gerisullivan: (Zeppelin Hangar)
[personal profile] gerisullivan
I moved into Toad Woods nearly 5.5 years ago. Thanks to ServiceMagic, I may have just found a handyman. Well, a handyman and then some, as you'll see if you visit the ServiceMagic profile for Chris Laurenzo and The Benzo Company.


We're starting off small, both because that's what my budget can pretend to deal with and also because it's the small things that have been undermining my sense of competence as a homeowner. I'm probably measuring myself against the wrong yardstick. My dad knows how to do pretty much anything around a house, and broken brackets holding drawer runners in place wouldn't even slow him down let alone stop him cold and leaving kitchen drawers askew in the process.

It's oh, so easy to look around and see all of the little things I'm not keeping up with around the house. The yard and flower gardens tend to be shaggy even in the best years and 2009 ranks as far from best as 2004-2009 can be measured in that regard.

Add in the larger, more expensive home improvement projects that are totally out of my reach but that would help the house stay up-to-date (and easier to sell when the time comes), and I've been spending too much of my time thinking I don't have any business being a homeowner at all.

Anticipating Chris' visit, then walking around the house talking with him about various projects helped me look at my ownership of Toad Woods from a different perspective. A different, better, and far more useful perspective.

As part of the sale, the previous owners repaired the septic system, replaced the roof, and drilled a new well. (The old wells were shallow, dug wells that were prone to contamination.) They also escrowed money to have the house painted.

All of those things, along with several, smaller items, helped put the house into excellent shape when I moved in. For my part, I followed through on the housepainting, upgrading the job to include a second coat of paint and also saving money by painting the shutters myself.

After I'd been here most of 6 months, I had a fair-sized water treatment system installed to deal with the "pound of nails in every gallon" iron-rich water. I knew that such a system was going to be needed with the drilled well, though I certainly didn't fathom that it would take a neutralizer, berm filter, and water softener to do the trick. (That's a bare minimum...I may well need an additional berm filter.)

So, anyway. The first major home improvement project wholly on my shoulders and pocketbook undertaken and finished. A few years later, I had the driveway paved. Oh, yes, and I had the rotted fascia replaced on the back of the house and vents installed along the soffits there. Then there were the risers for the septic tank, not just so it could be cleaned once after I managed to have it mostly paved over, but so it would be easy to clean forever more.

Routine maintenance items include the aforementioned septic tank clean-out, regular boiler maintenance, some needed water treatment system maintenance, cleaning and sealing the deck...well, once.

Then there was the time [livejournal.com profile] dalesql came out for a thoroughly-useful work afternoon replacing the electrical outlets serving the pond, installing set-back thermostats, and replacing a broken fluorescent light fixture over the kitchen sink. Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] dalesql!

Oh, yes, and I dealt with the frozen pipes, and the water treatment backwash flood. I did a reasonable job of it even if I haven't followed through as I'd like by installing DRIcore in all of the finished areas of the basement and replacing all of the carpeting.

[livejournal.com profile] elaine_brennan brought order to the chaos of my front garden one year, she and [livejournal.com profile] debgeisler and Gavi all helped me remove off old wallpaper and prep the walls in the stairwell and upstairs hall. One of these days we may even paint it....

[livejournal.com profile] kip_w helped me fight back the chaos in my Fan Room though I confess chaos reigns again once more. [livejournal.com profile] elaine_brennan and [livejournal.com profile] geraty helped rearrange the living room, and [livejournal.com profile] geraty proved that the "sofa and a fax" sofa actually could be moved to the basement. [livejournal.com profile] benyalow and [livejournal.com profile] geraty were both helpful with TV and stereo set-ups, and I even managed a cheap home theatre set-up on my own.

When I moved in, I bought office and dining room furniture, and several other bits, too, including a multitude of shelves all of which needed to be assembled. Hey, I managed that on my own. I also upgraded and added some furniture to my living room, bedroom, and guest room in 2006, enhancing my enjoyment and comfort in each of those areas.

Between visits in 2004, 2005, and 2007, Susan Levy Haskell designed and made nearly all of my window treatments, the Flamingo Loft, and the Toy Room Circus decor, too.

And so on....

The bottom line is that I actually have been doing a reasonably respectable job of maintaining the Zeppelin Hangar on a limited budget and also doing a few, top-priority, home improvement projects as resources have allowed. Am I perfect? Of course not. But I'm not the hopeless homeowner bum I've been thinking I am, either. I've done as much in 5.5 years here as I did in 20 years at Toad Hall, and I haven't had a live-in partner to help with any of it.

Now I may even have found a good handyman. Wahoo!

Edited to add Susan's remarkable, delightful window treatments and related projects. They bring daily delight, which may have contributed to my not thinking about them when originally listing various one-time home improvement projects.

Date: 2009-10-24 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] threeringedmoon.livejournal.com
Even before you started the list I was thinking that you had done a fair amount of upkeep. The sad truth is that houses require a lot of upkeep.

We had a five or six year period ending in 2008 when we didn't do what we should have. Part of it was a transition from feeling we (or actually, Jack mostly) should do it all to realizing that we couldn't do it physically. And I include being crippled with bursitis for three months as a sign that one is not capable of doing it physically.

Now we use Handyman Connection to do a lot of things Jack would have done fifteen years ago. I have also learned to ask when I buy things that don't come with installation: do you have anyone you would recommend to install it?

Date: 2009-10-24 06:01 pm (UTC)
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Coles Philips)
From: [personal profile] kaffyr
There, my dear, is a small victory in logic, common sense, and emotional stability - good for you! I know how difficult it is just to keep one cramped condo in reasonable shape, so my hat's always been off to you for the way you keep infrastructure maintenance at the forefront of your mind and, as far as possible, on your to-do list. Many hugs!

Date: 2009-10-25 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cakmpls.livejournal.com
Almost everyone does a LOT of fixing of things before they sell a house. So unless one consciously buys a fixer-upper, a house is likely to be in better shape when you move in than it will ever be again till you move out! Or so we tell ourselves here...

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