avoiding the heat and waiting for reinforcements

Our haunt’s location is, in many ways, a small paradise. We have bathrooms, running water, free power, free trash removal, and heat should we want it. On the other hand..boy howdy, can it get HOT in there. After working through some uncomfortably warm days, we saw a prediction of 90+ degrees for Friday and decided to hold off on working until it had cooled off somewhat.

With the news that some friends were coming into town to help on Saturday, we also opted to stop fighting with the floor plans and just work on fixing up our borrowed walls, many of which needed a fair bit of love. And by “love” I mean “lumber and screws.” Which I realize isn’t the traditional definition of love, but try to not judge me too harshly in this instance, ‘kay?

We worked through our pile of 50 4’x8′ walls, leaving the 8’x8’ walls for another time, and the repair work easily consumed our evening. We were replacing frames on the walls, adding extra support where needed, and removing random screws that were poking out of the walls and either into each other or into us. We quickly discovered that someone had chosen to use decking screws whilst building these panels..which means we needed star-shaped drill bits rather than the usual X-shaped Phillips bits most of the world uses.

Fortunately, both Bones and I are used to having to be pretty self-reliant when it comes to tools, so – yay! – we both had the right kinds of bits for our drills. This means the only real problem was having to keep switching bits as we worked through our piles of walls.

At one point, I was fixing/reinforcing a particularly destroyed bit of framework. Bones looked over to suggest I just throw that panel into our ‘maybe we don’t need to use EVERYTHING’ pile, then saw that I had won in my battle against this wall, and he started laughing. “Now I can see what you meant when you said you did that kind of work at your previous employer’s haunt!” True, that. It takes a special sort of skill set to take lumber that’s been allowed to sit outside for literally years and make it into something usable..but on the plus side? When you don’t have a budget to go buy new stuff, you learn to look at ‘junk’ lumber and find all kinds of ways to fix it. And I learned that lesson pretty dang well.

We stumbled home around 3AM..again..and took turns stumbling into the shower. Were I doing this as a bachelor? I’d probably not be showering every day. But I’d like my sweetheart to not think I’m a complete slobbery slob. It’s a new experience to me, haunting with a sweetie. I am frankly used to being pretty selfish during a build. Laundry and dishes and showers can wait. Gotta build/paint/staff the haunt! Bones is very focused on making sure we eat regular meals and that the infrastructure of our lives isn’t neglected. It’s novel, and inspiring, and every time he mentions meal plans I sorta wanna ask him where they breed haunters like him.

(The answer, of course, is Michigan.)

Saturday, we were spurred into action via a text from our haunter friends, Kitty and David, who were planning to meet us at the haunt around 12:30 or so. Which means we had to put on clothing and get over there.


They beat us there by a few minutes..

Kitty and Dave are from Grand Rapids, which is about an hour or so away from us. Between the two of them, they have some wicked impressive haunt experience, and have been gracious enough to make it known that they’d maybe like to help us out a little. Or a lot. I’m not sure they know exactly how much they’ve helped, to be honest.

You see, we had this floorplan, and it involved keeping a 4 foot perimeter around the haunt. And then Dave looked around and said, “Well, why don’t you use that dividing wall over there and have it be part of your haunt?”

Dave? He’s a friggin’ genius.

One of the most important things about constructing a haunt is making sure it moves as little as possible. You can do this by placing overhead bracing all over the dang place, or by anchoring the panels to the floor/ground, or you find the heaviest dang part of your maze and you use that as your main supporting structure for your bracing. Or you do some of all of this.

The garage we’re using has a pretty solid partition at one end that was used to create an office of sorts within the garage:


It’s hard to make out, but the wall in question is the blue wall behind the car. By using that as a wall in the haunt, we suddenly had a very solid structure to anchor our haunt to..and our maze had just expanded a bit in size. We were now off our triangular grid design, but we were pretty sure we could fix that as we went along.

20130902-215154.jpgThis is Bones building the next part of the maze. We now had a “U” shaped hallway that put us pretty much back on track. Sorta. The guys spent a fair bit of time looking at the floor plans, the chalk outline on the floor, and figuring out what they could do to stick to the original design. In the end, they did a helluva job making nearly everything work out!

20130901-154054.jpgMeanwhile, Kitty and I worked on the glamorous jobs: washing the bathroom and what is to become the costume/actor areas; organizing the props; and cleaning up our 8’x8′ walls.

20130901-154119.jpgWe also painted our opening hallway black, and I tried to figure out what to do with our opening image:

20130825-175214.jpg.She was literally the first thing our visitors were going to see; she was surrounded by black panels; and she wasn’t making a damn bit of sense to me. I tried drybrushing a tree near her. Nnnnnnope, not working for me. Paint it black and start over again. I went and asked Bones what he thought…and what he thought was that I was overthinking things. Which I’m wont to do. But but but…having one painted panel and then nothing just didn’t in my head at all. It’s not LOGICAL, it doesn’t WORK, wah wah wah.

Compromise: Move her down in the hallway so that this path of black walls ends with her image. That? Works AWESOMELY. Also? She was painted in UV reflective light, so under black light, she friggin’ glows. And so, la! We have our first ‘scare.’


Dave and Kitty worked steadily with us into the early evening. Dave and Bones click as if they’ve been on a hundred crews together already! It was very happy making to see.



..And then Dave had enough and walked out.

…NO not really. But it did get late, so we parted ways. They promised to come back Monday, we cheered, and we all went to our respective homes and passed the heck out.


4 thoughts on “avoiding the heat and waiting for reinforcements

  1. I am so happy for the both of you – both for getting and running with this opportunity, and for sharing it with us in your increasingly limited “spare time”. *heart*

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