Sunday, November 19, 2017

Game Time

Let's play a game called "Guess What the Genius Occupant Filled Holes With!" It's a hilarious guessing game, and you never know when your craziest guess might be right! Let's get started.

 I spy some white patches on this wall... But wait, one kinda sticks out there. Let's guess what it could be!
 If you guess a paper towel shoved in the hole, you are correct!!

I spy a ceiling vent fan that is out of commsion, the only logical thing to do is cap it off with.... You guessed it! An empty chip bag!!

See those bumps, like the wall has mosquito bites? What do you guess is under those?

I guess more paper towels. I was wrong! If you were more creative and guessed filler from a giant, overstuffed bean bag chair, you are correct! 

 I see a large patch on the left of those graffiti words. You can't see it here but it stands about an inch proud of the rest of the wall and was feathered out (basically the wall looked 3 months pregnant there). Shall we take a guess?
 It's somenthing rectangular...
 If you guessed "a child's flash card" you are correct! And for bonus points, if you guessed the feathering was done with plaster of Paris (like for children's paint-your-own-dinosaur molds) instead of drywall compound, you are also correct!

Ahhhh, this was fun! We'll be back next time with all new odd and interesting finds from The Nut House.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Nut House

Joe and I bought our very first investment home! Our previous two homes (one in Pueblo, one in Thornton) were both run-down and needed lots of love, but we used traditional home loans and slowly worked our way through the renovation process while living in them. With very small kids, that is a huge pain in the butt! The house we currently live in is in good shape, and we bought it that way, but our hands continued to itch for projects to work on.  We have close friends in our ward who are already doing what we have dreamed of doing: purchasing a house to flip WITHOUT living in it! They steered us to an investment group that specializes in this market (buying houses at auction and doing financing for flips) and we came up with the cash for down payments and materials, and BOOM: We bought a house.
To be more particular, we bought The Nut House
 This is an actual sign posted outside their house. We should have known.

Houses at auction show up in all kinds of states - some are occupied, some are not; some are in pretty decent shape, some are gut jobs; some have pictures from listings or from agents peeking in the windows, while some are a complete guess. Our house is consistently the worst of all these options: there were no existing pictures because it was occupied, and the occupants lived in and "renovated" that house right into a complete gut job.

Fortunately, we have this hard-working crew:
 I pay them by the job, and based on their age. I am a total cheap-skate - Ethan gets a quarter per job, or $1 for a full day's work; the boys have earned up to $10 each for the full 3-day job of ripping out the entire nasty wood floor you're about to see. Let's walk through the house, shall we? I will give handy "PRO TIPS" along the way.

Welcome! Take it all in - the mismatched siding, the windows without trim, the abandoned play structure, the patchy front lawn! And you can't see it here, but you guessed it - the whole roof needs replaced! It might have been in decent condition but the Genius Occupant (hereafter referred to as GO) had the shingles power-washed.
PRO TIP: power-washing ruins asphalt shingles. Every. Single. Time. 
 Zoom in to the (ruined) front door - it'a real wood door, you will see the GO carved "Welcome" into it with a patch of sea turtles. PRO TIP: Real wood exterior doors are expensive, and you leave your door alone except to give it a nice coat of protective varnish or oil every few years.

Once inside, GO turned the handy coat-closet into some kind of shelf-less coat-less shrine, complete with a hollow cubby decorated with stone veneers. Why? We will ask ourselves this question 184756383927 times in the process of this renovation.
Shrine comes complete with a chandelier! Maybe they hung their coats on that? 
PRO TIP: People wear coats. When your house gives you a place to hang them, keep it.

From that same vantage, turn to the right - you will see a homemade wood floor and a weirdo patch of carpet. DO NOT BE FOOLED by the wood floor looking at all decent, it is not decent. GO created this mess by patching together found flooring from all walks of life - thin, thick, wide, narrow, laminate, wood, new and old. As you might imagine, these don't fit together in a nice tight fit - although he tried! The 9000 nails attest that he did try. But "try not, do or do not" - and he did NOT succeed. In between each board was a narrow gap, and in between each narrow gap trash and foodstuffs had fallen, and in each row of disgusting foodstuff FLIES had laid thousands of eggs and eggs had turned into maggots and this floor had living maggots underneath it. 
Those two white logs are maggots, crawling around. There are two more white logs buried in the debris behind them. We found and vacuumed up hundreds of these. 
PRO TIP: People drop food, and flooring installations take this into account. Use actual flooring, don't just decide to make your own because you happen to have a saw a 9000 nails. 

Stepping into the room a bit, these 3 windows face the front of the house. Kinda nice, he did some larger trim work up at the top, maybe we could keep this? ...
...and then we removed the trim to get a rough opening on the window size... Awwww, look, GO removed the original window and cut out the king studs and header that support the weight of the wall! All so he could put in 3 very sketchy windows! The three windows are now supporting the weight of the wall, since you can see these joists don't even touch each other. Obviously, drywall will be removed so the wall can be re-framed so a normal window can be safely put into place. 
PRO TIP: Don't touch structural walls without structural knowledge and experience. Windows (and safety) are not a time to get creative!  

Well, let's keep moving - it can't get much worse, right? 
Sure. Let's move to the dining room/kitchen. We see in front of us a built-in hutch. Except that it wasn't actually built-in - the funny little pantry to the left of it was created by the GO himself, who built a wall right on top of the tile job that we're about to talk about. 
PRO TIP: When you build a wall, you join the wall structure to the floor structure, you do not set it on top of finished flooring (and I use the term "finished flooring loosely in this case). We will be un-building that cabinet.
Let's glance at that tile, shall we? Does it remind you a bit of the wood floor in that none of it matches? That's because indeed, none of it matches. All different thicknesses meant that he rigged things up however he could to try to make them even, sometimes using drywall or cement siding under a piece of particularly thin tile, sometimes using construction adhesive to glue things straight to the floor if mortar made it too thick. 
PRO TIP: Tile comes in packs of like thicknesses for ease, beauty, and safety. Buy it that way.

Further into the kitchen, GO found some castoff gray quartz counters and added them in even though they didn't fit the layout of the cabinets. You can see more of it in the wonky countertop above, supported by a middle-of-the-room non-structural post. Below, the counter was straight but the room has an angle, so the sink is just suspended between counters on both sides. We did not remove any of these doors, the GO was going for an open-air look. The black pantry door is painted, it used to be a frosted glass door that said "Pantry." Obviously black paint was the way to go, right?

From the kitchen you can see into an unfunctional room - it was originally a 2nd living room, GO semi-framed it to try to turn it into a bedroom, but he used crazy angles and has no knowledge of framing. When knocking the drywall off of it one of the studs completely fell down with the drywall, since it wasn't nailed to the header. 
PRO TIP: To make a wall you need 3 things: a baseplate, a stud, and a header. When you fail to attach these you fail to make a wall.
We will re-frame this into a 3rd bedroom for re-sale purposes, and it will right and it will be glorious. Trust me.

After you leave the brightness of the living room/kitchen/unframed bedroom this hallway looks mighty spooky. And dingy and dirty and way too patched-up. But let's proceed anyway!

 First thing on our left from the hall (same side as un-framed bedroom) there is a kids bedroom. The GO went a little mural crazy. While this dinosaur is pretty neat, it is not as neat as, say, having a door on the bedroom. Or carpet that doesn't stink like garbage. And it's only one of 4 walls...
...this garbage on the other walls is more like the rest of the room. Basically graffiti.
PRO TIP: If you think graffiti devalues a neighborhood, imagine what it does to the inside of your house!

 Right across the hall from Dino Room we have a wide open Room of Randomness and Wallpaper, wide open to the laundry room and utilities, plus a door that opens to the backyard. Very non-functional, though happily the GO seemed to leave this room alone for the most part. 

 Bonus feather duster, because they were obviously neat-freaks. But this part of the room is massive and has no clear purpose.... yet. Give us a minute to think about it.
 Mismatched washer/dryer with missing front panel? Broken cabinets? Yes, please!
 The water heater is leaking from an unknown source, and the furnace burned out (actually caught fire) 3 years ago. They never fixed it, just had it dismantled and then lived without heat. It's not Alaska up here or anything, but COME ON.
PRO TIP: If you have time to paint intricate murals (dinosaur or otherwise, as you'll see), you have time to find a part-time job; if you have a part-time job you can make money to buy a new furnace so your children have heat. (The GO's have 3 boys)

Currently the laundry/utility has a door opening (but no door in it) to the jack-and-jill style bathroom. This will be framed in and drywalled so there is only one door to the bathroom, like there should be.
PRO TIP: Your house should be a home, not a spooky maze of multiple doors to single rooms.

 Let's step through that door-less door and see what all the excitement is... I spy tentacles...
Holy shniekes, it's an octopus! What a completely normal thing to do to your bathroom!

 My, my, what a gorgeous vanity that I can't wait to throw in the dumpster
 Across from the vanity is the one mural I moderately approve of. Cute. Fun. 
Going in the trash, obviously. 

Go out through the door (literally the only remaining interior door in the house) and turn to the right, you're ready to head into the luxurious master bedroom. What better entrance than another mural? Especially one with a romantic hole kicked into it.
 And romantically filled with trash. I discovered all the chopped up foam was filling for a giant bean bag chair, ALSO very mature and romantic. There are two windows here, it just happens the left one has drywall leaning against it in this photo.The extra layer of carpet in the middle of the floor masks that there is a random hole in the subfloor. Watch out or you might fall into it with the rug and be trapped, like Tom Hanks in Moneypit!
PRO TIP: You must fix holes in rigid material with actual rigid material; an extra layer of carpet isn't fooling (or saving) anyone.

 My favorite part of the room is this spoon that was melded to the carpet with gray paint. Typical.

The master bedroom has a dedicated master bath - GORGEOUS, amiright? That is a fly trap hanging from the ceiling, and it is chock full of flies (all those wood floor maggots that grew up)
 The black sheet covers a frosted window, kind of like the black paint covered a frosted glass pantry door. Who doesn't prefer black?
And the dangly black thing on the ceiling covers a home-made skylight. For a GO who didn't know a thing about framing, he ALSO sure didn't know a thing about roofing! That homemade skylight has leaked and covered the ceiling in black mold. Time to break out the breathing masks!
There is a shower stall - possibly also their washing machine, based on the clothes we found in there.
PRO TIP: When dealing with a roof, call a roofer. Those dudes can set you up with a skylight and save you the trouble of dying from extended exposure to black mold.

Honestly, we have been so busy with demo'ing the front of the house that we have hardly touched the bathrooms. We've been in the house barely over a week and the whole wood floor, all the kitchen tiles, all the kitchen cabinets and counters and appliances have been removed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Eleven years! Time to celebrate

Hey, hey, hey! Who-ho-ho! We got married 11 years ago, and that is something to BRAG A-BOUT. So I will, mostly in picture form.
Joe and I planned out a lovely 2-day trip to Seattle! Although not far away, it does involve traffic, which makes it feel roughly similar to going to the moon, and you just don't want to pan trips to the moon all that often. Let's face it, I can hardly make it to the library to get my books back on time. But our anniversary seemed worth the trouble, so we booked a hotel and staked out a few "great to visit if you have kids" kinds of things to do. 
Out first stop: a baseball game! Mariners versus Rockies, aka Our New Home Team versus our Old Home Team. We loved it! We got there early enough for the anthem and first pitch and everything. We ate hot dogs, chicken strips, drank loads of Dr Pepper, and ate ice cream. Quite frankly, it was wonderful and awful at the same time! The kids did pretty well during the game, there were 2 home runs and some fireworks, a couple foul balls our way, and we had splurged (just a touch, nothing too crazy) for some decent seats so they would be more "in the action." I loved being 6 rows back! And I love watching baseball, so it was all very dreamy for me, but the point was also to keep it exciting for the kids.

Safeco field, the baseball stadium, is right next to CenturyLink field, the football stadium. We took the picture with Russell Wilson behind us to make Kari mad. We're SO hilarious!

Boys in front of the sign.

Arriving inside the stadium. The weather was supposed to be overcast, maybe rainy, and 65 degrees. We regretted the sweaters, and lack of sunscreen, because it was hot and sunny the whole time!

Our seats - oh, la, la!

Look at that baseball feast! I think Ethan has an entire footlong hot dog in his mouth right here.

For reasons that remain unclear, the Mariner's mascot is a moose. Their symbol is a trident. Who thinks this nonsense up?

View from our seats onto the field

I loved that Eli wore a hat! Eli also loved that he wore a hat, it was protection from the sun 
(when he wasn't wearing it like a dork)

After the game we were still SO STUFFED from the food we ordered in the first inning we took a nice walk to the famous Pike's Place Market. Sadly, they were closing as we got there so we didn't get to look around as much as we had hoped, but actually it was GOOD they were closing up because the kids found plenty of things they *wished* they could buy, but the stores were closed. PHEW! Saved! We did see lots of fresh seafood and beautiful flower bouquets, which are the primary charms of the market, and we visited the "World's Largest Shoes" museum, which is a wall where you can pay a quarter to look at shoes that once belonged to famously giant people. 

The best part of the market is that it's right next to the giant Ferris Wheel! I didn't care one way or another about Ferris Wheels until I read "Devil in the White City" and it's interesting tidbits of the history of the first ferris wheel at the Chicago World Fair, and now I find them quite interesting! The kids find them interesting because they are kids.

Eli is a cutie

So up in the wheel we went! Each compartment held up to 8 people, but it wasn't crowded on a Thursday evening so they gave our family our own compartment, and let us ride around 6 times instead of the promised 3. Really gave us our money's worth! (Which is good, cause it was more money than I thought I'd ever spend on a Ferris Wheel)

The kids kept wishing we would get more rides, it was so fun that they got their wish! On the 5th and 6th times around we saw the Ferry pulling into the harbor, and that was awesome too.

The city behind us

My sweet girl <3 p="">
(and a better view of the city)

We walked home from the Ferris Wheel and Pike's Place Market, which was about a 20 minute walk and the kids, with the exception of Ethan, all thought they were dying. Happily, the city is interesting, there is always something to look at - this vista was outside our hotel! And like the Ferris Wheel was built for a World Fair, so was the Space Needle! Now it's suddenly was more interesting to me, and I'll have to read a book about it before we go again, so I can appreciate it before I pay gobs of money to go in an elevator to the top.

The boys refused to pose for more pictures around this point, but Caroline was happy to oblige, and gave me this gem where she looks like she's plotting to murder Ethan, and Ethan's a bit nervous because he knows it. 

Then Caro wanted to swap, so she took our photo.

Back at the hotel Thursday evening we went swimming with the kids from 8-9, watched TV from 9-9:3-, then yelled at them until 10 until they went to sleep. We are amazing parents.

Friday morning we decided to hit the Pacific Science Center. It had ho-hum ratings from the site I was looking at to plan our outings, but quite frankly it was one of the less-spendy things available and was RIDICULOUSLY close to our hotel, so we walked on over. Lo and behold, the Science Center is in a whole campus of cool spots, including another Children's Museum, the Armory, a Chihuli Gardens and Glass, the Museum of Popular Culture (or MoPoP), and the space needle itself.

Awesome climbing structures! They were challenging and fun and HUGE

The slides were impressive! I saw more than one adult go screaming down them

This was there by-far-favorite part of the part. What is it about spinning that is amazing when you're a kid, and absolute death when you're an adult? Blech.

We eventually left the playground and made it the 500 feet to the Pacific Science Center. We finally convinced them by promising there were dinosaur exhibits

There were indeed dinosaur exhibits! They moved and everything.

There were also oceanic exhibits, solar exhibits, health and fitness exhibits, and an entire half of the museum that we missed even though we spent 2 hours there! Happily a family membership was just $20 more than daily admission for us, so we got a year pass and we'll go again some time this summer.

Everyone agreed their favorite part of the museum was the Butterfly exhibit, where the butterflies were all free to fly around and land on you. 

Ethan was real ticked the butterflies wouldn't land on him

Also in the campus area was the monorail! Not a terribly effective way of getting around, as it only has two stops, but it sure was fun to ride.

Again with the murderous squish

We had to make use of that one monorail stop, so we walked around a shopping square - it had this cool water sculpture you could walk through...

...and public foosball and Ping Pong! We enjoyed a close game. 

After the foosball game we hopped back on the monorail, to scoot back to the campus, to walk back to our car, to drive back to Olympia. Lots of travel for two days, but even BETTER was lots of FUN in two days. 
We had a really, really, really wonderful anniversary trip with the kids! I was so happy to see everything go smoothly, and the kids have fun at every stop, and we adults only lose our cool a time or two while having as much fun (if not more) than the kids themselves.