Katie and Joel.com



Our Home, Improvement, and Repair


So here's a small bit of what we've been up to.


Homeownership has been something of a rude awakening for us.  Initially, because of how bloody stressful closing was.  Then, because of the recurring joy of mortgage payments.  But since then, it's the unending "Honey-Do" list.  Ours is at seven pages right now, though to be fair, half the items we do were never even put on the list in the first place.  It's not all bad, of course.  It's wonderfully exciting to have control for once.  But as of yet, the place doesn't <quite> feel like ours, and the to-do list is just a bit overwhelming.

We started with the painting and cleaning, and since then have moved on to the small repairs, and even smaller improvements, that seem to present themselves endlessly.  Our yard doesn't drain, our crawlspace is littered with construction debris, we have a leak in the roof, the handrail on the stairs is loose, the grout is in desperate need of replacement, the carpet is nasty, the garage floor could qualify as modern art, the sinks are gunked up with years of washing hair down the drain, telephone lines don't run into the den, the blinds in the master bedroom don't close, there's no lock on the sliding glass door - you get the idea.  It's just been fun.  Really.  Fun.

Anyway, the point of putting this page together was not to complain (though I'll take any opportunity I'm given), but to share a bit of the <pleasure>, mostly with the folks back in Michigan.  We haven't been too good about chronicling our adventures so far, but we'll do our best from here on out. 

Garage door torsion spring -

They blew out in our duplex a few months ago. The second one only a few weeks behind the first. Fatigue failures. Open the door 10,000 times, give or take a few percent, and the spring will break. Especially if it's particularly cold out (first cold snap of the year, for us). This happened on our second full weekend in the house. <sigh>

Torsion spring DOUBLE FAILURE

Our spring not only decided to commit sepuko - it did it in TWO PLACES. Quite the failure. I must say, I'm impressed by it's commitment. Cost - $272

Mantle shelf.

You've seen these shelves before, right? You mount them directly to the studs, so they don't need support braces? Pretty much become "permanent fixtures" by most people's definitions. Not the previous owners. Two mantle shelves, along with addiitonal shelving in every bedroom, were removed. Plus a closet door, for good measure. Go figure.

Water damage

Not there when we inspected the home, but by the time we moved in... Ironically, it looks the inspector himself probably caused the damage by stepping on the vent cover fletching. It's not fixed yet (the damage, not the leak), so we don't know how much it'll cost.

Broken roof vent -

Here's the culprit for our damaged bathroom ceiling - the bloody attic vent cover. A hot-dog sized piece of plastic was missing from the fletching on the top of the vent. Not to worry - I sealed it up nice and tight

Roof Patch -

When in doubt, add more gunk. I was very doubtful that day.

Missing Shingle

Another gift left behind by the sellers - a missing shingle from over the garage. The gunk was all me, though.

Another vent cover

This one was only cracked, with no pieces missing. Nonetheless, I was enjoying the gunking so much that I just couldn't stop.


For Christmas, I bought Katie a radio for the kitchen that mounts under the cabinets, in order to clear up counter space.  It's much, much more convenient than using the stereo receiver in the family room.  Nonetheless, we had to mount it, and by "we", obviously I mean "I".  This happened just after Christmas.  For Christmas, my obviously sympathetic mother purchased me a new Craftsman 19.2 Volt cordless drill, which would have been PERFECT for this job.  Unfortunately, it would also have been difficult to get on the plane.  So, when we got back, while awaiting the arrival in the mail of the new drill, I had to go ahead with this project.  It's not all bad, though - it let me have one more sentimental bonding with the Makita cordless drill cast off that my Dad and Brother sent me off to California with.  The batteries hold about a half-volt of charge at this point, and it smells like burnt ozone whenever it's used.  Nonetheless, it has quite the history, and deserved one last, admittedly minor, tasking prior to its working retirement (I've been forbidden from disposing of it, it will simply become the back-up drill - you know, the one I'd rather drill through steel by hand than to even attempt to use it. 

Bare cabinets

Here's what we started with - we store the glasses on the lower shelf of each of these cabinets.

Portruding head

The radio is held in place by three screws. Unfortunately, the idiots at Sony didn't seem to think that portruding heads would be a problem into the shelf of a cabinet.

Countersink drilling

Solution - Drill a really big hole all nice and shallow like - so the surface of the shelf can be all nice and flush. This is the last drilling of the Makita.

Resulting Countersunk Hole

And here's the result - the screw heads no longer portrude, though I'm concerned that the entire thing will rip out. Oh well - I didn't have the right drill bits, or any washers, and I was tired of going to Lowes. This is what I get.


And here's the installed product

Cleaned up

With the holes spackled in - spackle because I'm convinced I'll have to take this out someday, and wood filler would be a bear. Plus, once covered with tack paper, I didn't think it'd matter.


The antenna is built into the power cord, and is tacked around the perimeter of the bottom of the second cabinet. Surprisingly, reception is fine.

Final installation

And here's the final installation. Isn't it pretty? Another item off the honey-do list that, unfortunately, was never added to the list.