Friday, March 21, 2008

Pulling up stakes

Hitting the road. Rambling on. Blowing this popstand. Getting out of dodge. Crossing the streams. Yep, moving this blog to greener pastures.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

First Night

DSC_1087.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

Saturday we pushed hard, rented a Uhaul and got the first load of furniture to the new house. This was the initial trial Living Room setup, functional, yet lacking. But having 'our stuff' in the new house made this whole thing much more 'real.' It's hard to describe but both M and I have been noticing how much different we feel emotionally, semi-consciously, now that we have a house. More stable, more secure, more relaxed. It makes sense, but I'm surprised at the magnitude of the effect.

Wood floors pre-cleaned

Wood floors pre-cleaned, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

After my folks rolled up the carpet and pad, they were left with this: hundreds of staples and brown-sticky-gunk from a carpet pad long past it's prime. My mom in particular, did a hero's job in cleaning up this mess.

Living Room without Carpets

Living Room 2, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

Under the brown-orange shag was wide-plank oak floors! We are so lucky.

Takagi T-K3

DSC_1081.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

All installed and heating water!


DSC_1078.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

From the Living Room looking into the kitchen: Here's the wall that we are slowly removing. The kitchen has no windows, as it's surrounded on all sides by other spaces, so in an effort to make it feel less dark and isolated we decided to take out the wall separating the kitchen and living room. We'll push the kitchen out into the living room by about 5 feet, and put in a peninsula with bar stools.

Kitchen facing the back: Post

DSC_1088.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

Here's a shot from almost the same location as the previous post, but 1 week later. There's now a fridge and stove in the kitchen, and the cabinets have been disassembled, sanded and primed, thanks to my Aunt & Uncle, and Mom & Dad. This is about what it looks like right now, except with less hand-carts and shop-vacs, and more food in the cupboards.

The other important thing about this image: It immortalizes the very first pot of tea being made in the house since we got the keys.

Kitchen facing the back of the house.

Kitchen 1, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

This is 'pre' picture of the kitchen. The wallpaper in the alcove has been removed, but everything else is pretty much like it was when we moved it.

Zelia's Room

DSC_1067.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

I know this color: Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec 'Grey Owl' because Meredith used it in her old studio in our rental. It's a nice subtle grey that is a good neutral to hang art on, or shoot photos against. Z & M have since painted pale blue polka-dots on the walls as well.

Sylvan's Room

DSC_1066.jpg, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

I'm terrible with paint colors and have no sense of adventure so I'm really happy that M took on that task. Going by paint-chips alone, I never would've picked this because it looks so dark, but it on the walls it's lovely. Very classy and masculine. Meredith and Sylvan picked it out, I'll have to ask them what's it was called.

Our room

Our Room2, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

This was the state of our room last week. Meredith choose the awesome color (it's bluer in Real Life), Mom and Dad primed and painted it. During the 'Work Week" it was tool storage.

Bowie in moving purgatory

Cage Dog, originally uploaded by ScottyJ.

Pretty heartbreaking isn't it? Really she doesn't look this sad in her kennel most of the time. She does it for the camera. She's still a young pup, and has a tendency to be a little bit destructive when left unattended (she's got a thing for paper, and Z's stuffed animals), so during the move we would put her in the kennel for a couple of hours at a time. It for her own good. Really!

The first two weeks..phew.

Once we got possession, our crack team of dedicated friends and family descended on the house and got straight down to work. Mom & Dad headed up the paint department, my Aunt and Uncle came down and helped with prep, repair, and woodworking, and my friend Michael Turner spent last week showing me how to re-wire without shocking myself or setting anything on fire. The first week, I worked at my day job and tried to help as I could after hours while Meredith and my Parents cleaned up and painted. The second week I took a 'vacation' to spend 12-14 hours a day working on the wiring, plumbing, demolition, and repairs.

List of accomplishments:

- New tankless hot water heater installed.
- All the bedrooms and hallway primed and painted
- All carpets, pads and tack strip removed
- Dangerous wiring removed in the kitchen wall
- Half the kitchen is now wired to code
- The wall between the kitchen and living room has been stripped of sheetrock and electrical stuff in preparation for removal.
- Washer and Dryer hookups have been created in the garage.
- New locks and deadbolts installed.
- Most of our belongings have been moved to the new house.

It was a tremendous couple of weeks, and at the end of it I came down with a cold, but we are 'functional'. We have hot water, refridgeration, a stove, and the ability to wash/dry our clothes. So now our focus moves to cleaning out our rental so we can get our deposit back and finish what we've started.

Notes on the tankless water heater: Originally we bought a Bosch tankless, but returned it and got a Takagi on the advice of our contactor friend Paul. Basically, he said that the Bosch units seemed to suffer from problems more often than the Takagis and all the plumbers he knows prefer the Takagi. It was also cheaper than the equivelant Bosch, so it was a really easy decision.

It was hard to install. I should note that every install will be different, but ours was a PITA. We had hoped to use our old hot water tank flu, but the tankless heater put out so much waste heat that you must use a special stainless flue from top to bottom (an additional $350). It also needs a special 'full-flow' gas pipe and care should be used in hooking up the water lines as the connections on the unit seem a little fragile. But once it was in, and we'd finished getting everything connected it worked like a champ. Now I can take a looong shower without ever running out of hot water! Or more accurately, all of us can take showers right after each other without running out of hot water, and as we only have one bathroom, that is exactly what is going to happen.

A tankless water heater is often referred to as an 'instant' water heater, which it is, but that doesn't mean that you'll have hot water instantly at the tap. With a whole-house tankless heater, you still have to run the water for a while before hot water comes out. That's simply because the water in the pipes between you and the heater will cool off after a while and you have to flush all of that out of the system before the hot water can make it to the faucet.

There are two major benefits for a tankless heater. First, you get unlimited hot water. Second, you save energy because you don't have to try and keep 40-50 gallons of water hot 24 hours a day. You are only heating the water as you need it.

How does it work in reality? For the most part, it works exactly as advertised. Hot showers are hot and you don't run out of hot water. The only problem we've had is running two high-demand uses at the same time, ie the washer on hot, and a shower. When we try to do two things at once, the water is still hot enough, but the mixing of hot and cold gets tricky. For example:
You're in the shower and you've got the temperature just how you like it. Then someone starts a hot-wash cycle. Suddenly the water is 10-15 degrees colder than it was. You turn up the hot, no problem, there's plenty of hot water to go around. But then the washer stops filling and suddenly, like instantly, you've got super-hot water in the shower. I can see why they put so many warnings about getting burned and scalded in the manual!

But other than that, it's works perfectly.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hinterlands has once again found a purpose!

As you might've guessed, this blog is going to be morphing itself into a house remodel/green products blog as we fix up our little old house. Yesterday was Day One, and Meredith and Sylvan got a lot done. Zelia helped out and I felt like I was walking around in circles bumping into stuff.

But in only 3 hours we filled up the carport with a pile of stuff to take to the dump. Hopefully today we'll get Todd's truck and get to make multiple dump runs.

Our goal for the first week is to get most of the interior painted, the carpets out, the attic insulation cleaned out in preparation for electrical work, and the yard and outbuildings cleaned out of junk and toxins.

He fronts the most.

Our anniversary was in October, and for a present Meredith got us tickets to go see MC Frontalot at Cafe du Nord. It was the most fun show I've seen in a long time. If he ever plays a show in your area you should totally go see him.

BRAK! We got the keys!

I've refrained from posting anything about the house since we heard our bid got accepted because I was afraid of jinxing something. My odd superstition didn't help, as the whole process got derailed for two weeks because of a family squabble on the sellers side.
Escrow was supposed to close the day before Thanksgiving, but we had all our ducks in a perfect little row and it was looking like we might be able to close the Friday before. We (Meredith, my Agent Carol, and my Broker Mark) all met at the Title company's office to sign the last of the papers. When we got there the Title agent told us that there was a hitch. There had been a lien (a Deed of Trust) on the title placed by the sellers son. We had known about it, but the word had been that he was ready to sign all the necessary papers without delay. That turned out to be wrong. On the day of the signing, he decided to hold out, and then stopped returning any phone calls.
This meant that we couldn't close, as the Title company wasn't willing to close with a 'clouded' title. Now the seller herself was reportedly upset by this, she wanted to sell as badly as we wanted to buy but it seemed like there was nothing that we could do. Thankgiving week, and the week after, different solutions were presented and nothing was working.
I hired an attorney, we started talking about how much time and money it would take to get possession of the house (not the happiest of holiday weekends).
In the end (after many many phone calls and much hand wringing) a bond company came in and 'bought' the debt, thus clearing the way for a smooth transfer.
Thank god.
The bond papers got signed on Friday (Z's birthday) and then our agent surprised us Saturday by bringing us the keys! WHOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

So we have a house. I can't believe it.

And we have a lot of work to do :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rush rush rush!

Well 5pm Sunday rolled by and nothing happened. No phone call, no owls, no skywriting. We were at our Will & Heidi's house in Petaluma rolling up some D&D characters. After checking my phone every 5 minutes for 2 hours I realized I didn't have a signal. I rushed outside and called my agent, sure enough they had called her and liked our offer.

Except for one thing.

They wanted 17 days to close escrow, not 30.


Well, except for two things, they wanted to make sure I was a real offer. Like that I had all my financing in order. Which I didn't, totally.

So Monday morning I rushed around like a madman talking to my loan broker, calling my agent, Meredith and my parents keeping everyone in the loop. At the end of the day we were set. Now all we had to do was have the listing agent finish up their counter offer, we could sign it and send it back. Then we'd be in escrow and get the house the day before Thanksgiving (!!!!!)

Except one thing. In the interval between our verbal acceptance of the counter, and us getting a copy of the papers to sign (my cell phone died, they had fax problems, it rained frogs) another offer had come in on the house.

Oh shit.

Tuesday was a loooooong day. Wondering if we would get in a bidding war (in this market?!), or whether we could even match them. The idea of looking at more houses, waiting longer, watching mortgage rates creep up, didn't leave us very happy.

Then at 4pm, our agent called. They'd chosen us, no need to counter, the paperwork would be to us and signed and back to them that same day.


More phone calls on my new phone (email me if you need the number, it's different than before) to keep everybody informed, and then we waited for my agent to come over and give us the papers.

Everything in order and back on its way to the listing agent. At 10:41pm we received confirmation that we were in. Escrow started this morning.


Then I spent most of the day at the 'new house' with the housing inspector and getting more paperwork photocopied and filed.

The bottom line is: Whooohooo! We're getting a house. We get the keys sometime near Thanksgiving, we're hoping for before but it could be after.

Photos at my flickr page.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Home sweet wait.

We've made a bid!

Now we wait.

It's really hard to wait, after so much waiting and looking.

But we should know one way or another by Sunday night.

Tentative house warming (fingers crossed): Saturday 12/8 

More when we know it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wait, then freak out, then wait, then freak out...

Ah homebuying. We wait almost a month with nothing looking promising, and then bam the 'perfect house' shows up. Perfect in that we can afford it, and it has 3 bedrooms, and that it's not totally nasty inside.

The bonus is that it has a giant, humongous yard. With mature fruit trees. We will hopefully make an offer tomorrow.

I'll post details if our offer gets accepted.

Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quiet death of hobbies

As those who know me best, it's time for my fall malaise. For those who don't here's a quick synopsis: Every fall for as long as I can remember I tend to get moody and introspective. When I was younger and more volatile it would present itself as depression and epic nostalgia. The irony is that Fall is my favorite season.
In the last 5 years or so the fall malaise has been more subdued, more introspection, then depression. And this year is continuing that trend. Perhaps it's growing older, perhaps I'm just busier and generally fulfilled. Whatever the reason, this year has already shown me a couple of things about myself I hadn't realized. So what is the result of this seasonal navel-gazing?

I don't like cars anymore*. Or motorcycles. I'm no longer keen on learning how to build everything. At some point, I stopped being a 'reader' (I blame college). Single-player gaming leaves me cold. I'm never going to learn all the skills of the ninja.

Basically many of the traits that used to define me (in my own head, anyway) don't fit anymore. It's an odd feeling. What do I do with all the tools and books and material I've accumulated over the years? Do I really get rid of that sweet '60s Cafe Racer gas tank that never found a frame? Can I slim down to one set of sockets? Should I?

But for me the bigger problem, is that I feel like I don't have 'an interest' anymore. Something to occupy my thoughts when I'm trying to fall asleep. I imagine that someday soon, that'll be the house we buy, but until then I feel kind of blank. Hm...