Home improvements part 1: New deck

It occurred to me that I haven’t written about the epic home improvement odyssey we’ve been on for the last few months. The story really started in the fall of 2005, a few months after we bought the house. When it rains in Austin, it really rains. You can hear what a typical storm sounds like by downloading a recording I made. (It’s binaural, so listen with headphones for full effect.


At the weekend I cleaned the windows. A downside to a 2-storey house that I hadn’t considered is the difficulty of cleaning the windows on the upper floor. Rather than clamber on the roof or try to handle an 8m ladder, I bought a dispenser of window cleaner that attaches to the hose and sprays suds quite a distance. You then leave them for 15-20 seconds, and hose off. It did an adequate job.

Exquisite timing

Things are beginning to settle down. The house is gradually turning from a box storage warehouse into a home, and a semblance of normal life is returning. Finances are depleted, but that’s only to be expected. Still, what better time for life to give me a swift kick in the nether regions, huh? So yes, I’ve just been told that it would be a good idea to update my résumé…

House stuff

Time Warner turned up yesterday and hooked up the Internet. We now have a nice, reliable high-speed connection again. There seems to be nobody in WiFi range who has a wireless access point; either that or they’re not broadcasting SSIDs. Reception is fabulous throughout the house. The modem and router are in the office, and I have the music server up and running again. It turned out that Time Warner have some kind of lock on their back-end systems to restrict the allowed set of MAC addresses for cable modems.

Mailboxes, etc.

One of the things we need for the new house is a mailbox. I’m quite excited about it. The Postal Service want us to get a street-side mailbox–in other words, the classic American mailbox on a stick, with a flag on it. The kind I always saw in books, but never saw for real until I moved here. On a totally unrelated note, when dialling someone’s phone number manually, it’s a good idea to not start the conversation with “Hey, what the fuck are you doing, bitch?

So let me tell you about this house thing…

When we arrived in Austin at the end of October, we didn’t expect major problems finding a house. During our visit in April we had spent an afternoon with a real estate agent, and had seen a number of suitable houses. Sure enough, the first day we went house hunting, sara walked into a place and immediately thought “This is it.” We went back when I had finished work, and I agreed.

In which disaster is averted

Yesterday was house inspection time. Although it’s a brand-new house, we opted to pay to have an experienced independent inspector spend the afternoon looking at it with us. The short summary: If you ever buy a house, even a new house, you must get it inspected. If you’re buying a house in Austin TX, I would highly recommend contacting Brent Hays. The construction has some major structural defects. For instance, someone decided it would be a good idea to build the decks with no gaps between the boards and the boards sandwiched into load-bearing columns.