Lawnmower Zen

I need a lawnmower. Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to actually water the lawn, nature has conspired to provide me with weeds. No no. It couldn’t sprout grass, it had to sprout all manners of plants that are not grass. Although my Black & Decker CST2000 12 Volt 12″ Cordless GRASSHOG Trimmer / Edger does a good job, it’s not up to the task of mowing my lawn.

I have no desire to deal with the tomfoolery of a gas powered device. I’m a modern man, and I’m willing to accept the limitations of a electric powered lawnmower and allow the power plant to do the polluting far away rather than generate the pollution in my back yard. Lets then, stick to what I know, Black & Decker.

At first I looked at the Black & Decker MM875 19″ Electric Mulching Mower. I gotta have a mulcher to fill my compost bins, otherwise don’t waste my time. The reviews seem positive, and it seems to meet my needs. Although it may test the limits of my needs, I’ve already said I know going into this that there will be limitations and at about $200 I can handle it. This, however is a corded mower. I can’t bee seen mowing my backyard with a cord hanging off my mower. What am I, some kind of jerk?

Moving on to cordless models I find the Black & Decker CMM1000 24 Volt 19″ Cordless Rechargeable Mulching Mower. Yes yes, I know i read the reviews. I can handle the limitations of a electric mower already. I’m willing to go over the lawn over and over again to get it all cut. One thing I failed to initially notice was the price, at $400 – $500. That’s in US dollars.

I guess I won’t look like some sort of jerk pushing around a corded mower, for that matter any kind of mower. At least for now. By the way, looks like iRobot is going to come out with a Robotic Lawnmower. Oh sure, it will be just as cheap. I will buy two.

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Master Bedroom And Bathroom Remodel Progress

I know what I said, that the sprinkler system is going to be my priority. Give me a break thought, the back yard is sitll pretty muddy and now full of weeds. I’m now sure that the sprinkler project will have to wait till next year.

IMG_7627.JPGIt’s on to indoor projects, the first of which is the master bedroom and bathroom. I had a demolition party scheduled for the end of August, where I invited some of my friends over to demolish the house. Surprisingly, most of them didn’t show up. Enough did to get most of the work done.

For the bedroom the goal was to take the closet from the neighboring bedroom to create a bigger overall closet. This was accomplished.For the bathroom the goal was to remove the framed in shower. Both of these were accomplished. After the demo was completed, with drywall and crap all over the place, is when I questioned what I have done. After two trips to the dump and probably 6 hours of clean up I’m not sure I did make the right decision.

The framed in shower was not usable. It had been leaking pretty badly for quite a while. The lower framing was rotted, the water had leaked into the bedroom and there was even plant roots growing about a foot up the interiors of the wall. One doesn’t expect mold in a dry state such as New Mexico, but there was plenty of mold in the walls.

Picture 15The next step is to plan for the rebuild. Since it’s a small room, 7 foot by 8 foot, I’d like to put in a corner whirlpool tub with a shower. I think I can get a 54 inch by 54 inch corner tub to fit. I also plan to put in a electric radiant floor heating. The plan here shown is from Warmly Yours.

Can anyone loan me a few thousand dollars?

60 MPH

windWhat is a hurricane doing in the middle of the desert? TOnight we had a massive wind storm, this picture shows the view from my back yard. The news said we had winds around 67 MPH in parts of alb. Check out this Jiffy Lube’s roof in Rio Rancho.

I haven’t gone out to check out my own roof yet, but one of my trees did fall over.

Unexpected Benefits

This house was listed with the clause that the seller would “clean up debris and weeds”. There was quite a bit of weeds and some “debris” but it wasn’t so bad. When I made my offer I said I would would clean up the weeds and crap left behind. They accepted my offer and the rest is history.

On the final contract, they put back in that the Seller would clean up the weeds and debris. WTF? According to the seller’s agent, it was “already scheduled”. OK, whatever. Last week the people they contracted to clean up the place, and oh boy did they do a terrific job. Some of the debris had value to me, but the clean up costs vs the costs of the items more than likely even out. Check out these before and after pics.

Front of the house, not a lot of weeds here, but it was nice to have it cleaned up. Makes a difference in the look of the place from the road.

Front of houseFront of house

The partially finished storage shed. I think there was some interesting things in here I would have liked to have had. There was also a big wood pile next to it which was taken.

Other weird out buildingOther weird out building

This is the back yard, showing the back 1/4 acre that hasn’t been devleoped. I didn’t expect them to clean up these weeds.

Rest of back yardRest of back yard after weeds removed

The vegetable garden. Again, will be a lot easier to get stuff growing here too.

Vegetable gardenVegetable garden after weeds removed

The once grassy area in the back yard (sprinkler system is present). It will be a lot easier to get grass in now.

Back yard (partitioned)Back yard (partitioned) after weeds

My New House

Wow, things happen quickly. I didn’t write about this last week because I really didn’t expect it to go through. I made an offer on a house, about $10K under listed price. This house was a repo and needs some work (not as bad as the others I’ve seen thought). It was a multiple offer situation and I though for sure I wouldn’t come close since people have been paying list price.

I was surprised when I was informed early this week that I had the high offer, but they wanted to get another $5k out of me. No way was I giving them any more, I though my current offer was generous. To make a long story short, I signed the contracts yesterday. It’s mine!

Front of houseThis house is located in the same neighborhood that the other house I made an offer was on. It’s on a 1/2 acre, a nice rectangular 1/2 acre with easy access to be the back yard on both side. The interior needs carpet, paint and is a little dated (was built in the late 70s as far as I can tell), but other than that it’s not in that bad of shape. It also has city water and sewer. Many of the house in this area of Rio Rancho were built before there were hooks and have septic systems or wells. I lucked out there as well.

Over all I’m happy with this purchase so far, I got a deal and it has the basic configuration I was looking for. I have some big plans to add on and will be writing about them here.

House Hunting Week… Whatever

Have I told you how much I hate living in an apartment? What, no? Well I cannot believe that because I really hate it and I usually tell everyone how much I hate it. From the lack of water pressure to the crappy dishwasher and walking up three flights of stairs. I will really be happy to be out of this apartment.

The housing market, she no good for me. She real good for seller. A while back I wrote about a house I wanted to buy only to find out there was a contract signed the day I looked at it. This was the house on a 1/2 acre with a giant antenna in the back yard. It was listed at about $135,000. One might get $130,000 for a house in this neighborhood for that much if it is in absolute pristine condition, this house was/is not.

This house has a flat roof and it had a leak at one point. I would say half the walls and ceilings in the house will need to be replaced. Not to mention pain, carpe, wood root along the outside and kitchen needing remodeled to name a few. Were talking a easy $30 to $40K in work is needed and I think I’m underestimating that number. Yet the house sold for $130,000! Some person, who must be on crack, has more money than sense actually bought that house for near the asking price. I’m guessing that that they would need to sell the house near the $200,000 mark to get their money back.

This hasn’t just happened once, this has happened twice. Another house on the same street in a similar situation. Not nearly as ba, they were asking about $120,00. A little lower but still needed lots of work. I offered $105,000 would go up to $110,00. Someone came in and offered the asking price. It’s insane I tell you. INSANE!

The popular thought is that people from California are selling their homes for a half million dollars. FInding that the Phoenix market is turning into California’s market, they come here where’s it’s cheaper. Thus people have plenty of money to spend more on our cheap houses, even if they need work. What’s $30K when you just made $200,000 on your last house?

As for me, my lease is up 31 October. Seems like a long ways away, but I’m getting worried.

House Hunting Week 3

After having two houses last week, this week turned out to have quite a few prospects, a good half dozen I would say. Many I rejected on paper, a few I rejected at the drive by. I almost had a winner, but it only upped my expectations.

Initially I didn’t give this house a second thought, but I looked at the MLS a day later and decided to do a drive by. The remarks said:

Great custom floorplan with a very large lot. Home features backyard access, great garden area, covered patio, storage shed, and a large inground hot tub. In need of some handyman work. Roof replaced in 2004. Some interior work still needed. Great investment opportunity. Look past what it is and dream about what it could be! Being Sold AS IS with no warranties expressed or implied. Hot tub room 187 sq ft. not included in home square footage.

The house was built in the early/mid 1980’s. The bathrooms looked like they were from the 1970’s. None the less it had some great character and layout out. The previous owner had added on a built in hot tub.

Being a flat roof house, it had seen some leaking problems. THe roof was replaced a few years ago but many rooms still showed damage. Drywall would likely need replaced along with new floors. The kitchen and bathrooms would need remodeled as well. The house is part of an estate sale, the owner had never seen it. THere is a room added on at the back porch with shelving and there’s a giant antenna in the back yard. I assume that a old ham radio operator lived here, died, and the daughter got the house.

Did I mention the antenna? Yeah, there is a giant telescoping antenna in the back yard. If anyone should own a house with a giant antenna in it, I should! The back yard is listed at .55 acres, with most of it in the back yard. There was also some huge trees back there.

I spent several hours there finally deciding that It had everything I was looking for. They had is listed for $134,000, but another house in the neighborhood went for $131,000. Considering the work that was need to fix the interior I could probably get it for much less. I had made the proper financial arrangements and was ready to get the inspection report so I could make an offer.

Sigh… The house had been on the marked for 50+ days, the day I find it and want to buy it, someone else signs a contract. Same thing happened on the first house I looked at. It will be difficult to find another house like this.

I actually like this house, the interior layout was pretty nice. It was built in the late 80s, so not quite as “antique” as some of the others.

It is listed as being on .5 acres, and yes it is on a large lot. But the whole area is very hilly, and half the back yard is sloping downwards. Most of the block fence is below grade, I would have to build fencing for most of it. One side of the house has neighbors higher than it and they can easily look right now on it.

The house does have a above ground pool with a deck. Although it would have made me pretty popular with my friends, I’m not very interested in maintaining a pool.