Sunday, May 27, 2007

The house is ours now

At the auction Thursday night and again during the walk-through on Friday, I was overwhelmed. I kept noticing all these things I missed before. I looked around and thought "so much work!" After closing, when we went back to what we can officially call "our house," it all seemed reasonable and quite doable. Funny how attitude can change with ownership.

In the first 48 hours, we have spent about $300 at Lowes/Home Depot and have successfully pulled up carpet in the living and dining rooms and hallway upstairs and most of the carpet in the basement. I'd say we have about 80% of the tack strips and staples out upstairs.

The basement is interesting. Its a small-ish rec-room and a decent sized bedroom. All done in 70s dark paneling. The carpet down there is so old the closet was built ON TOP OF the carpet. I was thinking about doing stained & polished concrete as the flooring down there; however, we had a rude surprise under the ancient carpet. 12x12 vinyl tiles circa 1968. My alarm bells are going off that its probably asbestos based tile. The good news is that it does not appear friable. But, I'm thinking taking it out and polishing the concrete would not be the most environmentally friendly process. I believe out best bet is encapsulation, just not sure how. I;m thinking 1x3 sleepers and then subflooring to allow for moisture ventilation. I'm not yet sure what to put on top of the subfloor.

And speaking of flooring, I want real, honest to gosh, linoleum for the kitchen. Its harder to find than one would think. Armstrong makes a real linoleum, but the one I have read most about is Marmoleum. Marmoleum is not available in this county, while the Armstrong website tells me I can get it from Home Depot. Wanna have some fun? Go ask the folks working in your local Depot flooring department for linoleum. Just try it. When they take you to vinyl, insist you want real linoleum. Explain that its a renewable material made from linseed oil. If your Depot is anything like the two I went to, they look at you like you grew a second head.

Friday, May 25, 2007

We're buying a house today

In about another 3 hours, we will own a house again. Then we get started with our massive plans.

We went by last night for the seller's auction, hoping to pick up some good, used yard stuff. We didn't get too much, but we did get to see the inside of the house for the first time in a month. Its a bit overwhelming seeing it now. And since it was on the market, the dog has peed on the carpet several times. Make us wonder how many pee spots had been steam cleaned out while it was on the market. This is a bit annoying since our master plan included reusing the carpet that is over the hardwoods. Now seeing it in this new light, we are thinking that might not be the best plan. We have cats and they won't be happy with other animal pee smells all over their carpet. This could lead them to try to mark it themselves (not that they have ever peed on carpet before). And its just gross. So yeah, now we have to add in new flooring for the basement into our budget.

Well anyway, the good news is we will own a house. And we will spend the long Memorial Day weekend ripping up carpet, seeding the dirt field that needs to be a lawn (must be grass due to septic), and formalizing the rest of our master plan.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Future topic list

The closing on our house was delayed a few weeks for installation of a new septic system. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Its good because we know we will have a new septic system designed to newer codes and taking advantage of knowledge learned over the past 40 years. Its bad because the previous system has been slowly failing over the past 5 or so years. A failing system is very bad for the environment. So it has likely been polluting for years, and this makes me sad. But the good news is that it was caught and will be fixed. And we won't be paying for it!

So in the mean time, I'll give you a list of topics I am researching:
1) Bat Houses
2) Rain Barrels
3) Wooden Hot Tubs
4) Composite decking matieral
5) Bay Wise Landscaping
6) Pet waste disposal

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Architectural Salvage in Baltimore

Today we spent the bulk of the day checking out a couple of architectural salvage stores in Baltimore.

First, we went to Second Chance Architectural Salvage. This place is GREAT! It was five warehouses of salvaged materials and antiques. Additionally, they funtion as an outlet from the semi-custom cabinetry company Yorktowne out of Red Lion, PA. You have to hunt and peck, but that is half the fun. After today's preliminary look, we will be going back to look for bathroom cabinetry, and possibly new doors for our ugly kitchen. They had hundreds of unstained cabinet doors (buy one get on free on Tuesdays). It will take several hours, but I think we can find enough to update our dated light oak cabinets with arches panels. I'm thinking a light cherry stain and painting the existing boxes and trim black.

Warehouse 3 was Wirenut's favorite, as it had mostly new materials, factory seconds, and slightly damaged new stuff. I preferred to wander through the historic materials in warehouses 1 and 2, plus all the furniture in 4 & 5. We have discovered that we are polar opposites when it comes to the value of antiques. Oh, and if you are in the market for a set of old theater chandeliers and have a spare $20,000, this is the place to go!

After Second Chance, we headed over to The Loading Dock. This store was much smaller and was mostly not-so-great stuff. Wirenut commented, "if I pulled this crap out of a house I was working on, it would go straight to the dumpster." This lead to a discussion of saving stuff from landfills, but, frankly, he was right. Beat up pressboard/melamine cabinets and rotten lumber made up the bulk of their inventory. The tile wasn't too bad (and much better priced than Second Chance), but overall we decided it wasn't worth the drive and the membership fees.

We also stopped off in Little Italy for some lunch at Della Notte. In my question to find the best gnocchi, I rate theirs at a 5. Kind of disappointing since it was expensive and highly rated. Donald Trump even ate there! My favorite gnocchi is still at a tiny place by the side of I95 in Lorton called Gennaros. If you are ever driving on I95 in Northern Virginia, I highly recommend getting off at exit 163, turning right (both north and southbound exits), and look for the little restraunt in the Comfort Inn parking lot and across Silverbrook Rd from the gas station.