We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 270: The to-do list


When I say I lived in my car, I really did. This was my 84 trans am, I bought it for $600 after I got out of the military and immediately drove it cross country (like >3,000 miles). It doesn’t look like much, but it kept me dry when it rained and I absolutely loved it.

Well I’m making a list… and checking it… twice? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Well here we are at the precipice of something interesting. I want to show everyone that you can have a life and a PhD at the same time. Or in my case a hobby or two, maybe not a life, I don’t have one of those, but that wasn’t because of the PhD. Anywho I digress. Buying a home is a lot like buying a used car and today I will explain why!

This is my second home. Buying your first home you learn a lot, but mistakes will be made. You’ll realize you didn’t like certain things about the area, or that yard work is actually a torture technique. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful I own my own home (or at least I make payments on my own home, I guess the bank really owns it). I mean, me a homeowner. I was a guy living in a car for a good chunk of time there and it was very possible that would’ve been my life had it not been for one very specific interaction. I’m lucky and I know this. So before we get started, don’t think I’m taking the fact I am very lucky to be owning my own home lightly when I talk about all the problems that come with it.

For my second home, I had to buy it sight unseen because I was a few thousand miles away and had to travel for a conference overseas (technically two conferences). It went basically like this: I had to buy the home, move into it when I returned, and start school literally the next day. Yep, seriously that is how it happened. It was a wild few weeks! I don’t regret the home, but I do wish the neighborhood was more walkable. Before I bought my first home I rented a small apartment close to downtown. I didn’t own a car, didn’t need a car, and loved to walk everywhere I needed to go. I can’t do that here, there’s really no place to walk without driving first and I can’t just walk to the store like I used to be able to do.

No matter how new the home is, buying a home is like buying a used car. Used cars can have problems or things that you just have to deal with (fix) when you buy it. The builders of a home just want to make some money, so there are quarks because sometimes they rush. For example, my first home had a section of countertops that I thought were bistro height, but instead were about 6 inches higher. This new home, all the power boxes for the light fixtures are off center. They compensated for this by the type of light fixture they selected so you couldn’t tell, but I wanted different fixtures, so in every bathroom I’ve had to rip into the drywall and move the box.

Seams between two sheets of drywall were done sloppy so there are bubbles or they show. The house settles so cracks form, or the drywall shifts, which also causes cracks. Floors aren’t perfectly level, or the subfloor needs some repair. There are a lot of little (and big) things wrong with the house that need my attention. So I plan to do a lot of that over the summer. Maybe it’s boring, but I find it relaxing to do some of this stuff (certainly not all of it!) so I don’t really mind. Unfortunately there is a lot I want to do! My list is already almost two pages long and getting all that done won’t happen this summer, I’m sure of it. If I had all the money needed, it might, but I do not! We’re doing this on a budget and I’m doing all the repairs and building myself.

I’ll do my best to document this as I go, I’m sure others will find it helpful to see how things are done. I’m not a pro or anything, but I do know what I’m doing for the most part. I’ve already moved two light fixture power boxes, and I’m finishing up the third today (I hope). I’ve also got some things together for the woodworking project I really want to get done this summer, a hand made bathroom vanity! That will be, well an experience since I’ve never made anything that complex before. In any case expect a lot of home improvement photos over the course of the next few months and the second we pick back up with experiments we can shift over into discussing all that as well!

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at what we’ll go over tomorrow. Essentially we open up the drywall, move the box, then close up the drywall, texture, paint, and hang the light fixture. This is a multi day process because you need to let things dry. We’ll get more into it tomorrow. This one was fun because the pipe (black thing) was blocking me from placing it where I wanted it to go, up against the stud (the wood).


The joy of opening a wall, you get to find pipes in places you don’t expect them (covered in the black insulation). The purple looks a lot brighter than it really is, but that’s because of how bright my drop light is! You’ll see what I mean in other photos.

But enough about us, what about you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.