Sunday, July 03, 2005


The events of our past month can prety much be summed up in four words: still not dried in.

Windows: With Herculean effort, we got all the window openings roughed out and the windows installed in about a week and a half. As I suspected, those up-high big ones turned out to be monsters, but their placement went surprisingly well considering there were only three of us and we were working with some pretty simple equipment.
We ended up rigging a rope and pulley hung over the parapet wall with a steel "U" bracket (well, actually it was an old hose hanger from Vern's parents house, back from those long ago days when things were well made instead of disposable...). Anyway, it was the perfect size to slip over the top of the parapet and had a hole on one end we could slip a carabiner through to attach the pulley.
We put a strap around the window frame and a friend on the ground hoisted the window into place while Vern and I, on extension ladders on either side of the window, eased it into the opening and removed the strap. Then, while Vern held the window from falling out of the opening, I would run down the extension ladder on the outside of the house and up the ladder on the inside of the house to shim, level and check plumb, and then he fastened. I wish I would have been able to take a few pictures but I was too busy, and the sight of a ~250lb window dangling from a rope 20 feet over our heads had me too freaked out to think about much else.

Roof: I fired the roofer, aka, The Contractor from Hell (yes, the same one). When I fired this guy from the flatwork, I informed him of the length of his leash and my expectations with perfect clarity. He assured me up and down that there would be no problems, that the roofing crew was ready and waiting, and that they were experienced and professional. Not surprisingly, that story lasted about two days, and then we were right back to the different day, different story routine. He screwed around and hemmed and hawed for two weeks. Then, when he did finally set a start date for the work and I called him two days later on a Friday to confirm for the following Monday, he played his usual denial-that-it-was-ever-agreed-upon game and tried to change his story and delay another week. Furthermore, his "experienced, professional crew" had now turned into "his (one) guy" meaning the same loser flunkie that he's got doing flatwork by the hour who turned our roof slab into the work of a fourth-grader, and who, it should be noted, has zero roofing experience.
If I hadn't been so freaking frustrated, it would almost have been trying to work with a hamster running around clueless in one of those little wheels and never getting anywhere, and just so damn predictable.
The best part was that he had the gall to blame ME for the work not having been started by saying that I "keep changing things again and again". HA! That was the end of my patience for idiot contractors. I decided he needed to be fired on Monday and turned the whole thing over to Vern to settle the issue of him having been paid for around 2K worth of work on our front stoop that hadn't been completed.

CFH and I had worked out the details of this previously and agreed that he would finish the stoop in lieu of him returning our money, and now, with the very generous and patient Vern, he agreed again, of course with several changes to the story and us now paying for part of the concrete. Again, this was extremely generous of Vern, IMO, and done in good faith with the desire to just get resolution. We could have just as easily (and perhaps more sensibly) demanded he return the payment, threatened to sue, etc. etc. etc., and we didn't under the apparently false assumption that we should all be able to settle our business civilly. Anyway, he scheduled the work, committed to a date, canceled TWICE and tried to change the agreement (again) about five times. Finally, he scheduled the work and then didn't even bother to call and cancel, he just didn't show and didn't answer or return our calls. What a scumbag.
I've filed a complaint with the state Dept. of Commerce and if that doesn't produce anything, we'll have to decide how much time and effort we want to put into recouping our lost $.
Needless to say, I'm pissed that I gave the guy as much patience and time as I did and that he got ANY of our money, much less got a bunch of it for nothing, because everything about working with him was and is a big, irritating mess, including the quality of the work.

After all that, I had to waste another week soliciting and gathering roofing bids, and I'm now waiting on the second and so far vastly more professional roofing company we decided to hire to begin work. Let's hope for the sake of our sanity that attempt number two goes better.

Doors: We're still waiting on the doors because our supply company forgot to order them. Not a huge deal, since they can't be installed until things are watertight from above anyway. We're getting sick of dragging equipment like the table saw and compressor back and forth, so it will be nice when we can finally lock thigs up.

The never ending painting job: The weather continues to be a problem, with rain for at least a few days of every week. In between storms, we were able to work on painting all of the interior steel.

I've nicknamed that the Hell Suit. Temperatures of 95 degrees and 90% humidity plus respirator, goggles, and hooded Tyvek suit makes for one miserable day (or six days, in my case) of work. Add in holding my arms over my head for six or eight hours straight and being 20 feet up on scaffolding with nothing to hold on to and walking on a little platform while craning my neck upward and you have the task in a nutshell.
Actually, I forgot to mention being next to steel that's below an uninsulated, baking in the sun all day concrete slab. Make that temps of 110.

Since Vern is a notoriously not-good painter, I did 98% of the painting while he played gopher, rolled me around on the scaffolding and did the prep work. Fortunately he was great at that. We owe a huge thanks to one of Vern's relatives for letting us borrow the scaffolding, as we couldn't have done anything without it and rental fees would have added up very quickly. BTW, the painted steel looks great in it's new, neutral gray eggshell.

We thought we'd have our existing house on the market by now, but because of the roof-related delays, we've held back on listing it. I'm not sure exactly when we'll do this yet, but it's probably going to be soon and I'm not looking forward to adding that complication to the mix.

We're planning to start on the exterior finishing next, so I'm now under the gun to make a decision about colors and material placement(which is about the only way I'd be able to do it anyway). I also need to decide if we want to make the effort to paint the exterior window frames now or at a later date. I know I want it done, but I think I can live with them white for a while in exchange for focusing on what needs to get done to get to occupancy.


Blogger eLiZaBeTh said...

This is amazing. Seriously. I just found your blog from an Apartment Therapy entry from 2007 about "how to make a table with casters" and they had a link to your blog. I thought that it was a loft remodel or something at first...I had no idea that you have done so much work yourselves! Love it.

11:43 PM  
Blogger splatgirl said...

thanks Elizabeth. After the fact, I decided to call it "having the house baby" because it was one of those things that was pretty awful at the time, but SO worth it in the end. And because you sort of forget about how awful the process once you get to see the final product. "Final" being relative, of course, because I think it'll always be a work in progress!

7:52 AM  

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