Tag Archives: house

"First Date?"

I wasn’t expecting a first date, but there it is. Josh was out of town; was I cheating on him? I was ironing clothes and getting cleaned up to look just right, taking great care with all appearances, there was even talk of mouthwash on Facebook. Being received positively was so important! What kind of first impression would I make? Would there be another meeting? Would the deal get closed?

OK, enough with the double-entendres (which really means I’m running out of ways to stretch it any more without horrible sentence structure). If you’re up to date on my life at all, you’ve probably already figured out I’m talking about the house: I listed on January 2 and today was the first open house.
While the place was in very good shape already, I wanted it to be perfect. This is a great place for my perfectionism to come out. I’ve had a basket of clothes thats needed ironing for months. I didn’t want the basket in the laundry room, so I ironed everything. By the time I was done doing that and laundry, it was quite late, and the only dirty clothes in the house were those on my body. While I don’t achieve it anywhere near what I’d like, I very much enjoy “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
I finished organizing some random packing boxes, and some loose odds and ends that hadn’t made their way into boxes yet. I cleaned this and that, vacuumed the entire main floor and polished all the floors (which really needed it—I hadn’t done it since construction was done).
I planned out everything to be done today, and got to bed late. This morning I did a few more things, then went to church. On the way home I stopped and got a wrap for lunch and flowers for the kitchen. I baked cookies (yes, I’m a completely house-selling whore), prepared the cats for our trek, turned the heat up to 70° and turned on all the lights. A few minute before 1 Connie showed up, and I stowed the three cats and me into my car; we were going to spend some quality time. Everything passed Connie’s inspection, so we were off.
Connie found out last week that there was going to be an Orchard Ridge Parade of Homes, and she got my house into it—great timing! So while she showed my house, I went to look at most of the others (there were 12 total). I got to 8 of them in two hours.
It was fun: I got an opportunity to see what the market by me was like. I’m happy to state that I’m positioned quite well. I enjoyed talking with the other Realtors, and was up-front that I was another house on the tour; no one seemed to mind. I walked into one house and a woman was ironing. Hm. I wasn’t aware that there were two houses on the tour that were being shown by the sellers. It was even ok with them; we had a nice chat. He enjoyed showing off his house, which deserved it: they’d done a nice job with it.
One beautiful, large, expensive house was vacant and all the storm windows were open! I informed the Realtor and we went about closing them all. Three of the houses had clear pet odor smells. I asked them if they’d like a recommendation (www.odormute.com), and all three jumped at it. It felt good to be able to help some people out. Some of the properties were in pretty rough shape (one in particular), and one small house was absolutely stunning: new maple floors (strip, not plank like mine), in-built maple cabinets with glass doors and lights, beautiful tile by the entry way and other finishes. The woman and her boyfriend had done much of it themselves. I was impressed, and glad that they were only a two-bedroom so that they weren’t my competition!
We got back at 3 and Connie waved me in—there was no one there presently. She said four couples came through, which is ok for an open house in January. She’d already prepared us that open houses don’t do a whole lot any more, although she always likes to have one after putting a house on the market. Tom, a previous owner, came by with his family and a few of my neighbors, and he left me a nice note. I asked Connie if anyone had critiques, and she said there wasn’t one. Everyone loved the floors, the sunroom, the other approvements and appointments, and someone even complimented the staging (points to Connie and Stacy for that one!). Many of the houses I saw weren’t depersonalized or staged that much; I was again thankful for my position.
I feel very good about the position of the house in the market, my price point, etc. Now that this “first date” is out of the way, I’m more relaxed. I can be myself a bit more.
I made way too many cookies. They’ll go to work tomorrow.
Forgive the shameless plug: see the house at www.1317RaeLane.com

Is This What Civilized People Do?

Great day today. Josh and I had our Sunday-morning pancakes (he made them–wonderful), then church, then home to continue work on the house. I finished the drywall in the downstairs bedroom while he put the stew on to cook that he prepared last night. He made some bread (focacia), and I asked him to make an extra loaf of dough.

We installed all of the hardware in the bathroom (looks very nice). For five years I looked at a set of shelves that had been installed crooked over the toilet. Like 1/2″ off one side to the other–how does that happen? When I installed the new shelf it was crooked! I futzed with it, and it was just that the thing wasn’t seated properly. It’s now quite level, thank you very much.
I did something I haven’t done in about 30 years: I made cinnamon rolls! While they were rising and cooking we cleared all of the tools and extra stuff out of the living room–it had been the staging area during constructions. The furniture was all piled up (the cats loved the hiding places) and tools were everywhere. No more: it’s all out and vacuumed, and the furniture is set up. We filled all the nail holes, then sat down on the furniture for rolls and hot milk tea. We just sat there. And ate rolls. And drank tea. It was very odd.
Is this what civilized people do? Eat rolls and drink tea while sitting on furniture? Turn off lights using switches that have switch plates on them instead of seeing the wiring? Walking on vinyl and hardwoods instead of subfloors? Use the bathroom on the main floor instead of going down to the basement? Sit at the kitchen table for a meal instead of at the counter because the table is full of junk?
Hm. Civilized, eh? I like it!

Girlie Construction Men

Josh and I have been working our tails off recently on the house. Tonight as we sat down to dinner, we wondered whether other guys doing construction experience what we do.

This weekend we removed all cabinet doors in the kitchen, then removed their hardware, and painted them. We remediated the flooring in one room to prepare for hardwood floors. We installed a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom (except the water thingy is 1/2″ too short…). Since we got a bunch of veggies from the CSA on Thursday, Josh made a big stew, as well as two different kinds of squash, and a focacia bread.

So, after working hard all day in grungy clothes doing the above and a bunch of other stuff, we sat down to a candle-light dinner of food that was about the best I’ve tasted from Josh’s cooking–truly spectacular.

We decided other guys doing construction probably don’t do the same thing. :o)

Too busy now, and never fear: I’ll upload a bunch of renovation photos when we’re done. We have to get this house on the market!

SOLD! One Down, Two to Go

I just got back from Preferred Title, where Josh completed the sale of his house. The new owner seems pretty great; she definitely appreciates the house, yard and neighborhood.

Two to go, meaning that we have to finish my house and sell it, and buy our house together. We looked at our first house the other night. We like it, yet it needs work.

I’d like to work a few hours today and take the afternoon off to work on the house.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

I’ve been a ba-a-a-ad blogger lately. Eesh–June 16.

Lots has been going on. Josh and I have been working madly to get his house ready for sale. While it’s been going well overall, things are, uh, happening. It’s like the house knows what we’re doing, doesn’t want him to leave, and wants to get me out of the way. Seriously–it’s like a bad horror movie I saw once about a house that killed the family that lived there! With all the flooding a couple months ago we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the basement; we’ve installed two new sump pumps (impact drills are a BLAST!), and Josh, mostly, cleaned and painted the floors and walls.

JUST when we got done cleaning the floors I go upstairs to get ready for a shower. I use the toilet and flush it. I hear Josh yell downstairs. The capped-off drain has water coming out of it. What the… We thought maybe we broke the cap with the stuff we used to etch the basement. Josh paid a plumber to come in to put on a new $4 cap. 😉 However, he suggested the cap wasn’t the problem, as there shouldn’t be enough pressure to force the water out. He suggested the line needs roto-rooting.

During all this time in the basement, I was continually attacked by venting. Josh has a low basement ceiling and ducts that hang even lower. I have numerous scars on the top of my head now. I guess you could also consider that I’m just too stupid to learn to bend down enough.

Yesterday Josh put in the last piece of trim, completing the last wall upstairs. And not without a fight. The last piece needed to be cut at an angle, and of course the miter needed to be flatter than 45°, so we had to do lots of improvisation with the chop saw. My visual mind comes in quite handy for stuff like this, so it turned out pretty well–it just took an inordinately long time.

On my way out the back door at one point I caught my ankle on the corner of the storm door, and it put a nice little gash on my right ankle. Great–the house has already tasted my blood in the basement, and apparently wants more. Will I get out of there alive?

We met our Realtor, Connie, a few weeks ago. She’s great. We planned out all the stuff we want to leave in the house for staging, and what’s going–either into the garage, to my house, or St. Vinny’s. I did all kinds of cleaning this weekend while Josh worked on other projects.

And this brings us to the big change: Josh is moving in to my house tonight, along with his two cats, Feliz and Maggie. So I’m doing something I’ve never done before at age 41: living with a partner. And we have to do the whole protocol on combining feline families; his girls will have to stay in a bedroom for a full month.

I’ve been so looking forward to out living together, because I’m really tired of having to cross town to spend time together. And I realized last week that there’s some anxiety about that as well. I’ve been used to living alone (maybe with a roommate, but that’s not like a partner) for many years. What will this be like? Add the stress of combining cat households and it gets more significant. That didn’t go so incredibly well when Raja came to live here, and he and Butterscotch never were truly friendly–the formed a sort of detente.

So, after church we go back over to Josh’s house to do more cleaning and moving stuff. There’s more to write, but I’m starving for pancakes.

What a Knob

There are a number of basic truths that I’ve learned while working on my house. Here’s one.

I’ve learned that to be most successful, it’s best that one has experience in doing this type of work.

I don’t.

Next-best is having a level of intelligence to figure things out and think ahead.

I’ve learned time and time again that I’m often a moron about this stuff.

Next-next-best is to have high standards for the work.

Oh, this I have. And it’s a blessing and a curse. Quite often my standards surpass my ability to meet them, and I end up frustrated or re-working things ad nauseum and still not reaching the level of quality I want.

Next3-best is to be stubborn.

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I have this in spades.

Let’s look at tonight. What’s on the agenda? Touch up the paint in the third bedroom and finish painting the door and install it. I’m touching up the paint, and I’m noticing that there a funny smudges of paint appearing on the floor. Huh? I cleaned those up last night. ? They’re so flat that almost look like– Oh. I stepped on paint on the drop cloth and I’m walking around the room. Take off shoes. Scrape up paint.

Now to the door. I’ve already gone through the whole thing of stripping the old paint, during which I gouged the door in a few places. To fix the gouges? Wood filler. Great! It’s dry, I sanded, here we go. I paint the door white… and it bleeds through. Second layer–bleeds through. Third layer–bleeds through (remember the deal about being stubborn?). Finally I checked with Josh, “Did you prime it?” Uh, no; I didn’t know I needed to. So last night I primed both sides. *sigh* ok.

Tonight. I paint the last coat with the color I want. Great. It’s covered. It’s done. Great. I install the new strike plate I bought. Doesn’t match the other hardware, but whatever–it looks good. At least it’s not painted over like it was (all the hardware: strike plates, hinges, etc. were all painted over! They looked like crap!). I’m replacing it all.

Next step: install the new door knob. OK, think now, Jay. Do this right so you don’t have to redo it. I have pretty good spatial skills, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. I imagine the door. I imagine standing at the door in the room. OK, this is right. I get out the door knob. Oh look, it comes with its own strike plate! *sigh* OK, well the other ones I bought can go to the Re-Store…

I’ve never installed a door knob before, although getting the old one off was a b****. It was the old kind with the cover plate, and I ended up using a straight-headed screwdriver, which took forever.

I read the instructions. Easy enough. Put in the thing, add the knobs (think, Jay: lock goes on the inside. Check!). Then put in the screws. What the– How do you easily screw in screws on a doorknob?! Answer: there is no easy way. I even tried Google searches. Nothing. I even bought one of those angled screwdriver things, and it was a pain. I was simultaneously stripping the screw head and scratching the knob with it.

I seem to notice repeatedly that it’s never the big things that slow me down. It’s always the little, piddliest s***** things that hang me up.

I finally ended up–you guess it–using a straight screwdriver and coming in at an angle. Whew. ok. Done. The screw is a bit stripped, but I’ll never have to take it off, so who cares (you’re smart enough to see where this is headed; smarter than me, obviously).

Next, the hinges. I bought these nice hinges that match the knobs. They have square corners instead of rounded ones, so I screw them in, then use a utility knife to mark the parts I have to carve out. I thought that was pretty smart, actually. I like doing these kinds of things empirically. It worked well. I need to fix some of the paint, but so be it. I installed both hinges on the door. Great.

Next, let’s install the door. I take it in to the room and– Wait. Why is the knob so high? Oh, cuz I’m a jackass is why–when I was visualizing the door I had it upside-down. That means I (!#$%*$#$%) installed the door knob with the lock out! (^%^#$%~#$!#$!) OK, deal with that in a second. First get empirical again: put the door on the jamb, and take a scraper and hammer it at the edges to mark where I need to trim.

Next is the knob, but I need another success first. A little one will do. I take off the shiny brass strike plate and put on the matching one. yeah. a success. far out.

Now take off the door knob (forever), switch it around and install it again (forever and a day). OK, time I’ll never get back in this lifetime, but the knob is right now.

Then take off the door and trim the wood. Put the door back on. Hm. The paint isn’t perfect. Maybe a light sanding, but NOT TONIGHT.

Apart from that, just the shelf and rod in the closet and closet doors. although the opening is 3-1/8″ larger than the standard door size. I’ll get frustrated with that tomorrow…

Water Levels Rising, Captain!

Parte Un

While I don’t mind water, what my house does with it pisses me off.

I have a couple of big trees over my house; they are forever depositing crap onto my roof that, therefore, ends up in my gutters.

Now, these are new gutters that I had installed after I (yeah, myself with friends) reroofed the house. The guys who installed the gutters and downspouts have an ingenious method for installing the downspouts in such a way that they are SURE to trap every leave, helicopter or dust mote, thereby clogging my gutters. They cut an “X” in the gutter, bend the four flaps created down and out (but not to 90 degrees), then secure the downspout by screwing a 1.5″ nail IN so that there are now SIX sharp objects available for trapping debris.

WTF?

It literally takes about 5 leaves for the whole thing to come to a screeching halt. With huge trees over my house, how often do you think that happens? Yes, less than a day.

The gutters I had when I bought this house were rusty–even rusted through on the front (CLUE IN JAY). I had new ones installed, and thought that they were using extra-large downspouts. Imagine my dismay when I’m laying in bed one morning during a gentle rain, hearing the rain slosh over the sides of the gutter and pouring onto the deck. @#$%@#$!

So, fine, I went up and cleaned them out. Oh, and those sharp corners and screws? Of course I cut myself. Once.

So they were full again this weekend. We didn’t have time before church, so afterward we came back and I got up on the roof (don’t worry, I have a great ladder) and cleaned them out. That was around noon. I then worked at Josh’s during the day getting stuff out of his basement so that he can clean and paint. I get home at 5:30 and they’re full again! @#$%@#$%@#$! So, in the pouring rain I went up again and cleaned out the few little leaves that were blocking. *Sigh*

My brother Jim, who’s an engineer and genius to boot, put pieces of screen over his gutters so that water would flow in and debris would stay on top. I think that would work for leaves, but I’m not sure about the smaller stuff. I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve heard that Gutter Helmets are useless with trees above the house. I’m also going to go back and do it right (as with so many other things in this house) by removing the downspouts, bending out the “X” pieces at a full 90 degrees, and reattaching the downspouts with a little bolt with the ROUNDED END on the inside. Would that be so freaking difficult?

If anyone else has a great, even easy, suggestion for me that works great, I’ll buy you lunch. I’m not kidding.

Parte Deux

After I clean out the gutters and have just finished making the window frame square in the third bedroom (another correction of past sins…), I get a frantic call from Josh: his basement is filling with water and he’s pretty upset. He has two basement rooms, one newer than the other. The new, smaller laundry room gets water in it that he needs to shopvac out when the water table is high. Well, last night the big room was filling. Luckily he has his stuff elevated.

When I get to his house I find the basement with inches of water in it. I brought my two water pumps. We worked for several hours, me pumping and bailing water, and him patching as much of the wall as he could with Quickcrete. However, with the water table that high, it’s not a winning battle. The back yards in this block are all lower than the fronts and there was a small ocean in them. Josh’s neighbor Bill usually pumps out the lake to the street with a huge pump he has, but even Bill’s garage had stuff floating in it. An amazing amount of water.

We knocked off at Midnight after I printed several different sets of instructions for installing a sump pump. Josh purchased two today and will jerry rig them for now until he can get them installed correctly. He was so grateful that I dropped everything and came over.

Hey, that’s why I’m here.

Hm. I guess that kinda puts my gutters into perspective…

Flooring is Done!

I’m very excited to announce that I completed installation of the last piece of hardwood flooring last night. The project has taken almost a year, mainly due to my just not getting to it.

The last two rows took about as long as any 10 other rows to install. It’s always so futzy having to drill manually and nail with a hammer, instead of using the flooring nailer. The last piece of the penultimate row was particularly frustrating: The nails were bending, and I simply couldn’t get the right angle at it to drive them home. I ended up having to split the piece with a hammer and chisel and do it again. Then on the final row my drill bit broke, and I almost set the house on fire after taking off my sweatshirt and accidentally dropped the sleeve on the halogen lamp I was using. I caught it after it started smoking.

While the flooring isn’t perfect, I’m quite pleased. There are some gaps here and there, although they’ll mostly close up during the warmer months.

Now on to a new adventure: painting and replacing the ugly trim I removed!