Monday, February 25, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Their designer was out here today measuring up the place to start the drafting phase. They say it'll take roughly three months to get the job started (permits, approvals, material selection, etc.) and then the construction will start. It should take about 3 months for the construction to get done.
Monday, February 11, 2008
This time though, I started thinking about the biggie, Solar Power. Photovoltaics (PV) are notoriously expensive with payback periods of 30 years or more. Generally not worth it unless you're going to be in the house for a long time, but considering we've been here 10 years and will probably be here another 10 or 20, I've been giving it serious consideration. I started buying issues of HOME POWER to keep track of current technology. I've been intrigued by solar domestic water heating. Like PV, you have panels on the roof, but they circulate a fluid through them. The sun heats up the fluid and that gets transferred to your Hot Water Heater. The best part, a system costing $2000 (excluding installation costs) can deliver 90% of your domestic hot water. The electricity to run our hot water heater costs around $500 per year, so after just 4 years, the hot water would be free. The system could also be used to power a radiant floor which would offset heating costs in the winter, again paying for itself in just a few short years. We're also going to install Solar Tube Lights to provide daylight in closets and bathrooms.
Our goal with the remodel is to reduce our electrical usage by two thirds. If we can meet this goal, then a PV system that meets our remaining energy needs could be within our price range.
A couple of months ago, we noticed that the water was running through the meter, but there were no faucets/showers/toilets running or leaking. My house is on a concrete slab and the water pipes go from our laundry room down under the slab, across the house, and then come up through the slab near the bathrooms and kitchen. I called in a plumber and got a quote over $1000 to locate the leak. The repair could take two routes. 1) They rip up the concrete, repair the pipe, and then put everything back the way it was. Mondo expensive. 2) They could run new plumbing through the ceiling to the bathrooms and kitchen. Less expensive, but the walls and ceilings would have to be opened up.
Besides the plumbing, the HVAC system is pretty old. I believe the unit inside the house is original, and the unit outside the house is about 14 years old. From what I've seen on the Internet, that's about the lifespan of a system. Our unit is running nearly constantly in cold weather and it's not really keeping the house warm.
To complete this perfect storm of major repairs and the need for more space, interest rates have come down significantly. So, as interest rates have come down, I've been interested in shortening the lifespan of our mortgage. We could refinance to a 15 year loan (which cuts 5 years off our loan) AND pull out roughly $40,000 WITHOUT changing our payments. We'll probably need significantly more than $40k, but it's a start.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
We used a national exterminator, and the salesperson was very professional, he had many years of experience. The person who came to do the work however was another story. He tried to shake me down mid-job for cash. Later, as he was drilling holes in the garage, and riding the drill hard, the drill exploded sending hydraulic fluid or oil all over the walls...Not a fun experience for a new first time home owner.
Much later, I realized that our home inspector was also most likely a fraud. I put the blame on our realtor Debbie Breau, she was doing what she had to to sell the house. The termite inspector and home inspector she recommended deliberately hid major defects from us. We had asked Debbie to be our Buyers Agent and told her we didn't want to see any homes where she was the seller's agent. While she was not initially the sellers agent on this house, the home was being sold through her agency, Linda Sonnhalter Weichert Realtors. After she showed us the house and we decided to make an offer, she magically also became the seller's agent. At that point we knew were screwed (but we didn't know how screwed), but we wanted the house.
That was 10 years ago.