Sewer lateral complete!

Finally, something really worked out! The last expensive move-in project with a strict timeline that we had hanging over us was the sewer lateral. Our county requires that whenever a property is sold the sewer pipe from the house to the street has to be inspected and pass a pressure test. This is to make sure that we aren’t all leaking poo water into the neighborhood soil, and I guess I understand why that’s a law. They make you put up a deposit of $4500 that’s forfeited if you don’t finish that within six months of closing, so it’s kind of a big deal. The thing is that for almost every single ~90 year old house around here you would expect the pipes to fail to hold pressure. As far as our report said, we didn’t even have a clean-out where they would connect such a test.

When we bought the place the disclosures had a quote for having it done for $7k, and we were told that it was likely we could find someone to do it for less. After all of the other surprises we’ve had, I really assumed that the company had lowballed and was going to flake when they didn’t call me right back when I wanted to get the work done. I did some research and called a couple of the most highly rated companies in town for this kind of stuff, and one came out and gave me a quote for $19k. The reviews for the cheap guys had a couple instances of people saying that they’d been hit with delays and extra charges of thousands of dollars, and so I was afraid I was looking at a >$12k headache from the cheap guys or a $19k super-premium treatment from the other guys. Either way, I as already worried we’d be on a payment plan.

Today we got the happy ending!

I got a call yesterday that they discovered that at some point in the not so distant past somebody had already replaced the 90 year old pipes with modern stuff, they just did it unpermitted, and left the clean-out in a really inconvenient spot under the stairs. All they had to do was install a real clean-out, then get it inspected and permitted properly. And it was going to cost less than the quote! Today that actually happened, and we can put this behind us. After we get the check back from the city this won’t have eaten into our budget for other stuff, which is very cool.

Curtains up!

It’s been a little while, and we’ve been busy on some things other than the house (plus I had issues with the blog). We hosted Christmas dinner, helped Kaitlyn’s dad move his shop, and had some much needed down time. Kaitlyn seems to be getting some energy back now in her second trimester, so this weekend we located the curtain rods and got these up in our room.

I wish that I could say that this took less than four hours! Anyway, I’m glad we got it done, the bedroom feels much more cozy now.

Less happy news, it’s been three months since the bathroom was finished and the grout is already cracking.

We haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do about it, but it seems that the contractor that did the work is out of business. Their contractor’s license is canceled, and their website is gone. We may still have some recourse, and the floor may not be beyond repair… but this isn’t good.

Today we are having our sewer lateral updated, so hopefully I’ll have good news on that soon.

Here’s Penny!

Also, this is the salamander who lives under our compost bin:

Starting yard work

It doesn’t feel like there are any huge milestone new lately, but we have been shuffling boxes around and built a couple of book cases to unpack more books and things. Anyway, we did get around to some yard work this weekend.

I’m not sure what plants Kaitlyn bought (maybe she’ll come do a post and tell us about them!), but to get them planted the bushes had to go. At first I was concerned that it was a really old bush that would have deep roots, and I’d be destroying something healthy and old by taking it out. On the contrary, it was super rotten and full of beetle holes. This was probably one of the havens for the beetles that were starting to eat the house. It still tuckered me out to dig and chop it out, but it’s gone now.

Next we have to dig out the rest of the weeds, roots and debris before mixing in some bags of soil and planting the new things. It’s getting dark around 5:00 now though, so it’ll have to wait until the weekend.

In other news, I’m getting the office set up, and can finally listen to my stereo again! I hope to do some acoustic measurements soon, and I expect that I’ll need to add some absorbing panels to one or more walls to make it sound right. Those will be non-house posts.

Lighting update

This weekend we had a couple of lucky breaks on lighting, and got some good stuff done! The “nook” light replacement was going to be an antique with a funny hole pattern, and it took some finagling to get the holes to line up with the ceiling box. I figured it out though, and now it’s looking pretty good.

I wasn’t able to get a picture of it turned on that also shows the details, so that’s it.

Kaitlyn spent a while hanging a bunch of little crystal blobs, so we have a bedroom light now:

And then we got the dining room chandelier up! Restoration Hardware screwed up shipping so I had to go back to our old apartment to pick up the part, but it worked out. It turns out it was missing a coupler (maybe some people would call it a nipple) that was threaded on the inside, and a smaller threaded tube that connects to the chandelier body. Of course the packaging was enormous for a part that should have been the size of a piccolo, but at least it’s here.

Progress! Victory! No more floor lamp in the dining room, it’s going to look a lot more normal for our first thanksgiving dinner in the new place!

Finally, you know I need to wrap this post up with a Penny shot. Kaitlyn really wanted to get a Christmas tree, and although the Carrows have a tradition of doing that the day after thanksgiving, I gave in.

She was really unsure of it, but I think she’s used to it now. Also, the lights have voice commands. It’s the future.

Refrigerator update- game day

Game day? Everyone jokes about it being like Tetris, but this weekend we also had some Jenga and 2048. 2048 because I caught myself shuffling back and forth hoping that something would suddenly condense and give me space to work… Overall I’d say we were victorious, and nothing got too dinged up.

When we moved in there was nowhere to put the refrigerator, the kitchen is tiny, and we think that the previous owner blocked a doorway to fit a fridge. Maybe she had it somewhere else… anyway, this is where we had the delivery folks leave ours.

That’s right in the dining room, and it didn’t let us have enough space for a dining room table with chairs on all sides, and we were just sort of crammed in there. The thing is, the doors are 29″ wide, and the fridge is about 32″x32″ with the doors on. I thought I was going to take off the swinging door to the kitchen and go through that way (avoiding most of the hard wood floor and new paint), but fortunately Kaitlyn was able to talk some sense into me, and pointed out that the living room door is just as wide, and we wouldn’t need to disassemble nearly as much stuff to go that way.

I had to take *everything* off the front of the fridge, and used these cool felt and foam sliders to move it around. It only took two trips to Orchard Supply Hardware to get the mini-socket and torx drivers, but everything came off pretty smoothly. We also taped some cardboard over the floor furnace grate for better sliding. That totally worked.

Anyway, here it is.

Yay! Let’s see it with the wide angle!

If you turn around, here’s what the living room looks like now:

And here’s how the dining room is coming together:

There’s going to be a really cool brass chandelier in there soon, with shades that basically match the living room sconces, but there’s a small obstacle to getting that up. Can you tell what it is?

A replacement part is on the way, but I’m not optimistic that they didn’t just run the wrong size tap into the body of the chandelier. That’s too bad because it’s been discontinued and we wouldn’t be able to exchange it, but it’s a really expensive model that we got for really cheap, so if it comes down to it I’ll make an adapter. I’m confident that I’ll be able to match the threads and make it work if I have to, and should be able to make it invisible, but it might be a little slower and more expensive than I was hoping. Fortunately I know a lot of machine shops and places that can 3D print in stainless steel and brass, so this thing is totally going to happen.

That’s all for now! Here’s a picture of Penny looking really concerned about us moving things around.

Also, one of her skittering around. Also concerned. She will probably be happier than us when the last cardboard box is gone.

Laundry works!

A few new updates- it took a few trips for more parts, but out washer and dryer work now! I’m happy to report that they are surprisingly quiet. 

Picture of the laundry room view… the door is in storage now:

Another update, Kaitlyn made some awesome progress organizing, unpacking, and cleaning the kitchen.  We hope to be able to cook something tonight.

The plumber yesterday was able to unclog both drains and only charged us for one, and he was really fast and friendly. We’ll definitely call him the next time something happens. 

Moved in!

I guess I owe an update- it’s been just over a week since we started sleeping here, and we just finished with cleanup at our old place. We’ll be down to one address any time now!

The situation feels dire. We just spent way more than I was happy with on movers, and we haven’t had a chance to get rid of all our debris yet. Kaitlyn inherited furtniture from three houses last year, and we’re trying to fit it all in so that we can organize a big garage sale. 

It feels like we’re living in one of those hoarder reality shows or something. Or maybe I’m just being dramatic.

Today I crawled under the house and reattached the dryer vent that was knocked loose (side note- a four foot section of it seems to be made out of copper, the rest is galvanized steel, and what I replaced is now aluminum), and successfully hooked up the dryer’s gas line. Fortunately I was able to get angles with a mirror and a lot of soapy water to be positive that I got that right.

Found a weird bowl with a bone in it under the house, seems like I find more of that stuff whenever I go under.

I’m only pausing to make this blog post right now because we have a plumber unplugging the utility and bathroom sinks. I don’t know if the contractor we had redo the bathroom cut corners, or what. The toilet and shower are fine, but the sink fills up by the time you’re done brushing your teeth.

Speaking of contractors…. is it normal to leave the junction box in a crawl space uncovered like this? Is it a safety problem? I’m gonna look that up when I have some time. 

One good thing- our painter has done a careful and meticulous job, and the place is starting to look better and better. More pictures soon. 

Oh yeah, and Penny is very happy that we finally brought her slumber ball. Having that, a rug, and the couch all together seems to make her feel at home.

Here’s a shot of her waiting in the car while the movers worked:

Paint almost done, preparing to move in

Our painter has been doing a great job, and the fumigation didn’t do anything bad to the paint. It’s starting to look like home!

This weekend we are cleaning enough to bring things into a few rooms, and we are packing. Not sure when our first night sleeping here will be, but it will be soon.

We also got the fridge delivered!

So… I think it’s going to live in the dining room for a week or two, but after the Hall nook place is done with paint it will go out there. We’ll have to break out some tools to get the fridge through the last two doors into that spot, but that’s just how it’s gonna be. I don’t know if this is an especially large fridge as far as refrigerators go, but it looks pretty huge in the dining room.

No more bugs!

The bathroom and floors are done, and this is the last thing keeping us from moving in. Time to fumigate!

We had a last minute moment of confusion with the fumigation company; apparently the very fresh paint may not dry properly if we fumigate too soon. We are hoping for the best, it does seem that most of it was mostly dry before this started. We’ll know for sure on Friday.

In other news, I really need to fix up the fence. The wind that whipped up all of the trouble up in Napa seems to have caused our fence to lean more than usual. I’m just thankful we’re faring so much better than our neighbors to the north. 

So much room for activities!

When we first bought this house I saw the wheelchair ramp and thought, “oh cool! We can have all our friends over to dinner and it will be kind of accessible!” But on further inspection we found that the ramp was really soft and spongey, and I was always worried that my foot would punch right through. It never actually failed and hurt anybody (as far as I know), so for whoever built it I say “mission accomplished”.

Still, it had to come out. Here are some before pictures:

We set up a demolition party with a few friends, and got to work. 

We had an axe, crow bar, a couple of sledges and a sawzall, and it’s kind of scary how fast it came out.

Hardly anything was *really* tied together.

A couple of portions were literally just floating on saw horses. Not tied to the house or the concrete, not even connected to the sawhorses. That made it easier to take out, but there was a ton of wood debris from the rot and whatever insects were eating this.

I don’t think that snails just abandon their shells, but there were a ton of empty shells underneath. Maybe raccoons? Possums? I don’t know!

The sledgehammers were put to good use!

There was also a really sketchy awning thing that was going to get in the way of tenting the house the week after next. It had to come down too.

Out of all the projects we have done so far, I have to say that this was one of the best. We got the thing out in a day with two dump runs with just a bit of debris left over, and we wrapped it up with some grilling and beer, plus a champagne toast thanks to our friends Amelia, Nick, Tomasso, and Hollis! 

The icing on the cake is that the stairs that were left intact under the ramp seem like they are good enough to last us at least a few years!

One sad part is that Penny had to hang out at the apartment for all of this. She’d have loved to be around everyone, but this definitely wasn’t greyhound safe.