Posts from the ‘Home buying’ Category

Hiatus Time

I haven’t updated this blog in quite a while, so I thought I’d better do that. First, the big news: I moved. A lot of reasons but my grandmother turned 100 last year and I felt the need to be closer to her. With no job anymore (I’m on disability) I decided it was time to move. I finished up the remaining few details and finally the house was sold.

It wasn’t an easy decision. Buying that house on my own, with no help from anyone, had been a personal triumph for me. I had lost a previous home due to my father’s business going under and having to rebuild my credit from scratch. So it really meant a lot that I was able to make the purchase and have a roof over my head. In the end, however, family and other concerns won out.

And yes, I lost a lot of money. One thing that surprised me was how much the crash had devalued my property. Comps were misleading: I had tax values but very few recent sales to compare it to. So instead of breaking even I lost money. It’s hard to be too pessimistic when everyone else is in the same boat, though.

So, I relocated to my late mother’s hometown of Mooresville, NC, and moved in with my grandmother, over 175 miles to the west. One of her late sisters had an in-law suite built onto the house and I stayed there. Very cramped quarters but it worked for awhile. Then I found out the cute little house next door was for rent, and the lady across the street owns it. We met and spoke about it, and though she was adamant at first that no pets were allowed, I begged her to consider just my cats. She relented and I moved in exactly one year ago. There have been a few issues with the house, a tiny 786-square-foot cottage, but it is tightly built and cozy. Very well cared-for, as well. A short walk through the woods and I am at my grandmother’s house so that is a perfect situation.

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So what’s next? That is a good question.

My my goal at present is to buy a house, hopefully an older one with lots of charm and character. You won’t find me in a cookie cutter subdivision. If I had unlimited funds, I’d buy a vintage Victorian mansion and spend my time sanding and refinishing it until it looks like knew. Unless someone is giving one away, I’d say that’s somewhere in the distant future, if it ever happens at all. More likely is finding an older house with a lot of character, within my budget, and making it my forever home. Because honestly, I don’t ever want to move again.

In the meantime, I will refocus the blog on various homes I see and like, and discuss them as they capture my interest. Stay tuned, and we’ll see what happens…

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Thirty-One to Thirty Three.

It’s time to break out the bubbly! No, it’s not New Year’s yet, but at long last, I can move into the house again. The last job, installing and painting the quarter-rounds is done. This is a big day for me, something I’ve waited for for a long time. I have much, much more to do, mind you, but at this point, at least, I can breathe a bit easier; the hardest, toughest job is done and I can move back in and tackle the rest of the house while I’m living there.

Let’s see what I have so far…

This is the living room extension, I had just started and had this corner done; you can see the small pieces I cut off on the floor.

Above is the back bedroom, and below is the living room at the front door and coat closet.

Like every job in this house, it has had a few difficulties. One of them is a perplexing filing job some worker did to mate the baseboards to the door frames. The baseboards were apparently wider than the boards used in the door frames, so they were filed down at the ends so they wouldn’t protrude. In some cases this was more pronounced than others, but it meant laying the shoe molding (quarter-rounds) was a headache. Here’s how I dealt with it:

This shows how the baseboard was filed down just before it ends in contact with the door frame, and making a straight line to the door is impossible. So, I cut a slight angle on the end piece of quarter round and nailed it in place.

These pics were taken before I put the paint on, so it looks “unfinished” but my phone was dead when I did the painting, and now the paint has been applied and the lines and nail holes are mostly filled in. You can also see a lot of sawdust on the top of the baseboard; I had to go around with a vacuum and damp rag prior to painting the quarter-rounds. I also had a lot of gouges from the hammer and the sander to deal with, plus some stain which splashed up when applying that to the floor, so I basically gave the baseboards another coat of paint while I was at it.

I will go back and take my expensive Nikon camera to shoot the house in more detail as soon as I do some final cleaning and touch-ups.

I’m still looking for those missing receipts; I will have to guesstimate if I can’t find them!

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Twenty-three to Twenty-five

After the Thanksgiving holiday layoff, I got paid again and resumed work. This kind of hurt, because the funds I had designated for it went partially to the rental of the sander that didn’t work, and then I spent money for gas to get home on.

So, I had to rent a second sander and purchase paper.

Anyway, I didn’t get it picked up until 5:00 pm on Monday, and spent all evening and all night sanding the floors. Let’s take a look.

As you can see, this sander, using a 20-grit paper, cut quickly through the old finish and got right to the wood. It is a lot more labor intensive. With an orbital sander, the unit can stay in one place without too much danger of gouging the wood. Not so one of these. You absolutely must keep it moving at all times, as the drum will quickly gouge out a trough in the wood.

A few problems ensued, natually!

For some odd reason three of the sheets of paper just shredded. I know I got all the nails and things off the floor, so this had me puzzled. After those three sheets, I had no further problems.

Except for the dust collector. I noticed the bag wasn’t filling with sawdust, so I had take apart the unit to get to the clog.

This happened using the 20-grit paper; it really rips up a lot of floor in a short time, so the sawdust is heavy and sticky with old varnish. (Safety note: NEVER leave piles of sawdust in a closed bag, they have a tendency to go up in spontaneous combustion!) I just shook the sawdust out in the yard.

Finally, I got all the floors sanded. Here’s what it looked like then.

I am not sure why there is a darker area from the wall to about 3 feet out. This machine operates by turning it on and walking backward as you sand, so you have about 3 feet you don’t get on the first pass, and then you have to turn around and go the opposite way. Perhaps it has something to do with the direction of the grain; trees grow upward, so perhaps going in the opposite direction creates a different “cut.” No other way to do it, though.

Obviously noticeable is a larger gap where the sander couldn’t reach, about 4 inches wide.

To get to that I used my trusty belt sander, with a 50-grit coarse paper.

I could have rented an edger, but as seen here, this does a great job. I went out to Wal-Mart last night to round up all the 50-grit paper they had in stock.

And here’s the wall after sanding the edges.

The quarter-round molding will cover up the remaining lines, for the most part. And the stain I plan to use will hide the leftover, visible areas if all goes according to plan.

Old total: $284.83

New total $369.96 (cost of renting sander plus paper)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Twenty-Two

The day I was looking forward to for a long time turned into a disaster!

All the main painting work was done, the trim finished, everything moved out and floors swept and vacuumed. So, at 9:00 am I arrived at the rental place and picked up the floor sander, and a bunch of sandpaper.

By 12:00 noon I had everything ready and fired up the sander.

The unit is extremely heavy, but operates very smoothly.

But no sooner had I started than I realized I had a significant problem.

This area has been sanded four times in the picture, and you can see here, absolutely nothing is accomplished. The sander could not even touch this old stuff. This is not the cheap stuff you buy today that’s just pressed sawdust and glue with a thin layer of veneer on top. This is solid wood, one inch thick, with a heavy-duty finish on it.

So, I went out to the building to get my belt sander, and tried that.

The belt sander, using a medium 80-grit paper, was able to cut right through to the wood. So, that made it clear, I’ll need to do the floors with a drum sander, which is an entirely different kind of work. It’s a lot more labor intensive, but it’s something I have done before and it’s difficult to use,  so at least I know what I’m dealing with.

Thanksgiving is upon us, so that’s all the work until after the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Seventeen Through Twenty-One

Well, the biggest milestone has been passed. All the painting of the front and sides of the house has been done. That is, the living room, the living room extension, hallway, and the two bedrooms have been completed.  I can’t begin to tell how relieved I am.

There will be a good many touch-ups to do, and things to correct and redo later, but the main job is done.

A few pics…

This is the back bedroom, with the double window facing the backyard. This window is in the roughest shape of all. Will need to be completely redone at a later date.

This is the closet of the back bedroom. Only bad thing about this door was someone painted it with a roller brush at some point. Ugh!

This is the closet door of the front bedroom, with a part of the doorframe and edge of wall that protrudes forward a bit. The windows and doors of this room were in the nicest shape of anywhere in the house.

Tomorrow is the big day: floor sanding.  I dread that…

Old total:  $284.83

New total: $284.83  (no new purchases)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day 16

I’m scratching my head this evening, but I think one mystery about my house has possibly been solved. Several features about this house have always puzzled me, such as why the ceilings and doorways are lower than most houses, and why the walls don’t seem to mate up just right in places.

I have come to believe my house is actually one of the post-war kit houses that could be ordered from Sears and other places and were shipped by rail and assembled on site. The ceilings, for example, are about 7’6″ high, and the doorways are lower, about 6’6″ or so. And many places such as corners don’t seem to have been mated together properly, with a few gaps here and there.

Another thing: all the corners in the house have small 1×1″ trim boards attached where they join, but in some places 1×2″ boards were used. Very odd, since most houses use joint compound and drywall tape, or plaster, to form the corners.

This is one such corner. I hate that the camera really struggles to translate the color, but anyway, every place where there’s a joint you have this kind of mating: wood strips to close the gaps in the walls.

And then there’s this curious place in the hallway floor. This was discovered after the old carpet was ripped up. There’s this line where it looks like the floor was just cut. At first I thought it was done to install the old furnace, but then I noticed the line is on a direct plane with the center of the house, directly under the roof peak.

It was odd to me they would cut the floor like this, and even seasoned HVAC guys don’t generally do sloppy work like this. But it makes a lot more sense if this is actually a seam where two halves the house are joined together.

I will need to research these old houses some more and see if I can find what model it was, and where it was sold.

In other news, my bedroom door is done and both bedrooms have received the first coat of paint.  Her’s a quick view of the back bedroom.

Oddly, this back bedroom has a small chair rail. I’m leaving it, will just be a new challenge when it comes to painting it.

Lastly, this little scraper is worth it’s weight in gold: I think it was about $5.00 at Lowe’s. With several packs of scraping material or sandpaper, it cuts right through old paint fast. Definitely a good investment.

You can see the attached scraping material on it, it’s some kind of very rough mesh. You can even use them to scrape small items without the handle tool.

Had to buy more paint this evening. So, new totals are in order…

Old total:  $216.50

New Total: $284.83

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Eleven-Fifteen

I combined several days of entries into this one this time, simply because the work was repetitive: no need to repeat “I painted trim today” for four days straight. On the plus side, I have good news.

All the paint and trim in the living room and hallway has been done. Four straight days of marathon sessions resulted in completion of one LONG project. The living room, as I believe I mentioned before, has eight doorways, three windows and crown moldings and baseboards. So the vast majority of the work was trim work.  I didn’t take pics: the room is still full of the detritus of a major paint job. Tomorrow I will clean a lot of that up.

I did start on the bedrooms tonight. The first thing was to paint the front bedroom door and remove the hardware from the closet doors and second bedroom door.

One thing I had forgotten about: this old house has two old-fashioned box locks, the kind that uses a skeleton key, on the closet doors.

I doubt these locks have ever been used, they’ve been painted over many times.

I got the paint off the screws and removed them, then the lock slides right out.

Once the lock is out, it’s time to get the paint off and free the deadbolt. There was so much paint that seeped into the lock and dried it was stuck solid. Had to take it apart (VERY CAREFULLY) so I didn’t get the cams or springs loose. Here’s the inside, with the deabolt removed for cleaning.

The deadbolt fits directly beneath the brass striker, and it’s also solid brass. After I cleaned the mechanism I oiled it with a touch of transmission fluid and wiped it clean, then put cover on.

Then it was time to clean the paint off the outer face of the lock.  Once I’m finished with the doors I can get a buffer and polish the lock face, which is solid brass.

Lastly, the house has these neat crystal doorknobs, definitely an item you can’t find anymore. This was installed on one of the hall closets this evening as I got the hardware re-installed in the living room and hallway.  Gotta love this old stuff!

Previous Total:     $216.50

New Total:             $216.50  (Still no new purchases, but will have to spring for more paint, soon!)

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