Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's Go Time

Today, I wired a ridiculous amount of money out of my bank account, which is still wheezing and spluttering. 

It won't recover.

Here's the thing with savings accounts - they stink.  They provide drawbacks (limited number of withdrawals) for peanuts on the upside ("Check out our great 0.901% interest rate!  It's 0.001% higher than our competitor's!").  In the future, we will invest.  We will put money into places where it will get used.  By people, companies, and other entities that produce the goods and services we all like.  We will have a checking account (maybe two, if we still want to do a local branch bank), and that will fund the day-to-day stuff with a small (read maybe $4-8k) cushion.  It doesn't take that long to sell investments.

So where did the money go?  Well, it went into escrow for the house that we sign for tomorrow to close on Friday.  $33,543.16 sailed away, for a $20 wire fee (blast), to the netherworld, where presumably the escrow daemons will receive it and grudgingly grant us a house.

When we started this housebuy process, we knew it would take fixing-up, and we knew I had not been working FTE for very long, so we said 10% down (I know, I know, lay off and keep reading).  Last week I said "Hey, let's go to 20%".  I did the math, and the additional $18,000 of money up front will save us $210/month in payments.  Annualized, that's $2520 back on an $18,000 outlay, or 14% ROI.  This was money well spent. 


So we sign, close, then on Monday I meet the roofer there to get cracking on a new roof.  I thought about DIY-roofing, but I don't have 1) the skilz 2) a mentor 3) the time.  Also, it's Phoenix in July, so I'm OK with my choice.  The new roof is $8k for underlayment, 3-tab dimensional shingles, drip edge, and small deck repair.  I'm muy pleased with the bid.  It further reinforces my stereotype that most Mexicans are hardworking, square-dealing, family-oriented folks. I know, I know, I shouldn't judge by appearances or roofing bids, so we'll wait and see how he and his crew do on the project.

But starting this Friday, the beast is ours to tackle.  1600sqft of goodness.

Here's a very rough sketch - Blue is pool, brown indicates porches, red is an interior wall we aim to open up.

Here's my rough-draft task list.  Identical numbers mean the tasks can go in parallel.

1. Strip the floors - chip up tile/mastic, rip out carpet
1. Tear out palm tree threatening pool equipment
1. Open up & shore up interior wall (red one) adding top plate as necessary, adding columns as necessary, and cutting out the studs and floor plates central wall to investigate framing (the red one), it's structural, so we can't tear it our, but we will shore up certain columns and convert it into a bookcase (that's a finish-stage project, though)
1. Remove several bushes, trees, from landscaping (it was a rental house - it's ugly - we'll post "before" pictures in a few days)
1. PEX re-plumb from a master panel in garage - this is a want-to, but I really do want to convert away from old copper pipes.  The big main line into the house comes through the attic and into the garage, and is probably OK.  Imagine having a valve panel for your water destinations like you have a circuit panel for your electric.  That's my dream.  Maybe do an Instahot, if the old water heater looks tired.
1. Scrape the popcorn texture off the ceiling - this was just a bad idea, 70's people.
1. Rip up baseboards & take down interior doors
1. Sell stove - silly FHA requirements...
1. Get gas plumbed to stove bay & dryer area (outsource)
1. Cut open kitchen drop ceiling to see if it can be raised to the main-house height (I'm tall - this would be great)
1. Reroute any minor circuits that may be necessary for rheostats/switches/outlets/lighting (we won't add any circuits, as I'm not an electrician, but I am an engineer, and I am careful with a multi-meter)

2. Tear out bathrooms, leaving one toilet, y'know
2. Install laundry sink in garage - gotta have water somewhere
2. Tear out kitchen cabinets

2. Grind the floors to prep for stain/seal on concrete
2.  Fix any drywall that got opened up for plumbing or the ceiling
2. Install can lighting anywhere we want it (kitchen, front/music room, main room)
2. Make any repairs to exterior woodwork

 3. Stain/seal concrete floors - this is a bottleneck, and it will take a few days with basically nothing else in the house.  Thankfully, matching the house to the garage is not a biggie, so I can move tools back & forth as I progress.  Maybe I won't do the garage, but I figure why not?  Maybe I should do it first, to try my hand.

4. Paint interior - kind of a bottleneck.  Could be done before stain/seal, but needs to be done after the grinding (for dust reasons), certainly after any plumbing is done in the walls

4. Install new interior doors - I like 2-panel ones.  Old doors will be too short (they were over carpet)
4. Install new windows
4. Install new exterior doors

5. Install new baseboard
5. Install new tubs & tile (just the stalls, the floors will all be concrete)
5. Install new toilets
5. Build kitchen & bath cabinets - this is a short sentence describing a long task.  But it's my goal to build carcasses & doors for the cabinets.  I expect we'll top them with either quartz, Corian-type stuff, or maybe butcher block (makes sinks tricky, but I like the look).  Also, I plan to bleach the wood with the lye & peroxide method, since I really like that look and it levels out variation in the color (carcasses will be plywood, faces and doors will be solid).
5. Fill the sunken living room (the room just below the red wall) - I think I will make this a wood floor, lay some sleepers on the bottom, plywood deck cut to shape (there's a curve on one end of the sunken area), and then lay either nicely-finished plywood or hardwood strips on edge to make our music room floor.  It will be acoustically & I think aesthetically more pleasant than concrete.
5. Fix/fill any exterior holes/cracks in block walls

6. Install countertops/sinks in kitchen & bath
6. Install hardware
6. Paint exterior
6. Landscape exterior - again, small words for a big job, and can actually parallel much of the above, if I have the extra hands to do it.  Hurrah for family and church friends!
6. Repair/replace garage door & opener
6. Install radiant barrier & extra insulation in attic - this house will be COOL, dangit.

7. Build bookshelf wall - match butcher block (if any) and living room floor, use veneer to cover top plates and columns, make T-shaped shelves to prevent push-through.  This is central in the house, and it should be beautiful.  I'm thinking walnut, a cool brown.  Some of this depends on the color of the concrete and the color of the bleached wood.

8. Install appliances (stove, washer, dryer, fridge)

9. Move in?

Now, when I say "new" in the above list, I mean "new to us".  We fully intend to use as many recycled building materials as we can get ahold of.  Hardware, doors, even bathroom countertops and cabinets would be fair game.  Sinks (though perhaps not faucets) are on the hit list, and of course we will troll Craigslist for tools and appliances.  I will keep you up to date with our costs, both as a way for me to track them and a window to what a reasonably-handy DIY guy (who is NOT a pro) can do when he puts his mind to it.  Maybe we'll swim like a duck, maybe we'll fly like a lead balloon, but I guarantee it will be hectic and fun!

If you have any thoughts or comments on the above list, post 'em!

Tools to Buy:
Cold chisel(s)
Tile saw
Tablesaw (Sawstop?!)
Pump sprayer (concrete sealer)
Compressor (maybe borrow? otherwise, buy used, sell used, should be cheaper than renting)
Finish nailer (baseboard is a breeze with this)
Kreg Jig
Another drill

Concrete grinders (both main & edge type)

So stay tuned, MMP readers.  We are about to have an ADVENTURE


  1. So how many things are actually on that nine item list?