Friday, April 24, 2015

One Year Anniversary, Lawn Care, and Garden

One year ago today, April 24, 2014, we closed on our house. While we've had a few issues here and there, the past twelve months living here has only reinforced the feeling that we made a good decision in deciding to build where we did. We've got a house that far better meets our needs along with having friendly neighbors that compared to our old neighborhood are actually neighborly. Even now I still find myself sometimes wondering in amazement that this is home.

That's not to say the past year hasn't been without issues. We've had our share of minor problems (soft spot in the floor and microwave repair among other things), a fairly major one (furnace breakdown on the coldest night of the year), and that issue with our fence.  But overall we've been really happy with how things have gone so far. We dealt with a lot of stress in our mid-1950's old house worrying about what would be the next thing to break and to say it's been a relief the past year not having to worry about such things would be a huge understatement. (I will also never own another house with a septic system. Ever.)

I hate to boast but I've got to about my yard and how it's one of the nicest looking ones in our neighborhood. It's amazing what a bag of fertilizer every few months and a little weeding can do. While some of my neighbors are spending money (significant money at that) on the services of TruGreen and other lawn care companies I've simply been following the care schedule outlined in the homeowner's manual regarding feedings along with smart mowing (mulching the clippings), and periodic watering. And the results have been just as good if not better.

On that note I don't understand why people build a nice house that comes with a nice sodded lawn and irrigation, and then let it (the lawn at least) go to crap. Just do the basic maintenance on it. Everything is outlined in the aforementioned manual. Compared to the cost of the house it's a very tiny expense. At least with the size of the front yards in our neighborhood a $20 bag of lawn food or fertilizer is enough to cover it adequately. 

One of my honey-do chores this spring was to build a raised bed garden a few weeks ago. Using three 2x12 pressure treated boards with sections of 2x4s at the corners I built this in about an afternoon. I also dug out the grass within the perimeter as best I could (hard to do with the amount of rocks in the yard) and lined it with landscape fabric. I'll probably add a second one next year and I also want to put install a rain barrel on one of the downspouts so it's easier to water. (Since the water spigots are on the sides of the house on the other side of the fence.) I then borrowed my dad's truck and went to the local landscaping place for a load of leaf compost to fill it. I think it turned out nicely.

Yes, that's duct tape holding the fabric to the sides.

Speaking of the rocks, our yard is littered with them. When the house was built and the French drain installed around the perimeter of the foundation there didn't seem to be much effort to contain the gravel used. (I'll give Ryan Homes the benefit of the doubt that there's probably no way around this.) I've gotten into the habit of picking a few up whenever I'm out in the yard and even paid my son a few times to go out and pick up as many as he can find. I always wear goggles when I use my weedwacker as I've been hit more than once by flying gravel.

We have some really amazing sunrises over our neighborhood. This was the latest from a few weeks ago.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Microwave, Flooring, and Drywall Repairs

This could also be entitled "10 Month Review Part III". (See Part 1 and Part 2.)

I've been on spring break from work this week so along with a multitude of other things on my to-do list I also scheduled contractors to come out and complete various repairs that had been noted at the 10 month review.

Our microwave had been making an intermittent buzzing for several months. (Didn't happen very often and there didn't seem to be any pattern when it did occur.) After the 10 month review I submitted a repair request through GE's website and then had to follow up with the repair place that it had been submitted to when they never called me to schedule it. (They claimed they never received it.) A few weeks ago a technician came out. The microwave wouldn't make the noise of course but I showed him the video on my phone that I took the last time it happened. According to him GE had a bad batch of parts when our microwave was built and he's replaced a lot of them recently. It was three possible parts that could be the cause so he went ahead and put in to replace all of them. Because the issue is so common the parts were back ordered so it took until this week to get the repair done,

Two other things I'll note on this:
-The tech mentioned to me something Jenny and I didn't realize. On the bottom of the microwave above the stove there are two grease filters that need to be cleaned periodically. Ours were dirty and apparently this can affect the operation of the appliance. He said to just toss them in the dishwasher once a month and that will be enough to keep them clean.

-The warranties on the included appliances (stove, microwave, and dishwasher) are only one year. This seems rather short to me and I feel like Ryan should guarantee them for two years like they do the other major systems on the house. The dryer at our house broke one time and getting it repaired cost almost half as much as replacing it. (Which in retrospect is what we should have done.)

Floor Repair
Last summer the project manager had a crew out to fix a soft spot in the floor in front of Bedroom #3. They filled it with a putty compound to level it out but within a few months it had gotten soft again. (My father-in-law is a flooring contractor by trade and told me at the time that the way they fixed it wouldn't last.) At the ten month review it was determined the floor needed to be cut out and replaced to permanently fix it and that was what was done this week.

Soft spot with putty prior to being cut out.

Section of the subfloor cut out and removed.

This screw gun was so awesome looking I had to get a photo of it. I wonder how I could justify adding one of these to my collection of power tools?

Subfloor replaced.

Drywall Repair
The last item this week was the one year drywall repair. This is a one time fix for any nail pops and cracks that occur during the first year. In the days leading up to this we had to go around the house marking any spots we found with pieces of blue painters tape. They can be difficult to spot and we went through the house multiple times at different times of day trying to spot everything. On the day before the repair appointment I finally started walking around the house with a roll of tape in my pocket so I could mark spots as I found them. Along with the nail pops we had a number of hairline cracks in the corners and where the walls met the ceiling along with cracks coming off the corners of windows and in some of the trim. We also had a few spots in the ceiling where the seam between sections of drywall was visible. All of this was totally expected with a new house and didn't seem to be any more or less than what is normally seen.

How the foyer looked with all the spots marked.

I forgot to get good before shot but this was a settlement crack coming off the corner of the door in the master bedroom closet. We also had small cracks like this in the corners of several of the windows.

Stairway midway through the repair prior to painting.

Seam in the dining room after it had been patched and primed.

The whole process took two days. On the first day the drywall contractors patched and primed all of the spots we had marked. On the second day they came back, sanded everything down, and painted. Overall we were very happy with the work that was done. The repaired areas looked as good as they did when we moved in almost a year ago. The guys doing the work also spotted additional spots we hadn't and on top of that also repaired a few areas where the dopier of our two cats had dug his claws into the walls around the windows. On the downside I've already spotted a few small spots that we missed. I've also been told that we'll continue to see additional spots for another six months to a year but from what I saw they're not very difficult to fix.

What do you do when you have a lazy Pug that refuses to move? Cover him up and keep working. (I eventually moved him upstairs and he responded by pooping on the floor.)