Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buying our house: Report #11

Our washer and dryer came Monday, and we were so happy! Then we discovered that it's an infusor washing machine (GE), which doesn't have an agitator; it uses "wave action.' We wanted one with an agitator. After checking out infusor machines via Google, we knew we didn't want one 'cause we want our clothes clean in one washing! (We ordered it via an online listing.) And it make funny noises that sound like it's broken; the noise is also incredibly annoying. (It's certainly not the swoosh, swoosh it's supposed to sound like.) But we don't want to pay another restocking fee. I will get rid of it as soon as I can. And then we discovered that the washing machine water was backing up into the utility sink. We had the city sewer guys check that out. They checked everything thoroughly, which included sending dye through the lines (from the toilet in the old part of the house and the utility room sink in the new part of the house), and they discovered that we have two lines running to the sewer. One from the old part and one from the addition. The old sewer line is fine... Then our plumber came and worked up on the roof (running his snake/auger through the roof vent; that's less messy than doing it in the house); after that he hunted for our sewer line in the back yard and finally found it; another plumber had to come to help with the cleaning and excavation. So, next week we'll be getting a new line to the sewer, along with a cleanup plug next to the house. Apparently the newer line is full of roots--lots of them--even though that new line had a wrap that was supposed to repel roots. Roots are very thirsty! And only time will tell if new products work. Larry, the carpenter recommended by a friend, came again this week and worked for two and a half days. He painted and fixed all kinds of problems! He has helped us make order out of chaos; and the newly painted bedroom is beautiful! It looks brighter and bigger! And TECO sent a crew over to check out that old gas line in back of the house. It wasn't theirs, but they checked it out, cut it down, capped it, and buried it so people won't trip over it. (We had put an big flower pot over it.) Now we feel safe. We're still buying plants and mulch and planting and transplanting plants, but we've gotten a lot of rain recently so we don't have to water. That big storm today (still picking up branches) showed us areas that need more plantings. Have I mentioned that the back yard slopes down to the east and Lake Hollingsworth? We have to buy ceiling fans and light fixtures for the house now. I believe we're about to get a schedule for next week from our contractor. I hope that means we'll have a kitchen soon! And a kitchen sink!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Buying our house: Report #10

We've been buying plants, mulch, and top soil and then planting and watering. (It's been very dry here.) A friend unraveled a number of wiring puzzles for us. The house was full of switches whose purposes we couldn't figure out. Well, some of them were three-way switches, and our friend made us diagrams for the complicated switches. Then he checked out our sprinkling system, whch is very impressive; it has five zones. It also has a few leaks and one geyser. The fence guys ran into a pipe and some sprinklers. They got one of the neighbor's sprinklers too, but our friend fixed that. (Thank you, Bob!) The contractor will take care of our sprinkler problems, but we wanted a happy neighbor sooner.

The AC inspector came Monday, March 24, and gave our AC system a good rating, which made us happy. A sub-contractor came and looked at the door that needs to be replaced and measured the windows. They need replacing too, but that's not covered by our remodeling contract. We do need to do that. It'll cut down on the traffic noise and help our electric bill.

We donated a number of things to Habitat for Humanity, and we're giving them our old kitchen cabinets, when they're removed. Our washer and dryer are coming Monday, though they'll have to be moved when the contractor reaches the laundry room. We've started stencilling the house, room by room. (All our houses--and some of our outbuildings--have always been stencilled at our homes.) We're still mulling over what to do with some of our landscape challenges, such as that steep slope. We're going to try sweet potato vines on the mound encircled by concrete (driveway and sidewalk); that should keep them within bounds. They do love to travel!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Patio ideas (link)

Starting with the base material, make sure you have the right kind of sand. A simple concrete patio can be enhanced with different patterns and colors. Pavers are also good, and they're easy to remove and replace when necessaary. There are various kinds of edging, including flower beds. [There's also extruded edging, but I prefer edging that be be adjusted when you get a new idea or more plants.] Check out more ideas at:
Patio Ideas: Building Tips and Design Trends : Slideshow : HGTV Pro

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flooring (links)

Check out these flooring links; there's even a list of flooring trends, which include vinyl, carpet--still the most popular flooring material, and green products.
Link: Flooring Guide : Decorating : Home & Garden Television
Link: Flooring Trends : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Friday, March 18, 2011

Buying our house: Report #9

On Thursday, March 10, we began to feel at home, thanks to Larry. He hung our pictures, Shaker pegboards, clocks, and a bathroom cabinet. Now we had places to hang clothes, towels, and some of our artwork that didn't go on the walls. I think we made him rehang only one picture. It was too high once the curtains went up. And a firend suggested that we hang the moons and stars in the guest bedroom; she also helpd us rearrange it. Now it looks good!

That same day the crew began taking down the old fence, which had been rotting for a long time, and pruning back branches that were in the way. The hard part was taking out the gigantic bougainvillea on the east property line which had begun to take over the neighbor's yard. I'm told that the spines from that plant accounted for three wheelbarrow tires (two different crews); and we're always pulling thorns and branches out of our shoes.

The dumpster was delivered Wednesday, March 9. That's always a sign of progress; it didn't take long to fill it with plant and fence debris. Friday, March 11, our porch was screened, and we could let the dogs out on it without watching them. A friend had lent us an old screen door covered with lattice to cover up one badly torn section of screening.

We recycled packing boxes to different people, also roses, loropetalums, and two sagos. (They're cycads, not palms, btw.) Monday, March 14, the new AC units (we have a split system) were installed. Taking out the rusty old monster unit was a challenge, and they had to haul a lot of old pieces of the AC system from the attic. Hopefully, when we use the heat pump, it will no longer sound like a roaring monster. (We probably won't be using the heat pump any more this season. It's really warming up; the highs are in the mid 80s.)

Also on Monday, we got our new fridge. (We'd been using a small one for almost two weeks.) We ordered a 21 cubic foot model because we didn't want it to be too small. (Our last one at the old homestead had been too small since we bought a stainless steel model for resale value. I don't want one of those again!) Anyway, it was way too big for our galley kitchen. It was a behemoth! And we certainly didn't need that much freezer room. So we eventually decided to return it. There was a restocking fee. Ouch! We got our 17.9 cubic foot fridge Thursday, March 17, and we are happier with it. I admit that we could use more interior space, but it doesn't dwarf the kitchen.

That Thursday we also had our new fence installed; the back yard has a privacy fence for us and our new neighbors, chain link on both sides of the privacy fence in the back for the dogs, and a three rail fence out front; it also runs down the east property line to connect with the chain link fence. Unfortunately an old crape myrtle was in the way of the new front fence, which was moved back so it wasn't on the easement. Well, it was a tree we'd been discussing 'cause it looked strange. We thought it might have been "crape-murdered" too many times. So, I called around and tracked down the guy who'd done plant removal work for us earlier, and he came right over with his trusty chain saw. It was a pleasure watching him take off the tree branches and then take the trunk down in sections--all the way to the ground--and by himself. The man's a pro! (Thank you, Hubert, for coming to our rescue.)

Thursday we also got to watch the dumpster being removed. I asked the guy how he was going to get that big dumpster on that little truck bed?! He called us from out back later where we were takling to the AC crew to watch.The hydraulic winch pulls up the dumpster as the truck bed slides under it. Wow! The man said that there are bigger dumpsters that hang over the bed.

The front porch steps railing was also replaced; and we bought plants to begin the landscaping we'll have to do. We brought a lot of plants from the old homestead, thanks to the new owners, who've been generous with plants and help. So we've been planting, watering, and setting up our old concrete benches and birdbaths. It's beginning to feel like home. And we've ordered a washer and dryer. (Our friends have been taking turns doing our laundry.) Now I have check out the range, microwave, and dishwasher. I'm not sure when we'll get our cabinets and kitchen sink, but I'm sure looking forward to that!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Laminate flooring choices (link)

Today's laminate floors are impressive; you get the look of various hardwoods at a more affordable price: Laminate Flooring Options : Slideshow : HGTV Pro

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kitchen design (link)

Here are some design tips for tiny kitchens: Simple Design Tips for Tiny Kitchens : Rooms : Home & Garden Television

Suggestions include an open floor plan that flows into other rooms and keeping it light and uncluttered. You can also downsize your appliances.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Buying our house: Report #8

We are moved in, with the help of friends and the movers, who underestimated how much stuff we had! However, our friends picked up the slack and made even more trips from the old to the new house, and today the new owners dropped off more things we left behind. We'll stop by their new home soon to admire the changes in our old house--and pick up some pans that were left in the oven.

So, we're still settling in, and the contractor and sub-contractors have been coming by frequently to do measurements and make plans. We continue to choose paint colors and materials. I was disappointed to find out that Formica was now making their Boomerang pattern only in charcoal gray, and there was no trace of Confetti. Lots of imitation stone and wood. The countertop in the laundry room will be from Wilsonart.

We've been pruning and taking out a few trees and plants. (That was pretty easy because they were rootbound.) There'll be a lot more clearing out when the fence guys start preparing the way for the fence, which we are so looking forward to. Blizzard wants to run!

And we have someone coming in to hang pictures, Shaker pegboards, clocks, and the two old moon and stars wood pieces we have. We're still deciding where some of those go. He'll take an old TV satellite dish off the roof too and help us with other things. There's a lot to do here! And we are so grateful for the friend who brought us supper on our first night here--chile, crackers, cookies, and a half-gallon of tea. We were so tired, we hadn't even thought about supper.