review from a home inspector, and a recently "professionally" installed, fully inspected electrical service replacement. It also was totally ungrounded, since it was a water pipe ground and the piping was changed to plastic. Not only was this missed by two inspectors, but the insurance company didn't care in the least, and never saw the property before they covered it. If it burns to the ground tomorrow, and it's an electrical fire, the insurance co. will write a check without even bothering to figure out who did what in the last sixty years of upgrading and maintaining the electrical system. It's a very low risk probability, and little is gained in screwing the customer over something that is extremely difficult to prove, and even harder to pin on any one person.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2017, 09:38:46 PM »
Sal, you are a bit adrift in your concepts of electrical work, where you currently live. First, you will be drawing power from your existing service panel, so there is no utility company involved. Second the amount of amperage you provide to the shed is of no concern to anyone, nor will it impact your electrical bill. That said, you won't need much, as Sokoloff  stated, a sixty amp feed is plenty. As for any inspections, you need to check with your local town, or township. Some will want to look at anything you do that involves wiring, others are not as concerned. As for the whole insurance company angle, don't worry about it. first you would need a catastrophic event CAUSED directly by work you did, they would need to prove that you did the work, then they would need clear evidence that you did something wrong, that was the direct cause of the event. All of this is extremely unlikely, and never really happen in the real world. Course, there are always internet experts that will jump in to disagree, but don't worry about it. When I recently moved to your part of the world, the old house I bought had a glowing review from a home inspector, and a recently "professionally" installed, fully inspected electrical service replacement. It also was totally ungrounded, since it was a water pipe ground and the piping was changed to plastic. Not only was this missed by two inspectors, but the insurance company didn't care in the least, and never saw the property before they covered it. If it burns to the ground tomorrow, and it's an electrical fire, the insurance co. will write a check without even bothering to figure out who did what in the last sixty years of upgrading and maintaining the electrical system. It's a very low risk probability, and little is gained in screwing the customer over something that is extremely difficult to prove, and even harder to pin on any one person.


Im not adrift... i just said that things work differently here in the US... in my country it's the company's concern. You pay based on how many amps you get. A 20 kVa panel pays 8x more than a 5 kVa panel on the daily service rate.

I wasn't aware that here in the US you could have an extra panel for X amount of amps without paying extra to the utility company... that's all. which is great!

As for the insurance thing, yeah I figured... I wasnt worried about it, however, my wife and her parents are a little bit panicky in everything... so they mentioned it. They are the kind of people that pay for everything... I have had electricians come in the first time once and I can assure I can do a better job for the most part.

I am the type that does electrical work with regards to the one that comes after me. Just good old practices that one should always do in my opinion.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 09:42:44 PM by MrSal »

sokoloff

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #45 on: July 08, 2017, 09:43:32 PM »
I wasn't aware that here in the US you could have an extra panel for X amount of amps without paying extra to the utility company... that's all. which is great!
It's an extra panel fed by a double-pole breaker from the main panel. (So, the utility never has to know about it.) You still just have the one utility co meter and service entrance, which is what the utility cares about.

The subpanel is about as interesting and relevant to them as an extension cord. They just care about power used.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #46 on: July 09, 2017, 08:31:45 AM »
I wasn't aware that here in the US you could have an extra panel for X amount of amps without paying extra to the utility company... that's all. which is great!
It's an extra panel fed by a double-pole breaker from the main panel. (So, the utility never has to know about it.) You still just have the one utility co meter and service entrance, which is what the utility cares about.

The subpanel is about as interesting and relevant to them as an extension cord. They just care about power used.

Yup I understand all that which is great! In my country, that would be illegal and the utility company would know. The panel is done by the utility company and it's illegal to modify it in any way. And Im sure they can see if I had switched to a higher capacity panel through the peaks of usage and such.

MrSal

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2017, 07:08:57 PM »
So... deck 1st section of the deck is done!
















Looks good in my opinion...  now i need to start the main deck and this weekend we will probably do the footings

craiglepaige

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2017, 07:03:41 AM »
That came out really nice ;)
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CareCPA

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Re: DIY - Decking + Backyard + Backyard Office/Extra Room
« Reply #49 on: July 13, 2017, 10:00:44 AM »
Looks good!
My only suggestion is to double-check the code for your step into the house. I know they've gotten a lot pickier about this lately (i.e. rise, depth, and when you need a landing).
Always happy to help with tax or accounting questions - feel free to private message me.

I am a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. However, any tax advice I give should be considered general information and not used in the avoidance of tax. There is most likely information about your situation that I do not know, and thus you should do your own additional research.

Yes, in case it confuses you, I did change my forum name.