Homeownership

Finding a house and keeping it running.

Trane Zoned Heating System

When we moved into our house one of the things we noticed was that things didn't quite heat or cool evenly. Certain rooms would be hotter than others. If you set the thermostat (downstairs) to a specific temperature, in winter the master bedroom (upstairs) would still be freezing; in the summer it'd be boiling. We were able to do a little bit of control using a complex trial-and-error system involving closing down various heat registers and tweaking dampers in the garage. Besides that, the system wasn't terribly efficient. When the heat kicked on, it was full-on. Same for the...

Screen Doors

A few weeks back we had a rock [somehow/magically] hit the frame of the screen door that sits in front of our sliding glass back door. It tweaked the frame enough that we had to get a new screen door. After a trip to Lowe's this weekend, I learned more than enough about screen doors. I figured I'd impart the knowledge, maybe save you a trip. Make sure you actually need a screen door. If the screen is ripped, you can just replace the screen. New screen and spline (the cord-like stuff that holds the screen in) and maybe...

The Hell of Crown Moulding

I'm pissed off with home improvement. See, the thing is, I'm not really handy. I like to think I am. I can put up a new light fixture with the best of them. Tightening screws on squeaky chair legs or whatever, I have that covered. Much more than that... I'm sort of at a loss. About three weeks back my dad helped me fix some baseboards that had water damage. At the time, I figured I had put off this crown moulding project in our downstairs bathroom for seven years already and it was probably time to undertake...

Fixing Baseboards

Had a bit of a home improvement weekend. We have these water fountains for the cats - one upstairs, one downstairs. We noticed that the one upstairs was getting filled a lot more often over the course of a week than it had been and figured it was just that the cats were more thirsty or something. No, turns out the fountain was leaking. The short version is that the carpet was a bit wet and everything was generally OK except for the baseboards near the fountain, which had expanded (yay, pressboard!) and were basically water damaged so...

Barkdust for 2010

It was once again time for new barkdust, so, just as we did a couple of years back, we called Grimm's Advanced Bark Blowing and got our one unit of medium fresh fir. It was still $295, just as it was two years ago, so it was nice to see the prices didn't go up. Flowerbeds are looking nice again. Now we just have to go out and dig out the sprinkler heads since they're buried in... barkdust.

Painting Is Like Twizzlers

We painted the master bathroom this weekend and I realized that painting, for me, is a lot like Twizzlers. Stick with me. I love red licorice. It's so tasty and chewy and wonderful that I'm sure it's got to be good for me. Twizzlers, on the other hand... Twizzlers looks like red licorice, it smells like red licorice, but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, red licorice. It's waxy and nasty and probably contains petrochemicals of some sort. Twizzlers is like processed cheese food compared to the Brie de Meaux of red licorice. The problem is that Twizzlers so...

Bird Exclusion

A couple of weeks back we had some birds move into the walls of the house. See, we've got two dormers on the front of the house and just under the eave overhang on each side of the dormers where the dormer meets the main roof (so four places), the builder didn't actually finish the siding... so there were four places wide open for small creatures to move in. Apparently this is very common, at least in this area. Anyway, I was working in one of the rooms upstairs and I heard this scratching noise. Going outside and looking up, I could see all...

Fed Up With Painting

I'm pretty much done with this whole painting situation. And I don't mean "done" as in "the job is complete and correct to my satisfaction," I mean "done" as in "I've had it up to my eyeballs with the ridiculous nature of how this has gone." I had a meeting on Monday with the crew chief and the paint crew. I pointed out the three remaining problem areas. The support that runs above my railing on the porch outside was spotty and not uniformly covered. The trim around my front door was never prepped correctly so you...

Painting Has Become A Fiasco

The minor issues with the painting we had done have gone from "no problem, it'll be fixed" status to "mediocre fiasco." I'm hesitant to say it's the company, as the crew chief that I always talk to is nice and realizes things need to get done. I think I got a bad crew. What I expect when I delegate a task to someone (be it at work, someone I contract to do a job, etc.), is that I can describe the task well enough that certain minor detail points can be inferred by a worker's intuition. For example, with the paint thing......

Painting Mostly Successful

Yesterday my trim got repainted because it was looking sort of nasty and flaking off a bit. Taking a little pride in ownership, I decided it was about time to spruce the place up. I had to stay home all day because part of the repaint included the front door, which hung open almost all day so the painters had access to it and so it would dry nicely around the edges. At the end, I did a walkthrough and looked at the job. Looked nice and clean. Awesome. Jenn was out with some friends last night so...

Sprinkler System Installed

Ever since we moved into our place we've thought about getting an irrigation system. The yard is oddly shaped in front (we're on a corner lot) and there are some pretty inconveniently located parking strips that need to be tended to. That nets out to a lot of frustration running around moving sprinklers and a spotty lawn - green in the parts that it's convenient to water, dead in the parts you "just can't reach." I'm not sure what financial genius decided that the year we're getting married is also the year we should get a sprinkler system (probably...

Sprinkler Begins

We got this voicemail last night from Dennis' Seven Dees, the folks we contracted with to get our sprinkler system put in. The message was, "Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a crew will be out to start your irrigation system project." I just signed the contract a couple of weeks ago and the guy I talked to said they were booked five weeks out and they'd let me know when they'd be coming. I was under the impression I'd need to call the utilities to get them to mark their buried lines, get permits from the city for the development,...

Rototilling Sucks

Sunday morning Jenn and I went out and worked in the back yard. There's sort of a drainage issue along the north fence in our back yard, so we needed to widen the flower beds, till up the ground, and plant something in there that can stand living in a bog. To that end, we needed to rent a rototiller, which we got from Home Depot. I've never rototilled anything. I've seen it done, and the guy at the store explained how the tiller works, but I've never actually personally done it. Holy shit. I mean, holy shit. I'm a desk jockey. Seriously, I...

King of Weed Whacking

We bought a weed whacker this weekend, a $50 Black and Decker special from Home Depot. I am the King of Weed Whacking. And edging. I edged my whole lawn, front and back. I'm telling you, more weeds were whacked than I can explain. There's a whole section in our back yard that is/was a veritable weed forest, and that's gone. Grass along the fence line - gone. And the edge of the lawn makes it look nice and crisp. First time we did that since we moved in. Next up, a whole line of home improvements: The...

The Awning Goes Up

I bought, from Costco, one of those Sunsetter retractable awnings. 18 feet long, motorized with remote control and protective cover. It showed up on Thursday, March 24, in a 19 foot long tube. Not super duper heavy, but definitely not a one-man job. Even if it was light, 19 feet long is far too awkward to manipulate by yourself. I was gonna need help. My dad and my friend Stu said they'd help, so I decided to plan on putting it up on the next sunny weekend. It rained the next weekend, so this weekend was it. ...