Spring Cleaning And Schizophrenia

Though spring is still a few days away, spring cleaning has already started here at The Manse. While the ground outside is still too soft and mushy to do much in the way of yard work, there's been plenty to do inside, including scrubbing the floors, cleaning windiows, and making a few repairs in the mudroom. (One of the coat hook boards came off the wall when an overenthusiastic WP nephew decided to toss his coat onto one of the hooks rather than placing it. Apparently the board carrying the coat hooks was held in place using drywall anchors rather than being screwed into the wall studs.)

Now you may wonder why I've mentioned this. It's simple.

The contractor who built this house must have been schizophrenic.

The Manse, as well as the homes on either side, were built by a contractor who is presently enjoying a stay at one of our fine state institutions...as an inmate.

The Manse shows signs of the same kind of personality as the contractor. Some things were really well done and the craftsmanship shows. Others leave you scratching your head wondering what the hell they were thinking when they were building this place. (I seem to recall that I've covered this subject some time in the past, but no matter. It's still kind of interesting.) Some examples of this dichotomy:

There are aforementioned coat hook boards. The rest of the mud room is well done, but they were too lazy to use a stud-finder to put the mounting screws into the studs.

Another mudroom issue: the door leading to the front is solid metal. The door leading to the rear has glass to let light in. Both the front and the back door should have glass (at least that's what was on the plans I saw). Glass on both doors would let the maximum amount of light in during the day, doing away with the need to turn the lights on when the sun is up. (The back door only lets light in only during the late afternoon or early evening, depending upon the time of year. Otherwise it's dark in the mudroom.)

The arrangement of the light switches is strange. Generally, when someone turns on the closest switch just inside the door of a room, it turns on the lights, either ceiling lights of a lamp plugged into a wall socket on the other side of the room. Not in The Manse. Instead, in more than half the rooms the switch turns on the ceiling fan. I guess they figured the ceiling fan was far more important than lights.

If there are more then one set of lights that are controlled by a series of switches on the wall, you'd expect the closest switch would turn on the closest lights and the farthest switch would turn on the lights farthest away. Nope, not in this house. (This is certainly the case with the switches just inside the kitchen next to the mudroom entrance.)

Then there's the 'phantom' switch. It's next to the triple light switches at the front door. In all this time I haven't been able to figure out what it's supposed to control. I've taken off the cover to see if it's even connected to the house wiring and it is. But in the seven years we've resided in The Manse we haven't been able to figure out what it's supposed to do. (After talking to friends and family about this I think that everyone's home has at least one phantom switch.)

Staying with the electrical system theme, there's the outside lights. The two lampposts at the top and bottom of the driveway and the floodlights on the side of the garage all have the same flaw: they have to be plugged in to turn them on. There are no light switches. (No, the phantom switch doesn't control the outside electrical socket into which the lampposts are plugged.) The lampposts do have light sensors on them, meaning they'll turn on automatically when it gets dark out. But we don't use them all that often. In fact they're on primarily during the winter when BeezleBub and I are clearing snow from the driveway at night. The floodlights are usually on for the same reason. (The floodlights are plugged in inside the garage, but it's a tight squeeze between the wall and the trusty F150, making it difficult to reach the plug at times.)

Another quirk: the plumbing. While the plumbing system is exceptional – PEX tubing running to both cold and hot water plenums, each tube with its own shutoff petcock – the routing leaves something to be desired. In two instances the plumbing contractor could have done a better job of routing some of the tubing. In the master bathroom it is not uncommon for the water lines to the shower and bathtub to freeze during below zero nights. Occasionally the lines to the sink also freeze up. It wasn't until we suffered our little water leak debacle last year that we discovered the tubing had been run along an uninsulated exterior joist below the bathroom.

Then there's insulation. There's plenty in the walls and the attic/eaves/roof. There was none along the rim joists (that's where the frame of the house meets the foundation), something I took care of the first year we were here. But after our water leak debacle, we found there's none between the first and second floor, something that has become de rigeur since the 90's. I think the only reason we hadn't noticed it before is because the second floor has thick wall-to-wall carpeting. (That could also be the reason the contractor didn't put any insulation in between floors.)

That's just a few things we've found that are quirky about The Manse. I could easily go on another few hundred words describing the schizophrenic nature of this house before I even got to the dumb/weird things around the outside. Maybe that's a topic for another post.