Done Gone and Moved Again

In the spirit of writing a blog post at least once a year (yes – I know that’s not enough), I wanted to let all 3 of my blog followers know that we have moved from our rental house in Sammamish finally into our own purchased house in the same neighborhood.

We received a notice from the landlord that the owners of our previous house were intending to occupy their house at the end of our lease – which was June 30th. Fortunately, they gave us about 60 days notice which set off a flurry of house hunting, budget planning, packing, and general sense of panic.

I had earlier been casually looking around to see what was available, and decided to stop looking and just renew the lease. But, of course that idea didn’t last. So now the search was on in earnest.

We started with what I felt was a reasonable budget for this area (which is still quite unreasonable when compared to Texas and even Virginia). After discovering that there were no properties at the desired price in our near area, we began looking further out. Yes, there are good properties for our budget, but they are so far away. The best house we found was over an hour commute each way to work and had a super small yard and tiny garage – two car, but SMALL cars.

After driving that distance several times to look at houses, we almost decided to buy in Monroe. On the last drive home, it began to hit me just how much more time I’d be spending in the car just driving to and from work. At this point, I decided it just wasn’t worth it to lose two hours a day more to driving.

We went home in sadness and with no prospects for a home in mind.

While we were getting out of the car, one of our neighbors stopped to talk to us and suggested we go look at one house down the street. This house was way outside the budget I had set for our house, but we went anyway. Once we got inside to look, we just felt at home – peaceful despite the price. While sitting there thinking about the possibility, it became clear that if we made some adjustments to our savings and other expenses, we could actually bump up our budget and possibly afford to stay in the same area.

So we made an offer and it was accepted.

But there were more hurdles to overcome.

The inspection revealed quite a few issues that needed to be addressed. We began to start making appointments for quotes and additional inspections. The owners responded with anger. At that point, we rescinded our offer and prepared to move on. We continued to look at houses, but this time with a higher budget in mind. There were many more options, but nothing out there that caught our eye.

After pulling the offer, the owner’s listing agent contacted us to ask for the inspection report. We gladly provided it to them – this meant they were serious and also could not claim ignorance on any seller disclosures. They immediately dropped the price, followed by a second price drop a week later. Soon, service vehicles were showing up at the house. We then began to think: “well, if they are actually going to fix things like we were going to ask, then maybe they will entertain a new more fair offer…”

So, we reached out through our agent to ask about what was going to be done to the house. Eventually, we reached a fair price – well below our originally agreed to price, and that included some of the more critical repair work already done.

So, now we were able to move ahead and close on the house in two weeks.

We are now moved into the new house, with boxes stacked all around. The most important part of this story is that we felt no peace anywhere else – we felt that God had placed us here in this area when we first moved in, and every time we attempted to find a place outside, we were just not able to find the peace to move on it. Once we made the decision for this house, the burdens we had felt for finding a place were just lifted off our shoulders – it was most certainly a “peace that passes understanding”. It made no sense to our minds that spending so much money would cause a peaceful reaction, therefore it must only be a divine gift that we are able to be here.

We are determined to make this house a place of peace and hospitality – to have friends and family visitors, and to use the house to make new friends and serve others. This will challenge us as introverts, but we will make every effort to share the blessing of this house with others.

Closet Construction & Data Migration

Now that the urgency of my project schedule has eased after the holidays have passed, and now that life is settling back into more normal rhythms, Laura and I have taken on and completed some projects. Among those are the complete replacement of my closet and some backend server migration – stuff that you don’t see, but see the results of [or not].

First off, Laura has been bugging me to “re-do” my closet for years. Our master bedroom has two closets, one large [hers] and one small [mine]. We did hers shortly after moving in, and a couple other projects involving the same closet construction parts and process. Now, it was my turn – especially since it seems my excessive quantity of shirts was bending the closet shelf/rod downwards. In my defense, the truth was that it wasn’t a capacity problem, but one of sloppy installation of the old system. I think it was bad when we moved in, but my obtaining a few more items of clothing has not helped.

Friday, on the way home from work, I stopped at the mall and picked up the equipment and shelves… in my two-seat convertible. It fit, but it was tight – kinda hanging out the back. That night, we ripped out the old shelves and I sanded and spackled the gaping holes that were left. I did more sanding and spackling the next morning and that evening, we painted the walls a similar color to the ceiling of the bedroom. Today, we installed the shelving system and hung up my clothes again. No more sagging: all is well with the world!

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Oh, look: room for more shirts!

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And the data migration part? I’ve just found out that there is a database plugin for WordPress that allows for it to utilize Microsoft SQL Server as the backend database. FINALLY. You’ll have seen many posts from me in the past about this [if you’ve been with me that long] and know my frustration that WordPress would never abstract the data layer and forced a proprietary data source on the users. Well, I’ve ditched it and this is my first post on the blog using SQL Server. So far, I think it’s a bit faster. But, I could just be biased…

🙂

The main thing is that I know how to use it, manage it, optimize it, and patch it. It is, after all, what I do.

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Dream Vacation Property?

We don’t have one, but I’ve begun thinking about it. I know some of our friends either have a vacation home that they have for their sole use, or own a vacation rental property that they rent out.

In the first case, most seem to be old enough or sedentary enough to have spent 30 years in the same home – enough time to pay off the main residence to allow them to afford a second property and the mortgage that goes with it. That’s a great idea, and if I can accelerate the payoff of our main residence [which I’m now doing by paying above the payment amount] to be done in around 15 years, then we can focus our full “housing” budget on a new vacation home. That will take quite a bit of patience.

In the second case, I’ve seen friends buy an income-generating vacation rental property that they use to either pay off their existing house or pay off the vacation property with the net gain. Such a thing really doesn’t make sense unless there’s a net gain. I mean – why buy a property that you can’t stay in but a few week per year if it’s still going to cost you a big chunk to keep, right? Of course, doing it this way allows more than one vacation home location since there is a net gain. But then again, the downside would be that we couldn’t just show up at any time since there might be paying customers on site.

With these things in mind, and my initial dream location of a cabin/house/condo in the mountains of Colorado [subject to change upon spousal notification :)], I’ve decided to both accelerate paying off my existing loans [house & car] and begin saving for another house down-payment. This might take years and our goals may change, but saving at any time is a good idea.

So: in 15 years or so when I have many thousands of dollars in the bank and the current house paid off, there may be a ski chalet in our future… or a beach house… or even something else.

Media Center Project: Complete!

After many months [years maybe] of working to build a Windows Media Center PC, I now have the final piece of the puzzle. I have installed a quad-tuner card from Ceton which just came in this morning after literally months of waiting. Instead of being release in May, it was released last week and only just now arrived at the house.

Since I am working from home today, I took a coffee break to install the card – and that’s about all the time it took. Power down, insert card, power up, install driver & update BIOS, restart, update Media Center tuner configuration. Start recording four shows at once! Woo Hoo!

Project: Media Center – DONE!

Next up: Project: Kitchen Backsplash… waiting on ordered tile.

New Dishwasher

One more item in our kitchen remodel has been finished and that’s the dishwasher. Since we had to replace it, we went with stainless as we are eventually going to replace the appliances with stainless ones for the rest.

We’ve had it installed now for a while, but since I’ve been lazy about blogging for a while, I thought I’d share a picture of the new dishwasher finally.

Next up will either be tile or some electrical work.

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More Travel And Kitchen

Last week, I added a new airport to my list: Fayetteville, NC. Not big news, just one of my rare (at least now) business trips. There’s not much to do in Fayetteville, so I don’t really have anything to write about.

However, I do have some things to say about our “completed” home remodel. I’m beginning to learn that project completion is a fluid definition. All the flooring, cabinets and counter tops are installed, true, and most of the electrical is done. The last piece of electrical will be our over-bar pendant lights which we have yet to choose. We still have to finish the kitchen backsplash as well, but that is what I’m calling “phase 2” of the project. At least, I’m calling it that so I can say this one is finished… when it’s finally done.

One of the big unfinished things is that our dishwasher was leaking and we only found out about that after it was re-installed and began to leak on our new floor. So we have been doing without for a couple of months now. A couple of weeks ago, we ordered a new one that was supposed to be installed last week. However, it was damaged on arrival and another had to be ordered. Luckily, the new one came in the next day and will be installed this morning.

As if that wasn’t enough, several manufacturing flaws were discovered on the cabinets that now need to be fixed. Fortunately, the manufacturer has sent us all the replacement parts and will be swapping out the bad pieces for us.

Maybe we’ll be done with this thing eventually.

Got Rock!

Now, the last of the “big” installs is done. And I mean BIG. They brought up through our crooked staircase a granite slab large enough to crush several men if it fell while they were moving it. All of our counters are seamless sections now. We’re very happy with our fabricators.

The stone is called Yellow River and is very nice with lots of “movement” and a variety of color tones.

Here’s a few wide pictures.

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I have a few close-ups of some of the details:

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And finally, our spiffy new faucet [which I installed myself!]:

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Awesome!

Now, we just need running water…

Almost There – We Have Cabinets!

After a long day of very skilled work, the installers have completed the main phase of the cabinet install. They have to leave a few things undone for the electricians to finish and the plumber to attach things, but for the most part, they’re done!

Tomorrow is major electrical work and hopefully granite templating followed by the inspection for electrical. Once that’s done, the finishing can be done on the island and the sheetrock can be closed up.

So, you asked for them and here they are: some pictures!

First, the upper cabinets were assembled as a unit.

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Then, they were lifted on top of the mounting board that was temporarily attached to the wall to keep them level. You can see how many people it took – I’m glad I didn’t try to do it myself!

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Here’s the cabinets without doors:

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And now, the “final” shots [well, final for the day at least]:

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No, we don’t have the dishwasher installed since the electrical and plumbing on the island aren’t done yet. That starts tomorrow.

Well, I love the new layout and it was exhausting just watching these guys work.

Floor: Complete!

After four days of very loud pounding and sawing [and lots of the accompanying dust] our floors are finally done! They are beautiful. Now, we just have to learn how not to scratch them.

Our next step will be moving our furniture back into place in the living/dining area. We’ll be able to do this over the weekend.

Monday, our new cabinets will be installed. And we’ll get our garage back, since they are stacked in there.

Here’s some pictures of the final floor.

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Pretty!

Floors: Almost There

Today is the third day of our flooring install. This morning, they repaired the whole in the floor that the plumber had to make to move the island over… and they did it EARLY. I’m glad, but I had to be up and ready early for them to come in. And they had to do it this morning [as you’ll see in the last picture] because if they didn’t, the flooring installers would not have been able to continue.

So, without further ado, pictures.

Day 1 [flooring removal and most of living room]:

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Day 2 [all of living room up to most of “dining” room]:

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Day 3 [most of kitchen]:

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