Browsing Tag: west richland

    Tri-Cities, WA

    Fireworks Season … Anything Goes!

    July 5, 2012

    I really do love living in West Richland. Been here since 1998 and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the Tri-Cities area.

    But for a few days each year, I can’t stand West Richland. It’s during the few days before and after July 4th. If not for the fact that I fear our house being burned down, I’d get out of town for Independence Day. I’d really prefer to not have to deal with the insane noise, the kids being unable to sleep, the dog going crazy with fear, the smoke, the constant sound of fire trucks and all the other hassles.

    West Richland has historically had the most lenient fireworks rules in the area, from what I understand. In addition to locals doing their own thing, people come into West Richland from other areas so they can play with explosives for hours on end (usually after a BBQ and beer at home — ain’t America grand? Drink beer then go play with explosives!).

    The city changed some of the fireworks laws this year, mainly reducing the days and times that fireworks are allowed to be used. From what I understand, they didn’t change what types of fireworks are allowed … or, if they did, then we need much better enforcement. Because just a few houses away from us, the neighbors were putting on a professional-grade fireworks show.

    West Richland fireworks

    West Richland fireworks

    Residential fireworks

    Yes, this is legal

    Seriously, that’s insane. When amateurs can shoot off pro-level fireworks at home, who needs to go down to the Columbia River for the big “River of Fire” event? There’s no difference.

    We had to deal with this, maybe 100 yards from our front door, from about 8:30 pm to midnight.

    End of rant/complaint. Here’s hoping the West Richland City Council sees the light and eliminates fireworks altogether inside city limits.

    Featured, Miscellany

    How to Buy a House … in 4-5 Months

    November 7, 2011

    About 18 months ago, we came close to buying a new house about a half-mile from where we live now. But, after a crazy, seven-day period, that purchase fell apart when we got a much-bigger-than-expected bill from the tax man.

    Well … here we go again. Only this time, it’s a done deal. All signed. First check has been written. Plans are being made. It’s gonna happen. But not for several months, actually. All we have now is a piece of vacant land with an amazing view of the western skyline.


    That’s ours. And sometime around the end of February or beginning of March, we should have a very nice, fairly large, four-bedroom house on that piece of earth. Anytime you build from scratch, delays are possible. That’s especially true since this is scheduled to happen over the winter. We’ve been told, for example, that they can’t pour concrete if the temperature dips below 30 degrees.

    I’ll have a real office and not have to work in a cramped, former walk-in pantry like I do now. We’ll have a bigger kitchen and laundry room. Bigger bedrooms. More space. Nicer floors. A bigger back patio (with an outdoor fireplace, even).

    But do you want to know the main attraction for me? That amazing view. You see that mountain in the distance in the photo above? Here’s that same mountain when the sun is setting.

    Western Skyline

    Sigh…. I really can’t wait to sit on the patio with that as the backdrop all summer long.

    The new place is about two miles northwest of where we live now. I’m sure I’ll be driving over there all winter long to watch the house get built. And no doubt I’ll be posting some updates here, too. Just to give you a preview of what to expect when you come visit.


    How to Almost Buy a House in 7 Days

    February 28, 2010

    We’ve been casually looking at houses for probably 4-5 years now. That’s what you do when your wife is a real estate agent who has access to the MLS 24 hours/day, and when your “starter” home (that fit your three-person family just fine, but not so much your four-person family) gets too cramped.

    But in all our looking, the “right house” never showed up. Oh, we saw some amazing homes — but nothing that had the right combination of location, looks, amenities, and affordability.

    Until Saturday, February 20th.

    The whole family went out to the Home & Garden Expo and then, since we had nothing better to do, Cari suggested we go see a couple new homes that were just built about a half-mile west of where we live now. And thus began one of the craziest, most intense weeks of our lives.

    In the end, we’re not buying the house. But I’ve been writing a diary of the whole experience, and decided to post it even though things didn’t turn out how we hoped.

    Saturday, February 20
    After visiting the Home & Garden Expo in Pasco, we returned home and Cari took us to see three houses that are all less than a mile from our current home. We really liked House A, and only kinda liked Houses B & C. We went back to House A to look at it again and everyone agreed it was a great house. Not perfect, but the imperfections were certainly things we could live with. Here’s a shot of the front, which doesn’t really do it justice in my mind, but that’s okay.

    the house

    Sunday, February 21
    After church, we drove by The House again. Swooned again. Came home and talked more about it. I don’t remember what Cari said, but she convinced me we should at least see what it would take to make the move.

    We agreed that our current house would need a lot of work in order to sell at a good price. Cari made “The List” of home improvements that would be needed here. We talked about The List, made some changes, and resolved to get cracking on it the next day. We also sorted out other things to be taken care of: financing, school boundary questions, etc.

    I spent about three hours doing yardwork to make sure we’d have “curb appeal” on our side if we decide to move. Lawn cutting, trimming bushes, general cleanup.

    Monday, February 22
    Cari started contacting everyone on earth about home improvements to our current home: cleaning, painting, windows, new doors, etc. She made a a couple local visits to get info and names of people who could put down new carpeting. Appointments were made for the rest of the week.

    She also called contacts in the mortgage industry to get information on financing. Our problem was that banks don’t like to lend to people who are self-employed for less than two years. I’ve been self-employed for only about 18 months.

    Tuesday, February 23
    8:00 am: Our regular house cleaner arrived to begin work. Not the regular, bi-weekly cleaning, but a special job focusing on our cabinets (kitchen and bathrooom) and the shower in the master bath, which had years of hard water stains. She brought an assistant. They worked until almost noon, but didn’t finish.

    2:00 pm: Perfection Glass showed up to measure and look at our front door and our sliding glass door to the back yard. We talked about options for replacing both.

    4:00 pm: Envision Construction arrived to measure the house so they can put together an estimate for replacing all our carpets (which are 16 years old) and the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms (also 16 years old).

    Having no luck with mortgage Plan A, Cari moved on to Plan B, a local credit union. Didn’t seem promising, but at least the door wasn’t shut on our self-employed faces. She contacted our accountant to let him know what’s going on and ask if he can expedite our tax returns because the bank needs our current income figures.

    Cari also went shopping at Home Depot and spent about $500 on new kitchen fixtures (faucet, cabinet knobs, etc.), new lighting for several rooms, and new fixtures (showerheads, spouts, faucets) for both bathrooms.

    While all this was going on, I followed the loan officer’s instructions and filled out their online mortgage application in the afternoon. I followed up with an email explaining my work situation, and that I’ve actually had my own clients — outside of my day job with previous companies — for a full two years. She called at about 5 pm for a quick, pleasant call. Unfortunately, she seemed to be saying that we’ll need to not claim any deductions on our tax return in order to qualify for a loan. Ugh.

    Envision emailed their estimate on carpeting/flooring work pretty late: about $1,500, not including the actual carpet and flooring.

    Wednesday, February 24
    8:45 am: The guys from CleanCraft arrived. They’re a contractor/handyman service. They spent about three hours installing the new lights and shower fixtures. Didn’t finish the faucets, so have to come back tomorrow.

    11:00 am: Guy named Gerald showed up to measure the house interior so he can give us a quote on painting. In our 11+ years, we’ve never done any interior painting, so this must be the original paint applied 16 years ago. Gerald calls back a couple hours later with an estimate of about $2,000. Only thing is … he’s a former contractor who’s no longer licensed and insured.

    The loan officer, meanwhile, is still experimenting with numbers. She knows we can’t NOT claim any tax deductions. We spoke again around Noon to get a few questions answered.

    Cari went back to Home Depot for some more odds and ends.

    Got our estimate from Perfection Glass on the doors: about $2,800 total for both, much more than we want to spend. Plus they’re booked into April, and we’d need something sooner.

    3:00 pm: Service guy from Garrison’s arrives to look at the oven we bought last year. One of the burner knobs is jammed. He used cardboard to make a temporary fix and said he’ll have to make some calls to find out why this one knob has a problem. (They’ve been out several times before for this same reason.)

    In the late afternoon, we got great news from the lender: We may be able to qualify even with our normal deductions. We agreed to wait to see the final tax return. Our accountant said he should have it done by the end of the week.

    Thursday, February 25
    9:00 am: Guys from CleanCraft return to finish the work started yesterday. Replacing faucets is apprently much more involved than lighting. They’re here until about Noon. I spent the next hour talking with them about more work we’d like done.

    4:00 pm: Window cleaning service arrived to do the exterior windows, which have years of hard water (from sprinklers) building up on them, not to mention general winter dirt.

    I checked the school district’s web site and confirmed what Cari had said earlier in the week: By moving, we’ll be pulling T into a different elementary school zone. Even though we’d only be moving about a half-mile, and even though the current school would be a mile from the new house, she’d be zoned to attend a school that’s more than three miles away. I emailed a district official to ask how we go about keeping her in the current school if we move.

    Friday, February 26
    No visits scheduled today, so we played a waiting game on our accountant. We have estimates for painting and carpet/floor upgrades, but can’t commit to spending thousands on that stuff until we know what our tax hit will be. Unfortunately, our accountant told Cari this morning that he won’t have anything done until sometime over the weekend.

    In the afternoon, we learned that someone else was interested in The House, so the mad dash was on. We decided to write an offer now even without knowing the financial side of things, but the offer will have a few contingencies in there that let us back out next week if we get bad news.

    Within an hour of submitting the offer, the builder made us a counter-offer. They changed the closing date — moved it up a couple weeks from what we want, which will give us almost no time to sell our house. We have until Sunday night to reply to the counter-offer, so hopefully we’ll hear from our accountant by then.

    Saturday, February 27
    11:01 am: Our accountant called with preliminary tax return numbers. Unfortunately, we owe more in taxes than we hoped to. It’s a nice problem to have — we both had a good year in terms of income, but now it’s time to pay the piper. Even though we pre-paid a lot of taxes during the year, we still owe enough that the deal is dead. Cari emailed the seller’s agent. I contacted the people who were waiting to hear if we needed the house painted.

    Kinda sad. We made a fundamental home-buying mistake: We fell in love with a house before we knew our full financial situation. We got emotionally attached to it. And now we’re letting it go.

    We’ll learn and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    Tri-Cities, WA

    Why I Love Where We Live

    January 9, 2010

    Very early in our marriage, I used to tell Cari that someday I wanted to live in (or build) a development where everything that mattered to me was, like, really, really close to our house. I wanted all of my best friends to live on the same street so we could hang out without having to travel far. I wanted all of the important public services close by — stores, gas stations, our church, schools, etc. I basically wanted my own little, 3-square-mile version of utopia where nothing important was more than a five-minute drive away. How cool would that be, right?

    Here we are, married 18+ years and slowly it’s starting to happen here in West Richland! Have a look at the map:


    Our house is inside that big circle. When we moved here in late 1998, the area was pretty dead. But as you can see, we’re slowly getting most everything we need right around us.

    Elementary School: A little south of us is the elementary school where both kids have attended. This opened the first year we lived in West Richland. It’s less than a mile away.

    Middle School: This is where Sean goes now, also less than a mile away. It opened … 3-4 years ago, maybe?

    Fitness club: This will open on Monday. I just signed up yesterday, because about a week ago I stepped on the scale and weighed more than I ever have. Yikes! That bicycle purchase I made a year ago didn’t work out as far as helping me lose weight and get in shape; just never rode it often enough.

    Grocery store: A Yoke’s grocery store opened up about 4-5 years ago, I think. It’s also less than a mile away. We don’t do all our shopping there because, frankly, the prices are pretty high. But it’s super-convenient for quick shopping trips.

    Gas station: Once Yoke’s opened, all kinds of new businesses opened up around it, including a gas station that also has a Quiznos inside. Nice.

    Fire station: This was already here when we moved in, but it’s comforting to know that fire trucks are a mile away, God forbid anything happen.

    Sports fields: Also already here when we moved — it’s a nice little sports complex with four baseball fields, a soccer/football field, and a concession building. Very convenient when Sean spent a couple years playing Little League. And it also has a nice park with playground equipment that our daughter always loved. Back before I started working from home, the daycare that we sent both kids to was right across the street from the sports complex — again, super convenient to have that so close.

    Post office/Public library: These were also already here when we moved, but again – nice to have them so close. There’s also a nice restaurant right across the street from the post office, and a good pizza place right near the library (that many say is the best in the Tri-Cities).

    Still Missing

    First and foremost, all our friends. I haven’t been able to convince anyone to relocate here. Yet.

    Our church could be a bit closer. It’s about … maybe five miles away and not on the map.

    The nearest branch of our bank is way too far away. It’s a 15-minute drive to the mall for that.

    We also need an urgent care-type medical facility. A new medical office opened last year about two miles away, but we need a walk-in facility, too.

    A dog park for Sparky would be cool. There’s one in Richland, about 6-7 miles away, I think. Wish that was closer.

    Guess that’s about it. No place is perfect, but this place keeps getting closer with all the new stuff being built.

    Tri-Cities, WA

    West Richland, WA: The other windy city

    February 9, 2008

    I know Chicago is the official “windy city,” but I doubt Chicago has very much on West Richland, Washington. We just finished a string of three days straight with winds ranging from 15-50 mph — just non-stop, no breaks, rocks-in-your-pockets wind.

    I hate wind.

    Our house is on a corner, and the open side of the house faces west. That, of course, is where the wind usually comes from. So when it’s windy, our house gets pounded. Here are three photos I took in 2006 of the wind damage we suffer whenever West Richland turns into the really windy city:

    January 2006

    January 11, 2006: Famous last words

    November 2006

    November 13, 2006: Mother Nature 2, Fence 0

    December 2006

    December 19, 2006: Here we go again...

    At the risk of completely jinxing us, I’ll admit this: We haven’t had any fences knocked out so far this winter. But there’s still plenty of time. And plenty of wind, no doubt.