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Vintage tile repair

The good news is that I found white hexagonal tile under the nasty vinyl flooring. That's also the bad news. Here is the floor currently. Basically, the tiles themselves are in pretty good shape considering they are about 100 years old. There are a few cracks, but the real problem is that the glue from the floor that was above it will not come off from in between the tiles. Detail shot. This is pretty much the kind of floor we want, but the mrs. is about ready to call it and just install a new hex floor on top. I'm not quite ready to give up. [more inside]
posted by mike_bling on Mar 22, 2014 - 13 answers

Aluminum wiring! Asbestos! Termites! Are they a big deal? What to do?

First-time homebuyers under contract for a 60-year-old house-- how serious/expensive are these problems: aluminum wiring, friable asbestos insulation, termites, undisclosed window leak causing water damage? Along with original plumbing and an old HVAC, is this a pretty standard situation that falls under the umbrella of "all houses are going to have some problems, no house is perfect" and is this the kind of stuff they mean when they say you'll be spending 1%-ish of your home value on this kind of stuff every year? Or are these costs and issues on the high side, and this is probably on top of another 1%-ish every year on other repairs and maintenance? Help us put this in perspective! (We need to decide whether to give the sellers' relocation company the right to cancel our contract by requesting repairs. And we need to figure out what we should fix and how much it'll cost if we go ahead and buy the house without repairs.) [more inside]
posted by EmilyClimbs on Mar 20, 2014 - 30 answers

Production Home Help Needed

My husband and I are thinking about having a home built -- a production home -- in one of the many subdivisions in our growing area. We have purchased a home before (and sold it later; not in our current area) but it was older and had been flipped. What do we need to know about the production home process? [more inside]
posted by danielle the bee on Mar 9, 2014 - 9 answers

What IR-capable residential security cameras are inconspicuous?

I'm interested in getting a few residential security cameras installed to cover our yard and car areas. Requirements are: ~40 feet night vision, decent motion detection, networked recording to central PC/DVR unit (either over WiFi or PoE power), no batteries, weatherproof, not easily stolen. There are plenty of cameras with good tech specs, but many of them look like warp engines. I imagine putting up giant cameras will not only piss off the neighbors, but serve as a giant ROB ME I HAVE STUFF sign. What exterior cameras are not only good but inconspicuous? [more inside]
posted by benzenedream on Mar 6, 2014 - 3 answers

How do I help someone Overseas build credit in the US?

How do I build someone's credit while they are overseas and not a US citizen? I am getting married to someone who is Japanese (in about 5 months) and lives in Japan right now. Because I know we will one day want to buy a house, I want to start building her credit as soon as possible because I know that it is easier to get a loan with two people signing instead of one. [more inside]
posted by locussst on Mar 4, 2014 - 10 answers

Arrowhead wall fixture in 70's house?

We had a home inspected today that included two of these fixtures (below cut). They say "Arrowhead" on them but even our inspector had no idea what they were. Home was built in 1972. Any ideas, old home lovers? [more inside]
posted by juniperesque on Mar 2, 2014 - 15 answers

Do I have to pay capital gains tax if I made no profit?

Taxfilter: I sold a condo in April. I sold it for $5,000 less than I bought it for, but I walked away with some money because I had owned it for 10 years and paid down the principal. I had been renting it out for 4 years before I sold it because I moved to a city nearby. I also put about 10K into renovations over the past few years. Do I have to pay any capital gains taxes? Is it worth it to try to get any kind of credit for the loss I took when I sold it for less than I bought it for?
posted by Clustercuss on Feb 26, 2014 - 8 answers

All our eggs in one basket? First time home buyers...

My wife and I have been working and saving over the last 4-5 years. We've managed to pay off all of our debts and have gotten ahead. It feels great to be debt free, but we want to buy a house. We found a bank foreclosure that's been sitting vacant for 6 years as it slowly worked through the courts. We have just enough to buy it outright, but that will leave us almost broke. Should we buy it? [more inside]
posted by karst on Feb 21, 2014 - 28 answers

Plumbing woes

I'm asking this Q for a friend and I really hope someone will be able to help. We moved into our house about two years ago. We've had problems with our sprinklers in the past and when we had them repaired, a sprinkler expert told my wife there was "something wrong" with how we get water to the front since they couldn't shut off the water. That didn't make sense to me, but now that I've tried to fix the sprinklers in the front myself, I've encountered the same problem. When I turn off the shut off valves near the water meter (what I think are the main valves), nothing happens, though it does turn off the water to the backyard. When I need to repair plumbing inside the house, the valve close to the house does the trick, but again, I can't shut off water to the front sprinklers. I have no idea how the sprinklers were installed, but it is getting frustrating and I'd like to know how to go about troubleshooting this. Is there any way to identify where a valve might be to shut off the water to the front sprinklers? Here's a simple diagram I drew. Thank you!!!
posted by BitterYouth on Feb 17, 2014 - 17 answers

Home Alone

I'm trying to decide what to do if I have to leave my dog alone for seven hours? [more inside]
posted by Fairchild on Feb 13, 2014 - 36 answers

Job Search. Difficulty Level: Repatriate me please!

I took the Hivemind's advice to go abroad, now I need some ideas on how to get back. How should a early 20-something find for a job back in the US while abroad? [more inside]
posted by astapasta24 on Feb 1, 2014 - 1 answer

Reclaiming safe space after suicide attempt

I am just home from the hospital and a subsequent care center after I took a prescription overdose nearly 2 weeks ago that was nearly fatal. I live in an apartment with a roommate. Even before the overdose, I never felt fully comfortable here even though I realize it's better, safer,etc. than a lot of living situations I've had. But now that I associate my room with wanting to die, it's naturally a bit more dire that I break that association. I'm familiar with some spiritual ways of cleansing a place, and have a plan to slowly do physical cleaning as well. What are some other ways of reclaiming and even embracing my space?
posted by mermaidcafe on Jan 31, 2014 - 26 answers

LivingFilter: Western Town, Outdoorsy Girl

After living the nomadic life for many years, I'm starting to think about settling down again. Search criteria inside. [more inside]
posted by grinagog on Jan 29, 2014 - 24 answers

Help me paint my bathroom

I have a bathroom that has had some serious moisture issues over the years. I recently installed an exhaust fan and that's mitigated the problem somewhat. My big issue is this: the wall paint (semi-gloss latex) is peeling off where the wall and tile meet. It started bubbling up here and there and I made the mistake of pulling on a little piece today and the paint came off like peeling an orange. I need to repaint several of the walls in the bathroom while trying to prevent the paint from peeling off again. How do I seal the walls or at least where the wall and the tiles come together to keep the moisture out? [more inside]
posted by photoslob on Jan 26, 2014 - 12 answers

What can I safely cover my ugly wall furnace with?

My "Williams 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Direct-Vent Wall Furnace" is an eyesore and I'd love to build my own custom cover for it, but is that safe? Can I only use metal or can I use wood? I'd have a friend build it since I don't know much about it, but I'm wondering what I can do to hide or replace it. BTW I rent my apartment, so any changes I make should technically be reversible. Link for reference.
posted by qzar on Jan 25, 2014 - 5 answers

Vivint Offers to pay for solar panels....what's the catch?

This offer feels too good to be true. Is it? [more inside]
posted by PsuDab93 on Jan 21, 2014 - 7 answers

Costs of pricey home repairs/replacements? (& IDing them before buying)

We're first time homebuyers, and getting a little overwhelmed thinking about all the things we might have to fix and/or replace in whatever house we buy, and how that should affect what we're willing to pay for a home. What are the most expensive (and/or frustrating to fix) things we should be keeping an eye out for and factoring into deciding whether to make an offer on a house and the offer price (i.e. adjusting up/down compared to comparable homes)? [more inside]
posted by EmilyClimbs on Jan 21, 2014 - 13 answers

Help my brother create a dog friendly home

Dog owners - what tips or hacks do you have for making your home more dog-friendly? What did you consider when you bought your home in regard to your dog? [more inside]
posted by NoraCharles on Jan 21, 2014 - 20 answers

Time to buy a house!

I have a newly good income, a very tiny (yes, I mean very tiny) beginning of a savings account, shitty credit, a little (in the hundreds) debt and I want to buy a house. What should I do? [more inside]
posted by latkes on Jan 13, 2014 - 10 answers

SoundFilter: Can I make passive bookshelf speakers wireless?

I have an aging stereo with decent speakers that I'd like to somehow convert so that I can stream music from my phone or computer. Is this possible? Details and pictures inside. [more inside]
posted by rensar on Jan 8, 2014 - 7 answers

What goes up must come down (through my roof, apparently)

Apparently on New Year's Eve some unknown moron shot his gun into the air. The bullet came down through our roof, punching a hole through the roofing itself (picture 1, picture 2) and then throught he ceiling of our guest room and into the exterior wall (picture 3). The bullet itself is lodged somewhere inside the wall, buried in the insulation, and I am not inclined to tear open the wall just to find it. The police have been out to take a bunch of pictures and create a report, but obviously there is no way to track down the person responsible. Nobody was injured, thank goodness. The roofing inspector was just out, and it is going to cost about $500 to repair the roof damage. That work will be done tomorrow, so that any additional damage is mitigated before it rains. The repair inside is minor, just patch the two holes and touch up the paint. [more inside]
posted by Lokheed on Jan 7, 2014 - 15 answers

How to Optimize Heat Output from a Gas Fireplace?

We have a 24 inch by 36 inch vented gas log fireplace. See image. I'm pretty sure most of the heat goes up and out the flue. Are there any good modifications for optimizing heat output? Should we consider switching to a ventless system? Add some glass doors to the exiting setup?
posted by steinwald on Jan 6, 2014 - 11 answers

Advice regarding a new mattress or Shikibuton

The wife and I desperately need a new mattress. Any experience with shikibutons? [more inside]
posted by chirico on Jan 6, 2014 - 10 answers

How do I find a Mortgage Broker?

I live in Vancouver and I'll be looking to buy a condo this year somewhere in Coquitlam or New Westminster. I've never bought a place before and have literally no idea what I'm doing. I'm told a Mortgage Broker is my best bet but how do I choose the right one for me? [more inside]
posted by JenThePro on Jan 2, 2014 - 6 answers

What kind of contractor do I need?

I have a small bathroom that needs work. I need to get the pipes under the sinks replaced, new faucets installed and countertop replaced. I'm an Angie's list member but I'm not sure what kind of contractor to look for. Can a plumber do everything including countertops? Do I need to get a plumber for the plumbing stuff & a different contractor for the counter?
posted by mattholomew on Jan 1, 2014 - 6 answers

Resources for Period Accurate Decorating

I own a 1931 Arts & Crafts style house in Seattle, and am looking for resources to help me give it some "period accurate" accents. (For example, my foyer houses a working, refurbished phone from the 1930's). [more inside]
posted by dotgirl on Dec 26, 2013 - 12 answers

How to make light floors and dark furnishings work?

It's time to paint the living room. Problem: we have light wood floors with dark furnishings and my SO wants to keep the room "light and airy" whereas I would do anything to avoid white or eggshell walls and keep pushing for colors he says are "too dark and claustrophobic". What color scheme can we both agree on to really tie the room together? [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Dec 20, 2013 - 31 answers

Who owns/services your mortgage and what're they like? Does it matter?

We're shopping for a mortgage (in the DC area), and are feeling anxious and frustrated that 1) it's so hard to know who we'll end up with because so many lenders/originators are likely to sell our loan and/or servicing after closing, and 2) it's easy to find complaints about most servicers out there and hard to find anyone that's satisfied.  What has your experience been like with the place(s) that own and/or service your mortgage?  Or should we put all that to the side and just try to find someone with the best rates/fees and the best reviews/recommendations regarding smooth and quick closing? [more inside]
posted by EmilyClimbs on Dec 20, 2013 - 21 answers

Can anyone help me identify this weird water pipe in my yard?

I rent, and tonight I heard the sound of running water in my yard. I went outside to investigate and saw that water was spurting upwards out of this black pipe in the yard that is about 8" in diameter and sticks out of the ground about a foot (link to picture inside). The pipe has a cap on it that has a hole in it - it looks like an intentional hole that water is supposed to come out of. However, I've lived here for years and I've never seen or heard this happening. It rained today, and I live in SoCal where it hardly rains, but again, this seemed new. The water coming out was substantial and flooded a bit of my (very small) yard. After a while the water flow petered out. Since then, it's been going on and off at random intervals. I've tried to see if me running the water or flushing the toilet is connected to this, but I'm not sure that there is a correlation. The water coming out looked clear, but smelled a little funky and may have emitted a little steam (I didn't want to touch it to check the temp). The pipe is located less than a foot away from the side of the house and is next to my water heater that is located outdoors in some sort of locker thing. I've left a message for the landlord but wanted to see if anyone has any insight as to what this thing may be, and if this is unusual. Thanks! [more inside]
posted by emily37 on Dec 20, 2013 - 13 answers

Renting a room. The walls are pink. I'm a dude. What I cover it with?

Is there any cheap neutral-colored wallpaper that I could use that's temporary? Or anything else that I can cover it with that I can take down later? I just can't do a pink room, man. [more inside]
posted by suburbs on Dec 18, 2013 - 28 answers

Whats wrong with my vintage audio receiver?

When I play records sound only comes out of the right speaker. [more inside]
posted by hellameangirl on Dec 14, 2013 - 10 answers

Delay in Home Closing. How do I Stop the Panic?

In appears, due to a combination of factors, we are short the necessary funds needed to close on our home purchase, scheduled for this Friday at noon. What can I do to smooth this situation over with the sellers and myriad of volunteers slated to help us move on Saturday and ease my own massive anxiety on having to delay the closing? [more inside]
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs on Dec 11, 2013 - 21 answers

Halp! The grout is setting too fast.

Started a mosiac project and now I need the grout to stop setting. [more inside]
posted by amandabee on Dec 9, 2013 - 7 answers

Can I buy my parents' house in a way that makes financial sense?

My parents have always struggled financially, living under crippling debt and never able to have an income able to match the bills, the biggest of which is their mortgage. I hate to see how difficult this situation is for my dad, and I want to help out for the sake of his stress level, and also because once he retires in a few years the math truly does not work out in their favor. I've been thinking of buying some land anyway, so I'm wondering if there is any feasible way to make this work for both my parents and me. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Dec 8, 2013 - 20 answers

Is my wifi router blocking images from Facebook?

I recently replaced a couple of old LinkSys WRT54G routers running DD-WRT in my home with a couple of couple of D-Link DIR-615 routers that I got as refurbs from woot.com. I bought these because the old machines only did 802.11 B/G whereas nearly everyone in the house now has a device that has 802.11 N capability. All seems well to me, but my wife and younger daughter consistently complain that they now frequently are unable to display some images from Facebook, and that this began to occur precisely at the time that I put these new routers in. [more inside]
posted by hwestiii on Dec 4, 2013 - 9 answers

To BCC3 Control Board, or not to BCC3 Control Board

A question regarding an impending attempt to replace the control board in our furnace myself. Extenuating circumstances: Approaching Arctic Cold Front. [more inside]
posted by ecorrocio on Dec 3, 2013 - 7 answers

Keep me from buying a 'homebuying for dummies' book.

My wife and I are trying to wrap our heads around the process of purchasing a home. We know a little bit, but we also know there are gaps in that knowledge. We're looking for information on how to go about the process, and what specifically we should be doing to assess the prudence of home-buying [more inside]
posted by furnace.heart on Nov 29, 2013 - 25 answers

To stay or to leave? that is the question.

What would you do? Im saving money to buy an apartment. Another part of me wants to go live in another country for a few months instead. [more inside]
posted by red47Apple on Nov 26, 2013 - 21 answers

You can check my nooks, but don't bother me.

We are selling our home and have an offer. My baby and I have no where to go during inspection. What happens if we stay? [more inside]
posted by MayNicholas on Nov 19, 2013 - 42 answers

Home-owners Insurance Co Wants to Survey House...After 12 years

I've had a home-owners policy with the same insurance company since purchasing my house in 2002. Last week, I had a message on my answering machine from a man identifying himself as an auditor with a 2nd party surveying firm. He said he was calling at the request of my insurance company to set up a date/time for a survey of my house. [more inside]
posted by klarck on Nov 18, 2013 - 24 answers

Buying a house... weirdly

I want to buy the house I'm renting. How do I even start? [more inside]
posted by MrVisible on Nov 13, 2013 - 12 answers

What regular maintenance should I schedule for our new home?

We bought a house, yay. It’s a small 1910’s bungalow with gas appliances and everything basically works. The foundation’s been replaced in the not-too-distant past and it’s ready for an earthquake. I've never been anything but a renter, so what kinds of regular maintenance should I be thinking about to minimize the risk of catastrophic emergency repairs? Plumbing, gas, heating, electrical, sewers: what’s a good schedule, and what kinds of things do I ask for to make clear that there’s nothing particularly wrong but I’d like to keep it that way? I looked at this old question, but most of the interesting-sounding links are dead.
posted by migurski on Nov 12, 2013 - 10 answers

My window jamb... is... crumbling! How do I fix it?

My mother's house has these recessed casement windows, and the mystery material the jamb (or maybe jamb extension?) is made of has started to crumble. Whole chunks come out when I put the air conditioners in each spring and take them out every fall, and forget about keeping the window shade hung -- I have yet to find an anchor that won't get pulled out. I'm going to take a stab at fixing it while I'm home for Thanksgiving, so I need help devising a plan of attack that can definitely be completed over a four-day weekend, even if that means it's just a stop-gap band-aid-type repair. [more inside]
posted by patnasty on Nov 2, 2013 - 10 answers

Home is Where the Highway Is

What is it like owning a home near a *loud* highway or other noisy high-traffic roadway? How do you cope? Will I regret buying this house? [more inside]
posted by falldownpaul on Nov 2, 2013 - 47 answers

Humor Among Thieves

Our house got broken into, but the thieve(s) stole slightly strange objects. Why? [more inside]
posted by alex_skazat on Nov 1, 2013 - 22 answers

My apartment's radiators are loud and letting out steam. Is that normal?

We've just moved into a new place and it's now gotten cold enough to turn on the heat. Two of the radiators are really loud with air escaping, and often have visible steam coming out of the valve on the side. I've never seen radiators do this. Is this normal? Is this safe?
posted by msbrauer on Oct 31, 2013 - 9 answers

Make my home a factory for living

I figure, at this point, somebody has done exhaustive operations research on pretty much all of my daily chores. Assuming I don't care about hominess or aesthetics, what does industry have to teach me about getting through all the little maintenance work of life with less time, effort, and attention? [more inside]
posted by d. z. wang on Oct 29, 2013 - 25 answers

How to get three different routers into one cohesive network?

I have three different wireless routers on my home network, and they are not inter-operating well... [more inside]
posted by Fidel Cashflow on Oct 24, 2013 - 6 answers

Transformer in basement ceiling buzzing--what is it?

I heard this weird buzzing sound coming from my basement today, and I eventually opened up the ceiling and traced it to this transformer or something that's up in there. I tapped it with a piece of non-conductive material and it stopped buzzing. Tapped it again, it started buzzing more quietly, and then I tapped it again and it was silent. Anyone have any idea what this is, and why it's there? The house is from 1952 and doesn't have any electrical issues that I know of. Pictures: Pic 1 Pic 2 Pic 3
posted by Slinga on Oct 23, 2013 - 7 answers

Just fix the damn thing and leave my personal life out of it

Eight years or so we bought a fixer upper. Then things went sour. Now I'm feeling like I'm at the end of my rope. Help me figure out how to get this place fixed up. [more inside]
posted by Sid and Marty Krofft's HR Sockpuppet on Oct 22, 2013 - 13 answers

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