Thursday, July 10, 2014

I was going to do Before/Afters but my computer's been in the shop.

They had no idea how to fix my computer, apparently, because they kept igot for almost a month before giving it back to me and it did the same thing again after I'd had it home for a few hours. So I sent it back again for repair, which took another two weeks.

It seems to be fixed now, but since I was working on a different computer for so long, Ive forgotten where I've put all the files I need.

Doesn't help that i dropped and broke my phone and got a new one so none of those files are in the right place either. I managed to save everything but I've just sort of forgotten where i've put everything and its not all on one device currently so the before/afters will have to wait.

Meanwhile, I bitched up a storm and got the lawn guys to do my freakin' lawn but they haven't mowed in some ridiculous amount of time. Possibly to get back at me or something, I don't know.

I've got a friend of a friend that is a guy w/ some equipment trying to make a living as his own lawn service and I'm about ready to give him a call. I'm just waiting till the weekend to see if anyone comes by to mow or not before I hire someone else.

I don't know how these guys are in business. And they're better than the one I had before them. The old ones wouldnt do anything at all till I called. It'd been faster and cheaper for me just to do it. But I wanted a service so I wouldn't have to even think about it and my lawn would just always look nice. So far it's not been like that at all.

The glass block windows have worked! Flashy has been hanging out with me so much more and being sweet and nice instead of spending all his time in the basement windows waiting for a cat to come try and fight him and peeing on everything to mark his territory.

He used to be sweet every so often for a few days and then go back to being an aggressive and territorial jerk, so I was cautiously optimistic when he started being a good kitty. It seems to have stuck. I haven't had to clean up pee in weeks now. Which is great.

I had a daily ritual of coming home from work, because the time away from the house gives you that fresh nose you need, and taking a black light flashlight around to look for pee stains, then hosing them all down with Anti-Icky Poo to get rid of the smell. I buy it by the gallon.

It was helping but it wasnt until I had company coming and I went to wash the guest bedding that I saw that Flashy had peed all over the spare bedding in the closet where I keep that stuff, and the walls too. Once I washed it all it smelled much better in here.

That and I got a Bissell Proheat Pet Carpet Shampooer, which I've discovered is a necessity with my two barfy cats even if the one didn't pee everywhere.

I think I got him to quit peeing mostly by a combination of all the things. Cleaning the old pee stains with the enzyme cleaner so he can't smell it and think that's a good spot to pee, Taking him outside on a leash in the yard daily so he can mark his territory out there, and getting glass block windows put in so he can't fight with cats through the glass.

He seems much more well adjusted and we all seem happier for it. I know I'm happier for it.

I haven't got around to getting the house painted because I just seriously got tired of having people working on the house. I just want to sit in the backyard and enjoy the sunshine for now.

If I can get someone to mow the lawn, it's looking really nice around here lately.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I've reached my threshold for work on the house for now.

My computer is still in the shop. It's being repaired for a reasonable rate but they sure are taking their
sweet time. I feel like I can't update properly without it, but I'm doing what I can here.

Meanwhile, My bushes grew out of control It's hard to tell from this photo but that is meant to be a cute little round green bush and not a big blown out red one. Which means my lawn guys aren't doing their job.

I called them right away as soon as the wall was done so that they could send me someone to check the tree and clean up the yard and put down new mulch or do whatever else it is they do.

What I got instead was some bullshit from the secretary implying that they dont have time to do my yard because they're much too busy. So I threw a hissy fit seeing as how that's what I've hired them for, right... and I returned their ridiculous paperwork early in the season so there's no reason I shouldn't be on the schedule.
In fact, they skipped me last year and I had to call because my bushes looked like this, and they were all oops.. and sent someone out. So this year I made sure to make the call earlier in the season and I was told I wasn't on the schedule.
So I'm like.. put me on the schedule... and they said they'd get back to me.

A week later, no response. So I send an angry email and get and answer another week later saying it was the weather's fault.

I threw a hissy fit.
Because it was not the weather's fault they forgot to put me on the schedule two years in a row to do the work I've signed contracts for them to do. 
Can't honestly say if the hissy fit worked or if they just finally got around to me but the bushes are trimmed today. The mulch wasn't done but I don't even care because I've already got a couple of people interested in doing my lawn care who'll come over and do the job. 
So now the house looks nice. The construction is all finished, the recent heavy rains and storms washed away all the extra leftover dust. There was tons of it. And now the bushes are trimmed and the yard is cleaned up. 
It could still use fresh paint but I'm sort of over having work done on the house and I think I may wait awhile longer. I just want to sit in the backyard with the cat now.

Monday, June 2, 2014

All the work on my house is done!

I haven't updated this blog because my computer had to go to the shop, and then my phone broke, so between obstacles to updating plus getting busy with life, I havent had time to sit down and do it until now.

Somewhere past the halfway mark into Day 4, when I posted last, they realized that the back stoop they were demolishing to pour a whole new cement one, was actually more than a foot thick under the ground on top of clay.

Which means they did a lot of sledgehammering, made a huge crazy mess and eventually gave up and realized that they need to come back next week with a jackhammer to get it done.

This left my backyard a disaster zone for the Memorial Day weekend holiday. And if that wasn't bad enough, when they gave me new gutters the other day, I'm guessing the old ones fell on top of my grill and damaged the heating element, so I had to order a $60 part to make it work again.

The guys worked well into the evening as long as there was still sun on the Friday before the holiday and managed to finish the wall, put in the glass block windows and put on a chimney cap before they left my backyard cookout-less nightmare.

I might have complained if four out of five projects weren't just done but they all look awesome. Flashy adjusted to the new windows right away. He meowed a little bit at first as if to say "Hey... wtf is this?" but then he sat in the window and i guess he can still see something of outside. He still spends time down there, and I think he seems a little less crazy, but it's pretty new and I'm not sure if it's just wishful thinking on my part yet.

The wall was the thing that caused us all the most time and pain. They essentially cut the back of the blocks out one by one to build the wall around the tree roots. We're all hoping the tree won't die. The guys who built the wall tell me they're landscapers too and that the tree won't die but I'm gonna have someone else have a look at it anyway.

It looks weird to me but its so different from what was there before that I'm hoping I get used to it and think it looks great any minute now. The color is good. I'm glad I picked grey. Everyone involved tried to talk me out of it and into one of these brownish-sand colors. I reject brown in general, but one of the reasons I loved this house because there was nothing brown. I'm certainly not going to put a brown wall in.

The chimney cap is black. I'd have liked white but I didnt get a choice. Not sure why I didn't get a choice of style. I look at the other ones on other houses and they vary so much. But mine's fine and it's entirely practical and that may be another thing that keeps critters away so my kitty doesn't freak out all the time.

So after a long weekend of everything in the backyard covered in dirt and debris, The guys came back with a jackhammer and finished the job. Took out what was left of the old back stoop and poured a brand new one.

I wrote my name in the wet concrete. This is my house and I mean to stay here awhile and that's my back stoop and now it says so. Seemed a shame to let fresh concrete harden without my name on it.

If the next people want to get rid of it they can demolish the step and pour a new one with a lot less trouble than the guys working for me had to go to.

So that's everything done except for the house could use painting now.

I've fixed the grill and I've hosed down pretty much the entire property twice now to get rid of some of the dirt and dust. It rained pretty hard today too. Everything's starting to look right and feel like home again.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 4. So early in the morning

Today is Day 4 of construction at my cute little house. As I write they are demolishing my back stoop in preparation for a new one.

They told me to be home this afternoon so they can get inside and install the glass block windows in the basement so I wasn't expecting anyone until later but at 3 mins to 9 there was demolition going on in my backyard.

I went out to move the car, because I hadn't done that yet and it looks like they monkeyed around with the wall a little bit before they got started wrecking things in the backyard.

What time did these guys start? It's the start of a holiday weekend today and I was up really late last night. I've had less than four hours of sleep and I'm all like really?? now??

Because no one worked on my house at all yesterday. They're already 3 days in when the job was scheduled for one day so they couldn't do the fourth because they had prior obligations to start someone else's job and leave them hanging to get back to mine I think.

That's how these things work. I was advised just not to pay anyone any money till its finished so no one's been paid and everything will be finished today, but I'm not convinced it will be. Still, it's nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We're past the halfway mark now with four out of five projects started and the fifth due to be started within this hour and finished by end of day.

And the wall looks nice. I've gone back/forth thinking it was a mistake and I hate it and its too big and its the wrong color and the wrong shape, etc etc etc. But the closer it gets to being finished and the more I get used to seeing it when I go outside, the more I'm starting to think its nice.

Construction is like a haircut really. You describe what you want and sort of just have hope and faith that your idea came across right, and the person doing it can actually do that because you have to live with whatever you actually got afterwards.

I've cried after a lot of  haircuts.

The back stoop demolition, currently in progress, is taking a lot longer and is a lot noisier than I expected. Maybe because it's a lot earlier than I expected. Or maybe because I sort of thought they'd just pop off the shattered brick veneers which were pretty much mostly gone already. They seem to be taking this whole thing out and starting over. Probably smarter than my plan. That's why they're the pros. But then it's all just taking time away from finishing the wall.

The big boss is coming over later. Maybe they're waiting for him to finish the wall.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The gutters are done!

On Day 2 of the wall rebuild, the gutter guys came over and took off the old ones and gave me new ones. They weren't due to start until Thursday but they have their annual company long-weekend of camping and fishing coming up and wanted to finish the job and get out of town a day early.

I came home from work and I had new gutters!

They look awesome.

The guy said those were the worst he'd ever seen. But it turned out that the rotten wood we thought we'd need to replace when the gutters came off was just really thick layers of paint that were peeling off and the wood underneath was solid.

All I gotta do now is take good care of these new ones.

Oh and they came and did the flashing on the chimney as well, so all that's left up there to do is put on a chimney cap so critters can't wander around on the inside and make my kitty crazy. Of course it won't do anything about the girl cat in heat who's been calling to him outside the window all day and night yesterday, but one less thing is one less thing.

Today was Day 3 and the wall still isn't done. The boss was over today working on it because it's turned out to be more complicated than they'd thought with that tree so close to the edge and I'm not sure any of us except maybe the first guy really knew exactly what it was meant to look like when it was finished, so it's going slow while they figure it out.

Theyre also tearing up a lot more of the front yard than I expected. Which is kind of a bummer after it just finally recovered from being dug up, but I guess theres nothing to do but keep on fixing it. I think that's  of what homeownership is about. You just keep fixing stuff.

So the wall is about twice the size I imagined it in every possible dimension and it seems like overkill to me, but its too late to go back so this is the wall I've got. Pretty much any smaller wall wouldn't last. They tell me this one will stand up to that tree and the moisture for awhile.

The gutter guys showed me how the gutters were leaking right into that old wall and probably played a part in it falling apart.

They should finish the wall in less than another full day, I'd suspect. I'm not sure exactly how much cleanup they're gonna do but it looks a lot like my lawn guys are gonna need to do some work as well after they leave.

Then the back stoop, the chimney cap and the glass block windows and it's time to find a painter.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting started on the wall

They told me the wall would be done over the weekend but it rained, so they only got started today. Then they said it would be a one-day project with time to spare to do the back stoop, but they weren't even a little bit close to getting that right.

These guys spent the whole day digging a trench to put a dry stacked wall where the brick one used to be. The new wall will be a lot thicker and more stable in the first place and it will also allow for water to run out so it shouldn't break and fall over like the first wall did.

The digging seems to be taking longer than they thought and the cutting the blocks to make that curve seem to be taking the time but these guys seem like they're doing everything carefully and correctly so I can't complain.

There's a huge tree root in a precarious place and they're going to build the inside of the wall to sort of go around it, which is also taking more time than they expected, but they don't want to cut the tree roots for fear the tree will die, so they're taking their time and building around it.

My neighbor seems really annoyed with the whole thing because as much as they try to leave her driveway clear, there's always something in it when she wants to use her adjoining driveway and I almost don't have the heart to tell her there's still three more projects plus painting that haven't even been started yet.

Maybe she'll be used to it by the time we start the painting.

This morning I sort of tugged on the wall to see if it was loose enough for me to just knock over without tools. It stayed up but a brick came off in my hand.

Right now I have a hole. But it's an improvement.

I think the hard part is done and they should get that wall up in no time tomorrow and probably also be able to get to the back stoop as well. I think it's a different guy meant to come finish the chimney tomorrow.

The rest of the work is scheduled for later this week, so hopefully it'll all be done soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Work has begun!

They started with the chimney which is not finished yet. I'm sad I wasn't around to see the demolition of the old one. They said they didn't even need tools. They just took the bricks off with their hands. So surprising that it hasn't just fallen right over. But when I got home from work they'd made me a really nice normal professional looking chimney.

I have to say I'm a little sad to see the old one go. It had a charm about its looks but then I'll get over that because I can park at the side of the house without worrying it'll fall on my car.

It's not done yet. It needs to cure. or dry. or harden. or whatever you call it. and then they're gonna finish the flashing and put a cap on it to keep the critters out and that should last a good long while.

They were also scheduled to put glass block windows in my basement, but they measured wrong and the windows are half an inch too big, so they've taken them back and they're ordering ones that fit and we are going to end up doing that last now.

Our first snag. But not so terrible since it's only time its costing us, and frankly for me its better because I picked a better day for me this time.

Next up is the retaining wall. My current wall is seriously about to fall over any second and we've been having terrible storms... I dont think it can last another storm. So it's handy they're coming to tear it out and put a new one in this weekend

Theyve picked a day I'm out of town so my kitty sitter's been instructed to take pics if she can, and the project manager has also told me he can try and get his guys to get pics for me too. Hopefully I'll have pics of the work in action to blog, but for me I'll go out of town and come back and it will be as if magic elves changed my wall into a good one overnight.

Meanwhile, my lawn guys came today and mowed but somehow left tree branches all over the place. Like I think they dropped other peoples on my lawn or something.. those werent there, even after the last storm... i have no understanding of what happened there but my contractor was horrified that this was AFTER the lawn guys cleaned up. Swore he'd never leave anyones lawn like that.

And theyre gonna do the back stoop as well while I'm away, so hopefully theyll take all the junk with them and I'll come home to a lovely house with all the masonry done correctly and finished.

Well, the chimney I think gets finished next week.

I saw what it looked like before they covered it up to protect it and/or my roof and/or my house or whatever and it looks just perfect. I'm really excited about it.

I don't know when I turned from a cool Rock and Roller into a person who gets excited for a chimney rebuild, but apparently I have. I can't wait till they get the chimney cap on that thing and the glass block windows in my basement. And the baby birds in the birds next in the kitchen window will almost have to fly away any minute now and then maybe, just maybe, my cat will stop acting crazy all the time if he doesn't get all these visits from various critters all day and all night.

At least that's my hope.

In any case, all these improvements were good ideas even if the cat is still crazy afterwards, but in my imagination he'll calm right down and I can go about the business of cleaning once and for all and he'll quit marking his territory indoors and we all live happily ever after.

This may or may not turn out to be realistic.

Every day I come home to a card on my door from a tree service. I cancelled the appointment with the first
guy because of two reasons:

#1. Because I'm not cutting down the tree till it starts looking like it's a problem for the next wall which hasn't even been built yet so I won't need this guy for at least a few years I hope.

#2. Because he was kind of jerky on the phone I thought. He had no clue who I was.. I mean he was obviously trolling the neighborhood looking for folks in need of his services. He didnt make any notes or anything so when I called he had no idea who I was or what my issue was. I thought I was calling him because he had anticipated my needs, but no. So nevermind.

I wasn't gonna really do it right now anyway so I just saved us all the trouble of going through the estimate process and cancelled.

Next up: The wall and the back stoop.