Category Archives: basic maintenance

House: the toilet floor

Our builder came around yesterday and fixed the toilet floor – just under $800, all up, and he told us that both the floorboards and the bearers underneath were completely rotted. That part of the house is on a concrete slab foundation; god only knows how and when and why water was getting in, or whatever it was that makes floorboards rot, but I’m very glad it’s fixed now.

… though the new patch of sturdy floor does make the rest of the house seem very wonky in comparison.

I had a bit of a whine to my dad on the phone on Tuesday, all about how I feel like we’ve achieved NOTHING and progress is so slow and horrible and my house is crappy and WOE. WOE. He very kindly made comforting noises at me and then said we should get a pot of paint and do the fronts of the kitchen cupboards over summer if we want to make the house feel a little bit more Ours without spending too much money.

And I know intellectually that we really haven’t lived here very long at all – less than 10 months – and when I list all the things we’ve done, it’s actually quite respectable. I keep looking round the garden and thinking it’s terrible, but I’ve almost entirely forgotten how overgrown and neglected it was when we bought the place. And although we’re frankly awful at mowing the lawns, we’ve actually done a damned good job of the destructive part of gardening: the removal of the Hedge was a massive task conducted with an axe and a pair of long-handled shears, and we’ve trimmed the trees on the south lawn and removed that whole patch by the shed. As for the inside of the house: it’s been winter and cold, and while we’ve been kind of slack at home repair ourselves, we have spent about $8K on the place so far, what with all the window repairs and the toilet floor and all the little tradespeople callouts and minor improvements.

Ugh. I really want to get something concrete done over the summer; I think probably sanding and painting the sunroom windowframes (currently Zombie Snot Green) shiny white, and then rehanging the (still decent) curtains on repaired curtain rails, becuase that’s a reasonably small project that will still be a distinct improvement. IDK.

Repairs: The Toilet Floor

So I’m pretty sure I’ve posted before about how one of our friends stepped wrong on a bit of the loo floor while drunk a few months ago and put her foot through? And it wasn’t a big patch, and we’re broke-assed, so we just kind of left it.

NO LONGER.

This morning, more of the loo floor gave way. It’s now fucked enough that repairing it has become significantly more urgent, and Field is calling the builder tomorrow morning so we can get a quote. Hopefully, it won’t be terribly expensive: it’s only half the toilet floor (the other half was replaced before we bought the place), and that’s a very small area – perhaps half a square metre or so.

Other than that, nothing much has gone on, housewise. The roof no longer appears to be leaking, and we’re doing some gardening this weekend. I’m really looking forward to the gardening; it’s been a while since I’ve had 2 days off from work/study in a row, and I rather desperately miss having flowers around. Plus, the bit of the vege garden near the fence REALLY needs weeding, it’s gotten completely overgrown. And we need to mow the lawn.

Home ownership, in essence, is sometimes frustrating and often unexpectedly expensive, but it’s still a pleasure; and I need to keep that in mind as I leap over the hole in my toilet floor when I go to the loo in the dead of night.

House: July update

This month has been a month of minor disasters:

– the oven did a thing where it popped really loudly and there was a big FLASH and Field panicked and I came rushing in from my room and turned it off at the wall, and we ended up not using it for four days and getting in an electrician. It turned out to be just a fuse blowing, but for a few days we thought that maybe the oven was dead and we’d have to stump up the cash for a new one AND getting it rewired and it would be horrible

– we noticed one evening that the hot water tank appeared to be dripping, so the very next day Field called the plumber. It turned out to be the gutters being full of leaves, and since we have a mostly flat roof the water was pooling up there and getting in in a couple of places, but for that evening we thought that maybe the hot water cylinder was dying and we’d have to stump up the cash for a new one AND getting it rewired and replumbed and it would be horrible

– we had a few friends round for drinks and one of them stood in the wrong place on the loo floor and one of the floorboards broke, so at some point we have to get the half of the loo floor that wasn’t fixed by the previous owners sorted, which will involve replacing the lino and taking the loo door off and basically WOE, but both Field and I know what bits of the floor to avoid so we’re probably not going to deal with it for a while, because MONEY.

On the other hand:
– July 18th marked 6 months of home ownership
– I started painting primer on to the new windowsill on the living room today
– there’s a bunch of random bulbs coming up on the lawn
– everything’s currently functioning \o/

House and garden: June update

Winter has hit with a bang, and I’ve been reminded of all of the disadvantages of living in an uninsulated shack on the side of a hill in Tawa. There’s one main disadvantage: it’s bloody freezing. (The three minute trip onto the train platform in the mornings is still a big plus, though.)

On the gardening front, we got in people to drag away all of the hedge, mow the lawns (which had gotten very overgrown), and de-weed all the cracks in the concrete, and it looks AMAZING. Like, still really bare and shitty, but so so so much better than it was when we moved in. There’s all this room now, and we can start planning how we want to lay things out in the spring. The day before the gardeners turned up, we went round and trimmed all the trees and shrubs on the south side of the house, and now that bit of garden almost looks properly tended (it isn’t, but it’ll get there).

So far we’ve decided on a lemon tree in the far corner where the hedge was, and either a mandarin tree or a lemonade tree between the lemon tree and the compost bin. I’m going to stick in some alstromeria behind the rose we planted last summer (the rose is going to take years before it becomes established enough to eat out the alstromeria space, and in the meantime they’re my very favourite cut flower). We’re going to put in a hydrangea on the north-east corner of the section, where it can grow to a reasonable size and not get in anyone’s way, and we’ll also find space for some purple daisies and some lavender. I’m not sure what else we’ll get done this coming spring: more veges, almost certainly, but I think good gardens take time to plan.

Housewise, the builder has started work just today on fixing all our windows. We went ahead with it based on the time & materials estimate he gave us with quite a big contingency fund – because this house is old and shitty and who knows what anyone would find? – and we’ve already hit a snag. Part of the job is to replace the ridiculous cracked/broken/stupidly wide windowsill beneath the MASSIVE lounge windows (seriously, these windows are about 6’6″ tall, the entire width of the living room, and go round the corner of the room for another couple of feet) with one that is not cracked, broken, or stupidly wide. When he took off the old windowsill, naturally he found wood rot. So I came home today to discover no gib underneath the lounge windows, and that about half the framing there has been replaced. On the one hand: more money. On the other hand: not having wood rot is A Good Thing. Also, that bit of old plasterboard was really shit and full of holes, and now it’s going to have nice new gib which Field and I can practice plastering and painting on during the summer (and possibly paint ridiculous things on). He comes back on Tuesday.

House: tiny improvements

Last night, the toilet seat – which was cracked when we moved in – gave up the ghost and split down the middle during a late night “I wish I hadn’t had all those cocktails and then that cheese” head-in-bowl session. Whoops.

And so today Field and I went to Mitre 10. We had gift cards – a christmas present from my Mum, mostly – and a plan: a new, unbroken, loo seat. Alas, the first Mitre 10 we went to only had a display model of the kind we wanted (sturdy plastic, a pleasing shape as these things go), and so we got sent off to Mitre 10 Paramata.

… and got lost on the way.

We ended up at the Palmers in Plimmerton, which is right next to a display of lovely solid wooden outdoor furniture. And we have vowed that should we find ourselves availed of a spare $2000 (not looking likely anytime soon) we will buy ourselves a very solid wooden table and 4 bench seats to go on the patio, and we will sit out there and eat dinner/drink many, many glasses of wine while wailing at the state of the garden. At the Palmers, we only bought a cyclamen (Field wanted one for the loo).

The people at Palmers very helpfully gave us directions to Mitre 10 Paramata, and so off there we went to pick up our loo seat and also inspect the garden sheds and choose a mat for the front door so we can scrape our shoes off once the weather turns to crap. And I came home and cleaned the loo and installed the new seat (with a little help from Nish, who is staying until she leaves the city) and lo! it is comfortable (as these things go).

The cyclamen will get installed on a saucer on the windowsill at some point in the next day or so, and the only thing that room now needs is a magazine rack. And maybe a spare loo roll holder.

Yay!

Garden: the very beginnings

Last weekend, Field’s little brother came round to dig us a couple of patches of garden before he moved to Auckland. We’d bought the plants the week before (protip: don’t do this) so they were all looking a little sad when we eventually got them into the ground, but a week of assiduous watering and a bit of rain has almost all of them perked up and growing.

We’ve started with herbs and leafy greens, because these are things that are easy to grow and good to have in a garden. The only flowers we’ve got are nasturtiums (also edible) and lobelia (just pretty). And it’s already proved worthwhile buying a decent-sized rosemary to start off with: we cut a stalk tonight and chucked it in with the roast veges. Hopefully in a few more weeks we’ll be able to eat some of the leafy greens.

Field also took the opportunity to prune the bottom couple of metres of pohutukawa, and I pulled some ivy, and together we removed almost all of a small tree which was a) ugly and b) in a ridiculous place. We’re really going to need to get a move on and decide what we’re doing to get rid of the large mound of garden waste cluttering up the backyard – and then actually do it.

*

What else? We had a terrible week of the world’s worst shower pressure; it got so bad that Field decided she’d take to having baths. Her doing this somehow magically fixed the shower pressure, and it’s back to being what anyone would call reasonable – a good thing, because we were having conversations about whether the wiring was, in fact, more important than sorting out the plumbing (yes, in terms of safety; no, in terms of quality of life).

We’ve also hung about half the art. We need to get a drill to do the rest (we borrowed one off friends for the first week or so but then gave it back; now we have one on order from FlyBuys), and we’re still in discussions about where stuff is going.

And there’s only a few empty boxes to get rid of – and some polystyrene.

And I rearranged the shed so stuff is easier to get to.

house: plumbing, part i

… I had not entirely realised just how much noise the constant running of the leaky toilet was making until it had been fixed. 15 minutes ago. My house is SILENT. This is AWESOME.

Also getting fixed today:
– the pipe that drains the wastewater from the shower, which was, like, not attached
– the thermostat on the hot water tank (WAY too hot)
– the leaky showerhead

And I’ve asked about:
– why the hot water pressure in the shower is SO SHIT (apparently because we’re on low pressure hot water, and changing it would mean re-plumbing everything? IDK.)
– how I find out whether we can have gas hot water (find out if there are connections on the street, get gas company to put a pipe and meter in, then get infinity hot water installed and everything re-plumbed. BIG JOB, apparently)

We can’t have the cold tap on the washing machine fixed today, because neither I nor the plumber can find the water mains (I would be entirely unsurprised if nobody has touched a single bit of plumbing in this house for 15 years. It’s probably under a bush somewhere, who the fuck knows). So the plumber will ring the council; the council will come out and find it and spray around it with spraypaint; and then the plumber will come back and fix our washing machine tap. This is frustrating (I’m back at work next week, so things’ll be that much harder to arrange; I’ve used up all of my Need Random Time Off To Deal With Things goodwill at work over this whole house-buying experience) but, y’know, not the fault of me or the plumber, so. Because the mains can’t be turned off, we also can’t get the leak on the roof fixed (it’s leaking on to the roof, not through it, thank fuck).

The plumber has gone off to get some gear – replacement showerhead, replacement trap for the shower – and then is coming back to sort out things.