Posts tagged renovating

Unfixed

The builder called Monday morning and said he’d be around that afternoon or the next to figure out how water’s getting in through the roof. It’s wednesday now and we haven’t heard from him since.

The electrician did come on Monday, as promised, but the zapping issue is not fixed. In fact, the electrician all but said he did not believe anything had happened. First, he tried to say it must have been because of the wet weather. Well, Hunter’s zap was before the rain, leigh’s was way after – and at any rate, it’s not okay for the power points to zap us in any weather!

Then he basically said it wasn’t possible for us to have been zapped because the points are plastic and plastic doesn’t conduct electricity. Not strictly true, and at any rate, it IS possible because it DID happen.

So he pulled off the switch and said there was nothing wrong. I replied that there clearly was something wrong because we were getting zapped. He said that if there was an issue the circuit breaker would kick in every time. Well, it hasn’t kicked in every time, it’s kicked in once. And there have been zaps, mate, zaps!

Eventually he said we should call him if it happened again! Does he want to experiment on our kids?

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on the bathroom basin that was supposed to be installed by monday “at the latest”. This one’s not the builder’s fault – the supplier gave us a cabinet in one size and a basin in another. They offered to switch the basin and take care of installing it (since the plumber would have charged us for an extra visit), which was all nice and dandy, but now they’re saying they still haven’t received the correct basin from the manufacturer. But apparently it will be here by tomorrow…”at the latest”.

And we also found last night that the electrician did not connect the TV points to the aerial. We discovered this after leigh and her sister moved all the furniture from the old loungeroom to the new one, and lugged the zillion kilo TV in, too. So now our 42 inch LCD is hooked up to the rabbit ears. Looks pretty funny, actually, though my sense of humour is diminishing.

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Craaaaaaaaaaaaap

On Friday morning, the builders turned up, did a few final things, cleaned up, took down the ‘construction site’ sign and went on their merry way. Yay! Finally all done!

It felt so great to be finished (all bar the carpet, which is coming on the 15th). We planned to enjoy our busy weekend (three birthday celebrations in three towns in two days, anyone?) then get stuck into the painting and moving furniture.

On Saturday we were out from 8am till 5.30 pm, with stop overs at Maitland and Pearl Beach. We got home exhausted and ready for a quiet night. Clouds started rolling in and we gathered at the window with the kids as the rain got heavier. And then it hailed and everything went to shite.

I knew the windows in the new section of the house were open so I came out to shut them. I had to shield my face with my hand while I closed the one in the spare room because the hail was pelting in. Then I saw that the new bathroom was being pummelled too, so I went in to close that window as well.

There was no window. It had been flung clear off its hinges and was on the ground outside. The hail was coming in so hard and at such an angle that there was a drift of ice in the shower recess at the opposite end of the room.

I yelled for leigh to come see, and as she was inspecting and deciding what to do, I went off to grab towels to mop up. And as I went past the loungeroom door I saw a much bigger problem.

Water was GUSHING into the loungeroom. I couldn’t see exactly where it was coming from but it was flooding down through the blind (the window was closed!!). The floor was absolutely saturated and we went through 10 towels before it stopped. It was like someone was standing there with a hose.

And of course all the water shorted out the power. Leigh couldn’t get it to turn back on – she knew there was a trick with the fuse but didn’t know what it was.

We couldn’t use the phones because ours both need power, and the mobile was dead because I’d used up all the juice running the GPS all day. So we had to load the kids into the car in the pouring rain and drive to a phone box.

Leigh called her dad, who told her how to get the power back on. We did that, got the kids to bed, then messaged the builder – who didn’t reply till just now.

In the meantime, we’ve discovered another big problem. Something is wrong with the electrics. Hunter and leigh both got zapped by the same light switch in the new loungeroom. I’m concerned that leigh got zapped, of course, but I am absolutely fuming that hunter did. Leigh wants to tell the builder he should bring HIS kids around and not leave till he’s happy for THEM to turn on all the switches.

So. The roof leaks like crazy. The switches zap us. A window has fallen off. And we’ve also realised that the plumber did not reconnect the taps at the back of the house (he said he would at the start of the project when he left with metres of our copper piping) and our TV aerial is still attached to the fence.

So, not as finished as we thought. Ugh.

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Cancel that

So it turns out the wiring is there. It’s under the gyprock. In every other spot, there’s been a hole made in the gyprock and the wired pulled through, but not in the bathroom. Why? I don’t know. But anyway, now I feel stupid, but it’s hardly the first time.

A tiler came around this afternoon to look at what needs doing and I got a quote from him to tile the family room and the kitchen as well. These weren’t part of the original renovation plan but they need doing so when we bought the tiles we got enough for the whole lot. We didn’t expect to do the other rooms for a while, but the tiler gave me a pretty good price so I’ve told him to go ahead.

He’s starting tomorrow!

Anyone wanna help us move a huge fridge, a stove, a giant cupboard and a dining suite?

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Somebody stop me before I kill the builder

It’s been a while since I griped about our builder. In fact, he gave Hunter a birthday present last week and I had been thinking he’s not so bad after all.

But since that day, pretty much no work has been done here. The waterproofer came to apply a waterproof membrane in the living area and bathroom – took about half an hour – and that’s it. Everything else is as it was two weeks ago. It’s incredibly frustrating because all that’s left for the builder to do is the install the architraves and skirting, tile the bathroom and install the fittings, and hang a couple of doors. It should be one or two days work at most, and then the electrician could come through and put in the lights and fans and we’d be done.

But that’s not actually what has me really riled today. Today I went into the new bathroom just checking it out, thinking about where things would be and I thought, “hmm, is the light switch going to be inside or outside the room?”. So I looked for the wiring. No wiring for the switch.

I look up. No wiring for a light.

No light in the bathroom! Are you $&*((%$ kidding me??

The wiring was done before the walls were gyprocked and before the ceilings went in. They’re going to have to have holes knocked in them (or worse) to rectify this.

And I already know the builder’s going to blame it on me. I can recall a conversation where he asked if we were having one of those light/fan/heater combos in that bathroom. I said no, we’d just be having an ordinary light (the bathroom’s tiny, we didn’t think it needed the other things). I’ll bet he only listened up to “no” and figured, okay, no light in the bathroom.

I am really, really ready for this to be over!!

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It’s raining in my house

Last week the roof came off the back of the house, and a few days ago the ceiling came out of the back room, too. It’s been threatening rain ever since but it’s held off and we thought we were in the clear as the new roof was due to go on starting today.

Well, last night it rained, and rained, and rained. Some time during the night we heard a long BZZZZZ and then a THUMP and when we woke up the lights didn’t work. So we came out in the darkness to see how the tarps had held up. The answer was, not very well.

The back room was about an inch deep in water. There are lines of wet snaking their way down the loungeroom wall and we’re already onto the second bucket under the kitchen light. The floor’s a muddy mess and the kids were totally freaked out.

And the builders can’t work in this weather so the roof won’t be started today. Rain isn’t supposed to stop till tomorrow afternoon.

This is getting interesting!

(Meanwhile, I’m writing from the kitchen table – computer was relocated monday morning because the builders were working on the roof above the office and were worried about safety).

ETA Just went into the study for the first time today and it is WET. The water pooled around my feet as I walked across the carpet. We had some stuff stored in there and it is completely soaked, including one of my dining chairs which is now covered in filthy mud. The carpet’s beyond drenched and will probably have to be pulled up. Thank crap I got the computer out on Monday.

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We’re baaaack

Actually, we’ve been back several days but I haven’t had a chance to spend more than a few minutes at the computer, plus I can’t think of where to start with all of the insanely exciting stuff that has been happening (not).

The holiday was great. No phone except mobile, which noone from work called even once, no internet, no particular plans, and babysitting on tap.

We were two blocks from Miami Beach on the Gold Coast so Leigh and the kids had a ball. I’m not really a fan of the beach but it was fun seeing how much Hugo loved it. He wasn’t content to sit at the edge of the water and splash around, though. He wanted to be in the waves, so looking out for him was hard work. He kept bolting for the water and every time he got smashed in the face by a wave he’d squeal and giggle with delight and head straight back for more.

The trip was ostensibly for my aunt’s 60th birthday party, so it was a nice chance to catch up with some family members we don’t see very often, and one we’d never met before, who was born on Hugo’s first birthday.

The party itself was quite sedate (just our pace!) and we really enjoyed it. It was held at a community centre which in one section had big skylights about two storeys up. One of the kids thought it would be a good idea to tie some helium balloons to a bag of rubbish and see what would happen. Needless to say, it floated up to the highest point of the ceiling, unable to be reached.

That was definitely the highlight. Well, not that so much as seeing the bunch of 50 and 60 year old drunk men (plus leigh) dreaming up MacGyver-style plans to get it down. Leigh’s suggestion involved another helium balloon, a foil pie tray and a safety pin. Seriously.

The floating trash bag was eventually brought back to earth by my uncle, wielding a gigantic timber plank he’d found outside.

The whole point of getting the bag down was so they didn’t lose their bond, but I suspect the damage done by the plank-o-wood slamming into the wall might have been more significant than a little bit of junk dangling from on high.

Anyway, the rest of the holiday was filled with shopping, eating out (no kids!!), a visit to Dreamworld, board games on the verandah and general lazing about.

The worst part was the 12 hours of driving in each direction, though I shouldn’t complain because I spent very little time behind the wheel. We did switch on the way up, at Grafton, but within an hour I’d got us rather lost so leigh sent me back to the passenger seat and didn’t let me drive at all on the way home. Fine by me!

The kids did…..okay….in the car. We thought Hugo would be worse than Hunter because she’s always been such a good traveller but alas the whingy version of her joined us in the car. She was pretty persistent and there were moments when I could picture us accidentally leaving her at a rest stop, but it all turned out okay.

By the time we got back I was very keen to see how the building work was going, and was relieved to find some progress. As of right now the wall frames are up, most of the posts for the verandah and undercover area are set and the roof beams are mostly on. We expect the roof to go on this week if all goes to plan.

We’ll be a month into the building phase on Wednesday so by rights should be at about the halfway point, but I really don’t think we are and right now I’m thinking we won’t be done before december. I’m feeling surprisingly un-frazzled at that thought, though. Apart from the few days of demolition the noise hasn’t been too bad and the whole thing hasn’t really felt that inconvenient.

We were planning to wait for the back wall to be knocked out before we moved hugo temporarily into Hunter’s room but when we got back we discovered the builders had been hosing the concrete without blocking underneath the back door, so the carpet in that room had been soaked and then left to bake for a week and a half in a closed up house. It smelled BAD when we got back, so we moved Hugo to Hunter’s room that night. So far we’ve had two nights where they both slept well and two where we’ve all been up through the night.

And that’s enough updating for now!

UPDATE: Make that two good nights and three crappy ones with the new room set up. The carpet in the back room is dry now and Hugo’s going back in there as of tonight! We’ll still have to put them in the same room while the last bit of the project is completed but I am not going to prolong my suffering in the meantime.

UPDATE 2: I decided to give them one last try and we had a really, really crappy night. Alas, it’s now pouring and I’ve discovered that since the eaves and window frame at the back were pulled down, Hugo’s old room is no longer what you’d call waterproof – I’ve emptied five ice-cream containers of water and removed three sodden towels so far. So, the new set up is not working and the old one is no longer an option. Was I just saying this project wasn’t so bad so far??

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D-Day

The renovations have officially begun.

On Saturday, the plumber came to terminate the water supply at the back wall of the house. And at 7.05am today a horde of people showed up and have been clanging and banging and doing who-knows-what since.

Of course, having only had nine months to prepare for this, leigh and I waited till last night to move the last few things from the shed and undercover area. We’d been out all morning (buying the bathroom fittings we need) then went to a friend’s house for lunch. We got home around 4.30 just as a big thunderstorm was rolling in and right before leigh’s mother and sister were about to arrive.

We started lugging stuff in as the rain hit and finished the job trying not to get stuck by lightning and struggling to see in the darkening yard.

We had washed all our clothes that morning, knowing our laundry might be out of contention for a while, then hung it all and headed out for the day. When we got home it was all still wet but it had to come in or it would have been covered in dust today. Our house looks part junk shop, part chinese laundry. There’s a cat carrier in the hallway, a Dora ballpit in the loungeroom and vast amounts of other stuff jammed in every corner. There are wet clothes and towels draped over chairs, tables, wardrobe doors. One of Hunter’s tops is slung from the TV aerial in our room.

And now I learn that the building crew needs access to our house to use the toilet, which means I have to try to organise the mess and actually keep it under control.

One hour down, two months (at least) to go!

Oh, and I realised about 6pm Friday that I was supposed to arrange a council inspection before work started. I didn’t and now I am freaking out about it. I really enjoyed the two minutes’ sleep I got last night.

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We’re on!

Demolition starts Monday!

I feel totally freaked out and nervous. I know exactly why – it’s because I’ve basically cleaned out my account for this and I am panicked that some huge hidden cost will crop up and we won’t have the money for it. I can see us stranded with the back of the house knocked down and the bank refusing to pay the builder because something hasn’t been done right and us with no money to get the job finished.

Yep, I’ve spent nine months complaining that the job hasn’t started yet and now that it’s about to start, I am complaining about that, too. It’s stupid, but my heart is going a million miles an hour. I hope this all works out okay!

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Why is it so hard

for people to just do what they say they’ll do??

Last time we saw our builder he promised that he’d call us before sending around tradespeople unaccompanied. Ten minutes ago I got a knock on the door from a couple of people here to assess the demolition job for a quote. The builder had not called in advance.

It’s not really a big deal – it’s not like they were expecting Devonshire tea – but really, why say you’ll do something if you’re not going to? It’s been such a pattern with this builder. He says he’ll get an estimate through in a day or two, then takes a week. He says he’ll phone back within 24 hours to confirm something, then never calls back at all. He says he’ll prepare the final quote in a few days then takes over two weeks.

This guy needs to learn that it’s better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around.

And since I am being cranky, I’ll add that our new bank set us up with an account from which to draw our monthly mortgage payment. The mortgage attracts a $10 per month admin fee on top of the very substantial repayment. The account they set up attracts another $7 fee. No thank you! We are having them draw the funds instead from our existing, fee-free account. Of course, that took a phone call and a fax and a wad of paperwork.

Really, why don’t people just do what you ask them to do, especially when you’re paying for it?

And if they’re not going to, why do they have to not do it on a day when I am already grumpy? I had to make two trips to preschool this morning because Hunter forgot her hat first time and didn’t realise till we were a block away. When we got to preschool I somehow volunteered myself to take over a management committee task that I really don’t want. Then I came home to work on an urgent project only for it to be cancelled halfway through.

I just want something – anything – to run smoothly and predictably and with no need for me to hold everyone’s hand every step of the way.

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I think it’s gonna happen!

It seems like our renos are actually going to start before the end of time. In fact, I’m hopeful they may actually start before the end of September.

I emailed the builder on Friday, three weeks after he told me the job would be starting in two to three weeks. He called me back Friday night to say he had a ‘few little jobs to do first’ but could definitely start on September 17. Or maybe 18. But definitely by then.

I let him know I was unhappy with the constant re-scheduling and I think I was fairly clear that by ‘unhappy’ I meant ‘really pissed’ because he called back five minutes later to say he’d be around the next day to show the demolisher through, so we could get the back section knocked down and the concreting done before he started the re-build on the 17th.

Unfortunately, his inexperience showed him up again – the demolisher advised him that WorkCover requires seven days’ notice before removal of asbestos can be undertaken. So demolition cannot begin before Monday at the earliest, and that’s assuming the builder gets his act together and contacts WorkCover today. What’s the likelihood of that?

At any rate, I do think *something* will happen by the 17th because the builder seems to be finally understanding that we’re sick to the back teeth of excuses and postponements.

Yesterday we got the back section of the house and yard fairly well cleared out. Leigh’s father made a surprise visit, so leigh enlisted him to help move the second fridge. We also relocated all the outdoor furniture and the kids’ play equipment.

Most of it is in the top section of the yard (our yard has several different levels as it’s a sloping block – the very back section is above a retaining wall and behind a fence and won’t be affected by the renos). There’s also  stack of stuff along the side fenceline. In all, the yard looks a total mess.

Well, except for the section of fence that leigh decided to decorate yesterday. She figured it was the ideal time to attach some lattice panels and plants some climbing flowering plants, so she spent half an hour reaching over piles of chairs and pot plants and gardening equipment and assorted other stuff. Now that corner looks messy and trashy and pretty.

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