The first week in my new house has been a whirlwind!
Let's start with the packing....
Boxes are expensive, resource intensive and usually get used one time and then discarded. I did my entire move with re-used boxes. I found some at work and used some that diapers and electronics came in. The best boxes (and the ones I used most) came from the grocery store.
Banana boxes are the best! Super sturdy, hand grips on the side, lids, and FREE! They are the perfect size and stackable.
Next... I debated about hiring movers, renting a U-Haul, and making a bazillion trips in my car.
After crunching numbers and thinking about carbon emissions, it became clear that hiring movers was the way to go for me. They can pack the material in their truck so tightly, that they use a smaller truck and do it in only one trip. They ended up costing me $500. A U-Haul would have cost me $200 with mileage - and many, many hours of my time.
I checked the Better Business Bureau's webpage to find a mover. There were SO MANY movers with "F" ratings, and only a few with "A" ratings. I hired the closest "A" company and was very pleased with the movers.
Next... there was a ton of work that had to be done in the house. All of the faucets had to be replaced. This is where I did buy some new things. I started with the cheap faucets from the Big Box store (I won't name it here, but I'm sure you know what I'm referring to). I have a good friend who is a plumber, but would have checked the Better Business Bureau if I didn't know a good plumber.
When my plumber friend saw the faucets I bought, he told me that the big box store has fixtures specially made for them - with cheaper plastic parts. They are pretty, but won't last long. My plumber was able to get pretty faucets (with non-plastic parts) wholesale, so they didn't cost me any more.
Then... I turned on the refrigerator. It made a loud humming noise and then no noise at all.
I found an Energy Star fridge at Sears and had it delivered. I read tons of reviews and Energy Guides. Here is a summary:
The most efficient refrigerators are the ones with the freezer on top. This is because the freezer is at eye level, so you don't have to leave the door open as long. Freezer on the bottom don't perform as well because it takes longer for the average person to find their food. Even worse is the freezer with the drawer that pulls out. That causes a rush of warm air to enter the freezer and it has to work that much harder to get back to the set temperature.
French door refrigerators are also inefficient. Opening the tall door allows cool air to spill out quickly. You also need a larger unit to get the same amount of usable space.
I didn't opt for an ice maker or built in water. Ice trays and the faucet work just fine, thank you.
I am getting the old refrigerator fixed and will put it on the ground floor if/when I get a permit for a legal apartment down there.
This is a whole new area for discussion, which I won't go into great detail about here. The short version is that landlords should get permits if they have an apartment. Building code officers make sure the unit is safe. Insurance companies may find property owners in default if an illegal apartment is found, and the property owner may face unnecessary liability.
So I say - get the permit!!!