Holes in the wall

I’ve been putting holes in my walls. Just to see how much wiggle room I have in creating a new space.
Well, now I know. And now I know why I can hear things so well. There was like an inch or two between my drywall and the party wall. With no insulation.
When I get insulation I see that I’m going to lose some floorspace and some square footage. I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s has yet to really sink in. I want quiet. I like space.

I’m at the starting line and I want to quit

Okay I’ve talked to DCRA about permits and two contractors. I’m tired.
First contractors. I’ve talked to contractor #1 who did my kitchen. He’s offered a free used boiler he pulled out from his last job (but labor will cost me) and I’m taking him up on it. The reason being is I called the eco-guy and he said if I could keep something out of the landfill and get 5-10 more years out of it, it would be a good thing. So contractor #1 will have scored brownie points. Those points will be awarded when I get some actual heat. Contractor #2 was unavailable. So contractor #3 became contractor #2. I had him over, he seemed to have really wanted architect designed plans. What I had was okay, but…. ya know. He did had a really can do, let’s get on this attitude. I got the number for a contractor #3 from Blagden Alley (thanks) but right now, I don’t wanna talk to anyone else.
It’s moments like this where I see being single has its negatives. It would be great to have another person with just as strong as an interest in the project. Or at least someone else to take on the contractor talking to bit.
Next, DCRA. I talked to someone at their Homeowner’s Center. The person at the other end was helpful and pointed out some things that would have to go through the regular permit process. The fence and front stoop are on “public space”, so that will have to go through the regular process. Getting rid of my unused chimney and flue, needs a structural engineer to sign off on it. They can handle the moving of the two bathrooms. Unfortunately I haven’t settled on what kind of air conditioning to get. They want plans for that. But I can’t get plans for that because I don’t know what the eco-guy is going to recommend, as it really doesn’t take that much to cool the house. Three window units did the trick last summer. Who knows, maybe a big honking through the wall unit in the back of the house will go there. And the gas fireplace will need a diagram. I may just throw that into a phase II project.
The major work on the house is Phase I. The basement and all the other little stuff that can get done on its own, Phase II. There is a Phase III, but I’m not even thinking that far ahead.
I’ve drawn up plans, with my little hands and talking with several people there are things I have left out. DCRA wants to know where the lines are going. I have no idea where the lines are now. I need to show where the doors swing. I need to show closets and electrical outlets and lights. Feh! I may need to hire IT to draw up plans after all.
I’m tired and I want my mommy.

Renovation 2007: Resale repeated

I’ve heard ‘resale value’ so many times now that I want to make a drinking game out of it, if it weren’t so disrespectful of those speaking, who I know mean well. I have gotten so good pointers and have been challenged, in a good way. But still there is that value that I keeps getting repeated that just seems to undermine my status as a homeowner. Every time someone says something about resale I take it as “hey you are just a renter with a mortgage.”
One of the joys I looked forward to as a homeowner is the possibility of customizing the house to me(without violating any major laws or codes). That drywall, I can tear that out. You know why? ‘Cause I own it. So now I’m all prepped to customize a good portion of the house based on my wants and desires and (most important) budget and I’m supposed to think about some future buyer. The house was designed by crackheads, they didn’t give a rat’s ass about me, why extend the same? What I will do for future owners is do my best to make sure the house is structurally sound. That’s it.
I don’t care about the money. I have too much equity. Because of my income I can only tap into part of the equity. I’d have to sell the house to get the rest. And that is as the house exists now, with no air conditioning, a busted boiler, crappy carpeting, warped floors, and crackadelic design.
One sin against the creed of resale I’m planning is getting rid of the closet in one of the bedrooms. I’ve heard that a bedroom needs to have a closet to legally be called a bedroom. Ok. Stick an armoire in it.
There were a couple anti-resale moves I considered, but decided that the generic solution could be worked around or was more economical. At some point I did play with the idea of not having a single tub in the house and just have a really cool shower. Then I also looked at ductless AC. Decided that if the ducts are on one side the house they can get camouflaged with a certain decorative idea I might do if I can afford it.

The best laid plans are probably in a pile somewhere

Today I mailed off a list of what I wanted done for the house and a rough drawing of the desired layout to Contractor #1. I was going to show the plans or the simple layout I had drawn up to IT and also drop off a copy at Contractor #2’s house. But dang it, can’t find them. I remember writing them up and photocopying them but I’m clueless as to their current location. I looked in the usual piles of paper, where graph paper and penciled writing lay, but not the final draft. Early drafts showing the house as it is laid out now, I can find copies of those. Drawings pondering slight adjustments, radical, kooky, and odd adjustments, yup I can find those too.
Worse comes to worse I’ll redraw them. Start with a rectangle-ish shape representing 14’x26’x15′ (house is widens). Throw in some stairs. A bathroom here, a half bath there, remove a wall and done.
I’ll probably have something for Contractor #2 in a few days and will call Contractor #3 tomorrow.

Furnace saga continues

Well Lem did check out my chimney and there really wasn’t anything blocking it. Then he looked at the furnace. Now here is the part were I accept all responsibility for my heating woes. He noticed that it was gunked up with black stuff. Apparently I failed to clean it for the past 5 years. The last guy I had come in to cleaned offended me so badly I refused to bother with anyone else. So I’ve learned my lesson. And for a short while the broiler worked. The radiators got all warm and I got happy and then the Carbon Monoxide alarm went off. And I turned the heat off. Then the radiators got cold and I got sad.
Now I am keeping the place warm with a bunch of heater fans and I’m planning to go out and find other heating sources because I give up. I planned to get rid of that broiler anyway and I really don’t want to throw anymore money at it. Also talking about my heating woes to any poor slump who’d listen, I was told to look into a gas fireplace by a few people. They swear those things put out a lot of heat and can work during a power failure.
So in 2 weeks I’ll have my list. Well now I do have a list of the major things it’s just the thousand little things, like doorbells, that I need to write up.

Renovation 2007: Ruba dub dub, I still wanna tub

Problem: I gotta small house.
Problem #2: I want a nice little soaking tub for the occasional soak.

I’ve looked at the tubs out there. If I lived in the UK this would be easier because the tubs over there I swear are more bathing friendly. Also I found some tubs that would be the right side and the right depth on the wrong side of the pond. This project will not involve US Customs.

I made a chart of the different bathtubs that I liked. I listed their price, length, width, outside depth and soaking depth. Then played out various scenarios with having a soaking tub upstairs, a soaking tub and shower upstairs, or a soaking tub downstairs and a shower or tub shower combo upstairs. Then trying to fit the various tubs in those scenarios. And please, no comments about what is needed for resale value. I’ve got so much friggin equity in this house, I could trash it and still make a profit. Besides, this is for me, not the next set of owners. My only obligation to them is to maintain the house so it may continue to stand.

Then the other thing I have to consider is that I MUST move my upstairs bathroom. The waste pipe for the upper bathroom currently blocks the front door from opening all the way. I know. My house was designed by crackheads. And this is the same bathroom with the toilet encased in the floor.

Right now I’ve got a lot of options, but I don’t know if any of them will work.

Or I could move

My architect neighbor, who I admire and adore, and his partner came over for dinner. The purpose besides neighborliness was to talk about possible additions to our homes. These additions would not show up until well into the future (ie when we pay off our second mortgages).
We were talking and though it I believed I heard their concerns. From what I heard I understand it would be preferred if I didn’t build to the property line. Ok. Well I guess I have to scratch a certain idea. Oh well.
The thing that got me was the ballpark figure given for what I’d like to do, with smaller footprint. $300,000. Dang. For that amount of money I could move. If it does cost that amount I would move into something newer and roomier. I was thinking $100,000 and that’s taking in cost overruns and working around the kitchen. The price I heard for some other neighbors to put on their addition, $35K, maybe I could do it in my range.
He did suggest something I will take into consideration, doing one side of the house. The additions I want would be for the back of the house. He suggested doing what I need to do to the front of the house first. Fixing the windows and doors and expanding the space of the bathroom. Ok. That sounds do-able.

House P-rn

Note: The title was changed as it kept attracting questionable searches. 6/17/08

Not Penthouse but This Old House.
Stuff that excites, titillates, but has no resemblance to your reality. This is house porn or decorator porn. Face it you don’t have the money, time, or skill (in my case a lack of skill and money) to get the same look that you saw on HGTV.

Ah, HGTV. The good reason I don’t have cable. When I am in a hotel or visiting a place with cable I am glued to HGTV. It is the Playboy channel for me. My mother, the worst homemaker in the world (but I love her anyways) did not really understand this whole business of wanting to go through the trouble of painting and pasting and building just to change the “look” of a room.

I have a whole bunch of decorating DIY magazines littering the house, some stuffed under my bed so I can go to sleep with house fantasies in my head. I need to weed my house of these things ’cause the truth with house porn, as with most porn, it ain’t gonna happen. I am not putting on addition anytime soon. The spiral stair idea is not right for my house. Open space, well I’m going to hire people to do that and I’ll need the $$$$$. Kitchen, done, can’t do no more. Bathroom, see open space. Can’t even do some of the garden ideas due to lack of space and sun.

Like most porn, it just leaves you frustrated.

kitchen and house

Kitchen & house

Been doing the kitchen. Well the contractor has been doing the kitchen. The only thing that needs to be done is the countertop, the sink instillation and the DW hookup. Right now I’m discovering the joys of microwave cooking (4 years without a microwave can you believe it?), the heated floor and a room that looks like it wasn’t designed by crack heads.

Which brings me to the house. I’m in the kitchen, enjoying what costs me a butt load of money. It’s modern, it’s sleek, it makes the most of the little space that it is and it has few if any ugly to it. Gone is the boxed in pipe and the non-cabinet. Gone, the odd space between the cabinet and the wall. Gone are the visable pipes. Pure crack head design, ugly and makes no sense. So when I leave my lovely kitchen I move the rest of the house and mutter, “crack heads.”

The dining room has this fake wall that is hiding pipes, but juts out from the wall it is on, looking like it is hiding something…. but you don’t know what. 1/2 bath juts out wierd too. Floor is very uneven, Wall between living room and dining room runs very close to stairs making it difficult to move large things in and out. Top it off with a lot of ugly…. Some is age. But the modern design stuff, makes no sense. It looks as if they really didn’t want it to look nice.

I’m thinking I’m going to have to redo the house. 1st and 2nd levels. As soon as I stop hemmoraging money.