xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
I've got reasonable experience with it, but nowhere near pro level. I'll fix things in my house, though I don't like the painting part. It's just... it takes longer than I want it to, so small jobs suck. Big jobs are fine, because you do all the first-pass things, then come back for second pass
Read more... )
http://omnitech.net/reference/2017/03/06/patching-drywall/

Electrics

Nov. 24th, 2015 03:38 am
xaminmo: (Josh 2014)
Yesterday (today? Monday, 2015-11-23 anyway), JeffriesElectric came and fixed some stuff for me. They did a good job though, and fixed a half-burnt-up switch in the attic for free since they were already tying off of that circuit for a new plug.

Realistically, I could have done all of it, but I ran out of oomph a long time ato. One fix, I was not sure I could do (but after seeing it, I thought "duhhhh".) One, I had tried to fix before, and got a little sparky. I just needed to Re-Do that fix. Also, I learnt that one plug in my kitchen is upstream from ALL of my office plugs. For some reason, I thought I had 2 circuits in the office, but nooOOO.

So, anyway, yAy for expensives! I mean yAy for getting it all fixed!

(PS, late night pop sounds from wind pushing on the door totally freak me out.)

Sisser

Sep. 4th, 2013 11:04 pm
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)

Sorry I lost my temper.

Also, you don't need justification to change your house. Just dollars.

xaminmo: (Josh 2004 Happy)
So, the blower door test was run on our house today. Our ACH was 0.39, which means 39% of our air exchanges with the outside, per hour. Energy Star rating is 33% or less, and average for our age of house is around 50%.

Also, our vents leak 0.2% to 0.7%, and target is under 2.2%.

Most of the downstairs windows and doors have had the caulk redone with long-life, elastomeric goodness.

The overall air leaks of our entire house combined would be a square hole 11" x 11", and the yearly cost of that leaking is $112.

In other words, our house is doing great as far as energy efficiency goes.

I still plan to
* finish recaulking windows (upstairs, plus the office downstairs, plus the patio door)
* get radiant barrier and a ridge vent after the roof is redone
* Look into more blow-in insulation for Max's bedroom wall
* Look into topping up the attic insulation
* Look into insulating the plenum that lets garage air and heat into the upstairs sidewall.

Mortgage

May. 14th, 2013 10:27 pm
xaminmo: (Josh 2004 Happy)
Based on the county's appraisal, our loan-to-value is 71.6%.
Based on the refinance appraiser, our LTV is 64.3%.

So, realistically, we're somewhere in the middle, probably close to the Zillow value.

Our current bank isn't very competitive on refinance, but a broker in California is working on good rates for us.

I'm cautiously optimistic.
xaminmo: (Josh 2004 Happy)
We had a fluorescent fixture in our garage, with two 25W T12 bulbs.  The bulbs and the ballast are dead.  In removing the ballast, I had to pull down the whole fixture.  It turns out that the fixture is using a 3-pin extension cord with the ground pin broken off, and it's a really short piece of extension cord. The wire nuts were mashed up between the fixture and the drywall.

I didn't REALLY want to wire up a proper junction box for the fixture, though it's not out of the question.  I thought I'd check and see what other options there were.

A new ballast module is $18, and a new pack of 6 bulbs is $29.  I can't find 25W, but they have 40W.  Can't find 2-packs. I know Batteries Plus has all of this, but they are 2x the cost of buying online for everything else.

On the other hand, I already have 6 meters of 3528 LED ribbon with 120 SMD LEDs per meter.  I decided it's worth buying some quick connectors, and a couple of fully assembled power supplies.  I'll cut the ribbon up and put sections of it in various places, and have it all hang off of the existing light socket from the 2-prong, screw-in adapter.  Saves me from having to wire up a proper, grounded fixture, and having to deal with the phase-out of T12 bulbs and parts.

BUT, I might still re-wire the existing fixture, since since I always feel it's not bright enough in the garage.  I just need to decide whether I want the fixture somewhere else.  I have a lot of romex (10 and 12ga).
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
So we've had SERIOUS problems getting our Blik to stick to Max's newly painted walls. The Blik is a very adhesive vinyl sheet, cut into pretty patterns. If you ask me "What is Blik" I will mock you, because #1, that's the website, and #2, STFW!

We used Olympic No VOC premium paint from lowes, and apparently, this is the cause of our woes. Our friend, Jenny, said this about the Benjamin Moore low/no VOC paint she tried:
Our no VOC paint peels, chips, and otherwise needs to be retouched if you hit it. Sucks, really. A blanket once rubbed some off. I can barely clean it because it's so sensitive. I thought painting with it was way weird and cumbersome, given it's tackiness, too. I am super sensitive to paint fumes but I hated the no VOC paint so much I pained the whole basement with regular paint. Oh yeah! I can't stick post-its to no VOC paint either. I bet it's the paint causing the Blik problems.

Blik

Jul. 31st, 2011 05:47 pm
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
PS, Blik doesn't stick to freshly painted, satin finish, orange peel textured walls.

So Happy!

May. 27th, 2011 09:06 pm
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
The counters are done.

They are completely full of win.

The flickr posts look weird because of the contrast limits of my iPhone. They are not black, but more of a dark cocoa color with flecks of tan. Integrated backsplash, chamfered edges, integrated sink, etc.

Told Lowes we were very happy with the counters, and sent an email to CounterSource espousing the greatness of the work and the installer.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
I think Lowes and CounterSource are snooping my blog(s) because we got a call today - they're coming to do the tearout and remeasure tomorrow, and the install on Friday.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
Displeased.

Our initial order was April 8. Lowes Installed Sales desk made notes that they called AND SPOKE TO ME when they had not, and it sat for two weeks with a blocking problem.

Since then, the IS desk has claimed they called, but had not, twice more, but our Kitchen Sales guy has been on top of things and coordinating in their place.

CounterSource has the same issue - they don't meet their follow-up committments.

We had one error in the order because the sales guy wasn't trained on their complex system, but because of that error, all of the heat for the problems are getting dumped on him. However, he's the only one who meets his committments and sets realistic expectations.

Our NEW install date has been moved from Wednesday (tomorrow) to NEXT Tuesday.

We'll see if that actually happens.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
Our screen for the front door was installed today.

VERY happy with it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xaminmo/sets/72157626796748406/
xaminmo: (Josh 2050 Grimmace)
I was avoiding tile this morning, so I didn't get started until fairly late.

The box and a half of tile in the garage is a different type. Wow. I could have sworn. If I'd realized earlier, I could have staggered or mixed and they would have been OK. Or even the back row could have been the lighter tiles.

So anyway, I go to Lowes to pick up more Rialto Beige, and hope to get them to saw the back row pieces for me.

Lowes' tile saw was out of service, so I'm splitting the back row on my own. The Rialto tiles have a deep grid pattern on the back. As such, many of the splits curve about the midpoint of the tile.

Also, out of my third box, I've had 2 tiles that split laterally in the center of the tiles. Not sure what that's about. I've never had that happen.

Out of frustration, I take a break from tilework and go to town on the plumbing. I had misgivings about push-on connectors, so I tried to sweat one on. I have no skills, and should probably have gotten the propane bottle with a smaller flame tip.

While removing a sweat connector with map gas torch, I, uh, melt the pipe. OOPS.

So I cut off the bad part, and the pile lip is about as short as I can go at this point. I have some plumber paste, which is apparently NOT what plumbers use.

Well, I go ahead and cut the other sink shutoff off and install a push-on connector. I do the same for the toilet one only to realize it was a compression fit and I could have ganked it off, or at least saved a little more pipe. Oh well, it still has excess pipe.

So, water test.... The sweat-on one leaks. The other 2 do not.

There's not enough pipe to cut and push on a quick connector. I look, and all of the solder I have is old crap from my grandfather which has lead.

I break down and go back to lowes for a third time (second today) and pick up some lead-free solder.

So I go to work on the fitting, but the map gas flame is pretty big. Ultimately, I end up with 4 scorch marks on the wall, trying really hard to avoid making green flame (ie, burning copper), and ultimately I melt the handle, set fire to the rubber seal inside the valve, but by golly, the solder wicks up in there really well.

I clean up the excess solder with a dry towel and the smoke alarm goes off. "Daddy, what's going on?" says Max!

Anyway, I can replace the handle on the new valve, but I can't get the outlet seat removed in order to replace the gasket. I have a 7mm Allen wrench, which fits loosely, or an 8mm which does not fit. Apparently I need 5/16th, which I do not have.

Either way, I used an 18" pipe wrench and for the life of me, I can't unscrew the seat. I'm thinking it was a force fit, straight thread, which is not serviceable.

So, I'm going to test and see if the shutoff actually works. If it does, then I'll keep it in service. If it doesn't, then I'll need to cut into the wall and extend the stem sticking out of the wall. That's easier because it's all copper and heats up faster than brass. You know, if I don't set fire to the copper pipe or wall studs in the process.

I still have 3 strips of tile to cut and glue down. With the plumbing work, the existing glue isn't set up yet.

*sigh*

Anyway, I still have the toilet and sink rebuilds to do, but that's all moot until I've got grout on the floor and water turned back on at the street.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Josh 200211 Yuck)
First injury was about 2 hours ago.

I was sharpening the 4" floor scraper, and I moved wrong and caught the side of my thumb.

I probably went in about an inch long and 1/4" deep. Any further and it would have been a flap.

BLEH.

Anyway. It's all bandaged up and I have the first 14 tiles down so far.

I had to have a bio-break and I was confused... "I know there's a bathroom downstairs somewhere...."

OH. HAH. upstairs.

doh.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
The downstairs bathroom in our new house is carpeted. This seems like a bad idea since we have 2 boys and one man in the house. (How long could the carpet last around the toilet?)

This morning, I installed a tack strip and the transition strip to clamp down the carpet. I'm letting the mastic set-up for the transition strip now.

Tonight, I'll pull out the sink and toilet, the rest of the carpet, the tack strips, scrape the floor, mop the floor, and finally, lay the tile.

In the morning, I'll shut off the water, replace the cut-offs for the sink and toilet, mop up my mess, and grout the floor.

While that's setting up, I'll replace the flush kit for the toilet and the faucet for the sink.

Sunday afternoon, I'll pull the light fixture for repainting, and I'll slop grout sealer onto the floor.

Sunday evening, I'll reinstall the toilet, sink and light.

Early next week, I should get the new towel ring for install. Then I can touch up the paint where I've scuffed it.

Luckily, the baseboards are not flush against the slab, so I don't have to remove/replace them. I did undercut the door trim, and one side broke. I'll need to fill that in with something and then paint both sides.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
For the new house
#1 Two HVAC inspections and three companies providing quotes for new systems. AC replacement quotes from 3 companies range from $9800 each down to $4400 each, with the highest 2 being mid-function, the third one being highest function, then the bottom 2 being lowest function, but still a 50% performance improvement over what's installed now.

The first HVAC inspection seemed off, and we were right to have a second. Almost everything listed as justification was wrong. If it had been one thing, then I'd chalk it up to a mistake, but it was several things, which implies false information. The issues presented were:
* $1000/mo electric (really it's $200)
* Evap coil leak and low charge (really it's got proper charge, no leak)
* Heat exchanger cracks (there are none, and no Carbon Monoxide detected)
* Doesn't blow cold downstairs (it does, and freezes us out).
* Undersized air return duct (this is accurate).
* Leaky ducts (this is also accurate).
* Rusty drip pans without float sensors (this is accurate).

The drip pans are $300 each, so I'll take that back to the seller. The units are fine otherwise, and in good shape for being 18 years old. Burners are new, one evap coil is new, charge is good, cooling and heating both are fine.

All in all, the remediation needed for the new home is pretty small. We'll total it up and present an amendment to the seller. Since it's small (less than 1%), it should be OK.

#2 The lender called. We're locked in at 4.875% interest, conventional 30y note. That's great news!

#3, The ins agent called. It's more than the lender expected (duh) but it's about half of what I was planning for. Billy is emailing me quotes, and I'm going to talk with Erica about the options: Loan value vs replacement value, and 0.5% vs 1% deductables.

For our current house
We just had 2/3 of the fence replaced today. The roof is from 2009-05. The upstairs bath is from 2009-06. The kitchen is from 2007-07. The Heat Pump (AC and Furnace) are from 2006-06. The downstairs bath is from 2003-12. The windows and siding are from 2003-07. Peak electric is $282, and and lowest has been around $220. The comparables in our neighborhood are not on the market, but there are plenty of fixer-uppers on the market. There are comparables within 2 miles of our house ranging from $135k to 151k. We're asking $120k.

Hopefully being fairly close to DCTA bus stops, and only a few miles from the lewisville/highland village train stop should help. We're on a cul du sac, which is nice for privacy. We're right next to the middle school, but the traffic doesn't pass in front of our house. Shopping is nearby. I-35 is nearby. LLTB is nearby. We have a fort in the back yard.

Both
Lots of documentation to update!
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
I'm glad I sent RFP to 9 companies.

In 2007, I asked 2 people. They showed up, took measurements, and never contacted me back.

This weekend, I RFP from 5 by email, 3 by webform and 1 by FAX.

4 responded same day. 2 responded as promised, though a third one responded ad-hoc today.

1 quoted labor only, had some communication problems, and didn't seem to meet what I was requesting to have done. Doesn't think the whole floor needs replacement. $275

The second matched my expectations exactly, was easy to talk with, and quoted labor and materials. He verified what I did and did not want done, and was willing to add on whatever. He said if I decide and call him tonight, he can be out in the morning and whole job will be up to 2 days. $850

The 4th responder had a local colleague just call and he's coming over to take a look. Doesn't think the floor needs replacement. $100 to pull cabinet, toilet, inspect floor. Once there, will know better what must be done vs what should be done. Kind of an interesting guy. Has lived in my neighborhood since 2001, one street over from me.

All of this combined makes me want to just demo it myself. *sigh*
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
This is the contractor who did our roof. He is very charismatic. He was flexible and met our needs. Free estimates. They started the work 12 hours after we signed the contract. 50% up front, and it took from 10am Tuesday to 11am Wednesday to finish everything.



Post inspection found the site to be about 95% clean. From an engineering standpoint, the work was excellent. From a quality standpoint, I'd say 9.5 out of 10.

I sort of wish we'd gotten gutters. it would have been about $450, and would have hidden minor aluminum imperfections.

I spent an hour trying to nit pick around the premises and found: One bench was not moved back. A small number of unmarked cantaloupe vines were damaged. 4 small felt nails in the dirt along the back span. 10 small scraps of kraft paper. 4 small fragments of plywood. 1/4 of a shingle from tearoff was in a tree. About a pound of quarter sized shingle bits were scattered about. Some shingle fragments fell into the attic on each side of the house where the turbines were removed. There were three places in the aluminum fascia cladding which were no longer smooth. This is more an issue of the siding install quality because on inspection, Sears damaged the roof to fit the siding on.

That may seem like a lot, but I am VERY nit picky. None of these are quality concerns to me. I dare you to find a roofer who would do a better job within $1000 of the price.

The new materials we picked were 20y warranty. The color is good and has enough variance to please picky me. All of the trim is installed such that I am confident in the future performance of the roof.

There's a 3 year labor warranty. He's eager to make sure everything meets our satisfaction. He's easy to talk to and his crew are helpful and hard working. He has customer testimonials as far south as Arlington.

At this point, I'm very happy with the work that's been done. I would recommend his work for anyone in the metroplex who needs roofing. I assume his gutter installs are equally good quality.
xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
2 weeks ago, I
  • repainted the lawn chairs
  • Cleaned out the garage
  • painted the garage (mostly)
  • shredded a bunch of old bills
  • Installed kitchen baseboards with my brother-in-law

Last week, I
  • Put water seal on the front bench
  • Cleaned and mowed the lawn
  • Fixed up pavers for the lawn chairs
  • Re-grouted the bathroom (After Erica toiled against the old grout!)


This week, I
  • Installed baseboards in the linen closet
  • Installed 3 missing baseboard pieces in kitchen.
  • Caulked seams of new stuff, plus about 1/4 of kitchen.
  • Finished rebuilding fence by the gate:
    • flattenned hinges
    • repainted hinges
    • replaced rotten post
    • Replaced two rotten crossmembers
    • adjusted one picket
    • shaved edge of gate
    • reinstalled spring
    • verified latch works
    • regraded dirt to allow gate swing

  • Repaired the towel hook/ceramic for the downstairs bathroom


*sigh*

The gate leans a bit, but is secure and latches. Could be worse. Lots of the fence needs remediation actually.

Also, the kids put the bench under the garage door, so the motor bent the door. I have it straightened enough that I'm not "worried" about it tearing off the tracks, but it still makes a kerthunk when the door is closing and opening.

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xaminmo: Josh 2016 (Default)
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