It's more than a house. It's an adventure.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Amazing what a change of address will do

The other night I went through my various accounts on Dice, Monster and CareerBuilder to update my address & resume for each. Today, I got several emails from recruiters, and even two phone calls. All were useless.

One recruiter called me while I was at work but my phone didn't even ring. When I called her back, she had no idea who I was, and asked if she could call me back. 45 minutes later, she did, but still didn't have my resume. The job she was looking to fill was for an Account Manager - which is nowhere near anything I would be interested in doing.

The other emails were for positions in NYC and Long Island. Similarly useless. Just proves how they'll just pounce on anything new that pops up in search results - and how they don't actually look closely at what comes up.

Finally, back on the air

My MSI PC54G2 wirelss network card arrived today, so I'm off the laptop and back in business. Only trouble is, signal is a little weak. Considering a hi-gain antenna to boost it, but I don't know that I really need it yet. Eventually I'd like to get the house wired up w/ Cat5e, making the wireless pointless.

She stopped? I hope?

No calls from the previous owner today! Wahoo! Maybe she finally got the message?

Monday, January 30, 2006

She's at it again!

I called our attorney's office this morning to ask if they'd made contact with the seller's attorney on Friday and to update them on the calls this weekend. "Our" paralegal was shocked that this was going on with as much frequency as it has been, and told me that she'd left a message with the seller's attorney Friday about it. She said she'd call again this morning - this activity needs to cease.

And then, about an hour later, the seller's number flashed up on my caller ID again. I am so glad she doesn't have my office phone number.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

10 cubic yards

We broke down and called in a dumpster for all our debris. The smallest they offered was 10 yd3 and although I thought it was going to be too large, we've got it about 75% full already. Looks like it's just about right.

That darn cat!

Earlier this week, we suspected that Juniper had found his way into the hole in the south wall of the family room even though we had it blocked off (mostly). Saturday, in the midst of all our work, we started thinking Jade was missing. We scoured the house for a couple hours, looked outside, but couldn't find any trace of her. Occasionally, I thought I heard her in the family room.

Finally, late in the afternoon, we both heard it again. I took a brighter light than my Mag-Lite downstairs and saw 2 gold eyes staring back at me from the far reaches of the crawlspace! Jade had found her way down there but was petrified to move.

After checking the situation out, I was ready to go into the crawlspace to retrieve her, but my wife decided it would be better if she went in, as I could pull her out of the space but she couldn't do likewise for me.

So in she went. And spent a good 15 minutes trying to coax Jade out. She finally started creeping toward her after some food was brought in. She tried scruffing her first, but Jade wriggled free and moved away. The second time she was close enough, my wife grabbed a leg, then another, and just pulled her out. Not the easiest, or most comfortable, but you do what you gotta do.

The hole has now been covered up with a block of Styrofoam and about 100 pounds of dead weight in front of that. But Jade keeps sniffing around at the area. She better not find her way in there again.

Wall progress

We have torn down the drywall on the west wall of the family room from the window all the way to the south end. The studs are only 2x3, so we could only put in 2" Styrofoam insulation instead of the preferred fiberglass batts, and shot some Great Stuff around it to fill some gaps (for some reason, it didn't expand as much as I'd hoped it would). It's not a perfect insulation, but it's much better than what we had previously - dead air, old wallpaper, and plaster (same construction as the south wall).

While we had the wall open, we decided to remove the outlets 7 feet up and the GFCI & switch at chest level, replacing them with a 2-socket outlet and a 4-socket outlet at the appropriate height, the 2-outlet one by the window and the larger at the south end of the wall.

We have hung 2 slabs of drywall, one at the south end of the wall and one by the window. Unfortunately, we now need to trim the latter so that the joint is on the stud. Once that's done, one more piece of drywall 32" wide and we're ready to mud & tape.

Why won't she get the hint?

The previous owner of our house didn't fix some of the issues that we had on our contingency list before closing. So, we had some money held back in escrow at closing. Some items have since been rectified, but she didn't finish clearing out the toolshed, didn't finish clearing out the basement, the hole in the corner of the roof that was supposed to be patched was not fully patched. And since moving in, we've found rabbit rasins in a few places. So much for "broom clean condition."

What did we find in the shed? A bag of grass clippings. A bag of old leaves. A box full of old (almost 3 years) newspapers.

Since Friday morning, she has attempted to call me no less than six times. I checked with our attorney's office - she isn't supposed to be doing this, it's strictly attorney to attorney communication at this point. She tried several times through the week as well, and also called my wife and left a message asking "what do I have to do to make you happy?" We've both been letterin her calls roll to voicemail, Caller ID is great!

But at what point does it cease being a bother and start being harassment?

Update: We also found old rabbit rasins while sweeping the living room Saturday morning. Broom-clean condition? I don't think so. I have to remember to mention this to our attorney's office too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Getting wired

The cable guy is coming on Thursday afternoon/evening to hook us up with Digital Cable and RoadRunner service. I'm not going to have him do anything overly complex at this point - just get the service online and get my computer(s) hooked up. Because this is our own house, and we have some room to spread out, I can take some time and get a nice setup going, instead of tacking wires to walls and ceilings like I've done in apartments.

My original plan was to make the pantry/laundry room my "server closet" as well. Place the Linux box in there along with the cablemodem and wireless router. However, I'm not sure that we have enough power outlets to run everything the room, and I don't want power strips everywhere. Continuing with that plan, though, I was going to go wireless for my desktop in the back bedroom, and then when spring comes run some Cat5 in conduit out the dryer vent hole (being cut by the plumber next week when he does the rst of the requisite work to move the washer/dryer to the pantry), underground over to the bedroom.

There's good power, and coax, on the kitchen side of the shared wall (above and left of the fridge is a piece of coax where she had her TV), I may be able to pull those through to the other side after punching a hole in the pantry. I don't know that we're going to make use of the power & cable in that kitchen location anyway. If I get desperate, I can always put a splitter inside the wall, with short lengths to either side.

My other idea was to put the equipment in the upstairs front bedroom. It already is wired for cable, and the bathroom extends into the bedroom, creating a shelf (think building-inside-a-building) where I could tuck the computer, router and cablemodem up and out of the way. Plenty of power in that room. But then it's a chore to go do any maintenance right at the physical equipment. And I'll have really long Cat5 runs if I decide to do wired networking anywhere.

On one of my many trips into the basement, I noticed that there's a lot of coax down there, and several splitters in various locations. I may spend a weekend this summer ripping all that out and cleaning up the wiring. Then I can put in one large splitter to handle everything, and when I pull the coax to each room I can pull Cat5 along with it to establish a wired network in the house. Most of the rooms I want to do these runs for already have coax, so I can use the existing cable as a fish line. Just have to work out where the equipment would actually reside.

Monday, January 23, 2006

We have water!

While at Home Depot, I actually asked someone in the plumbing department about my cap situation. He suggested that since it's a short-term item, and I don't care about appearances, I should use a compression fitting and a plug on the end of it.

So I did, and after a false start (not enough Teflon® tape on the plug threads), we've got a solid seal and can use our plumbing.

There's still a Pavlovian response going on though. We're expecting to find it leaking RSN but I'm guessing we're solid at this point. It's a mechanical seal now, not an epoxy/chemical/voodoo solution.

Me make fire!

After a stop at Home Depot and another at Chase-Pitkin tonight, I had 2 new adjustable wrenches and was able to tighten up the gas fittings. Quick check for leaks, plug it in, shimmy it into place and we cooked dinner!

Leaks galore!

After several more JB Kwik applications, I'm still getting a leak from that pipe. Tonight's plan: cut off everything I've done, use a dowel to displace as much water out of the pipe as I can, and try it again. We had to drive back to the townhouse this morning just to take showers.

Tried hooking the stove up last night, still have a very tiny gas leak on the flare connection on the stove. While I'm at the hardware store for the pipe cap (I have one somewhere but I can't locate it - easier to just buy another for 50 cents) I'll pick up some larger open-ended wrenches and/or the right sized adjustable and we'll try to get that finished off.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Yum, plaster & wallpaper

Started serious work on the south wall of the family room today. In many places, the plaster & wallpaper are coming down easy. I figure it's about 50% done already. Plenty more to do, plenty of mess to be made.

Had to empty the Shop-Vac already today. Canister was full and the filter completely clogged.

This isn't good...

Well, we woke up this morning to find that my JB Kwik job had failed - had water coming out of the pipe again. I slapped some more on, and it fixed the leak - but there's another pinhole now. Gonna have to bite the bullet and get the plumber in ASAP to finish off the plumbing.

More demolition?

We hadn't even fully moved everything in and people started taking a hammer to the walls! Once most of the stuff was brought in, a few people started taking a look at the south wall of the family room to check out the drywall situation. Lots of covered-up water damage. Then, someone got the idea in his head that since we were going to drywall over it all anyway, why not take some down and see what's in there.

So, some cutting, some Sawzall action and more, and we're in. What was found:

  • The drywall? In really rough shape.
  • The stovepipe protruding? Just a very small piece. Rusted, fell right out
  • Inside the stovepipe? Adobe. And I don't mean the company that makes Photoshop.
  • Behind the drwayll? Brick. No surprise, we know the chimney's there
  • Behind the rest of the wall? Studs. Then 5 layers of wallpaper. Then a skimcoat of plaster. Over the original brick, which is in great shape!

New plan: we take the south wall down to brick, clean it up, put a sealer on, and we now have a brick south wall for the family room. A little more work than we had planned, but we can take some of the drywall back now and exchange it for brick sealer and some mortar.

Now, where's that dumpster?


Well, 99% of our stuff is in the house and we just spent our first night here. 9 hours of blissful, silent slumber.

The house is a mess right now, and the cats have no shortage of hiding places due to the furniture being in total disarray, but we're here. The cats are working on adjusting but it's hard for them with everything being a mess, plus the demolished family room.

Monday, January 16, 2006

House Day 7

Due to my feeling a bit under the weather at work, I did nothing today aside from inspect the plumbing downstairs some more and take measurements of the family room. We're now looking at putting up drywall over the existing drywall. Much less mess, and it'll reinforce what's there better than just patching the 2 dozen holes we have to patch. I figure 5 sheets of 1/4" 4x12 will cover it.

She scraped more trim in the kitchen today (the wood we've exposed so far looks good, the oil-based paint just isn't coming off easily) and took a bunch of tiles to Lowe's to get cut. She also picked up a tile-marking pen and new tile nippers as the ones we have on loan are severely dull, making trimming very labor-intensive and imprecise.

House Prologue

I was thinking about posting a write-up of all the various things that led up to ourclosing date, but there's just so much to get into it's too much to attempt to post in one sitting.

More about the plumbing

$1200 is a big chunk of change. I'm expecting a fax w/ more details in the morning. I figure I can save some money by taking care of all the plumbing in the family room myself. The water lines are easy enough, as are the drains. 15 minutes w/ the sawzall and cap the cold water supply and I'm set.

The gas, on the other hand, is another matter. I haven't seen the full extent of the piping in the crawlspace as it's behind a corner I can't see around. I'd like to believe I can just pull it down through the floor and be done with it. Or that there's another shutoff valve somewhere below the floor. Only one way to find out - get up in there and look.

Plumbing - ouch!

Plumber just called with his estimate for moving the washer & dryer to the pantry. $1240. He figures 2 guys for most of the day. In addition to running hot, cold, drain and gas, they have to cut a hole in the exterior wall for the dryer vent. The brick exterior wall.

We're going to see about a second opinion but I'm not overly optimistic.

Hello, drywall

Sounds like we're going to re-drywall the south and west walls of the family room. Rather than tear everything down first, we're just going to place new drywall over what's there now. There's just too much to patch and too many soft spots. We'll do a quick bleach wash on the walls tonight to make sure things are really clean, then prep for drywall.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day 6

I didn't accomplish quite as much as I'd hoped today.

  • She got coats 2 & 3 of paint on the kitchen walls. Consider it done.
  • More trim stripping & scraping.
  • I pulled up the last of the carpet in the old kitchen after moving the dryer a couple feet.
  • Removed the dryer vent. And discovered that the louvered vent cover was pretty well broken, giving us a nice 4" diameter hole in the wall right at ground level. Not good. 2 styrofoam plugs, some expanding foam-in-a-can and some fiberglass batting and we're sealed up tight.
  • The basement window by the stairs is basically nonexistent. Some more styrofoam, more fiberglass, and a roll of Duck Tape and things are sealed a little better.
  • I continued to struggle last night with the cold water supply line and getting it capped in the old kitchen. Can't sweat pipes with water in them, and no way could I drain the whole house. So today, I went the "easy" route and JB Kwik'ed the hell out of the cap-pipe joint and we're watertight again.
  • Started on tile layout. We're measuring, cutting & trimming everything before we get to the walls. Slow going.
  • Started sanding the walls in the old kitchen to prep for whatever the next step ends up being. I think we're going to end up patching the drywall instead of attempting to hang 2 full sheets from scratch.
  • Slipped 6 feet of pipe insulation onto the hot water supply for the master bath. It's along run through a crawlspace and every little bit helps to keep the water warm. For $0.97, it's a cheap upgrade. Why not more insualtion? Lowe's only had one piece in stock!

One tool we would be absolutely sunk without is our trusty Shop-Vac. My brother in law got this for us for Christmas this past year and it has been crucial to this project.

This morning, just as yesterday morning, started with a trip to Lowe's. At least today I managed to get out of there for under $100. We may be on course to spend money there every day for a month if we're not careful.

No pictures today, I didn't take the camera with me.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Day 5 - Success! And Failure!

Saturday saw a lazy start for me - I could barely move until 8 AM after putting in a full day Friday. My wife was at the house bright and early, as the seller was coming back to reclaim more of her stuff she'd left behind. I arrived on the scene about 10:30, then left at 11:30 for yet another Lowe's run to pick up kitchen paint.

We're painting the kitchen Stunning Sapphire Satin from Olympic. It matches very well with the tiles we'll be putting behind the kitchen.

Also while at Lowe's, I put in the order for our stove. I can't find it online though. Frigidaire, gas range with a convection oven and electronic oven controls.

Family room demolition is complete! We got the last of the cabinetry out finally and cleaned up the floor. All that's left now is to fix the plumbing - my cap for the cold water supply isn't sealing properly, and that line has no shutoff, so I had to cut water to the whole house. We're seriously contemplating doing some fresh drywall in the room - we put lots of holes in while doing demo and portions are just not confidence-inspiring. That could be a major undertaking though. On the up side, we could put some insulation into the walls to help the heating bills some.

Utterly exhausted, and I've still got another day left in this weekend. But progress is being made! The kitchen is coming along nicely, we really just need to get the trim stripped. The door between the kitchen and the old kitchen/new family room came out today, but not without a fight. It really opens the kitchen up and it was pretty useless to us. The trim is pretty well wrecked though. I had to drill the hinge screws out and even then it took a lot of pry bar work to break it all loose.

Day 4

Our (my) first full day of working in daylight. I took the day off as we had a number of people coming over to do things, and accomplished quite a bit of demolition in the process. Found a lot more surprises as I took down the cabinets and punched a few more holes in the drywall.

Other items of note:

  • All doors have been re-keyed thanks to Reggie at Curtis Locksmithing
  • Sears was out to fix the TV, but the part they had shipped to the house was nowhere to be found. So, it's been re-ordered and they'll be back on the 24th. Good news: they did transfer the warranty to our name
  • Plumber was over to check things out for his estimate on relocating the laundry. Also found that the sink drain has a negative grade - it drops straight down to the basement, then goes horizontal, but the end of the horizontal that's away from the vertical drain is 2" higher - so he'll have to redo part of that too.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Photos of the work in progress, as promised.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

House Day 3 - Progress!

Major progress tonight with a little help from a friend.

  • Family room cabinets about 2/3 demolished. We've got a lot of drywall patching to do.
  • Washer moved (temporarily) to the dining room
  • Kitchen walls mostly primered. We're painting over black, so some tinted primer should help the color out some.
  • Checked out the plumbing & wiring some more in the basement. Whoever did the infrastructure of this house was either a genius or a complete nut.
  • Most of the current cabinet debris moved to the porch and neatly stacked - just to get it out of the way
Friday (Day 4) will be a full day of work at the house for me.

  • Sears is coming to fix the TV (hopefully for good) sometime between 8 and 5 (worse than UPS!)
  • The heating & plumbing guy is coming at 1 to give an estimate on relocating the washer/dryer hookups
  • Cabinet demolition should get wrapped up
  • I'll open up the cabinet under the TV in the master bedroom (it's painted shut)
  • The locksmith is re-keying all our doors at 10
  • I'll hopefully make some calls to arrange for trash removal, a dumpster (demolition debris) and make sure we got the water & sewer correctly billing to us.
  • I'd like to map out the plumbing & wiring in the basement

And maybe, just maybe I can find a charitable neighbor w/ an open Wi-Fi spot.

I promise, pictures are coming soon. I'd have had them tonight but it appears I left the camera at the house.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

House Day 2

We're putting tiles on the wall behind the stove in the kitchen. Originally it was to be 3 custom-painted tiles in a field of cobalt blue 2" tiles on the backsplash behind the stove. We've since re-checked the stove we're purchasing, and realized that it will cover that area!

So, back to Pottery Painters Plus (the folks there are great) to pick up the 3 tiles we made last week, and to paint up 3 more. We're going to arrange them on the wall, higher up. Rather than arrange our custom tiles horizontally, they'll be vertical on either side of the mural on the wall.

Locked ourselves out of the house, so we couldn't do any actual work.

Starting to look like we're going to put down an Adirondack White Pine floor from Pioneer Millworks in the old kitchen/new family room.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

House Status

Not everything is roses with the new house. It's to be expected, sure, but some things just have to get resolved right away.

For example, the previous owner left some stuff in the basement. And the toolshed. And next to the toolshed. We're not talking bags of stuff - we'll need a dumpster. We have no keys to one of the exterior doors (luckily it locks, we just can't get in). We need to relocate the washer and dryer into the pantry. Lots of paint. Landscaping. It'll be a lot of work this year.

House Day 1

Exhausted from last night's efforts, we settled for a quick Lowe's run tonight to pick up supplies and tools. Also started working on a decision for what we'll put on the floor of the family room.

Monday, January 09, 2006

House Day 0

Immediately after closing, we drove back to the new digs. We had 2 carloads of stuff already packed; mostly stuff we don't need at the apartment anymore, but also tools & supplies for demolition.

We're remodelling the old kitchen in the house and turning it into a family room. It's about 12x15 and lots of usable space - once we remove the kitchen fixtures and washer/dryer.

Accomplishments tonight:

  • Door keys figured out
  • Washer disconnected
  • 25% of carpet ripped up
  • Cabinet doors removed
  • Cabinet demolition started
  • Gas fireplace figured out
We've got a long road ahead

No more apartments!

We closed on the purchase of our house today. Assuming I remember to, I'll attempt to chronicle our remodelling and move-in.