the MoneyPit update, no 17: the simple pleasures

one of the simple pleasures of rehabbing a house is the seemingly bottomless opportunities to make caulk jokes. i sure caulked that up. nothing that a little caulk won’t fix. hang on, i’ve got wet caulk on my hands…for the 14-year-old boy in all of us, it never stops being funny.

like making fake blood, caulking things is on the list of weird tasks i happen to be really good at. there were several months, back in 2011 or so, that our apartment in berkeley was overrun on a daily basis with EIGHT INCH WIDE RIVERS OF ANTS (i do not exaggerate). first we tried all the hippy, natural solutions (orange peel spray, cayenne pepper, borax and sugar water traps), then we tried the ant baits and pesticide sprays, and finally an exterminator. but the only thing that was really effective was to determine where the ants were coming in, and caulk up that crack. over the course of one rainy, angst-ridden and ant-filled winter, we slowly but surely hermitically sealed up that apartment.

finally, something good came of all that ant-related ennui. i’m good at caulking bathtubs, sink surrounds, window casings…you name it.

it’s been a couple of weeks since the last update on the house and we’ve done so. many. things.

ben, with help from his father, installed window and door casings and basedboard through the entire rental unit. now i’m coming through and painstaingly filling, patching, sealing, caulking, sanding and repainting all of the trim (reinforcements in the form of my mother are coming in next weekend, thankfully). it’s an enormous job.

we also: fixed the garage door, programmed new garage remotes, caulked the bathroom, bolted down a toilet, installed towel bars, installed robe hooks, key hooks, tool hooks, pants hooks*, hooked up doorbells, put up clothing rods and closet shelves, fixed the thermostat to the wall, started setting up the basement tool room, selected and ordered cupboard hardware, trued up cupboard doors, diagnosed, ordered parts, repaired and re-installed both dishwashers (one of which broke again), fixed the gasline to the stove, tested the bathtub for leaks, took apart and repaired the bathroom door, had the city replace the exterior water valve (which involved digging up our sidewalk and replacing it with a big pile of gravel), made no fewer than a half dozen trips to hardware stores, and like a dozen other things that i can’t remember right now.

nearly all of this work was done on the rental unit, and a good part of these tasks also need to be done in our apartment eventually. but it will be a lot easier to do this stuff once someone is helping us pay our mortgage. because, in addition to all the work listed above, we also photographed the apartment, made it a website, posted it on craigslist, held an open house, accepted applications, checked references, ran credit reports, wrote a lease, and RENTED THE APARTMENT!

for rent

we’ve gotten so used to the rental apartment being ours as well that it will be strange when we can’t walk through there. but having the first floor look occupied will be good for security as well for our bank account.

there were months where we were so impatient for the contractor to just get out of our way, and finally this past month we’ve been able to dig in and get our hand dirty and actually fix stuff. these are the simple pleasures we had in mind when we started this crazy journey 9 months ago. to fix something instead of buying a new one. to build something permanent instead of only investing in the transient. to have a place to use all the power tools that we received as wedding gifts. to (someday) construct the awesomest bookcase ever**.

tired dishwasher repairman

* pants hooks 1) are a thing and 2) are key to my husband’s method of wardrobe organization. but then again, i have three different categories of tank top, so who am i to judge?

** we sometimes refer to this mythical, future bookcase as the 6-figure bookcase, since the desire to design and construct our own built-ins is what sparked the entire house purchase in the first place.