The wrens flitted around my head as I worked on our new shed. I didn’t pay much attention – but I should have.
There was a nest in the rafters even before I got the roof shingles on, and two little eggs in the nest before I got around to hanging the door.
I didn’t want to leave the door open, because all sorts of varmints could get in. We recently had a fox patrolling the mulch pile. But I didn’t want to block the wren from coming and going until her little ones were old enough to be on their own.
I underestimated the wren.
I installed the knob so I could latch the door against thunderstorms and wandering critters.
But I didn’t install the deadbolt. That hole through the door, just above the knob, remained open – which the wren happily discovered. She perched on the knob, surveyed the backyard, then darted through the deadbolt hole.
I cracked the door for a few days as the little ones got bigger and stronger – and quickly installed the deadbolt after they departed.
I hope the wren appreciated the spacious digs.
Do it yourself? Well …
Reader Bill Lee points out, correctly, that there’s a “spectrum of capability” when it comes to do-it-yourself projects. When you’re young, you might have to tackle big chores to save money even though you lack skills. Through the middle of your life, if you’re lucky, you gain skills and remain physically active. As you age, well, whatever your skills, you probably ought to stay off tall ladders.
He also offered this sage observation in an email, in response to the recent columns about chores better left to others:
“The human spirit endures, and it is quite useless to try to tell a fellow that he can’t do something. He has to learn the hard way… That’s why there are no books entitled ‘Self-performed Brain Surgery for Dummies.’ ”
There were a few quizzical looks when Schumacher Homes announced its Earnhardt Collection last fall. The collection features 22 house plans designed in collaboration with Kerry and Rene Earnhardt. Homes named for a racing clan? Yes – and the first model from the collection, the Blue Ridge, will be open to the public next Saturday in Asheville. A grand opening is set for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 98 Dogwood Road. Kerry and Rene plan to be there. For more information, including directions, visit www.schumacherhomes.com.
Cabot, which makes popular outdoor wood-care products, recently unveiled a new online resource for homeowners. The Cabot Woodcare Council brings together pros and other experts to establish standards and offer advice. If you’re planning to clean and stain a deck this fall, check it out at www.CabotWoodcareCouncil.com.
I recently got a question about radiant barriers from a couple getting a new roof, and thought our exchange might be timely for others.
Yes, radiant barriers work. The barriers, often foil installed on the underside of rafters in the attic, block much of the sun’s heat. I wrote about a retiree on Lake Norman who had one installed and cut her air conditioning costs dramatically. Her story got lots of response.
She decided to do it after reading a piece by James Dulley, whose column on home technology used to run in The Observer. Jim was an early advocate.
The retiree did it on an older home, with materials from Lowe’s. Her biggest problem was finding someone who could install the film, allowing proper air flow. She finally found a handyman.
In new, high-end houses, the barrier is sometimes part of the roof sheathing itself.
The reflective film is laminated to the underside of the roof sheathing and visible from inside the attic.