Monday, August 28, 2006

Mudder and Tyler

The drywaller showed up today, sort of. His “maybe not first thing in the morning” meant 5:00 p.m. Better than Wednesday, I say. He basically came to tell us he has scheduling difficulties and a guy that works for him is going to do our mudding, etc. I don’t care if Curious George does it as long as he know what he’s doing (and isn’t too curious). So the guy showed up tonight yet and did some drywall in the bathroom. This guy (we’ll call him Mudder. I’ve been thinking I maybe shouldn’t use real names just in case someone reading this is related to someone I’m complaining about) works somewhere else all day, so this is all taking place in the evenings. There’s going to be 3 guys working together, so hopefully they’ll be done quickly. Mudder said they’ll be done Saturday night, so we’d be able to paint on Sunday. Let’s see if Mudder’s right. I like calling him that.

And the tile guy (we’ll call him Tyler) showed up as well. He took a look and gave me an estimate. So he’s starting tomorrow morning. Dale was planning to tile the front entrance himself (well he was sort of planning that Jim would do it), but Tyler was very willing to do that too, so go Tyler go. It’s so much easier that way.

I had a blow-in insulation company lined up to do our attic insulation. They were supposed to do it last week, but they never showed up or returned my calls. So I found another company today and the guy was awesome. He’s trying to get me a Hydro rebate and everything. Now we’ll see if he actually shows up this week.

I’m going to my mom & dad’s tomorrow for a couple of days with the kids. Hopefully there will be lots of action here this week, so it will be good for everyone if we’re somewhere else. And it will be fun coming back and seeing the progress.

Now for a little rant. Throughout this project, I can’t tell you how many times a tradesperson has come in and criticized another trade’s work. “Why did they do it like THAT? Have they ever done this before? Why are these wires HERE? That’s wrong! Who did this??” I heard it again today and it makes me crazy. I feel like I’m being insulted for being ignorant enough to put up with such shoddy work. I would probably drop dead in shock if a tradesperson came in, perused the other trades’ work, and said “Wow! What great work has been done here!! The electrician/plumber/framer (fill in the blank) is so talented and conscientious! You are brilliant for hiring such skilled labour!” (I would also be surprised to hear any of the trades speak with exclamation marks after their statements. In general, they’re a pretty shall we say low-key bunch). Running down the other trades does get them a bit excited though. As Dale himself said after listening to one tradesperson criticize another, “People say women are gossipy, but these guys are worse.” Are they all that insecure that they have to run others down? (okay so I complain about the workers too, but that’s different because I’m paying for it.) Unless the work is dangerously wrong, I don’t want to hear about it. Why can’t they all just get along?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Can't Think of a Heading

We went to Grand Beach today and it couldn’t have been a more perfect beach day. We hadn’t been to Grand Beach for two years, so it was a treat. I’d never seen the new South Beach casino on Hwy 59 before, so Dale & I were talking about it and he made the mistake of saying “that’s the one you can smoke in.” For some reason, the children were so inexplicably fascinated by this that it caused hours of discussion. Years from now, that’s what they will remember about today.

I’m watching a nightmare reno on Property Ladder as I write this. It looks hopeless. Everything turns into a way bigger job than anticipated, the guy is stressed and completely broke, his marriage is falling apart and nothing’s working out. It’s a little too much like reality, but it’s way worse than our project so it cheers me up. (Our marriage is hanging on so far. We couldn’t afford to split up anyway. And who would get the house??)

Here is a new photo of our house, for those of you who have been asking. The big fir trees make it difficult to get a clear picture, but you get the idea.

The drywall is completely installed except for one wall in the main floor bathroom where we had to move the plumbing and electrical to accommodate the monster sink. The electrician was here yesterday morning and installed all the lights upstairs (not the fixtures, just bare bulbs in each room for now). He didn’t get to the wiring in the bathroom for the coil mat for the heated tile, but Clay’s going to do that Monday so they can finish the drywall. Henry the drywall guy is supposed to be here Monday to start the mudding, taping and sanding. I called him yesterday just to confirm that and he said he’d be here. Although “maybe not first thing in the morning,” he says. That means Wednesday. My completion goals and dreams are in Henry’s hands. That sucks. I’m going to try to pin down his finishing time (the power of positive thinking) so I can reschedule the painting dates.

The tile guy said he might come Monday to tile the shower, since there’s a special shower drywall in there that doesn’t need to be taped and sanded. I’d be kind of surprised if he comes Monday, but anything can happen. Our shower doors arrived last week, so they are ready to install once the tile (and probably the drywall) is finished. I yearn for the day I won’t have to use the grungy basement bathroom ever again. I've thought of posting a picture of the basement bathroom, but I'm too embarrassed. I will tell you some of the things that are in that bathroom: a microwave stand, 4 big Rubbermaid totes, Spencer's Thomas the train table, an easel, and a bicycle. And that's not counting the stuff in the back part.

So we have hired BB and JC to do our stucco. I went to see some houses and garages they’ve done recently and spoke to one of the homeowners. She was pleased with their work, so that’s good enough for me. To this day, not one of the other ten companies I called have returned my messages so this is really my only option if I want it done this year. It still scares me a little that every time I call, Billy Bob comes right over. Well I’ve only called twice, but still. He never seems very busy. Anyway they’re going to do it in – you guessed it, Dave – two weeks!

Clay was working on a bunch of things this week. He finished the front steps/porch, built some window boxes, a built-in medicine cabinet in the bathroom, and he’s currently building the window seat and shelves in the playroom. I especially love the front porch. Yesterday we bought a cute little table and 2 chairs to put on it. Dale & I sat out there this morning with our Sudokus and coffee and it’s everything I dreamed it would be. It would have been even nicer if our neighbour hadn’t had to mow his front lawn exactly then, but I can hardly complain about 10 minutes of lawnmower noise when they’ve put up with our renovation for three months without a single complaint.

Dale & I went to Rona and Home Depot yesterday with two children in tow. To add a little drama, we went when the kids were hungry and tired. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say. Dale forgot to bring Neve’s shoes along. His lame little defense was “well so did you.” He put her in the van while I was still inside and for some reason I assumed she would be dressed. Dale said she would sit in the cart while we were shopping, so she wouldn’t need shoes anyway. She sat nicely in the cart for 30 seconds then cried to get out the remaining two hours. They should provide child care at those stores. I suspect the employees would have equal or greater knowledge about taking care of children as they do about ductwork. Despite the fussy baby, we were actually quite successful. We bought the tiles for our bathroom and entrance, some light fixtures, the aforementioned table and chairs, and some other odds and ends.

The renovation show was getting too grim so we are now watching So I Married an Axe Murderer, which is one of my favourite movies of all time and puts me in a much better mood. Speaking of movies, I have to put in a plug for one Teresa & I saw Friday night – Little Miss Sunshine. It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. If you don’t laugh out loud during this movie, we can’t be friends anymore. Unless you come help paint.

Monday, August 21, 2006

John Candy is Alive and Does Stucco (or so he claims)

Looks like Jim volunteered to do the taping, mudding and sanding. Awesome. Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You are the wind beneath my wings. What time will you be here tomorrow? And Dan – you better make that an open-ended ticket. Bob, we have some special beer for you from when we built the deck. I’m sure it’s still fine.

Some stucco guys appeared today to give us an estimate. I was already a little concerned since they returned my call so quickly. Then they pulled up to the curb in their old red Dodge Caravan with no company name anywhere to be seen. Out jumped John Candy and his brother Billy Bob Thornton. I wish I’d taken a picture of Billy Bob measuring the height of the house. With a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he was trying to extend his tape measure up to the roof in the most half-assed way. It kept falling over and both guys were killing themselves laughing. That was when I went inside and just hoped they would disappear. Then Billy Bob came to the door with his estimate scribbled on a yellow post-it note. I asked some questions and much to my surprise, he answered as though he’d actually done this before. The more he talked, the better I felt. He said he’d give me some references and addresses of houses he’s done before. I will definitely check those out, but I’m actually feeling okay about this (and I’m desperate). He said they’re very busy, but he’d make this job a top priority and they could do it in two weeks. I am filled with skepticism and fear, but my desperation overrides that. He was supposed to phone me back with references and addresses, but he hasn’t yet…. we’ll see what happens.

We finally got our sink for our main floor bathroom. It is enormous. It is meant for a bathroom 6 times the size of ours. After my initial horror at the size of it, we decided to keep it and squish it in somehow. Basically our whole bathroom has to be reconfigured to fit the sink in. The plumbing has to be moved, as does the wall of our shower and the electrical for the lights above the sink, and we have to custom build a medicine cabinet into the studs because it won’t fit anywhere else (Clay didn’t smile much today). It is impractical, expensive and did I mention HUGE, but it’s easier to keep it than to re-package it, return it to Home Depot (minus the 15% special order fee), and shop for a new one. I am at the point where I want this project finished in the quickest easiest way. Corners are being cut and standards are plummeting. I wish someone would make all the rest of the decisions for me. I don’t care if my toilet is harvest gold (or is that only for kitchen appliances?), as long as I didn’t have to choose it.

The drywaller is finished upstairs and has moved down to the main floor. He’s almost done the entrance, and has the hallway ceiling and the bathroom left to do. Of course, he can’t do the bathroom until the plumber comes to move the plumbing. Stupid sink. It’s now messier, noisier and more invasive than ever. Spencer napped in our bedroom today and slept for 3 hours despite the noise. Tonight Neve was sleeping and Spencer wanted to go downstairs to get a truck from the cupboard right beside her playpen. I told him no, apparently he misunderstood. Hmm. Anyway, he comes upstairs with his flashlight and says “When the light shines in Neve’s eyes, she doesn’t even wake up. Her eyes just close more tighter.” I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted once the kids have their own rooms.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

You can cross out the painting party on your calendar for next weekend. The drywaller has another job he has to do next week, so he won’t be able to do the taping and sanding until the week after. He obviously doesn’t understand how important MY project is. I’m going to have to share my goal of having everything* done by September 5th (the day before school starts). I will have to passionately explain my situation I can probably squeeze out a few tears if necessary. It really wouldn’t be that hard. All I need to do is think of the stress I’ve been going through and the money I’ve been going through and my eyes are kind of starting to water right now.

Anyway, if the drywaller comes through that following week, that would bring the painting party to the September long weekend. So for anyone who has plans that weekend, there’s plenty of time to change them. And I don’t mean if you have no plans that you have time to make some so you’ll have an excuse. Since it’s a long weekend, there’s a whole extra day of quality painting time.

I tried to post a picture of the new front entrance so far, but was having technical problems. We’ve been using that door every chance we get. I love it. I can’t wait to have people over so they can use the new entrance. To make it more visible, we chopped down a huge lilac bush that used to block the entrance. We actually meant to trim it, but it got a little out of hand. My parents came over with their trimming tools yesterday. My mother likes nothing better in the world than to trim trees. The bush got smaller and smaller until there was suddenly just a stump left. I really don’t mind. Now I’ll be able to sit on my new front porch and see something besides an overgrown shrub.

* I use the term “everything” loosely. Even if by some miracle the painting and carpets are done, there’s still all the finishing work like doors, trim, light fixtures, etc. But at least the kids could sleep and pee up there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Mood is Optimistic

I have been busy sifting through the influx of suggestions about the stairs. I did like the ONE I got, but when Clay & I measured it out, it didn’t leave very much room at the top of the stairs. So the stairs are now moved up against the outside wall and I’m okay with it.

I’m happy with the progress that’s been made this week. The drywall is almost finished upstairs. They just have to do the bathroom and half of Neve’s room. On the main floor, they also have to do the entrance and the ceiling in the hallway. Hopefully they finish this week, then next week they can do the taping and sanding. I have to discuss this with the drywaller and Clay, but I’m HOPING we can paint the following weekend (August 26). So … you’re all invited to a painting party!!! If you can spare an hour or two, we’d be so grateful for anyone who could drop in and paint for a bit. No previous experience necessary. There’s no carpets or furniture to watch out for, so it shouldn’t be too bad (right??). I will confirm the date – maybe I’m jumping the gun and being a little too optimistic. (I got a little carried away in Photoshop.)

On another bright note, the carpet guy called today and said the carpet is supposed to come in on August 31st instead of September 8th as he originally told me. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I have revived my dream of having the kids in their rooms before school starts. It’s so nice to see real walls and to be able to visualize what the rooms are like. The kids are so excited about their rooms. They’ve been gone most of the week, thanks to a very dear and brave friend (you know who you are, Terri-Lee) and grandparents, so they haven’t seen the progress lately. Spencer is fascinated with the attic, so I’ll have to take him up there tomorrow.

Continuing on with the good news, we now have a platform outside our front door. Clay & Robert built a little deck today. There are no stairs yet, but maybe tomorrow…? I’m quite excited. I will post some pictures soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I need some opinions. I’m posting a picture of our upstairs landing. We were planning to move the stairs over so they are up against the outside wall. Where the stairs are now would be built up to be the same level as the rest of the second floor. That would make the landing a little bigger, and add a tiny bit more floor space to the second floor. I’m having second thoughts about this. For one thing, the window is too high to look out of from the landing and looks funny. Also, I’m wondering if I can use this little extra space in a more efficient and imaginative way. One option is to leave the stairs where they are and build the floor above the empty space (just like the planks are). We could add doors underneath and use it as storage space. I was also thinking of making it into a bench with storage underneath, but I believe we have to have a railing since it’s by the stairs. They’re probably going to be dealing with this in the next couple of days, so let me know soon if you have any creative ideas.

They ripped the carpet off the stairs yesterday and it turns out the landing and stairs are wood. The wood on the stairs looks pretty 50’s-ish, and I think the wood on the landing would need a little TLC, so I think we will still put carpet on it as planned.

The drywaller and his friend did show up Friday and made some progress. They worked yesterday too. Chloe’s room is finished and the ceiling in the playroom is done. It makes me happy to see real walls.

I had a great time in Grand Forks. Even though it was short, it was so nice to get away. Just to torture myself a little, we went to Menard’s. I saw the same shower doors we ordered for less than half the price we paid. So we went to Target until I felt better.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Counting My Blessings

I realize it’s been almost a week since an update, but sadly there was nothing to report. The guys have been working all week on putting up the vapour barrier, and finally today the windows were installed and the stairway and scaffolding are no longer on our yard. The drywaller was supposed to come on Wednesday (yesterday), but when I called him at 3:00 he said he was finishing up another job and would be here around noon today. I was gone all day, but there was a voicemail from him at 5:20 p.m. saying he would be here tomorrow. As it turns out, it’s just as well since the vapour barrier wasn’t finished til today anyway. Dale & I were a bit frustrated this week at the pace things are moving at. We are so cramped and hot and grumpy and to reiterate what I said the other day, feel like this will never end.

Here, in point form, are some of this week’s frustrations:

  • The carpet we finally decided on is backordered and won’t arrive til at least September 8th. That means my goal of having the children sleeping in their own rooms before school starts has been crushed like my hydrangea bush.
  • It’s so hot in our house. I don’t want to complain about summer in any way, but when I’m stuck in tight dusty surroundings with four other bodies, not counting the workers, it’s a bit much. Now that the windows are in, we can probably start using our central air again.
  • The kids are wild. They are bored and unstimulated, so they fight. Even Neve. That girl has a red-haired temper. She bites and hits and kicks when she’s mad. It’s sort of funny and Chloe & Spencer quite enjoy it. They don’t even complain (much) about being bitten. She is always up to something. Dale had poly-ed shut the upstairs doorway (I should clarify the workers were gone for the day) and Neve managed to free up a little hole to burrow through and we found her upstairs, precariously walking on the plywood sheet covering part of the stairwell, proud as can be.
  • Getting a $167 speeding ticket in the mail.
  • We really really want our house stuccoed before winter and we are having a tough time finding a company to even return our phone calls. Apparently the stucco industry is in high demand. As I was writing this, my brother Jim called with the name of someone he knows who said they’d give us an estimate. So maybe things are looking up. If anyone else has an inside stucco connection, let me know. For anyone considering a career in stucco (and who isn’t?), now would be the time to pursue that (but practice on someone else’s house first).

To balance out the whining, here are a few positive things that happened this week:

  • The children have gone to my parents for a few days.
  • I got a new laptop for work (thanks Karen!)
  • I am going to Grand Forks with two friends this weekend (no husbands or kids)
  • A friend told us about this house renovation a few streets over from us that turned into the worst nightmare ever. They were doing a renovation similar to ours, adding a second storey. When things were already underway, they discovered the walls of the main floor couldn’t support a second storey. At this point, they had to basically reconstruct the main floor walls and it turned into a much bigger project than they could afford. So once the renovation is finished, they have to sell the house and move out. I can’t verify the technical part of this situation; the engineers among you are probably doubting this story. Whatever the case, the point is that suddenly being behind schedule a few weeks doesn’t seem like such a big deal. This probably doesn’t belong in the “positive” section, but for some sick reason, I admit it brightens my day to know that other people are worse off than I am. I guess it also puts things into perspective and realize I really have a lot to be thankful for. Except for the speeding ticket. Does anyone know a way to get out of that??

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Guilt and Heartburn

The drywall truck finally showed up at 2:30 the other day, which meant only an hour and half til the two agency guys had to leave. Clay thought it would take the two of them another 4 hours or so to finish carrying it all upstairs, so he asked them to come back in the morning. Only the manslaughter guy showed up, but fortunately he can do the work of two men. He came at 8:00 and was completely done by 10:30 a.m. And that was with a hangover. Well I guess that was the day before, but still. That guy is amazing.

One of the workers was telling me about his perks at his last construction job. The “woman of the house” as he put it, brought them KFC or pizza for lunch once a week, the contractor also regularly took them out, and every Friday they got a $100 bonus (from the contractor). I have on occasion brought them slurpees and made cookies, but I was feeling guilty after he told me this, so I quickly baked brownies. I know that was exactly his purpose for telling me that, but he’s the one doing the electrical work and I really want all my lights and plugs to work. Anyway, I brought a big plate of them outside and the three guys that were there that day (it was the day we were waiting for the drywall). About two minutes later (seriously), one of them knocked on the garden doors to give me back the empty plate. He asked if I had any Rolaids or Tums for his heartburn. What’s that supposed to mean??!! It’s not my fault he wolfed them down like a crazy man. That was the same guy who didn’t come back the next day.

The walls upstairs are now all insulated. The guys are working all day today as well. I think they’re putting up the vapour barrier. But I haven’t actually gone upstairs to confirm this. I’m getting tired of having them around all the time. Oh well, they’re probably tired of me too. The good news is we got our shower base on Thursday and the plumber was here yesterday to hook it up. He did some other plumbing work as well, fixing all the stuff the inspector didn’t like. A different inspector came back yesterday, and it turns out he doesn’t like the window in Spencer’s room. It was one of our old windows that was in the kids’ room before. Apparently it’s not to code, so we had to go buy a new window today. We were fortunate to find the right size in the store without having to order it. Speaking of ordering windows, we finally got the last window for the north side of the house. It was supposed to come in yesterday, but when I called to make sure it was there, the guy sheepishly told me it hadn’t arrived. I’m happy to say, probably for the first time in my life, that raising a fuss actually helped and suddenly the window arrived. Apparently it was a big deal and they had to take someone off the window production line to deliver it. Whatever. I’m supposed to be so grateful when they were two weeks late in the first place.

On Tuesday, both windows should be installed and the staircase and scaffolding dismantled. The upstairs “doorway” was closed off today. I’m happy about that. Some nights when I’m trying to fall asleep, I imagine thieves and murderers climbing up the stairs into my house. Now I can worry about other stuff instead.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not Worth It

When I was pregnant with Chloe I was 11 days overdue. When March 13th came and went without a baby emerging, I was so disappointed. Then another day passed and another, and eight more after that. Those were probably the most depressing, miserable days of my life. I felt like I would be eternally pregnant and I was stuck between two worlds. I couldn’t go back to my pre-pregnancy days, yet there was no way to get to the other side.

That’s how I feel now about the renovation. I’m pretty sure it will never, ever end. Every morning for the rest of my life, I will hear the workers arrive and clunk up the wooden staircase outside. Clay’s truck will always be parked in our back lane, and I will make daily trips to Home Depot until I die. Unless it’s like the movie Groundhog Day and I can’t even die. I long for my old house, and I can't go back and I can't go forward. This is my new life - stuck in the middle of nowhere, just waiting for something that will never happen. For those of you who have said they’ll miss the blog when the renovation ends, you will soon change your minds because IT WILL NEVER BE OVER and you will all lose interest if you haven't already.

The only bright spot in this situation is that I can drink (and I do) and my uterus is smaller.

The drywall was supposed to be delivered first thing this morning. It’s now almost 2:00 and there is no drywall in sight. There are two guys from the temp agency (one is the manslaughter guy who is apparently recovering from “a wicked bender”) sitting on my deck waiting to carry the drywall upstairs. The drywall company keeps saying the load is on its way, but they must be taking the long way around through Boissevain.

My shower base and sink, which were supposed to arrive last Friday, are still not in. The shower base is supposed to come in tonight, and the sink is currently in production in Toronto. When I ordered it, Home Depot told me the delivery date was the worst-case scenario – “it’s usually always arrives sooner.” Have I mentioned how much I hate Home Depot? And renovations in general?