Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Insulation Project

Well hello out there! Did you think we forgot you? Or more importantly, did you think we stopped working on the Retro Ranch? Although this year’s projects haven’t been quite as dramatic in their immediate result there have been a number of improvements made in our ongoing restoration of the Retro Ranch.

As you may recall there never seems to be a “simple” project at the Ranch. It always seems that to accomplish one project involves multiple side projects, or as they say in the corporate world – scope creep. We knew we needed to insulate the attic as heat rises, the house could have been warmer last winter and what limited insulation there was had collapsed or was removed during the bathroom project of last summer. So hiring an insulation contactor and getting 16” of insulation seems simple enough you say? Silly reader, this is the retro ranch so…

Attic Access and Storage

The Retro Ranch is several hundred square feet smaller than our previous townhome and we were challenged with where to store offseason, seldom used and bulky items. The attic, though not tall had been made accessible by some pull downstairs in the hallway. Unfortunately they were rather flimsy and didn’t close completely making them unsightly in the hallway. There was also access to the attic in the garage. However this required a ladder to the access panel and the space had no decking to store things on. 

We decided to install pull down stairs in the garage and replace the old stairs in the hallway opening before we insulated. A quick ring to our favorite contractors, Northwest Home Concierge, and Troy, Gordon and crew were on the job. They spent a day removing the old stairs, the random decking and walk boards scattered on the beams, framing the opening and installing the new pull down stairs. 

They installed some decking in the main attic for an off-season storage area and a small walkway to get there from the stairs. And we repurposed some closet shelving as decking in the garage attic to maximize storage space.

Lighting and Wiring

There was a rat’s nest of old wires in the attic, remnants of several old alarm systems, TV antennas, telephones, cable and internet, and more. Beth and I removed most of the old wiring without issue - hundreds and hundreds of feet of wire. And in our exuberance we accidentally clipped the wire for the back doorbell. (A couple of ding-dongs you say?!) 

So in addition to adding lighting in the attic (both the hall area and garage) and additional accent lighting for the front of the house (which will be highlighted in an upcoming blog) we needed the doorbell reconnected. Our friends at Coho Electric spent a day with us adding the lighting and switches in the attic spaces, reconnected the back doorbell and adding accent lighting to the front of the house. In performing this work, they managed to crush a section of the return air ductwork as they accessed the eves. It’s always something.


Finally ready for the insulation, the crew from Gale Contractor’s Services came out and were very efficient. It took half a day to build the dams and blow in 16” of insulation. They also fixed the crushed section of ductwork. The house is much tighter and stayed cooler this summer even with a record number of days over 90° in Portland. We are eager to see the difference it makes this winter.




Were these projects as visible as repainting the exterior of the house or rebuilding the bathrooms? Or as much fun finding the bottle glass doors for the kitchen? Obviously not, but hopefully we will stay toasty warm this winter and have easy access to Beth’s retro Christmas tree and ornaments stored in the attic. 

Stay tuned for more updates on projects done earlier this year at the Retro Ranch!