5/18/11

DIY Home Owning and a Sports Car

For those of you who don't know, my wife and I recently bought our first house.  Now, we decided against the costlier, move-in-ready home and looked around for a fixer-upper with tons of potential.  Luckily for us Baltimore is littered with numerous homes for next to nothing.  A comparable home in Washington DC tends to run from $300k to $550k.  Also, we both really hate DC.  Love, love, love the museums and the zoo but, we can't stand pretty much everything else about it.  We're Baltimore people.  Baltimore is a city that has a certain "je ne sais quoi" about it.  To try to quantify it, it is a big city with a small town feel.  It is very quirky, with great food, great prices and a very neighborhood-centric culture.

But, enough about Baltimore.  We bought a fixer-upper for under a $100k.  Shockingly, it is quite sizable.  We have over 1500 square-feet and an unfinished basement.  Not much of a yard, but the trade off is the giant park across the street (literally right across the one lane street).  But, with so many benefits to this house naturally, there are drawbacks...  It needs work.  Lots.  Sure it is livable, if you perhaps grew up in the 1970s and you have an affinity for "wood" paneling, floral wallpaper, and ceiling tiles.  I use "wood" because much of the "wood" paneling is actually plastic.  The previous owner spared no expense.  She even put in the cheapest carpet she could find which is an off white color that is just a yellowish, cream now.  But, since we want a semi-modern house that is designed for our personal taste and maximizes our resale value we have to put in some sweat equity.  Of course, we're both actually excited to be doing this so, no complaints.  Yet.

Naturally though, we own two cars that are not exactly suited for home improvement work.  I drive a two-door BMW and my wife drives a Cooper S.  While the Mechanical Engineers employed by the Germans are brilliant and make well designed cars, there is only so much you can fit into these cars no matter how clever the MEs were when they designed them.

As a result, I have taken to carrying a "man bag" when we go to our local home improvement store.  No, I am not talking about a European Shoulder Satchel like Indiana Jones but, a simple cloth bag that has various tools in it.  It contains many lifesaving things which will come through in a clutch if you have to fill your sports car to the brim with supplies.

Things I consider essential:
Hammer
Drill with various bits
Phillips and Flat Head Screwdriver
Duct Tape
Measuring Tape
Zip Ties
Bungee Cord
Rope/Twine
Adjustable Wrench (6 inch should do)
Pry Bar
Flash light
Box Cutter
Pipe Cutters (works like a champ for copper)
Bright ribbon or cloth
Small Blanket
Work Gloves

Thanks to my man bag I have stuffed the trunk with a chicken coop, chicken feed, copper piping, paint, lumber, plaster, furniture, plants, and more.  I even took the BMW and picked up 8 landscape timbers, various other bits of lumber, and four bags of garden soil all in one load.  You can only imagine the look I got as I pulled out of the parking lot.  Thanks to German ingenuity and a little bit of ingenuity and planning on my own, I have been able to get things home that ordinarily I would have to rent a truck for.  A lot of this has to do with the bag.

Trust me, if you drive a sports car or even if you own a large vehicle, it pays to have a man bag in the car.  And if you drive an Italian car, you could even bring your shoulder satchel.  We don't judge...

For further reading on our DIY adventures check out: http://stayingputinmd.blogspot.com/

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