Monday, April 28, 2008

I Found a Refuge

Dear Home Owner,

Faced with yet another weekend filled with personal frustration trying to reach the end of the seemingly endless list of household projects, I was grateful when David (my son, see picture below) asked me if I would like to help him with a project this past Saturday.

It meant that I would have to finish my Saturday chores early in the morning before heading downtown OKC to help with his project. But what the heck.

7:30 am I donned shorts a long-sleeved T-shirt and sunglasses and went outside. I started the mower, cut and trimmed the yard, watered the plants and then had a bowl of cereal (Raisin Nut Crunch) before we headed downtown.

I was a bit nervous because I didn't quite know what to expect nor what I would find to do when we arrived.

Once we found parking (which was not easy since the Annual Festival of the Arts was going on just a couple of blocks away) we made our way to a building currently under renovation. We met Tim (see picture below) who I can best describe as the driving force behind this undertaking. I shook his hand and asked him what he called the place and he said, we call it "Refuge".

My son took me upstairs through what at first seemed a labyrinth of stairs and hallways to a room that he proudly declared to be, "the room he has adopted". Over the past four weeks he and some of his Fraternity buddies have come down and poured hours of labor into making the room ready to remodel.

You see this particular building was recently a drug house and someone chose David's room as the target for a Molotov cocktail. When the young men first started the renovation the room was completely charred black. When we walked in this past Saturday, the walls had been scrapped and the flooring had been removed.

We spent the day with several volunteers from the University of Central Oklahoma (see picture below - thanks ladies!) and some teenagers from out of state making a few more baby steps toward the apartment's completion.

The one small closet in the apartment had to be stripped of plaster board and the lathing because of the fire. The bathroom still needed to be cleaned of soot and we spread over 15 gallons of wall texture on the concrete walls to prepare them to receive paint.

For the hours we worked there I forgot all about the projects that needed to be done at home. And I was actually happy working with some other volunteers. HomeOwnerGoneMad had found a refuge in this volunteer labor.

I want to challenge the readers of my blog to join me over the next few weeks to help complete this apartment renovation. We need some labor and some supplies in order to meet the May 30th deadline.

Here's a list:
  • We need to rip out and replace the Sheetrock in the ceiling (about 6 sheets)
  • We need to install new Sheetrock in the small closet (about 3 sheets)
  • We need to rip out and install new counter tops for the small kitchen (we need the counter top)
  • We need laminate flooring for the kitchen (about 10 x 12) and perhaps some sub flooring to make the installation smooth.
  • We still have more texture to spread on the walls before we paint.
  • We need paint for the walls
  • We need a bathroom sink faucet (it's a unique fitting)
  • We need tile for the shower floor (about 3x3 - it's a small shower) and thin set and grout.
  • We need a closet door and entry door (I'll have to get the dimensions)
  • We need a Futon (the living/bedroom are one in the same)
  • We need pillows
  • We need sheets and blankets
  • We need a bookcase
  • We need books
  • We need a CD player and Cd's (with appropriate music)
  • We need a couple of window blinds
  • We need an area rug or two
  • We need a dual electric burner
  • We need dishes (set of four; bowls, plates, cups)
  • We need eating utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
  • We need dishtowels
  • We need pots and pans
  • We need a microwave
  • We need a dish drying rack
  • We need serving dishes
  • We need measuring, cooking and serving utensils
  • We need a can opener
  • We need storage containers for left over food items
  • We need a scrubber for dishes
  • We need a shower curtain
  • We need a shower caddy

If any of this touches your heart, please leave me a comment. I would welcome your donation of time or any of the above listed items.

Join me and my son as we work with others to create a refuge in downtown OKC where the needy can find their permanent eternal refuge in Jesus Christ.

Trey Bowden

Friday, April 25, 2008

Help I Think My House Is Haunted!

Dear Home Owner,

I swear my new house is haunted! Who has ever heard of such a thing? I could understand a haunting if this were an older home that had been the location of some horrific murder or suicide. But it’s a brand new house; and it’s not constructed on some ancient burial site. The closest cemetery is miles away!

Over the past few days I’ve heard a spooky moaning coming from the back patio area. These noises usually happen in the evening hours when both my wife and I are home. Yes, she’s heard them too.

To make matters worse, the weather has been a bit unusual which serves to enhance the overall creepiness of the sounds.

Until a few days ago I enjoyed sitting on my back patio. But recently the Oklahoma wind has been “sweeping down the plain” and threatening to level anything that dares get in its way. So we’ve been forced inside.

This is just as well. The creepy moaning seems to get worse when the wind blows. The harder it blows, the louder the moaning gets and the higher its pitch. When the wind blows softly, the moaning sound is low and intermittent.

It makes going to sleep at night a bit of a challenge. I can still hear the sounds in our bedroom. I haven’t slept well since the noises started. Between the strange sounds and my worrying that the consistent high winds will create some shingle work for me to do, I’m turning into a nervous wreck.

I either need someone to recommend a good exorcist or offer some other suggestion to stop the noises. It’s driving me nuts!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Making a Back Yard

Dear Home Owner,

A brand new home, that's what we bought July 19, 2007. A nice large lot, 2,500 s.f. home. 6ft. privacy fence (that I didn't ask my friend to help install - see post Monday April 21, 2008), fully sodded front and back yards with sprinkler system, plenty of landscaping in the front, but absolutely none in the back yard.

That's how I introduce the subject of today's post.

I walk out my back door, step out on my covered patio and have similar feelings to what the Almighty must have had when he stepped out on the edge of nothing to begin creating everything.

No, that's not quite accurate.

I feel more like I'm standing before a blank canvas with instructions to paint a masterpiece that will endure the test of time.

No, that's not it either.

The best word to describe the way I feel is, overwhelmed. I don't have a solid clue what to do. I have several ideas, but they are more smoke than substance.

I need some real help. So I turn to several Internet landscaping websites.

There are some nice ones out there.

Here's one:

Here's another:

So I made a few selections but before ordering I printed off the ideas and took them to a local nursery, TLC. Glad I did.

I spent about 20 minutes with their in-store garden specialist. Out of the 20 various plants and bushes I had selected from the websites, she showed me eight of them that won't grow well here in central Oklahoma.

Bottom line: look on-line, but compare their suggestions with the experts at your local garden nursery.

Now Let's Get Busy,


Monday, April 21, 2008

Building Fences and Meeting Neighbors

Dear Home Owner,

About two weeks ago I closed a mortgage for a poker buddy of mine. The closing was at 2:00 pm and by 3:00 p.m. he and I were headed to his new house to move in his new furniture.

We called in a couple of "young bucks" to help move the really heavy things. This allowed us to do what we both do best; lawn chair supervision. One of his new neighbors came by to welcome him to the neighborhood. I stood to greet her but my friend scarcely looked away from his managerial responsibilities to acknowledge her.

Gladis introduced herself, "I'm a member of the homeowners association. I've been watching you move in; you have some nice things."

"Uh-huh", my friend grunted. "Hey!" he howled. "You guys be careful with my gun safe; it's loaded!"

Gladis made another attempt at connecting with her new neighbor. "My husband and I retired a couple of years ago and moved into the neighborhood and we just love it. What do you do for a living?"

My friend stood and pointed to his fourteen-foot trailer, "My name's John and I sell stuff out of that". His attention was diverted back to the activities of the young bucks.

Now, I know my friend, and I know he's just playing with the lady. But Gladis didn't get it and was clearly uncomfortable.

"What kind of, uh, things do you sell, John?"

"Nuts, bolts, wire, electrical fittings, various tools; things used in manufacturing. Everyday I pull my trailer to my customer's businesses and restock these supplies."

Less annoyed, but more confused, Gladis managed her best, "That's interesting".


She finally spoke, "Well, I can see you're busy...I'll let you finish moving in."

John just smiled and said, "See you later." Gladis walked down the drive way and we both resumed the more pressing task of lawn chair administration.

After the heavy stuff was in place the young bucks left and we finished the move-in by about 10:00 that evening. "Finished", that word has a wide span of subjective meanings. Well, let me put it this way; I was finished.

Fast-forward a few days...

The next Saturday I was back out there helping put up stockade fence. Not that my friend is crazy about spending the money, but his subdivision has covenants which stipulate that the trailer he uses for business must be parked behind a fence. So, like it or not, he's committed to putting up a fence.

Never mind that the trailer is eleven-feet tall and the fence is only eight-feet tall. And never mind that the south property line (where the fence will be installed is over two-hundred feet long) and the fence we will be installing is only one-hundred feet long. "Hey, it's behind a fence" my friend shrugs.

The galvanized heavy duty tubular steel fence posts were already secured by concrete in the ground. Most fences of this type are installed using pre-fabricated fencing panels. These panels typically come in eight-foot sections constructed on three 1x3 runners. For most applications these panels are more than adequate.

But not for my friend. No. He calls this, "The easy way out".

We install sixteen-feet long 2x4 runners and then attached each four-inch wide eight-foot tall fence panel with six, three-inch wood screws. Thank the tool gods for cordless 18 volt hand drills.

By the end of the day we had put up just about one-hundred feet of fence and it was beautiful. Just two problems. There are still just over four-hundred feet of fencing to put up. At one-hundred feet of fencing per friend, I believe my friend has enough resources to put up about another two-hundred feet of fence. Second problem, I think Gladis is President of the homeowners association.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tumble in the Closet

Dear Home Owner,

After bowling last night I called my wife to let her know I was on my way home. "I'll be there in a few minutes" I said.

"I can't wait" said she.

"Why?" said I.

"I've got a surprise for you when you get home...just come find me in the closet."

I paused to gather my thoughts; and with one side of my mouth sneaking up into a sideways smile I said, "I can't wait, baby".

"Just don't get a ticket" she warned.

"I won't" I assured. Then pressed the "end" button and the accelerator at the same time.

I put my bowling ball on the shelf in the garage, walked into the house, made my way back to our bedroom. The lights were dim but my spirits were bright. I turned to walk through the bathroom and into our large master closet.

"Baby, I'm home." I used my most loving tone of voice.

"I'm in the closet."

As if I didn't already know.

"I'm coming in to get my surprise" I announced with anticipation.

I opened the door and found the love of my life lying on the floor that was covered with at least two feet of her clothes. I wondered why the carpet wasn't good enough for our rendezvous, but this was her surprise; so whatever.

It was then I noticed that she wasn't wearing anything that even closely resembled sexy.

After processing my disappointment I noticed that the clothes she was laying on were still on hangers. Then I noticed that the two "out of season" clothes rods that usually hung ten-feet off the floor, were actually laying on the floor.

"Surprise" she said. "I was moving all my winter clothes to the top rack and had just finished when the whole thing fell.

We moved all her clothes out of the closet and put them on our bed, and I repaired the rods. After that we were too tired to re-hang the clothes. So we made our way to one of the other bedrooms and as we crawled between the sheets I said, "Hey baby, if you're not too tired, I have a surprise of my own."

Even through her half-closed eyes I still got the "you've-got-to-be-kidding" look.

"C'mon sweetie" I said, halfway begging.

She quickly let me know that she was not in the mood.

"I just wanted you to know that tonight you'll be sleeping with the Bowler of the Week."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

9 Repairs that will make your home sellable

Dear Home Owner,

So you're getting ready to sell your home. Sure you want the best offer but you know people are going to try and "low-ball" your asking price. Well, here are 9 suggestions that will help you get the best offers...and who knows you might even get your asking price.

  1. Shine up entries - This means make sure storm doors are in good working order and that your front door looks good. You may need to repaint the door an attractive color and you should consider replacing the hardware. New front doors create a powerful "Wow! Factor".
  2. Spiff up the roof - Replace worn, torn or missing shingles. And re-brace sagging gutters. A neat clean roof gives potential buyers a good safe feeling.
  3. Clean and caulk gutters - Speaking of gutters, make sure they are clean of leaves and other debris. And if there are any leaky spots, caulk them to prevent leaking.
  4. Freshen up the air - If someone in your house smokes, you have to clear out this odor. The same goes for pet odors. Regardless of whether or not potential buyers smoke or are pet lovers, no one likes walking into a house with offensive odors. If you're the smoker and your smeller is broken, ask a neighbor to come over and give it the "sniff test" before and after you've addressed this smelly situation.
  5. Replace worn or torn flooring - Don't try and hide it with a throw rug or a coffee table, fix it. Potential buyers will more than likely notice your vain attempts at collusion and immediately wonder, "if they are trying to hide this, what else are they not telling us?"
  6. Patch nail holes and repaint - Some nail holes can be addressed with a touch of paint. But if the hold is sizeable or it's been some time since you repainted, use spackle and repaint the entire wall.
  7. Fix leaky plumbing - If a faucet drips, replace the washers. If a toilet leaks, replace the wax seal. If the toilet constantly runs, you probably need to replace the flapper. And make certain all floor drains drain the way they are supposed to drain.
  8. Touch up dingy baseboards - Wipe them down, touch them up and if necessary, repaint them.
  9. Repair scratched cabinets - The way your kitchen looks is important to any potential buyer, and if your cabinets are scratched or damaged, fix the damage and make your kitchen look it's best. The same goes for bathroom cabinets and any built-ins.

If you think these ideas constitute "overkill" then tour several homes in your area that are for sale, especially those that have been on the market for quite some time. See if they have made these repairs. More than likely they have not been made. No wonder they are still on the market.

Okay, let's get to work!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's The Buzz?

Dear Home Owner,

Making the American Dream of home ownership bearable. That's what this blog is about.

Posts will offer an understanding ear, a sympathetic sholder and a periodic "man up" kick-in-the-butt. (Attention Ladies: the previous "man up" reference is intended in the fullest and most politically correct generic sense of the word.)

Who hasn't been so frustrated with something about their home that they wish they had never bought it? Escalating monthly payments, recurring water problems, pests that won't go away, settling foundations, smoking wiring along with all the other challenges that eventually make every home owner go crazy!

But now you don't have to face these situations alone...I'm here to not only listen to your problems, but to add to your general sense of confusion by telling you what I would do if I were in your situation.

In this blog you'll learn about:

  1. Top 7 ways to position your home for quick and profitable sale.
  2. 13 key staging tips that will maximize your homes appeal to guests or potential buyers.
  3. 100's of ways to save money on run-of-the-mill repairs.
  4. 6 ways to avoid foreclosure (if you're in that position)
  5. 8 things your realtor must have before you agree to let them sell your home.
  6. Dozens of ways to landscape your yard on the cheap.
  7. 5 home buying negotiating secrets that will get you the home you want at the price you can afford.
  8. I'll show you how to uncover and eliminate hidden fees in your next mortgage.
  9. I'll introduce you to some professionals who can help you deal with the madness that often accompanies home ownership.

This blog will be updated at least twice each week and sometime more often than that; so you might want to click the subscribe button and automatically receive the updates.

I read comments and respond to as many as time permits. Hopefully you'll share a link to this site with other home owners you know.

Okay...Let's get to work!