Welcome to The Kester House & Garden Project!

This site has been created to document our rather in-depth home renovation project. Friends and family ask about the status from time to time, so this will serve as a place to keep track of our progress. I also use the site as a place to store photos, plans, and technical information (like paint colors, etc.) so I can find that information when I need it.

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The closet/laundry room is nearly finished!

If you're visiting the site for the first time, after having a look at this Welcome page I recommend reading the House and Inspiration sections before you dive right in, so you'll have an idea of what we started with and what we're hoping to end up with. I've been writing about the project in the order we've been working on it, so the Garden sections would be next, followed by the Exterior sections and finally the Interior sections.

I often add new information or photos to various sections, so the News section below will always have links to the latest updates. There's also a Table of Contents at the bottom of this page with a brief description of every page on the site. Additionally, if you're looking for information about a particular project, you may find the table available on the Project Timeline useful, since you may click on the project name to go directly to the information regarding that specific work.

news icon News

The House: It's been a busy couple of months getting most of the work done for the walk-in closet/laundry room. It started with a visit from the building inspector to ensure the new bearing wall between the closet and bedroom is correct (it is). Next, all the wallboard was installed, and it also got the full "textured plaster" treatment on the ceiling and the two perimeter walls. Everything was then primed and painted, using my glazing method to bring out the plaster work (and finding glaze was no picnic, apparently faux finishes for interior walls are no longer in style). The partition walls between the closet, bathroom, and bathroom also got their grasscloth wallpaper applied, then I milled up all the trim and got that finished and installed. All this stuff allowed me to finally get the washer & dryer put into their "final" position, then get the wall cabinets installed on the wall with the laundry equipment. The only thing left for that room now is to put down the new flooring and install the baseboard trim – although that work will have to wait until the wallboard work is done for the rest of the bedroom, and likely for the finished ceiling to get done in there too.
The latest on the replacement VW Vanagon is that it's pretty much done. We need to take the Cabriolet in for some brake work next week, and we'll get the Vanagon as a "loaner vehicle" for a few days while the brake work gets taken care of. The only thing left for the Vanagon at this point is to give the undercarriage a coat of P.O.R. 15, then hit it all with some undercoating. It'll be interesting to see if I remember how to drive a Vanagon – it's been a few years!
The Site: All the latest work for the closet/laundry room has been added to a couple of new sections in the Bedroom page within the Interior section. The wallboard work is briefly described in the section on Gypsum Wall Board, then I added lots of description and photos of the Wall & Ceiling Finish Work, followed by another section regarding the Trim & Cabinet Installation. Of course, I've also updated the Project Timeline and the search index.

The House: Yeah - it's been a while without an update. We both went through a long cold/flu for most of February and March, although multiple tests showed it wasn't COVID, so that's good I suppose. I did manage to get all the stuff organized and stored in the attic to get the closet/laundry room all cleaned out, and also started putting up the Gypsum WallBoard (GWB) for the rest of that room. I used up the last of the fiberglass-faced, moisture proof stuff I had available on the wall between the bathroom and laundry room (and no one seems to sell it around here anymore), then the rest of the room got regular lightweight GWB. I'll need to get the local building inspector to stop by for a look at the new wall and header between the bedroom and closet/laundry room, then I can get the rest of that wall covered with new GWB and get busy on the wall and ceiling finishes for the closet/laundry room.
I've had no update on the replacement VW Vanagon for many weeks, although I'm sure it's still moving along well enough. I did deliver the title for the old vehicle in early February (so they could scrap it), and also put down a decent deposit to help with the cost of parts for the replacement. Because I still have no vehicle, I'll likely be heading off to Home Depot this week with my friend with the pick-up truck to grab a dozen sheets of GWB and bucket of mud so I can start getting GWB up in the bedroom too. Hard to believe I'm finally covering those plastic-covered, stud walls after all these years. Progress!
The Site: This update is only to say I'm still here and (now that I'm no longer sick) still making progress on projects. I've grabbed a few photos of the GWB work, although it's not very interesting stuff (and possibly my least favorite task — I thoroughly enjoy doing plaster work, but I really dislike the mess of cutting and hanging GWB). I should have an update together fairly soon that shows the progress on the GWB work for the closet/laundry room, but this'll do for now.

The House: We're still mostly working on organizing all our stuff into properly label storage bins and making good progress on that project. All the stuff from the old "hardware store" closet/laundry room (that isn't bothered by freezing) has been moved to the attic. We also loaded eight bins with books and family photos from bookshelves we cleaned off recently and got all that stored up there too. I'm still working on the last of the wall insulation work in the closet/laundry room, and also started going over the existing vapor barrier for the living room and bedroom exterior walls to ensure it's all well sealed before starting wallboard work. While going through the "hardware store" bins I found I had a little extra CL-2 speaker wire and a few keystone wall plates, so I decided to also add some more audio wiring to the living room wall before the plaster work begins. This gives us the ability to add front, in-wall speakers someday if we ever decide to get rid of our bulky, free standing floor speakers.
I also got an update on the replacement VW Vanagon, with news that the engine swap is finished and they're now working through the rest of the vehicle to bring over all the little goodies from the old vehicle before it goes away.
The Site: This is a fairly small update, with a little new text on the Energy Efficiency page within the Mechanical section regarding the wrap of the work to Insulate the Exterior Walls, as well as some information on the Wiring page about the Front In-wall Speakers prep work I took care of before sealing up the front wall vapor barrier. I think the most significant progress was to get some decisions made regarding the attic hatch while Working Out the Attic Access through a new set of plans, with information available in a new section on the Living Room page within the Interior section of the site (there's a link to the PDF for the plans on the Specifications page and Project Timeline as well). I've also updated the search index, which will take care of this update.

The House: The attic insulation work is finished, so the work in the attic is done after nearly two decades! The only thing left up there is to get the new entry hatch built, which I'm starting to plan now. We're also working on "round 2" of organizing all our stuff into properly label storage bins (which we took our first stab at back in July) so all that stuff can go back into the attic and clear out the place to get started on gypsum wall board (GWB) installation. I'm also taking care of the last of the wall insulation work in the closet/laundry room to get that space ready for GWB as well.
No news on the replacement VW Vanagon yet, but I expect to have a progress report for that project soon.
The Site: The final attic insulation work information has been added to the Energy Efficiency page within the Mechanical section, with a new section of text and photos for the Last of the Attic Insulation installation over the kitchen and living room perimeter. I also added a couple new titles from Lost Art Presslink opens a new windowto the Specifications page that Santa left for me under the Christmas tree this year. This new stuff has been added to the Project Timeline as usual, along with an updated search index.

The House: We've made it through another relaxing Christmas, and are ready for more fun in 2024! Since the last update, I've made some very good progress on the house, and I'm satisified with what was accomplished on the place in 2023. I spent a fair amount of time "flying solo" in early December, as the lovely bride had an opportunity to head off to Hawaii right after Thanksgiving for about a three week volunteer job with Samaritan's Purselink opens a new window, doing clean up work in Lahaina on Maui (which is where her father is from, and she has a lot of family there that were affected by the wild fires). While she was away I managed to take care of the last of the rough carpentry work for the house interior as I completed the remainder of the new attic floor installation for the rest of the house. I'm glad she's back, and once we get the Christmas decorations put away in the attic, the last thing to do up there will be to add the final layer of insulation. The space will then be available to put back all the boxes and bins of stuff we've been tripping over for the last few months, so we can start on interior finish work next year.
I also managed to send the '89 VW Vanagon off to the shop in early December to finally deal with the rusted rear control arms, and see if I could get that thing back on the road by Spring. Unfortunately, my mechanic friend reported that it's just too far gone to be saved — there's basically not enough solid stuff left of the undercarriage for attaching new sheet metal and suspension parts. It's gone for good, but we're going to save a lot of it to get "transplanted" into a fresh vehicle. The good news is that we already found a '92 Vanagon Synchro in Maine that had the engine removed (apparantly it was going to have an electric conversion preformed by some college students, but then the project never happened). It's been sitting for a few years with a very clean interior and no rust at all. I've got a good running engine (with re-built heads, stainless-steel exhaust, all new fuel lines, air-flow meter, fuel injectors, and all new hoses & stainless steel coolant pipes), so that will get installed in the '92 to get me a new vehicle. There's lots of other parts that will get swapped in from my old one (new steering rack, tires & wheels, the South African 4-headlight grill, and lots of other electronics), then it will get a few new goodies (it's going to need new bumpers – either from GoWesty or Van Cafe) to finally make it complete. It'll cost a few grand, and I probably won't get it until Spring, but it should end up as the last vehicle I'll ever own.
The Site: The rest of the attic floor work info is once again on the Energy Efficiency page within the Mechanical section, as it started with getting down More Attic Insulation into the bedroom and closet/laundry room raised attic floor framing. Once that was taken care of, I then got the Remainder of the New Attic Flooring installed. All the new information has also been added to the Project Timeline, and of course I also updated the search index. That's it for 2023 — have a Happy New Year!

The House: We've been enjoying some fairly mild weather lately (and no snow yet), so after I took care of the final lawn mowing for the year and got the lawn mower put away, I then managed to grab a picture of our Japanese 'Waterfall' Maple in full fall color. Other than one afternoon outside for lawn mowing however, the last couple weeks have been spent building the raised attic floor supports for above the bedroom and closet/laundry room. That project was completed a couple days ago, and I'm happy to report that the attic is now ready for the remainder of the insulation work. I also fabricated an "insulation shredder" for the AttiCat® stuff, so I won't need to rent the rather cumbersome machine to deal with that material when the time comes.
The Site: This update for the bedroom and closet/laundry room attic work ended up on the Energy Efficiency page within the Mechanical section, just as I'd done when working on the living room attic earlier this year (the reason to raise the attic floor is to allow more insulation up there after all, so it makes sense to me to put all this project information in the insulation section of the site). So, a few details of the insulation shredder build start off the new Bedroom & Closet Attic Work section on that page, followed by the text and photos covering the Raising the Bedroom & Closet/Laundry Room Attic Floor work. The new stuff has been added to the Project Timeline and also updated in the search index, as usual.

The House: Well, it took an extra week, but by the middle of the month I managed connect with my friend with the truck to get in a supply run to Lowe's for a load of 1/4" plywood, 7/16" OSB, and a few sheets of 1/2" drywall. That allowed me to get the new vapor barrier and first layer of the bedroom ceiling stapled up, and then get the vapor barrier and drywall up for the closet/laundry room ceiling. With those ceilings in place, I can finally get back into the attic to get the remainder of the attic floor supports built and then insulate the rest of the attic before Winter.
The Site: Just a brief update to the Bedroom page within the Interior section with text and a few pictures of the Bedroom Ceiling Underlayment and the Closet/Laundry Room Ceiling work. As usual, the latest update has been added to the Project Timeline along with an update to the search index.

The House: The last couple weeks have been spent taking care of a few details regarding the bedroom and closet renovation — the closet ceiling has been leveled, and with that carpentry work done I set about getting the last of the household wiring work completed. The remainder of the wall outlets were installed for the bedroom and closet along with the last few light switches, and then the smoke alarm wire runs in the attic were taken care of. I still need to get that 1/4-inch thick plywood for the bedroom ceiling, along with a couple sheets of drywall for the closet ceiling (hopefully this weekend), then it's back to attic work.
The Site: I added a couple new paragraphs to the Wiring page within the Mechanical section, which address the updated Wiring Plans and the last of the Household Wiring work. I also added more information regarding the final few Lutron® Caséta® switches we installed to wrap up the Wiring Upgrades section of that page. Getting the wiring finished also got me to take the time to double-check the Specifications page listing of Receptacles, Switches & Wall Plates and ensure it has the correct information to match what's been recently removed and replaced. As always, this stuff has been put on the Project Timeline along with an update to the search index.

The House: Still bangin' away on the bedroom & walk-in closet/laundry room, although the bedroom is mostly wrapped up for the moment. The new partition walls are up and the attic access hatch has been framed, which also allowed me to take care of the wiring for the bedroom lighting and light switches. Next for that space is to get a load of 1/4-inch thick plywood to apply as the ceiling "underlayment", which will let me get back to the attic to finish the rest of the raised floor and attic insulation work. In the mean time I've decided to go ahead and get the ceiling leveled for the walk-in closet/laundry room (I was going to skip the leveling work for that little room, but it's just too wonky to leave as is so I'm dealing with it now).
The Site: The Bedroom page of the Interior section got another round of updates with details of re-arranging the Laundry Equipment Connections in case we decide to replace those appliances at some point (which also got me to finally update the 30 pages of wiring circuit plans on the Specifications main page). I've also added more text and photos regarding the construction of the new Bedroom Partition Walls and the Attic Access Hatch Framing work. All this stuff has also been added to the Project Timeline along with an updated the search index, as usual.

The House: Work continues at a good pace on the bedroom and closet/laundry room. After most of the new truss boards were installed (the couple that are left will need to wait until I get the new hatch opening cut in the ceiling joists… which has to wait until the new walls are up), I also dealt with getting a couple new recessed light fixtures in place, along with the other couple ceiling electrical boxes (and those goofy things in the photo). Next, the old "hardware store" was completely emptied, so I could remove the last of the old flooring and ceiling tiles, then get the final couple sheets of new OSB underlayment installed. So more good progress, if I do say so myself!
The Site: The Bedroom page of the Interior section got more updates with details of the Bedroom Ceiling Extras that were worked on since there's no way to get at the front of the space from above, and I've also added more text and photos regarding the removal of the old flooring and installation of the last of the New OSB Underlayment. As usual, I added the latest work to the Project Timeline, and updated the search index once more.

The House: As mentioned in the last update, we dedicated a fair amount of time to getting all the stuff from the attic, bedroom, and closet re-organized into bins so I can re-arrange it easily while doing work on those areas of the house. With that done, the last few weeks I've been quite busy working on the bedroom and attic over the bedroom. I've removed almost all of the remaining original framing and surface finishes from the bedroom and closet (there's a few ceiling tiles and a couple sheets of linoleum flooring in the closet, but that's it), then got a fresh set of plans ready for the bedroom framing work for the new wall and attic hatch. That allowed me to make some good progress on bedroom carpentry work, including getting the bedroom ceiling joists level, like I'd done in the living room earlier this year. I've got a little more work to do in the bedroom attic, then we can take care of the closet and get the new bedroom wall built. Progress!
The Site: The Bedroom page of the Interior section got a major update to include the New Plans, document all the work on Leveling the Ceiling, as well as a section regarding the installation of some of the New Attic Truss Boards to keep the ceiling where it's supposed to be. I also added all the latest work to the Project Timeline, and then updated the search index to include all this new stuff.

The House: Apologies for the slightly delayed update, but there hasn't been too much to share so far this Summer. We have been very busy with the "clean-up & clear out" project since May, but it's not real exciting stuff. As I mentioned below, once the attic floor was re-built over the living room, that area of the attic was filled with bins of Christmas decorations, some outdoor recreation gear, puzzles & games, and lots of kitchen "extras" that we rarely use. All the remaining bins from the attic came down, along with eight file boxes of old paperwork (bank statements, paid bills, tax returns, etc.). The first thing we tackled were the bins of clothes we never wear anymore, so all those went into nine trash bags for a pick-up from SimpleRecycling.comlink opens a new window, which freed up a load of bins. They also took a handful of dishes and kitchen stuff we don't need, and I confirmed they'll even take our exercise equipment with our next pick-up (likely another two or three bags of bedding and towels). I also managed to dis-assemble an old bookshelf, and we filled seven totes with books which were donated to the local library. Another chore was to go through all those boxes of paperwork and feed nearly everything into a shredder to put out with the recycling for pick-up each week.
The final chore was to deal with the "hardware store", which is what we call the laundry room. That space has been accumulating building materials, paints & stains, hardware & fasteners, and all manner of tools for years. It's all going to have to be moved to make any progress on building out the bedroom ceiling and the rest of the attic, so I figured I'd put everything in plastic bins so I can move it around when doing demolition and carpentry work in there. The space had three, cheap metal, 5-foot high shelf units, and another pair of 3-foot high units that were absolutely packed with supplies. I started by filling the bins we'd emptied from the attic, but that only took care of a single shelf units worth of stuff. I then made a Home Depot run for a bunch of their "HDX" black & yellow stacking bins, and kept emptying shelves and attempting to organize everything into new bins. After a few weeks of that and 19 new bins (along with another 10 we'd emptying of other stuff) the "hardware store" shelves were empty, and everything can be easily moved as needed. The goal was to separate supplies that cannot freeze from everything else, so everything else can go into the attic when it comes time to build the laundry room/walk-in closet. At this point, the only stuff that will end up in the attic again is the single box of paperwork (tax returns, house purchase documentation, and a handful of other records we basically should keep forever), and a bin or two of off season clothes that won't stay in the closet or bedroom dressers. Everything else from the "hardware store" will live in the garage loft someday. It's quite satisfying to make all that un-used "stuff" go-away, and a bit of a relief to know we won't burden our family with all of it when we're gone.
We also made a little progress on the yard work, and got the pond up and running. I still need to take care of repairing the pull starter on the leaf machine, otherwise regular mowing and pruning is happening when the weather is good. I also managed to get my old Porter-Cable® Job Boss™ 4.5gal. oil-lubricated air compressor working again! I'd been tripping over that thing in the tent garage for nearly a year, and decided to open it up to see if the motor could be replaced, or if it was scrap metal. It turns out the power cord connector inside the end of the motor had gotten wet at some point and was badly corroded. I trimmed back the wire, crimped on a new connector, and the thing ran perfectly! After a decent cleaning of the whole thing and fresh lube, I've now got an extra compressor available!
The Site: Like last time, none of what's been going on here for the last few weeks really warrants a site update. I did sort out this news page and get all the 2022 stuff over to its own 2022 News Archive page, but that's all for now.

The House: Most of April was spent crawling around in the attic, playing with the 7/16" OSB to get the half of the attic floor over the living room installed. That work was completed after a few weeks, and then it was time to go through all the boxes and bins we'd moved to make room for floor work, and try to consolidate everything we are keeping over to the new floor to open up the area over the bedroom. There's a lot more space over the bedroom (because there are none of those "sorta-truss" boards between the ceiling joists and the rafters), so we only managed to get about half of the bins stashed over the living room. Everything else up there will need to go away, or get stacked in the bedroom and living room to open up the attic for the remaining work to be done over the bedroom. It's pretty slow going, but we're making progress. Now it's just a matter of finding time to work up there when it's not too hot (usually on rainy days when we can't do yard work). I did receive that used motherboard and got my system up and running again, so that's good (although because of the new hardware, I couldn't re-activate my old version of MS Office so I had to upgrade all that stuff). That allowed me to get the taxes done on time, which is also a good thing.
Most of May has been dedicated to continued attic clean up, and starting to take care of the yard. Both the lawn mower and the leaf picker-upper needed some repairs to get working again this year, so that took a while. I also needed to do a few repairs to the deck (a couple boards popped up, and a few screw plugs had gone missing), so I ended up cleaning the whole deck and re-staining the thing. Still lots of leaves to collect from last year, then I'll need to get the pond cleaned up and running in the next week or two. It also appears that we may have lost all of the bamboo, due to a few days of consistent below zero temperatures last Winter. After all those years to finally finish a proper bamboo barrier, it will be a bummer if the stuff doesn't recover.
The Site: Not a lot of what's been going on here for the last few weeks warrants a site update, although I did get a couple more paragraphs and a handful of photos in to the Energy Efficiency page of the Mechanical section to describe the second layer of Attic Insulation and the Floor Installation work. As usual, I also updated the Project Timeline to include the recent work, and once more was able to refresh the search index.

The House: The last little task for the living room ceiling, getting the openings cut for the in-ceiling speakers, was taken care of in early March. Installing all the gypsum wall board in there is next, but that will have to wait until a friend with a pick-up truck has time to assist with getting it over here. In the mean time there's plenty of work to take care of in the attic above the living room and kitchen, so I've been working up there quite a bit. The first project up there was to get the remaining HRV supply and exhaust ductwork installed, then balance the HRV air flows (which is a project I had started back in 2005!). Next I worked on raising the attic floor to make room for more insulation, and then get the first layer of R-19 insulation down over that half of the house. I also decided to re-locate the doorbell bell to the boiler room (since it was much quieter with the living room ceiling and insulation in place). I also took care of getting the speaker wires for all the surround speakers routed properly across the living room ceiling, as well as run the next bit of wiring to connect the genkan smoke detector with the one in the kitchen, then over to the one that goes outside the bathroom near the bedroom.
So lots of progress on the house is the good news, but there's also bad news… On the evening of March 30th our power blinked on and off a couple times before it finally went out for a few hours. No wind or storms happening, it just went out. Not a big deal though — all the computers are connected to nice APC uninterruptible power supplies so those things just started beepin' and I simply shut down all the systems without issues. The next morning I powered up everything, starting with the servers and networking stuff, then tried my workstation once everything else was up and running. No joy. No POST beep, no nothin'. It seemed to be completely dead. I tried unhooking all the peripherals, removed the graphics card and connected the monitor directly to the motherboard, and even replaced the CMOS battery. Nope. I've ordered a used replacement motherboard to see if I can resurrect the thing, but I suspect it may be gone for good. I kinda figured it was about time for a new PC this year, but I'd like to get this thing running again to take care of the taxes, then gradually migrate everything to a new system in a few months. Damn.
The Site: With no workstation available (and no ability for gaming to waste time), I managed to take care of getting a few updates done for all the recent work by working on one of the servers. These include photos and descriptions for the last of the work (for now) for the Living Room page of the Interior section with the installation of the Ceiling "Underlayment" Plywood. The Energy Efficiency page of the Mechanical section got a new addition regarding new Attic Insulation work, as well as the Attic Floor support work. I also took care of the update for the HRV Exhaust Ductwork which wraps up the HRV installation work at long last. Lastly, I updated the Project Timeline to include the recent work, but won't be able to refresh the search index until I get the old system up and running again. That'll do for now.

The House: All of the living room rough carpentry and wiring work is completed, so we're ready to get the new vapor barrier installed and move forward with finished ceiling installation. I also sent a note along earlier this week to our town's Building Department to ask what the next step is to "renew" that 14 year old building permit we got when we started the interior renovation work. The Administrative Assistant for the Building Department has changed from the old days, as have all the inspectors, so I figured this was going to be a somewhat detailed and fairly expensive undertaking to make everything right again. I was rather surprised to get a response almost immediately that my message had been forwarded to the new Building Inspector, and I should expect a phone call soon... a couple hours later I got the call, and started to explain a bit of the project history as well as the reasons for all the delays in progress. I was a bit shocked when he told me it wasn't a problem at all, and that they generally don't worry too much about the length of time required for work completion that homeowners are doing themselves (as opposed to work that contractors are doing, which must get some manner of inspection for the various stages of the work at least once a year). He said if I have the original permit with the signatures from previous "partial rough-in" and electrical inspections (I do), we could just keep that one going — no new permit paperwork and no new fees. Unbelievable!
He offered to come by soon to have a look at the latest rough-in work that was completed, and to familiarize himself with the project. We set a time for yesterday morning, and he even arrived a few minutes early. He looked over everything that was done so far, and also explained that the new Electric Inspector generally only bothers with inspections for work that is being performed by electrical contractors on a specific electric work permit, so no need to have him look at anything (since I'm doing all the wiring myself under the interior renovation permit). I had printed a couple extra copies of the old engineer approved floor plans for the wall we'll eventually have to move that's between the bedroom and walk-in closet (available to view in the old Interior Floor Plans section of the main Interior page). He mentioned that he knows the engineer I had work on those plans with me, and he took a copy to add to our file. So, the result of his visit is that we are set to proceed with all work for the foreseeable future! He said I'll need to give him a call for the final "rough-in" inspection when the bedroom bearing wall work is done, and that'll be it until the final interior finish inspection when all remaining work is completed.
The Site: Another bunch of text and a handful of photos of recent work have been added to the Living Room page of the Interior section. I finished the plans and then took care of framing the tokonoma (display alcove), as well as got started on the tokobashira (corner post) for the toko. All this can be found in the new Building the Tokonoma section on that page. As with any update, I also tweaked the Project Timeline, and refreshed the search index.

The House: The new year has been busy so far, with lots of living room renovation work underway. Over the last few weeks we've gotten almost all the living room light fixtures installed, worked out how the finished ceiling is going to look, and even made some progress in the attic on work up there that's easier to do when the living room ceiling is open. I still need to head to town hall and deal with our building permit that expired in 2011 (so we can get the ceiling wiring inspected), but in the mean time I've got more rough carpentry to take care of in the attic and the living room.
The Site: More text and photos of the recent work have been added to the Living Room page of the Interior section, including Ceiling Lights Installation, a set of New Plans to figure out the proper work order of projects, and then the carpentry work for the Fusuma Door Header that runs the length of the room from the bathroom to the front wall. The HVAC page of the Mechanical section also got an update with information and a few photos of the HRV Ductwork Installation that runs above the living room and over to the boiler room. Naturally this also led to an update to the Project Timeline page, along with the usual search index refresh. Enjoy!

For past chronological updates, please see the following pages:
     2008 News Archives.
     2009 News Archives.
     2010 News Archives.
     2011 News Archives.
     2012 News Archives.
     2013 News Archives.
     2014 News Archives.
     2015 News Archives.
     2016 News Archives.
     2017 News Archives.
     2018-21 News Archives.
     2022 News Archives.

Using the Site

Visitors should check this page to determine the most recent updates, or browse the sections listed in the navigation menu on the left. I'll try to always have a picture of the most recent project or the house itself on this page too.

Navigating the Site
The navigation menu will expand when you hover your curser over an item with a down arrow (↓) in the name. The section you are currently visiting will display in a different color than the rest of the menu so you hopefully won't get lost. There's an up arrow (↑) near the bottom of each page that will return you to the top of the page when clicked. Links in the body text will display in a different color than the rest of the text. All internal links (links in the body text or nav menu sections) will replace the contents of your browser's current window with the target's content when clicked, so you may navigate using the 'forward' or 'back' controls of your browser. External links (links to other sites) are in the footer and will open in a new browser window (or tab) when clicked. If an external link is placed in the body of the page, it will be indicated with an icon: link opens a new window.

Receiving Updates
If you click the RSS feed icon ( news icon ) in the News section above, your browser will open the news feed page that I usually update whenever I update the site. In order to have it display in your browser, it simply runs a little code to allow it to show up, but no longer provides a means of subscribing to the feed. In order to automatically receive updates, you'll need to use a dedicated RSS News Reader application (or browser "add-on"), then copy & paste in the address of our feed: http://kesterhouse.com/rss/kesterhouse.xml into that reader. If Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge get their "Collections" and "Follow" stuff worked out, perhaps I can get rid of the code and go back to just loading the XML in the browser.

Searching the Site
When you click the 'SEARCH' item in the nav menu you'll be presented with a search box to enter the keyword(s) you'd like to find. Hit your 'enter' key or click the little magnifying glass and your browser will load the search results page with your search terms highlighted. When you navigate to a page from the link provided in the search results, the search terms will also highlight in the new page to make them easier to find.

'Lightbox' Image Viewing
When you click on a photo it will enlarge in the browser window and the background around the image will darken to allow better viewing of the image. If there are additional photos on the particular subject, you will find controls to view those additional photos below the bottom-right corner of the image. You may also hover your curser over the image to use the Next and Previous buttons when there's more than one photo in the group you're viewing, or view the set as a slide show by using the Play and Pause buttons below the image. To open an individual photo in a new window (in case you wish to bookmark the image, or copy it for appropriate use), click the small Expand icon in the top-right corner of the photo. To return to the normal page view, click the small X below the image, or click anywhere on the background around the photo.

The Footer
The footer contains a link to send us an e-mail if you'd like to make a comment or suggestion. It also contains external links (they all open in a new window) to other sites I enjoy.

Creating the Site & Compatibility
I've created the site entirely with a text editor, since I'm still a member of the 'old-fart school' of web design. I'm using a lot of Cascading Style Sheet design controls, as well as a fair amount of Javascript to make the page do what I want it to do - some written by me, but mostly I'm using the wonderful jQuery library with plug-ins I've found here and there. If you've got Javascript disabled in your browser, the site should degrade gracefully and remain functional, although it's not going to look very nice.

I check the site occasionally for functionality with a smart phone or tablet, although I generally write everything in anticipation of having it read on a laptop or workstation. I have the latest versions of most Windows 10 browsers installed and have verified the pages display correctly with those. As stated above, Microsoft Edge is currently having issues with RSS feeds as they implement some new news reader features, so I'll tweak the XML as needed when and if they get it all worked out.

What's in the Sections

Here's a description of what's included in the sections - some are more complete than others but it's all getting there.