My last post sounded a little crazy because I was feeling a little crazy.  The last week has been the first time I have felt the panic and frustration that other homeowners, and other home renovators, grimaced and warned me about when I gleefully shared my news.  That’s a major buzzkill, by the way, people.  And not a lick of that panic or frustration has been due to my general contractor or the homebuying process.  Nope.  It’s been due to working with the mortgage servicer on getting the money I have borrowed in hand to actually pay people.

Big banks suck a giant bag of dicks.  Who knew?

It didn’t help matters any that I have been dedicating a ton of time to the president’s reelection campaign.  I can do work as a lawyer that other volunteers can’t do, really important work that protects the fundamental right of people to vote, and I believe that because I can do that work, I should.  If not me, then who?  So I’ve been working on protecting the polls during NC’s early voting.  That’s time consuming.

It also doesn’t help the stress level that I had a couple of deadlines at work.  Work, yes, work, that wonderful thing that makes the home ownership dream a reality!  Well that and a generous gift from my folks.  Right.  Got that deadline going on, too, and then, post-deadline, the fallout.  You know, the fallout, right?  Where you open your eyes and see everything you’ve been ignoring for the last month while you focused on your deadline?  That fallout.  Scary.

Also?  Something I ate gave me stomach woes.

Also?  The heat broke at my current house, leaving me to sleep in a chilly 45 degree abode.  But the heat is fixed and I have held down all of my meals for two days now.

We are also past the time when I thought for sure I’d be moved in, but I digress.  Here is something happy:

Is that a good looking dumpster, or is that a good looking dumpster?  It is filled with padding and carpet from the living and dining rooms.  Good riddance, darlings!

Future flooring in the kitchen, mud, and bath rooms.  The best thing I can say about any vinyl flooring is that it is not offensive.  The second best thing I can say about it is that it fits my budget!  I’m so glad to have found so much square footage at such a great price inside the beltline, but it has stretched my budget.

The gritty subfloor with old adhesive on it is a huge improvement over what was here before.  Trust me on this one.

I am not done installing the drawer pulls and knobs in the kitchen.  I meant to be done, and I meant to have a picture of it for you, but I’m not. For some reason, two of the drawers had no pulls before, and I wanted to make a template for those drawers before diving in with my drill.  I know, such caution is unlike me.  I did take this terrible picture of my red pendant light installed, though.  She’s pretty, non?

This picture is Steve’s punishment for cracking wise about drywall. 🙂

Also, the great master bath leak of 2012 reared its ugly head last week, leaking again when the water that leaked out of the shower pan the last time we tested it finally soaked through the insulation and drywall and made its way out of the ceiling.  Steve, on how easy it was to poke through the drywall:  “Drywall should NOT do that.”  Oh really?  Thanks for that!  the shower pan and the tiles over it have all been removed and will be replaced and done correctly tomorrow.  Matching tiles is darn near impossible, so I picked a contrasting tile for the bottom course of the shower.  Hopefully it won’t look too strange.  Long down the list of things I’d like to do to this house is ripping out the wall between the toilet and the shower in the master bath and replacing it with glass.  It would buy about 5″ of elbow room inside the shower, make for a much bigger looking bath, and take that bath right into the modern era.  Someday.  🙂

To come: carpet! A second inspection.  Appliances. Moving.  And . . . drum roll please . . . new toilets!  I have some wiggle room in my budget, and I am going to spend it on the world’s sexiest upgrade: new shitters.  The ones in the house were functional, but they were showing signs of rust.  Apparently, at one point in time, the bolts used in turlets weren’t rust resistant, which doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense when you remember they sit in water.  On of the toilet’s in my mom’s house just “exploded” — her word! — on her when a rusty bolt gave up the ghost.  Visions of such an explosion were in my head when I asked if we could make new commodes a priority.

I really don’t think a verbose update could end any better than that.  Four synonyms for crapper, whoops, five, and a laundry list of items.  Done.


I don’t know

I don’t know when I’m moving in.  I am not sure when the old carpets will be ripped out and the new ones will be installed, and I’m not moving my stuff in while that nasty old stuff is still in there.  It looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in 30 years – way too gross to fix with a vacuum or steam clean.

I don’t know when the appliances will be installed.

I don’t know when the vinyl floors will be installed.

My new counter tops will be installed on November 7, 2012, though.

. . . although, depending on how the election returns go, I might not be here to see them.

Thanks, M&T bank and Allen Tate Mortgage, for all of this uncertainty!  It sure is fun.

Tiny Steps

This week had more frustrations from, guess where, LoanTown!  After a promising telephone call after 7 last Friday night from Chris the “draft processor” at M&T Bank, I thought getting the drafts (checks) for the renovation part of the loan was going to go smoothly.


Wrong!  I get the happy trio together to do our first inspection, required for the draft request.  That trio is yours truly, Steve the contractor, and Dan the HUD inspector.  Dan and Steve have the work write-ups that were completed many moons ago, and submitted as part of the loan, and they check off everything that’s done.  Somethings are only 95% done, so Dan says we only get 95% of the cost allotted.  Then, on top of that, 10% of each line item is held back until the end.  When all is said and done, over $15,000 worth of work has been completed – over half of the amount I borrowed for renovations.

Awesome, right?  Well, sort of.  Because I ask Chris the next day if he received the paperwork, and he says “Yes, but . . .”  Guys, I don’t know about you, but I hate “Yes, but.” There is this apparent policy or rule or, I don’t know, bullshit, that if your draw is over 50%, the bank needs a second title search.  Why?  I don’t know.  Ass-covering, probably.  I don’t know how I’d manage to encumber this house further having taken out so much money between this mortgage and my student loans that my debt to income ration is officially a joke, so that must not be it.  I guess they are worried about liens from contractors, but that too makes no sense because Steve signed a lien waiver and besides, GIMME MY MONEY!

I wrote that in an email to Chris along with some of my favorite expletives (but not the f-bomb, because I do have some sense), a few ridiculous hyperboles, and the request that he not placate me or apologize.  I tried to convey anger and hysteria.  😉  It worked – a little while later I got word that the check would be UPS’d to me.  Oh, I also had to drop the whole, “I’m an attorney,” thing.  I hate using that; I don’t think you should only provide good customer service based upon the threat of a lawsuit from an asshole attorney.

Anyhow, I have been on a spray painting kick!  I showed you the porch lights, now I have the house numbers done.  Before, the numbers were a really tarnished brass and they were offset and diagonally descending.  A very reliable source told me that is not good feng shui, and we cannot have that.

I bought a little placard at Ace at Seaboard Station.  When I’m done and moved in, I owe half of their staff a beer.  Today they let me in when they were closed because I knew I just wanted to by a wire stripper and I would pay with a debit card.  They are darlings and I love them.  Anyway, I painted my little sign with the same exterior paint I used on the front door. I spray painted the brass – sacrilege, I know!  But I’m not a fan of brass, and I am a fan of reusing what I have.  I measured and measured and leveled and then drilled pilot holes for the numbers – they have holes top and bottom.  Then I realized I didn’t have the right sized screws for them at home – I have no idea what I did with the screws that were in them.  Oh wait, yes I do.  They were corroded so I tossed them.  Quick trip to Lowes to see George, my favorite cashier, and I was home with the proper screws.  I added some wire to the back to hang it.  I used the pre-existing concrete anchors on the facade of the house, popped in a screw, et voila!  Happy little house numbers.

I have to finish up the mailbox tomorrow.  I have no idea what would happen if it weren’t back up on Monday, but I feel like I’d get a ticket from the mail man.  I need to sand the first coat of paint a bit and do a second on the top of the box before I hang it up again.  I made an executive decision, because I am the boss of this house, to take the little newspaper hanger thingermajiggers off of the box.  They pop right off.  Why do we still have those things around?  The paper gets thrown on the driveway, not delicately placed under the mailbox.  That’s so last century.

First Inspection: Done

Daniel Lee the HUD Consultant (more on what that is here) was already at Elephant Culo by the time I pulled up this afternoon.  He had his original report with him and was just checking things off.  By the time Steve my GC showed up (on time, Daniel was a little early and I was way early), all Dan needed was to double check his list of what was done.

  • GCFI outlets in kitchen and baths
  • Interior painted (will be touched up after the floors are installed)
  • HVAC installed (inspection tomorrow!)
  • Kitchen pendant light installed
  • Cabinetry removed and trim fixed in the kitchen
  • Roof replaced
  • Gable vents replaced
  • Window trim wrapped in vinyl
  • Roof fascia replaced and painted

That’s a good looking list, right?  Yay!  I had to sign one form and Steve had to sign two forms.  Now Dan sends a report to Chris at M & T.  I’m sure Chris will then generate another report, possibly a TPS report, and then so long as this is done by 12:30 tomorrow afternoon, the check-cutting people at M&T will UPS a check to me.  The check will be addressed to Steve and I, just as a way to provide a final balance in the system.  Then Steve can pay some people!

Highlights to look for in the coming days:

  • Hanging my upholstered door headboard on the wall in the master bedroom – I tried to take photos of this, project and they arehorrible!
  • HVAC inspection
  • Plumber to replace the shower pan in the master bath and fix the sewer connection pipe under the house (that seems like a big deal, doesn’t it?)
  • Vinyl installation
  • Carpet installation
  • Touch up painting
  • Appliances coming for the kitchen and laundry
  • Installing cabinet hardware in the kitchen
  • Finishing the installation of the pedestal sink
  • Finishing tearing out that horrible no good very bad wall paper in the half bathroom

I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and I’m not even doing most of the work.  Oh, and I have a brief due in the NC Supreme Court on my birthday next week, and I’m packing, and I’m moving.

I got this.  Can someone get me a diet Coke?

Feeling good (and a little impatient)

After a long month of being assured my loan transfer was being pushed to the top of the pile, and that it was a priority, it was finally officially bought by M&T bank last week.  I was really pleased to get a phone call Friday night at 7 in the evening from the associate who will be helping me get my money.  Woohoo for people working late.  Also, a brief shout out to my babysitting charge for that evening, who mercifully talked to his Blue’s Clues dog while I was on the phone.  🙂

I got my first water bill for the new house.  How about a $50 deposit, refundable after six months, plus a $50 fee just for turning the water on?  Dang!  Looking forward to that refunded deposit, though.  That will be nice six months from now.

My first electric bill for the new house came, too.  Progress Energy’s website is smart enough to realize that the SJF with an account on Dennis is also the SJF with an account on Lions Way, so I didn’t have to do anything fancy to get that account all set up for electronic payments.  I was impressed.  I bet I lose all of that easy-breezy functionality when the merger with big-bad-no-good-dirty-rotten-scoundrel Duke Energy is completed.

My old house is a MESS.  I mean, I’m usually messy, but the level of chaos in here is not fun.  Boxes everywhere, no where for guests to sit, and I just want to be done.  I’m talking to TROSA moving this week, so I’ll have an idea of what that will cost . . .  might be eating a lot of lentils and rice for the next few weeks!

Ooh!  The mail did bring two fun things.  The same lists that the scary insurance salespeople buy I guess can be bought by lots of other people, too.  Jersey Mikes welcomed me to the ‘hood with a coupon for a free sub and Bed Bath & Beyond gave me a 20% off coupon.  I’ll take it!

Kitchen Cabinets the Color of BOOYAH

Holy cow do these puppies look amazing with a first coat of turquoise/aqua on them.



Don’t mind the random plastic hanging off of the light fixture that is on its way out.  Just feast your eyes on that color.

I’m really loving how bright the interiors are painted decorator’s white.

My current cupboards are a light oak color, and they’re quite new and there is nothing wrong with them, but there is something so damn right to me about a clean white cabinet interior.  It’s really bright in person, and really cheery.  I cannot wait until the granite countertops are in, bouncing around all kinds of light, and the red pendent is hung.

OOOH and my big fabric order came in this week.  Behold: fabric strewn across my couch.

It’s going to be awesome.  I also did a little spray painting out front.  Eventually, I’d like to replace the carriage light style lights on the porch with something bigger that turns on automatically when it’s dark out.

Until then, a few coats of Rustoleum brushed nickel do a nice job of making dumpy plain fixtures look a little sharper.  Nothing too fancy here – just a quick and dirty spray paint job.  The glass slides right out of these fixtures so they are actually really easy to do.  None of that time-consuming taping off stuff you don’t want painted.  Who has time for that?  Not this girl.


This is such a nice little facelift.  I am very pleased with myself.  I have other things to spray paint, like my house numbers and perhaps this garden variety mailbox.  Why not, right?

Yawn, I’m such a boring mailbox.

I think these numbers are very, very, very tarnished brass. Very. I’m about to silver them up. I’m thinking I might put them in a little frame and paint the frame to match the door, though, just to give them a bit more pizzaz.

Also, my mantle has been painted white.  My built-ins have been painted grey.  I think that the mantle needs to be a different color.  I do not know what color that is.  Underneath the white, there is an orangey pine stain.  Not cute.  I’m thinking this might need to be black.  It’s hard to see, but the mantel is supported by two little brick ledge things underneath it.  They probably have a proper name, but I don’t know what that is.  I am thinking of building or finding some sort of wooden corbel to camouflage the bricks, in any event.

Oh, and I’m definitely going to tone down the brass fireplace surround.  Options are to do oil-rubbed bronze, satin nickel, or black.  Or I suppose any other color under the rainbow, but those are the three I was thinking of.  GUYS.  I own a mantel.  How cool is that?

And guess what this half-full dumpster means?  I got a new roof.