Still Waiting

A few weeks ago the Builder was ready to start excavation of the basement and had an excavator on the site, but he failed to arrange to have the gas line moved and nothing could be done. The gas company could not move the line for several weeks, and here we are still waiting. In the meantime, my house and yard look awful, I have no driveway and am parking on the street, and my yard is susceptible to opportunist thievery.

Supposedly the gas line will be moved this weekend and things will get back on track after that. Supposedly.

Unsightly mess as seen from the street
Special unsightly mess for residents only









A Crawling Start

Getting this renovation/addition off the ground has been slow and painful. I spent almost a year discussing plans and costs with the builder and his designer, and then during the first week of September, 2016, I signed a contract with a substantial down payment. Unfortunately, the designer did not do what was supposed to be done in terms of engineering and dawdled at every turn, such that the City would not issue permits. After several months of changes by the designer, in January 2017, the City issued permits. However, being winter and being that a basement dig was involved, construction could not start until spring.

Then, in spring the builder was busy. Finally, the builder arrived the third week of May to start tearing down the garage. My project is clearly not his priority, as he showed up with a single worker and they only worked two short days with hand tools and the garage still stands, albeit without a roof.

I realize there’s a lot of uncertainty, compromise, and dashed expectations involved with renovations and construction, but it appears much of the stress is completely unnecessary and is manufactured by one party – the builder. I’ll have to suck it up. In any event, we’re off to a crawling start, which I’m hoping I can consider to be better than no start at all.

The builder has said that he will have no problem completing the project by the end of July. I hope that is not an expectation that also will be dashed.

Removing the Front Step

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours taking down a deck-style front step that had been built overtop of the original concrete steps. Because the crazy elevation of the yard means the drive and walk ways go down toward the house, the first step of the deck was short, the second was giant, and the third was also high. There was also no handrail where one needed to be. The result was that older people, like my mother and aunt, had a difficult time getting up the steps.

Front step added in the 1990s

The deck-porch was solidly built and I guess it was about 15 years old. It was rotted in some spots, notably the railings, but solid elsewhere. It was difficult to get off – where I needed to pry was rotted, so there was no leverage. But eventually it came off (with a sledgehammer) and the original steps are revealed. ​

The original steps have just two risers to the landing and then another step up into the house. They appear in good shape – concrete covered with indoor/outdoor golf carpet. Clearly some updating to do, but that can wait until next summer. I just had to get the deck-porch off because with the new addition comes a leveled out elevation – no reverse incline to the house, but rather level or even rising in height a little. So, the old deck-porch wouldn’t do anymore.

Upon seeing the original steps I felt a sense of ‘right’ – these small concrete steps feel much more normal and appropriate for the house. They’re ‘right’,  even with the awful golf carpeting. The deck-porch was wrong and I’m glad to see it gone. And I’m delighted that they’re in such good shape.

But now, with the deck-porch gone, I can see significant holes into my basement and a large rotted gap under the door. I don’t think those should wait for next summer’s repair list because I live where it gets to be really cold in the winter, so will make some calls to see about hiring a carpenter to fix these spots.​

I had just made a list today anyway that involved having a carpenter come out and fix the jambs at the front door – and hopefully install new doors. The jambs are rotted and the hinge screws loosen up regularly, so definitely need to replace those. Would be good to also have new weather strips. So, all good reasons to call a carpenter.

Why not the company I hired to do the addition – which by the way they have not started yet (communication is not their strong point – I have no idea when they intend to start)? Because I have signed the contract and it does not include the front door and I would rather not do a ‘change order’ before the work even starts and I might as well just pay someone straight out for this work and get it done.

Anyway, I feel pleased that I’ve liberated the original steps and that they are so fitting for the house.