Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Win, Big Loss

Yesterday, we got two pieces of news about the house.  The first was great, and set off a nice little wave of emails.  The second was not, and set of a torrent of emails and phone calls and hopefully-not-so-mean-spirited-in-retrospect voicemails.  Needless to say, I had a lot to write about last night when I got home.  But instead, my iTunes decided to crap out on me, and I spent the end of my evening kvetching at the computer screen at the loss of 30 months worth of music (again).  Now, the next day, I can bring you, with a much clearer head, the events of the last 24 hours as pertains to our house.  And hopefully I can do so without sounding like a sailor.  (Or Abby playing Taboo.)

Our Little Win

Notice the two different slopes, and different shingles.

Our roofing plan was approved by Maryland!  It took two weeks, but we finally received word the Maryland Historical Trust approved our plans to remove the shingles, put in insulation, and put up new shingles.  That was the last obstacle of the main plan for the house to have to go through the State.  Now all we have to do is forward the exact product info for the two types of shingles we need to Amy at MHT, and she can make sure they're kosher-- but most importantly, there will be no "process" involved.  Any tweakage can be just that-- tweakage-- with no need for formal applications, 45-day processes, and the like.  We've already got the first of the two shingle choices made (slate-gray shingles from Lowe's), and Rory's checking with our roofer to find out the specs of the others.  The reason we need two different kinds of shingles is that the roof has two different slopes.  The main slope can have regular shingles, but the porch roof's slope is too flat for regular shingles; standing snow would seep under them and deteriorate everything pretty rapidly.

Our proposed shingles
for the main part of the roof
Anyhow, with that victory, I called Montgomery County to ask whether they needed anything more than a copy of the email from the State saying our roof was okay, in order to complete our application Abby had dropped off back on November 15.  (Remember that date.)  I had to leave a message, so I wrote an email as well, just to cover my tracks.  On my way back from the gym, I noticed I had a voicemail on my cell from the County, so I called them back.  Josh, the guy working with the Montgomery County's Historical Preservation Office said we didn't need to send anything else, but, um, there was an issue.

Our Big Loss

You see, I had spoken with Josh a few weeks ago.  He was the one who alerted me to the fact we needed to have our County Historical Area Work Permit application in by November 15.  He was very nice on the phone a few weeks ago, and humored me as I went step by step down all of the things we needed to do, because I wanted to make sure we got this all done correctly.  He was very nice on the phone yesterday, too, except that he said, very apologetically, that someone in the permitting office screwed up.  Apparently, even though Abby hand delivered the application on November 15, right after she dropped Isaac off at school in the morning, someone at the permitting office decided to sit on it for a whole WEEK before even stamping it as having been accepted.  Our application, stamped "November 22," was not on the docket for the December 7 meeting.  (No matter that we were in North Carolina starting Novmeber 19.)  We would have to wait for the December 21 meeting.  That means, instead of being approved by the County and getting all the permits by about December 10, and starting work before Christmas, we now would be lucky to get permits before the New Year.

Gregory not happy.

The course of events over the next half hour or so remains blurry to me.  I know I tried to stay as calm as possible on the phone with Josh.  I know I received a phone call from Abby, who was going to pick me up from work on the way to get something someone in Falls Church had put on Craigslist, and I think I swore at (with?) her.  I know I called the woman in charge of the permit office and, I hope very politely, told her voicemail her office had screwed up and now my house wouldn't have a roof before it started to snow.  I know I hung up on the voicemail and proceeded to send an email to her saying the same thing, copied to Rory and Abby and Josh.  I know I left the office in a daze, or in a huff, or maybe both, and had what probably looked like an argument with my wife in the street in front of my office, but was really a big bitch session between the two of us (with the doors closed so the kids couldn't listen in).

Then we went home and had pie.  That made things a bit better, until the aforementioned iTunes debacle.

Silver Lining?

So where that leaves us right now is with an approved roof plan, but shingles left to be approved by MHT staff; with an accepted addendum to our application, but an application that won't be considered until nearly Christmas; and with the distinct possibility that someone in the permit office will have cost us nearly a month of work-- two weeks in meeting postponement, and then having to work around the schedules of government offices and contractors during the holidays.  But there's a slight, possible silver lining: Josh said there's a possibility the roof work might not be viewed as historic by the County, which means we wouldn't have to wait for their okay to start work on the roof at all; we'd just have to get the State okay and the County permits, which theoretically could both take only days.  That said, I'm pretty sick of thinking in terms of theoretical days, so I'll believe it when I see it.

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