Friday, July 28, 2006

We’re Razing the Roof! Woop Woop!

I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but our home and car sustained some damage in freak hail storm that occured several months back. Here's a video of the storm that was shot by someone who lives just north of downtown.

From what others have told me, what the video shows is pretty tame compared to what some other parts of the city had to endure. We happened to be out of town for the weekend visiting the inlaws.

Our insurance estimates placed the house damage at about $15K with nearly half of that going towards a roof. The rest was divided between damage to the aluminum siding on the north side of the house, 5 broken windows (luckily just the aluminum storms), 8 shredded screens, 2 chimney caps, and my crappy aluminum garden shed. Apparently damage claims across the city topped the 500 million mark.

The roofing was a blessing as we were dreading the impending expense of replacing a roof that was quickly approaching the end of its lifespan. Plus it was an ugly grey three-tab asphalt shingle roof that really didn’t add a lot of curb appeal. As a replacement we’re upgrading to the CertainTeed Landmark TL, a lifetime warranty, three-layer, dimensional shingle roof.

Apparently the three layers means triple the cost because that’s how much more these shingle cost than our paltry three tab shingles. We opted for the Landmark TL’s because we like the shake look (our house originally had a shake roof) but we’re not big fans of the fake shading that you see on some of the dimensional shingle roofs. The Owens Corning 50 year dimensional has a short and pretty tame shade but others we looked at including Elk shingles just go way overboard. The triple layer adds much more true dimension than a single layer. We figure that with a roof as prominent as ours, we can’t afford to skimp on aesthetics.

The roofing job will start in early September. We’ve opted for a brown toned color for our shingles (the shake look photo above is our actual shingles) as that should complement the dark brown and mossy green colors that we’ll eventually paint our house. Here’s our inspiration:

Of course, Painting our house will necessitate we take off the aluminum siding first.

When will that happen? Stay tuned...

One Thing Leads to Another....and Another....Part 3: Brian vs. the Installer

For those of you just joining us, you may want to read part one of this series here and part two here.

Our kitchen floor, frankly, is a pain in the ass. We have about 7 layers of flooring on top of the original sub-floor. At some point in the history of our house, more than one owner decided that it was much easier to keep shaving inches off 6 kitchen doors than tear up the old floor before they put down the next layer. So what we’re now left to manage is a kitchen floor that is 1.25 inches above the level of the rest of the house.

Those of you who have replaced or installed a dishwasher before, know that size ...or rather, height…matters.

Luckily, the previous owners didn’t bother pulling up cabinets when applying the new floor (not surprising). They instead just laid the floor flush with the front of the cabinets. Thankfully, this left us with some additional room to work with if we could just wedge the dishwasher in past the high front edge.

Well Mr. Sears Dishwasher Installer felt otherwise. On his first trip out, he claimed his trusty measuring tape told him it was impossible. His "brilliant" solution was to cut out two feet worth of the excess floor in front of the dishwasher so he would have enough room. Okay I know our floor is ugly, but that would be crossing the line.

I wasn’t convinced. After he left, I unpacked the dishwasher and gave it the old college try. After lifting the sink with one hand and rolling the dishwasher with another, I was able to fit about 98% of it under the sink. The 2% I left exposed was to ensure that I could get the dishwasher back out in order to make the connections. But I was certain it would fit...barely.

At this point I could have, and should have installed it myself. However, I had already paid for installation and wasn’t about to let this guy off that easy. I called him back, convinced him that is was doable and waited patiently for 2 weeks before he made his second attempt.

In the mean time, I went about addressing one of his other concerns….the water and electrical connections under the sink. Apparently I had paid for the “replacement installation” and not the “new installation” which was about $100 dollars more. We did have a previous dishwasher so I really had no reason to believe that my job would be considered a “new install”. Wrong! Apparently our half-assed plumbing and electrical work under the sink would require some additional work.

Now I pride myself on being handy around the house, but plumbing is not one of my strong points. I’m not scared of it. I’ve just never really done much plumbing in my life. I lived in rental properties for 17 years before I bought this house, so it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve learned a lot of “do-it-yourself” skills. To be honest, I didn’t mow my first lawn until I was 27.

Anyway, while working on the plumbing I managed to jar some rusty corroded pipes in the basement which led to a sizeable leak….on a Sunday. I called a repairman who then charged me $150 to fix the problem (bad, but could have been worse for coming out on a Sunday). After three trips to the hardware store and several dollars in parts, I had managed to get the right plumbing connections installed. And did I forget to mention that we also thought it would be a good time to replace the faucet?

We bought a new faucet with a sprayer. The only problem was that the extra hole in the sink wasn’t large enough for the sprayer. That required a second trip to the hardware store for a drill bit that could cut through stainless steel.

We also bought a new garbage disposal since the one we had was old, loud, and not very effective. The problem was that the one we bought worked via a switch unlike our existing one which turned on by turning the sink stopper. This dilemma required us to get an electrical estimate. But of course, we could just get an estimate on the switch. We aslo had the electrician estimate the cost of installing several switches, outlets, can lights and moving some light fixtures in preparation for new kitchen lighting. The estimate came in at just under $1000.

Whoa…..hold on. Lets re-cap.

A leaky dishwasher has so far led to:

$3000 for a new refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and disposal
$1110 in new warranty parts for the faulty new appliances
$40 in plumbing supplies
$150 for a Sunday plumbing emergency
$79 for a new faucet
$15 for a stainless steel drill bit to install the new faucet
$10 in damaged non-stainless steel drill bits that sadly were defeated by our sink
$1000 estimate for electrical work
Not to mention countless man hours, time off of work, gas for redundant trips to the hardware store, mental sanity and poisoning the purity of my dogs by sharing a few choice words that I won’t repeat here.

We set some priorities. Install the faucet, sprayer and the dishwasher. Then we’ll be back to normal everyday operating procedures. The disposal and the lighting are going to have to wait.

That was over a month ago. We’re fine now. Really. Although, we’ve recently noticed that the dishwasher door doesn’t latch correctly….good grief.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Making up for lost time...

Apparently I'm on a roll today as I've done 3 posts (4 if you count this one) in the last couple of hours. Enjoy!

The Goodyear Blimp Vists DYSB

Not sure why I found this interesting enough to post, but this made a pass near our house a few weeks ago.

Contest: Name that Spider

The lovely wife happened upon this fearsome 8-legged creature in our backyard the other day. He's hanging out on the inside wall of a cinder block.

The first person to identify it along with providing photographic proof of your claim will win an actual brick from our house.

Just think, you'll be the proud owner of a Stickley brick. Okay, so Stickley didn't actually make the brick but its a brick from a Stickley house. What a coversation piece! What a fantastic paperweight!

Your brick will arrive with a certificate of authenticity which pretty much equates to a photo of me in my crawl space hand selecting your brick.

Good luck and play fair. Post your answers to the comments section with a link to a photo of your guess.

UPDATE: Here's an enhanced photo that shows his markings in a little more detail.

One Thing Leads to Another....and Another.... Part Deux

Okay, so should I even bother apologizing for not including a new post in over a month? I’ve seen enough house blogs to know that it is not uncommon for us historic homeowners to get so caught up in actually fixing our home that we don’t have enough time or energy to let others know what’s new.

So, I’m happy to say that I’ve actually found some time. Sadly, its on a plan from Harrisburg, PA to Chicago so I’ve got about 1:38 to write…..lets get right into it.

Here’s part two of some excitement that happened to us a couple of months ago. You can read part one here.

So we’ve got 3 new appliances and we’re $3000 more dollars in the hole. Somehow, we’re still happy about that. I’d love to say that all of our appliances work beautifully and that so far, we’ve had no problems with them. I’d love to say that, but I won’t. Or rather, I can’t. Instead I’ll say that they each have something in common with the plane I’m on. They arrived with their fair share of “baggage”.

The refrigerator so far has been the least problematic of the three. The only problem that we noted is that one of the door shelves on the freezer refused to snap into place because of a slight manufacturing flaw on the door itself. The drawers attach by latching on to these little plastic nubs that are a part if the inside plastic liner of the door. The drawer would somewhat stay in place, but it really wasn’t secure enough to hold anything. We called Sears to ask for a repair and they sent someone out to look at it. Diagnosis: Replace the door. The whole door. Luckily, it was under warranty so we didn’t have to pay the $1100 it cost for a new door. Why a freezer door on a $1300 refrigerator costs $1100, I’ll never know, nor will I care. That is, unless something else goes wrong after the warranty expires. I did feel a bit guilty that it had to come to that but, hey, at least the shelf fits. Now, if I just had some money left to buy food.

Three out of four burners worked on the stove. We bought a gas stove with some special burners on it called “power burners” and “simmer burners”. We should have asked for one with “functional burners” because the “simmer burner” refused to light 9 out of 10 times. The culprit? A little plate that sits on top of the burner and distributes the gas outward towards the ignitor. This problem only cost about $10 to fix. So at this point, I’m averaging about $555 in repairs per appliance. All under warranty of course.

The dishwasher was a fiasco. So much so that I think it deserves its own post. And this one’s getting too long anyway…..