Thursday, June 14, 2012

On Houses and Sausages

Often attributed to Prince Otto von Bismarck is a famous quote that goes something like this "A man who loves sausages and respects the law should not watch either being made." He probably didn't originate the saying, but he might have said it. Reading through some of his other quotes, which are confirmed, it does sound like something he might have remarked.
Our new house is like that. The one-story is a nice enough house. Significantly smaller than where we live now, we will need to get rid of much of what we currently have. There is still some debate whether we keep the pool table and squeeze it into the new dining room as a somewhat acceptable table substitute or whether we let it go. I'm for keeping it. Darling waffles on the subject.
Darling is getting tired. She should be. Getting the new house ready is hard work and she's been shouldering the entire burden of doing so. If there's a lesson to pass on for this I think it would be "Don't buy a foreclosure. It ends up costing just as much as a typical house, and maybe more." Not to mention the levels of stress and frustration.
On the positive side Darling now has a small book of local contractors who do almost everything. Some of them are quite expensive, others less so. Juggling value against quality is certainly an issue. We can't have someone come in and put in a fence to see how good a job they can do. At that point you're stuck with the fence.
Darling replaced the back door within the first few days, adding a storm door to both the front and the back. Turns out we have a very strict Homeowner's Association. According to their by-laws we need to have the storm door approved before we put it in, but we didn't do that. We'll plead ignorance, legitimately.
The HOA also wants us to get permission to paint the outside of the house. Well, we did that without permission, but it is the same color, so it shouldn't matter.

The one on the right is gone now

Two moderately large oak trees stood in our front yard, blocking the view of the house and making me dodge limbs to enter the front door. One of them is in almost the right spot. I'd center it more, but you can't really pick things up and move them around in real life. The second tree, however, sat too close to the house, its water-thirsty roots stretching over the ground and reaching for the house foundations. Darling found some guys to cut that tree down to a ground-level stump. I'll work on some of the roots in the near future.
Turns out the HOA rules also require two oak trees in the front yard. I'll get another one and plant it on the other side of the driveway, much further from the house. It will be a lot smaller - and it will stay that way.
We want to plant some other trees also, perhaps one or two pecan trees in the front yard, along the curving part of the corner. I plan to put some orange trees in the back yard also, though the yard is pretty small. I don't think there are rules against that.

The new fence comes past the window

The neighbors behind us recently built a new fence, so the fenced area along the back of the house looked good. The fence on both sides was close to falling down. Darling was brilliant. She brought the new fence further along the sides of the house, providing more privacy and security. The new fence looks great. Our back yard now extends significantly on the side and provides much more fenced in yard. I have room for a few more trees, as long as I keep them relatively small.
The same guy that put in the front and back doors also added doors to the small office I the front of the house. They are French doors. I don't know what happened to the previous doors, but quite a few things are missing in the house. We need light fixtures and ceiling fans in most of the rooms and the shower heads are gone. Yes, the shower heads. That seems as odd to me as the missing doors.

The carpet isn't bad. In fact, it's in good shape. But it's carpet.


Darling also had the painter paint the entire inside of the house. The walls have a fresh-paint look that you see in new homes, and nicely painted baseboards.
Now the floor guys are working in the house. Most of the flooring was simple carpet, with the exception of the kitchen, breakfast nook and entry hallway. I am not a big fan of carpet. Over time carpet begins to show age, and with two indoor cats carpet can become less-than-nice looking in quick order. Flooring is expensive, though. We looked at woods and laminates. Again, trying to find an acceptable price/quality balance is a major ordeal - and a major cause of stress. After the first day of laying the floor we went and looked at what they were doing. Well, after the floor guys removed the carpet, the concrete looks pitted and ugly. The new floor, what they laid, looks okay, but the edges along the walls have gaps. The crew chief tells me that it will look fine once they put the quarter-round along the baseboard. The contractor said they would slide the flooring under the existing baseboards, but the crew chief says you can only do that with wood, not with laminate. Laminate strips click together in a manner that doesn't allow you to slip a piece under the existing baseboard.
Frankly, it bothered me. When I came home I looked at out floor in the living room and it has a quarter-round along the edges. I have no idea if there is a gap between the last board and the wall; I can't see it. Which made me think of the sausage quote. On a more personal level, my Dad's uncle in Ohio made the same comment about sausage - he loved sausage until he went to work in the sausage factory. I used to love the strawberry pie at a local restaurant when I was a teenager. Then I worked there and saw how they made the pies. Though less enamored of them, they were still good, and I still liked them. The magic of the pie wasn't there though.
I'm thinking we shouldn't even look at the floors until they are done. Really, people look around your house once, when they first visit. "Oh, what a lovely floor!" is what they'll say, because it is beautiful. They won't say "I'll bet that quarter-round is hiding some pretty nasty looking gaps, isn't it?" Or at least they won't say it to our faces. Living there, I'll look at the floors once in a while. Now that I know about the gaps, they might bother me a little once in a great while, but I'll get over it. The magic of the floor might be gone, though.
This floor looks much better, even dirty
I don't think we should visit until it is all finished. And then we will need to get the painter back and have him repaint about two feet up the wall and touch up the baseboards.
There's still some plumbing to do, and the shower in the Master bathroom needs to be re-tiled. I wanted to completely redo the shower, but we're running out of money for improvements and repairs. We still need to have some changes made to the closets. One of the big problems we have moving from our current house to the new house is the less storage space, especially the closets.
Darling wanted some sort of covering over the back patio slab to provide shade for her plants, but the HOA has some strict rules for those, and we can't really afford to meet their requirements at this time. Darling's back-up plan for putting a canvas tent back also is not allowed. We aren't allowed to put in a storage shed either (no free-standing structures are allowed).
We will have someone put in a sprinkler system, though. The new sprinkler system will have five zones.
I'm a little worried about our one outdoor cat. It looks like the HOA has some strict rules for pets too, which would explain all the dogs I hear in the neighborhood. Dogs can easily be fenced into a yard.
Darling is still recovering from surgery. Her Doctor told her it would be three to six MONTHS until she is mostly healed. I'm sure coordinating all the repairs isn't helping. Moving to the new house will be fine, but you can see why Darling is stressed and tired.
I'm stressed and tired just blogging about it.

1 comment:

  1. VINCE, THO OUR LIVES HAVE RARELY CROSSED PATHS IN THE LAST 32+ YEARS AFTER READING YOUR BLOGS I FELT A CONNECTION, PERHAPS IT IS HARED EXPERIENCES, SIMILAR OFF THE WALL THOUGHTS OR MAYBE IT'S ONLY THE GENETICS, HAD MY GRANDMOTHER NOT HAD YOUR GRANDMOTHER OR MY FATHER WE WOULDN'T BE DOING THIS-NICE TO COMMUNICATE IN A SEMI,CYBER TANGIBLE WAY, SOUNDS LIKE WE'VE FOUGHT SOME OF THE SAME DEMONS IN OUR LIVES. ENJOYED THE MAY 2 BLOG, RESURRECTED SO MANY MEMORIES OF YOUR MOM, HER QUIET WORDS OF WISDOM GOT ME THRU SOME PRETTY ROUGH TIMES. I LIKE TO THINK SHE IS STILL LOOKING AT THAT MOON, JUST FROM A DIFFERENT LOCATION WITH A MUCH BETTER VIEW, SITTING ON CELESTIAL LAWN CHAIRS DRINKING BEER WITH AUNT JEN, UNCLE MAC, MY DAD, ANITA, JERRY, DON AND SO MANY MORE OF HER FAMILY SHE LOVED SO MUCH.

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