Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our crappy apartment

To begin this post with full disclosure, our apartment could be a lot more crappy. The location is good, the building is clean, and we haven't suffered any major problems with the utilities, the neighbors, or pests. 

It's aesthetically pleasing, with its shiny (faux) wood floors and pristine bone-white seating. The brick wall in the living room adds an ambience you don't get in most rentals, and the choice of wall colors, while a bit too dark for my tastes, certainly show an elevated style over the usual institutional white.

But the beauty of this apartment is the very definition of skin deep. It was pretty clear from the moment we moved in that the owner hadn't exactly gone to great lengths to make the property livable.

One of the first things I discovered when moving in my possessions was that the kitchen cabinets were overflowing with dishes. When I asked the landlord whether it was OK if I got rid of some of them, he admitted he had no idea they were even there. Which just goes to show where his attention to detail is. When we moved in, the walls were covered with dust bunnies and the kitchen cabinets coated with years' worth of sticky grease. (He did offer to have cleaners come in to finish their job, because apparently there were still things they were planning to do, but I think they mostly planned to clear out some clutter, which I preferred to keep—if you move into a messy apartment, at least you should get some free stuff in the bargain!).

As far as I can tell, only one burner on the stove actually lights. And the bathtub faucet spews water when the shower is running, which troubles my conservationist heart. However, I am in charge of paying the 50-dollar copay for any repairs, so I've decided to live with both of these issues. It helps that I'm not a cooking person, and the management company pays the water bill.

Whoever installed the shower curtain rod was far from a tradesman. The screws they put into the drywall were never adequate to hold the rod in the first place, since the door frame prevents it from touching the wall, so the shower curtain was falling down on a regular basis. I finally took the initiative and reinstalled the shower curtain by screwing it into the doorframe.

The day that we came to sign the lease, we nearly suffered a catastrophe when one of the dining chairs collapsed when it was sat upon. The landlord kindly offered to throw away the wobbly table and iffy chairs, but I decided I'd keep them and fix them up. I bought bolts with my own cash to convert the table from a health hazard to a usable piece of furniture.

As time went on and fall crept into winter, we learned that the apartment's insulation is in dire need of improvement. The big glass doors that are pretty much the only light source are also, it turns out, all off-kilter, leaving open spaces for air and even insects to get through. I already added weatherstripping to the place where the sliding door meets the frame next to it, but the misalignment is so bad that that's not even enough to actually seal the crack. On a chilly day, you could feel the cold pouring in from the myriad gaps all around the frame that remain unsealed. Again, I had to take the initiative and purchase a can of foam insulation to stop up most of it.

But that doesn't fix the worst problem yet! The bedroom, the place where I would prefer to spend most of my time, is the coldest room in the unit. Even with the living room being so drafty, even when I've closed all the heat vents elsewhere in the apartment, the bedroom is still a good 4 degrees colder than the rest of the apartment.

Oh, and those shiny floors that drew me in at first sight? They show every drop of water that ever spills on them, and every footprint that ever steps on them, and they streak when you try to clean them!

Yesterday, the in-unit washing machine (one of the pluses of living here) backed up into the kitchen sink, and no amount of plunging could get it to drain. The one thing that helped: running the disposal. Internet sources indicate there might be a clogged vent somewhere, which will surely necessitate the calling of a plumber at my expense, and possibly getting the building management involved.

Every day we live here, I find more things to hate about it, and the worst thing is that I'm entirely at someone else's mercy for getting any problem repaired. But for now I'm going to take a few deep breaths and hope the drain fixes itself.