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We had a couple of bigger bills hit last month for some stuff around the house.  In both cases, we had the money saved and both were (sort of) planned.

Bye Bye To Another Tree

There seems to be something knocking off elm trees around our neighborhood.  We live in a newer neighborhood (15 years old), but the developer left many of the mature trees intact, so we have a substantial number of trees of different variety in our yard.  Several of these are elms and this is the second one that I've had to get removed from the attacks.

Decades ago, a disease swept through that took out many of them.  In fact, the city of Detroit was majorly impacted, as many of the residential streets were lined with mature elm trees in front of every house.  Block after block saw the trees die, and this changed the landscape of the city.  I have to believe that this probably furthered the decline of many of the worst neighborhoods.

Since then, it appears that while some survived, they are still somewhat under attack.  My neighbor had one pulled down earlier this year, and just looking down the street, you can see others that have been affected.

We still have a few more on our property, including one pretty big one that I would hate to lose, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they get spared for now.

The tree was right over our deck so the removal service had to climb up and take it down piece by piece.

Cost on this was $600 so far, plus I have to spend another $125 to get the stump ground, and probably $25 or so to get grass over the spot.

Updating Plumbing Fixtures

I've had it on my radar to do something about a few of the plumbing fixtures, and decided to surprise my wife when she was out of town for a recent girls weekend.

I didn't do the work myself, instead turning to a handyman that I've known for a number of years and has done various project work.  He was willing to do the work and had some time on that weekend, so it worked out.

The project ended up consisting of:

  • New Kitchen Sink – Our old sink was white, had chips, and was only about 5.5″ inches deep.  We replaced it with a stainless steel sink with an 8″ depth, which is pretty standard.  The cost was $139
  • New Kitchen Faucet – The faucet was old, had been rebuilt once when we moved in, and wouldn't have looked so good, so we got a new brushed nickel u-shaped faucet with a sprayer.  The cost of this was $169.
  • New Master Bathroom Sink – The sink was metal and had a couple of chips which had started to produce ugly rust spots.  We bought one for $59 but it was actually slightly too small for the opening, so we found a different one that looks just as nice and was only $39.
  • New Master Bathroom Faucet – I decided to upgrade the single handle faucet to a more modern faucet, with a double handle, a u-shaped faucet, and in brushed nicke.  Cost was $79, then I got a price adjustment the following week for $69.
  • New Half Bathroom Faucet – Just to improve the look of the common space, I decided to get the same faucet for the half bath.  That was the same price of $69.
  • Parts and pieces – New gaskets for the kitchen sinks, water supply lines, and tools needed ran around $20.
  • Labor – The guy I did this was happy with $175 for the project.  As he was out there for about 5-6 hours total, this was more than reasonable.

Total cost, roughly, was around $700.  Since I surprised my wife, I was a little nervous on how she'd react, but she loved everything and we're both very happy with how it turned out.


Both projects were money well spent.  The tree was disappointing, but you don't want dead trees hanging around, especially one that's right over the deck, as they'll eventually cause a lot more damage.  The plumbing work was well worth it, because we get enjoyment out of using a new and better sink with new and nicer looking fixtures, and I think those costs actually work their way back into the value of our home.

Readers, have you done any work around the house lately?  Any upcoming projects?