Friday, February 29, 2008


Not all of it. But some of it. And some of it is better than none of it!

I turned into our road and nearly did a double take, not recognizing the home we have labored on for the past (nearly) 6 months. Such a shock to see activity and it not be our own. It damn near took my breath away. It did bring a tear to my eye...ok, now I'm exaggerating that was the frigid wind that brought a tear to my eye. But it sounded dramatic for a minute, didn't it?

It was 4 below zero when I left for work this morning, so no siding will be going on today. And they're predicting 14 - 18" of snow tonight and into tomorrow, so no siding will go on then either. It sounds like Monday is the next day we will activity on the house.

But for now, I can actually see what it might look like, one day, if we ever finish!

Ha! Progress!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My father in law is an asshole

I know I've stated this before, but it is a sentiment that bears repeating. Good God, he continues to screw us over. In every way possible. Back in October he had us order our siding because it was special order. Come to find out today, only the cedar-like shakes for the peak of the house were special order. Totalling up to about $400. Versus the $5000 we've been paying interest on since that time. We could have ordered the special order stuff then and held off on the rest until two days prior to the contractors starting.

He's given us bad quotes on everything he has quoted. He screwed us over with the bank, almost costing us our rehab loan back in December by being careless with his remarks when the inspector was at the house. He hasn't been at the house to help until just recently. He causes W2 stress on a level that is off the charts. He can't be at the house now when we need him to make sure the contractors do what they are supposed to.

And the most frustrating thing for me is that we can't let him know how we feel. It kills me. I just want to scream at him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

chicks with tools

My inlaws came over to help this past Sunday. Dad, Mom and Sis. Dad and W2 worked on framing the closet and bathroom in what will one day be our bedroom. Mom, Sis and I worked on cleaning up (cuz that's what women folk do, dontcha know?) in, what will be our bedroom, then down to the apartment to clean that up as well. Sis, is an avid cleaner. She loves it. Lives for it. Great...go ahead and clean!! So when we finished our assigned projects she moved on to using our beloved Dyson to vacuum any and all available surfaces in our home. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you dear sis! Not that I don't vacuum, but I will admit to losing sight of the mundane day to day chores of keeping a house, when we are constantly traipsing up and down stairs with muddy boots, lugging 2 x 4's, sheets of sheetrock and plywood and what not...every day cleaning has gotten lost in the midst...I'll admit. So I totally appreciated her love of cleaning and her willingness to apply it to our home.

While Sis was vacuuming, Mom and I tackled flipping the mattress on our bed. W2 and I both suffer from bad backs. We suffer more because we are about 2 years past the point of needing a new mattress. But new mattresses cost money and any and all money we have or have access to, goes to the house...not a new mattress. One day there will money for that. That day is not today. So I rely on all sorts of tricks to make our mattress last until that time. One of which is flipping it periodically.

For any of you readers who have not slept on a mattress well past it's prime, let me describe our sleeping situation. W2 and I are not small people. There is therefore a crater in the middle of our mattress, where we have slept most often. This crater does it's best to claim our bodies throughout the night. Regardless of anchoring a leg over the side of the bed, using pillows to prevent the slide, hanging on for dear life, I find myself solidly in the middle of the crater come morning. W2 claims I hog the bed. I claim I want to be closer to him ;) Regardless of what we claim, the truth of the matter is we end up like a pile of puppies in the middle of the crater with our backs twisting and contorting in our efforts to stay on the edge. It is our nightly routine. This quest, if you will.

I am sick of the quest! So I decide that I am not only going to flip the mattress but I'm going to put one of the many sheets of plywood we have between the mattress and boxspring. So Mom and I strip the bed and stand the mattress up on end, she has to stand in front of it to stop it from falling down. While I run down to the garage, grabbing Sis along the way to get the plywood. Sis, not so handy, but as I've mentioned, willing to help. So we get the 8' sheet of plywood in the house, after moving a refrigerator and a piece of cabinetry we are able to navigate the plywood up the stairs. At the top of the stairs there is more navigating to do in order to get it into the bedroom, but we're determined, and where there's a will, there's a way. In it goes!

We get it to the bed and flop it down's too big. A king size bed is not 8' long (But wouldn't it be great if it were?!) I am a determined woman. I am rehab warrior #1. I will not be defeated by this size discrepancy. I march my happy ass into the addition, where W2 and Dad are working, to get the sawzall! I tell W2 not to worry when I am questioned about what I am doing, and I march my happy ass back into the bedroom. I proceed to saw the plywood, where it lay, propped on the foot board and the boxspring. I saw while my mother and sister in law plug their ears. I saw until the damn battery quits. In the middle of the board.

But I am not dissuaded from my quest. NO! I run downstairs and get our batttery operated circular saw to finish the job. By this time W2 has come into the bedroom to see what the hell I am doing. His dad asked him where he was going and his reply was "W1 was just in here to retrieve a saw, I now hear saw sounds coming from our bedroom, don't you think I should go see what she is sawing?" W2's dad thought he had a good point!

I use the circular saw from the other side of the board planning to meet the line. I'm sure you can imagine where this is going. It doesn't match. But I learn that it doesn't match because the battery in the cirular saw ALSO DIES!! I am cursed with poorly charged batteries. We have two rechargers but apparently we've fallen behind in keeping our four batteries charged. As you can also imagine, I'm not giving up. So I kick the board, breaking it in two, and lay it down. Of course this doesn't cover the entire mattress so I must continue to switch back and forth between the two saws and piece together the remainder of the plywood in order to create an even surface. But I prevailed. I am the master of those damn power tools. I can complete a project on my own.

Sis vacuums up all the sawdust. Mom, Sis and I then flip the mattress, put it down, and make the bed. I then flopped down on it to see if it was all worth it.

I couldn't tell! Can you believe that!?

It's been two nights since then and it is better, but boy was that disappointing in terms of instant gratification!

Monday, February 25, 2008

contractor hell

First contractor goes MIA, call second contractor. Second contractor no call no shows, call second contractor. Reschedule for following day with contractor #2, talk to former contractor whom you work with. Former contractor interested in job, comes to see the house assures me of a phone call Friday night. Second contractor calls half hour before scheduled apointment to reschedule due to weather, former contractor doesn't call.

This about the time I started gettin pissy.

Second contractor calls Saturday and asks if he can come out that day. I tell him no, we had agreed to touch base on Sunday. But then I realize I might be shooting myself in the foot, so I call W2, who agrees, I am shooting myself in the foot. I then call back contractor #2 and attempt to schedule for that afternoon. He's not sure, will call by 3pm.

3:15 contractor #2 calls to let me know he is on his least we'll get to see a damn contractor. He comes out, checks out the house and gives us a quote. It is twice as much as contractor #1, but wait that didn't include the soffets and fascia. That's another $1650. We don't have $7650 allotted to do this project. We have $3000 allotted. We are screwed and our backs are against the wall.

W2 heads to the bank today to see about a loan that will cover the siding and heating system. If we can pull off the siding, we may be able to extend the rehab loan, which would reimburse us for everything we have to borrow.

Keep your fingers crossed. I know I am.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I hate contractors

So I had called another contractor to give us an estimate on siding the house. We agreed to meet at the house last night at 6:30. I get home from work to find W2 wandering around the yard in wonder. It appears our first (long absent) contractor had been at the house cleaning up yesterday. First of all, IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!!! Second, why that day?

So we scratch our heads and nash our teeth in frustration but anxiously await the meeting with contractor #2. We wait patiently for 6:30 to arrive. It arrives. The contractor does not.

We wait until 6:45, when I reach the end of my patience and call. No answer. No huge deal as we live in the middle of no where and people often lose cell reception enroute to our house. My phone rings moments later and it's the contractor. He stood us up!!! Are they all cut from the same damn cloth? I don't get it. He says he was so glad I called, because he had lost my number and wanted to change it to tonight. Whatever!!! I agreed to meet with him tonight and then promptly called contractor #1.

He claims he's been sick as a dog (for seven weeks?), that he was out last week and saw his guy hadn't cleaned up after them like he was told to, so he came out this week to clean up. MY ASS!! He wasn't out last week walking around. First off, it was muddy as hell last week. If anyone had been walking around our property we would have noticed the foot prints. Secondly, W2 and friends were home working on the beams. So he's blatantly lieing to us. Next he tries to tell me that he was gonna call, but he ah, ah, forgot, I guess. GRRRR!

I let him know we were getting bids from other contractors because we hadn't seen or heard from him in 7 weeks. I also let him know that he basically screwed us out of our rehab loan since he hasn't gotten the work done. We only had until March 3 and he's known that all along. Bottom line we're fucked out of $25k because we can't get a damn contractor to keep their word.

I hate contractors.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


We here at Casa su Rehab, have not gone the route of contractors. We've not done this for a couple reasons, ok one reason: MONEY. We don't really have it. You didn't actually think we were doing this all on our own because we wanted to, did you? because we desired the challenge? No, we are doing it the way we are doing it, because it is the way we can afford to do it. Anyway, we did give in to the need for a contractor when it came to the roof and the siding. We did this because a) neither W2 or myself really knows how to do either and b) neither of us wanted to be that high up on scaffolding. You see, our house is four stories at the peak in the back. Not a height I desire to achieve.

So we found a contractor that was willing to do the labor and allow us to purchase the materials. Not something most contractors will do. They want to buy the materials because they can get a contractor discount but charge you the retail price. This is how they are able to make some of their money. Whatever. We are able to get the contractor rate through W2's dad, so didn't want to pay anything additional. K, so we found said contractor. Great. but wait, not so great.

#1 he was supposed to start the week of Thanksgiving. That didn't happen. Not because of weather, but because he was running behind schedule. Fine. It would have been nice if he was able to communicate that with us, but whatever.

#2 he started but then requested money the first day on the job. We paid him, some. He worked a couple more days and requested more. We didn't pay him. We told him we would pay him when the roof was done.

#3 he finished the roof. we paid him. We overpaid him because the measurement the quote was based on were off. But we were ok with that, whatever. It wasn't that much and he was giving us a great rate on the siding.

#4 he disappeared.

#5 I called him 3 weeks after we had last seen him and he said he would be out that week

#6 he didn't show. I gave him a week from when he said I would see him. then I became his worst nightmare. I called and left a message EVERYDAY for a couple weeks. Asking when we would see him again. No response.

We have a rehab loan. It gives us 6 months to complete all work the bank has agreed to pay for. The siding is a major chunk of this work. Our contractor has essentially screwed us out of this loan because he didn't show up, showed up then disappeared. We have until March 3rd to get the house sided and inspected in order to get any of the money from the rehab loan.

I have another contractor coming to look at the house tonight. I will explain our predicament and see if there is any chance in hell of him siding our house before March 3rd. I doubt it is possible.

Our first contractor has left all of his ladders at the house. At this point I am ready to sell his ladders to help pay for some of our rehab.

I am not happy. and W2, well dear W2 has given up on sleep entirely.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The beam is in

With the help of the Jackal, Rigger and W2's dad the micro laminate beam (weighing close to 1,000 lbs) is in. You can now stand on the floor in the apartment and jump up and down, AND IT DOESN'T BOUNCE!!! How exciting is that??

They had to jack up the house to get the beam in as well as installing 3 new lolly(sp?) columns along with the beam in the basement. Then on to the 2nd floor they moved. Yesterday they got everything cleared out and prepped. Beams notched, supports in place, 2 x 4 nailed in. And today they will put the beam in both the 2nd and 3rd floors!!! By the end of today, we will have a structurally sound house! What a novel concept!?

Rigger left yesterday and although we totally appreciated his help, I wasn't sad to see him go. He is not the easiest person to spend time with. So the Jackal, W2 and I had a very unromantic Valentine's dinner at the local BBQ joint and a lovely visit. I truly love the Jackal and cannot wait for he and his family to live in closer proximity. It looks like this Spring/Summer they will be moving North of the Mason Dixon Line once again and we will be within a couple two three hours of them. We are so blessed to have such good friends. It is just so very lonely as they are all so far away.

We will be able to move forward with framing out our bedroom once all of the beams are done. Then on to the kitchen. Aaaah, the kitchen!!! We cannot finish our bedroom until we install the new furnaces and duct work. We cannot install the heating system until we have some money as it is going to cost about $12k (we finally got the estimate and contract). Too bad we can't do an installment plan, huh? but anyway. So we will get to a certain point in the bedroom and then have to stop.

The Jackal gave us a great idea for the kitchen floor. We had been going back and forth as W2 wants tile, I do not. I understand tile is great for resale, but it is cold and hard. Since I am the one standing in the kitchen, I think I should have the majority of input. We had gotten to the point where I gave in and said, fine whatever, to the tile. But I wanted to pick it. So we went and looked and I showed W2 what I wanted. He agreed, liked the look, and we started pricing. Here's the problem. The main tile I chose was not all that expensive, about $450 to do the floor. But I had fallen in love with a river pebble border. These 4" x 8.5" pieces were $8.55 each. This added up to something like $800, on top of the tile cost. W2 lost his marbles. I pouted. I'm not much of a pouter, but I loved the look of the river pebbles. Anyway, so we moved on. We found a real touch laminate that looked like tile, but had backing and a pad that made it soft. It is much darker than the tile I had picked out, but it was ok. Definitely a compromise, but ok. The Jackal suggested last night that we go to the river and collect a couple buckets of stones, cut them in half with a wet saw and create our own. Hmmm?! very interesting!! So now I think we are back to tile, with an electric pad underneath for warmth (another brilliant idea of the jackal) and we'll design a pattern to incorporate the river stones. Also it'll be a great way to incorporate material from our area. We'll go to the river behind the house for the stones!

All in all there has been a ton of progress made this week, with time spent with good friends, and fabulous ideas shared!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Well pump dies

We did not get much done on Sunday, as I may have mentioned in the last blog. I felt like shit and W2 lacks motivation if I am laying on the couch, you can't blame him. So we got the stove almost wired, got the upstairs addition completely unwired and insulated and swept. Then we called it quits before I had to do the puking in between hammering routine I've done in weeks past. W2's dad was pissed that we didn't finish getting the sheetrock off the ceiling and out of the apartment. In my world, it's none of his goddamn business what we did or did not accomplish. He has had no interest in this project up to this point and has offered nothing but condemnation and put downs for W2. He has caused more problems than been helpful. He gets W2 completely riled up, down on himself and frustrated. And then I have to hold my tongue of what I really feel, something I am NOT very good at, and spend the next...however long it takes, rebuilding, cheering on and supporting to undo the damage.

W2's dad does things very differently than mine. He does not support, approach things from a positive standpoint, or congratulate. This is very difficult for me. Not to say that my dad is the saint of all saints, but I, as well as W2, find it much easier to work with him. I think W2 has done an amazing job, with little to no help from anyone he expected to help. He has learned a ton and far exceeded what he thought he could do alone. I'm there, but as I mentioned, I am relatively unskilled labor. I'll work all day right along side you, but I'm learning too.

Anyway, W2's dad is an asshole in my opinion. I guess that's enough said about that.

W2's friends arrived last night to help get the beams installed. The Jackal arrived from Tenessee and Rigger is in from the Boston area. Our house is not so ready for guests but we made do and everyone made it through the night with nary a chill! Good thing we own as many sets of flannel sheets, sleepings bags and blankets that we do!

I got in the shower this morning and realized the water pressure sucked. The longer I showered (brief to begin with, but with no pressure, I couldn't get the soap out of my hair) the worse the pressure seemed to get. W2 flushed the toilet to see if that had any impact, it didn't. Then it took forever for the toilet to refill. It trickled in. One drip at a time. Or that's how it sounded anyway. So off to the basement went W2 like the Rehab Warrior that he is, to see what demon is plagueing us now. It seems we have power all the way out to the pump, but nothing from the pump. I have no idea what all of this means, except that the pump is not pulling water from the well. There is speculation that the pump might be frozen, but we don't know how to tell if that is the case. Getting a pump guy to house will cost a shitload of money. It will cost more because the weather sucks.

It's pouring out. And when I say pouring, I mean POURING, sideways, on top of the ice that fell from the sky last night, that fell after the snow fell. To say that the weather is miserable would be an understatement. The roads are horrendous, the wind is howling, no one in their right mind would willingly be working outside. A pump guy is going to cost a fortune today.

In my search for a silver lining in this very dark rain cloud, I am glad the furnace is working? so our pipes won't freeze? so we won't freeze? that it's raining so we can collect water that way? I don't know. It's getting harder and harder to find the silver lining and I am quite certain W2 is going to kill me one of these days when I offer the plus side of whatever situation we are in. I feel like that McDonald's commercial where the guy is being chased by a bear and says he needed the exercise or has a third degree burn and declares red is his favorite color. That's how I feel.

In the meantime, the boys are moving ahead with the beams. W2's dad is headed out to help (yippee) and they'll deal with the pump then. I am at work. Warm. Dry. Clean. These are good things on a day like today.

Monday, February 11, 2008


W2's parents came out to the house on Saturday to help. A novel concept because there has been little help from that corner up until now. But on Saturday they were awesome. We got all of the framing out of the upstairs that will one day be the master bedroom and bathroom; all of the sheetrock out of the apartment; all of the wires out of the upstairs; all of the wires out of the apartment; got the water softener to work and something else that I am not remembering. But anyway, they were awesome. W2 and his dad accomplished all of this with nary an arguement or moment of tension. I even threw in the total wrench by suggesting we maybe, just might, want to think about incorporating all of the addition into the main part of the house and forgo the apartment option.

I did this primarily because I had learned of the challenges in finding suitable tenants in our neck of the woods. I didn't want us to go through all of the design hassles, money challenges and lest I forget to mention WORK, it will involve to complete the apartment, only to have it sit empty for months on end. If this were to be the case and I hadn't expressed my thoughts/concerns I would have been really, really frustrated. So I voiced my concerns. A definite wrench in the works. But then you start thinking of the possibilities of having that much more space...I could have my dream kitchen, W2 could have his dream sitting area off the kitchen, we would have access to the enormous deck we will be building this spring, and the list goes on. But do we, the two of us, really need a 4500 square foot house. The answer is loudly and resoundedly NO, we do not need that much space, but nor do we need an empty apartment, generating no income. So around and round we went.

Amazingly enough it was a visit to the local diner that eased my fears about renting the apartment and we are back on track for doing the apartment, with a few minor compromises to the original plan. We will use the same cabinets that we have in our kitchen, in the apartment so that when and if we decide to incorporate the space into the main part of the house we will have not wasted our money on something we will toss. For now, that's it and we move on with Plan A.

We got insulation in the wall to the blue bedroom, which should improve the temperature in that room as we have the calvary from tennessee coming to help with installing support beams in the basement and framing our bedroom and bathroom tomorrow. The massachusetts version of the calvary will also be arriving tomorrow so there enough hands on deck to lift the very, very heavy beams into place. I am fortunate enough to have to work and will miss this joyous task!!

I am eager to have a stove again. It has been over a month with no kitchen sink or stove. No sign of a sink in sight but with a stove I will be able to cook some meals and that will be an improvement over where we are currently...eating out every meal. With two buckets i will even be able to wash dishes. Much better than trying to wash them in the shower, as we have no bathtub until our bathroom is done upstairs.

We got the quote for the heating system...$7-10k, which is much better than the $18 -20K my pessimistic W2 had anticipated. But it still holds up the completion of our bedroom and bathroom. Can't put up walls until duct work is run for the heating system. Can't have duct work run until we have money to pay for furnaces and labor. Don't have money to pay for anything until our siding is put on the house and we get inspected by the bank.

So it all comes down to our horribly uncoorperative and communicative siding contractor!!! GGGRRRRRR! but I suppose that will have to wait for another day.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A productive weekend

We never did get the cement mixed or poured prior to the weekend, but we got it done yesterday. The two remaining slabs were poured and we were finally able to move to the upstairs part of the addition, which will one day be our master suite. We ripped out the wiring that we have no faith in and were able to tear down one of the walls before W2's father arrived. We will return to ripping out wires and walls tonight.

W2's dad worked on the dining room windows. We helped. It's always stressful when he is there because he makes W2 crazy. He's the general contractor for the job but this is only the 5th time he's been out to the house since we started working on it. A tad frustrating to be sure and W2 doesn't have enough faith in his knowledge or abilities, so he was totally relying on his dad to be there to help him do this. I, on the other hand, have complete faith in W2. I feel horrible that I end up being unskilled labor for most of the project, but I'm willing to do anything, once I know how.

Bottom will take quite a bit more work. W2 survived another day of working with his dad and I only threw up twice!!