Tomorrow, Jen and I close on a new home – this home needs a name.
We’ve been toying with naming our final destination “The Keep” as a reference to both long-term possession and the strongest portion of a castle; built to protect. But… this house doesn’t quite feel like a Keep.
The new house is positioned on a very localized hill. It resides about 30 feet above all adjacent houses and, also unique amongst the neighbors, ours stands above the recorded 500yr flood record (though I question the source of such data).
As the house is expected to survive any flood, we were thinking of referencing Noah’s Ark. Conveniently, Ark is also defined as a repository for sacred items (i.e. Ark of the Covenant). We tried to identify the items most sacred to us and came up with one potential name:
The Ark of the Oven-Mitt.
The House of Rock has over 1200 sq feet of carpet within its walls. The Carpet is spread across 8 rooms:
1st floor: bedroom, dining room, living room
2nd floor: 4 bedrooms, hall+stairs
Carpet replacement comes in three steps
1. remove the old stuff
2. lay down packing
3. lay down the carpet
I contacted two companies to start: Empire Today (national) and Colonial Flooring (local). Both companies came in at roughly the same price. Empire at $4500 Colonial started at $5000. In typical salesperson fashion, both companies ‘started’ at pricing much higher ($8000 and $6000 respectively) and then found ways to reduce the price down to those above.
Affordable carpet (not the cheapest, but certainly not the most lush) runs at about $1.20/sq foot for material. With 1200 sq feet, I’m looking at ~$1,500 for the material – the rest is packing and labor.
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce cost is to do the demolition yourself. That took $500 off the Empire today quote, and $600 off the Colonial quote. Colonial, being a local provider, was more flexible in their negotiation and ultimately offered me $3500 to Empire’s $4000.
Let’s talk Demolition.
Things you need: 1 sharp box cutter, gloves, safety masks
Cutting the carpet in 3 foot sections makes it much easier to handle. While the Empire Today guy was visiting us, he showed us a quick and easy way to pull up, and manage used carpet. We took a video to share the tricks with you! Check it out:
(note: I am wearing a sweet DJ Lokash tshirt.)
Next comes the packing, or the carpet pad. Packing is rated by density and thickness. 6lb and 8lb are fairly standard on the weight side. That’s pounds per cubic foot packing. In the ideal world you’d like to have a thicker softer pad for living areas and a thinner denser pad for high traffic areas. In the case of our place, we chose to stick with the affordable. Since we won’t be living there, there is no guarantee that the carpet won’t be damaged by rough living. So I’ll likely find myself replacing the carpet again in 10 years no matter what.
I’m hoping to have all the old carpet up and out before Christmas then it’s on to the next project!
The House of Rock is currently empty of tenants. Purchased in December of 2004 and consolidated in July of 2007, over the nine years of ownership this House has seen 14 residents and one official significant other: Mike D, Jesse, Mark, Sander, Tom, Jon, Liz, Jason, Mike K, Mike P, Nick, Kevin, Brian, Shaun (& his wife Jessica)
Their tenure at the House have varied from 3mo at the shortest to 6.5years at the longest (I am not including myself in the data set) with five of the tenants holding their rooms for 4 years or more. I can hope that most persons used the House, with its good community and mostly affordable rent, as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Perhaps the most startling aspect of this transition is the suddenness of the House’s emptying. The House went from a population of 4 to 0 in one month.
The House has experienced quite a physical transition as well. Tons of work has been done on this thing in the time that we’ve lived there:
1. Kitchen ceiling and appliances replaced
2. Electric fuse box made new
3. Garage floor poured
4. Garage doors installed
5. Driveway replaced
6. 1/2 the Roof newified
7. Closet built
8. Both Bathrooms rejuvenated
9. Pizza oven constructed
10. Dining room made mature
And now that it’s empty it’s undergoing one more facelift before it will graduate from House of Rock to House for Rent.
1. Basement de-watered (done!)
2. Carpet recarpeted (in progress)
3. Kitchen recountered
5. Fix the tiny annoying things
We’re hoping to have all items complete before the spring so we can start renting to a family once we buy a new home of our own. I’m not sure how well that will go; it’s a tough market. Still, the House is a pretty great place. It has a wealth of space and a lot of attributes that I hope will be used with appreciation by a family looking for this kind of home.
You’ll likely see some posts over the next month chronicling some of those changes.
I have owned the House of Rock for nearly nine years. Over those nine years I have mowed the lawn many many times. As this is not a chore I enjoy, I try to strategically plan the mowing to be as efficient as possible.
My basic strategy centers around the basic principle that if I reduce the number of turns, I can improve my efficiency. As a corollary, we assume that fewer degrees of turning are also more efficient. Two 90′s are a little better than one 180. Finally, this obviously only applies to those of us whose yards are not large enough or open enough to accommodate Concentric Spiral Mowing as this would clearly be the most efficient use of mowage.
Let’s assume you have a perfect 10m x 10m yard. For simplicity sake, let’s also assume you have a 1m wide mower. What’s the most efficient mowing pattern?
The Long Haul
Making ten 10m passes is an obvious option. But this requires a total of nine 180° turns. I greatly dislike 180° turns.
Another good option: walking the perimeter to make consecutively smaller rectangles. The frustration here is that when you get to the middle, you’re making near constant 90° turns. This method has the same total number of degrees turned, but with 90′s instead of 180s. Eighteen 90′s needed.
One slight annoyance with both of the previous tactics is that turning a 90° at the edge of a yard results in a lost corner of tall grass. The Zamboni pattern is a clever one that removes the lost corners. If we were to label the columns of our 10×10 matrix as 1 through 10, the zamboni pattern runs column 1, then zips over to column 5. Back to 2, then to 6. You have overlapped the ends, which is lost time, but it makes some bit of sense for more rectangular yards. You still end up with eighteen 90° turns.
This weekend I discovered a new strategy by accident.
The big assumption in the content above is level topography. When a hill is in play things get funky. It’s much harder to do a perimeter cut on a hill. 1/4 of the time is spent pushing the mower uphill. BAD MOVE.
This weekend I realized that if you move to The Long Haul perpendicular to the hill slope, things work out very very nicely. Yes, you’re taking 180° turns, but you never have to push uphill.
This revelation pleases me.
The House of Rock endured two major bath renovations in 2012. Endure is an apt word choice because these renovations, not unlike all other Mike D projects, extended past the expected completion dates (understatement.) I’m here today to share pictures of the second overhaul.
Shockingly, I didn’t take ‘before’ pictures of the upstairs bath. The best I have is a mid-process shot:
And here’s the completed creation!
We dumped the tub, raised the roof, threw in a skylight and installed a new vanity and new tile! Walls were painted, fixtures were added, heaters were replumbed! The fan was upgraded, lighting improved! And lastly a beautiful frameless glass door now encloses the shower.
Distribution of labor:
Demolition and Plumbing – Mike D, Jen, and Brian
Electrical work – Brian
Purchasing of pieces – Mike D.
Building labor – Walker Builders (relative of Jesse – honest pricing/good work)
Two baths, two months, too much time spent plumbing.
I’m glad it’s done.
PEX is a copper substitute for domestic plumbing. And while today’s post title might be a bit of a hyperbole, the stuff is still pretty nifty. The word PEX comes from its formal name “Cross Linked Polyethylene”. It’s a convenient substitute for copper because the connection points do not require ‘sweating’ (a process that involves torch, flux, and solder.)
My first experience with PEX went well. For whatever reason, I envisioned this stuff working with all slide and lock connectors – in fact most joints require a crimping tool (otherwise the plumbing components cost about 5 bucks a piece – compared to 2.50ish) Still, it’s a pretty easy to use.
PEX joints are made with small rings of metal which need to be crimped to provide a water tight connection between the plastic PEX tubing and the brass elbows and connectors. Since this was a small job, I cheaped out on the crimping tool. While it was the fiscally intelligent decision, this choice resulted in a lot more muscle to crimp the fasteners together.
It took about five hours to get all of the equipment from Home Depot and install the plumbing. Now that I’ve done it once, I could probably do it in about half that time. An expert could do it in 45-60m.
Verdict: Use PEX wherever possible in home plumbing applications.
The House of Rock has started its next renovation adventure: the bathrooms. Plural.
Having never embarked on such a journey, I vasty underestimated the job. This is not unusual. Sometimes my mind tricks me into thinking that renovation jobs will be simple, and only once I’ve passed the point of no return do I realize that I have entered a world of hurt.
I’m doing the demolition for the two bathrooms and then I’ve hired a family friend to help with fixing things up.
Thankfully my roommate Brian was available to help with the demolition. He was far more efficient than I was, though I’ve learned a few tricks that will most certainly help me on the second bathroom.
Today the reconstruction begins.
Nothing too crazy with this first bathroom. New walls, new floor, new tile, new framing, and a less mildew friendly shower area. More photos to come!