Precarious Death Stairs, Revisited.

ETA: The blog is being rebooted as an incentive for my Patreon Supporters. All posts go live after a week, but Supporters at the $10+ tiers get early access. Thank you!

Brooke here. This isn’t the first post I wanted to put up on the rebooted blog. There is so so so much that needs to be discussed. Like how the washer had a slow leak and it black molded-up the new basement, or how we got the foundation repaired, or how we finally got the pool up and running but then a giant tree smashed it, or how we acquired Puppy….but if we don’t get started, nothing will get done. Good rule of home improvement, that.

Let’s turn back time to 2010, right after we bought this REDACTED REDACTED motherREDACTED house. One of the first posts we ever put up was on the Precarious Death Stairs, which was basically a black hole made of oak and beadboard that ended with a sudden stop in an aquarium.

Reposting this image of the stairs as we found them. The main image has been digitally lightened; the image in the upper left is how they used to look all of the darned time.

Since then, it’s been painted to reduce the dark and enhance the light and looks substantially less dangerous.

(Please note that by substantially less dangerous, I mean that intelligent human beings still fall down these stairs on a regular basis. A few months ago, we had a service technician out to do some repairs, and he was chitter-chattering about how great the house was and how lucky we were and then he just tipped over and fell into the void.)

But we’re not here to talk about the paint. We’re here to talk about how I got scammed with a lighting fixture.


I ordered this little guy from Amazon (if you’re feeling frisky, you can do an image search) for $95. I thought I was supporting a small company, original design, etc. When it arrived and it was very obviously nothing but $10 in pipe fittings and $20 in cord and sockets, I was rather grumpy: when I did an etsy search, I found multiple listings with the exact same design, and was extremely grumpy.

Son of a…

These fixtures were all the same 9-inch design, since the largest eye hooks you can buy fit into the smallest reduced nipple fittings (shut up not my term) on the market. I had no choice but to come up with a complicated master plan:

  1. Return the original light fixture.
  2. Build my own darned light fixture.
Left: the new lamp fixture.  Right: the pipe after primer.

The new fixture was 18″ from end to end, or twice the size of the original. Cost of new pipes was a whopping $18, plus $10 in shipping. To top it off, I ordered a vintage cloth cord from a dealer on etsy ($16 with shipping), and added a $22 pendant lamp from Amazon’s scratch-and-dent bin.


Since the PDS aren’t wired for light switches, I had a local lamp shop swap out the pendant cord with the plug, and then set it up on a motion sensor. As the PDS are tucked away in a dark corner, the motion sensor doesn’t activate until you’re standing on the top of the stairs. The whole thing actually works!

Okay this is an awful photograph and will be replaced as soon as it’s daylight, because the irony of lamps is that you cannot take good photos of them without proper lighting.
(ETA) …um. Here’s what it looks like in better lighting. I CAN’T TAKE PHOTOS, OKAY?!?

And there’s a short, sweet high note before we kick off the many hundreds of blog posts about this legacy of crap in the shape of a mortgage. I’ll be trying to keep to a once per week update schedule.

Welcome back.


5 thoughts on “Precarious Death Stairs, Revisited.

  1. Good luck!

    I had a crap house much like what you’re talking about, (fortunately, no basement) that sold me it without making the mandatory changes that were needed by the VA for the loan that I’d taken out to buy the house. Thinking he’s get one over on us, we signed most of the paperwork needed to purchased the house, EXCEPT the ones that released the escrow on the house to the realtor.

    When he asked why we hadn’t, I told him that the escrow wouldn’t be released until the repairs specified in the contract had been completed. Several months later, he had fixed those issues fixed, but others cropped up BECAUSE of the first set of issues. I could have used him for the total cost of the house, and then some, but too much money would be tied up in repairs as it was with a low chance of return.

    Wouldn’t have mattered much any way, as his company was being used as a cover for a cocaine distribution scheme that he was arrested for two years later, and the company was shut down with assets seized.

  2. Very nice lamp! I like your design better than the other one anyway.

    One of these days I’ll have to get a picture of the precarious death stairs into my parents’ basement and email to you. They’re steep as crap and just that half inch off standard that makes you feel like you’re gonna fall at every step, AND they’re cement, AND they have a ninety degree turn. It’s like a hat trick of death trap and my mother had knee replacement surgery a few years ago on top of our genetic propensity for accidents that is so strong that we both regularly cannot actually remember how we got a huge nasty bruise. Because we’re so used to smacking into things that it doesn’t even register.

    It’s a miracle she managed to have kids and that I made it out of the womb.

  3. The saga continues. This is one of those horribly sad ones where everyone dies and it doesn’t get better until the next generation right? No. we’re going to prove the saga smiths wrong!

  4. Great to see the house blog up and running again. Maybe you can repurpose the weeping closet if all goes well.

  5. As always, my utmost sympathies!
    I hope that publicly swearing at your house will prove cathartic and stress-relieving.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s