Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pipes, Paint, and a Plymouth

We had a bunch of visitors this week, which is why I didn't have much of a chance to write anything, even though we actually came to the house three times in the last seven days (and have the pics to prove it).  On Friday we had our first repeat out-of-town visitors when the Stewarts (Laura, Brian, and Katie) came down from Buffalo for the weekend.  Laura had been clamoring for a Bungalow visit since their first stop by last year, and I don't think she was disappointed-- although the usually bustling atmosphere almost left me a liar when we arrived and only two guys were working.  I had just been telling Laura how the workers are constantly going, and of course we get there and the place has crickets chirping.  But it was just a lull in the action, because within five minutes a truckload of gravel arrived and suddenly a half-dozen people surrounded it with shovels.  Vindication!
Shoveling gravel
Lola with Katie Stewart, surveying the gravelly hole on our porch
In the days leading up to the Stewarts' visit, the contractors had unearthed (literally) a problem while excavating under the porch.  Seems the stone wall serving as the retaining wall was not in any condition to be kept there.  Initially, it looked like after firming it up, they'd just build a stronger wall in front of it, which would basically take ten inches (at least) away from the space.  I was bummed, because the whole space is only about five feet wide, so those ten inches took nearly 20% of the reclaimed room away.  Not to mention, the bathroom and guest room would be that much more cramped.  However, as a surprise (of sorts) the stone wall was completely removed, the porch kept up on jacks, and a new retaining wall was on its way.  The gravel was being poured through holes in the now-taken-up porch floor into a two-foot trench dug all the way around the excavation, with rebar going in afterwards for a new front foundation.  My ten inches has been saved!  (Also saved were the beautiful stones in the wall-- all native to the property-- that we plan on using for landscaping once all's said and done.)
The channel for our new front foundation wall.
Pouring gravel into the foundation channel
Inside, the temporary flooring on the ground floor has been removed so the plumbing (all $15k worth) could go in.  Now you can see the big PVC pipes underneath the floor joists, all set to carry our waste water to the sewer.  (I think Isaac got a kick out of the idea that water from the toilets would head under Lola's room and not his...)  Rory tells us the sewer piping is all done, and all that's left is the actual connection and meter outside.  One problem we did discover was in the upstairs bathroom, where Abby & I think the pipe for the toilet's not placed correctly.  We had planned a 4-foot-wide shower, with the toilet between that and the sink.  However, the shower's been roughed in to be only 30 inches wide, so the toilet's really close in.  The four-footer was supposed to be really luxurious, and 30 inches is basically as wide as an interior doorway.  Needless to say, we're going to try to make sure the toilet pipe is moved at least an extra foot, if not two feet, further away.  I have put up with eight years in a claw-foot tub, and I want my luxurious shower stall!

PVC piping under Lola's bedroom floor
Other news?  The two-story window complex (how else would I refer to it?) in the Great Room has been rehabbed and reset in the wall, and it looks fantastic.  One of the windows was open and letting in a great breeze, which was welcome since the temperature was teetering between hellfire and damnation that day.  Each new piece of the Great Room reminds me why I love this house-- I could just spend all my time in it once I'm there... SO happy we chose the layout that allowed it to be fully opened.  In fact, the other night while laying in bed I confessed to Abby that I was having misgivings about even putting a TV in the room, because it was just so pretty.  It doesn't really fit having a TV, but I don't want to spend evenings downstairs in the family room once the kids are asleep.  Well what do you know: Abby already had planned for that, and is fully intending for us not to have the TV mounted on the wall as we had originally planned, but instead to buy a doohickey that would raise and lower the set so it can be hidden behind a chest of drawers when it's not in use.  That's why she gets to plan the layout, not because of any feng shui business!

The other visitor we had this week was Abby's Uncle Jimmy, who drove his gorgeous 1939 Plymouth all the way up from Tennessee to visit on his way to an antique car show in Pennsylvania.  We dropped by the house with him last night before introducing him to sushi-- which he amazingly enjoyed.  (He may have lost of bit of luster among his fellow East Tennesseeans by doing so...)  He was definitely tickled to see the house, which he's been hearing about this whole year, and had fun exploring the place and looking into the windows of the neighboring places.  Oh, and the owners of the windmill next door had better watch out: Jimmy says in case of a storm, he's running over and jumping into your cellar. :)  And one more thing: when we went to the house with Jimmy, we noticed it had been painted!  No trim or anything, but the Tadpole Green's up, and we love it.
Jimmy with the newly-painted bungalow and his 1939 Plymouth
So there has to be some negative news in there, right?  Yeah, well our homeowners' insurance expires at midnight tonight, and we won't finalize our new policy until tomorrow morning, so we're going to have something like a twelve-hour lapse between policies.  You may remember Travelers so unceremoniously dropping us last month.  Well, since then I've been calling around trying to get someone to take us, without any luck.  This past weekend, our old State Farm agent sent us a letter trying to get us back, and I decided to give them a call.  The agent was nice enough, and worked to see what she could do for us, but in the end said we were a "builder's risk" and gave me the contact information for one of her colleagues that did that kind of high-risk insuring.  She called yesterday and said we could finalize things today, but her colleague (are you following) made a mistake by calling my cell phone this morning, leaving one message at 9AM, and never calling back.  (FYI everyone: I work in a SCIF, which means I can't have a cell at work.)  So I didn't get the message until I turned on my phone in the Metro after 5PM.  Argh.  First thing tomorrow, and hopefully nobody burns down our house tonight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hear it from the Source

So I've been really bad at posting this week, even though a bunch has gone on.  But I figured I'd whet your appetite with a guided tour from a different member of the Wahl clan-- Lola.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Primed Suspect

It's finally happened: our house has changed color.  (Almost) gone is that disgusting Army-issued shade of salmon, replaced (mostly) with the primer that'll go under our Tadpole Green.  And we didn't even know it would happen.  Love those moments.
Our initial view of the new paint-job.  "OMG! It's not pink anymore!"

The color is just a primer, but the actual color won't be all that different.
However, with the highlight colors, it'll be more green looking
than the just-this-side-of-white it looks like right now.
We headed to the Bungalow early this morning... very early.  Actually set the alarm for 7:30 on a Saturday morning to make it there by 9:00 for the community clean-up day.  Took work gloves and my giant hedge clippers with us, along with the kids' gardening tools, and made like good neighbors for a couple of hours.  For my part, I helped clear what the kids call the "secret trail" of the overgrown vines and brush that have crept up onto it over the past year, and it actually looks respectable now.  I wore jeans, boots, and a long-sleeve tee, even though it was in the 70s already, because I didn't want to get poison ivy or any sort of bites/scratches from bugs/thorns, but by 10:00 I was cursing not having worn shorts as the sweat ran in a steady stream down my forehead.  But then I crossed the pretty stone bridge and made my way up the other side of the glen, and into the shade.  Phew... within minutes I was back to normal.  

Met a whole bunch of neighbors today-- some for the first time, and some for the second or third, although I readily admit I don't remember everyone I've met yet, especially since so many have popped in just to say hi as we did one thing or another at the house.  (I promise, neighbors, I will try my best to remember your names when I move in!  I'm just ridiculously bad at names; no idea why.)  Anyhow, how awesome are our new neighbors?  How's about a nice offer of refreshments after getting all gross outside, a tour of a beautiful condo unit inside the President's House building, and a volunteer (without us even asking!) to watch the kids draw with chalk on the sidewalk while we went to take a look.  Seriously, neighbors, you don't know what you're getting yourself into!  (That said, I believe the ladies responsible for those actions were Janice, formerly of Brisbane, Australia; and Chris.  But regardless of their names, which I may have gotten incredibly wrong, thank you!)

It's great to see that, once we get in there, we'll have a built-in community ready to go.  I even suggested we do pot-lucks around the Seminary so we can get to know each other (and spy on each others' homes...), just like we did when we moved to Petworth.  Got a good reaction, but it seems there's already a plan underway to have a fundraising tour of homes in September, and I gladly volunteered the Bungalow to be on the agenda.  It's a start!

After the clean-up, we met our good friends Eric and Janice (of New Jersey and Georgetown, not of Brisbane and Maryland) in the District and talked awhile about how things were going with the house.  After regaling them with stories of the extra $15k we have to spend on pipes, Eric asked me if we had any positive surprises with the house, to set off the several negative surprises we've had lately.  I had to think... a long while.  But there are some:

  • This may be more of a non-negative than a positive, but Rory was able to argue our way out of that $3,400 fee the water company wanted to charge us to hook into the system.  You remember: the one we were being charged because our house supposedly never had water service before; the one we would be refunded if we could find the meter number that formerly measured water going in to the house?  Yeah, we no longer have to pay that, only to have to fight for reimbursement afterwards.  Like that.
  • Remnants of the useless front foundation wall
    and the new metal support columns.  Surprise!
     Our contractors have been doing a really good job.  Okay, so we're not thrilled about the recent unexpected costs, but we have faith in them, which is more than we can say for many of the contractors that worked on our current house.  You may remember them: the one who toked up in the basement; the one who decided to chip into our foundation rather than cut down the height of a door; the one that took a $2,500 deposit and moved to Georgia, never to be seen again; the one that hit on Abby, making lurid comments at her while she nursed an infant Isaac; the one that hit on Abby and me together, suggesting we swing with him and possibly his wife; the one that... oh, I could go on, but rather, I will point out that not only did our current contractors NOT do ANY of these things, but neighbor upon neighbor has remarked independently of being asked that the workers are working CONSTANTLY.  Not to mention, we discovered today that the dilapidated stone wall holding up the arches under the porch has been completely removed and metal support columns put in its place (see picture).  Not only will this help with stability and give us back a few inches in the downstairs expansion, it was a surprise we didn't know would even happen.  People are apparently amazed (as would I be, based on experience...) that things seem to be humming pretty much nonstop for 8, 10, 12 hours a day.  And improvements are visible.  Like that too.
  • And, honestly, the neighborhood.  We very much could have moved into an uber-pretentious neighborhood, full of people who were more concerned about the historical significance of the disgusting pink color of the house rather than welcoming us and remembering our names and being honestly interested in not only how the house is coming along, but also in how we are doing.  Besides the initial surprise of finding the house on run-of-the-mill, I've gotta say that's a pretty darn good surprise. I left those big hedge clippers by accident in our front garden, and I was initially worried they'd disappear, based again on experiences here in Petworth.  (Remember when someone stole PLANTS out of our yard?  Or broke into our house and stole a box of Golden Grahams?)  But I bet when I swing by tomorrow morning there's a better than 50% chance they're either sitting exactly where we left them or have been taken inside by a neighbor.  Either way, I really like that.
So that's about it from clean-up day.  Monday starts our plumbing work, and hopefully by week's end we'll be connected to the water and sewer mains.  In fact, some of the sidewalk has already been dug up.  Over the next 48 hours we'll have to make final decisions on our bathroom fixtures, and Abby came to the exciting realization today that we have enough room in our upstairs bathroom for a 4-foot-wide shower; I also think we have enough room downstairs for the dual sinks she's wanted but been concerned about losing because of the 90-degree change in plans down there.  Needless to say, things are a-happenin' and I like that as well. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Excavation and an Acadian. Maybe.

For those of you who have been here from the start, you may remember that our front porch is built on top of nothing.  Literally, nothing.  Not on top of dirt, or stone, or rock, or, I dunno, quicksand?  Nope-- nothing.  We found this out when our home inspector pretty much fell through the porch and said the equivalent of "um, hey guys?  I fell through the porch into nothing."  Except with a French-Canadian accent.  (I think he was French-Canadian, although I may be imagining things...)
Where the possibly-Acadian home inspector fell through the porch.

What you could see of the dirt under the porch, originally.
Looking down into the abyss, under the once and future porch.
This is the laundry room and guest room you're looking at.

For some reason, the front of the house is perched on a bunch of load-bearing two-by-fours, while the roof is held up, via the four front pillars, by an underground stone wall, unconnected to the two-by-fours.  Over 115 years, this setup has allowed dirt to seep in.  How much dirt?  Well, here's how it looked last week:

Once we got down there, this is the mound of dirt.
The porch is up top, and you're standing in what will
be the downstairs bathroom, looking through the
guest room and into the laundry room.
Notice the lovely load-bearing walls on either side.
Anyhow, I had the brilliant idea that we should excavate the whole thing and expand into that space.  We're pretty much not allowed to do anything to the house because of historical rules, but they don't care what we do underground, so as long as we're on our own property, theoretically, the sky's the limit.  (Or the opposite, really.)  This week they've started to excavate, and have hit a few small snags.  First off, there's apparently a lot more dirt down there than they expected.  $4000 more, actually.  Yeah, I know.  They were unable to use a big machine to do the digging, because the porch above would not support a machine. (Recall, if you will, the Quebecker screaming.  "Mon dieu! Zut allors! Et autres phrases francais!")  So everything had to come out by hand.  If you ask me, $4000 means everything came out with tiny spoons, but that's neither here nor there, and look what a great job they did, spoons or no spoons:
All excavated!

We had to go to the house this afternoon to meet with Sheyy for loan stuff (another story completely), so Mark and Rory wanted us to come over to talk about a few things having to do with this lovely excavation.  Lovelier than the $4000?  Maybe...  Anyhow, it looks like the wall to the right, made of lovely stones, is also pretty much useless.  No way we can build a real wall against it, let alone expect it to keep out any kind of moisture.  (Luckily it's been pouring, so we can see how much water we might expect in a non-hurricane worst-case scenario.)  So we have to put a moisture barrier all the way around, then build a cement-block wall in front of it for stability before we frame it out and put drywall in.  All in all, we're losing about ten inches of space from that side. Putting quite the squeeze on the guest room, that's for sure.  

Another issue is the bathroom.  The downstairs bathroom is in the corner of the house, in an addition that was put on several decades after it was built-- I think in the 1920s.  Anyhow, this is the one area of the house we couldn't really get into well the whole time, because the floor was unstable.  So we learned that apparently our architect also couldn't really get into it either; apparently he just estimated where things were by measuring the outside of the house and doing some math.  Now we find out there's this strange 6-inch half-wall running the length of the bathroom, and a load-bearing pillar smack-dab in the middle of it all.  After a bunch of thinking, we came up with a plan we hope will work, which basically involves moving the bathroom sinks from one wall to another, and having to deal with the fact that instead of a mirror over one of the sinks there will be a window.  With a HUGE ledge of about 18 inches.  That we can't really put stuff on because the window opens by swinging in. 

Positive: We found that, under the stairs and behind the mudroom-to-be's walls there's this oddly shaped circular space where we may be able to tuck our water heater.  (FYI, we're getting the kind that has no tank, but heats on demand.  It saves a whole bunch of energy when you're not home for a while, which kinda happens sometimes...)  

Notice the curve of the circular staircase at left, and the
strange space between that and the load-bearing walls at center.
We'll be able to do something with that, but we're not 100% sure what.
Negative: We found that having the boiler (which is also the air conditioner) in the center of the downstairs is just not going to work, and it won't work in the mudroom either.  Unfortunately, this means we're likely going to have to put it on top of the upstairs bathroom, which means we'll be losing some of the airspace we had gained in the Great Room.  The upstairs bathroom cuts out into the Great Room right now, and although the space above it is useless, it feels luxurious, and it also shows the gorgeous original rails along the wall.  Now, that will likely be boxed in, and we will probably lose most or all of the storage space behind the rails and above the window boxes to large duct work.  Better that than having huge bulkheads running through the house, but I'm still bummed.  I asked Mark to see if there was any way they could still finagle some storage space up there, and to see if we could get some faux rail to match the part that will be blocked.  Just have to make sure the MHT folks don't see the word "faux" anywhere, because that's something likely to make them kvetch.  (Tiny positive: because the AC unit was moved from downstairs, we will no longer have a weird closet opening up into the middle of the family room, and Isaac's closet can be much bigger.)
Unfortunately we're going to be re-losing the space above the bathroom cutout,
and most or all of the storage space behind the rails around the Great Room.
These developments are the first of what I'm sure will be many (hopefully not too many) unexpected on-the-spot changes, difficulties, and expenses for this project.  This week was kind of a shock to us, because it's been the first with out-of-pocket expenses, as opposed to the regular expenses which are already counted into our mortgage payment.  Had to pay the first $7,500 for the plumber to connect us to the water and sewer mains on Saturday; he starts Monday.  And had to pay the first $5,000 to the contractor for the excavation and a whole bunch of other stuff having to do with the excavation, such as removing the concrete-slab foundation under the half of the downstairs bathroom that has it (the rest of the house rests only on dirt) because with the foundation the ceiling will be less than seven feet tall.

However, at this point at least, it's still totally worth it.  It's fantastic to arrive at the house and see double-digits of people working (actually working, not just sitting around, either), and machines humming and people on ladders and piles of trash and NEW STUFF going in.  Yeah, nerves are being wracked, but so far so good, I think.  Abby?  Well, she's a bit more nervous than I am.  Or maybe I just hide it better...  But remember, comparatively speaking, this job is going swimmingly.  Swimmingly, I say; swimmingly. (And now for the pictures I promised the other day, of all this new stuff.)
If you look closely, you can see new cedar shingles and the new porch roof.
Oh, and the picket fence is gone!  Watched them tear it right off.
Look at the new flashing!  So crisp!  And not rotting!

Finally they've removed the Great Room windows for rehab.
These are the pieces de resistance for the room, along with the
vaulted ceiling. I CANNOT wait to see this completed.

And the removed Great Room windows from the outside.
Love the patchwork look the house is getting, with the new
taking over the old.  And notice the old paint is mostly gone.
Traveling salesmen?  Oh, please just step over here!  Whoops...
(Best part of this picture is that someone painted over the incorrect
address that been on the house, over the mailbox.  It used to be right,
but not for the past decade I guess.  And everyone, from the water company
to the US Postal Service, was very confused by it.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

28 Hours Later

Went out to the house twice this week-- Wednesday evening and again this morning for what was supposed to be a short meeting but turned into two-plus hours and enough for me to take the whole day off of work-- and saw a bunch of good stuff happening.  I did take pictures, which I'll post this weekend, but wanted to give an update on some of the less visible -- and perhaps more important -- stuff that's been happening.

  1. Gas service.  Washington Gas is worse than any cable company you can imagine.  Get this: they have to come out to the house, and tell our contractor, Mark, that he has to be there between 7 AM and 5 PM. That's the window they give him-- 10 hours!  But that's the only way it can happen, so he goes out there.  What do you know: they don't show, and he's spent an entire day out there.  He calls and asks why they stiffed him, and they ensure him he was the one that stiffed them, and that they don't believe our address exists.  Take two, and another 10-hour window.  Mark asks that the gas guy call him when he's coming, just so he can guide him to the house.  Another no-show day, gas guy nowhere in sight.  Twenty hours wasted.  Mark gets angry and tells them to get GPS.  Another 10-hour window and the guy finally shows up-- at 3:30 PM.  So Mark waited 28 1/2 hours for the gas guy to come, and the guy takes maybe 10 minutes to look at the pipe sticking out of the ground, pronounce that it's our job to pay for anything, and is ready to leave.  But rather than let the gas guy leave, Mark assures him that our house is over a hundred years old, and it's just a tiny bit against code to have a gas meter so close to a window.  Yeah, did I mention the fact that Washington Gas wanted to set the meter directly outside Isaac's window, less than a foot away, in a place that would not only block us from being able to see out the window, but also would block it from opening?  Apparently Mark worked his magic, because the service is being moved to the far side of the house, and Washington Gas is paying for it all.  Yay Mark.
  2. Electric service.  We have a permit!  PEPCO came out this week and certified that the lines from where the meter will be to where the transformer will be are good.  Now they are going to set the transformer, and we can begin to have at least rudimentary electric service at the house.  The transformer hasn't yet been set because it will service only three homes: ours, the Dutch Windmill, and the French Colonial, none of which currently have electric service.  So it looks like we'll jump ahead of the Windmill on this one, but then when they're ready they won't have to go through as much hassle, because the transformer will already be there.
  3. Water service.  Besides having to pay $15,000 to have a pipe go from the water service to our house because they happened to build a water main within five feet of our house without connecting us to it, and besides having to pay $750 a year FOR 25 YEARS to pay for the building of said water main, we will have to pay $3,400 to have our service turned on, because the water company doesn't recognize our house.  That is, unless we can prove we have had water service in the past.  Now, I'm no plumber, but the fact that we had toilets and sinks and bathtubs and underground pipes, coupled with the fact we have no well or septic tank, should be an indication that we have had water and sewer service in the past-- no?  Apparently not.  The water company needs either a meter number or a customer number from the past to link into its system and prove we had service, at which point it will supposedly refund us the $3,400 we had to pay to have them even consider looking at our property.  I called the property developer, Alexander Company, in Wisconsin yesterday and asked them to please find out what these numbers were.  (Alexander is the company that bought the whole property from the Army-- or maybe it was from the State?-- for $1 and then developed the condos around us.)  Greg Hunt at Alexander is on the ball, and said he thinks he remembers seeing that our three houses, which may just be the Three Amigos (or the Three Stooges) of the property, were on the same water meter, and will look for that number somewhere in the reams of paper he's got on it.  Hope he finds it... Alexander's pretty much washing their hands of the place now that nearly everything's sold, so hopefully they haven't started sending stuff like that to the Indiana Jones archival warehouse.
  4. Painting.  Not all the paint is off, but the house has been scraped and is ready to paint!  Mark and Rory are trying desperately to convince Abby that we don't need five colors of paint on the house, and Abby and I are reminding them that 95% of the house is one color, and that one of the colors (red) is just on two exterior doors and that's it.  Mark said "after 15 years of marriage, I know who's going to win this battle..."  I say after 8 years and 50 weeks of marriage, I do too!
  5. Our first outlays of $$$ outside our loan. Yep, it had to happen, and it did in a big way.  The $3,400 check for the water company and the first half of the $15,000 payment to the plumber happened this week.  I learned Citibank doesn't let you cash more than $5,000 per day out of your Home Equity Line of Credit, and also that Mark has an intense hatred of banks that makes me think perhaps he has bad memories of watching the banking scene from Mary Poppins growing up. (This transaction, however, was a helluva lot more than tuppence!)  What really sucks is that these two costs will not be eligible for the historical refunds the State and County will give us at the end of the process, because they don't do anything to the house itself.  I don't understand how connecting a home to water service doesn't count as making an historic building habitable, but I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, no matter how annoyed I am by its rules.
So that's all for now.  I hope to upload pics of today's fun sometime in the next couple of days.  Some things you can look forward to seeing:
  • Brand-new flashing and a pristine white bead-board ceiling on the heretofore decrepit porch;
  • No more nasty picket fence surrounding the porch;
  • The massive windows in the Great Room have finally been removed for restoration;
  • The downstairs bathroom is being excavated, and all that dirt under the porch will be taken out starting Monday;
  • There's a six-foot section of a load-bearing wall sitting on AIR; and
  • Probably some cute pictures of Lola sitting in front of mountains of debris that were trucked away this afternoon.
Until then, just know that we made our first Bungalow-to-IKEA run this afternoon, and made it there in ten minutes flat.  That proximity, my friends, is truly a dangerous prospect.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Money Pit, Part One

Dear Readers: Please note the following wording, from our sales contract:
"The property is connected to, or has been approved for connection to, a public water and sewer system"
I'll give you one hint as to the reason for our grumbling today: it's the part of that clause that has been set apart by commas.  Yes, the bungalow has been approved for connection to water.  And what that means was spelled out by Mark today: $15,000.  Yes, $15,000 that was not in our budget.  That's what it will cost to turn the house into one approved for connection into one connected to water service.  FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Really?  It was a Spielberg movie?
With our current house, people used to joke about comparisons between it and the house from the movie "The Money Pit."  You know, that bad movie from the eighties with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.  But that was really because of the state of disrepair of the house, not because of the actual money involved.  In fact, I think we've only spent about $70,000 total to fix up this house, and that includes that $13,000 "splurge" (ha!) on central air conditioning-- worth every freakin' penny, I might add.  This is, therefore, the most expensive thing we've ever done to a house.  And we're not near the end yet.  

As I wrote a few weeks back, we had some issues with the water company-- in that they didn't recognize our house as existing.  That's because we have no link to their pipes, and now we understand that.  When they upgraded the service years ago, they just severed the connection completely.  Nada.  A similar thing happened to our current house and the gas supply, which was apparently cut off after Norman the squatter was using the gas for free; they came and literally ripped the pipes out of the ground.  We had to pay $1,500 to have them re-installed, which we would not have had to have done had we known there was no gas service, and chosen not to have any gas appliances. In that case, it took until the plumber tried to turn on the gas for them to realize there was no gas service at all.  In this case, while the plumbers are only finding out our issues now, we don't exactly have a choice-- it's not like we can choose to go with electric showers and toilets.  Can we?  (Can we?)

Apparently the connection is near our parking spaces, and has to be dug under the house because the water needs to enter the house in our mudroom, the downstairs space just inside the back door.  My guess is the expense comes from the fact that digging will have to occur under the foundation, and care has to be taken so the house doesn't, you know, fall down and stuff.

So here we are.  We have $13,500 left in our FHA contingency fund, which means that, okay, we won't have to pay all $15,000 our of our own pockets right this second (it's already included in the total loan amount on which we're already paying the mortgage) but any other cost overruns will come out of our pockets.  And we've got plenty of work left to go.  The saving grace is that, at the end of all of this, we'll get a considerable percentage reimbursed by the historic folks-- if memory serves me, it'll amount to 20% of everything we do to make the house livable, courtesy of the state, and 10% of everything we do aesthetically to the exterior of the house, courtesy of the county.  (The percentages may be backwards, come to think of it...)  But that just means this will cost us $12,000 in actual dollars, not $15,000, and seeing that we're celebrating the recent payoff of our auto loan-- five years for $23,000-- an additional $12k (or $15k or whatever) added to the pile just means we'll have to drive our car for a few more years than we had planned.


(Please note while you are all invited to be guests in our home, any use of plumbing features, from showering to using the toilet or having your dishes washed before you're served food on them, will come with an historical use surcharge of $150.  The management thanks you for your support of historical structures and the fact that the water company can get away with putting in new lines within ten feet of an existing home without actually linking it to their system.)

(Or maybe, since this is an historical structure, we should just forgo indoor plumbing altogether...)