The things we're learning about being home owners! Okay, those of you who've owned homes will smile knowledgeably at me, those of you who rent will just chortle. But we're learning!
We've owned this house for seven years, and there's a lot about it we like -- which is why we bought it -- but there are some things we didn't know about it that we've found out since. Isn't that always the way, though?
Okay, some background first:
Part of the reason we bought this house was the addition. All the other houses in the area are much smaller, but at over 1700 feet, this was a reasonable size for our price range. And the Master bedroom is really a good size. Then too, it has a second bathroom, always a good thing, especially if Ryan was to come live with us (he wasn't at the time but he is here now, so yes, planning ahead was wise).
Also, the garage had already been converted to a woodshop, which Lillian needed. Another plus is that it's not far from a bus stop with a run that takes me directly to work, but that's not a part of this.
Now, what we didn't know is that the previous owner -- let's call him George -- did a lot of the renovation himself. Well, y'know, yay for being intrepid and we admire that kind of thing in theory. The practice, however, has been. . .intriguing. If you read that as "annoying", you could be closer to the mark.
So now seven years have gone past, and as all homeowners know, some things that need to be done can slip down on the To-Do list until they become an issue. Not you anal-retentive types, but us mere mortals. But the time has come, prompted by an incipient visit from friends (Hi, Lil and Tess!) to actually, y'know, DO some of it. And the first thing that had to be attacked was the front bathroom. Namely the ceiling exhaust fan.
Okay, a little more structural background. Originally there was a skylight in the front bathroom, just as there is in the Master bathroom now. Except the contractor (or George) decided to just put the roof over the skylight when they put on the addition. So now there's this vault in the ceiling leading up to a plastic/glass/whatever dome covered by the roof letting in nothing but dark. I know, attractive, huh? But it wasn't offensive and I suspect it was a cost-saving thing; rather than block it off or take it out, they decided to live with it. I actually get that.
But there's an unforeseen side effect which means a little more background. Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we wage an ongoing battle. With fungus. Moss, mildew, they'll take over given a chance. Never before have I had to be concerned about moss infiltrating our roof, needing to be scraped off on a regular basis. Being a desert rat, this is a new thing to me.
And the types and kinds of mildew that flourish here are also new to me. There's a pinkish one that loves our bathtub, but what's disturbing is the rapidity with which mildew and mold grows in a steamy bathroom. It's an ongoing battle fought with bleach and brushes and Killz paint. And sunlight. We don't get much sunlight here but what little we do get helps fight the mildew back, and the skylight helps. Except when it doesn't. Except when it provides a lovely dark growing place. Like, say, a skylight that's been roofed over, thank you, George. You see the problem, right? Getting a ladder into the bathroom to get all the way up to the top of the useless skylight is such fun. Not.
Oh, but it's even better than that. See, when Lillian took out the old exhaust fan, she had to climb up into our attic space to disconnect it and examine the vent to see if it needed to be replaced as well as the fan itself.
Imagine her delight to discover two "innovative" things about this fan.
1: The vent that George used to draw the moist air out of the bathroom was nothing but an accordion dryer hose, and that was kinked so the moisture really wasn't going anywhere but back into the bathroom; and
2: that it wouldn't have vented outside anyway since the dryer hose was laid across the top of the ceiling. Allowing what little moist air that did escape the kink to accumulate between the ceiling and the roof. Which is nicely insulated and is therefore a perfect place for mildew to flourish. Not a cost-cutting measure of which we approve, George. Imagine our joy.
Go ahead, we'll wait while you picture it. Yeah. That happy.
So the upshot is that, instead of just replacing a crappy exhaust fan, she -- and you know it's all Lillian, right? I'm so useless at this it's amazing -- has had to buy a new accordion sleeve, one that isn't cloth and prone to encouraging growth, get an actual vent for the outside, and she is going to have to cut a hole in the roof and hook the vent to it so the moisture will actually depart our house.
Have I mentioned that it's Fall in the Pacific Northwest? And can you guess what that means? You got it! Gold star for you! Rain.
And lots of it. It causes the moss to flourish, the mildew to flex its muscle, and the leaves to become mush. (Leaf mush! I love saying "leaf mush"!) For some weird reason, we're both loathe to have her cut a hole in the roof while it's raining. I know, no sense of adventure, but there ya go.
So we're having to wait for dry days to get this done. But what she's doing is moving the vent into the center of the ceiling, where the defunct skylight was, and she's sealing off the useless nuisance while installing the vent. So when all is said and done, it's going to be a lovely new ceiling in the bathroom with a functional fan.
Until then, however, all three of us are using the one bathroom, although Ryan can still wind his way around construction stuff to go potty in the middle of the night. But oh, the things we're saying about George and his lack of foresight are worthy of my theatre days, when cursing was an art form.
But that's part of the joy of home ownership. Right? Right?