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D.A. Ridgely
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Home $weet Home

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 21 Jan 2013, 11:31

On the vicissitudes of home ownership, be it condo, townhouse or single family dwelling.

We are having a new front door installed today, even as I type this. The old door had rotted at the bottom, leaving a gap for drafts, and the faux stained glass had cracked in several places thanks to our children's propensity to slam the door shut as forcefully as possible. Thankfully, they have grown beyond that stage now.

Anyway, if you are as ignorant of the building trades as I, you might imagine that replacing a door should be a simple proposition. Select and buy door, have door delivered, remove old door from hinges, fit old hardware on new door, hang door on old hinges, shut door, call it a day.

But no. Alas, houses shift back and forth and to and fro and hither and yon -- something about geology and gravity and other sciency topics I don't understand -- and what appears to the naked eye to be a sufficiently rectangular opening of standard dimensions turns out to be a problem requiring practical knowledge of a quite possibly non-Euclidian geometry.

But I get ahead of myself. First, of course, one must select and purchase a door. Now, while it is possible to buy an entrance door for a couple hundred bucks or even less, it is also no exaggeration to say one could buy a small automobile for the asking price of some front doors. Furthermore, they come in two basic varieties: framed and slab. The first is a door already attached to a frame, hence the name. These are considerably more expensive than slab doors. which come without a frame; however, they are supposedly easier to install, thus requiring less time, effort and labor expense. So, basically, you're damned if you do and vice versa.

Anyway, I found a carpenter with good references and we found a door acceptable to my wife for roughly $1,000. Alas, at that price the door was unfinished mahogany, so throw in a few hundred dollars more to have it stained and sealed. I have to admit that it is quite attractive, far nicer than our old door, but when all is said and done the total is going to be around $2,000.

And this is not an unusual price range for just about any and every home improvement or repair requiring skilled (i.e., not my) labor and parts.

Until one owns a home of one's own, most "big ticket" expenses are automobile related and usually range in some hundreds of dollars. Real estate immediately ups that ante into the four and sometimes five figure range. Not always, mind you. But often enough that the sticker shock has long ago worn off.

The sad fact is that the house is about 25 years old with much of its original fixtures, etc., so the door is only one of a long list of repairs and renovations ahead of us.

Indeed, chances are excellent that we'll have it all repaired and refurbished just in time to sell the damned thing and start all over again somewhere else.

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Ayn_Randian
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Ayn_Randian » 21 Jan 2013, 14:15

The one home improvement project that stood to really make me mad turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The backstory is that I had no idea what I was doing with respect to getting new window treatments. So we got an advert in the mail for a blinds specialist to come in and assess our options.

The punchline was that for faux-wood blinds, the cost (including install and a lifetime warranty) was going to be $2000+. And that was with straight faux-wood blinds - the cost of the treatments we actually wanted was like $6000.

Anyway, it turns out that not only does Lowe's sell high-quality faux-wood blinds for a fraction of that (1/2, to be precise), but install is easy. I am routinely frustrated by projects that people pitch to me as 20-minute fixes that turn into an hour for some maddening reason or another, but this was a pretty great little one-day project to do.
It has the effect of making me want desperately to do the opposite of what Green Day is suggesting I should want to do. Billy Joe Whassname may have created a generation of war mongers. - Jason L

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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 21 Jan 2013, 15:11

You must be the only one who finds the installation of window treatments to be 'easy'. Maybe it was the prospect of spending thousands of dollars that made it better for you, but I have found that rarely is anything as frustrating as trying to install window treatments. The hodgepodge of subsurface materials around a window makes it a crapshoot as to what you're going to find to anchor the screws, and the span across windows makes for a horror show trying to get it level.
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Warren
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 21 Jan 2013, 15:15

Highway wrote:You must be the only one who finds the installation of window treatments to be 'easy'. Maybe it was the prospect of spending thousands of dollars that made it better for you, but I have found that rarely is anything as frustrating as trying to install window treatments. The hodgepodge of subsurface materials around a window makes it a crapshoot as to what you're going to find to anchor the screws, and the span across windows makes for a horror show trying to get it level.
pffffffft. Get yourself one of these. Hanging window treatments, even vertical blinds, is a four hour job at worst.
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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 21 Jan 2013, 15:25

Warren wrote:
Highway wrote:You must be the only one who finds the installation of window treatments to be 'easy'. Maybe it was the prospect of spending thousands of dollars that made it better for you, but I have found that rarely is anything as frustrating as trying to install window treatments. The hodgepodge of subsurface materials around a window makes it a crapshoot as to what you're going to find to anchor the screws, and the span across windows makes for a horror show trying to get it level.
pffffffft. Get yourself one of these. Hanging window treatments, even vertical blinds, is a four hour job at worst.
The last time I did it was in 1998, when laser projection levels were far less common. And I hope to never do it again (although I'm sure things will change in our house sometime). And I don't know if any single window took more than an hour, even the vertical blinds. It's just that when you have 20-some windows, it gets really old really fast.
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Ayn_Randian
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Ayn_Randian » 21 Jan 2013, 15:37

Maybe I just got lucky in that my windows are relatively level (a little adjustment required for hanging treatments) and have sturdy wood frames, so finding an anchor spot wasn't so tough. Also if you get them a touch longer than called for, the blinds rest on the sill, and that takes a lot of the hanging pressure off of your brackets.
It has the effect of making me want desperately to do the opposite of what Green Day is suggesting I should want to do. Billy Joe Whassname may have created a generation of war mongers. - Jason L

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Mo
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Mo » 21 Jan 2013, 22:06

We just did window treatments (sheer and blackout for each window) in the master and guest BRs and like AR, I was a bit surprised at how much less of a PITA it was than I expected. Of course, we went all classy and went floor to ceiling with them, so there was no dealing with the window frame area.

I didn't call in any contractors for this because I'm saving that money for the shit I really can't do, like replacing the deck this spring.

Now replacing the closet with a whole new closet system, Jesus H. Christ, that took about twice as long and cost 30% more than I expected. Thankfully it's all done and hasn't come crashing down despite all of my suits and shirts being up.
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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 21 Jan 2013, 22:11

Mo wrote:We just did window treatments (sheer and blackout for each window) in the master and guest BRs and like AR, I was a bit surprised at how much less of a PITA it was than I expected. Of course, we went all classy and went floor to ceiling with them, so there was no dealing with the window frame area.

I didn't call in any contractors for this because I'm saving that money for the shit I really can't do, like replacing the deck this spring.

Now replacing the closet with a whole new closet system, Jesus H. Christ, that took about twice as long and cost 30% more than I expected. Thankfully it's all done and hasn't come crashing down despite all of my suits and shirts being up.
What system did you use for the closet. We did one from easyclosets.com and it turned out a lot better than I thought it would, with good help from the designer on their side to get us the right thing, and it was put up in about 3 hours for a small kids bedroom sized closet.
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Mo
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Mo » 21 Jan 2013, 22:51

It was the Home Depot Martha Stewart system. Part of the reason it was a pain was my own hubris. I wanted to have a couple of drawers that probably weren't appropriate for my closet setup. Well, that and having to remove a molding that was put in to support the old wire system, then spackle holes, repaint the closet, etc. I really like it now, but the project scope was more than I expected at the outset.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Warren
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 21 Jan 2013, 23:13

Mo wrote:I didn't call in any contractors for this because I'm saving that money for the shit I really can't do, like replacing the deck this spring.
You're a young able bodied man Mo. Is it simply that you don't have the time to do your own deck? I'd say that was misplaced priorities YMMV.
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Ellie
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Ellie » 21 Jan 2013, 23:21

Maybe Mo just didn't want to risk hate mail.
I should have listened to Warren. He was right again as usual.

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Mo
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Mo » 21 Jan 2013, 23:28

Time is part of it, liability* is another part and I also have a bad back, so avoiding that would be nice. Besides, there are some more interesting things than flat deck with railings that I'd like to do.

* Partly in a strictly legal sense, I doubt my insurance company would be pleased if the deck collapsed and I and my lack of qualifications built it. The other part of it is my personal moral liability. I would feel like absolute shit if I built the deck it collapsed and a friend or loved one was seriously injured or, god forbid, killed as a result.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Stevo Darkly
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Stevo Darkly » 21 Jan 2013, 23:39

Ellie wrote:Maybe Mo just didn't want to risk hate mail.
That is a nice deck, and whoever wrote the note is quite the dick-choke.
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Mo
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Mo » 21 Jan 2013, 23:56

Oh, one other thing. The existing deck is not on grade, but is about 10 feet above grade (the house is a raised ranch and the deck is on the house level). This increases the difficulty and consequences.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 22 Jan 2013, 00:00

Mo wrote:Time is part of it, liability* is another part and I also have a bad back, so avoiding that would be nice. Besides, there are some more interesting things than flat deck with railings that I'd like to do.

* Partly in a strictly legal sense, I doubt my insurance company would be pleased if the deck collapsed and I and my lack of qualifications built it. The other part of it is my personal moral liability. I would feel like absolute shit if I built the deck it collapsed and a friend or loved one was seriously injured or, god forbid, killed as a result.
If you managed to get it approved by the local building inspector, without getting help from your Friendly Folded Franklins, then it's probably not going to fall down. A couple things you should get in a deck, whether you build it or have someone else do it, are

1) a completely self supporting structure (as in, it should be able to stand all by itself without any support from your house);

2) three directions tying it together - so if the beams run left to right, the stringers should run front to back, and the decking should be diagonal;

3) everything screwed, not nailed - raises the cost, but screws are far better than nails

Some other suggestions are to sandwich the full post between the beams and don't let them mortis out some of the post material to set the beam on, and if you have stairs, make them their own standalone structure as well.
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Warren
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 22 Jan 2013, 00:47

Highway wrote:1) a completely self supporting structure (as in, it should be able to stand all by itself without any support from your house);
I agree completely.
2) three directions tying it together - so if the beams run left to right, the stringers should run front to back, and the decking should be diagonal;
That's overkill. And you're leaving out the important first step. You need to know how deep to set your footings (a matter of soil, run off, and frostline) and take the time to dig, level, backfill and pack. Take as much care in setting your posts and beams. Screws, blocks, and glue. make the structure solid. Once you got that foundation in place, you can hang joists and nail the decking in the most attractive manner. Which brings me to
3) everything screwed, not nailed - raises the cost, but screws are far better than nails
I'm not against this idea, but a nail gun makes quick work of laying decking. Screws and glue for the frame I wouldn't skimp on, but for the decking, worst case you'll have to renail it in ten years.
Some other suggestions are to sandwich the full post between the beams and don't let them mortis out some of the post material to set the beam on, and if you have stairs, make them their own standalone structure as well.
I don't see the problem with a good mortise for the beams. (Again glue and screws.) It's not like you're removing structural material. For the stairs, how many are we talking? For four or less stairs, just go ahead and attach it to your deck frame.

The other thing is material. Posts and beams, strictly pressure treated. For the decking, you want to go with what looks good, but you're gonna have to reseal that shit every few years depending on how harsh you winters are. Unless of course you can afford redwood or ceder. But if you're going to pay first class fare, I'd go with that new poly-composite-wonderboard. Shit comes in assortment of colors, cuts, nails, and screws, better than wood, doesn't cup or warp, and will last long than you will.
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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 22 Jan 2013, 01:22

Warren wrote:
Highway wrote:Some other suggestions are to sandwich the full post between the beams and don't let them mortis out some of the post material to set the beam on, and if you have stairs, make them their own standalone structure as well.
I don't see the problem with a good mortise for the beams. (Again glue and screws.) It's not like you're removing structural material. For the stairs, how many are we talking? For four or less stairs, just go ahead and attach it to your deck frame.
Mo said his deck is basically a floor above grade, so 10 feet or so. And with the mortising, it's more a matter of 1) exposing the interior to more weathering and 2) reducing the strength of the post, and asking for checking and splitting from the corner of the mortis, and when that happens, you do lose some structural ability. If you sandwich and bolt through, then it has less exposure, and less propensity to split down the post.
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 22 Jan 2013, 01:27

Highway wrote:
Warren wrote:
Highway wrote:Some other suggestions are to sandwich the full post between the beams and don't let them mortis out some of the post material to set the beam on, and if you have stairs, make them their own standalone structure as well.
I don't see the problem with a good mortise for the beams. (Again glue and screws.) It's not like you're removing structural material. For the stairs, how many are we talking? For four or less stairs, just go ahead and attach it to your deck frame.
Mo said his deck is basically a floor above grade, so 10 feet or so. And with the mortising, it's more a matter of 1) exposing the interior to more weathering and 2) reducing the strength of the post, and asking for checking and splitting from the corner of the mortis, and when that happens, you do lose some structural ability. If you sandwich and bolt through, then it has less exposure, and less propensity to split down the post.
Check. That's pretty far off the ground. There might be some considerations I'm not appreciating on account of that height. I'd definitely want some sort of diagonal bracing.
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by JD » 22 Jan 2013, 07:45

The hard part about applying window treatments of any kind in NYC is that landlords and contractors are usually much more concerned about price than quality or consistency, so you end up with a bunch of different kinds of windows in different kinds of frames, set into the walls in different ways. It makes for kind of a pain.

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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by tr0g » 22 Jan 2013, 11:12

My house is (finally) listed, so I have two last projects. I have to pull the remaining smart outlets and install the garage door opener. Then I'm through until we relocate.

That'll be a festival of home improvement, because the most likely contender has no ethernet, and it's a two story. So I'll either be a sad wirepulling panda, or I'll pay some clown a ridiculous sum of money to do it. Once we buy, I'll have to figure that out.

Say, anybody wanna buy a house? :D
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 22 Jan 2013, 11:17

tr0g wrote:My house is (finally) listed, so I have two last projects. I have to pull the remaining smart outlets and install the garage door opener. Then I'm through until we relocate.

That'll be a festival of home improvement, because the most likely contender has no ethernet, and it's a two story. So I'll either be a sad wirepulling panda, or I'll pay some clown a ridiculous sum of money to do it. Once we buy, I'll have to figure that out.

Say, anybody wanna buy a house? :D
Why would you need to pull ethernet? Why not just set up a wifi network?
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by dhex » 22 Jan 2013, 11:21

wired ethernet is a lot more reliable and faster.
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by nicole » 22 Jan 2013, 11:28

JD wrote:The hard part about applying window treatments of any kind in NYC is that landlords and contractors are usually much more concerned about price than quality or consistency, so you end up with a bunch of different kinds of windows in different kinds of frames, set into the walls in different ways. It makes for kind of a pain.
When I moved into my current apartment, the landlord had put--NOT "installed"--all of the blinds in the place, which I guess had been at various random windows before, into one room. At a glance, the windows in that room looked to be the same size as each other and as many other windows in the apartment, and the blinds all looked to be the same width. Get out a tape measure, though, and...not so much. Maybe two or three of the windows were actually the same, and God knows who thought which blinds matched with what. Tension rods (and curtains) are my friend.
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Highway
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Highway » 22 Jan 2013, 11:36

tr0g wrote:That'll be a festival of home improvement, because the most likely contender has no ethernet, and it's a two story. So I'll either be a sad wirepulling panda, or I'll pay some clown a ridiculous sum of money to do it. Once we buy, I'll have to figure that out.
I took the easy way out with respect to the main wire pulling in my house. Found an air return that went from ceiling of the second floor to the basement with no turns between floors, got plenum rated cable, and just dropped it down the air return. Also, there's only a couple wires that go in the wall, into my wife's office and into our bedroom. The others either come into a closet and then through the wall, or they come up to the first floor through a conveniently located heating vent opening.

And I finally learned that punchdown keystone jacks are a far superior idea to RJ-45 plug ends for the stuff I wire. Then you just buy premade patch cords which are a heck of a lot more reliable.
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Re: Home $weet Home

Post by Warren » 22 Jan 2013, 11:51

dhex wrote:wired ethernet is a lot more reliable and faster.
Well yeah. But how much speed do you need in your home? Just seems like a whole lot of time and expense for marginal gain. The only thing I can think of that would be truly improved is streaming Netflix.
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