Sunday, January 31, 2010

Settling In

DSC_5011On Monday morning, after what at times felt like forever, we closed on the new house. The rest of the week was a frenzy of activity, but we got a lot of work finished and the house is really starting to feel like our home.

Monday afternoon we spent working on the house, I sealed a little over half of the grout while Linzy cleaned the house and setup some of the things we brought over with us. On Tuesday we had Two Men and a Truck move everything from my parents house and the storage unit, as well as had all the appliances delivered. I spent most of the afternoon carrying boxes around the house to the right rooms, while Linzy unpacked box after box of kitchen supplies. I don't think either of us really recalled just how many kitchen boxes we had.

Wednesday was scheduled delivery day. We had deliveries or appointments scheduled 7-9, 9-12, 12-3, and 3-5. Only three of those actually happened (sofas, cable/internet, and water softener), the last (end tables) didn't happen because the delivery guys couldn't find the house. They called, we missed the call and apparently they decided that was good enough and called it a day. After some phone calls, they rescheduled for Thursday morning.

The rest of the week and this weekend has been spent unpacking and trying to get things arranged in the house. At first it didn't feel like we were making much progress but by this weekend things really started coming together.

The house is awesome and has been everything we were hoping it would be. The great room in particular, with the new furniture, is very relaxing. Overall selling our old house, moving, building the new house and moving again was a long process and a lot of work, but well worth it.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Little Details

This morning Linzy and I did our official walkthrough of the new house. It was something we've been looking forward to for weeks as it signals that everything is finally 'done'. Except for all of the stuff that you ask to be fixed or touched up during that walkthrough.

We had kind of cheated and gone over to the house on Monday evening to get a head start on checking everything out. There are a lot windows to open, outlets to test, scuff marks to inspect, etc, and we wanted to have a chance to go through once before the real walkthrough to decide on what types of things we were going to ask to have fixed. Unfortunately that took some of the excitement out of the walkthrough, because we had already seen the house all cleaned up.

It was also quite a bit more awkward then I was expecting to point out things to have fixed. While finding things that you want fixed is pretty much the whole point of the walkthrough, I frequently felt like a nitpicking jerk when pointing out some small ding on the trim that I wanted stain applied to, or places where a bit of paint had dripped onto the edge of a door.

Because realistically two days after we move in, there will be a hundred new little defects that we make. And mot of the things we found were not showstoppers. But at the same time we are paying a ridiculous amount of money for the house, and so at some level it should be done right. Expecting a professional painter to tape the trim and apply paint in all of the corners doesn't really seem like it is asking too much.

This unease over where to draw the line between what we requested to be fixed and what was ignored ended up making the whole walkthrough turn out to be much more tedious then exciting. However in the end, I felt pretty good about the list of things that we settled on and the overall state of the house. Four days to go!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

No Quitting

One of the last things that needed to be arranged for the new house was cable/internet service. Since we won't have a landline, satellite and DSL didn't make much sense, so Charter became the defacto winner.

Apparently Charter has clamped down on the deals these days, as the promotional bundles weren't that great of deals. I ended up settling on a 24-month guaranteed price, for around $15 bucks less a month then we were paying previously but without any fun movie channels. Not my best work.

Anyways, the interesting thing with the 24-month guaranteed deals is that while it saves you roughly $300 over taking a 6-month deal, you have to agree to a number of additional requirements. The main requirement is that you have to subscribe to all of the services involved in the deal the entire 24-month period, and have to pay your bill (oh really?). If you don't, then they hit you with an early termination fee to the tune of $150. What is this, a cell phone plan?

We've had a multi-year deal with Charter once before, but there were no ETF shenanigans at that time. Apparently they heard there was money to made from the fickle American consumer changing their minds and switching services, and so jumped on the ETF bandwagon. The interesting thing is that the ETF drops $5 a month during the deal, which if you do the math means that it still hasn't fully run out even in the last month of the deal.

Since we're been pretty stable subscribers to cable for many years, I'm not particularly concerned about it, but I did consider not taking the deal because of the ETF. In the end my inner cheapskate won out.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

House: Final Week

IMG_1647A little over six months after we signed the first papers for the new house, we are finally within a week of being done with this process.

I was out of town for a while and the progress between my visit on 1/2 and 1/14 was stunning. Floors were finished, appliances installed, cabinet hardware attached, the kitchen island was placed, basically it looks like a completely finished house, albeit a filthy one.

Unfortunately this week's trip had other purposes and didn't result in any pictures. Linzy took quite a few pictures the weekend of the 7th, and I imagine we will take some more once we move in. Pictures don't really do it justice, so you'll have to wait until next week and then come see it in person.

The plan for the remaining time is: construction cleaning on Tuesday, final walkthrough on Wednesday, fixup Thursday and Friday, with closing next Monday morning. It's pretty exciting and I am positive later this week when we go back for the walkthrough in a clean house it will finally feel like 'our house'. Seven days and counting!


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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Movies: Avatar

Last week Linzy and I joined the many, many people who have gone to seen Avatar. And just like most of those people I thought it was enjoyable but not outstanding.

We went to a 3D show at Lakeville theater because the IMAX showtimes were at terrible times. It was definitely worth seeing in the theater since the draw is the amazingly realistic computer animation and stunning visual presentation. I thought the 3D was nicely done, used mostly to add depth to scenes and not just for effect.

The story was predictable and basically a remake of Dances with Wolves. It was also a bit too long.

But despite the story I enjoyed seeing it, and thought it was well worth paying the extra to see in 3D. It will be interesting to see what happens to movies and visual effects in general when the level of realism of Avatar's computer generated graphics becomes affordable for random movies that can't afford to be one of the most expensive movies ever.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Honest Face

Last week when Linzy, Pippen and I were locked out of the house, we ended up calling a locksmith. The process of finding a reputable-seeming locksmith via the internet was a bit sketchy but we eventually found one who could come by in a reasonable amount of time. On the phone we were quoted $39 for the service call, plus labor. After a bit of waiting, an unmarked car showed up and two young guys in all-black snowsuits and aviator shades got out with a toolbox.

They asked for ID, which I provided. Of course, my id still has our old address on it. I explained the story, parents house, they're in Chicago, sister and brother-in-law in Iowa, no key, etc, etc. The guy looked at me, looked at the ID, and asked if he could speak to the home owner.

I said sure, pulled out my own phone, called my dad and handed the phone over. My Dad more-or-less said 'it's OK' and we were off. The second guy used picks to set the tumblers and a screwdriver to manipulate the mechanism and we were in. Total time, maybe 5 minutes. They didn't even use their own WD-40, claiming they had 'run out'.

Regardless of whether you bought into the thought that your locks were actually able to keep people out of the house, consider that a guy with no matching id, and a random person on a phone was able to arrange for someone else to pick that lock in 5 minutes. It took longer for them to run the credit card via a phone call to the home office. Yikes!

Lucky for me I have an honest face.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

House: Week 15 & 16

DSC_4963With everything else that was going on Christmas week, some unexpected plan changes, and various vacation schedules we weren't able to get out to the house for about two weeks. At this stage, that meant a lot had changed between visits.

The biggest milestone was that the ceramic tile was finally completed. Those guys ended up being way behind schedule, and since everything else hinged on their being complete, that threw everyone else off. But now that that is complete, there has been a flurry of activity.

In addition to all the ceramic tiling, we also got the kitchen countertops installed, the laundry room counter, all the inside lights put up, light switches and outlet covers everywhere, the furnace and water heater were finished, all of the toilets were installed, and they started installing the hardwood floor.

It is pretty amazing the progress that they are making now. By the end of this week basically everything will be completed. The following two weeks appear to be for miscellaneous final cleanup. I'm pretty excited that just three weeks from today we will be closing.


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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Best Laid Plans

DSC_4916Here it is, the final night before heading back to work, signaling the end of the holiday season and I have yet to post even a single "Merry Christmas" post. In some ways, the lack of posts are an indication of the fun, but busy holiday week that I had. There was plenty of time off of work to spend with family and friends, and lots of activities to avoid boredom. Things didn't exactly get off to a smooth start, however.

On Wednesday before Christmas Eve, I had an eye appointment and arranged to stop by the house without Linzy knowing. Originally we had hoped to be in the new house by Christmas, but with the lengthy building process that wasn't going to happen. So I wanted to surprised Linzy by putting a little tree and present in the house without her knowing.

The idea was to drop it off late Wednesday afternoon and then make up a reason to go by the house on Christmas Eve morning when the ceramic tile crew would be there (so the house would be open) and she would be surprised. Which would have been a good plan except for the foot of snow we got on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning.

I still created a reason to go with Linzy to the gym that morning, and Sarah came along which gave the perfect excuse for stopping by the house. Except of course the tile crew hadn't shown up for work and so we couldn't get into the house to see the tree. I was quite disappointed, but she did eventually see it the following week.

Then on Christmas day we were supposed to be going to Duluth to see Linzy's family. But they were getting the same storm we had the previous day, totaling two feet of snow plus freezing rain, making a huge mess of the roads. So we had to delay our trip until later in the weekend.

On Monday my parents were in Chicago visiting Grandma, and Sarah and John were in Iowa visiting John's family. Linzy and I came back home, only to discover that the house was locked and we didn't actually have a key. Nor did any of the neighbors. We considered trying to wait the 6 hours until Sarah and John got back, but since we had Pippen in the car there weren't really any options for where to spend all that time with a dog.

In the end, we had to call a locksmith. $150 and 5 minutes of work later, we were able to get into the house. After that, things settled back down to roughly normal. Or as normal as things can be with six people, a dog and a 1 year old living in the same house.

All in all we all had a lot of fun, and it was really nice to be able to have five days off work in just a little over a week as well as spend all that time with friends and family.

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