Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank You 15 Inch Stanley Wonder Bar!

Today I'd like to say thank you to whoever invented the Stanley 15 inch Wonder Bar (aka, a flattened crow bar).  I don't know what I would have done without it on Sunday.

My first job was removing the carpet tack strips from the dining room floor.  Two strips held in with 1.5 inch ribbed nails every 6 - 8 inches plus an extra nail on each end of the 3 foot strips.  That carpeting was tacked down so well they could have played a football game on it and it wouldn't have moved.  

The second job I used it for was replacing the deadbolt lock on the back door.  It's definitely not one of the tools they specify on installation instructions, just a tool of last resort.  One of the main screws (the kind that hold the two sides of the lock together) on the deadbolt was stripped.  None of the "easy" fixes worked.  Nor did drilling it out.  I've learned that those screws aren't made of the normal stuff.  The first drill bit melted (it was supposed to be rated for metal), the second bit broke.  This is where the fun starts!  I was able to twist the lock enough to get the wonder bar between the lock and door.  It was such a great feeling when that d**n thing finally broke off!  Woot!  I get to cross "Replace Locks" off the list.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Plumbing 1, Melissa 0

The water got turned on today.  I found out the hard way that I have some bad pipes.  Specifically, the ones in the bathroom that go to the bathtub and sink.  What's the hard way?  A waterfall coming through your dining room ceiling.

It turns out that the former owner used PVC for the supply pipes to the bathroom sink and bathtub.  PVC is probably the cheapest and lowest quality material you can use for supply piping.  It doesn't handle cold well and gets brittle as it ages.  My awesome plumber, Berney Salzer, tried to fix the pipes twice before giving up and capping the lines.  The PVC kept splitting after the repair was put in place.  The next step will be to re-plumb the bathroom using PEX.  The nice things about PEX are that it's easier to install than hard pipes and it can handle freezing (if that ever happens).  The even nicer things about PEX are that it's cheaper than copper and has no resale value (aka, no one will ever rip it out to sell for salvage).  I still need to schedule the work on the bathroom but Berney made sure that for now, I had a working toilet and kitchen sink.

Two good things have come out of the "Waterfall Incident".  First, I now know what's under the particle board on the dining room ceiling - Nothing.  It's bare to the studs. This is going to make re-plumbing the bathroom a little easier as we'll have better access.  It also takes away the uncertainty of what was under the particle board.  Second, the hardwood floors in the dining room are in pretty good shape.  I had to tear up the wet carpet and padding.  There was no way I was going to get it dry before it ruined the floor under it.  It'll definitely need refinishing but I was expecting that.

The security system also got installed today.  I feel like the house is a little safer when I'm not there.

List O' Things To Do:

Fix plumbing
Get furnace safety checked and turn on gas 
Plant lilies that my Realtor gave me (I'm a few days late on this on - having a hard time deciding on where to put them).
Clean (de-grime) house
Buy and lay paper to protect the floor
Remove remaining carpeting and paneling
Buy refrigerator
...and a thousand more things.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Before Pictures

My little sister is great.  She came in and took some "before" pictures for me.  I'm trying to figure out how to upload them directly but until then, the pictures can be found here:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Beginning

This blog starts with a closing - on a house.  On October 5, 2010, I closed on my house in the Jordan neighborhood on the north side on Minneapolis.  It's a 2 bedroom, 1 bath built in 1920.  I'm not quite sure what style it is - that'll take more research.

The house has been vacant for about a year.  It's a foreclosure bought from the bank (I may talk about my mixed feelings about that later).  That means that the only thing I know about the history of the house is what the house itself can tell me.  What I know so far is that the previous owner had a love of wood paneling and extension cords.  The first floor is paneled with dark wood in the dining room and blond in the living room.  The wiring in the basement has been supplemented with a mess of extension cords.  They're everywhere - even one running from the house to the garage (cleverly disguised to look like a normal overhead wire).  The extension cords and the paneling are on the top of the list to be removed.  Also being removed is the first floor carpeting.  There's hardwood under there - it should see the light of day.

The other obvious issues are:

1. The water and gas have been turned off.  That means the condition of the plumbing and furnace are a mystery.

2.  The dining room ceiling is made up of particle board that's been screwed to the ceiling.  I've no idea what could be under there.

Everything else is cosmetic.  I'm looking forward to putting some effort into making this house shine.  It's going to take a while to get everything done.  Good thing I'm planning on staying for a while.