We have continued to be pretty swamped with finishing the electrical work in our barn. The rough-in was signed off with no correction list-yay for us! As was the bathroom insulation job. We’ll have the fanciest, most cozy barn bathroom ever, with R15 insulation, a solid core door, and an exhaust fan. Gotta meet residential code, ya know?

So the last several weeks have been consumed with a bazillion outlets (you can never have too many). Fluorescent light fixtures that would seem simple enough to assemble, but become irritating when there are forty-three of them. Three- and four-way light switches where there are many, many individual wires inside conduit that need labeling to keep straight what goes with what. Of course I mislabeled one somewhere along the way, and we had some “interesting” behavior of one circuit turning on and off another circuit’s lights and vice versa. Easily fixed with fifteen minutes of one person manning the tester, the other the breakers and switches, to figure out the mistake. A few mis-tightened wire nuts on neutral wires caused more troubleshooting diversion. It reminds me of building software- I always get annoyed at myself for writing too much code in one sitting before compiling and testing. Because if I’ve screwed up somewhere, it takes longer to find the bug. And so it is with wiring- if you connect up thirty boxes and fixtures before turning on the juice to see if it works, the detective work takes more time when you realize something is wrong, somewhere. And naturally all of the flaws were in the ceiling work, necessitating dragging around ten foot stepladders.

But in the end, we got it all working, and passed the final inspection, again with no corrections. Hey, I guess we are not complete amateurs. I always get nervous calling in for inspections, fearing we have done something terribly stupid and homeowner-ish or didn’t know about some code, requiring a big re-do of something. A mechanical engineer friend of mine once had to re-do the wiring in his entire house because the inspector didn’t like the way he did it the first time. So that is always in the back of my mind, that could be me… I breathe a big sigh of relief when we come home and rush out to look at the permit sheet and see initials on it with no “notice” sheets enclosed!

The bathroom remains unfinished, but when I built the house, the inspector didn’t require me to have all the toilets and sinks installed- just one working bathroom. We also weren’t entirely certain it was OK to not cover the wiring in the walls. So we called for the final inspection, figuring he’d tell us if he wanted more things done. He did write up that he wanted the plumbing fixtures in, so no biggie, we just have to tape and paint the drywall in the bathroom first. He also wrote up that we lacked the electrical signoff (which was right there in the permit box…) and health district clearance, which isn’t required (but I called them just to verify that).

And he wanted the county biologist to approve our hillside vegetation. I called the bio, and he grumbled about the building inspectors not being willing to approve plantings (they insist they only inspect sticks and bricks… he said). He kindly came out and approved our plantings, with a note reminding us to take better care of them. I wish we would have called him a few weeks ago, when the hillside was looking green and lush. But these last few weeks of sun have made it look a little crispy, the grass has gone dormant and a few of our plants are withering. So we may need to do some watering to help it through its first year. I’m also surprised at how much sun the hillside gets, it’s not as shaded from the barn as I thought it would be. So some of our plantings were poorly chosen and meant more for shade. I’ll choose some different plants at next year’s Conservation District sale and keep improving the hill over time. But it’s got a good grass and clover cover, so no danger of sliding at least.

And so, finally, life can get back to normal, with the barn finishing so close on the horizon. I have lots of things to catch up on!

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