Category Archives: Adventures in Remodeling

Stuff We Don’t (Usually) Teach You In Law School

JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG: FUN AT DCJ explains the various steps needed for a lawyer to see a client in the Dade County Jail. It's not easy.

For some odd reason this story reminds me of an incident when we were fixing up our house. We were having trouble getting a permit for one of the many many steps involved in the remodeling, and the contractor suggested that we consider hiring a “permit babe”. What's that?, we asked. It seems a permit babe is an out-of-work or underemployed Miami model who moonlights as a permit runner — someone who takes your paperwork to the city and gets it approved.

Runners are commonly used by people who don't have time to stand in line — it can be a long wait — and also because they know the system, and know who to talk to if the front-line staff balk at approving the drawings and forms.

Permit babes, we were told, take this one better. They do all the things runners do, but they do them in very short skirts, which often speeds the permit process considerably.

(We did not hire a permit babe. It took a year and half to get our approval.)

Posted in Adventures in Remodeling, Law: Criminal Law | 1 Comment

How to Speed Clean Your Kitchen — Not.

We now have a nice new kitchen. In fact, although I haven’t blogged about his in ages, we have about 98% of a nice new house, only about a year and a half behind schedule. This means there is less daily angst, but there is more to clean. An article with the enticing title of How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen thus seems very enticing.

Alas, step one reads like this:

1. Fill sink to the rim with very hot water; add one cup regular bleach. Soak for one hour.
2. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
3. Scrub with Ajax, Bon Ami, or baking soda.
4. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
5. Shine with Windex or another glass-cleaning spray. Dry thoroughly.

Now I’m sure this is fine advice but anything that takes an hour and then requires several more steps is not my idea of speed cleaning.

Posted in Adventures in Remodeling | 5 Comments

Where Have All the Contractors Gone?

We started our rather extreme home renovation project a mere 15 months ago. The contractor predicted it would take eight months. Admittedly we did have three hurricane scares along the way which required we demobilize, setting back the schedule. Even so, it's been a long time.

The interior of our home is now 95% finished, and what's done is on the whole very nice. But random things remain to be done here and there in every room, most cosmetic, a few rather more functional. The exterior is less far along, as the stucco guy left two walls looking tumorous, and other one quite poorly patched. So that needs sorting before painting. And the front of the house is still a gravel pit. I have some faith that our contractor, a man with pride of craft, will make it good in the end. Eventually.

The problem is that as we get closer to completion, the work gets done asymptotically slower. Yesterday, the foreman announced that he would be on our job every day until it finished. Today, no one turned up.

Which is perhaps why I took little joy in this otherwise amusing story, Fort Pierce homeowner gets free roof after contractor mixes up addresses. I can just imagine our work crew somewhere else…

Posted in Adventures in Remodeling | 3 Comments

Temporarily UnHomed

For the next two nights we'll be unhomed as they are going to varnish the floors with something that is awful to breath but lovely to look at. We had hoped to be at this stage about, oh, last summer, when it would have been far less disruptive to our lives, but there you are.

The good news is that this milestone means there are only a few major stages to go in our project: painting the inside and out of the old half of the house (we're living in the new half now), building the new driveway, doing all the little things that got skipped along the way, and fixing the mistakes that are fixable (so far there appear to be remarkably few mistakes, but that doesn't mean they are easy to fix). Then it's getting the stuff out of storage, figuring where it goes, window treatments, and landscaping. At this rate, I feel confident that we will be in position to have 'Housewarming – The ReBoot' this calendar year!

Coincidentally, the law school will also be closed for part of the long weekend because one of the buildings has to be tented for termites.

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Moving Day

It's moving day today: we're taking all our stuff from the front half of the house where we've been living for a year in cramped conditions, and moving to the brand new back half of the house, where we will live in cramped conditions while the front half is rehabbed. In theory this rehab process should only take a month. Or two. Or who knows. Anyway, no posting today unless I have a lot more pep than I expect to still have after dinner.

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Home Network Installation: First Problem

I ordered, and was properly billed and invoiced for, a patch panel . It was delivered while I was away. When I opened the box, I found that I was sent a piece of metal with holes in it.

Grrrrr. Nobody at Lanshack is home today, it being a federal holiday, but tomorrow they better sort this out.

Update: While I was writing this, someone from Lanshack answered my email from this morning. It's a model of how to deal with an error:

We obviously made an error and sent you the wrong patch panels. I can ship you the correct (loaded) cat 5e patch panels on Tuesday (7/5) and they would arrive to you on Friday (7/9). Would this work for your schedule?

As for the return of the other panels; if I were to send you a UPS prepaid return label by email would you be able to print and attach it to the package and give it to a UPS driver?

I apologize for the error and any inconvenience that it may have caused you.

And it's even signed by a particular employee, in case I want to follow up.

Mistakes happen to anyone—and this is much better coping than you often see.

Posted in Adventures in Remodeling | 4 Comments

Home Network Installation: Real Soon Now

Our home remodelling project is advancing, but slowly. This week they put on the doors and windows in the new part of the house (we are still in Phase I: build new part; Phase II is 'rehab old part'; we were supposed to be finished with it all by now.) The plumbing and electric is mostly done and the ducting. If all goes well, the network guy is coming Real Soon Now to wire the home network…

Meanwhile I have to spec out the equipment. We settled on structured cat 5e cable that will handle phones and the network. I think I've picked a router and a switch, although I haven't ordered either. The old wireless router and switch will be relegated to serving as a mere access point and run off a different part of the network.

I ordered patch panels and also a wall mount for them as I still don't have a clear idea of what sort of rack or other platform I need to hold the gear. Something pint-sized compared to the professional gear, I'd imagine. Maybe this?

The gear is going to live wedged in a very wide closet about 26”deep, with the patch panel living on the 26” wall. In the fullness of time it may hold more switches, a server or two, some phone gear, and who knows what. I think I want a rack with wheels rather than the kind you screw into the floor and (9') ceiling, but beyond that there seem to be a bewildering number of choices, all of which need accessories to hold anything.

Of course, I won't get to use any of this stuff until that side of the house has the electricity turned on and is ready to move into. I just hope that installing the new network doesn't require pulling the plug on the existing, temporary, DSL connection. If it does, I may have to try pointing a Pringles can at the University.

Posted in Adventures in Remodeling | 3 Comments