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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Calamity House

You’d think having professionals do all the work would relieve us of any stress or worry. I was wrong.

Monday was a day where anything that could go wrong did go wrong.

The granite installers came early. Then the carpeting people called. They were running late. But there was an even more insidious problem brewing.

Our propane, a big monster of a tank had run completely DRY. We’re on an auto-fill program, which means the propane company is supposed to keep tabs how much propane we have at all times. Someone missed us.

It had been chilly at night, but livable during the day—except when you want carpeting installed. The rooms I was having done were being glued down, which meant the floors had to be warm so the mastic would stick.


I canceled the carpet people. And called up the propane people. They finally showed up long past when they had promised delivery.

Meanwhile, the granite people worked steadily. A full eight hours they worked. Measuring, cutting, and fitting the stone tablets so precisely, you’d think they were building an Egyptian pyramid. Finally they reached the last piece…only it didn’t fit. The backsplash was too short! I was fit to be tied—or mummified. Take your choice.

They’d have to go back and have another piece cut-to-fit at the factory. They were off by less than an eighth of an inch, but by Dog, if I’m going to pay that much for granite, I want it perfect. It wasn’t the workmen’s fault. Two weeks earlier, a man spent two hours measuring and making templates of my counters. He was the one who goofed.

Tuesday, we repeated our dance, only this time the carpeting people came first while we waited…and waited for the granite people. Finally, after we had lost all the daylight, (they do all their cutting outside) one guy shows up. He worked fast—too fast, and I thought for sure he’d make a mistake, but he was very good.

I would’ve shown you pictures, but my calamity wasn’t over yet. Greg had to leave before he could reinstall the plumbing or tie in the electrical. Until he returns I am without a fully functioning kitchen, but boy it sure looks nice. I feel like a diva in this joint. 

Greg will be back in a couple of weeks. Until then no sink, no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, and no electrical on one bank of outlets. I'm sure I'll survive. Oh, and we are without heat in one half of the house. Thank God, it's not that cold out. Another job for Greg when he gets back.

Yesterday, I vegged and critiqued a manuscript for a friend. Most crits take me several days to weeks, but since I had no intention of getting off the couch I managed to read and critique a 35k manuscript in a little over 12 hours—a record for me. I don’t read slowly, but I take my time analyzing every scene. It was a nice break from a very stressful few days.

Even Greg said it felt as if we had done the work ourselves because we were constantly up and down, making phone calls, checking on dogs, checking on workmen, and worrying if we’d have another power outage. (We had two on Monday.)

The counters really are beautiful though. When everything gets put back together, I’ll post some pictures. If I ever do this again, I will start drinking early. It’s the only way to keep from going mad.

Please tell me you’ve had similar experiences. Do you get stressed out when you have workmen doing jobs at your house? Any horror stories you can share?

PS  Tank did not care for the uninvited company. He made sure everyone knew there was a giant rottweiler behind Door Number Three.


Madeleine Maddocks said...

Oh dear that does sound like you've had a bad time of things. We all get days when things seem to go awry. My last one was when the cat went missing. The day hadn't been the best from the beginning.
I'm glad your counter tops were worth all your aggravations. Look forward to seeing the pics. Glad too you enjoyed the critique.

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: I know! That was terrible about your cat. I'm glad it ended well. I would've had a coronary.

Dru said...

I'm glad that your counter top is ready for use even though the kitchen isn't yet.

Clarissa Draper said...

Oh my, that story is fantastic. I can't believe all those things happened. Just keep picturing the final product.

As to the comment you left on my blog. I don't have comment moderation and I never get spam.

Angelina Rain said...

I'm sorry about your big ordeal. It really does sound like one of those days where everything is going wrong. However, think of what that kitchen will look like and feel like when it's fully done and functional. :-) I can't wait to see the pictures.

I've never had work people at my house, so I can't related to stressing about that. In my family, my dad, my uncle, all my dad's friends, my ex-husband, and all his friends are contractors so if I need anything done, there's friends and family who do it!

When I was 13, my parents had bought a house that had been foreclosed. When we moved in, there was no kitchen! We got a fridge and a stove, but half of the cabinets were broken or ripped off the walls and there was no sink. We had to wash our dishes in the bathroom sink until my dad renovated the kitchen. It had to be fully gutted and everything (including the drywall) had to be replaced. So I can related to what you're going through.

And sorry about your lack of heat. That sucks, especially this time of year. I hope they are able to do the carpeting still.

Angela Brown said...

I wish I could say I have a story like that but I haven't had a chance to have professionals do much for me. I have heard that getting something remodeled always involves a whole lot more work than just hiring the workers.

Glad Tank did his thing letting them know he was there. After all, nothing like barking backup to show contractors you mean business :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I'm grateful for getting my counters back. It's not a huge hardship to go without a sink for a few weeks. I've got plenty of backups.

PS. Got your email. It was stuck in the spam folder. Thanks for checking on me!

Clarissa: Ref: spam
Sadly, even with Capcha, I still get spam. And my friends who don't use it, get loads of it. We'll see how it goes.

Angelina: I can relate to DIY remodeling. Granite we couldn't do ourselves because it requires special equipment, and the carpeting, neither of us wanted to get on our knees to stretch. But Greg comes from a contractor family too. He still does all our electrical and plumbing.

I hear you on the foreclosed house too. The one we're in was foreclosed. I was shocked with what was taken.

Angela: Barking Backup. I love it! They were both good boys considering they were trapped in one room all day.

Mike Keyton said...

I loved the controlled anger in this piece, just bubbling below the surface. I wouldn't have been surprised had it been you barking behind door three, and Tank making the tea.

Hope you've had your bad luck for the year - and got it over with!

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I'm not really angry, just frustrated. It's been a very long two days. Losing propane was the icing on the cake.

Carol Kilgore said...

Maria, I just read your comments at Clarissa's about word verification. I was like you because spam truly sucks. But with Blogger's new spam filters most of it gets filtered out. I had one perverted blogger that I blocked. Also, the best thing I did was to not allow anonymous comments. Every once in a while, something gets through, but only a couple times a year. So between not allowing anonymous comments and blocking others, you should be good to go. I use moderation but only on comments for posts more than three days old. Good luck.

Maria Zannini said...

Carol: Alas, I just posted on Clarissa's blog again to note that less than two hours after I suspended Captcha, the spammers hit this blog.

I'm glad so many people don't have that problem, but that isn't the case here. I'm like sugar to them!

Stacy McKitrick said...

We had remodeling issues on our previous house. In order to get the job, they promised they could put stone up on the front of the house. Imagine my surprise when I see them installing siding! We stopped them right away and THEN they tell us stone is too heavy for the wall (we had a brick house - I found that hard to believe). I think it was too costly (for them) and they didn't want to go that route. They did find a suitable (to us) substitute, but had no idea how to install it properly. We made sure to give them a bad rating with the Better Business Bureau.

We were newbies when it came to all that work and learned our lesson - get everything in WRITING!

Sarah Ahiers said...

we've had pretty decent luck with any work done on our house.
We typically can handle any plumbing ourselves which is nice.

Marianne Arkins said...

We've never had any workmen in to do anything ... DH does it all. BUT, we're considering carpet and lineoleum in the next year, and he won't do those, so I might have my own story to share.

I bet the granite looks AMAZING.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Whoa! I would've been pitching all kinds of hell. Glad you caught them in time. It's unbelievable what people will try to pull.

Sarah: According to Greg, the new faucet is going to be more complicated than normal. I expect much cussing and name-calling when he starts it. :)

Marianne: The stone looks gorgeous. I swear that kitchen looks like a million bucks. I thought it looked good before, but now it's elevated to a whole new category. I better not say anymore or Greg will think it's too good for me. LOL!

Dee said...

It'll all be worth it in the end, right? We were without a stove for 3 months when we re-did our kitchen. But since I hate to cook, it didn't really matter. We made do with a microwave and ate out a lot. :)

jackie b central texas said...

Maria in 1994 had 3 weeks of wood floor installation work. Kitchen shut down, fridge and dining table in garage. Cooked on camp stove, hot plate and slow cooker. Washed dishes outside in backyard with water hose.

Oh and did I mention had to climb out the window to take dog to use the restroom, scary part was climbing back in!

Worst day of all was moving day 1997, terrier sick, hedgehog sick and had to drive after 5 to get out of Houston. Long, looooong day and summertime with no AC in the car for the trip to Laredo.

Maria Zannini said...

Dee: Ha! Since you hate to cook you were probably in heaven not having a stove.

Jackie: What a nightmare! But the worst part has to be having to go through the window. I think I'd have to stay in a hotel room given that choice. That is wild!

I guess we all have days like this at some point. Makes you appreciate it more when everything works right.

Melissa McClone said...

We had a remodel take 6 months. It was not fun, but you realize how little you actually need to live. Scariest moment was when they'd covered the staircase leading to the second floor with a tarp since they'd taken the entire floor off and we found one of our cats, Rocket, up there. He'd found a way through the tape. So glad he didn't hurt himself. Hope it all starts going better!

Raelyn Barclay said...

And you're too far away for take-out aren't you? I hope the bar is well stocked ;) Can't wait to see the pictures.

James Garcia Jr. said...

Oh, Maria. I can't believe you went through all of that - and are still going through it! I can't wait for the photos!
The granite counter tops are one of the last things that we have yet to do in our house. I can't bear the thought of having to break all of these tiles and the two weeks or so without a counter. I know my cat will certainly have a field day with that open area!!


Maria Zannini said...

Melissa: How ever did you get that kitty down?! Crazy cat. LOL. I remember living with a table saw for nearly a year when Greg remodeled one of our early homes. I used to grumble every time I passed it.

Raelyn: When I'm alone, it's not a hardship. I'm fairly low maintenance. :)

Jimmy: We had Corian originally, so the installers literally popped it off the cabinet bases and popped in the granite. What took a long time for them was doing the seams and cutting the holes for all the electrical in the backsplash. But yeah, tiles, that'll be a big job. I'll be there to commiserate when you get around to it.

Shelley Munro said...

LOL about Tank.
Maria, I don't ever want to experience what you have. That would have sent me to drink for sure.

When we first moved into our current house the washing machine jiggled its hoses loose and a heap of water seeped through the walls. The carpet had to be ripped up and it took days to dry. That was stressful. Thank goodness for insurance!

Darke Conteur said...

I feel for you. Renovating is an exausting process whether you do it yourself or get people to come in. I roll my eyes every time I see those commercials where they're all happy and smiles while they're re-doing their home. So not real.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: Oh, that washing machine tragedy would've had me pulling what little hair I have left. LOL. That's awful!

Darke: I think the only thing worse than remodeling is contracting to have an entire house built. That's way past my stress tolerance.

Nadja Notariani said...

Two years ago, my husband and I had new carpet installed in our living room - but first, we installed new drywall...ourselves. OMG! It was a mess. You think we'd have known better since taking on the kitchen (sans the granite countertops) the year before, but nope! We're gluttons for punishment.

Last year, my parents had a huge remodel done to their downstairs. Completely new kitchen, wooden floors throughout, new laundry room, and new first floor bathroom. I think their stress levels were just as high as ours when we did it ourselves. Rennovations are just stressful...and anything that can go wrong, will.
Please remind me of these words as I prepare to rip out my bonus room and create my office...but do it gently, would ya? ha!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

Wow, that sounds ultra stressful.

To give a friend some extra cash once, we hired him to paint our living room. He took it upon himself to remove some trim and do some sanding, leaving sheet-rock dust EVERYWHERE. And he didn't open the windows. It was so bad, I couldn't breathe in the house and had to spend the night at a friend's.
Can't wait to see pics of your new kitchen!

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: You are a glutton for punishment. LOL. I don't go into renovations lightly--not anymore. If it's not a job I can do by myself in a day, then I think long and hard. I will remind you of your folly when you start your next project. :)

Ref: To give a friend some extra cash once, we hired him to paint our living room.

And that was your first mistake. What is it they say? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You did the right thing moving out for the night. You could've gotten into some serious respiratory problems had you stayed.

Rosie Lane said...

The granite installers were at my house from 8 am to 11 pm. Heroes, they were. It started snowing out of nowhere and they had to rig a tarpaulin over the garden to do the cutting. And ex-noise inspector me was having kittens about the noise after 6pm. I'm glad we have tolerant neighbours.

Maria Zannini said...

Rosie: I agree. It's hard work and they did it without so much as a grumble. When mine stopped for lunch, I invited them to sit at the dining room table so they could eat in comfort. They absolutely refused and said they would eat in their truck. I suppose it's company policy but I would've felt so much better if they could've had their lunch in a nice warm home.

Misha Gericke said...

Wow sounds like you had a terrible time getting everything done. Still, I can't wait to see pictures. :-D

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: I am getting a little tired living without a kitchen sink, but it's a mild problem.

I am very happy with how the counters turned out.

Maria Zannini said...

Broken Biro: Once again Blogger stopped your comment from loading.

In answer to your comment: Absolutely! I think it's a fascinating video.

Loading it manually:
broken biro has left a new comment on your post "The Awesome Secret About Captcha":

Maria, hope you don't mind but I blogged about this too - but I did name-check you and I'm sending people here to look at your page & video.