Archive for the ‘home ownership’ Category


Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I recently reorganized a big box of junk and put into smaller various boxes. Behold my amazing junk classification scheme:

  • Broken electronics, for spare parts or recycling
  • Things that work but which I don't currently have a use for
  • Spare Ikea parts
  • Ikea tools
  • Stuff that I don't know what it is.
  • String
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Nuts and washers
  • Screw eyes and pins
  • Stickers
  • Picture hooks
  • Screw hooks
  • Rawl plugs (or wall anchors as they are called here)
  • Anti-static bags
  • Small plastic toys (I'm sure Alexander will have a lot of fun with this box when he's old enough not to swallow the parts)
  • Junk (stuff that doesn't fit into any of the other categories)

It occurs to me that the category system on my blog works a similar way (though the category corresponding to "junk" is called "random").

The big scary list of things that we need to do to the house, in no particular order

Thursday, September 8th, 2005
  • Yard/exterior:
    • Remove ivy/vegetation growing closer than 18" to the house
    • Regrade surface adjacent to building
      • Ground needs to be at least 6-inches below wood frame on all sides of the house
      • Ground needs to slope down away from the house for at least 5-10 feet
    • Remove trash from underneath porch deck
    • Sow more grass seed
    • Ensure there is not too much water coming down the embankment
    • Patching/repair of siding/trim
    • Exterior repainting
    • Replace house numbers
  • Storm drains:
    • Evaluate condition of lines
    • Rout out lines
    • If lines are clogged or broken and can't simply be cleaned out:
      • Repair or replace lines with newer material
      • Install below-grade storm water draining system using solid non-perforated pipe, maintain 2% minimum slope (4% or more is better)
    • Unclog line at northwest corner of house
    • Connect downspout at north side adjacent to the masonry chimney (and any other disconnected downspouts) into the rest of the system.
    • Determine where the lines discharge to.
    • Clean and caulk gutters and roof storm drainage system
  • Heating system:
    • Ask previous owners about heating installation and obtain records or receipts if available.
    • Floor framing has been left exposed and needs to be enclosed
    • Service furnace
    • Water ponding on floor next to furnace (from disconnected condensate line?)
    • Evaluate adequacy of return air and exhaust installation (white pipes)
    • Vacuum clean heat registers
    • Vacuum blower compartment of furnace
    • Replace furnace filter
    • Find out normal operation and emergency procedures (find manual or ask furnace service firm)
    • Install/improve combustion air intakes
    • Change furnace air filter
    • Check furnace heat exchangers
  • Decks:
    • Attach decks and front porch to house more solidly
      • Use 5-6 inch lag bolts to supplement existing nails
    • Replace rotting wood
    • Treat new decking boards with penetrating stain
    • Increase spacing between deck boards
    • Re-seal deck boards
  • Kitchen:
    • Fix stove ventilation fan
    • Have plumber evaluate and if necessary correct drainline air gap vent for dishwasher installation
    • Raise height of light near large floor-standing cupboards that I keep banging my head on
    • Clean sink strainers
  • Hall bathroom:
    • Route ventilation fan ducts to exterior instead of into attic space
    • Replace sink stopper
  • Garage:
    • Replace or fix garage door locks & springs
    • Lubricate garage door mechanism
    • Replace broken wood in garage door
    • Add automatic garage door opener
    • Add self-closing door mechanism between house and garage
    • Fix gypsum wallboard
    • Ask previous owners about what repairs were done where the ceiling is open
  • Electrical:
    • Terminate/cap off wires in panel and at furnace
    • Replace wall outlet cover plates
    • Replace light receptacle/switch cover plates
    • Have an electrician check the complete system
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Fix squeaky floorboards
    • Replace carpets
    • Interior painting
    • Replace interior doors
    • Fit closet doors
    • Replace windows with holes or where condensation is present between panes of glass
    • Replace remaining blinds with curtains
    • Fit mantlepiece/shelf above fireplace?
    • Buy a new chest of drawers for bedroom
    • Change locks
    • Have ceiling finish tested for asbestos
    • Check for leaks in water service line
  • Basement:
    • Redecorate
    • Add home cinema and one of:
      • Pool table
      • Foosball table
      • Table-tennis table


Saturday, December 18th, 2004

Strange doodads keep appearing in my bathroom.

The first one I noticed shortly after we moved in. It was on the counter just to the right of the sink in the main bathroom. It's a shiny metal bar, 2 or 3 inches long, with a hook at one end and what looks like a small flathead screwdriver on the other. I wondered around for a while with it in my hand trying to figure out where it had come from and what it was for. I was unenlightened, so put it in my junk tin and forgot about it.

Until today. Today, in exactly the same place in the main bathroom, on the counter just to the right of the sink, was another doodad, exactly the same as the previous one but dulled rather than shiny. For a moment I thought it was the previous one and that I had forgotten to put it in my junk tin but then I remembered putting it in the junk tin. I emptied the contents of said tin on the floor and rooted around until I found the first doodad. I now have two!

Gennie claims to know nothing about these. She says she found the second one on the floor of the main bathroom this morning and put it on the counter. I'm sure it wasn't on the floor before - I vacuumed the entire house the other day and I would have noticed it.

I am now convinced the universe (or the house) is playing a cosmic joke on me. Is this something that happens to homeowners like the proliferating walls I mentioned in a previous post? I am reminded of the bit about ratchet screwdrivers from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

Very few things actually get manufactured these days, because in an infinitely large Universe, such as the one in which we live, most things one could possibly imagine, and a lot of things one would rather not, grow somewhere. A forest was discovered recently in which most of the trees grew ratchet screwdrivers as fruit. The life cycle of the ratchet screwdriver is quite interesting. Once picked it needs a dark dusty drawer in which it can lie undisturbed for years. Then one night it suddenly hatches, discards its outer skin that crumbles into dust, and emerges as a totally unidentifiable little metal object with flanges at both ends and a sort of ridge and a hole for a screw. This, when found, will get thrown away. No one knows what the screwdriver is supposed to gain from this. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, is presumably working on it.

Any ideas where this came from or what it is for? Prizes for the funniest suggestion.

The key to my castle

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I am now a homeowner!

Thought for the day

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

When people buy houses and make improvements to them, invariably some walls are removed ("We'll knock through here" or "Let's pull this wall down and make this all one big space"). But you never hear of people putting up new walls as part of home improvements ("I think we need a wall here"). So either the average number of walls per house is falling rapidly (clearly an unsustainable situation) or new walls are creeping in from somewhere else. I suspect it is a bit like mould in some houses - "damn, another new wall has sprung up - we'll have to knock through here". I wonder how bad it gets - maybe some people have to keep a sledgehammer by the bed in order to be able to leave the bedroom in the morning.

Anyway, go and play this flash game. It will make you happy.