Sunday, October 29, 2006

HorrorShow! a Hack-n-Slash episode

In keeping with the spirits of this season, I shall update you on our progress with a tale of terror and woe. These tragic circumstances occurred merely a half-fortnight ago and came to light by the din of a 40-watt bulb in the wee-hours of the night. Though it has been some significant time since our last posting, believe me when I assure you that we had indeed gone forward with our plans as outlined in that correspondence. I sit here this Sunday morning typing to you one-handed as I console baby Marley from the aftereffects of this horror with my one-remaining arm.

As you might recall, we had hired someone to strip the paint/stains from the wood paneling and trim in the Living-Dining Rooms. He would then sand and finish the wood with a lacquer or similar shell prior to our moving into our first home. He would also rip out that nasty tobbacco-stained malodorous carpet, We would hope that the floor underneath would be manageably intact. He began his work two Thursdays afore, and after my initial review I was satisfied with his care and progress.

What you are looking at here is what I deemed as the initial paint-stripping pass, getting the bulk of the build-up off. We figure that there were ~6 layers of paint and one stain/shellac layer. I personallly have seen much worse (14 layers) but this would still be money well-spent, I thought to myself then. I had noticed a paper dust-mask on the wayside and concluded that this was no protection from the noxious chemicals from his remover, So I returned in the morning with a proper filtered mask and goggles for his safety. All was progressing as planned and we would move into our new-old and recently stripped (read as: 'formerly-pink') house as anticipated. I would not return to this scene until late 3 days thence, on the weekend. What I found by the dim lighting horrified and appalled me....


As I walked into the room that night, I could see by the dim wash of streetlight coming through the windows what looked like wood chips on the Dining Room floor. Not the kind that you'd expect a woodchuck to chuck, but more like the fallings of a burly lumberjack's work. Large holes and missing edges had developed on our trim and panelling in our prized Dining Room. No ammount of sanding would mask these marrings. As I turned around, I could see the unmistakable signs of a flaying on our wainscoting. This bespoke not of careful nor methodical process but a maddened spirit seeking violent harm. This "hacking" debacle was evidenced throughout the room. Woodchips large and small were in exodus from their former places in the walls and trim. Looking around agast, my eyes happened upon the once-smart-looking picture rail, and it appeared absolutely shredded. It really looked as though the paint had been removed by chisle and hammer and a wild bear. All this happened over one day, what had initially started out so careful and proper, that I could see no connection between the two intervals of work. What had happened, indeed?

Apparently, feeling somewhat daunted by his task, our employ choose to hire two friends of his to assist, one of whom was "experienced" in paint-stripping for some 30 years, so he claimed. I took the day off work to speak with them directly Monday morning. On one occasion, the "friend" had the audacity to claim that all the wood was previously damaged like that, pointing to the location on the built-in bookshelf dividing the Living-Dining Room where the columns once were. After dismissing this and explaining about the once-present columns, I bent down to pick up a handfull of woodchips asserting that THEY did this. He merely shrugged and said that I shouldn't expect perfection. I expected them to not destroy the 200-year old wood, like the other fellow was careful not to do whom worked on the Living Room. He retorted with a claim that it could be easily fixed by a little extra sanding...that it was all ready to be sanded in fact. Not with all the paint and residue remaining I returned, and they would have to sand ~1/8" off everything to mask their carelessness. No way would I have them continue any more. The damage was done and extensive, and I am still mulling over how I will fix it. Needless to say, I dismissed them from this job (read as: fired) with nothing more than their initial payment. In a way it was a pity as (I believe) the fellow that we personally hired did an acceptable job and had he continued with the quality of his work all would have worked out fine. But he was responsible for the care of our house and failed in that regard to manage his 'friends' efforts.

So now the onus to complete this is on me prior to moving in. And I have learned in a personal way that (most) contractors will get away with everything they can without a watchful eye trained on them. Their motivation is to get it done, not get it done well (or right), as they won't be living with their work, staring at their mistakes and slipshod efforts every day.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

zzzzzz>snrt<.. huh, whaa.. Oh, Hello

Holy Cow, is sleep a precious commodity with a newborn & a toddler in tow. It's been a spot of time since our last entry, and I must confess, that I really have little to update you with, Houseblog-wise. So as of last week, the House is ours! Keys in our hot little hands, yet Reality reckons, here.

- snap out as-built plans and schematics for our renovation
- get our snazzy plans out, submitted and approved
- get the "ole girl" hoisted into the air (built by shipwright carpenters, right?)
- demo the old foundation/lay the new foundation
- build the lower floor's new walls
- reseat the house and hookups
- strip ALL the wood panelling and trim of their pink (probably lead-impregnated) paint
- scrub all the walls and ceilings of their tobbacco-stink and rip out the malodorous carpet
- move-in (magically) over the weekend after December 1st

- took preliminary measurements for as-builts, but have yet to input it
- schematics? uh, sure, we have some ideas about here somewhere......
- we will have to get Appropriateness Approvals before we can submit to the city, and they meet once a month...and what we intend to do teeters on the line of appropriateness/inappropiateness.
- lifting of the house PRIOR to moving-in is a financial fantasy. Why? because getting to the actual stage of lifting the house, actually, is far more time-intensive than our dream-bound brains could comprehend, and paying a mortgage AND rent for more than 2 months ... far from priceless. We will have to do this part while we are living here

Furthermore, the fact is that raising little-ones who cannot yet wave a hammer for you require you to also not be waggling a hammer about either. And as it should be, these are precious and magical days with our girls, full of wonder. We instead are planning to HIRE someone to strip for us (the paint, people...). Someone who can get it done far more quickly than we, so that any dust and fumes will begone by move-in day (noxious chemicals and kids shouldn't mix). This way, we will be moved-in by November, and the rest of the house-projects take a more leisurely pace.