DIY Nightmares – an Introduction to Home Owner Hell

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It’s a bit daunting submitting the first blog post (that I know of, aside from test blogs) to DIY StackExchange – well, to any new blog, really, but especially to a community blog site that’s just getting off the ground.  Not only are you setting the tone for your own blogs to come, but you’re also kind of doing it for the entire community, which in my case is a particularly precarious position to be in, since I’m kind of naturally a smart-ass (kind of is, in this case, not so much an understatement as it is a supreme understatement to end all understatements…).

So anyway – this is me.  I’m known as Greebo – which for non Fantasy readers is a quasi-magical cat from Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” series.  “The Evil” comes from my reputation as an “evil overlord” on the various forums I’ve administered over the years.  None of the previous paragraph (save my name) has any bearing on DIY projects except to tell you a bit about myself and clue you in to my writing style, which is something akin to rambling prose with a healthy dash of stream of consciousness thrown in.

I hail from the Baltimore, Maryland region which lies on the eastern coast of The United States of America (for our foreign readers) on the continent of North America (for our foreign readers who don’t know where the USA is), on the planet Earth (for our REALLY foreign readers).  The climate is humid all the time except when it’s cold.  I’m not a fan, but there you are, this is where I live.


If you want any more detail on where I live, you’ll have to buy me dinner. 🙂

So – a bit more about me and why I’m blogging on a DIY site.  In addition to my own house, which was built in 1940 and pretty much needs to be gutted inside and out and top to bottom, my wife and I also manage three other properties (1 ours, 2 my mother in laws) which are rental properties.  We end up needing to do a LOT of work on these properties at time, and financially its just more economical to do a lot of it ourselves.

To give you a real idea what my own house needs – the plumbing is galvanized, the electrical ISN’T knob and tube but IS the old armored/cable with fabric/cloth insulation that’s now so deteriorated that it’s all black (hot line? what’s a hot line?) and if you touch it, it crumbles, there’s no insulation in the walls (except in our office which we gutted a few years back), and our HVAC is really just HV and there’s no air return on the 2nd floor, so the AC does nothing up there, plus the AC died 2 days before Hurricane Irene came through.

So in fact, for a few months, this blog will be historical in nature, as I look over photos and see what projects were well enough documented to post about, because right now we’re in a major “save money” mode in order to upgrade the electrical panel to 200A and add a new HVAC system in the attic before late spring of 2012.

So to start, I thought I’d show you my basement.  Here it is:

Our basement

(Dog not included)

Bit of a mess, isn’t it?

Actually, it’s an improvement over what used to be there, but you don’t know me well enough yet to see that.

The goal in this basement is rather involved – because before we finish it, we really want to upgrade ALL the electrical (many non grounded outlets in my house) and the plumbing (galvanized, did I mention?) really needs replacing as well.

To give you an idea of what I’m facing, have a look at this wall:

The previous owners built that wall (and several others which are now gone).  As you can see, there’s a washer fixture there – so you can guess that our washer and dryer are back there.  What you probably can’t guess is what it looks like back there.

So here it is:

Yes.  That’s a basement door behind the dryer.  And no, those aren’t dirty undies, they’re curtains or something…

See, the previous owner was SO smart, they decided to turn this:

into this:

Brilliant – right?  And yes, I know, I used it as storage too, but only until I built the new shed (pics not on this computer).  Now it looks like this again:

But in addition to putting the w/d where they did, they also walled up the area they were in AFTER putting them in place.  How do I know this?  Because one day our washer died, and in order to remove it, I had to do this!

Yep – had to literally cut the door frame out to remove the washer and bring in the new one.

So, eventually we need to get through that door again, which means the w/d need to move, so the plan is to move them over under that window that you saw in the first picture of our basement.  But then we have a lot of plans, and we have a lot of nightmares in this house – and this?  This is just the teaser to get you interested.  😉

(Did I mention… evil?)

So – hopefully you’ll enjoy walking with me, through the past first, but eventually (once we have $$ for it) in the future as well, as we continue to explore and discover the hell that is our (my wife’s and I, not yours and my, obviously) home , and the steps we (my wife and I… ok you got it, good…) take to turn Hell into Heaven.

Hammer safely!


profile for The Evil Greebo at Home Improvement, Q&A for contractors and serious DIYers

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  • ktsmama says:

    Thanks for the intro. Good luck with your “projects”.

  • Ceashels says:

    omg! I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    G’s wife

  • Russ says:

    Just checking in.

    Nice start to the project and I’m anxious to see how the re-wiring goes.

  • Russ says:

    Looks like no dinner for Greebo tonight.

    By the way… “The Evil” is just a given, so it won’t be used when I address you, Greebo.

  • Celia says:

    Most of my DYI is food and craft related. I try to leave the heavy stuff to the multitude of engineers in the family. Think I’ll point my brother (the local DYI-er) here.

  • GraceisOTL says:

    Nice project pics, Greebo! I started preparing my kitchen subfloor with Redgard today. With luck, I’ll be applying the self-leveling compound on Thursday.

  • Darlene says:

    Wow, all these projects should keep you out of trouble for a while Greebo. My best to you and remember, safety first. 😉

  • Basement Doors says:

    Seems you’ve got a lot of work to do Greebo but I think it will be interesting. Please update us on how the projects turned out. Good luck!

  • Handyman says:

    Lots of work Greebo!! Good Luck for that

  • Trishagirl says:

    Wow Yes talk about a nightmare you got that right Greebo! I can’t wait to see when it all finished.

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