Trees, part II

My next door neighbor, who happens to be building a garage just opposite the fenceline from the old tree that fell, noticed that you could actually see through the trunk of what’s still standing of the tree…. which, naturally makes him a bit nervous for his brand new garage. I told him that I had a volunteer crew coming out to cut up what was still on the ground, and he’s been thinking of how we could get the rest of it down there.

Trees, tree removal, and trees that fall down all on their own…

This last year has been very tree-centric. Last fall, I had a big chainsaw party, at which three of my closest guy friends showed up and cut down most of the “weed-trees” that had been allowed to grow along my fence line — in exchange for beer and a big pan of homemade lasagna. It opened up the yard a lot, and let a lot more light in — paving the way an actual lawn that grew actual grass (as opposed to creeping charlie). The one tree that they couldn’t handle, though, was the enormous 100-year old box elder with a definite lean to it. The tree that’s had me a bit worried since I bought the duplex. I always hoped that it would fall down slowly, in small chunks, or at least just fall directly to the ground in the direction that it was leaning…

Grounding an ungrounded outlet, and other electrical wiring adventures

There are many electrical shortcomings in my duplex. Lucky for me, I have a friend who is an electrical engineer, and likes to work on houses. Of course, I don’t want to wear out my favors with him, but he’s started helping me with a few wiring projects here and there. I’m a bit sheepish when it comes to electricity (beyond installing new light fixtures, etc.), so it works out well for me.

How much will it cost?

If you’re like me, you’d rather not trouble your contractors with endless questions about how much things will cost. Granted, I’m sure that they hear plenty of “so, just ballpark-wise, how much would it cost to…” But I know that it’s difficult to give an accurate estimate without knowing a lot of the specifics of the job, and they don’t want to throw out a number that they’ll then feel held to. I’ve found a good online tool, however,that I use for a lot of theoretical “I wonder how much it would cost to…” ideas.

It’s good to know your limits. (Plumbing is mine.)

My new tenants are getting settled in, and gave me a short list of things that needed attention in the apartment. As maintenance lists go, theirs was very short and simple: a slow drain in the bathtub (also a place where water was collecting in the bathtub, due to unlevel floors), and the rubber weatherstripping on the front door that was getting stuck to the new paint. Easy. (Or so I thought.)

I should have become a plumber. Or married one. Or at least befriended one.

I had plans to go out with my friends tonight and see a band downtown. I just called and cancelled — I’m not feeling well; tired and sick to my stomach. Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation, or perhaps it’s the $398 I dropped on a plumber this morning…

The drainpipe to the clawfoot tub upstairs had sprung a leak. Well, it had sprung a leak again… Numerous previous owners had fixed the leak with caulk, and I didn’t see that as a fit method of fixing things. When things break, I like to fix them the right way so that I can be confident that they won’t break again for a while.

It is, however, quite a bit cheaper to fix things with caulk than with a plumber.

Finding a contractor (a good one)

Eventually, once I’m a seasoned landlady, I’ll have my crew assembled: Electrician, Plumbing, General Contractor/Handyman, Appliance Repairman…. As it is right now, I have one drain-clearing guy that I like, and an appliance repairman. Luckily, I haven’t had to call in that many professionals. Right now, though, there is an issue with the upstairs tub drain that is beyond my skills and frustration level, so I went onto Angie’s List to find a good plumber to call. Here’s how I went about interviewing contractors, and making the final decision:

Coin-operated or not coin-operated? Repair or replace?

When I moved into the duplex, there was an old coin-operated washing machine in the basement laundry room. It worked fine, except for that it left the clothes really, really wet. But only sometimes. I had bigger initial issues to deal with, and my first group of tenants brought most of their laundry to their parents’ houses, so I got used to using it as-is.

My current tenants recently asked me if I could have it looked at. I try to keep my tenants happy (I want them to stay forever!), so I looked into getting it fixed or replaced.