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.

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