Finally, basement excavation has begun!

This is a real fun renovation so far. Friday was spent with the plumbers in and out of the house the whole day, as the gas line was moved to a temporary location. Every time they entered the house knock knock, can we come in? I must have said six times that they ought to just come and go without asking me first. But I had well-mannered plumbers who insisted on knocking. I was exhausted from getting up to open the door for them. That was my EDO and they were not gone until after 6pm.

Then, at 7am on Saturday morning the excavator showed up with two helpers, ding dong on the doorbell, could I move my car and advising they would be done by noon. Half an hour later, ding dong on the doorbell, where should we put the fence parts that have fallen down as a result of the excavating. Then they did a couple of loads out and then ding dong on the doorbell, the excavator wanted me to pay him directly for the excavation work and wanted a cheque today, even though the work was only about 1/3 done and he couldn’t cash it anywhere because it’s Saturday and there’d be a 5 day hold on the funds because it’s a personal cheque. I suggested I could get him cash on Monday if he’s in a real hurry, and he says no, cheque today please. I was baffled, but he was sure that’s what he wanted.

Since I have a contract with the builder that includes excavation of the basement, I was a little taken aback by the excavator’s request for payment from me. Then he says he wants me to leave the cheque blank. “Blank!” I say incredulously. “I’m not giving you a blank cheque!”. He meant just to leave the payee line blank. He explained he didn’t want to deposit it into his bank account and he would put his wife’s name on the cheque, whom I’m sure he told me he had divorced some time ago. I was concerned about his motivation for doing this and people who know me would know why I was concerned, but I was baffled by it all and felt powerless to say no.

Instead, we had a chat and he explained that the builder owes him money from previous work and he wants to get paid this time. I’m all on board for being paid for work done, so I called the builder to tell him I’d be giving the excavator a cheque today and that it would come off the cost of the contract with him. I didn’t really care how the excavator dealt with his money, as long as I had proof of payment.

The builder was annoyed, and explained that the excavator wanted the cheque today because he’d go off to MoneyMart and cash it immediately. How awful. It’s unfortunate, but if that’s the way he wants to do it, then that’s his business. Anyway, it was Saturday and the builder was out with his family, but he stopped in and gave a cheque to the excavator. I was happy the excavator got paid, sad that he’d give MoneyMart part of his hard-earned cash, mad that I’d been used by the excavator to force the builder’s hand for payment, and annoyed with the builder because he made it seem like such a big deal that he had to stop in on a Saturday for five minutes when I had been dealing with the ding dong excavator all day. Distasteful all around .

Then the excavator had vehicle trouble that ate up the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon, and ding dong on the doorbell to advise of that. Later in the afternoon he returned with a ding dong on the doorbell, to say excavation would resume with just himself digging, loading the dirt into a truck, and then driving the truck to unload the dirt. Very slow process.

Then, I went out and when I got back at about 5pm I saw the excavator’s half ton being towed away, the Bobcat parked in my driveway, and nobody returned for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning at 7am, ding dong on the doorbell, would I move my car from out front. The excavator had arrived by himself again to finish the job. He’d be done by noon he said. He was earnest. At 7pm, after a brief but heavy rainshower that turned the clay in the excavated hole into a slippery mess, ding dong on the doorbell, he wouldn’t be done today. But since he had slipped on the messy clay when he went in to check on how slippery it was and got himself covered in mud, could he use my garden hose to wash up.

And there I was, handing paper towel to the excavator at the end of another long day of comedy with the promise that it will all resume again tomorrow morning at 7am with a ding dong at the doorbell.

5 feet down and the wall looks ok. Whew!
Bobcat parked for the day. My son in the background playing barefoot in the wet clay.


What do you think?