Sunday, August 31, 2008

Revisiting My Favorite Past Post

A year ago I posted my opinion about the ethics and business practices of one of the Flip This House companies. Checking out which of my pages get the most viewings, this one is always at the top of the list along with people searching for Ikea cabinet information.

This morning I re-read the post for the fun of it, and then looked at the comments. To start, here is the unedited post:

A&E's Flip This House, San Antonio Scumbags

First, let me say that I have less than zero respect for that raging piece of crap Armando and how he conducts business. With that said:

This week's episode (and I don't know if it was a rerun or not) had the previously mentioned shit-bag flipping a house which should have been condemned and bulldozed. It was filled with cat crap, rats, roaches, debris, etc. Just plain freakin' horrible. Bad enough that the neighbors called the police due to the smell.

Well, Armando figures he can just clean out the garbage and paint using some odor-neutralizing paint and he's good to go. Typical cheap-ass-don't-worry-about-who-may-actually-end-up-living-here-in-the-future attitude from him. His brother had the balls to quit on him so he wouldn't have his name on that project. Good for him.

As they get deeper and deeper into the flip, they end up having to replace drywall, plumbing, etc., all of which cost this cheap SOB plenty more than he expected. Since all he seems to care about is money, this made the episode fun to watch. I mean seriously, how could anybody with even a small slice of intelligence walk into a house that is literally caked in cat crap, urine, and worse, and figure that it's NOT going to cost a ton to clean it up correctly? Better yet, how could anybody figure the house could even be saved?

I am amazed at how he can disregard the potential health-issues like this. To my knowledge, they didn't remove any subfloors on the place (they could have been concrete, but they didn't really show). The odor-blocking paint probably helps, but that only covers the surface - the problem is that the urine is soaked into the wood. Anybody who dislikes cats (like me) knows how bad cat piss smells and how difficult it is to fully remove from a house - especially when it's hot & humid. Last I checked, Texas gets that way occasionally.

The condo I renovated a few years ago (here, here, here, and here) had a cat-piss problem, but it luckily localized in one area which we could daily wash with bleach. After a dozen washings it got a heavy coat of primer and paint. All molding was removed and replaced. New carpet tack-strips, padding, and carpet was installed over the concrete floor too, and we could still very faintly smell the piss if we got right down on the floor.

At the end of the show, they accepted an offer on the place from a lady with two young kids. I was happy to see that the sale fell through. She had two freakin' kids and they were going to sell her this polished-turd of a house. Nice ethics you got there, Armando - it looks like they've never been used. Shit-bags like you who are only interested in making money have a special layer of hell reserved just for you.

I don't know if linking directly to one of the comments will work, so I'll just quote it here:
Nina Erdos said...

You're an attention whore. What about the people who did this to the house or the owners who left it this way? At least Armando took on the project and in the end it was 8 million times better than the disgusting abandoned crap it once was.

Why spend so much energy hating someone based on an edited TV portrayal? This is a country founded and built on capitalism, yet someone who improved a neighborhood and is earning money as a result of it is chastised. Did you renovate your cat house for free?

Get off of your ridiculous high horses and get a life.

My response? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! You delusional moron. People that let their own house get destroyed are not the issue. It's their house to destroy, and when it goes up for sale, buyers know what they're getting. Armando did every thing he could to hide the problem - a problem that will very likely NEVER go away and will remain a health hazard for future owners. That house should have been razed.

Regarding this being a country founded and built on capitalism, does that mean people should not have ethics with regards to how they do business? Is the only goal money? For some people, it evidently is. And I'm sure that A&E went out of their way to only show the bad side of Armando - yeah, blame it on editing. A turd is a turd, no matter which side of it you look at.

As for me renovating my "cat house" for free, of course I didn't do it for free. I actually renovated it for my dad (who owned it as a rental for about a decade) for a share in the profit. Why? Because I knew if the work wasn't done he was only going to get people low-balling him on price, because the place was left a dump by the tenants. That meant I earned a whopping $6,000 for 6 months of part time work. That covered clean up, demo, building, and working with the Realtor to finally sell it. It was done knowing full-well that nobody was going to get rich on the sale, as that was not the goal.

If you consider that being on a high horse, you must be related to Armando and as fvcked in the head as he is.

* The opinions and comments above are those of "Muskego Jeff", and probably irritate scum bags with low moral standards and no business and personal ethics.

I really should go back and read old comments like this more often. This idiot just gave me 15 minutes of joy, laughing at somebody actually defending that waste of a zygote Armando.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Saw, Therefore I Am

One one corner of the house I've had an extremely large evergreen that I've wanted to cut down since we moved here. It's huge, drops a ton of pine cones, and makes a perfect home for varmints under it's lower branches because they lay directly on the ground. It's also a pain in the ass to mow around.

Unfortunately, I'm the only one who wants it gone - my wife likes it as it provides shade for one of our bedroom windows. Therefore, I'm outvoted and the tree stays. But that doesn't mean I can't at least make it look better.

Since my smaller saw got to come out and play at my dad's house a few weeks ago, I figured it was time to break out the larger one this time around. It's best to not just let chainsaws sit forever without use. This saw is only about a year old, and since it's not an expensive brand I don't expect it to run nearly as long as my old Homelite has. Either way, it really runs well and made short work on the pine.

Here's the tree with the lower branches removed. I still need to go in with a hand pruner and take care of some of the remaining low-hanging branches. I also need to get in there with a rake and remove about three decades of pinecones and needles. I may put woodchips under it to clean it up a bit, but the pine needles may look good enough on their own.

My dad is storing his truck & trailer at my house while he's away on a trip, so I'm making the best of it and putting 'em both to use. I got everything cut off the tree loaded into the trailer, and it's a very full load.

I did a little cleanup under the tree and think I'll like how it looks once the excess material is removed. Kind of reminds me of a campground.

I also took a little time to work on two windows on the front of the house. Here's one of 'em with the new glazing in place. I only did the bottoms of the windows again, as the sides and tops were in decent shape. I'm still considering either completely rebuilding the windows or replacing them with higher-efficiency windows in the near future.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mmmmmmm..... Glazed Windows

I've been planning for a while now to take care of the windows on the house. Other than a few small cracks in two of the windows, they're all in pretty good shape. None are painted shut and they all work as they should. Eventually I'll get around to replacing the cracked glass, but for now I'm focusing on the glazing.

For the most part, the glazing is still decent enough for another season or two. The worst parts of any of the windows are mainly the glazing at the bottom.

The window below is the worst one, which needs to be re-glazed on three of the four sides. The paint is also peeling on the wood. My big concern at this point is if there is any rot in the wood.

I got this far just by pulling loose paint by hand, which really had me worried.

After removing the old glazing and as much loose paint as possible, I was happily surprised to find that there was absolutely no rot. I put in a few new points to hold the glass steady and proceeded to the next windows.

Across the back of the house I did work on about half of the windows, again mainly across the bottom of the glass. After getting 'em all cleaned up I primed the bare wood. After a few hours of drying I re-glazed the windows and now get to wait a week for them to dry so I can prime and paint 'em. The picture below is just before the re-glazing.

Another job I took care of today dealt with plumbing for the bathtub. Since we moved in we've had to deal over and over with a slow drain which often clogs. The culprit has been the old drum-trap. Because of the design it's really hard to snake the drain to get rid of hair clogs. I don't mind using Drain-O once in a while, but this drain needs it almost every other week!

I started the work by cutting the whole drum out and picking up an adapter for the copper pipe so I could connect the PVC. I had to get a little creative with some 45* elbows to move the P trap over.

Oh, and the burn mark on the floor joist was NOT from me (you can see it was there in the first picture before I started any work). I hope this was from the previous owner and not a licensed plumber...

With the new trap in place everything drains perfectly now, and if I need to run a snake down from above it'll work. With the drum, the snake keeps getting hung up inside the drum.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Saw

I finally got plenty of work done over the weekend.

Too bad it wasn't on MY house.

My dad asked me to come up to his place and help him remove some trees. This is the second time this summer we've removed trees from his backyard and you STILL can't tell it was ever done!

There are so many trees in his small back yard that even with a dozen of 'em removed it still is fully under canopy. We've got one more cutting planned for fall, and then a couple of sessions for next spring/summer.

The biggest trees we took down over the weekend were about 7" thick at the base, so I took my small saw:

This little Homelite was my grandpa's saw a few decades ago, and it made it's way into my possession. A year ago I tried starting it for the first time in probably 10-15 years and it was a no-go. The seals were shot and it needed the attention of a professional.

Lucky for me, old saws were made to last and are usually repairable. A guy I work with does tree removal on the side, and also repairs old saws. He said he had this one running in about 20 minutes, and that with proper care it should last a lifetime. After adding gas/oil mix and bar oil I can have it started from cold in 15 seconds.

He strongly advised using more oil in the gas:oil mix on both of my gas chainsaws as well as the gas weed-eater. The way he looks at it, the worst thing I'll do is foul the plugs, but I won't have to worry about trashing the engine due to lack of lubricant. The saws and weed eater all call for 40:1, but I'm running closer to 30 or 35:1.

I do have a small problem with the small saw wanting to die instead of idle, but as long as it's being revved to cut all is well. Plus, it starts with one easy pull so it's not like I'm creating a lot of extra work for myself.

This brings me to my tip-o'-the-day: don't store your chainsaws with gas or oil in 'em. Drain the fluids and run the engine to get rid of any remaining in the lines. Old gas makes small engines run like crap, and if you let it sit long enough it won't work at all. Also, the bar oil tanks leak a ton of oil all over the place if you don't empty the tanks. At least all 3 of my saw's leak oil from the oiling system (that includes the one electric chainsaw).

(I was going to put a picture of my other gas saw, a McCullough Eager Beaver on this post, but I didn't have a picture of it and when I tried doing a Google image search for Eager Beaver I got really distracted....)

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Rant

It's off the topic of homes and renovations, but I don't care. It's my blog and I'll write what I want.

My rant is with the Green Bay Packer organization, specifically anybody within the management team that let (forced?) Favre to leave the team.

16 years, two Super Bowl trips, record after record after record and you donkeys think that Aaron Rodgers is the "future" of the team?


I've got nothing against Rodgers, and hope he does well. But I'm not betting on it. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the Jets (who had a dismal record last year) end up this season with a better record than the Packers (who lost in the NFC Championship Game).

All due to one player.

I've got nothing against the Jets, and now find myself rooting for a team for which, until today, I couldn't name a single current player.

I've ordered my new Jets jersey and will wear it happily, possibly to a game or two at Lambeau this year.

I won't abandon my home team, and I certainly won't stop being a fan of the one guy who did more to make Green Bay a powerhouse than just about anybody in team history.

I don't doubt that Favre and his agent could have handled things a lot better with regards to his retiring, not retiring, retiring again, etc., but let's face it: even after 16 years he's a far better quarterback than ANY other player on the Packer roster. Keep him on the team until you have someone better - don't push him aside and then blow smoke up my ass about it being "best for the team".

When that jackass Thompson has done 1/100th of what Favre has done for the team and city of Green Bay I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. At this pace I've got a few hundred years to wait.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Back to Work!

I've been slacking on the work around the house for a while now. The weather has been nice and I didn't feel like busting tail when I could be enjoying the weather.

For a while now I've been wanting to get some of the landscaping taken care of in the back yard. There were two large overgrown bushes that needed to be removed.

Removing the visible part of the bush is easy, and gave me a good excuse to break out one of the chainsaws. Removing the roots, on the other hand, sucks.

In this case, as I dug down I found that the roots weren't too large so I wrapped a chain around the roots about 8" below ground level and attached it to the lawn mower. I had my wife drive forward and I chopped at the root system until it broke free.

The root system on the other bush is a LOT heavier, so I'm planning to just dig out as much of it as I can and will then take the chainsaw to it to cut it off. As long as it's well underground I won't have to worry about ever seeing it again.

I also took care of the drain line from the sump pump. When we bought the place it was just a plastic/pvc line laid on the ground. The problem I ended up with was that the water would freeze in winter leading to the whole line getting blocked with ice. Since the sump pump runs all year long, this isn't a good option.

I re-used the line as it comes through the wall, but then immediately turned the line up so that it could gradually slope down towards the end. It's not pretty, but the line will be hidden by the planting we are going to do next spring.

Here you can see the slope along the back of the house. I'm hoping that when it's running that it acts like a siphon and pulls extra water out of the crock. In the past, anything left in the line would run back down into the crock - a couple of gallons total. Either way, the water is finally going to have a good way to get away from the house. On the ground are the remains of the old pipes used to try and get water out.

It's been so dry recently that the crock was only about 1/3 full, but it was enough to test the system to verify that it works. Tomorrow we're expecting rain, so maybe I'll know for sure.

And now for something completely different. Bacon Salt! So many things cooked these days get some salt added, from steaks on the grill to potatoes in the oven. Since bacon makes EVERYTHING better, I got these and have tried them a few times. I think I'll probably only use them on steaks and burgers. The bacon flavor comes through faintly and isn't overpowering.