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Thread: Finding a New Place

  1. #1

    Default Finding a New Place

    So today ends my first day of actual apartment hunting, and while I had a good idea of what I wanted going into it, I think my idea has changed. While I found a place I will probably get, I still am going to be looking around for places another day and it has got me thinking, what is it you guys look for when finding a new place? How do you weigh the various attributes out? What is important to you? And how do you factor in cost to all of that?

    Now to me, I thought closeness to my school was going to be the most important thing, but after looking in an area father from campus my view has completely changed. To me, I've now been weighing out "niceness" and "size" a lot more than I initially thought, and now decided that "location," at least relative to the campus, isn't that important due to local public transportation.
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    I haven't been in the market for an appartment for a while now, but location usually edged out the other factors. If I like the area I live in, I'm can be pretty tolerant of shortcomings.

    Safety and quality come in a close 2nd and 3rd. I don't want to be mugged coming out of my apartment and I want things in it to work as they should.

    The attractiveness of the appartment is not high on the list because I can do things to make it feel like home.

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    Philosopher Papillion's Avatar
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    From what I've seen, places close to campus are party places. You don't want that. I would go somewhere maybe a block or two further away that is cheaper and is "nicer".
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    I make a list of things I have to have and a list of things I'd like to have. The lists usually change a bit every time I move, sometimes you can't figure out what's a have to have until you've lived without it - example, after living a year without a dishwasher for a year, I decided it was a have to have for me.

    At this point, I prefer a little distance from campus areas. Those areas tend to have outdated and majorly overpriced apartments. Safety is my biggest must have. When I moved to a new city for work, I moved a little farther away from work so that I could live in a safer area.

    I've always preferred a ground floor unit, but after having sewage back flow out the toilet and the bathtub a few weeks ago I was informed that it's best to be at least one floor up. Apparently, when things go wrong it's always the ground floor units that take the hit.

    I check for playgrounds and child friendly amenities, because I don't want to live someplace with tons of screaming children running around, but I do like being within a mile or two of a school. The place I live now has lots of green space and stations with trashcans and ... waste bags set up so I knew it was dog friendly.

    I check windows and window frames to see if they look old or recently replaced since that will play a part in energy bills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Belladonna View Post
    I've always preferred a ground floor unit, but after having sewage back flow out the toilet and the bathtub a few weeks ago I was informed that it's best to be at least one floor up. Apparently, when things go wrong it's always the ground floor units that take the hit.
    **** always flows downhill.
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    Quote Originally Posted by StealthSigma View Post
    **** always flows downhill.
    In apartment buildings, the top floor is the place to be. No noisy upstairs neighbors; if there's a leak it's only rain, not sewage; a better view of the city, sunsets and lightning storms; no noisy kids and/or stray bullets outside your front window; easier to lounge around naked without people on the street seeing you and in most buildings, you get roof access which means you can grill and be as loud as you want since you own the apartment right downstairs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron D'Holbach View Post
    In apartment buildings, the top floor is the place to be. No noisy upstairs neighbors; if there's a leak it's only rain, not sewage; a better view of the city, sunsets and lightning storms; no noisy kids and/or stray bullets outside your front window; easier to lounge around naked without people on the street seeing you and in most buildings, you get roof access which means you can grill and be as loud as you want since you own the apartment right downstairs.
    The only crap part about a non-first floor apartment is if you do not have elevator access to your floor. Then moving in or out furniture can be a *****.
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    Quote Originally Posted by StealthSigma View Post
    The only crap part about a non-first floor apartment is if you do not have elevator access to your floor. Then moving in or out furniture can be a *****.
    Tell me about it. Someone just gave me a 56-inch rear projection TV to help them move some stuff. Getting it up my four flights of stairs was more work than the moving job itself.

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    Length of commute is huge, Seth. I know it seems like there are more important things, but as somebody who had a sizeable commute to school every day, it's an absolute killer. You lose so much damn time driving (worse if traffic is bad), and when you aren't close to the campus, it's much harder to feel like part of the community.

    If you really don't care about the commute, think about what's important to your life situation. For example, when my wife and I bought our place, our big concerns were:

    1. Lots of bathrooms. We had a roommate at the time who it was hell sharing a bathroom with. Lots of bathrooms allowed us to avoid that, and made it easier to find renters.
    2. A place that needed a few cosmetic improvements. Just like you said that there were a few things that you could do to make a place look like home, we didn't want to move into a place that seemed like it was totally finished. That would have left us with no way to really improve the value, and would have handcuffed our ability to make the place feel like OURS.
    3. Guest bedroom, and sufficient room to have company over. We like to party, and we like to play host. Our place isn't the perfect party house (not enough single-level floor space, and it lacks a circular floor plan, which are both necessary for ideal parties), but we made sure we had enough space to entertain.
    3b. Plenty of visitor parking.
    4. Decent kitchen. My wife cooks, and having a satisfactory kitchen is necessary if I want this to continue to happen.

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    Consul Kurtz's Avatar
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    When I was looking at this place, location ended up being the major factor. I pay a little more here than I would further out of town, but transportation costs further out mean that I am actually paying less here, and the quality is around the same. So not only would I be having a 1hr commute, but I'd be paying more? Yeah, no thanks.

    EDIT: TCG, first floor apartments are usually the first ones to be robbed at least here. Easy access after all.

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    For me it was cost versus need. I'm a cheap ******* so whatever cost the least usually won out. However distance also needs to be factored into this, if you have to go someplace every day and it takes you and hour to get there, that's two hours burned every day. Now if you're taking BART the entire time that's not so bad since you can do your reading and stuff (assuming you stayed in the bay area, but you get what I mean). But if you're driving think twice about a long distance location. Safety and amenities are up to you to decide what you can tolerate. I know for me going down the Sunol grade from Lafayette to Fremont every day killed me, 2-3 hours in the car doing nothing but sitting and staring at the back of the car in front of me SUCKED. I was much happier when I move to Fremont in a little hovel buried in the community, even though it was further from the club scene, it was actually closer to my gaming group, in addition to being cheaper, talk about a win win. If you got a place next to a major transit line that you can walk to that will drop you off next to where you need to go, and it's cheaper than living closer, I'd take it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirveri View Post
    However distance also needs to be factored into this, if you have to go someplace every day and it takes you and hour to get there, that's two hours burned every day. Now if you're taking BART the entire time that's not so bad since you can do your reading and stuff (assuming you stayed in the bay area, but you get what I mean).
    I used to live near SF State and worked in Larkspur. For a long time I drove but got really tired of the traffic and Golden Gate Bridge toll. I started catching Muni light rail down to Embarcadero and then hopped the ferry to Larkspur. It took waaaaay longer but man was it worth it. The gentle rocking of the ferry was so relaxing and coming back home, seeing the downtown skyline lit up, made me fall in love with San Francisco again every night.

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    Philosopher Belladonna's Avatar
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    I'd also like to add, I know I'll only be in a place for about a year so my list is based on reasonably short-term stay versus a place I'm going to purchase.

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    Living on an upper floor has its perks as far as sewage might go, but keep in mind that if you don't have a washer/dryer in your apartment, you're carrying your laundry down as many flights of stairs as you live up. Grocery day can be a pain in the ***.
    I lived on the fourth floor of a fourth floor walk up in Jersey City, NJ, taking the PATH train into Manhattan to work each night.
    However, what someone said earlier about the roof top if you're on the top floor? Exactly. I had a fantastic view of lower Manhattan, including the twin towers. Fourth of July rocked.
    Only scary thing was I was always worried a drunken friend would fall off the roof
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seth View Post
    So today ends my first day of actual apartment hunting, and while I had a good idea of what I wanted going into it, I think my idea has changed. While I found a place I will probably get, I still am going to be looking around for places another day and it has got me thinking, what is it you guys look for when finding a new place? How do you weigh the various attributes out? What is important to you? And how do you factor in cost to all of that?

    Now to me, I thought closeness to my school was going to be the most important thing, but after looking in an area father from campus my view has completely changed. To me, I've now been weighing out "niceness" and "size" a lot more than I initially thought, and now decided that "location," at least relative to the campus, isn't that important due to local public transportation.
    Ideally we should spend 30% of our income on housing. As a student, the best way would be to look for on campus or off-campus student housing, better to take advantage of these rates if you are a student. This type of housing goes by fair market rates, which is adjusted as a percentage of the median housing price of the area. This makes student housing somewhat more affordable, at least better than other areas in the city. Ask your college advisor as the office knows all about these kind of things.

    People live where they can afford, although some live where they can't afford. Services naturally tend to adjust to the needs of the community based on demographics. For younger demographics gentrifying areas tend to have appeal as they are urban and tend to be made up of mixed-use developments.

    As for which floor, either way. Concerns for living on higher floors are usually, if stairs:
    1) Moving furniture up a flight of stairs is bit more difficult.
    2) Friends/family with physical disabilities such as in a wheelchair visiting or if you break your leg or become temporarily disabled.
    3) Heat rises, but likewise altitude gets more of a breeze so there's a balance.

    You can also look at which way the home faces, East for sun rising and west for sun setting. This may vary on preference, some people like their bedrooms towards the East to get the morning sun, also western facing rooms get slightly warmer nights it's said to be easier to sleep in cooler areas.

    Also depends on regulations, either management or homeowner associations/landlords etc. check out the area before you decide to move in and ask residents how the management/associations/landlords are.

    On community basis, urban planners actually have rankings that are taken to a science. Check out the American Planning Associations (APA) ratings for communities in your city. These are based on crime, affordability, amenities/services, diversity etc. To get more scientific you can check out GIS maps of your city which maps the city out various statistics, just to get an idea of how the area is.

    Check out this site for San Francisco:
    http://gispub02.sfgov.org/data.asp

    Anyway, hope that helps.

    Edit:
    Here is another site for all kinds of data in San Francisco:
    http://www.datasf.org/index.php?category=geography
    (e.g. admin&finance, environment, geography, housing, human services, public safety, public works, transportation)

    examples in Geography:
    Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative Corridors (farmer's markets)
    SFPD Crime Reporting Plots
    Physical Features - Elevation contours (see below)
    Seismic Hazard Zones (actually good ones, not everyone knows the fault lines/mudslide areas)
    Planning Neighborhoods


    and this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Belladonna View Post
    I'd also like to add, I know I'll only be in a place for about a year so my list is based on reasonably short-term stay versus a place I'm going to purchase.
    Anyway, depends on how long you plan to live there, whether you are buying or renting etc. this sort of data is always useful. Ideal communities have been the dream on Jane Jacobs, Catherine Baur, Lewis Mumford, Ebenezzar Howard, Corbu, Platner-Zyberk. But really, everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

    2nd edit:

    oh and I found this, numerous apps and gizmos for San Francisco.
    http://datasf.org/showcase/
    Last edited by Summer; 05-25-2011 at 02:06 AM.

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    I live in the north and it gets cold. Heating costs are one of my biggest considerations. Luckily the house I am closing on soon has a coal/wood boiler with radiant heat through the floors. So much better than fuel oil. I have kids so having more than one bathroom is a big issue. Other than heating, bathrooms, and the mortgage payment, I really don't care. You can live just about anywhere. Just pick your biggest wants and try to find something to fit it.
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    Radiant heat through the floors freaking rocks. Awesome sauce, ebol.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Chak View Post
    Radiant heat through the floors freaking rocks. Awesome sauce, ebol.
    I know. It is well worth it. Now will you come out everyday and put wood in my fire?
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    Consul Kurtz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    I know. It is well worth it. Now will you come out everyday and put wood in my fire?
    I much prefer the electrical type. So quick and easy. Have that everywhere in my flat. Warm toes on a cold morning rock.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    I much prefer the electrical type. So quick and easy. Have that everywhere in my flat. Warm toes on a cold morning rock.
    A few tons of coal is really cheap compared to electric prices. Where I have lived for 7 or so years now, it is fuel oil heat. $800-1000 a month in heating costs from October to March. It is crazy. And that is keeping the temp at 64 and using space heaters. I won't mind putting a load in the fire once a day and emptying ashes to save money and stay warm. Then it has a back up electric heat system incase you go out of town to keep the pipes from freezing. Oh, I will be warm this winter... yes I will.
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    Philosopher Belladonna's Avatar
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    Proximity to neighbors is also important. If something happens you want to know someone will hear your screams for help, but at the same time if something happens you want to be able to shout and not wake the neighbors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    A few tons of coal is really cheap compared to electric prices. Where I have lived for 7 or so years now, it is fuel oil heat. $800-1000 a month in heating costs from October to March. It is crazy. And that is keeping the temp at 64 and using space heaters. I won't mind putting a load in the fire once a day and emptying ashes to save money and stay warm. Then it has a back up electric heat system incase you go out of town to keep the pipes from freezing. Oh, I will be warm this winter... yes I will.
    I sometimes forget how expensive electricity is in some places. Norway, with it's hydroelectric dams, has piss cheap power. Really I should have thought about it given that I'm in the UK for a year and have remembered how much cheaper plumbed gas is compared with electricity.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by seth View Post
    so today ends my first day of actual apartment hunting, and while i had a good idea of what i wanted going into it, i think my idea has changed. While i found a place i will probably get, i still am going to be looking around for places another day and it has got me thinking, what is it you guys look for when finding a new place? How do you weigh the various attributes out? What is important to you? And how do you factor in cost to all of that?

    Now to me, i thought closeness to my school was going to be the most important thing, but after looking in an area father from campus my view has completely changed. To me, i've now been weighing out "niceness" and "size" a lot more than i initially thought, and now decided that "location," at least relative to the campus, isn't that important due to local public transportation.
    NC! fillerfillerfillerfiller
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    Philosopher Principal Brian Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    A few tons of coal is really cheap compared to electric prices. Where I have lived for 7 or so years now, it is fuel oil heat. $800-1000 a month in heating costs from October to March. It is crazy. And that is keeping the temp at 64 and using space heaters. I won't mind putting a load in the fire once a day and emptying ashes to save money and stay warm. Then it has a back up electric heat system incase you go out of town to keep the pipes from freezing. Oh, I will be warm this winter... yes I will.
    Ebol, if you are going to be running the wood stove frequently, invest in some humidifiers, it makes the awesome wood heat way awesomer.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotmilk View Post
    Ebol, if you are going to be running the wood stove frequently, invest in some humidifiers, it makes the awesome wood heat way awesomer.
    The heater part is actually outside and about 50 ft from the house. All that comes into the house is boiling water through pipes in all the floors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    The heater part is actually outside and about 50 ft from the house. All that comes into the house is boiling water through pipes in all the floors.
    Seems very inefficient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    The heater part is actually outside and about 50 ft from the house. All that comes into the house is boiling water through pipes in all the floors.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Seems very inefficient.
    ^
    This, your floors would be warm but the rest of the house would suck, what else heats it?

  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Seems very inefficient.
    It isn't though. Estimated 15% heat loss from the heater to the house according to websites. The pipes are insulated and buried pretty far underground. Then they go into water heaters. There are 5 water heaters throughout the house. From the water heaters they cycle through the floors and then the cooled down water goes back outside. I don't know how it all works really, but once a day I empty ashes and put a load of coal in it. The set up is $25k but this house already has it installed so whatever.

    If you live where the weather is 5 degrees most of the winter, you need something to keep warm afforably. This system will work.
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    Consul Kurtz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotmilk View Post
    ^
    This, your floors would be warm but the rest of the house would suck, what else heats it?
    Heat rises. You don't need anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    It isn't though. Estimated 15% heat loss from the heater to the house according to websites. The pipes are insulated and buried pretty far underground. Then they go into water heaters. There are 5 water heaters throughout the house. From the water heaters they cycle through the floors and then the cooled down water goes back outside. I don't know how it all works really, but once a day I empty ashes and put a load of coal in it. The set up is $25k but this house already has it installed so whatever.

    If you live where the weather is 5 degrees most of the winter, you need something to keep warm afforably. This system will work.
    Yes it will work. I'd still have stuck the boiler on the side of the house to prevent heat losses. There is no real reason not to.

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotmilk View Post
    ^
    This, your floors would be warm but the rest of the house would suck, what else heats it?
    Below ↓

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Heat rises. You don't need anything else.

    Yes it will work. I'd still have stuck the boiler on the side of the house to prevent heat losses. There is no real reason not to.
    There are also a few design features that are suitable for climate, essentially the traditional style homes are ideal for climatic features as they are essential years of designing homes for climate. Unfortunately through mass production, easy shipping, low energy costs, homes have become one-size fits all and scattered throughout the U.S. are the same craftsman suburban housing.

    For colder climates, in the winter the ideal would be to capture heat, so lower ceilings and more enclosed spaces. Also longer roofs would be more ideal as the larger the surface the more exposure to sunlight therefore direct heat. This placed at an angle so snow pack doesn't collapse the roof and rain can easily run off. The picture of the house below is better suited for winter climates for example.



    For humid temperatures, which in climates with rainy and dry season. Larger spaces are ideal along with high ceiling with vents on the roof to minimize the affects of humidity. Also at an angle to allow rain run off.



    Then for warmer climate, interior patios are actually an interesting concept. Vegetation or fountains cools the interior spaces along with the entire dwelling. The light colors also reflect light along with the many windows for cross ventilation.



    There are plenty of modern features as well. A whole list, these features are passive energy, the more familiar systems of heating and cooling (i.e. air conditioning/heating) are active energy.

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    Consul Kurtz's Avatar
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    Yes, but the point was that when you are already installing a boiler and have made that decision, then having it either in the middle (which would be best since any heat it gave out would serve to heat the house) or on the edge (so as to minimise heat losses due to outdoor piping) would make more sense.

    The only things I could think of that might change that is soot dirtying the outside of the house (shouldn't really be a factor in a good boiler) or risk of fire (again shouldn't be a factor).

  32. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Yes it will work. I'd still have stuck the boiler on the side of the house to prevent heat losses. There is no real reason not to.
    The mess of the coal and ashes.
    The fire hazzard.
    Many insurance companies won't give you homeowners insurance with an indoor wood/coal burner. Same with it on the back of the house. By distancing the "fire part" from the house you remove the messy stuff (the coal is stored in a storage shed and the ashes can be put in a wheelbarrow) and reduce the fire risk of your house. In fact you typically get lower homeowners rates since there is no risk of a furnace blowing up and burning the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Yes, but the point was that when you are already installing a boiler and have made that decision, then having it either in the middle (which would be best since any heat it gave out would serve to heat the house) or on the edge (so as to minimise heat losses due to outdoor piping) would make more sense.

    The only things I could think of that might change that is soot dirtying the outside of the house (shouldn't really be a factor in a good boiler) or risk of fire (again shouldn't be a factor).
    See above. I thought I would have more to add but I don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Evil View Post
    The mess of the coal and ashes.
    The fire hazzard.
    Many insurance companies won't give you homeowners insurance with an indoor wood/coal burner. Same with it on the back of the house. By distancing the "fire part" from the house you remove the messy stuff (the coal is stored in a storage shed and the ashes can be put in a wheelbarrow) and reduce the fire risk of your house. In fact you typically get lower homeowners rates since there is no risk of a furnace blowing up and burning the house.
    How very strange. At least to me. Most houses in Norway are wooden and have indoor fireplaces as well as some heating with wood in older houses (as mentioned electricity is cheap). Makes no difference to the in-sewer-ants.

  34. #34

    Woden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    Yes it will work. I'd still have stuck the boiler on the side of the house to prevent heat losses. There is no real reason not to.
    Besides that, wouldn't you have to walk through the cold to refuel the thing whenever it gets low?

  35. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woden View Post
    Besides that, wouldn't you have to walk through the cold to refuel the thing whenever it gets low?
    You go out once a day, open it, empty the ashes, put the ash tray back in, load a few buckets of coal in, poke the fire, close the door.

    Don't be a wimp.

    Yes, I may be a little redneck but **** it. I bait my own hooks and know how to cut up a deer for canning too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jono View Post
    Eb0l is the alpha and the omega
    The eternal pumpkin queen, and mother of gerbils
    So it was written and so it must forever be

  36. #36
    Consul Sirveri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtz View Post
    How very strange. At least to me. Most houses in Norway are wooden and have indoor fireplaces as well as some heating with wood in older houses (as mentioned electricity is cheap). Makes no difference to the in-sewer-ants.
    Our insurance companies are ******** and like to find reasons to charge us more money... Well maybe they aren't ********, just evil. Basically she can't have it in her house, not because it's dangerous, but because then the insurance cos will charge her more money even though there isn't a substantial increase in risk. Because they don't care about efficiency, or what's best for society, all they care about is what's best for them and how much money they can **** us for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshyyy View Post
    There is some serious misquoting potential above.
    The rep system should be abolished.

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