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Oct 25 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Home Improvements

This weekend it’s supposed to be pretty nice out, so it’s our “last hurrah, get the house and yard ready for winter” weekend. Things like ripping out the tomato plants, getting the shovels within reach, finding the rock salt, adding insulation and caulking…that sort of thing. Our reward for a productive Saturday is a Halloween party that night (still hunting for costumes; Tom wants to go as suicidal Cubs fans, but given the Rockies’ performance last night, we could probably be a little more local). But planning for the weekend got me to thinking, yet again, of all the home improvements I want to make. How a house that is only four years old needs improvement is beyond me, but the builder really skimped on quality and we weren’t going to pay builder prices to upgrade. Last summer we finished the basement and it really became obvious how many corners the original builder cut when building the house; the basement guys didn’t and it’s my favorite part of our house.

1. Put in a deck or patio or something other than the crappy crushed gravel patio we currently have. Yes, that would be the crushed gravel patio we covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting this spring in an attempt to keep the gravel and dust out. I’m happy to report it worked, but it is still the ugliest thing I have ever seen. Bright green faux carpet, nailed over two by fours, and not one big piece of faux carpet, but several patched together. Nothing like sheer ugliness to motivate you to replace it within a year. Tom is leaning toward a patio, but since we need to keep the drainage moving away from the house (especially since my scrap room is in the basement right below there and I’m not too keen on flooding that room), I’m pushing for a Trex deck with bench seating (where we could store toys) and solar lights on the posts.

2. Replace the crushed gravel walkway from the backyard to the front with something else. Anything else. We’re leaning toward colored concrete or brick.

3. Once those two things are done and the possibility of ruining the floors is reduced, we gotta replace the flooring house-wide. The builder-grade carpet…I’ve never seen anything like this. When we first moved in and I’d vacuum, I’d have to change the vacuum bag every couple of runs because it was sucking up so much fuzz. I could have woven a new carpet with what I vacuumed up. And it holds on to stains like nothing else. The carpet is worn down to threads over the tack strips, so you have to be really careful when you walk barefoot, not to step on the tack strip area, ’cause those tacks hurt. The linoleum we put in is scratched, gouged, and stained. This stuff is four years old! I want to put down wood laminate, house wide. Yeah, it’ll be a bit loud upstairs, but much easier to clean, and rugs will dampen the sound and be easier to clean and replace.

4. Speaking of rugs, I’m getting them here. This is so me. Easy to clean, easy to recycle when you replace them, all sorts of designs and styles. Did I mention easy to clean?

5. All of this may need to wait because of a pressing house issue. The mortared stone on the bottom part of our house is falling off the house in sheets. No kidding. Some of it is only still up because it’s resting on the stone below. Crappy builder. That needs to be repaired. Since I will only deal with the builder at this point if there is a “life and limb” problem with the house, we’re doing this on our own. And since we live on the only beige fungus block in the community, we want to do something different. Brick, instead of stone. And repaint the damned house. Again, the builder screwed the whole block on paint color. We’re all variants of the same shade of “baby doodoo” yellow, with a few houses having actual color. So we’re thinking dark blue, white trim, and brick. And I dare the HOA to contest this.

6. Our house faces west, with no foliage to block the blazing summer sun. It gets so hot on the west side of the house in the summer that we can barely be in the rooms on that side of the house, and those rooms are the kitchen and family room. You know, the rooms with the food, the entertainment, and my computer. Going outside after about 11 in the summer is brutal. So we want to put in a retractable patio awning, one with a wind sensor so when a storm blows up it doesn’t rip off the house and we don’t have to run out there in a storm to deal with it.

7. We have put off painting our front room the entire time we’ve lived here. We just can’t deal with it. It has a high ceiling that goes up the stairs to the second floor. We have no desire to rent scaffolding to paint, or to try to paint a high ceiling while balancing on scaffolding going up a flight of stairs. With young, active boys who would want to “help.” The front room also needs real furniture. It has become the repository of “furniture with no other home” and is less than soothing.

8. I really wish we had a three car garage, or at least a 2 1/2 car garage, so we’d have room for the cars and all the accoutrements of a family. I’m sick of pulling the cars out so we can get to the bicycles. I think a small shed for the backyard is in order. Don’t know where exactly we’ll put it, but we need something.

9. Doors. Don’t get me started on the doors. I’m sure I complained about the doors before. The builder screwed us on the doors and it would have taken an attorney to get us unscrewed. It just wasn’t worth it. Imagine the cheapest POS doors you’ve ever seen on a college apartment and you’re pretty close to what we have now. Except in the basement (where everything is of good quality) and in our bedroom (where we replaced them last spring when we painted), crappy door reign. The joke has become, before making a purchase, “is it door-worthy?” Because we found out that doors are roughly $35 at Home Depot. So we have…lemme see…oh, about 9 doors to replace, then closet doors and the door to the garage. One.At.A.Time.

10. Is that it? I seem to think there were a lot more projects on my list.

11. Paint the basement I guess would go on this list.

12. I’d like to somehow drill holes into the back of my built-in desk so I can feed the cords down there and actually have some desk space.

13. I think that’s everything…until this weekend, when I come up with another half-dozen projects. Paying for it all? Good question. I guess I don’t need both kidneys…or both sons…LOL!

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