Category Archives: Project: House

Wild Wild Life

Here are a couple of the wild critters around the new house.

Someday when I get my trail camera I'll see if those paw prints in the mud were dog or coyote.

Until then, birds!

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Pileated woodpecker. There is at least one pair of these in the neighborhood. I've seen them together a few times while out running. This guy was perforating a tree about 20' from my desk.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

This little fellow is a blue grosbeak. He's a regular at the ground under the feeder - picking up what the swarms of sloppy sparrows throw on the ground.

Took me a long time to ID him since all of my books and all of the pics on the web say that a blue grosbeak should be bright blue, like a bluebird. This guy is so dark he looks black without binoculars or a big zoom lens.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Good old mourning dove, hiding his tail behind a clump of dirt.

That's what our 'yard' looks like. It's bare Carolina clay, absolutely overflowing with rocks. Not sure what we're going to do with it yet.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Lots of hummingbirds - including one that keeps getting stuck in our garage. Luckily, she'll land on the end of a broom so I can shuttle her outside without much drama.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Sometimes, they perch in the tree above the feeder and wait to attack any other hummingbirds who come close.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Here's a nice pair of tits. (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!!!)

A big-ass vulture and I had a stare-off last weekend. As I was walking out of the garage, he flew across the driveway and landed in a tree, about 20 feet up. He got bored with me after a couple of minutes and whooshed off to find something stinky to stick his head in.


My grandparents lived on top of a hill, in very very rural NY. There was no cable TV, and the choices for broadcast TV were slim. So, in the early 80s, as soon as the tech was available, they got a satellite dish. It was huge: 5 feet across, mounted on a steel pole anchored by cement in the back yard. A giant crank on the back could be used to aim the dish at the different satellites (you lined up part of the crank mechanism with little scratches my grandfather had made in the metal - one scratch for each satellite he'd found). Each satellite carried a handful of channels so you'd plan your TV watching for the evening around the particular satellite you were looking at - cranking the disk around during winter nights was miserable. But, even given the hassle, they could pick up all the networks, including HBO (it was unscrambled then). It was even better than cable!

Well, We just got a dish mounted on our roof. It's about 16 inches across. We get like 250 channels in HD. Hooray for technology.


One of the exiting parts of moving to a house in the country is learning which services are available and which aren't. For example, we don't get cable TV on our street. 0.8 miles away, at our previous house, we had cable TV. But not here - not enough people on this street for the cable company to bother stringing a line. We have DSL, though, so we can get 8Mbps internet, instead of the 30Mbps we got at the last house (or the 300Mbps we got at our apartment). It's apparently enough for streaming video, so all is well.

We also, we just learned, can't get garbage pickup. So, it looks like I'll be hauling trash to the dump in my car. Time to get a plastic trunk liner!

Housey Dory

The kitchen is pretty much done. Just need to take the instructions off the microwave door and the protective plastic wrap off the pendant lights...


Exterior is basically done. Just a bit more landscaping left.


Builder says we can move in, maybe, starting next week.


Floor is done!



The particular style we wanted was back-ordered until the end of July (at least), so Mrs chose a different one that was similar in color to the one we had planned to use. I didn't notice. Well, I noticed that the planks were wider on the actual floor than on the samples we looked at, back in December. And when I mentioned that, she told me about her multi-day phone adventure with the flooring people. That was the deal: new house, but she handles all the bullshit. It's a really wide plank (7", I think) and that would normally scare me; wider planks shrink more in dry weather. But because it's an engineered floor there shouldn't be nearly as much, if any, shrinking.

Whatever. Done.

Just a few details left to finish-up : paint fixes, mailbox, a few lights, steps up to the front porch, shelves and counter top on this bigass row of cabinets in the living room:


Soon. Soon. Soon.



Cabinets have been installed!

Most of the countertops are installed!

Some of the appliances are installed!

The floor hasn't been installed but it's in the house and is being acclimated to the temp and humidity of the AC'd house (instead of sitting in the house with the windows open to the summer heat)!

Doors and garage doors, installed!

Money, gone!

And the lottery still refuses to work out for us.



Exterior painting is complete. Interior painting is in progress. Gutters are up. Landscaping is in progress. Heat and AC and plumbing and electrical are all in. Cabinets are sitting in the warehouse, waiting to be installed. There's a huge box of bathtub plumbing fixtures sitting in our apartment kitchen. We picked out countertop material, again, last weekend - four times now.

A friend of ours works at a very large flooring company and has arranged us a whopper of a discount on flooring. But, the stuff we picked is on back order until mid-June. That could push the finish date even more. Right now, our apartment lease is up end of July. We're trying to figure out if we need to bump it another month. We started this process in January 2015, FFS.

Google Maps

But, progress.

Money is getting very low. But, we're very close to the end. Hopefully we won't have to borrow any more from family. And best case, there will be enough left over that we can finish the driveway. We'll see.


May 30, 2015. Initial garage framing complete.


March 2, 2016, starting to raise the garage floor level.


April 2. Garage and driveway level raised close to six feet. Garage floor slab is in place.


Entire area around garage has been backfilled. That band of rocks goes almost entirely around the back of the house, to keep the garage back fill in place. Place to put a boat, on the side! (yeah right)


Also, we're going with a gravel driveway. Having it done in concrete would cost close to $20K.

Holy crap.

Graveyard of Dumptrucks

Builder says there are now 130 tons of gravel in the garage. Wow.

And, a dump truck tipped over while bringing in fill dirt for the side of the garage. They had to bring in a crane to pull it out.

And, they had to bring in another crane to pull one of the builder's vehicles out of the mud in back of the house.

Future neighbors down the road have found ancient native American artifacts on their land (pottery, tools, etc.). I'm starting to wonder if that was the reception hall and our lot is the actual graveyard.

Last year, when we found out about the first builder stealing all our money, I wrote this:

If the house isn’t done enough for us to close on by the end of the year, we’re going to be fucked by taxes.

I wrote that because, last year, we funded what was to be solar power and geothermal heat & AC by taking money out of an IRA that my wife inherited from her father. And taking money out of an IRA means you pay income taxes on what you take out. But that was going to be OK. Installing the solar and geothermal stuff would have generated, in addition to plenty of happy clean power, plenty of tax credits for us: enough to offset all the taxes due from taking the money out of the IRA! We planned that shit! Like, thought it through and everything. But, when the builder crapped out ... no solar or geo. And that money vanished. The taxes, however, didn't.

So : fucked by taxes.