When your house is ripped apart and coming back together slowly, your world eventually sharpens until that work, the last stages of it, becomes all you can do and think about. You just want it to be over and done with. I’ve talked about this before, somewhere in this blog, the last stages of any major project from writing a manuscript to undergoing a weight loss journey – something I’ve called the “Nine of Wands” mentality. Anyway, I’ve gotten to that point on this construction project. I haven’t had a whole house since Mother’s Day, and I can’t think of anything else besides please please let me have a whole real house again. So here’s how construction went this week:
First, our contractor decided to cancel the event he was leaving for on the 9th since this project wasn’t going to be done, especially as he wasn’t able to come over to work last weekend like planned. Then, work didn’t really resume until Wednesday afternoon due to a major problem of a mutual friend. At that point, he said he was going to work straight through the end of today, since his new deadline is tomorrow, but he ended up sick again yesterday. I imagine we have at least a week’s worth of stuff left to do, and it’s definitely not all going to get done today. On my list of tasks (broken into each component part), there are still 40 more items left. Fingers crossed it’ll be done by next Sunday, but as each day passes and things keep going wrong, I’m betting more on my original guess of the 25th.
Things done this week on our very shortened 2.5-day work schedule: downstairs trim up and caulked; subfloor and the beginnings of tile laid in the boys’ bathroom; repair tile laid (but not grouted yet) in the kitchen; about 75% of the wall mudding and texturing done in the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. Wish us luck that five times this much will get done before next Sunday’s update!!
Note: Our contractor is a friend of ours. We’ve had him do work for us several times over the last few years, and we know that the trade-off of having top-quality work done (and done right) is that he juggles a lot of time-management problems and personal issues. He’s great at his work but not as good at paperwork, timing, efficient work flow, etc. So this path is one we chose. We could have had a company come in and do this all in a few days, but the quality of work likely would have been a bunch of cut corners and crap workmanship. Back in February, with our roof in critical condition, we chose not to go with our contractor but instead with a “guaranteed quality company” through USAA’s contractor connection, because time was of the essence. And look how well that turned out. This whole $20k summer nightmare is due to their negligence, and that whole “guarantee” bit wasn’t so guaranteed. So while I complain about it here, a bit of extra time and chaos is totally worth hiring someone who we know will do the work right.
As San Antonio homeowners since 2006 (with two years spent away in that time), we’ve had to do many house repairs. In our first house (2006-2014): replacing all windows, replacing the roof, siding repair, deep plumbing (above), flooring, duct work, a/c issues, fence repair/rebuild, rebuilding walls after window leaks, replacing exterior doors. Second house (one year between Boston and Wisconsin): replacing the entire kitchen, dealing with black mold, plumbing, flooring, roof, repairing chimney mortar, replacing two walls of the house including new stud work throughout (left), electrical issues, a/c and duct issues, deck repair. Current house (one year now): landscaping for major erosion, roof x 2, dealing with the fallout from the roof being repaired incorrectly (not going to list all that out again), pipe flooding, and replacing the entire kitchen, living room, dining room, upstairs bathroom, and master bathroom.
Of those jobs, we’ve done half the work ourselves or by hiring this same contractor. No trouble with them. Of the other jobs, half involved companies/individuals that we knew through family or personal connection. None of those gave us trouble, because they were all people who were good at their very specialized jobs (in other words, none of them could have dealt with the massive current project alone). However, with a quarter of all the total above jobs – or all the jobs we hired strangers to do – all but one of them caused major problems/issues on our houses, and the companies had to redo their jobs after we got very noisy in our complaints. One company literally installed a window so crooked that there was an inch-thick gap between it and the wall on one corner, and told us that was just because Texas houses shift so much that this happened in the hours after installation. No, dude. No. He said the same thing about the sliding glass door that wouldn’t slide open immediately after he installed it.
TL;DR: So yes, with all the trouble we’ve had in the past by having strangers’ companies do these jobs for us – and all the trouble that everyone we know in town has also had with strangers’ companies doing jobs for them – we feel far more comfortable hiring someone we know will do the work well, even if for many reasons he might be slower than someone else.