Thanks for the kind words, you guys. It feels good to be back.
Today is all about a project I haven't mentioned yet: replacing the furnace/air conditioning unit. Technically this is not my project, because I'm not doing any of the work, but I am paying for it.
The original unit is only three years old, but it was poorly installed and there are all kinds of issues. First, the unit is entirely the wrong size for my home. Second, my bedroom is hella cold in the winter, and the only way to fix that problem is to tinker around with the airflow. Third, the unit has a refrigerant leak. The cost of locating and repairing the leak plus the cost of tinkering with the airflow turned out to be only slightly less than getting a new, super-efficient-and-quiet unit.
I wasn't planning to borrow several thousand dollars from the credit union last week, but that's exactly what I did. I wish there were some way to recoup this cost, like going after the contractor who did such a miserable installation job. I thought about doing that, but decided against it. I don't want to invest my time and energy in trying to get him to do the right thing. Plus, there's plenty of blame to go around: the developer, the general contractor, and my home inspector all failed to pick up on the HVAC guy's mistakes. Really, I'd rather just pay someone I trust to get everything working at maximum efficiency and then get on with my life.
So today there are two nice guys in my living room installing an expensive piece of equipment and reconfiguring the return ductwork. My energy costs will decrease, my home will be more comfortable, the fan won't drown out our conversations any more, I'll get a nice tax credit for installing energy-efficient equipment, and the HVAC company can repair my old unit and donate it to someone who needs a furnace but can't afford it.
I certainly wouldn't have planned it this way, but it's all working out fine. I love that.