houseone

Rapid results

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Nothing like being in the basement while a family member is showering and hearing drip...drip...drip... I had meant to spend this past Sunday working on skills like "sitting" and "reading". Instead, I worked on "plumbing", "tiling", "caulking", and "cursing".

Essentially, our showerhead's hose (it's one of those removable hand-held dealies) had sprung a leak at one of the connections, which led to some spraying of water out of the tub, onto the floor, where poorly caulked aging vinyl tiles allowed the water to flow through, and into the basement. Lovely. (Note: I knew the floor tiles had said issues, but was hoping that issues would not become problems before we were ready for the full bathroom gut and rebuild.)

DTE has gnomes who thwart my attempts to cut into their profits

You may recall my commenting that I needed to insulate the walls where the first floor attic abuts the second floor walls of the house. Today, I measured the estimated area to insulate from the inside side of the walls, checked stud spacing in the crawlspace access, and bought a Sunfire-load of pink insulation from Home Depot. I suited up, including facemask and safety glasses, to ward off the evil fiberglassy bits, and ventured into the attic. Where a surprise awaited.

You see, the first-floor attic access is in the back of a second-floor closet that's cut into said attic. So, from the access, about the only thing you can see without going all the way into the attic is that back wall of the closet, about 7 feet wide, that you're sticking your torso through the middle of. That's uninsulated. Upon crawling around, though, I found that this part is the only uninsulated part - the rest of the backside of the walls is pretty well insulated. Including the closet sidewalls. So this isn't just an issue of somebody installing, and not insulating, the closet after everything else had been done - they just, for some reason, didn't insulate the back wall of the closet, the most accessible part, when they did all the hard parts. WTF?

Water: check. Next step: heat.

The major project of year one in Houseone has been keeping out the water. Between soggy roofing and rivulets of water running across the basement floor during every rain, water was a significant issue when we moved in. However, this month gave us about two weeks of daily rain, much of it quite heavy, with the net effect of small amounts of dampness detectable at the basement wall-floor intersection. I'd say we've got the water problem pretty well solved.

The next major issue, looking at my spreadsheet of utility costs, is clearly heating. Our baseline cooking + hot water cost is about $1/day, but that spikes to $5-$6/day in January and February. Some of the window caulking we've done should help, and the new front door en route will do wonders. But some of the water repairs pushed us backwards on heating.

Happy Closingday!

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Yesterday was Cara's birthday, which means that today must be Houseone's closingday! Yes, as of about 4pm today, we will have been calling up our parents with panicked questions about various pieces of the house flooding, shorting, or falling apart for one whole year.

Thank you, parents, for raising us to think that living in a constant-work-in-progress house was a fine idea (which I still think it is); thank you, Riversiders and YpsiVotes kids, for taking up some of the social slack of our not living with a dozen housemates anymore; and thank you, Ypsi in general, for being an awesome place to live.

I have the feeling I'll be getting good at this

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My project for this wonderful spring morning is repainting a windowsill.

Um, hrmm. Did I say "repaint"? Sorry, I apparently mean "replace". Crap.

Actually, it's not so bad. I've mentioned before that my house has four layers of siding stacked onto it. At some point, this meant the windowsills needed to be extended to stick out past the siding. So the bit in need of replacement is a 2x2 sill extender that was rather poorly grafted onto the existing sill. (Judging by the face of the old sill, my house at one point had green trim instead of white.) I suppose that, if I wanted to do this right/best, I'd take out the piece underneath and put in one single sill, so that I don't have to go through my current process all over again in a few years.

Salomon, "Little House on a Small Planet"

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Since 1950, worker productivity has more than doubled. That means, roughly and theoretically, that if we could somehow maintain a 1950 standard of living today, we could each work forty hours per week for less than six months each year, or twenty hours a week for a full year. But we have chosen instead to channel the benefits of increased productivity into more consumer goods for workers, and higher profits for corporate executives, directors, and shareholders.

Trade unions and a variety of civic organizations are working to lighten our load, but in the meantime, unless you move to Europe or take a time machine back to a prehistoric era or at least the fifties, you'll have to be creative if you want to live more of your life at home.

-- Shay Salomon, Little House on a Small Planet, Ch. 7 - Live at Home.

"O, RLY?" electrical bills

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So I just got the DTE bill for February.

Average temperatures for this billing period were 23 degrees colder than last billing period.

(Trust me, I noticed)

As a result, your appliances may be working harder to make you feel more comfortable.

Indeed, our average daily gas use was up 54% from the previous month. (ps, I appreciate that DTE provides this information right on the monthly statement.) Our average daily electricity usage, however, was down by 41%. I asked the ladies, "Have you been doing anything different? All I can think of is that we're not running the dehumidifier in the basement 24/7 because the ground is frozen, so the crawlspace isn't pumping wet into the basement."

Okay, now it's actually 2007

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The New Year is a more hazy concept for me than for most, I think, due to my acknowledging the winter solstice as an ending/beginning mark, and my birthday being wedged in there. Clustered in with the cultural meanings of new beginnings attached to Christmas and New Year's, this means I end up with a ten-day transitional period where I haven't quite decided whether a new year has started yet or not. The following is therefore a loosely organized braindump of things I've been thinking about for the last week:

2006 was notable for the number of growed-up milestones it included:

  • I finished that last grad school project in February and formally graduated in April.

Tortured ROI Calculations: hot water insulation edition

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In general, I believe it's worth utilizing materials to reduce energy consumption - both are, of course, subsidized heavily in our economy, but materials are much easier to reuse, salvage, or recycle in the future. (Note my statement of utilizing materials, as opposed to using (up) energy.)

With this in mind, and an annoyance at how quickly the hot water turns cold if I step away from the dishes for just a few minutes, I decided to look into insulating my hot water pipes.

The simple joys of homeownership

Score! I just found out that both the title company and the mortgage company paid our taxes this summer! Now I just have to track down the $2,700 refund that the City issued somebody's bank for the overpayment, and get it back...

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