Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Over

It's over, folks. Fini. 27 1/2 months after we closed, 2 years to the day after we received state approvals, 21 months after the sledgehammers started swinging. But also five months after we moved in, and a year after our desired date of completion. But it's over. All work requested of our general contractor has been completed. Let me repeat that, but louder: ALL WORK REQUESTED OF OUR GENERAL CONTRACTOR HAS BEEN COMPLETED. THAT FELT GOOD--er-- that felt good.

Final touches were done on the kitchen in the middle of last week: grouting the backsplash tile (black, Abby's idea-- surprised me, but looks great); painting the top sash of the far window that had, for some reason, never been painted; getting up under the little notches with black paint to give added depth (Abby's idea too, she wasn't sure I'd like it, but I love it). Standing in the far end of the kitchen at night, it feels like an old-fashioned modern French kitchen, if that makes sense. I love it.

And downstairs, a third of our mudroom has been gobbled up by the new closet that encloses the water heater. Actually, a lot more of the mudroom is left than we thought, and we might actually be able to hang some hooks on one side so as to get some coats up on the wall. We still need to paint it, but whatever-- it'll be white, like everything else down there. (My only complaint: there are too many angles in there now, but it had to be that way to allow clearance for the required access panel.)

There are a couple of things we realized that have not yet been done. For instance, the door between the guest room and the storage area has been hung, but the doorknob is uninstalled and there's no trim inside or out. When I mentioned this to Abby, she could not have shot back more quickly her desire not to involve the contractors in even one more project. Her take is that if we ask them to do something, they'll just pass it on to the subs, charge us too much, and take too long. Instead, we got the phone number of one of the workers we know who has done excellent work, and we'll ask him. (We've already asked him to help us with an odd job at the old house.)

The latter part of last week was spent trying to get the invoice out of them. I told them countless times that we'd want an invoice to turn in for the historical requirements, yet it constantly seemed like a surprise to them-- as if keeping records was anathema to their way of life. They sent a first draft invoice, which was hilarious because it just mimicked the loan numbers, which we all agreed were just placeholders. Plus, they included things like floors and doors and appliances-- things we purchased ourselves. After three drafts, we finally got an acceptable (if imperfect) invoice in my inbox on Sunday. But not after being pestered for more of the money we owe them. Abby had given them $5,000 midweek, and we're disputing some of their final charges. We say we owed them a bit under $8,000 before that payment; they claim it's a bit over $9,000. So I gave them $2,000 more on Saturday, since that was undisputed and we really need that invoice. We'll see what happens next.

But really, apart from the last $900 (or $2,300, depending on whose side you're on) and the movement of our piano from its resting place in the foyer down to the family room, we have wiped our hands of Servicez Unlimited. It's really a pity-- we started off loving Rory, then Mark took over and things went for a roller-coaster ride that ended with, if not hard feelings, a definite desire never to deal with each other again. I'm not so sure that they'll ever respond to a call from us should we need to make use of our warranty... and I'm not so sure that the two years didn't start when they started work, which, when you think about it, was more than two years ago now. Regardless, it may take more than the already-chipping exterior paint for us to call them again.

Things are not done. There is still a lot of work to do. We have a long road ahead of us with paperwork, with landscaping, with living in the house. But this part is over. We no longer live in a construction zone. We can unpack boxes with the knowledge that they don't have to be repacked-- possibly for decades. We can sit on the couch, and stare around, at OUR (technically) COMPLETED HOUSE. And yep, the allcaps there were deliberate.

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