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Gettin' started on home improvements, home maintenance

March 2nd, 2010 at 05:55 pm

My "Go to" guy Ralph came over to price out some jobs I want him to do.

Since "discovering" this guy last summer (a friend/co-worker referred me to him) I am SO glad I found him! He does great work at even greater prices!

He's the one who did my sun room. I can't tell you how many guys i've had here over the years who really gouged me on prices. (Like the guy who charged me $1,000 to install a sump pump in the basement. Sigh. Bygones...) I've been mostly ignorant over the years, but I've gotten better about discerning whether it's a fair price or not.

Anyway, first to the maintenance stuff that needs to be done. He priced all this at $300, very reasonable, I thought:

1. Cement in 2 below-grade basement windows. Years back i saw on the outside that the old wood windows were rotting and since i wanted to sell the house at that time, i had those old window frames removed and the hole bricked in, but the guy evidently didn't do a very good job cus i noticed at one point that when i stood in the basement with the lights off, i could see daylight coming from that space! I also felt a lot of cold air coming from a hole in the cement where Ralph said mice could get in too. So all that will be fixed. I just want to have the 2 spaces where basement windows used to be to be uniform cement.

2. Cement in an area of a basement wall that was bricked in and is not at all level. It's on the shared wall between garage and basement. I swear it looks like a car plowed into the wall and it was "repaired" by an amateur.

3. Repair 2 large and long cracks in my front stoop. This is urgent, since letting this go will make it worse.

4. Redirect sump pump outlet from draining out the north side of house to the east side, which is also the front of the house, but the pipe will be largely hidden by all the pachysandra there. The idea is that the water will more readily drain from the front of house where there's a fairly sharp downward slope; the side of the house where it drains now is kind of level and when the sump drains the water out, it tends to pool in an area to the side of the house and only slowly drains away.

I'm not sure why the guy who installed it put it where he did; he probably figured i wouldn't want an ugly pipe visible from front of house. At this point, I'm more concerned about proper drainage and as i said, that pachysandra is really bushy and will easily hide the pipe.

All of these are relatively small repairs of things that always bothered me but i never got around to having them addressed since it can be tough finding someone who will not only do small jobs, but do them well.

Plus, if i ever sell this place, it will mean that many fewer small repairs to do at the last minute. I'd want to have them done becus they're the kind of thing that would give buyers pause and question the integrity of my foundation or something. If and when i sell my house, I'd like to streamline the whole process and do a quick sale, and especially in this market today, you can't expect to do that unless the house is in very good shape to start with.

Plus i take a lot of pride in my house and get so much satisfaction from doing any sort of home improvements. It's quite the expensive hobby.

Ralph's going to get back to me in a few days about the cost of putting stone facade all around my garage, on the ugly concrete part. It's just a 1-car (attached) garage, but it comes to about 170 square feet of stone, which is a lot of material and $$.

It will definitely make the house/garage more attractive as you drive up the driveway. Good for resale value but also for my own enjoyment. So many people who come here say oh, it's like an English country cottage! This will make it even more so, I'm sure. Stone walls galore.

I have no idea what the stone will cost; he said it would be pricey cus it's such a large area to cover. I have some numbers in my head i hope it doesn't go over. His prices have always pleasantly surprised me before, so hopefully, that'll be the case again.

I forgot to ask him, though, and this is a key question since I'm already addressing lots of cracked concrete issues, is how likely the stone wall will develop cracks of it's own over time?

I'd like this to be maintenance-free!

In other news, Patient Saver is headed for a haircut this afternoon. I'll be stopping at Xpect Discounts for some bird suet and also at Trader Joe's.

Suet prices at Xpect increased this year, from .50 a cake to .59. Still the cheapest game in town, though. Most everywhere else will charge you $1 a cake.

I'm having my mother and sister over this weekend for my mother's birthday. My sis is bringing a salad and I'm doing a cauliflower cheddar soup with a crusty bread and some sort of extravagant Trader Joe's frozen dessert which I'll get today.

I have to start cleaning the house pretty soon cus while it's perfectly fine for me, it's not presentable for public viewing! Cat hair clumps in the corners and that sort of thing.

3 Responses to “Gettin' started on home improvements, home maintenance”

  1. LittleMsMom Says:

    Maybe there is a way to minimize the sump pump pipe; could you paint it the color of the house or the color of the plant trunk so it is hidden?

  2. patientsaver Says:

    Good idea. I could paint it the color of the house where it comes out from the house, and then dark green to camouflage it in the pachysandra.

  3. Jerry Says:

    Wow, you DEFINITELY want that sump pump to lead to good drainage! We are renting our house out back in the States, and during a recent big storm our sump pump failed and the crawl space flooded... ruining our boiler. INsurance didn't cover it, but fortunately we have a really reliable repair guy as well, and he's doing a great job getting it all settled again. It's hard to be a landlord from afar sometimes!
    Jerry

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