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Arsenic Lupin
Apr 11, 2012

This particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard, and if it is, it doesn't matter.

My family moved to a charming 1931 house on .09 acre, on the Northern California coast. I'm not posting house pictures because the previous owner did a great job on the remodel, and all we need is some prosaic (famous last words) electrical work, the most exciting bit of which is replacing a Zinsco subpanel.

Because the wraparound loan company diddled around (do not use HomeLight; PM me for details), the sale closed in July, meaning that ours is among the first houses that has to comply with SB-63, which requires fire hardening the exterior of the home. Depending on how SB 63 is interpreted, and nobody really knows yet, I may be required to substantially rework the garden in order to be compliant with the law. "By default, the buyer must acquire confirmation within one year of the close of escrow from an Authorized Inspector in the jurisdiction of the property."

All of this stuff is a good idea anyway, given that the house overlooks a state park, meaning that we're right across the road from Wildfire Central.
The view from the dining-room window.

There are things we need to do in general: replace all vents with ember-resistant vents; move the propane tank away from its present love affair with the side of the house; replace windows, over time, with double-pane glass with one pane tempered. But the garden can't wait. We're in the middle of an apocalyptic drought. This summer, I will be removing plants but planting nothing.

Note: imgur is rendering all the images as blobs, so I'm stuck linking directly to the site. If anybody wants to tell me how to get rid of the blob: prefix before an imgurlink, I am happy to edit.

The planting strip next to the front door. All of this has to go; there should not be plants growing right up against the physical structure. In fact, there shouldn't be anything flammable within 5 feet of the house in any direction, but I'm planning on cheating a bit and planting succulents, which don't catch fire.

A narrow strip bordering the back fence. No praise, no blame. I'll have to wait for spring to see what the tree is.

The view from the deck. Note, on right, poison hemlock happily growing through the rock roses.

Decades-old rosemary. Rosemary is right up there with eucalyptus when it comes to fire risk. This is because of the aromatic resins in the foliage. These all have to go; I would normally feel guilty about killing plants that well-established, but they're a major fire danger, not least because of the large quantity of dead and dry wood in the middle. There are three of these.

Heap of rubbish thoughtfully left by previous owner. Note also wood chips, an absolutely disastrous choice of mulch. This needs to be replaced by pebbles or gravel.

After I remove all this, and with the addition of a deer-proof fence, I will have a little scope. I dream of an espaliered apple against the concrete wall behind the planters. I'm going to do my best to focus on drought-resistant plants, but I have loved vintage roses for three decades and I'm going to have a few.


Arsenic Lupin
Apr 11, 2012

This particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard, and if it is, it doesn't matter.

I promise to fix the pictures in the OP real soon.

Our house has been a beach house/vacation house for some years; our next-door neighbor said nobody's lived there full-time in the years she's lived here, and she moved in '88. This has some interesting consequences. At some point, somebody cut the wires to the doorbell and removed the pushbutton; there is no knocker. There has never been cable in the house; we had to have Comcast do a fresh cable drop and installation. The good news is that we have a brand shiny new line, attached directly to the master cable line running along Route 1, and the service is fast.

Most interesting of all, the winter heat is one (1) gas fireplace on a thermostat. It actually warms the entire house pretty well during the mid-50s summer temperatures. The two upper bedrooms have 240-volt outlets, and one upstairs closet has the ancient heater that plugged into one. We're not using the ancient heater, but our electrician encouraged us to keep the outlets, because if/when we do need upstairs heat, buying a new 240-volt appliance will be way more energy-efficient, and California electricity is $$$$. There is no heat at all in the shower room (it's not a bathroom: no toilet or sink) which is inside the converted back porch. Let me tell you, stepping out of a hot shower into a 50-degree room is an experience. We're having a GFCI outlet placed in the shower room, and will put the actual electric heater up on a shelf away from the shower stall.

Bonus: We have a Zinsco subpanel, yaaaaay! Subpanels are easier and cheaper to fix than panels, and we're having an electrician do that as soon as they're available. Rural area, they'll fit us in around larger jobs. The subpanel isn't an urgent hazard in the way that a panel would be, because if the subpanel runs amok the breaker on the modern panel will trip.

Arsenic Lupin
Apr 11, 2012

This particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard, and if it is, it doesn't matter.

The house was built in 1931, on an odd little scrap of land that was cut from the neighboring farm; it's a small rectangle that borders on the coastal highway. Someday I want to research what happened -- a house for a family member? Rental property? but I haven't yet. At some point in its early history it was actually lived in year-round. I know this because there are dedicated 240-volt outlets for electric heaters on the second floor, and you wouldn't need those here in summer. There are also stovepipe holes for a kitchen stove and a heating stove in what is now the kitchen-dining room.

The second floor is very simply finished, by which I mean that the walls are beadboard partitions, finished on both sides, with nothing in between. You can see lines on the floors where the beadboard was moved back to make room for a half-bath. The room doors are made of boards nailed together. Fortunately, we live on the second floor and the only other occupant, our son, lives on the first floor. Noise conduction isn't a big problem.

Did I mention beadboard? This is the corner of the bedroom we sleep in. It isn't, legally, a bedroom because it doesn't have a closet; as a result, the house is taxed as having 3 bedrooms rather than 4. The closet was part of the space partitioned off for the half-bath.

Yes, those are four different kinds of board. The facing wall is a fifth; it's plywood grooved to look like beadboard.

After close, the previous owner asked if he could leave the furniture behind. We said sure, because it would let us move in earlier; movers were booking four weeks out at the time. In fact, the movers are coming today, I hope. The stuff behind was the usual summer-house mix, but some of it was wonderful.

A vase next to the fireplace.

Early 20th-century brass bed, next to part of a Mexican-themed wooden bedroom suite that I'm guessing is '40s, because that's when the theme was fashionable. The brass bed is, of course, a double. To size it up, I'll pay somebody to add three inches to each of the longitudinal rails; then I'll add bedboards that overhang the rails on each side. Voila, queen!

You may have noticed the floor. Here's a closer look.

This is a "linoleum rug"; you see them a lot in women's magazines of the '20s and '30s, possibly later. Instead of having a continuous repeating pattern over the floor, you have a bordered rug, which is glued down to the floor. I'm trying to treat this one very carefully. It needs a threshold nailed down on to it at the side next to the door to keep it from being kicked up.

My husband's office. Someday our desks and bookcases will come. That's the Pacific Ocean out the window. This house has magnificent views, all of which are cut in half by electric lines. This doesn't bother us, and it's also probably what kept the house inside our budget. That, and being on the highway.

After we've moved our belongings around, my first bit of do-it-yourselfing is going to be reattaching the sash weights in the one remaining double-hung window in the living room. Having a double-hung window that won't open is a criminal shame. I haven't been able to find traditional window people around; unless the grapevine can come up with one, I'll probably be replacing the glass in the lower sash of a hall window. Oog.

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