More men about the house

We’ve been in our house for a little less than five years now, and almost since the beginning, we’ve talked about replacing the main entry doors (the front door and the side door to the patio). The original wood doors were inefficient, and the framing was a bit out of square, meaning I could never get them to weatherseal properly, something I was reminded of every winter when the temps dropped and the cold air worked its way in through the seals.

After this year, no more. We finally decided to get the doors replaced. In their places are new foam-filled steel doors, both with nice tight seals. Each door also has a new storm door with built-in screens and glass (yay—no more swapping out screens and glass inserts every spring and winter!)—in fact, the storms are so solid, you can have the entry doors open on a moderate winter day and the storms themselves keep most of the cold out.

So a big shout-out to Dave and Greg with Hamann Carpentry for the work they did on our doors. If you’re looking for a great outfit for almost any carpentry need around the house in the southern New Hampshire area, give Dave a call. (In fact, we’ve already got plans to enlist his services again after the New Year for some closet work.)

The only hiccup: Poor scheduling on my part. I mean, really—who in their right mind schedules work involving putting a hole in your exterior walls (in this case, ripping out the original doors) during late December? In New England. D’oh.

Men about the house

Good service should be rewarded, so here are a couple of rewards:

  • After procrastinating on this for, oh, the better part of the last two years, we finally decided to get serious about getting gutters for the house; this summer’s extreme wetness finally cinched it for us, what with all the resulting mustiness (and, unfortunately, mold) in the basement. After going through the requisite investigations, the one we ended up choosing was East Coast Gutters, local guys out of Hollis, NH. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but by far the ones who had the most professional and detailed presentation and the ones who gave off the best “vibe” (not that I would go around recommending that this should be how you choose someone to work on your house, but in this case, it worked for us!). And I can now say that I would unconditionally recommend them to anyone looking to have gutters put up at their house. The crew that showed up was just as impressive as the initial pitch, and the job they did was first class—well-done, clean, professional from top to bottom. And yes, the new gutters look great, too. So many thanks to Jules and his crew at East Coast Gutters! (even if it took us two years to finally get to you…)

  • Another thing we’ve always wanted to do (and this goes back to when we lived in Texas) but, again, never quite got around to doing was have a professional home energy audit. And truth be known, we were probably getting close to finally breaking down and paying for someone to come out and do it, what with the cold winters up here and the impending spending on heating oil for the coming season. But as luck would have it, my sweetie—who seems to have a knack for winning these sorts of things—won a drawing for a free home energy audit from Energy Audits Unlimited out of Manchester, NH. And what we ended up receiving was not some cursory, token inspection, but rather a comprehensive, top-to-bottom inspection from basement to attic that took the better part of two hours. As it turns out, our house is actually not in too bad a shape (especially for being around 50 years old!), but as we had hoped, the inspection turned up a couple of areas where we could definitely make some improvement. So a big thanks to (and recommendation for) Paul and company at Energy Audits Unlimited! We’re looking forward to having them out again (this time on our dime) after we fix things up.


There are surprises—and then there are surprises.

I’ve previously spelled out our woes at trying to get our Comcast CDV (cable, data, video) services set up at the new place. The good news is they’re all set up now (and have been for about a week and a half now). The bad news is it unnecessarily cost us a little over $200 that we shouldn’t have had to spend. The better news is that it didn’t. Explanation ahead…

The short history: When the original Comcast technician came out to install our services, he spent less than five minutes looking around the place before declaring unilaterally that (a) the cable setup wasn’t properly grounded, so (b) he couldn’t install any of our services per Comcast rules, and (c) we’d have to hire a licensed electrician to ground the setup. Well, pooh, but okay, fine.

So the electrician comes out (the next day, as luck would have it) and grounds the setup (the electrician says he used to work for Comcast—more luck!—and this should be more than good for them), and that little visit cost us over $200. But yippee, now Comcast could come back out. I promptly turned around and rescheduled our installation appointment for a few days from then.

The second Comcast technician comes out (a different tech—this turns out to be important). He notices the grounding setup and declares it a fine setup—but not exactly what Comcast wants. Wha—?? So what does he do? He goes back to his truck, gets some gear, and promptly starts installing a new grounding setup. Well, this is new, but at this point, I don’t say a word about what’s gone on previously and just let him go about his merry way.

The rest of the (re)install goes flawlessly. As he’s wrapping up, my curiosity finally gets the better of me. I explain to him about the failed initial installation, how we had actually paid to have that new grounding setup installed (per the original tech’s request), and gee, why is it that he (the second tech) took the time to fix the improper ground when the first tech had punted? His response? “We’ve been instructed that if there’s something that’s broken that prevents services from being set up, it’s our job to make sure things get fixed so that services can be set up, period.” (or words to that effect).

OK… well, that’s great and all, but sh*t, now we’ve spent over $200 that we shouldn’t have had to spend at all. I was a bit peeved; when the wife found about what had happened, she was furious. I tried to tell her that, historically, cable companies haven’t exactly been the most responsive in the world to complaints, but that we’d try anyway. And thus began a series of calls between us, Comcast, and the outfit that Comcast contracts with locally to install services.

Rough timeline:

  • Call Comcast to explain what had happened and ask what they were going to do about it, since we’d obviously been given incorrect information. The customer service rep (and her supervisor) agree that this shouldn’t have happened, but that they (Comcast proper) couldn’t do anything about it. They referred it directly to the contractor and said I should hear from the contractor supervisor by the end of the next business day. No promises as to what might actually result from all of this. (This all happened on a Friday, so that meant waiting til the following Monday. Grrrrrrr.)
  • First surprise: Monday, we promptly hear back from the contractor. They inform us that the install-at-all-costs decision was actually very recent, which could explain the differing tech stories. But they agreed that we were probably wronged when it came down to it. We arranged for him to come out, look at the new setup, and get a copy of the invoice from the electrician.
  • A rep for the supervisor does indeed come out later in the week, looks things over, and takes the copy of the invoice. Says they can’t necessarily promise anything, but they’d see what they could do. Says we should hear back by Monday at the latest. Oh joy.
  • Monday comes… no word from anybody. Hmmmm. Make a note to contact them Tuesday.
  • Second (and more shocking) surprise: Tuesday (before we actually called anyone), a rep for the contractor comes out and hands us a check covering the full cost of the electrician, offers his apologies, and has us sign something saying that everything was OK and that this matter was closed. Which we gladly did, ’cause, I mean, what more could we have expected them to do?

So, somewhat shockingly, this story has a very happy ending. The cable, internet, and phone all work great, my opinion of the local Comcast outfit went up by leaps and bounds, and in the end, it didn’t cost us a penny for installation. And they lived happily ever after.

Movin’ on up

Or, at the very least, movin’ on out.

We received word late yesterday that an offer was forthcoming on our house back in Texas. And this morning, it happened—we officially received an offer to buy our house. And we accepted. Oh sure, they was the usual offer/counter-offer dickering (well, one round of it), but in the end, we said yes. We’re not going to make any money off the deal—we’re just breaking even—but given today’s housing market back in the D/FW area, we didn’t feel we could ask for the moon.

All that remains is the home inspection by the buyers and the actual closing. Oh, did I mention that the buyers want to close and have us out of the house by the 25th of this month? And that today’s already the 7th, and our house back in McKinney is still full of our furniture and most of our belongings? And that our current apartment lease up here doesn’t go up til the end of October? Yikes.

Follow-up (Aug 26, 2005): And then it was done—we now own no assets in the state of Texas.