I did extremely little to the exterior—I live on the inside, after all, so I wasn't too concerned about external aesthetics. The most noticeable changes I made were to remove the "Welcome" sign from beside the front door (admittedly I'm not a "welcoming" person), as well as the two rocking chairs in front of the stairs. I mean, who really wants to sit and look at the street and the neighbors' houses across the way?

A functional exterior change I'd made was to install a second handrail at the front door (below). In addition to myself, many of my guests have bad knees or other issues that make steps unpleasant or even risky, and the additional handrail has been most helpful, especially since the existing handrail isn't especially sturdy-feeling.

Moving toward the patio area at the back, I got rid of a big plastic storage compartment (foreground, below) that had been used to store dog run cables and suchlike. Note that there are no handrails on the steps to the back door (background, below). I've no idea how the prior owner got away with this, but it will be something I will be addressing when finances permit.

An external change that was made out of necessity was replacing the ancient air conditioner (below left) with a new heat pump (below right). The heat pump isn't necessarily a thing of beauty, but it sure beats that old rusting dinosaur.

One item I addressed was a truly head-scratching lighting setup. The front door area was arranged sensibly, with a motion-activated twin-head floodlight on the corner of the unit adjacent to the parking area, and a small flush-mount fixture installed in the soffit directly over the front door, operated by a switch inside. So far so good.

But then at the back of the unit there was another motion-activated twin-head floodlight installed right next to the back door, operated by a switch inside. Worse, because of its location, one of the two flood heads did nothing but shine directly in the second bedroom window.

Then there was something even stranger: smack in the middle of the west side of the trailer (opposite side from the front and back doors) was a wall lamp—the kind you'd install right next to an exterior door—wired permanently on. Yes, it had a day-night sensor, but it was on all night long, shining in the living room and bathroom windows. WTF?

The fix was quite simple, and cost nothing but an afternoon's time: I swapped the wall lamp and the security flood beside the back door. Now the back door has a proper wall lamp, operated by the switch inside, and now there's a security flood on the west wall that pops on if anyone wanders into the shady area there at night.

On 13 October 2023, I made a trivial, unplanned change to the patio area. When the former owner installed gutters on the trailer, he had an eight-foot piece left over that he stored in the shed. I was about to get rid of it when I had a micro-brainstorm: I cut it down to create a little gutter for the back door portico; thus, anyone unfortunate enough to need to use the back door during a downpour will no longer be drenched on the steps.

And Then There Was the Roof...

Perhaps my biggest mistake in the whole of this saga was assuming the roof was okay; I'd noticed no signs of water damage on the ceilings inside. But I hadn't thought it through: the ceilings were finished two or maybe at most three years prior to the sale—that's a tiny fraction of the age of the unit, so it wasn't a good gauge of the health of the roof.

During the night of 10 December 2023, a really nasty rain storm blew through the area. In the wee hours, I was awakened by the uncomfortable sensation that I'd peed myself. But I soon learned the truth: the roof had sprung a leak right over my bed. So I moved to the sofa, where a second leak directly overhead appeared mere minutes later. A friend kindly applied some roof sealant, but alas this did not stop or even slow down the leaks. On 29 December, after removing portions of the ceiling drywall, I found that the leaks appeared to be quite old. Below is the mess in the bedroom; most of the visible plywood is rotted.

Above is the living room leak; a week after the last rain storm, the wood was still saturated. One might have thought I'd have inspected the roof prior to purchasing the place; however, knowing the roof leaked would not have stopped me from buying it. I might have negotiated a price reduction, but I'm doubtful of a positive outcome, since the sale was as-is. It is what it is.

A new roof, or even professional repair, was out of the question. But with the prospect of a monster Nor'easter on the way, I had to do something. My "budget-friendly" solution? A pair of tarps tied down to the roof, with foam sealant injected under the edges. Since I was never able to determine exactly where either of the leaks were, I went with generous-sized tarps so the chances were good they'd be covered. Yes, the tarps are band-aids, but they need only last for the rest of my life, which won't be very long.


Copyright © 2022-2024 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved