Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Renovation Journey - The Look Back

Six weeks to the day, the Potato Cellar Studio/storage was completed on March 6th. That left almost 3 months to clear out 46 years of  accumulated "stuff" from the house. June 6th ..... contract with October 1 completion date agreed on and signed .... the deconstruction began with the resonating staccato sounds of a jack hammer the very next morning.

One year plus 2 weeks later, I'm here to confess this has been the most torturous experience of my entire life and frequently unable to express myself in coherent ladylike terms. Those of you who remodel in stages amaze me with your resilience and resolve. In the euphoria of renovation [rebuild] enthusiasm, totally accepted the unrealistic completion dating. Of course, we will have Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. Are you beginning to feel a knot of doubt and anxiety in the pit of your stomach? RIGHT!! Well, I'm getting ahead of the story.

The roof over the original living room and kitchen was raised to bring the entire roof to the same elevation. Should this be part of your plan, beware of monsoons ..... apparently they strike without warning. Also, should the contractor say, "3 days is all it takes to remove and replace your roof", check with the weather service first to determine which 3 days are dry. We looked like a Katrina victim .... blue tarp and all. Now tarps can take on a life of their own depending on how water is collecting. Yep, water moves down hill .... so, through the floor into the family room downstairs with stored furniture, paintings .... oh, you know, the good stuff so it would be safe. This was mid July.

According to the dictionary, Contractor is one who supervises the day to day work; organizes sub contractors; keeps construction on schedule.  There were days and weeks when no one was even on the property. Yet, there were days when 6 guys seem to have nothing specific to accomplish. Finally, roof, insulation, walls, things appeared to be on some track and moving forward. Doors, windows  and shingle siding arrived. For the second time, water is standing in the living room on the new flooring.  By mid September, the metal roof was finally finished .... bet you thought that had been completed back in July .... right?! Yes, we had schedules and revised schedules and little work.

A rainy October 1 with the shingles beginning to slowly creep up the outside walls. Kitchen cabinets arrive. Stone masons arrive. Bath tile and plumbing fixtures arrive. One would think that since he is now in the penalty phase of this event, work would be a whirlwind. 

It was my simple impression that we had plans to be followed. Unfortunately, it appeared folks were making stuff up as they went along..... putting dark stain on wood that was to be pickled, for instance.  All the walls were yellow. That's a lovely color just not the warm Egg Shell I had chosen.

It's November, double penalty phase, Thanksgiving did not happen in the wonderful new kitchen and gathering room. One needs ovens, gas eyes, refrigerator etc. etc. and maybe some furniture. Stone masons still at it .... the rock work really does look good. To say I was irritable, frustrated and generally beside myself, is being generous. Finally my ultimatum .... "I'm coming home December 15th, get it done NOW!!!!!". There was no Christmas tree or any decoration but was sleeping in my own bed in my own bedroom. Stone masons have completed everything except the little water fall. Came home to discover a monstrosity that looks contrived instead of more natural and fitting to the surroundings. You know, organic. Just another example of not following the plans. At this point, nothing is a surprise....... and they are so proud of themselves they are taking pictures. Boxes that had been store in the Potato Cellar were being returned to the house to be emptied very, very slowly.

January brought attention to the garage with new wall work, garage doors, openers; as well as, gutters, an additional small water heater to service the new kitchen, and more painters, plumbers and electricians. February brought a landscaping nightmare ..... well, of course. Working half days it was really slow going. Then he gets a burr under his blanket, jerks all the plants out throws them, bare rooted, into the plastic pots and into his truck tearing off down the road loosing a bale of pine straw in the road which he never collected. 3 days later he's back replanting where he decides to put them. Finally with contractor and architects and the plan, he nods in agreement and they are jerked out and replanted. Have you ever wanted someone just out of your life. As I write this am waiting for contractor, architects and landscaper for a walk through to point out the unacceptable mess he has left.

This house has been my home since 1949 except for 5 years of college and getting married. It would have been cheaper, simpler and quicker to have knocked it down and built new. BUT, the history of the house my father built .... my youth, my sons, our lives here ..... history can still be felt. Was it worth all of this? I love where I am ..... the enjoyment other people have had improving their home was lost under mountains of irritation, fury and frustration. However, it's almost done. Paintings are being hung, carpets cleaned, having friends for dinner .... the settling in has begun. Maybe this Summer, after a cooling off period,  there will be a gathering of friends to celebrate our survival.

So, there you are an abbreviated visit to the past year. Oh, and by the way, it's 5:30 p.m. and no one is here .... surprise, surprise! Communication is a fine thing .... only it has to be in both directions. Well, luck to all with home improvement intentions. You are a brave lot. 


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