For posterity, here is a list of projects we are taking on to make the new house safe and dry for habitation. We do not DIY things. Corey is from New Jersey. He read a book to learn how to work the lawn mower when we bought our first house. I have 3 children, 2 of whom are breastfeeding. We hired contractors, for Pete’s sake. Bryan seems to be our point-person project manager, and Hussein seems to be his next-in-charge person. This is what they will do:
New roof–this is actually already done. The entire, massive mansard roof has already been replaced, along with the slate shingles along the front portion.
Remove termite-damaged cedar shingles along mudroom exterior–the carpenters started this today
Remove concrete hearth that was sinking onto the gas line because termites ate all the wood from the floors beneath it–today, when I took the contractors through the house to show them the hearth, a herd of them clicked into frenzied measuring when we got into the basement and they saw the wood floor boards that were not holding up the concrete very well. They all whipped out tape measures and started taking notes, talking about framing this and supporting that. Bryan, said, “It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen. I once saw a house with a breaker box inside, powering the dentist’s office next door.”
Fix the gas line leading to the oven that was somehow so unsafely installed that the city put a tag on our gas line. Hussein says he thinks he can fix that pretty quickly.
Install a microwave above the stove. This wasn’t necessary for safety or dryness, but seemed like a good thing to have done while the guys were in the kitchen.
Install new windows. [insert long, slow whistle] This house has a lot of windows. Most of them are leaking, broken, or inadequate.
Treat the property for termites. Done! The termite man came right after closing.
Remediate the radon seeping into the basement. I keep forgetting to call the radon people. They told me to wait until after the roof was done and it just kept slipping my mind. Gah!
Change the locks. Because dudes be walking into my house, yo! We had Ace Lock come right after that incident. We also found a combination lock box for a key (it was buried in a drawer) so now we have a nice, safe way to let our contractors into the house.
Replace the bilco doors to the basement. The doors are currently rusted and actually crumbling to pieces. When it rains, water comes down the steps in waves. It just seeps in there.
Replace crumbling front porch that’s sinking onto the gas main. This was something that allowed us to negotiate the price of the house in a big way. We have had a number of people in to look at it since closing, and the engineer feels that the porch is actually ok. Rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to repair the porch, we’re going with the engineer’s assessment and skipping that project for now.
Replace the broken balustrades. Every time we showed a relative a photo of a staircase in our house, the relative would say, “You have to replace those balustrades! Your children are going to DIE!” Relatives, please know that we know this and it’s on the work order and Hussein’s little brother took care of most of it today.
Add some closet bars and shelves in the walk-in closet. Which is currently just an empty room next to the master, or, as I call it, the ancillary chamber. This is neither a safety nor dryness issue, and purely frivolous and I love it and it will probably cost a total of $200.
Install a washer and dryer in the second floor. These will go in the “fireplace bathroom” in lieu of the fireplace. Again, not a safety or dryness issue per se, but this will save me a bunch of trips into the wet, radon-filled basement so sort of?
People keep telling me to take pictures, that we’ll enjoy looking at them later. I’m not sure what to take pictures of! Next time I’m over there, I’ll snap a few action shots of Hussein measuring the gnawed-up sub-floor, I guess.