Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Hi All!

It's been a very eventful 2013, with a wedding, a new house, school, and new jobs! There are no signs of slowing down yet, so in the few days of vacation, I just wanted to stop and wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here's a list of our house New Year resolutions that you'll get to see progress in 2014:
1) Finish up the entryway opening ASAP!!!!
2) Scrape the popcorn ceilings in the living room.
3) Remodel the kitchen (summer).
4) New flooring (before Christmas).
5) Raised beds for the vegetable garden (February).
6) Drip irrigation for the garden (February/March).
7) Plant an orchard (February).
8) Fix the broken sprinkler system (spring).
9) Replace the mantle
10) Curtains
11) Host Christmas 2014
12) Move out of the apartment and into the house!!

and more! We can't wait to tackle 2014!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Small updates and drawing close

Apologies for the horrid formatting. Cell phone blogging is awkward at best. The apartment has been without Internet for a few weeks (since the infamous flooding incident), and the house isn't quite "get ready for work"  ready.

This last weekend has been a flurry of activity. Lauren and I got out into the front yard and cleaned up all the downed tree limbs, hopefully stopping the steady stream of landscapers with a pickup and a chainsaw from ringing our doorbell. They wanted $500 for what took us about 2 hours with an axe and a pair of gloves (I didn't want to waste all the gas on cutting tiny limbs with the chainsaw).

We also sanded and prepped one of the living room walls for painting. Unfortunately the backing glue for the wood paneling, along with damage from tearing down the paneling made for a rather uneven finish.

Now we have to decide whether it's uneven enough to redo, or whether the wall is fine to be painted. Lauren painted a small part gray, but it looks too blue at the moment. Perhaps we should restart? We'll see.

I'm all finished prepping the opening in the entry way to be reframed, and the miter saw came in the mail. Now it should be relatively simple to frame and drywall the new opening.

We're off to Indy for a few weeks, and then we move in!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ice, Ice Everywhere!

I always knew that things could go wrong in a house, but I never imagined how many of those things would go wrong in the first month of owning our home.

We've owned the house for all of 3 weeks, and so far we've had a delay in closing that forced us to push a bunch of deliveries back, a broken down car, a broken down washing machine, a flooded apartment, and now an ice storm! Needless to say, we're just waiting for the other shoe to drop!

2013 has been a very memorable year, both with positives (getting married, starting law school, buying a house), and with negatives (two major dog emergencies, multiple major expenses at inopportune times).

What better to (hopefully) cap the year off than an ice storm! Right?!? After stepping outside at one point and hearing a nearly constant "crack, crack, CRASH!!!", I knew this was gonna be a fun one!

So far there have only been two major tree limbs that have fallen from my trees (along with a bunch of smaller branches.

One limb fell right in the middle of the yard. The other is sitting on the chain link fence and the neighbor's yard

Well, looks like I'm in the market for a chainsaw! I'm not stressing at this point, just sitting in front of the fire, enjoying the ability to work from home.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Workin' hard or hardly working?

As has been documented, we've been working hard to get this house in move-in shape by the time our lease is up. We've had a few pushes and prods to get us in the house sooner rather than later, but overall it's on schedule.

Here are the long awaited before and afters!

First, the dining area

We ended up finding a cool little surprise in this room! It looks like the wall previously had an opening where we were planning on making one! That means it'll likely be a bit easier to open that wall right back up.

We also took down the living room paneling

All this paneling was relatively easy to pull off. A couple crowbars and a few hours, and we got most of it down. The biggest difficulties were 1) giant pieces of nail-laden wood paneling flying at my face, 2) the older paneling splintering, and 3) feeding the electrical outlets through the holes in the paneling.

Then, we got the paintbrushes out and painted the "cozy room" and the fireplace.

This is just using a white paint and special masonry rollers (they're extra fuzzy). Another fun part was yanking off the mantle. A couple crow bars and a few minutes of tugging, and it came right off!

We took care of a few more odds and ends as well.

Other than that, we're just waiting until my finals are over to start doing some more work! I just got a reciprocating saw and a shop-vac, so we have everything we need to open up the wall.

Next 5 things to do
1. Open up the entryway wall
2. Remove the ceiling fan in the cozy room so that we can get some furniture in
3. Spackle and tape all the newly exposed drywall
4. Run electrical and wires so that we don't have any exposed wiring for the TV. Also run CAT5 around the house.
5. Fill in the giant hole next to the house that seems to attract bugs.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Work Begins

We took possession of the house on Friday, and spared no time in starting the renovation process. There were a few things on the "need to go post-haste" list, and they're all taken care of now.

Our new home!

After a trip to the closest hardware store, we came home with a pair of crowbars and went to town on the wood paneling until 11pm on Friday night. We also removed the accordion doors in front of the washroom, and I started removing the floral valance over the sliding glass door.

We got angry!
I then spent most of Saturday finishing off the wood paneling, ripping the valance off, and trying to fix a sticking front door. Also, during that time, we had our refrigerator delivered, and an attic inspection that told me what I need to do to increase my energy efficiency (because I'm not paying $2500 to have other people cut soffit holes and blow insulation when I can do it for much cheaper).

Then, however, our fortunes took a turn for the worse. When we got home (to the apartment), the toilet had malfunctioned (the float valve stuck in the down position, i think), and flooded half the apartment. One emergency call to maintenance later, and we were up at 1am moving everything out of the second bedroom and packing it to take to the house. This included the modem, our main computer, and a bunch of books and other equipment. We decided that this was a sign to transfer the internet service sooner rather than later.

After moving all of that into the house on Sunday, we took some time to clean up the wood paneling and hang some lights on the back patio (the existing lights were dim and underwhelming).

Next up for us is some spackling and taping of the newly exposed drywall, a bit of paint, and some electrical work. I'll also try to get some before and afters up so you can see the difference between Friday night and now!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Big Day is Finally here!!

Our House!

Closing was today!!

After dealing with a week and a half of logistical nightmare, we finally signed on the dotted line, over and over and over again, until eventually they said enough and we now own the house!

There's still one small hiccup between now and us getting the keys. Due to the fact that our closing was delayed by a few days, we have one more document that needs to be corrected to the proper closing date, and then we can swing by and pick up the keys!

Not only that, but with my first law school final out of the way as of tonight, we can focus on the next two months. We don't have to move out of the apartment until mid-January, so we have two months to affect any changes we want with no furniture to move around.

Now comes the fun part, a list of DIY projects on the horizon!

Trim and exterior door paint 
 We're going to shoot for something a little less "southwest", and something a little more on the grayscale. The only complication is going to be that the shingles are red, so we will have to work that in with the rest of the exterior

            Wood Paneling
I'm really looking forward to taking a crowbar to the wood paneling in the living and dining rooms! Can't wait to find out what's underneath!

Entry Wall                

That left wall in the entry is just begging to meet the sawzall! That will open up that entire side of the house immediately!

        Hardwood Flooring 
  The floor is just a few shades too bright for the rest of the house. Some of this will be cleaned up by ripping down the wood paneling. We're also going to spring for some darker hand-scraped wood to complement the rest of the house a little better.

Temporary Dog Run       

The dogs need their own little area off of the patio. It'll keep them from squeezing through the gaps in the chain link fence, and will keep me from going insane trying to corral them!

This garden will be huge, it will be awesome, and it will be DIY! Thinking about my garden has gotten me through a really lame growing season this year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting closer to closing!

We're almost 2 weeks away from closing, and things are coming together fairly well! There's just a few things to take care of mortgage wise, and then comes the fun of signing all the documents.

Our new refrigerator!

As we have slowly rolled closer and closer to owning a house, we've made some appliance purchases as we found deals. The biggest purchase so far has been the refrigerator! We got a great deal on an LG door in door model, saving us over $1000 at the expense of a couple scratches and dents where they won't even be noticed.

I also caught a great deal on a mailer at work, getting a great garage refrigerator and a nice looking entertainment center for a total of $200!

Now, between the 2 fridges and the chest freezer, all our refrigeration needs have been taken care of.

However, right as we were rolling along, another emergency situation hit. We're not exactly unfamiliar with emergency situations after one dog got bit by a snake in the same month as $800 in emergency car repairs. Add on to that a $300 vet bill for the other dog to get sutures, another $500 vet bill for the first dog to get his herniated disk in his back repaired, and now a broken washing machine.

That's right, the 2.5 year old washing machine I bought brand new in 2011 blew a transmission all of 6 months out of warranty.

The offending Whirlpool Cabrio
I guess I should've checked the reviews on Amazon, because they're pretty mediocre.

So, after some emergency triage (yes, i found a service manual and got into the diagnostic menu), I declared this washer to be a lost cause, and we started our search for a new washer. I had a brand new copy of Consumer Reports sitting on my coffee table from the refrigerator search, and ended up giving it a quick read. I settled on either LG, Samsung, or Maytag. Given that we didn't have much time at all to sit on our hands and do research, I think we got a pretty decent deal.

We got the new washer "new in box" for $550 off of list, and $250 off of the best prices I could find.
The new Samsung washer

It's got a ton of great features!

Beyond that, there's not much more to report on the house front. We're keeping our fingers on the pulse of the riding lawn mower market, hoping to get a good deal, because that is the first thing that needs done upon our moving in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Start of a New Era

As of right now, I am finishing up polishing off the inspection contingencies on what will soon be our new house! 

Tons of Paperwork!
The state of my desk is quite messy!

With this starts a new era in our lives, a shift from renting to owning! From dumping money down the drain to rental companies to dumping money down the drain to home improvement companies!

My wife and I are both very excited about this opportunity, and can't wait to get moved in. I'm so excited I set up a blog! 

I'm a scatterbrained, random type of guy, so staying focused on one thing is impossible for me. Therefore this isn't strictly going to be a DIY home improvement documentation type blog. I'm also going to toss in tons of information about how we saved money on the home improvements, and on our frugality in general. I may also spread out an talk about other stuff on occasion, so I in no way guarantee that there won't be some mission creep.

As of now, we are planning what we want to do to the house between closing and when we're going to move in (2 months). After receiving the inspection report, I have an idea of some of the small tasks which will happen, along with a few of the "must have" changes that we absolutely won't move in without. We have also negotiated with the seller to do our own repairs of some safety issues, so that's going to happen prior to moving in.

We are going to try to tackle all of this before moving in:
  • Replace the A/C Circuit breaker with the proper one
  • Put in GFCI protection in the kitchen and both bathrooms
  • Fix the improperly grounded outlets in one of the bedrooms
  • Replace the existing chain-link fence with a wooden privacy fence, including a chain-link dog run
  • Fix/rewire one zone of the sprinkler system so it runs properly
  • Fix  the two sprinkler heads that water the fence and the neighbor's driveway
  • Tear down all wood panelling
  • Repaint
  • Buy a new refrigerator (and possibly a new oven)
  • Start a garden and orchard in the backyard
  • Replace the bamboo and plastic flooring with hand-scraped hardwood.
We probably won't get to everything, but if we get 60-75% done, that would be success! I'm sure I'll be referring to this list many times in the future, as we tackle some of these projects!