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December 20, 2005

Ok, so we're not plumbers

On the plus side, we now know where the water shutoff is outside the house.

It started so innocently.

Monica: "Honey, would you mind pulling the shower handle off to see if there's anything obvious to be adjusted that would make hot water come out of the shower?"

Marc: (said in a Super Man voice) "No dear. I'll get right on that.. but I'm an electrician not a plumber. So don't expect miracles".

When I got home last night there was water running out of the tub faucet and it wasn't stopping. No matter how you turned the knob the water never quite stopped. Marc says he tightened and then loosened 4 screws. He didn't force it.. there was not application of force... but the water wouldn't stop (very strawberry shortcake-like).

We tinkered with it for a while.. and then decided that maybe we should shut off the house water. So we circled the house. Nothing looked or sounded like the water shut off valve (there were no signs. We really needed a sign).

So we called a plumber. At 9:00 at night. Yes, we have a water emergency (though really, as far as water emergencies go, this entailed very little mess). Anthony showed up at about 10. He looked at the problem.. then wandered outside to find the shut off. In 2 minutes flat he found the shutoff and stopped the water.

He then declared our valve thing-y broken (I'm sure he had a more specific word than thing-y but as mentioned.. I'm not a plumber). He said we'd have to tear out sheetrock in the bedroom in order to access the plumbing. He then estimated the repair cost at $500 (which didn't include fixing the sheetrock) and offered to come back in the morning and fix it.

Choice 1: pay $500 and fix problem.
Choice 2: stop using water in the house

We decided on choice 1 and agreed to meet with him tomorrow when he came back. He also said he'd look at the water feed tube for the fridge.. so we can get filtered water and ice from our fridge (wheee).

Today when he showed up he tinkered with the knob for a while and said that he may have overestimated the cost. It looks like he can replace the valve thing-y without having to tear a hole in the bedroom (horray!).

At the same time he was here tinkering with the knob, Marc and I tackled installing the dryer. The dryer isn't on a fuse in the fuse box. It's wired into the main power only. I'm pretty certain that will need to change. But in the meantime, in order to remove the old, wrong, outlet and install the new, right, outlet, we had to shut off main power to the house.

So at a couple points today we had no heat, no power and no water in the house. It feels kind of medieval.

December 19, 2005


Friday night, on my way home from work, Marc called to say that his Mother had gone into the hospital and wasn't doing well. Instead of packing boxes and clearing off all the furniture for our move on Saturday, we drove 2 hours to the Gridley Hospital. We arrived at 8:30 PM. His mom died at 12:45 Saturday morning. She was a great woman and will be sorely missed.

On the way to Gridley we called everyone who said they'd help us move to tell them we wouldn't be there.. they all said, "it doesn't matter, we'll show up and move you anyway". We have great friends. I can't think of any way to repay them.

We didn't get back to town until late on Saturday. We went out to dinner with our friends and they offered to stay another day to help us finish moving (or at least finish up with the big stuff). We'd planned to move everything with pickups.. but it had rained all day on Saturday. They didn't want our furniture to get soaked so they had been only able to move boxes.

On Sunday we rented a U-Haul truck and moved the big furniture. We still have quite a lot of small stuff to move but Marc and I can move this stuff without help.

Sunday night we stayed at the new house. Not an auspicious start to our lives in the house.

The garage roof leaked. Water pooled on top of the drywall Mr. O had installed. We had to poke a hole in it to get the puddle to drain (better a hole poked than having the whole ceiling collapse on us). A couple boxes got wet.

The thermostat is set at 70 but there's no heat coming out of the furnace. We hope it's just that the pilot light has blown out. PG&E says they can be out to re-light it on Thursday morning. Lucky thing we live in California and the lows are in the 50s.

Ants invaded the house and attacked the dog food. I contacted the Pest company and they're coming tomorrow to spray the house.

At best, the shower I took this morning could be described as tepid. The water temperature definately won't do. Shivering in the shower is -NOT- acceptable. The bathtub has a wonky knob. You twist it one way and you get cold water. You twist it the other way, the water shuts off.. and then comes on slightly warmer. You twist it all the way towards the warmer side and the water approaches tepid. I'm hoping that this wonky knob is causing cold water to mix in with the hot water even when it's twisted all the way to hot. That way just fixing the knob will fix the tepid shower problem. After my shower I turned on the bathroom faucet to test the water temperature. The water from the faucet felt MUCH hotter than the shower had.

****************later addition***************************
In all fairness, Marc requires that I tell everyone reading this blog that in my opinion, the acceptable temperature for a shower is "lava". If it doesn't peel the skin off of your back it's not nearly hot enough. That said, "tepid" is NO WHERE NEAR "lava".

December 16, 2005

HGTV rocks!

They're officially too cool for words. We now have a floor plan to work from. Marc measured the rooms yesterday and I laid them out in HGTV's room planner at,,HGTV_17897_23822,00.html.

We came up with this:


As mentioned. Too cool for words!

December 15, 2005

Lovely Window Trim

Someday we'll be able to do things to the house that aren't just to keep it from falling into ruin. When that someday comes I want to dress out the windows. Here's a nice link to a how-to for dressing out windows in a victorian style.

December 13, 2005

If it's not one thing...

This is precisely why I wanted the POs out sooner rather than later.

Today the new fridge, washer and dryer were delivered. (YEAH!). Marc met the Sears delivery folks. The washer went in like a dream. Marc has already run a load through the washer. He's thrilled with it. I think that's the only thrilling thing about today.

The current plug for the dryer is a range plug.. and is all wrong for the new dryer. That'll need to be replaced. No drying until that's fixed.

The water line for the fridge isn't setup right. Not sure what to do about that. So until we get that fixed, no water/ice from the new fridge.

We carefully measured the opening for the fridge. It ranged from 32.5 inches to 33 inches (ranged because of the <sarcasm>high degree of craftsmanship</sarcasm> evident in the kitchen). So we bought the new fridge. It's 32.5 inches wide. Exactly. This means that the only way to get it into the opening was to either force it (scratching the side panel), tear out a wall (a little too drastic for my taste on our second day in the house) or remove a cabinet (not too drastic but still causing anxiety). Marc removed the cabinet between the fridge and stove. It seems the least painful temporary measure.

The whole kitchen is a study in "what else can we do to mess this up?". There's paint drips from the repaint of the walls on the cabinet fronts. There's black caulk smeared 1-2 inches around the connection between the counter and the walls. There's red stain (from where Mr. O stained the cabinets) dabbed onto the kitchen walls. It just looks messy and small. I hate it. I'm willing to live with it for a while. But I'm going to continue to hate it.

On a happier note, Marc says that it's finally struck him that this is our house and we can do whatever we want to it (within reason anyway). I hope this strikes me soon. It still feels unreal. I think it won't feel real to me until we move in. Yeah Saturday.

We finally talked with Mr. O's realtor about the windows and the electrical work. Well, actually I talked with her office, she's not in today but I was still able to get some information.

The window openings are a "weird size" so they had to special order the windows. When these arrive we'll have to schedule their installation.

When we agreed to buy the house it had a 90 amp panel on it. The city of San Pablo demanded that the seller install a shiny new 125 amp panel. This still isn't connected. Mr. O's realtor's office said they were waiting for PG&E to do the reconnect and that I could get an ETA from them. PG&E says that we passed electrical inspection on 12/9 (who knew?) and that a PG&E installer would drop by for a "field inspection". After that they'd schedule the change over. The gal on the phone said that we were looking at 30-40 work days before this would happen.

I'm not too upset about it. We have electricity. We're not popping fuses (yet). I think it'll be fine.

I'll call Mr. O's realtor tomorrow and find out when they expect the rest of the electrical work to be done (fix plug in livingroom, remove knob and tube wiring run from the house to the garage). When the electrician is there for these things we want to also get the dryer plug changed.

Ah, I was wrong, there was one more thrilling thing about today. Marc removed the old front/back door knobs and installed all new ones. Now they all match and are all on the same keys. Keys that only -we- have. I find this thrilling.

December 12, 2005

Turning blue

Good thing I didn't hold my breath. Without going into details, after a whole lot of back and forth in which I spoke to my realtor, Mr. O's realtor, the county sheriff and a lawyer... Mr. O's realtor agreed that Mr. O and family would be completely out by Saturday midnight and that Mr. O's realtor would meet us at the property and give us a key at 9:30 AM on Sunday. So here it is, I have the keys. It's officially my house. It still doesn't feel real.

We walked through the house. They took the fridge, washer, dryer and all of the curtain hardware. They weren't supposed to take the curtain hardware. Mr. O's realtor told us to buy new hardware and sent a bill to her office (what a PITA).

There's a -ton- of big ass screw holes all over the house. *sigh*

Whoever patched the walls in the past should be shot... twice. I've never seen such pathetic work. I mean geez, where's pride in a job well done? These patches look like they were done in the dark by a monkey. And don't get me started about the paint!... There's random colors applied to random places (who paints just the edges of doors mustard yellow? What's that about?) and some of it is just badly done.. no cutting in, old paint color showing through, sloppy paint drips and scuffs. Much cosmetic stuff to do. Blegh!

The siding on the house is in worse shape than I thought. I knew that was going to need to be replaced.. but I just don't know how soon. Vinyl is bad. Poorly installed vinyl is evil.

The city of San Pablo requires houses older than 10 years to pass a city inspection before they can be sold. Three of the windows in the bedrooms were replaced at some point. I think Mr. O did it. It turns out, whoever installed the windows didn't get a permit. The "new" windows look like they are about 8 inches shorter than the old windows. Whoever installed the new windows "patched" the siding below the windows. It looks very bad. That siding is minty green, the rest of the siding is grey/beige. This was on my list of things to fix.. but it turns out, in order to pass the city inspection, Mr. O is going to have to re-install windows that are the same size as the originals. This is a good thing in that it will eliminate one of the exterior eyesores. It's a bad thing in that the selling realtor was very vague on the details of who was doing the installation, when they're installing it or what they're installing. I'm hoping for the best.. but at least the minty green will be gone.

So on Sunday afternoon we went to Sears and bought a fridge, washer and dryer (~$2650). I was too tired to go window hardware shopping (the feast on Saturday was hard work). All the appliances are supposed to be delivered on Tuesday.

Despite the ton of work that needs to be done, we're moving in on Saturday. With the Holidays and the rent on the current house running out there just isn't any other time to move. Besides, if we waited for all the projects to be done we'd never move in. Is a house ever -really- done?

December 7, 2005


On December 5, 2005 the title company finally called to say we closed. I actually had to ask if there was anything else that could go wrong. Really, buying a house shouldn't be this hard.

The title agent confirmed that we are actually closed. It's my house.. well sort of.

The seller, Mr. O & family, asked for a three day rent-back. They are simultaneously selling this house and buying a house up the road. They're going to be my neighbors for the next couple of years. If it wasn't for that I'd have said "no" to the rent-back. But I don't want to start out by being "That pissy bitch that moved into the O's old house". So those people still live there. *sigh* Hopefully by Friday they'll be out. I'm not holding my breath. Considering how much has not gone according to plan with buying this house so far I won't be suprised if they ask for an extention. *sigh*

December 5, 2005


On December 5, 2005 we closed on our first home purchase.

We paid $399,900 and considering the Bay Area home market I think this was a good price.

Built in: 1948
Location: San Pablo, CA
Home Size: 852 sq ft
1 story, 2 bedroom, 1 bath, detached garage. Dining room. Laundry area.

Here's the "before" floor plan:


Plan made with HGTV room planner,,HGTV_17897_23822,00.html.

Ignore the "sinks" in the two corners of the left bedroom. We wanted to make sure our corner desks would fit in the room with room left over for sewing. Corner sinks were the only corner-filling widget in the application.

Because it was built in 1948.. I'm hesitant to say "it's a bungalow" ("real" craftsman bungalows were built from 1890-1930). It has many bungalow features.. and I feel it can be tweaked to more closely resemble a bungalow. So for now it has "Bungalow Dreams". Maybe once we update the trim, add a fireplace, and maybe a built-in or two I'll be able to say it -is- a bungalow... regardless of when it was built.

I plan (in 7-10 years) to resell the place with "many craftsman details". Cross your fingers for me.

Marc and Monica (nibuca) live in the little grey house that dreams of being a bungalow with "Fynriss" and "Tiggy", whippets; and "Sweet Pea" and "Spot", cockatiels.

Contact us at:

Boring History

1948 (?) House built (this is what Mr. O's realtor said.. I'm not sure I believe her)
2001-08-30 Someone (probably Mr. O) bought the house for $224,000 (according to Zillow)
2005-12-05 We bought the house for $399,900