Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Garage Extension — Part 4

This is the garage door and opener post.  Will be a short one, since mostly it's just assembling parts and following instructions provided by the manufacturers (and they also now have videos).  Not much point in regurgitating all of that. 

The slower parts are figuring out and executing on the ceiling hangers, from which both the door tracks and the garage door opener are suspended.  The instructions pretty much leave that to the homeowner to figure out.  More on that later. 

The garage door arrived with four door panels, vertical and horizontal track, a spring kit, and a box of parts:

The first step is screw the hinges (and some other parts) on the bottom door section, and then stack it in the door opening.  To prevent it from falling down, you secure it with nails or screws in the door jamb.  These don't go through the door sections, just angled against the edges.  The upper hinges are then screwed into the top edge of the door section, and that section is stacked on top of the bottom section. 

The hinges from the top of the bottom section are screwed into the bottom of the second section.

Repeat that with the third and fourth sections, then insert the rollers.

The vertical track is then fitted over the rollers, adjusted for side-to-side travel, and lag-screwed into the side jambs (the 2x6s installed in the last post). 

Then it gets slightly trickier.  The horizontal tracks are now bolted to the top of the vertical track, but the back ends at this point are just floating in mid-air.  Well, they have to be supported somehow.  I chose to screw some hooks in the ceiling and dangle the ends of the track from these hooks with thin rope.  At this point you manipulate the position of the track ends so that the left and right tracks are level, the same (and correct) distance apart, and square to the front wall (the closed door).  All this so the door can glide up and back on the horizontal track without twisting or binding. 

Then you need to fasten punched metal angle hangers to structural elements (joists) above your ceiling (or if you don't have a drywall ceiling, you can skip the ceiling part 😉 ).  These metal ceiling hangers (the punched angle bars) are made from three pieces.  You can buy the stock and cut to the appropriate length, or do what I did — buy the hanger kit that has the six pre-cut bars and all the hardware (lag screws, bolts, nuts).  I got mine at Home Depot, Clopay brand, same as my garage door).  Then it was just a matter of positioning everything so that it can be securely fastened to the joists above the ceiling, and the bottom hanger ending up exactly where the end of the door tracks need to be. 

So this whole process was tedious but otherwise uneventful.  Lots of measuring and marking lines with a Sharpie.  Photo:

Oh, I forgot to talk about the springs.  I got the torsion spring option with the spiffy electric drill winding mechanism (in lieu of hand-winding with the two metal bar things, which I used to remove my old door).  Follow the supplied directions, look at the video.  More straightforward than doing the hangers. 

But we're not done with those punch angle hangers.  The door opener has to be hung, assuming you're not going old-school like I've been doing for the last six years — manually opening and closing. 

Assemble the opener per manufacturer instructions.  Gets you just about to this point, with the track fastened at the front wall, and the motor assembly propped up on a ladder. 

My new Ryobi opener required very particular placement of the hangers, a placement that did not contemplate joists running front to back (like mine).  So I had to position the drive unit close to the ceiling, then take precise measurements and make all the appropriate marks on the ceiling with my Sharpie.  Then drill holes through the ceiling, so when I went up in the hot attic to add supplemental 2x4 structure, I would know exactly where to put it. 

Then cut all the pieces of steel, screw and bolt everything together, and hope for the best.  Then install a new electrical receptacle above the drive unit (back into the hot attic), so that the motor, radio receiver, pretty lights, etc. would all actually function. 

I installed a garage door opener back in the mid-1980s, and it was a bit simpler.  Now there are safety requirements; the government doesn't want the door to close on any little toddlers or semi-grown-ups, crushing them, so now you have to install safety sensors, one on each side of the door.  If the sensors are omitted or not aligned properly, the door will not operate.  Sigh. 

So here it is, fully functional, with the wireless indoor control pad electronically paired to the opener (by pushing a sequence of buttons).  I still have to pair the car transmitter to the opener's brain.  I'm going to pass on programming the wi-fi elements to work with an app to control everything from your smart phone (as I have no smart phone), and after all, I'm graduating from manually lifting my old door up and down, so that's good progress.  Not sure why a smart phone app would be easier than just pushing a button — maybe so your garage door opener can be hacked. 🙂

It has an LED light that comes on when you enter the garage (like my bathrooms).

All I need now is a roof to keep it all dry.  Once I build the roof, all that wood sitting on the floor of the garage will be, well, the roof, and I'll be able to put my car in there.  Hooray!

Due to some waits for parts during the garage door/opener phase, I've actually started cutting out pieces for the roof, and will start installing those tomorrow.  So there should be some good progress.  The next post will see the roof structure and plywood go up.  Shingles for the post after that.  Hopefully soon after that — stucco on the outside of the new walls. 

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