23 July 2021
Usually, I focus my military blogging on the military of the United States and its main potential military adversaries. This post, however, is devoted to an almost opposite perspective, the military of Mexico, the immediate Southern neighbor of the United States.
Basic Statistics - The U.S. v. Mexico
The population of the United States is currently about 333 million. Mexico's population is about 128 million (about 38% of the United States).
The GDP of the United States is currently about 21,430 billion U.S. dollars per year (about $64,354 U.S. per capita). Mexico's GDP is about 1,269 billion U.S. dollars per year (about 6% of the United States and about $9,914 U.S. per capita).
The U.S. spends about $778 billon on its military every year, which is 4.4% of its GDP and 38% of total military spending by all countries in the world combined.
Mexico spends about $7.1 billion on its military every year, which is about 0.6% of its GDP and less than 1% of what the U.S. spends on its military. So, the U.S. spends about 12.7 times as large a share of its GDP on the military as Mexico.
As of 2019, the U.S. had 1,367,030 active duty military personnel (including active duty Coast Guard personnel to assist in making the numbers comparable). It also has reserves in all four military services and the coast guard, and the Army and Air Force National Guard. This is 4,105 active duty military personnel (including the Coast Guard) per million people.
Mexico has 277,150 active duty military personnel in all parts of its military, in addition to 81,500 reserve forces. This is 2,165 active duty military personnel per million people.
The U.S. spends $570,000 U.S. per active duty soldier. Mexico spends $25,618 U.S. per active duty soldier.
The U.S. has a large nuclear arsenal which Mexico lacks entirely.
Mexico's Military Aircraft
Like the United States, Mexico has both an air force and aircraft that are part of its navy.
The Mexican military has 53 armed fixed wing aircraft.
Only six Mexican military aircraft have meaningful air to air combat capabilities, and only seven Mexican military ships and boats (discussed below) have anti-aircraft missiles (and obviously can't "chase" a fast moving squadron of incoming enemy aircraft). The Army's anti-aircraft grenade cannons would only be effective against low altitude aircraft.
Only twelve Mexican military aircraft and three Mexican military ships and boats (discussed below) could conceivably sink a surface combatant or large commercial ship at a distance of more than twenty miles. Three more Mexican military ships could do so at shorter ranges.
The rest of Mexico's armed aircraft are suitable only for dropping "dumb" bombs in uncontested airspace or perhaps in the case of eight more of them directing machine gun or unguided rocket fire at a target at close range.
The Mexican military has no missile or rocket or grenade cannon armed attack helicopters. It has no armed drones (by air, sea, underwater, or on land). It has no heavy or long range bombers. It has no stealth aircraft and only six aircraft that are capable of supersonic flight.
It has no heavy lift helicopters. It has no heavy fixed wing military transport aircraft (comparable to the U.S. C-5 or C-17 or the Airbus A400M). It also has (as discussed below) no significant sea lift capabilities relative to the scale of its Army and Marine forces.
It has no cruise missiles, no medium or long range missiles (other than those on its Maritime patrol aircraft), and no nuclear weapons of any kind. So far as I know, Mexico has no military surveillance satellites.
Mexico's air force has:
* 6 Northrop F-5E fighter jets. The original F-5 was designed for the U.S. Navy in 1962 and was in due course replaced by the F-14, then by the F-18, then by the F-35C. The F-5E design for export sales dates to 1972. It is a single pilot supersonic jet fighter that can reach bursts of speed up to Mach 1.63, and has a 140 mile combat radius with a full load of missiles and bombs. It has a ferry range of about 1,600 miles, with drop tanks in lieu of weapons, traveling at a slower the cruising speed Mach 0.8 to conserve fuel. It can operate at very high altitudes (51,800 feet).
The F-5E has relatively modern, although not state of the art, fighter aircraft radar. It has two 20mm cannons. It can carry 2 or 4 modern guided missiles (air to air, or air to ground), or pods with up to 38 unguided 70mm rockets or 8 unguided 127mm rockets. And, it can carry, in addition, up to about 5,200 pounds of unguided "dumb" bombs (if it is carrying only 2 relatively light air to air missiles). It can take off from a 2000 foot runway with two air to air missiles, but not a full load of bombs.
The F-5Es are the only aircraft in Mexico's military that can used modern missiles for air to air combat, and the only supersonic aircraft in Mexico's military. Some reports suggest that only about half of them are operational.
* 33 Pilatus PC-7 light attack aircraft. This is a modified 1978 two seater general aviation training aircraft from Switzerland which can carry about 2,300 pounds of unguided "dumb" bombs or unguided rockets spread over six hard points. It has a top speed of 256 miles per hour and a cruise speed of 106 miles per hour. It has a range of 1,630 miles (a combat radius of 815 miles), and a maximum altitude of 33,000 feet. Since all of its munitions are unguided, it needs to get close to the target to drop its payload, bringing it within range of anti-aircraft guns.
In addition to these armed aircraft, the Mexican air force has:
* 4 full sized commercial passenger jets used for VIP transport,
* 5 C-130 intra-theater transport planes,
* 12 smaller fixed wing military transport planes,
* 124 small and medium sized utility/transport helicopters,
* 5 unarmed fixed wing reconnaissance aircraft,
* 100 Israeli Elbit Hermes 450 surveillance drones, that are about 550 pounds, have a 20 foot wing span, and can stay aloft for 17 hours at its 80 mile per hour cruise speed, at altitudes up to 18,000 feet, and
* 147 training aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters combined).
The Mexican Navy has:
* 6 Spanish CASA CN-235 Maritime patrol/search and rescue aircraft. These have six hard points, each of which can carry an AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile with a 120 mile range, or a torpedo.
* 8 Spanish CASA C-212 Maritime patrol aircraft. These have two hard points that can carry a combined 1100 pounds of weapons, typically machine gun pods or unguided rocket pods.
* 17 small fixed wing transport planes (general aviation aircraft sized)
* 54 small and medium size utility/transport/search and rescue helicopters,
* 5 unarmed fixed wing reconnaissance aircraft, and
* 63 training aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters combined).
Mexico's Warships and Military Boats
Mexico's Naval ships and boats are pretty much completely separated between a Pacific Navy Force and a Gulf and Caribbean Force, which is only rebalanced on rare trips through the Panama Canal.
The Mexican Navy has 7 ships with torpedos and/or anti-ship missiles capable of sinking a warship or large commercial ship (four of which have anti-air missiles). But, only three of these ships can sink another warship or large commercial warship at a range or more than about 20 miles with anti-ship missiles (while every U.S. Navy cruiser and destroyer has missiles that can sink warships at longer ranges than that, and every U.S. Navy aircraft carrier has aircraft that can do that).
All seven of these ships and 24 more offshore patrol vessels of 1,000 tons or more, have helipads and also have grenade cannons and/or 2-3" naval guns. Three of these offshore patrol vessels have anti-air missiles, so there are a total of seven ships in the Mexican navy with anti-air missiles.
Eleven more offshore patrol vessels have grenade canons and a 3" naval gun but no helipad.
There are 98 more coastal patrol vessels and interceptors with machine guns or grenade cannons, but no naval guns or missiles or helipads, and 16 search and rescue boats with machine guns.
The Mexican Navy has no submarines and no significant anti-submarine warfare resources.
It has no aircraft carriers or helicopter carriers (although it has 31 ships with helipads for one or two small or medium sized helicopters).
It has no battleship, cruisers, or destroyers. Just four surface combatants in the Mexican Navy are as large as the smallest surface combatant in the U.S. Navy (the littoral combat ships).
The Mexican Navy's fleet is much more comparable to the fleet of the U.S. Coast Guard, with just a handful of heavier surface combatants, and the Mexican Navy has a mission much closer to that of the U.S. Coast Guard. It does not aspire to be a "blue sea navy."
Detailed Inventory Of Ships and Boats
* 4 Allende class frigates. The U.S. Knox class destroyer escort design from 1965. 3226 tons and 522 feet. Crew of 288. All four have 5" naval guns, torpedos and a helipad. One has Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft/anti-missile missiles.
* 1 Reformador class frigate. This is a Dutch 2005 design. 2575 tons and 298 feet. Crew of 20 to 80. Torpedos, a helipad, and modern anti-air and anti-ship missiles.
* 2 Huracan class missile boats. This is an Israel 1980 design. 498 tons and 202 feet. Crew of 53. A helipad and modern anti-air and anti-ship missiles.
* 8 Oaxaca class patrol vessels. Mexican 2003 design. 1680 tons and 282 feet.77 crew and 39 Marines. Helipad, 3" naval gun and grenade cannons.
* 3 Sierra class corvettes. Spanish 1998 design. 1366 tons and 231 feet. 75 crew. Helipad, 2" naval gun and modern anti-air missiles.
* 4 Durango class patrol vessels. Spanish 2000 design. 1300 tons and 267 feet. 74 crew and 55 Marines. Helipad and 2" naval gun.
* 4 Holzinger class patrol vessels. Variant of Uribe class. 1022 tons and 224 feet. 73 crew. Grenade cannons and helipad.
* 5 Uribe class patrol vessels. Spanish 1982 design. 998 tons and 220 feet. 54 crew. Grenade cannons and helipad.
* 11 Valle class minesweepers. U.S. and U.K. Auk-class design from World War II. 890 tons and 221 feet. 100 crew. 3" naval gun and grenade cannons.
* 20 Azteca class coastal patrol vessels. British 1976 design. 148 tons and 112 feet. 24 crew. Grenade cannons.
* 10 Tenochtitlan class coastal patrol vessels. Dutch 2001 design. 239 ton and 140 feet. 18 crew. Machine guns.
* 68 Polaris II class patrol interceptors. Swedish 1991 Combat Boat 90 design. 15 tons and 52 feet. 3 crew and 21 marines. Grenade cannons, machine guns and naval mines.
* 5 search and rescue motor lifeboats. U.S. 1997 design. 18 tons and 47 feet. 4 crew and 30 passengers. Optional machine gun mount. All on Pacific coast.
* 11 Defender class search and rescue boats. U.S. 2002 design. 2.7 tons. 4 crew and 6 passengers. Machine guns. All on Pacific coast.
Mexico's Amphibious Forces
Mexico has about 25,000 Marines, often included on ships as boarding parties on patrol vessels, and four tank landing ships (with a combined capacity of 1,384 marine and their equipment) which are as follows:
* 2 of the Papaloapan class. These are a U.S. design from 1968. 4,793 tons and 522 feet. Each has a crew of 213 and carried 421 marines. It is armed with machine guns and has a helipad.
* 2 of the Montes Azules class. This is a Mexican design from 2011. they are 3,666 tons and 327 feet. Each has a crew of 89 and carries up to 181 Marines and 1800 tons of cargo. It has two landing craft. It is armed with a grenade cannon and a helipad. These are part of the Pacific Naval Fleet and usually used for disaster relief missions.
Mexico has about 130,000 active duty Army soldiers (exclusive of the air force and the Marines), which is only modestly less per capita than the number of active duty Army soldiers per capita in the United States that are not deployed abroad, and about 65,000 reserve Army soldiers. Army soldiers make up about half of the active duty military personnel in Mexico, with the remainder being in the Air Force, Marines, or Navy (a larger share of the total than in the United States where the Army is 35% of the total).
The Army's equipment is a mishmash of different designs from different countries. Mexico's Army has:
* 120 light tanks (8 tons with 90mm main guns) (by comparison, a U.S. M-1 main battle tank weighs 74 tons and has a 120mm main gun),
* a handful of mobile armored vehicles with 75mm howitzers or 81mm mortars,
* about 1231 armored personnel carriers with anti-tank guided missiles (with a 2-3 km range),
* about 1500 armored personnel carriers with grenade cannons or heavy machine guns (only a minority are optimized against IEDs), and
* about 5,500 armored Humvees with grenade cannons or heavy machine guns.
It has two kinds of grenade cannons optimized for anti-aircraft duties.
It has a variety of infantry carried and towed unguided anti-tank guns from 105mm to 125mm.
It has a large number of towed 105mm to 155mm howitzers, and 60mm to 120mm mortars.
Apart from short range anti-tank missiles mounts on armored personnel carriers, the Mexican Army has no missiles of any kind. It has no anti-aircraft missiles, no missiles serving in an artillery role, no missile defense systems, no artillery shell or rocket defense systems, and no cruise missiles, and no nuclear missiles.
The Mexican Army has no heavy tanks and no heavy howitzers or mortars that are integrated into an armored vehicle.
Despite its meager military capabilities, Mexico's armed forces are not necessarily unwise given its missions.
Mexico knows that it is no match for its Northern neighbor, the United States, and doesn't even try to have a military defense to a U.S. invasion. The Pacific Ocean and the U.S. Navy in that ocean, guards it from outside invasions from Asia and Oceania.
Belize and Guatemala on its small southern land border have tiny militaries with even fewer resources. Belize has fewer than 1,500 troops. Guatemala has about 18,000. Neither of these countries has armed aircraft with any air to air combat capacity, or naval forces in their respective theaters that could rival even Mexico's modest fleet. The same can be said for Mexico's other close Central American neighbors.
Mexico has decided that it simply cannot afford and doesn't wish to engage in foreign wars and military engagements.
With a minimal risk of invasion, the Mexican armed forces exist primarily to respond to armed drug cartels and criminal gangs, to smugglers and fishing violators, to put insurrections (mostly by indigenous populations with no foreign proxy war resources of money or military assets, or by students and unions), and to provide civilian law enforcement at sea, and to provide disaster response in times of disasters or other exigent circumstances.
Basically, the Mexican armed forces, collectively, have a mission similar to the U.S. Coast Guard, Army National Guard, and Air Force National Guard, made more burdensome mostly by the failings of law enforcement in Mexico to address organized criminal violence. This homeland security mission for Mexico is much less expensive than the expansive military missions that the U.S. has undertaken.
Many Mexican armed forces missions are ones that the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force are prohibited by statute and long standing custom and tradition, from conducting.
Options For Upgrading Mexico's Military
If Mexico wanted to make its military more capable against sovereign state class threats, there would be some obvious places to begin at an affordable cost.
The least expensive and most consequential option would be to convert some of its existing Army and Navy utility helicopters, on proven existing designs, to missile, rocket and canon armed helicopter gunships, along the lines of the AH-1 Cobra variant of its UH-1 helicopters, or the AH-60M variant of its UH-60 helicopters.
In ground based conflicts, this could provide a powerful and robust (and better targeted than existing methods) means to devastating enemy armored forces and entrenched defenses.
In sea based conflicts, an existing frigate or missile boat or patrol vessel with an attack helicopter could be very effective against the highest end threats from criminal organizations and neighboring countries navies (other than the U.S.) that Mexican forces are likely to encounter at sea, effectively creating a mini-aircraft carrier strategy that can respond to emergent events much more quicky than the fastest ship.
Another inexpensive option would be to modify some of its light bombers and maritime patrol and training and light transport aircraft to carry advanced avionics and long range modern aircraft based missiles (air to air, and air to ground) and/or "smart bombs", while refraining from trying to buy more than a handful of advanced modern jet fighters (if any), as attaining meaningful air to air combat capabilities is much more expensive. Even an upgrade to smart bombs would multiply the effectiveness of the force by reducing the number of sorties per target, allow bombs to be dropped from safer locations in terms of altitude and distance from the target preventing casualties from ground based anti-air fire, and would reduce collateral damage when bombs are dropped.
If there is a felt need for any anti-submarine capability a small number of P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and some surface ship drones to gather reconnoissance might make sense. This planes can cover a huge territory, monitor sensors dropped in the ocean and on drones (perhaps also via patrol vessels), and can launch rapid strikes with torpedos launched from the plane when a target is identified.
Armed drones would make sense as a replacement for much of its existing light bomber resources. They cost less, do the same job and don't present the same risk of casualties.
Buying missile artillery like the U.S. military HIMARs system would provide benefits similar to smart bombs over howitzer and mortar based artillery, which have short ranges and comparatively low accuracy.
Buying modern ground based anti-aircraft missile batteries like the Soviet S-400, would be another that would cost somewhat more, but not that much more, and is probably the most cost effective way of discouraging enemy air intrusions into Mexican air space. Mexico can't afford the air to air fighter fleet necessary to have that effect.
To the extent Mexico wants to replace old ships with new ones, ships like its 500 ton Israeli missile boats make far more sense than blue sea frigates or cruisers or destroyers or non-coastal patrol vessels. These boats are very capable offensively, have small crews that are less expensive, and are less expensive than full sized blue sea surface combatants. And, Mexico doesn't no a far off coast capability.
Just two or three small diesel-electric coastal attack submarines could also be an investment to provide robust anti-surface combatant capability and a moderate but not entirely cheap price.
Finally, investing in IED resistant armored vehicles to the U.S. MRAP standard, before they become necessary due to an actual IED threat, could discourage one from ever arising.
22 July 2021
The Air Force is seeking to divest $1.37 billion worth of equipment in fiscal 2022, including 42 A-10s, 48 F-15C/D and 47 F-16C/D model fighters as well as 14 KC-10 and 18 KC-135 tankers and 13 C-130H transports, while the Navy wants to retire $1.26 billion in assets, including two Ticonderoga-class cruisers and four littoral combat ships[.]
16 July 2021
1. To have sustainable high wages you need both high productivity and employee bargaining power. Both are necessary. Neither is sufficient by itself.
Automation, for example, can increase productivity, which meets one of the conditions for higher wages for the employees that remain in a firm when a process is automated. But, this only actually translates into higher wages if the employees have enough bargaining power to secure some of the gains from higher productivity that the firm doing the automation would otherwise capture.
2. Jobs are not a fixed resource. Unemployment is not due to a shortage of jobs. Beyond the unemployment level seen in "full employment" (by which economists mean the level of unemployment caused solely by natural transitions between one job and another by people seeking jobs), unemployment is a collective failure of entrepreneurship. It happens because firms, collectively, haven't come up with any profitable way to use what people who don't have jobs have to offer in the short term.
A corollary of this is that immigration doesn't inherently "take" jobs. Immigration injects more resources into the system increasing the total pool of resources available, and this could increase or decrease unemployment, depending upon the ability of firms to find things for people in the labor force to do relative to what it could find for people to do in the pre-immigration situation. It is intimately related to Say's Law.
Likewise, it isn't really accurate to say that automation reduces the supply of jobs, collectively. It eliminates particular jobs, but frees up the people who used to do those jobs to do something else. Automation only necessarily creates unemployment when the people who lose their jobs as a result of automation aren't able to do any work doing anything else that has economic value.
3. While workers do have specific skill sets that aren't inherently hierarchical, for the most part, there is a hierarchy of workers such that workers able to do more skilled, higher level jobs are also able to do less skilled lower level jobs, while the reverse is not true. Collectively, managers can mostly do what the employees they supervise do, while supervised employees are usually not able to do what their managers do.
4. Lots of educational requirements for employment (and a fair number of other requirements for experience and particular skills and experiences) are simply indirect tests of IQ, work ethic, social skills, and social class that are used to weed out applicants. Outside the STEM fields and academia, most jobs do not require the knowledge acquired in the course of getting that education to be performed well. Conversely, some of the specific skills that are critical to doing a job are often not taught in the formal educational program whose completion is required to be hired for a job.
5. Employment discrimination laws had a powerful effect, but this effect was not largely due to fear of enforcement. Instead, the effect arose mostly because it changed institutional culture and because many firms obey the law as a matter of uniform policy without regard to the consequences for not doing so.
6. A majority of people in the society are not in the paid workforce. They may be in school, they may be preschool children, they may be homemakers, they may be retired or disabled. The economy needs to have people who have the responsibility and the means to provide for everyone who is not in the paid workforce for society to work well.
7. Automation is a two way street. On one hand, it makes workers more productive, making it possible to pay them more. On the other, the incentive to automate is highest when the cost of labor is high and employers need to automate to make their businesses profitable.
15 July 2021
If you have the attitude in this group text message, with $1,500 a month of rent in a one year lease, and a $1,200 security deposit, you are an evil landlord, and will have to litigate intensely over the security deposit if you try to take something from it without good justification. There is a good chance that attorney fees and costs and penalties will be awarded against you in that case.
Cultures can be changed; movements can be built. But as these examples all suggest, this is not a quick task. Culture wars are long wars. Instilling new ideas and overthrowing existing orthodoxies takes time—usually two to three generations of time. It is a 35-50 year process. . . .
The logic of cohort change can be grasped by the graphic at the top of this essay. . . . America’s future is godless not because the God-fearing were convinced of the errors of their faith, but because their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren never adopted their faith to start out with. Cultures do not change when people replace old ideas with new ones; cultures change when people with new ideas replace the people with old ones.
From The Scholar's Stage.
08 July 2021
The joint strike fighter is the largest acquisition project in the history of the Defense Department, with an estimated sustainment price tag of more than $1 trillion over the life of the program. The military plans to buy nearly 2,500 of the jets. The Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are buying the A, B and C variants of the aircraft, respectively.“The military services collectively face tens of billions of dollars in sustainment costs that they project will be unaffordable,” according to the report.The cost to operate the platform can be as high as $38,000 per flying hour, according to estimates from the F-35 Joint Program Office. . .If the Air Force doesn’t reduce the estimated annual cost per tail by about 47 percent by 2036, it will exceed its sustainment budget by about $4.4 billion, the study said. The Marine Corps will need to reduce annual sustainment costs per F-35B by 26 percent and the Navy must cut F-35C annual sustainment costs by 24 percent to meet affordability constraints in the mid-2030s, it added. . . .In addition to affordability, the platforms’ readiness rates concerned the watchdog.“F-35 mission capable rates — a measure of the readiness of an aircraft fleet — have recently improved, but still fall short of warfighter requirements,” according to the report.“While the F-35’s mission capable and full mission capable rates have improved over the past two years, these rates remain well below the program’s objectives due to several significant and ongoing sustainment challenges,” the report said.
The United States does not need, and should not buy 2,500 F-35s, for essentially the same reasons that it does not need 175-200 B-21a.
06 July 2021
It is easy to fall into the mindset that your home and your family are constants. But they evolve with everything else.
My grandparents, and many of many aunts and uncles have died. My brother and I got married (acquiring in-laws in the process) and had children, as did my wife's sister and many of my cousins (some of whom married or found a lifetime companion without having children). I moved west and learned of a whole new branch of the family no one had ever mentioned out here. My mother passed. My dad remarried, and in the process, I gained a stepmother and several step-siblings and step-nieces and nephews. My children have become adults and found significant others who may or may not end up becoming long term additions to the family. My family tree will continue to evolve.
We bought our home in the year 2000 when it was 75 years old. Previous owners had already done a lot to it after its construction in 1925. It originally had a coal fired steam heat boiler, tiny fireplaces or stoves on two floors, a milk door, and may or may not have been wired for electricity (much of the old lighting was do it yourself work not up to code and the thermostat was added later). Do it yourselfers and renovation contractors replaced some but not all of the galvanized steel water pipes with copper. The steam heat boiler and fireplaces were converted to natural gas. A later owner drywalled over one of the natural gas fireplaces and sealed the other one. The milk door was sealed. Someone carpeted the main room in the basement even though it flooded sometimes. Tiny amount of painted woodwork on the mostly brick exterior was repainted. Our immediate prior owner turned the Model T sized garage into a pottery studio, put a shop sink in the basement, and outfitted much of the house with original tile.
We've probably been more ambitious than any of the prior owner over the last twenty-one years. When we bought it, we helped draft the party wall agreement that divided it and had it subdivided. We built a backyard fence to separate the two units. We added an attic access previously only possible to reach from the other half of the duplex. When the next door neighbor's house was scraped and a new duplex was built there, the fence was rebuilt and a resolution of a boundary irregularity was resolved. We put in a swamp cooler. We replaced the curtain rods and put in new curtains. We got the doors to shut and replaced the garage door and the rear wall of the garage. We rearranged the main floor, taking down a cement wall and chimney from the downstairs utility room, sealing off two doors out of the kitchen, extending a hallway to provide access to a room previously entered through the kitchen. We completely renovated the kitchen and dining room (except for the dining room floor and one historic dining room light) from floor to crown molding with new cabinets, a new sink, countertops, new lighting, and new appliances (and have since replaced the refrigerator and the dishwasher again). We replaced a sink, toilet, lighting, and fan and added a cabinet, in a bathroom and replaced the fixtures in the tub. We refinished the floors. We replaced single pane, steel frame windows with triple pane vinyl windows. We replaced the front door and an adjacent light fixture. We refinished the wood floors. We replaced a ceiling fan. We replaced the shop sink in the basement and another toilet. We replaced the converted coal fired boiler and removed related asbestos. We restored one of the fireplaces. We put in a water line to the freezer (a feature of the freezer which needs to be fixed). We put in new utility room appliances. We put an egress window and new flooring and lighting into a downstairs storage room to make it more of a bedroom. We took the original kitchen cabinets and relocated them to a basement storage room with a new countertop. We replaced a garage door opener. We put in a rear patio and gazebo and planting box. We replaced an outdoor faucet that froze and put in a shutoff valve so it doesn't happen again. We planted a tree that has grown to adulthood. We replaced all of the light switch hardware. We repaired our mail slot and a gap in our brickwork. We put in and then abandoned a satellite TV dish and digital TV antenna (that latter of which never really worked). We extended our gutter to prevent foundation inundation. We replaced our roof. We re-poured the concrete sidewalk in front of our house and replaced the grass between the sidewalk and the road with rocks. We removed obstructions from a main drain. We've repainted all of the interior walls (in some cases, more than once).
An old house is never done and will continue to evolve. We plan to put a closet in the downstairs room we remodeled so that it can officially be a third bedroom. Several old light fixtures should be replaced. The thermostat could be replaced with a more modern one. A crawl space could use better insulation and a few basement windows could be upgraded from the original steel framed single pane glass that ones that don't completely shut well and have ragged old screens. The dryer vent could be upgraded. A basement bathroom/utility room could use further remodeling. We have a side door that could be replaced but doesn't have to be, and our fence may need some mending. An outdoor power outlet that we never use needs to be replaced. There is landscaping to be done in our dying, steeply sloped, 400 square foot front lawn (the last bit of grass remaining on our 1/15th of an acre lot). The garage door need to be replaced. We should get a shed so we can make room for a car again in the garage which currently holds mostly home and lawn maintenance materials and equipment, particularly if we decide to buy a plug-in electric car some day.
Perhaps by 2025, when the house is a century old, some of those finishing touches could be completed.
Some of the renovations are driven by the high value of housing in Denver. It is easier to polish your existing small home into a gem, than to buy a new one. We also did well by the Denver Public Schools. We paid $245,000 for our home, which was a fixer upper, the cheapest house on the block just a couple hundred years from Washington Park, the premier jewel in the crown of Denver's park system and a desirable urban residential neighborhood. The mortgage has been refinanced twice to a much lower rate (3.25% fixed) than what we started with, and the balance we've owed on it has declined over the years. Now, one of the realtors that courts us tells us it is worth $610,000 and that probably doesn't even reflect its much improved trim level and amenities.
Even the neighborhood has evolved. Some houses on our block have been scrapped and replaced or pop topped. The nearby main intersection has new stop lights and crossing lights. The sidewalks at the intersections of wheelchair ramps. The asphalt has been redone on the street, and the alleyway concrete has been redone. The dumpster we replaced with trash and recycling bins. There are 5G towers throughout the neighborhood. Some trees have died and been replaced in the neighborhood. The water mains will be replaced in the near future.
I do a lot of estate planning and probate work as an attorney, so I often visit the homes of the elderly and the recently deceased. So many of those homes are frozen in time to a state almost the same as it was when they bought it several decades earlier when they were just starting a family. Even many of the decorations, spice drawer contents, and liquor cabinets are often undisturbed for decades. We have thankfully avoided that trap, so far, and have a home that is fresh and modern with only period touches. It doesn't yet have the smell of death and decay that is so common in the homes of the very old, although that may come with time. I'd like to think that we can escape that.