Sunday, May 27, 2012

Owning a Home in St Thomas, USVI - Repairs Part I - 5-17-12

Everyone from stateside tells me I have moved to paradise. Yes, we have moved to paradise, but no place one lives is perfect. Owning a home here has its challenges with regards to maintenance. The humid environment with salt water sea breezes can takes its toll on a home here, and after some years, leads to repairs.
We bought our home in 2009. Of course our view (it is called a down island view) and some flat land for the dogs was important (there is a reason the locals call the island the rock, it is a mountain that literally comes out of the sea).  The main reason for our purchase was the home was built of masonry construction (solid concrete). The home was built in 1969 and probably back then built of West Indian style. We figured if the home was still standing without seeing any past damage of hurricanes, it would be a safe bet. That is true, it is solid, but back in 1969 they must not have had a tape measure, as nothing in this house is lined up with anything. Every slider, arch, doorway, etc. is a different size. And yes some attention to detail was left out and with some deferred maintenance from the old owner, we have spent some time with repairs and remodeling.
After our upstairs tenants moved out in 2010, I spent what was going to be 3 weeks living here, became 3 months. We had a major issue with the old breezeway, which is now a dining room. That whole story is another blog post for the future.
We have been living here now for 3 weeks, and I am somewhat grateful for not working as I await my broker license as there have been some minor repairs needed done. I am very grateful that we have a Home Depot here about 5 minutes away!
We have an office in the rear of the house that had a wood door with glass windows. Well when we opened it when we arrived the lower section of the door fell off.  The side windows were never trimmed out. I had to downsize my old 3 car garage to a small shed on the side of the house as we do not have a garage (not many homes have a garage here as there is not much in the way of flat land). I opened the door on my lower shed and of course it fell off its hinge, wood rotted.
We had a contractor come out and replace the office door (no more wood for me, ALUMINUM!) and the door on the shed.
As it is so humid here and the wood you do get from Home Depot is also wet, I am going to wait a month for the wood to completely dry before painting.
Now on the laundry room. This is essentially a shed on the outside of the home. Now in a previous blog I disccused the power cord and plug for the clothes dryer. Well, that was not the end. Shannon was running the washer and I was on the lower deck and saw water coming out of the door! The drain hose for the washing machine went into the old laundry tub and was tied with a thin plastic cord. The cord had broken. So I got some wire and re-attached it and fixed the problem.
Now we have a bird problem in the laundry room. Every Spring a bird gets under the eaves and starts to build a nest.
The bird that is doing this is a Pealy Eyed Thrasher.
I am not going to have this messy nest, so on to and order some pigeon spikes. I installed them and that seemed to work, except this morning there was a breach in the spikes and now I have to go back into the mosquito laundry room (why do the mosquitoes love black things, they seem to love the black trash cans in there and the black door to the apartment?) and make some adjustments.
So you thought I had the washing machine drain all fixed? Right! Shannon comes up to me the other day and tells me there is a puddle in the laundry room. WTF? So I go and investigate, the water is coming out of the drain of the old sink. I rub my hand underneath where the pipe hooks into the drain and gobs of metal fall on the floor and the pipe is now detached from the sink. The faucet on the sink was rotted so that was shut off at the shut off valve and now this? Who really uses a laundry room sink anyway especially with the mosquitoes in there. Out comes the old sink and now the drain pipe is directly piped into the drain line.
I am off to the Thrasher breach and will continue with Chapter II - Pool/Cistern another day!

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