Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Power Makes 'Em Go

It's been ten days since drywall has gone up in our house.  You'd think I would have been so excited about that that I would have reported it on this very blog, but to make a football analogy, it was like kicking a field goal near the end of the game when you're down by three touchdowns: too little too late.  Not that I don't want the drywall to go up-- it was highly important, because it was in the kitchen, and it was required for the final cabinet measure to happen--but I really wanted it to go up everywhere.

Yep, the drywall went up in exactly one room: the kitchen.  It only went up there because the contractors knew about the cabinet guys waiting around for them, and about the deadline we approached and blew by for the cabinets to be manufactured.  It went up by hand, and the rest of the drywall did not go up at all, because there was still no power in the house.  You see, drywalling is a very power-intensive endeavor, or so I am told.  Putting drywall up by hand may be what the Amish do-- they of prolific hand-hung sheetrock-- but it just doesn't fit into the schedule of modern-day contractors... nor does it fit into the budget of modern-day homeowners.  So it went up, and last week the cabinet guy came out and made a final measure.  And what do you know, the original measure-- done by the same guy-- was off.
Drywall in the kitchen:
Once the cabinets are installed,
it will be cut down to size.

Kitchen drywall (Range wall to left, Fridge wall to right)
Abby was there, and luckily the measure wasn't that far off.  It could be remedied by changing the two nine-inch floor cabinets flanking the range into two four-inch drawer cabinets that will probably end up being filled with crap.  It could be remedied either by getting rid of our built-in trash-can cabinet (never!) or by getting rid of a random nine-inch cabinet we had put into the plan as filler (bingo!).  And it could be remedied by moving the sink just enough off-center from the window it will be next to to probably guarantee that Abby will be staring at it ruefully for the next few decades.  (Yes, she who lusts after asymmetry was not amused that the sink would be several inches to the side of center.)  But after all of that, the cabinets will still go in.  She'll drop by Home Depot tomorrow to sign off on the final design, they'll go into production, and we'll wash our hands of the whole kitchen until they magically appear on our walls in a month or so-- hopefully more month than so.

But still, no power.  A week went by and I again got angry, as I tend to do now whenever I think of this house and all of the things that are going to be "wrong" with it (versus the perfect house in my head) once it's completed.  I made an enumerated list on Monday morning and sent it off to the contractors, fuming.  Several hours later, I got a phone call and Mark was good enough to go, one by one, down the list.  Okay, he left off a few of my bullets, but he did mention one gigantor thing: we "went hot" that morning.


The electricity was on.  He said he had a load of drywall already ordered from Home Depot, ready for delivery on Tuesday.  If, for some reason, that delivery would have to be pushed off until Wednesday, he had trucks ready to go bring 50-60 pieces of drywall from Home Depot on Tuesday so they could get hanging.  POWER.  Drywalling would start Tuesday.  As in yesterday.  And the reason I'm still writing this as future tense is because I have no idea whether it actually did start Tuesday.  Why would I?  I mean, it's only the thing we've been waiting for for three months or so.  You'd think-- I dunno-- that we'd be getting pictures or phone calls or emails or a text message or something from them telling us the thing we've been pestering them about the most, and that they've supposedly been waiting on the most, was happening.  But, you know,  when they got power on Monday morning, they didn't tell me that either; they happened to note it when going down a list of that morning's grievances.  Don't they get it yet?  This is good news!  Tell me about it, damn it!

Isaac being a brooding model
in front of the insulation
in his bedroom
So, besides the power and drywall, there were several other items of note.  No, the plumbing had not yet gone in for the refrigerator (for the ice dispenser), but it would go in before Lola's bedroom ceiling was up, since that's where the pipe would be located.  No, he didn't realize my bedroom closet had no light, and he would check on that; but yes, the lights are now in in all the other closets.  (Can't remember whether there was lighting in the room we're calling the "library," which is the entrance to the balcony. Hmm...)  Yes, the light switch has been moved in the downstairs bathroom to accommodate the movement of the door to one side, which in turn would accommodate the division of the bathroom like we want; no, the door frame itself has not yet been moved.  No, the concrete pad for the HVAC unit outside has not been poured, but we actually might not need concrete at all; rather, there's this one-piece product that can just be laid on the dirt that the HVAC guy might prefer.  Yes, the ginormous HVAC unit did overhang the newly-built platform for it, but the platform has since been extended and is complete.  (Yes, this program recognizes "ginormous" as a correct spelling, but not "HVAC.")  Yes, the insulation is finished.  Yes, they meant to wait until near the end of construction to complete the porch, because they don't want lots of foot traffic on it right away; I had thought they were just waiting to install the HVAC unit since it was so, well, ginormous.  Yes, they have already spoken with the fireplace guy, and were set to send him the necessary specs.  No, not all the windows are done, because they're having "pricing issues" with some out-of-state window manufacturer (in Wisconsin I think), but yes, the windows in the dining room and the laundry room have been rehabbed and installed.  Yes, the kitchen ceiling has been scraped and sanded.

Newly-scraped kitchen ceiling
And yes, one week ago today, I moved my family into my basement because my renters needed a place to live.  This despite the two mortgages I'm paying on two different full homes.  I have to ask permission to use the washer and dryer upstairs; this despite the fact I now own two washers and two dryers.  I have to wash my dishes by hand; this despite the fact I now own two dishwashers.  I have to cook my food on an "Americana" range with electric coils with tinfoil underlay; this despite the fact I now own two ranges with ceramic cooktops.  The list goes on, but it's nothing but frustrating.  The basement itself isn't bad at all, which is really nice considering I've had renters down here for 4+ years.  It's not even terrible with the kids, who love the idea of having "sleepovers" every day.  (They're sharing a bed.)  It's just, you know, not what I had imagined.

Tomorrow, as I said, Abby goes to Home Depot up in Aspen Hill to finalize the cabinet order.  She asked me whether I would be okay if she made some small last-minute edits, such as correcting the fact that we no longer want an in-cabinet microwave, without me.  I told her I expected nothing less than her leaving that store completely, utterly, devastatingly done with the cabinets.  On the way home, I expect she will drop by the house.  What I don't expect is the drywall to be near completion, even though it would be Day Three of installation-- an installation I was told would take 2-3 days.
Newly-extended HVAC platform

Maybe just because I want to have a pleasant surprise?  Maybe because I've finally become cynical towards not just this process but this entire genre of processes?  Who knows?  I just know that the Power Wheels commercials from when I was little told me "Power Makes 'Em Go," and I hope that my contractors take a page out of the handbook from those overly expensive motorized vehicles for kids.  After all, it's nearly Christmas.

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