Three month house-iversary

This Saturday marks three months living in our house.  I am happy to report that, as of last week, all of the boxes are unpacked (at least all of the boxes that are intended to be unpacked vs. used for storage in the basement).  There are still some homeless items here and there, as we finish some storage-related work in the kitchen and closets, but things feel pretty settled.


The third iteration of the front room seems to be the charm.  We’re still working on window treatments in that room and a few others.

Over the past three months, we’ve discovered answers to some burning questions, such as, “What weather conditions created those water stains on our basement walls?”

Answer: >3 inches of rain in a 24-hour period does the trick.  Five+ inches of rain in less than 24-hours creates the really cool effect of our basement window wells looking like mini aquariums — just add fish!

Fortunately, the water is rather well behaved, and by luck or good design proceeds nicely through the crawl space, down the basement walls, and into the floor drain.  Also, I took those water stains into account when I was organizing the basement, and kept anything that could be damaged by water in safer spots.

So, the general pattern is, we get a shitload of rain in a short period (which seems to be the new norm — thanks, climate change!), the window wells fill with water, water trickles into the basement and runs to the floor drain, the dehumidifier works overtime, and all is good until the next Crazy Rain Event.  We’re considering options to remedy this, but it doesn’t seem all that urgent.

More troublesome is the answer to the question, “How bad is the traffic noise (that a realtor friend who used to live on the same street warned us about)?”

Answer: For me, it’s usually a background thing, not that big of a deal.  For Matthew, who gets migraines and is sensitive to such things — kind of a big deal.

A big enough deal that if we don’t find some form of effective, affordable sound barrier, this house, the house that we hunted for for seven years, and planned to live in for a really long time (defined as five years by G, but we were more thinking add a zero to the end of that number), might be a time-limited proposition.

Whomp, whomp, wah.

We’ve started looking into options for sound barriers, as our planned privacy hedge won’t do much on the noise-reduction front.  Matthew found a material called AcoustiBlok that can be attached to a chain link fence, but he’s having trouble getting straight answers about longevity from the company.  We need some answers because, despite being billed as “economical,” the cost climbs quickly when you have a big yard.

I’m wondering if we could do some kind of wall with insulated concrete forms, or some other kind of concrete wall sound barrier, but I haven’t found any great information on this yet.

Until we know if we can get the traffic noise down to a level that makes this house happily livable for all members, discretionary projects are on hold, including plans for solar panels and a sun porch addition.

Although it wouldn’t really make sense to put in the effort to establish a big garden if our time here is limited, we’re probably proceeding with that, if for no other reason than we’ve killed all of the grass, so we have to do something.  And if we can make this house, in this location, work, it really is ideal for us in many ways.

I’ve mostly gotten over the initial impact of this maybe NOT being our forever house (because you really never know, right?), but the uncertainty, the waiting to move forward with planned projects, is tough.




  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Oh no! I hope you don’t have to end up selling after you searched soooo long for this house!

    Traffic noise… that doesn’t sound good! I had a friend once who lived in an apartment off a very busy street. She swore by a white noise machine. Somehow, that sounds almost worse to me, but she said it was the only thing that allowed her to sleep.

    I used to have a problem with basement window wells filling up during downpours, but I fixed it by installing taller window wells and piling dirt up against the foundation to slope the water away from the house. Installing downspout extensions to route the water away from the house also helped. I think there are also plastic window well covers that are also supposed to help keep the water out.

    Good luck. It would be such a shame if things didn’t work out.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      I used to sleep with a white noise machine but weened myself from it because Matthew couldn’t stand it, so I’m afraid that’s not an option for him. We do use one in G’s bedroom. Matthew wears earplugs to sleep, but the daytime noise gets to him, too.

      We’ve already tried the covers, but the water seems to mostly be filling the wells from below ground level, so the covers don’t help much. We’ve had one company come out to look at the basement water issues. They suggested installing French drains (basically fancy trenches) around the perimeter outside the house. They also suggested glass block windows for the basement as something that wouldn’t let water in even if the wells fill.

      If we decide to stay, we may consider one or more of their suggestions, but for now, we’ll just be careful where we put our stuff and live with the water. Of course, I published this post in the midst of yet another rain event — 2.25 inches (in the last seven hours) and counting!

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        Eee Gads! I sorta can’t imagine soil so wet that the water could seep up from below. Maybe you could just send some of that rain our way. I think we’ve had less than half an inch total since the middle of the summer! Good luck with it all. 🙂

      2. EcoCatLady says:

        Er… um… perhaps I should be careful what I wish for, it’s suddenly pouring rain! How did you do that?!? I humbly bow before thee, oh goddess of the skies! 🙂

      3. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

        Ha — if I do indeed have those powers, I think I need to work on controlling and directing them a bit more 😉

  2. Kurt says:

    Maybe new Windows would help?

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      They are new[er] windows, but some of them were installed rather poorly. New windows aren’t in the cards right now, but we’re going to make a few improvements that will hopefully cut down noise and improve energy efficiency.

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