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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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.
posted by BitterYouth
on Feb 17, 2014 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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
posted by qzar
on Jan 25, 2014 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
The wife and I desperately need a new mattress. Any experience with shikibutons? [more inside]
posted by chirico
on Jan 6, 2014 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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:
posted by Slinga
on Oct 23, 2013 -
What do I do with years-old equipment that belongs to my old cable service provider?
Equipment dates from 2009. Furnished by Verizon FIOS, which then switched to Frontier FIOS. A cable modem, DVR, and set-top box. We moved house in 2010, and cancelled Frontier service. Attempted to return the equipment. This involved them shipping empty boxes to us. We never got the boxes. Attempts failed. I have no documentation of those attempts. Equipment is sitting in our garage, and I need to get rid of it.
Which option is best?
The easy way: Donate the equipment to a recycler.
The hard way: Contact Frontier and try to return their equipment. This is likely to be time-consuming, and annoying. I recall their CS was incredibly awful. I couldn't find any helpful info on their web site. And what if they want to charge me a "late return fee"???
Do big cable providers care about their old equipment?
posted by valannc
on Oct 16, 2013 -