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To Do

I really need to get on top of this stuff before the list gets any longer. We’ve been living in our new house for almost three-quarters of a year now, and so far we’ve done very little. Of course that was the appeal of the place: a complete renovation. But every house needs upkeep and improvement. I did hire a guy to remove a ton of junk from underneath the house, to facilitate other work, but that’s about it.

  • Attic infestation: We hear something scrabbling around up there from time to time, but we’re not sure exactly what it might be. I suspect squirrels.
  • Floor repair: I can live with the waviness, but the floors seem to have deteriorated beneath our feet. Some places are spongy, others we can now see light coming up from below. (The house sits on piers.) I don’t know that we can afford to do much, but I’m hoping to get some estimates.
  • Insulate underneath: Still waiting to learn the results of the research at Musicians Village so I can make an informed decision about which method to use.
  • Fill underneath: I’m not certain but I think we may need to put some dirt or sand under the house to minimize water pooling.
  • Lattice deck: It would be nice to have some lattice around the bottom of our deck. This would prevent toddlers going under the house from the back yard, and it might stop the raccoons from coming into the yard.
  • Glaze windows: Mostly we have vinyl replacement windows but there are a few older wooden windows, and one or two sashes don’t seem to be properly glazed.
  • Paint porch: Already paint is wearing away from the front porch, and there’s lead paint beneath the latex, so that needs another coat pronto. I guess maybe this will be an annual or biannual task.
  • Remediate strips: Speaking of lead paint, there are two narrow (1″) strips of flaking lead-based paint on either side of the house. It’s not really an area where we hang out, but it needs to be addressed.
  • Organize study: I still haven’t quite finished unpacking and settling in to my office space at home. That last little bit kills me.
  • Bike shed: I don’t think a prefab job will do the trick. I probably need to hire someone to build a little lean-to in the back (or possibly on the side of the house) preferably on a slab. It needs to be big enough to accommodate two or three bikes.
  • Entry space: If I could get the bike out of the house and into a shed, we’d be able to make getter use of the space next to our stairs. A coat rack might work well there.
  • Window treatments: I’ve put up one set of blinds (2″ wooden) and one curtain (sheer, purple) in the girl’s room, but the rest of the house is bare. We have a couple newspapers taped up strategically in our bedroom. This might be an opportunity to inject a little excitement into the rather bland, er, I mean classy color scheme we inherited.
  • Outdoor speakers: I’m constantly moving our Sony jambox from the kitchen to the deck and back again, while making sure the extension cord and wireless receiver don’t come unplugged. I fantasize about installing a set of speakers to the exterior.
  • New couch: The futon couch in our living room isn’t cutting it.
  • Futon stopper: Speaking of the futon, wherever it ends up, we need something to stop it from gouging into the wall.
  • Tree trim: The tree in front of our house needs a trim. It’s way to tall for me to even think about doing it myself.
  • Sidewalk repair: The sidewalk in front of our house is in sad shape, mostly from the tree roots. They have not only caused the sidewalk to crack and crumble into a wildly uneven and dangerous surface, they’ve also lifted the sidewalk up considerably. I’m not sure what a repaired sidewalk would even look like.
  • More concrete: Our driveway consists of two narrow concrete strips, one for each tire. It’s hard to line our car wheels up properly, and it’s also hard to wheel the trash can down to the curb, so I’m thinking we’d do well to fill in the space between the strips.

One of the joys of home ownership is there’s always something to do. I plan to take a week off soon and tackle at least a few of these.

Published inOur House


  1. Lee Lee


    As a fellow homeowner, I understand the never-ending task of maintenance and repair a home entails.

    I do have some suggestions for you though.

    The “fill” you speak of underneath the house should probably be rock, gravel to be exact. That will help drainage much better than dirt or sand, as those become compact over time.

    Concrete work is tough, and expensive. For the sidewalk, it’s going to need jackhammered out and the tree roots cut out, and then a new sidewalk put down. For your driveway, you’ll need to dig out at least 10 inches or so to lay a bed of gravel for the concrete to sit on and then a layer of 6 inches or so should suffice for the weight of a vehicle.

    We communicated a few months ago about those insulation issues, do you have a link to this research? Any updates since we last conversed? I’m interested….

    I created a long list like this at the beginning of the year, and haven’t had much time to get to it, part of me is disappointed, but such is life.

  2. Thanks for the tips Lee. Someone recommended river sand for under the house. As for the insulation question, as mentioned, I’m still waiting for the published results. One of the researchers told me it would be available in a few months, and he’d let me know. That was back in February. I just e-mailed him again.

  3. celcus celcus

    If you are getting standing water under the house get some fill under there soon. The floor problems may be related.

    As for floor insulation, foam on the underside of the deck is the best. I’m still not sure if closed or open cell is the way to go. In any even, you want to create a vapor barrier at the bottom of the insulation. Rigid board with taped joints on the underside of the floor joists would work but is a lot of labor, and installation around plumbing, piers, etc is always tricky.

  4. MF MF

    I learned from watching Billy the Exterminator (which is actually a really interesting and amusing show) that squirrels and other small vermin are the cause of a huge percentage (over 50, but I forgot exactly how much) of electrical fires. They bite through insulation in wires and stuff, leading to insulation and debris catching fire. So, it’s worth not putting off dealing with the animals up there for too long.

    Hey, if you want to be on TV some more, maybe you could get on that show — it’s shot in Louisiana.

  5. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    In Kaua’i, north side, we had rats “playing football” in the attic, and one
    evening a rat was detected behind the fridge, resulting in sticky-trap slow-down
    of the critter, followed by application of the samurai sword by my bro-in-law.
    quite exciting! It’s prob’ly RATTS!! Yuck!

  6. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Raccoon scat is particularly dangerous:

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