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The Home Ownership Thread

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Douglas, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    SO, I started re-siding the garage this weekend and it has become a major hassle. I won't bore you with the details (unless you really enjoy tales of misfortune and meltdowns) but let's just say part of my house is naked for now and I have a pile of junked tools and a freshly lacerated finger. And some raw nerves among the fambly.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  2. Arthur PE

    Arthur PE Well-Known Member

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    imo a home needs to be a labor of love, a hobby, something to work on with your wife
    it really isn;t an investment, and in someways you may be better off renting
    I guess if you stay in it long enough (like a car) it may pay off

    we have ours pretty much where we want it (but you always find projects) and have been lucky, mostly improvements, not much maintenance or non-value adding expenses (other than the usual, painting, etc.)

    one thing I've learned: no matter how well planned, double the time you think it will take, lol

    I can bring multi-mil projects for others in on time and at or under budget

    my home improvement projects, fiascos, lol
    but fun most of the time (after the usual swearing, blaming the wife, and damning the tools)
    haven't had many of these, but you start a little superficial improvement, and when you expose the work, you find some major structural/electricaletc. issue
     
  3. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    I'm of a totally different philosophy about a house. My house needs to be my Shanghai-la, my oasis of calm and leisure, my place to relax and do no work. Outside of minor and easy projects, i.e. anything that will take more than an hour, I need to hire a professional and just get it done so I can put my feet up and sip wine.
     
  4. Arthur PE

    Arthur PE Well-Known Member

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    we make a list over the winter (or did, most is done)
    we farmed out stuff done faster and cheaper by a contractor
    and knocked out the stuff we felt comfortable with, sweat equity

    we are done already for this year, might have 2- 3 weekends into it
     
  5. Ataturk

    Ataturk Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I've just had really bad experiences with contractors and handymen. Just about everything I've ever hired them to do has been done poorly. They seem to put their experience and tools to work not necessarily doing a better job, just doing it faster.

    Just this year, the guys that took my tree came within about 5 feet of dropping it on the house. And they had the whole damn tree -- about two feet in diameter and 50 feet high -- held on a fork on a nearby oak with a branch that was maybe 4". At least they had insurance. The guys that put in my carpet were incompetent, ended up having to threaten to sue the store to get it replaced. And that's just in the last year.
     
  6. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    I have a very good friend that is an award winning custom home builder. He's considerably older than me, been building high end custom homes for decades; even mentioned in the WSJ a couple of times. He told me experienced contractors will have fuck all to do with lawyers and they tend to sue a lot (imagine that!). So lawyers either pay a premium or tend to get sub-standard contractors as they need the business and will take the risk.
     
  7. Ataturk

    Ataturk Well-Known Member

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    Could be right, though it's not like I introduce myself as Bob Turk, esquire.

    Suing over the carpet would have been a loser, anyway, so I'm glad they caved and replaced it. A court won't order them to replace it, nor will it let you rip the carpet out and order them to pay your money back. You just get the value of the carpet versus what you paid, I imagine.

    They really tried to screw me over, too. They seamed it (poorly) in the middle of a hallway (in two places!) and damaged the carpet when they were stretching it. The guy had the gall to accuse me of doing the damage with a vacuum cleaner (apparently when I was cleaning up the mess they left--it'd only been a day)--I ended up waving my electrolux in his face and daring him to damage the carpet with it again. The guy outweighed me by about a hundred pounds--probably not the smartest thing I've done.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  8. GusW

    GusW Well-Known Member

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    I've owned several homes, each for several years. I always got a lot of satisfaction out of doing a lot of the work myself especially landscaping, and painting.

    In my early homes, most were 15+ years old and were begining to need updates and upgrades. I think if when you buy a home you are realistic about what needs to be done in the next 5 years, then you are fine. It is the work and the cost of the surprises that throw you.

    On the positive side, I think a few of the best things you can do to any house are:
    1) having a pro install custom task or mood lighting on dimmers in all the main living areas. (i.e. lighting up a book case, around your kitchen, above mirrors, etc. I had multiple spots installed above my garage door on a timer. It is so nice to come home in the dark to a nicely lit garage. It also gives the home a nice glow. When I had my home theater installed the guy talked a lot about ambiant lighting. That was when I lit my book cases. You really can see a screen or plasm TV better with a soft glow of lights around the room.

    2) Nice landscaping- Everyday when I drive home I enjoy pulling up and seeing my landscaping. Without spending a bundle, the key has been to drive around numerous neighborhoods and see what plants thrive in the area and what combination of plants look their best. Just give it some time and plant sections each season and in a year or two you will have an amazing yard. Always be sure to go for a combination of colors. Solid green can be boring on its own. But adding something like a burgundy Japanese maple against it can really add drama.

    3) Efficient storage systems in closets and the garage. Anyone can install these, especially the white vinyl coated heavy wire ones. They make daily chores around the house easy.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. GreenFrog

    GreenFrog Well-Known Member

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    Seconding Conne's post.

    Reading this thread has convinced me even further that owning a house is just too much of a royal pain in the ass.
     
  10. eg1

    eg1 Well-Known Member

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    I'm with you on this one. I suck at anything "handy" anyway, so I generally won't even bother to try (other than the occasional simple light fixture or a loose screw here and there) since it's extra stupid to botch something and then pay somebody even more to fix it.

    I also highly recommend you let professionals handle all plumbing -- that way, when they fuck it up and you get a flood, your insurance company will nail theirs for the repairs. :satisfied:

    Here's a couple of photos of the pool -- the first before they drained it, the second as they are tearing out the old lining:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Good points, but I'm generally restless, handy, and geared towards sweat-equity. Unfortunately this time around we found some issues that disappointed and confounded us, and exposed more work than we'd expected to have to do. One of the recurring conflicts that comes up in all projects is that I tend to come to a point where I have to stop and step through the rest of the project, sequencing and visualizing the exact steps to completion. Once I settle that, we press on. The Mrs, OTOH, is impatient and wants to work it out on the fly.
     
  12. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    I'm actually handy enough, and quite good at some things like drywall/mudding and light carpentry, but am just not of the mind or inclination to do stuff like that anymore.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    When I grow up, I want to be just like....ah, who am I kidding. I'm never growing up.

    Reminds me...my uncle gave up a Big Oil exec position to start up his own gig(s), which doesn't really matter except that he is uncommonly, profoundly handy. I mean, he tells us his next project, we shake our heads and chuckle...and then he does it. No joke, he fitted shower, commode, sink, and storage into an under-the-stairway WC in his lakeside condo. I have learned to not question him.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  14. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    Your uncle sounds like quite the guy.

    I just never liked doing that stuff and now I don't have to. As I said, my home is my oasis, and I don't want to spoil that. I've actually had to work every weekend for last month due to this move and hated it. My second in command seems to spend every weekend with a huge "honey do" list that keeps him busy all the time. I have felt like him and am glad this Saturday, for the first time in about five weeks, I'm going to have one of my usual six hour lunches with a healthy dose of booze and wine. :)
     
  15. GusW

    GusW Well-Known Member

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    There is a huge difference between things you want/enjoy doing on your house :) and the things you have to do. Especially when those things are on repeated weekends and use funds/time previously allocated for "fun" :(
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    ^^ true. One of the hard truths about home ownership is that things wear out. That 30-year roof might last 15. Water heater might last 6-9 years. Siding can go a while but paint...not so much. AC units wear down, coils need to be cleaned, pool pumps go sideways, etc. etc. And more Etc. And, that's assuming your builder did everything right - I have friends in tract homes who tried to get custom products put in and regretted it terribly. We ordered our first home with two AC units, it was ducted for one. We ripped out the sheetrock and told them to re-do everything - correctly this time.
     
  17. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    Yup, you can only defer maintenance for so long and it's usually cheaper just not to defer it. Homes do indeed require some upkeep and that costs $$.
     
  18. GusW

    GusW Well-Known Member

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    Very, very true
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    siding project, first weekend.

    Saturday, we decided to replace the siding and make that our summer project. We ordered the siding Saturday morning (Monday delivery) and then found that Hardie siding requires a nail gun. Only a few nail guns are supposedly up to the task. I found one on CL and bought it just to later realize it was missing the safety assembly (required, and $50, and available at only one place in all of Houston which wasn’t open anyway). So we ended up getting a second gun on Monday morning, plus a case of 42,380,000 nails. Yay.

    Hardie also requires a special sawblade (perhaps), so I picked up new sawblades for the circ saw and jig saw, and on Monday as I set to replacing the old saw blade I found it had stuck to the saw arbor. As I tried to pry the blade off my hand slipped and I shredded my little finger on the teeth. Oh, joy. Eventually I worked the blade off, just to find that the guard had bent to the point of rubbing against the blade. So I later picked up a new saw as well.

    Saturday evening I re-framed the casement window in momo’s room. Not fun but at least it’s done. Lost a few screws along the way and I’m concerned about one of the pivot screws – which seems to be an issue in other windows as well. Hmmph.

    Sunday we tear down the siding, gutters, soffit decking, and fascia boards. We start on the short wall which has the worst wear and rot. The biggest issue is taking the boards off in one piece. In some cases, they crumble. There are a few board-ends tucked away under some bricks that have thus far been stubborn. Eventually we get that wall done and start on the long wall. To our surprise the boards here are considerably more robust and very well-fastened. One of our neighbors comes over and chuckles that the first owner of the house was a homebuilder. This explains a lot. For a while I thought that the builder was getting paid by the nail!

    Eventually we get into a rhythm and things are going well until one of the boards comes down on a spigot and breaks the pipe. Water everywhere. 5 p.m. Sunday before Memorial Day. We cut the water to the house and I start thinking how to fix. Everyone at the Home Depot shakes their heads and says I have to sweat the pipe out, which means a torch.

    Long story short, the torch doesn’t work, so I ended up filing out the pipe until I can hammer a new pipe in there and hope it holds. That gets the water back on around 9 p.m. and we call it a day.

    Monday, we get a plumber out there and learn that if there’s any water in the pipes the solder won’t melt. Water is a heat sink (I knew that. Kind of). Pipe is - $200 later - repaired. Materials get delivered. We start on the bottom row and realize that the foundation isn’t really flat which is why the board is hitting concrete rather than laying flat to the wall. Oy geez. Rip the board out, set new board on sticks, fasten again. Wife’s about to use the nail gun, pulls the trigger and *POOF* the air hose loses a fitting. Really? Good Lord. Back to the HD for a new air hose and more quick-connect fittings (because Thomas didn’t discern between Industrial and Automotive air fittings, the differences are subtle). More tools find their way into the cart.

    We start putting the boards up. Our son, who yesterday wielded the wrecking bar with immense relish, is now tired, whiny, and ‘down in his back’, just like his grandma. So much for football this season. We realize that the boards look so much better if you line up the seams on the ledger boards. Good thing we figured that out quickly. This means a lot more board cutting, at which point Thomas discovers the saw issue. Thomas goes medieval on the saw and finds a replacement.

    The boards go up the side until we reach the top, and it’s time to install the soffit decking. This, too, is hardie product but it’s trickier since we have to hold it overhead and fasten. We ended up putting three sheets up and realize it looks like shit. I mean, really poorly cut and fit, because Someone used the old decking to set the size for the new. Bad move, there. At this point, Mrs. Thomas melts down, and Thomas follows suit, and at 6:00 we call it a day (i.e., it’s fuck this shit o’clock) and start cleaning up the site.

    Tuesday morning could not come quickly enough. Thank heaven for a desk job.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  20. GusW

    GusW Well-Known Member

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    I had a handyman come to my place about two weeks ago to fix a smoke alarm. A problem beyond my skill-set. Good guy, fixed it and then sat me down to pitch me on more services while I wrote him a check. I expected that, but what I really appreciated was him also giving me suggestions for preventative maintenance around my house. (He had been a maintenance guy in the Army in Germany for 14 years) He suggested frequently replacing the intake filter on your AC. Filters are only a few dollars each. He suggests changing them 3-4 times a year. It causes less stress on the motors and bearings and helps to assure a long life of your AC/Heater. He also suggested draining your water heater to rid it of sentiment. Apparently that will make the WH more efficient, using less energy and lasting longer. He had more but I think you get the idea.

    A lot of these things are really pretty easy if you simply identify them and just get to them a few times a year. Plus, these things never go wrong at a good time, do they.:)
     

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