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Monday, October 25, 2010
It turns out that the coyotes stripped the insulation out of our attic, leaving behind just enough traces to let us know it had been there. Rather than reinstalling toxins above our heads we found an alternative technology. UltraTouch insulation made from an older fiber, recycled blue jeans. We can install it ourselves without respirators and protective clothing and we will be able to safely use our attic for storage. Lisa from Olive Branch Building Supply in North Park talks about the product and its installation.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This weekend was spent with clean up from the demolition of the bathroom, demetaling, salvaged studs, and a bit of preliminary moving. With the toilet now working and a few bits of furniture at the estate it has reached a kind of club house condition. The kids can now play happily while we work, which means now we can both work for extended periods. Mrs. Greyshade also signed me up for an organic gardening class through Victory Gardens San Diego. At $60 for four three-hour sessions it’s a far better deal than the various consulting services around.
We were both a little concerned that it might be feel good group for rich people want to show off that they’re Democrats. That's not where I'm coming from at all. I mainly want to grow food because I want to be sure that my family and I can eat when our oil dependent supply chains collapse. I realized that I was among kindred spirits when peak oil was mentioned twice during class introductions. I was even more delighted when they talked about building raised bed planters out of “urbanite.” Several of us were unfamiliar with the term so they explained. Urbanite is a new stone littering the earth’s surface. It is named for where the urbanite beds are most concentrated, cities. It is also known as broken concrete. I think I have a new favorite word.
Monday, October 18, 2010
They bought the property in 2006 for its large size and, at the time, low cost. They put in a second bathroom without bothering with the legalities because their whole operation was illegal. They made erratic mortgage payments, and when it became clear that there were now cheaper properties to exploit, stopped paying all together. Nonetheless they fought eviction until just before law enforcement got involved because they were still making money from house until the last minute.
During their ownership they housed a huge rotating population of undocumented immigrants, who they had smuggled into the U.S. for extortionist rates. They slept in every room of the house, the garage and in storage sheds and cars in the yard. Coyotes are notorious for blackmailing their clients/victims families, raping the women in their charge, or forcing them into prostitution. They are vermin. I had some qualms about buying a foreclosure but not anymore. I’m glad they were evicted it was the least they deserved. Our fine but abused house will now be used for a much nobler purposes.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Jake Von Slatt
Steampowered: The California Steampunk Convention
Do you remember that second bathroom, the one in the photo on the left? It’s gone now. It was both fun and educational destroying it! I started one day when I got off work early. I'd been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead so I told myself to just start doing something. I drove over to the estate armed only with a hammer and started smashing away. I was able to salvage almost all the studs and learned a lot about wall framing. I also found that behind the shower stall there were traces of mildew. This is a clear sign the shower had not only been finished but also used. I found the copper plumbing in the wall too and saved it.
What apparently happened was that the second bathroom had been added without building permits. When the bank foreclosed the occupants stripped the bathroom. The REO company then smeared plaster over everything to try to disguise the unpermitted second bathroom. We don't need a second bathroom anywhere near as much as we need a functional master bedroom so away it went. Early in the process I made a discovery that was like Christmas in October. Underneath all the 70's tile and old carpeting is the original floor of the house. It's really worn, but its hardwood!
From our first viewing of the house we also noticed an odd set of uneven ridges in the hallway. They seemed like the dim outline of a doorway. After a few exploratory holes I put the junior demolition squad to work. Child labor rocks. When all the rubble and framing was stripped away a perfectly preserved closet doorway emerged. From the discoloration on the floor we also can see where two pre-bathroom closets were. One was a linen closet in the hall, that's what the doorway was for, the other was a large bedroom closet. We plan on restoring them both.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Here it is. It is 972 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath, one car garage, built in 1953. Our eldest son says it looks kind of like a farmhouse, which is cool because that is exactly what it will be.
It sits on 7800 square feet of gently sloping land. Plenty of growing room but we will be making dozens of trips to the Miramar landfill for free mulch and compost before we can use it, as it's almost entirely clay.
All we know for sure about last occupants is that there were at least ten of them according to our new next door neighbors. Yes, that's right, less than a hundred square feet per person. They were attempting to put in a second bathroom before the bank gave them the boot. The only plumbing that was done was a branch to the sewer line. Unfortunately it was poorly done and leaks. Also unfortunately, the walls they put in made the master bedroom unusably small and without a closet.
The backdoor is the wrong size and is nailed shut.
This is the living room. The whole interior has poorly applied semi gloss paint in funky colors. A lot of it is so badly applied that it can be scraped off with a fingernail.
The kitchen looked dirty but usable at first. Then we realized that there was no place for a fridge to hook up except over by the window in the space we need for dining area. Then we looked under the sink. It looks bad but the mildew smell is the really juicy part! Plus the water damage is probably irreparable.
The garage had no door. In its place is a plywood panel. We think it was being used as a bedroom. There is an odd drop ceiling that is lower than the top of the kitchen door. The ceiling also has gaping holes. Obviously it needs to go, but it's not a top priority.