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Random Thoughts [Home Improvement/Decorating Edition]

<Top Gear>
Don't say that!
</Top Gear>
ah crap...

It’s the well-known “gonna get worse before it gets better” phase of home improvement.

I rather like these projects where a lot of substance is preserved, but people rip out the guts and then rebuild to an up-to-date standard. They save a ton of perfectly fine buildings and don’t create yet more white shoeboxes, but still get proper utilities and stop losing crazy amounts of heat through the walls and roofs.
weeeelll... if we're being fair the building is from 1984 and already fairly close to a shoebox. without the bloody flat roof ofc. but it's neither particularly interesting nor particularly worthy of preservation or anything. then again, the insulation performance and suchlike isn't all that bad either, so it's not that far to get it up to todays standards. and get all the subsidy money (for other stuffs - heat pump and under floor heating) :|
 
It’s the well-known “gonna get worse before it gets better” phase of home improvement.


Also known as "did we bite off to much" or, "was it supposed to be like this" stage.
 
At least we’re not doing any of that stuff ourselves 😝
Currently still in the „at least in the end it’s all going to look like we want it“ phase paired with „this is all going much quicker than expected“ (it’s been three weeks today since we got the keys to the place).
 
Besides messing with that Volvo the past two weeks, I've also been busy in my house.

I've painted my deck.

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I repainted a room to make it less focused on being a little kids room.

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I replaced a faucet that decided to clog with calcium somewhere I can't reach, during which my sink decided it wanted to go on a trip, thanks to poor installation from the GDPO, it's all rusty from years of people washing their hands, so I scrapped off all the loose rust and reattached it to the countertop.

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Lastly, I planted 10 little flower things to reduce the overgrowth that is my flowerbeds that I can't be fucked with normally.

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Not sure I mentioned it elsewhere but I flipped the top of my Ikea Fredde desk around earlier in the year as I was tired of notch that is cut out of it. I had to re-drill some holes but it went back together perfectly and it's much better with a flat front, it meant that I could get a new desk mat too and didn't need to cut a chunk out of it.



Anyway the only issue was that the corner holes at the back were smaller than those at the front, so my pen holder didn't fit. It took a while to get to it as I was waiting for the 79mm Bosch holesaw to get cheaper but when I got it I 3D printed this template thingy and screwed it to a piece of plywood, I could clamp the plywood and there's now a hole to guide the centre drill of the holesaw.

It needed to be drilled to one side as it would otherwise be too close to the edge of the desk. There's a flat on the edge where the holesaw will be the closest so it doesn't cut into the template



It worked perfectly and I got this crescent of desk. I used my right angle Makita drill for this as it gave me the best chance of keeping it square.

 
So I had the idea to fix the jacuzzi portion of the tub in my master bathroom. When I moved in 7 years ago I tried it and it leaked down into the basement. So since I didn’t feel like I needed a working jacuzzi, just the tub was fine, I left it alone. But now I figured why not and try replacing the gaskets around the pump assembly. Well that fixed it. Even with my bodged together gasket making kit from the local hardware store.

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not in the picture, but this week additionally:
- start on a bit more insulation for the roof
- start removing pipes and put in the "correct" pipes for the future bathrooms
... apropos, this is what our main upstairs bath currently looks like - rather similar to the whole downstairs situation :D
done and done. Piping is in. Upstairs bath has underfloor heating, a new floor and is basically ready for tile:
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  • Roof insulated.
  • basement ceiling insulated.
  • all inside walls redone, close to ready to be painted.
  • new windows and front door (now actually on the front of the house, old door will turn into a regular window) installed (before-pic in the quoted post)
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At least we’re not doing any of that stuff ourselves 😝
actually scratch that… that fence you can see outside there, that I did myself :p

on the “that didn’t go well” front:
  • Fired our original gas water shit guy because he kept not showing up. Got a very good replacement quickly though.
  • ordered a new set of stairs because the old thing has slowly started disintegrating… delivery in march. Oof. At least then it’ll be just as we want, closed underneath with a door to the basement.
 
You… you… what? HOW?!? 🤯
Our main contractor is originally from one of the stans and has a lot of very valuable connections… To be fair, the new guy always comes very late in the day and on the odd Saturday, so he is probably doing our place on the side next to his main gig 😉

Let’s call it what it is, right? KLÜNGEL
 
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Yay! New oven (right).

I made a few repairs on the old one, but the control panel was the last repair I couldn't do without spending 1/2 the cost of a brand new, better oven.

Hopefully with this one's stronger burner, it won't take 22 minutes to boil pasta water, and with the smaller burner, I'll be able to turn it low enough to not burn rice. Ya!

New features of this one that our old one didn't have:
- Broiler inside the oven, rather than the bottom drawer, which was only good for blackening peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
- nearly full-width grates on the top makes cooking multiple things so much easier when you need to shuffle around
- center griddle burner, though I'm not sure we'll use that
- "true/European style" convection and "air fry" functions.
- self-clean functions, both the gentle steam clean type and the full rippin-hot scortched-earth style.
- An integrated thermometer probe for roasts

It's the Frigidaire with "3060" in its model number. It was the cheapest (well known brand) oven with all of these features, plus fingerprint resistant stainless and a drawer that didn't feel like it would fall off.


New fridge likely delivering next week. That one, we're replacing preemptively, since we'd lose all of the food if it died, and we got an extra $75 off plus the labor day sale price by buying them both at once.

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...aaaaaand, now we're back in the house, now that the gas leak from the improperly installed oven has been fixed. Somehow they fucked up BOTH ends of the gas line (the connections to the wall, AND the oven).
 
...aaaaaand, now we're back in the house, now that the gas leak from the improperly installed oven has been fixed. Somehow they fucked up BOTH ends of the gas line (the connections to the wall, AND the oven).
Jealous of your gas cooking plates. Back in Berlin, I (illegally) did my own gas oven install. No leaks because I know what I am doing.
 
Electric and gas in one standalone cooker unit messed with my head at first, not super common over here compared to all-gas or all-electric. I couldn't understand how the control panel stopped the old one from working.

With a shiny appliance like that you could pursue your YouTube career as a certain sausage maker did. Then he moved and is too ashamed to show his cooker.
 
. No leaks because I know what I am doing.

I *know* what I'm doing (it's just plumbing, afterall), but I watched this fire from my driveway as we were moving in to this home, so I admit I'm too afraid to work on it aside from the repairs I did to the old oven itself.


View: https://youtu.be/EZ6YbUrnxVM
It's just plumbing...but it's spicy plumbing.


But, man...using this appliance...I didnt expect the best part to be the texture of the stovetop burner grates. My old ones were enameled, and pots would skate across it. Stirring thicker things had to be a 2-handed job, or else you'd risk a pot sliding over. This is like skateboard grip tape. It's awesome. The convection helped make puff pastry more evenly-cooked than I ever got in the old oven.
 
I *know* what I'm doing (it's just plumbing, afterall), but I watched this fire from my driveway as we were moving in to this home, so I admit I'm too afraid to work on it aside from the repairs I did to the old oven itself.


View: https://youtu.be/EZ6YbUrnxVM
It's just plumbing...but it's spicy plumbing.


But, man...using this appliance...I didnt expect the best part to be the texture of the stovetop burner grates. My old ones were enameled, and pots would skate across it. Stirring thicker things had to be a 2-handed job, or else you'd risk a pot sliding over. This is like skateboard grip tape. It's awesome. The convection helped make puff pastry more evenly-cooked than I ever got in the old oven.

Having worked with gas equipment for a decade, it's not scary unless you're a complete bonehead and don't tighten the fittings or crossthread.

What's worse is gas heated clothes dryers. Nobody cleans the vents going outside like they should and you get easy housefires. about 7 years ago there was a problem in my parents neighborhood where you'd have one house a week catching fire due to that.
 
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here, amazed at the fact that you guys would still use gas for anything else than heating the house :D

Sure, I'm a weird euro commie, but I feel even the times of the gas stove/range are long gone (that's the only thing from the stuff mentioned above that'd be considered common in Germany at least, the others are entirely unheard-of (someone please correct me if i'm wrong and that's just my limited scope)) and nowadays, I feel, even that is entirely driven by some weird nostalgia, when tests have been showing for years that induction stoves heat up and react to changes quicker and better than gas (unless you're using ancient, super thing pots or specialty woks or sth).

On topic: I'm looking forward to the day that our heat pump gets installed (some time next spring probably... :|) and I can disconnect our house from the gas line for good.

edit: oh come on, lets put this in here as well.
things are going rather well with the rest of the renovation... except for that heat pump thing. have a look into our future living/dining/kitchen area. the stairs are going to get "closed" to the basement as well, so you don't look down that hole and at that rather ghastly iron "harp" (that's what that "comb" thing is called in german at least). screed is being poured all over those nice wiggly pipes as i type this.
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Sure, I'm a weird euro commie, but I feel even the times of the gas stove/range are long gone (that's the only thing from the stuff mentioned above that'd be considered common in Germany at least, the others are entirely unheard-of (someone please correct me if i'm wrong and that's just my limited scope)) and nowadays, I feel, even that is entirely driven by some weird nostalgia, when tests have been showing for years that induction stoves heat up and react to changes quicker and better than gas (unless you're using ancient, super thing pots or specialty woks or sth).
Induction is very limited in terms of which pots and pans you can use and also emits a very annoying super high pitched noise. And that's why most people who are passionate about cooking, also in professional kitchen settings, prefer gas. We tried to get gas cooking into our new apartment but it was not possible, sadly.
 
people who are passionate about cooking, [...], prefer gas.
well that's at least as broad a generalization as mine was before! :p
I'd consider myself fairly passionate about cooking and I'd never trade my induction for gas, ever. Then again, I've never really used anything else (in the time that I was actually paying attention) and the humming of the thing doesn't bother me (I don't necessarily enjoy it either, to be fair). Regarding pots and pans and all that stuff, you're entirely right, of course. That does get limited a bit. But I think that's another topic where I could make sweeping generalizations about nostalgia and the cookware not making a measureable difference and whatnot - whereas I should know better than that, since cooking is at least as much (if not more) about the enjoyment of working with the selected ingredients and tools (the "feel") as it is about hard science. So yeah, if your choice of tools requires it or the noise of the induction hob takes away from your enjoyment of the process, then gas certainly is better.
 
We started a minor project to tidy up the side of the house with some lawn edging and a rock accent. Unfortunately, one of the stakes I put in to hold the edging just barely clipped the main irrigation feed line to the back yard manifold. That involved excavating a sizable hole to patch the pipe.

Next up will be Backyard Landscaping Phase I. This weekend we start digging out and hauling away the old timber planter edging, moving sprinklers, and disposing of old weed barrier. Then comes the laying out of a new planter, adding drip irrigation to reduce water waste, new plants, weed barrier, and finally some rock accent.

This is going to be a big one and I'm going to be hauling a lot of rock up hill, one wheelbarrow full at a time.

Phase II will be next year and involve some major excavation of the west side of the yard, a new flagstone patio, new tree, drip irrigation, rock garden, plants, electrical service extension, and plants.
 
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here, amazed at the fact that you guys would still use gas for anything else than heating the house :D

Sure, I'm a weird euro commie, but I feel even the times of the gas stove/range are long gone (that's the only thing from the stuff mentioned above that'd be considered common in Germany at least, the others are entirely unheard-of (someone please correct me if i'm wrong and that's just my limited scope)) and nowadays, I feel, even that is entirely driven by some weird nostalgia, when tests have been showing for years that induction stoves heat up and react to changes quicker and better than gas (unless you're using ancient, super thing pots or specialty woks or sth).

Valid, and all correct. However, two things:
1) the heat provided by gas ovens and clothes dryers is more moist, which is preferred for many foods and is easier on clothing.
2) Yankee lighting wall pixies are only 1800watts max sustained load. Transitioning the the beefier outlet would mean some electrical work in the walls, and our current (no pun intended) panel is already maxed out, requiring a bit more work/cost.

I just did the "magnet test", and of all 11 or my pans, saucepans, and pots, only 1 would work on an induction stovetop.

California has banned gas cooking appliances in all new construction, though, so their availability and ubiquity will definitely be taking a nosedive over the next few years.

On topic: I'm looking forward to the day that our heat pump gets installed (some time next spring probably... :|) and I can disconnect our house from the gas line for good.

edit: oh come on, lets put this in here as well.
things are going rather well with the rest of the renovation... except for that heat pump thing. have a look into our future living/dining/kitchen area. the stairs are going to get "closed" to the basement as well, so you don't look down that hole and at that rather ghastly iron "harp" (that's what that "comb" thing is called in german at least). screed is being poured all over those nice wiggly pipes as i type this.
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Nice! I wish basements were more common 'round here. They are somewhat rare along the whole US west coast.
 
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