Tag Archive: Owning a House in Japan

Aug 06

Update… Of DOOM!

I’m writing this on the bus to the airport … I’m about to head off to do the second leg of my summer Theatre tour.


I was at the house almost every day since the weekend, puttering around, finishing things up.  Of course, I’m not nearly close to finishing, but my friend Dave has taken it upon himself to finish all the waterproofing stuff before I get back, leaving only the roof for me.  We’ll see if that happens… it’s a lot of work.


The work on the house is happening quickly now.  I’ll post photos of the construction soon… it’s a shame I’ll miss the next bits.


Some bad news yesterday, though… they ripped out the bathroom walls and the tub and realized that there was a lot of rot back there.  Also, apparently the support posts are missing.  Arg.  Another 130,000 yen…  On top of that, they also discovered that the drain from the bath, the powder room sink, the washing machine, and the kitchen sink all went through the same pipe and drained into an OPEN weeping system that rings the west side of the house before it connects to the city’s sewage line.


Well, that partially explains the mosquitoes.  Fixing this properly would take more than we can afford (in the neighbourhood of 1 million yen), so the renovators will have to rig something.  They can’t just stick a pipe into the weeping trough, because there’s a 90 degree bend in it, which would make it prone to plugging up.  So they’re going to separate the bathroom and laundry from the kitchen drainpipes, but they will still have to drain into the weeping system.  My impression is that they’re also going to cover it up a bit more effectively than it’s covered now (just some slabs of concrete), to reduce the potential smell (grey water shouldn’t be that bad, but why take chances). 


Oh, and a clarification: in Japan ‘bathroom’ literally means the room with the bath in it.  Our toilets are on the other side of the house and drain separately and properly, so the weeping system isn’t going to be full of turds or anything.


So that’s probably another 100,000.




Oh, and a note about how this may have happened: originally, the kitchen was the room that my office is going to be in.  When the first set of renovations were done to the house, probably in the eighties, I think the bathroom was added onto the house.  The contractors at the time re-plumbed the whole south side of the house, but simply didn’t tie the drains in properly.

Aug 03

I Hate DIY

Dust in my clothes, dust in my hair, dust in my eyes..


I spent a good chunk of Sunday working on the rustwork holding up our deck, particularly the decayed side piece.  I was using some kind of catalytic putty (think BONDO) to fill in gaping holes, and then grinding it down with a grinder tool.  Every time I did that, the air would fill with a fine white dust that would get in everything.  What I wouldn’t do for the facemask I wear in 39.


I took care of a fair amount of the roof last Wednesday, but only the lower roof, over the kitchen and bathroom.  I haven’t yet been able to climb up and deal with the upper roof.  It will probably have to wait until I get back from my Canadian tour.


The contractors have already started work on the place.  They’ve ripped out the woodwork that runs along the side of each room, Japanese style.  They’ve also done the primary demolition, ripping out the kitchen counters and shelves, the closet interiors, and the tatami floors.


Although we were going to keep the living room floor in order to save money, we’ve decided that it will look really weird, since there are two areas of the room (bookcase nook and the old hallway), where we have to put in new flooring, and the colour is much darker.  So my wife has contacted URBAN to tell them we’ve changed our minds.  That’s another 十万 down the hole…


We’re trying to decide final room colours right now as well, which is difficult, because I have trouble visualizing a tiny sample of a colour on a card being on an entire wall and ceiling.  So we’re being very conservative, with a lot of whites and very light colours (bedroom is a super light blue).  We’re also a bit afraid that dark colours will make the rooms feel really small.


The living room was also going to be an off-white, but we’ve decided to gamble on a mustard colour.  Fingers crossed!

Jul 13

The Garden

Last weekend, the gardeners came.


Surprisingly, this was my wife’s idea, not mine.  One of her friends works for a landscaping company, and we asked her for help.  She asked what our budget was, and my wife told her 40,000.


Our garden looked like this:


















And this is what it looked like after: