Manifolds

February 11, 2010

House update

Filed under: home improvement — origamifreak @ 9:28 pm
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Finally – FINALLY, it looks like the nightmare is over.

The new contractor came and worked a lot with a helper over the past week, rebuilt the crappy stairs that the ex-con ex-contractor built (where every tread and riser was a different depth and height), finished putting the floor down, installed the shades I ordered, finished all the painting, fixed the broken wiring that the last guy left (grr), swapped out the ivory outlets and switchplates for white, installed closet doors, etc etc etc.

They officially finished yesterday but he’ll come back on Saturday to give me my key and get the final paycheck.  He will also do any last -minute things we forgot (and I’ve found a couple – some switchplates and outlets that need to be replaced/installed, etc.)

I can finally finally finally breathe a sigh of relief, and consider this long, long, long, frustrating and painful chapter of my life CLOSED, and set my house back up and MOVE ON.

There are some things left by the last guy which aren’t worth trying to fix – semi-gloss that sloppily ended up on the ceiling when they painted the walls and shines weirdly when there’s lots of light, a small hole in the wall in the bathroom and a poorly-cut frame on the pocket door that I’ll have to fill, but it’s done as it’s going to be, and I will live with it.

This guy is everything the last one was not.  He showed up when he said he would, did the job, did it well, and GOT IT DONE. No personal drama, no lies, no crap, no bullshit.  No children at the job site.  No calls from his wife at 3am.  No requests for advances to pay for vehicle repairs.  No joint ashes in the bathroom or laundry room.  I am very very grateful.  This was a thankless job to get, cleaning up someone else’s mess, and he did it professionally.

I’m already talking with him about redoing my kitchen next winter.  It will involve gutting the whole thing and chopping out walls and putting in cabinets and replacing the walls with an L-shaped island.  It’s going to be awesome.  My neighbors have done this to their houses that are just like mine and it really opens up the space.

Kudos to my friends who recommended the replacement guy, and hooray.

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July 17, 2009

New Contractor – I hope.

Filed under: home improvement — origamifreak @ 8:09 am
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Interviewed a new contractor last night about finishing the job.  He comes recommended as a long-time personal and professional acquaintance of some people at work.

He says he will fix the siding in the next 2 weeks, but the interior stuff will have to wait until September.  This is understandable, and I appreciate it.

The other thing I appreciate is that he apparently knows “Bob.”  His comment was, “Yeah, he’s not all there.”  Which just about sums it up.  And meant I didn’t need to spend much time explaining why I’d fired someone who was almost done.  The planks we have aren’t enough to cover the floor of the remaining room so I need to order at least 2 more boxes in addition to the stair nose.

So now I can focus on getting my new blinds and dealing with the weeds in my garden and taking care of the things I can control.

July 12, 2009

Interviewing new Contractors

Filed under: home improvement — origamifreak @ 7:48 am
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“Bob” has been increasingly flaky about working over the past few months – his personal life spiraled out of control to the point that he is unable to finish the job.

And there have been other problems, too.  The stair nose that we went to so much trouble to match was accidentally taken to the dump at some point by his incompetent stepson that he hired.  This is the same kid who let my cats out of the house, is generally lazy and cannot follow instructions – and whom he said he wouldn’t hire again.  But he did, and the result is no stair nose.  His wife (with whom he has been separated on and off throughout the process) went through his cell phone and collected the numbers and was calling me and hanging up at 2am, and finally actually spoke to me and rudely demanded to know who I was without identifying herself. (She’s also been calling the friend that referred him to me and followed another client until she left the store who made the mistake of having said hello to him.)

He was almost done.  There is one room left to glue the floor down in.  The siding outside the additional windows needs to be patched up.  Touch-up painting needs to be done.  And the stairs need to be finished.  Hardware needs to be put on the new closet doors (for the closets that have them).  Hardware needs to be put on the pocket door.  Etc etc.  And so I am interviewing new contractors to find someone to finish.

It is awkward, because he still needs to come get his tools – he says he can’t come himself because his insurance has lapsed on his truck again (for the nth time in 3 years – and in NY that means they’ll suspend his registration for as long as the insurance was lapsed, and if it goes for 90+ days, he will also have his driver’s license suspended)  so we have to arrange to do it when he can have a friend bring him down here to get them.  Now that I have the yak rack I’m tempted to strap the ladders to my car and stick the tools in and deliver them to him just so I won’t have to wait around wondering if/when he’s showing up.

And it’s awkward showing new contractors the site because I can see in their eyes they’re concerned I’m a wacko for firing someone so close to finishing, who clearly did careful, good work.  I am thus in the doubly awkward position of explaining that I let him linger for more than 7 months on a job that should have taken three months and that he’s unable to finish due to personal reasons.

And it’s painful seeing someone I’d come to know fairly well and trust and who in the past had a stunning work ethic go into a bad personal and professional decline.  I tried every motivational tactic I could come up with and nothing managed to get him to stick to the job.  He actually admitted a couple months ago that he was reluctant to finish.  For the past few weeks he worked only 2-3 days per week, and some of those days less than 4 hours.  The number of hours I’ve been billed lately seemed kind of high for the amount of work that appeared to be done when I’d get home from work.  He has said he’s coming and not done so, he has said he’d call to meet and go over the books to and get a check for supplies and not followed through – over and over in different ways saying something and then not doing it.  And the explanations were flimsy.

I was paying him hourly so that he wouldn’t run out of money at the end of the job.  That wasn’t the problem.  In our conversation(s) on Friday he cried on the phone and told me that he really really really wants to kill his wife, he hates her so much.  That he can’t cope with the pressures and demands of his wife’s extended family and his complicated personal life and the multiple jobs he has been trying to secretly juggle.   He was actually relieved that I fired him, although he was sad because he has put a lot of himself into my house.  Twice he actually said he “needed” me to fire him.

And when I met him to retrieve my missing speaker wire, extension cord, curtain rods, railing and house key, he told me he can’t get off the drugs (?!) – which explains a lot about his strange decline over the past few months.  So it’s a very sad, sad, story.  And I’m sorry to have witnessed it.  I hope and pray that he gets his life back together before the authorities catch up with him.  I really do not want to read about him in the newspaper.

In the meantime, I suppose I’m grateful that the economy is so bad, because other contractors are at least returning my calls and coming out and looking at the site.  None of them sound thrilled about the prospect of the job and I don’t blame them.  But it needs to be done and hopefully I can find someone who will do it.

June 19, 2009

House Progress (?)

Filed under: home improvement — origamifreak @ 12:07 pm
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Due to popular demand I am posting current photos of my house.  The contracting seems to have slowed down for a number of reasons, one of which is that the contractor got pretty sick and was out for 4+ days in the last 2 weeks.

Anyway, here are photos I took yesterday evening.  It was raining so the light isn’t great but you get the idea.

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April 16, 2009

Speed Flooring

Filed under: home improvement,photography — origamifreak @ 10:08 pm
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I took the week off work to catch up on things and have enjoyed watching my floor going down.  As of today the living room and hall are almost finished.  There are just 2 bedrooms left to do – the end is in sight!

Here, for your amusement, is a time-lapse video of “Bob” and his helper putting down some courses:

April 7, 2009

More Floor!

Filed under: cats,home improvement — origamifreak @ 9:36 pm
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Half of the hallway is glued down and the other half is sawn, matched, laid, and waiting to be glued tomorrow.  Note the furry monster with headlights coming.  This is one of the things in my house that goes “bump” in the night.

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The dining area is all done and now supporting the lumber for the living room area.  There is another monster with its brights on:

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The hallway closets are ready to glue, too:

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The fitness room downstairs is getting mirrors on two walls to make it easier to spot proper form on the Bowflex.  When the second mirror is in I’ll post pictures of that, too.

March 31, 2009

Floor, floor, floor, floor…

Filed under: home improvement — origamifreak @ 8:36 pm
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(That’s my happy little floor song, that I sang, when I came home from work to see MORE FLOOR in my house…)

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What you see isn’t glued yet, but they’ve been cutting it all and laying it out like a puzzle to make it fit, both dimension-wise and by hue/grain.  I think it looks fantastic.

Pardon me while I go back to humming my little happy floor song.

March 28, 2009

Floor continues to go down in my bedroom

Filed under: cats,home improvement — origamifreak @ 12:46 pm
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Here’s how it currently looks:

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(taped and weighted to prevent the planks from moving before they set)

Here’s how it’s going to look (“Bob” and his helper took these after pre-sawing and laying out the whole floor, including the closet):

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(notice that the one gap isn’t there in the finished product)

Apparently while adhering the floor they had to lock Certain Furry Things in another room because they kept walking on the glue…

March 26, 2009

Pretty, pretty floor

Filed under: home improvement,technology — origamifreak @ 10:56 pm
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“Bob” and his helper struggled and struggled with the 20-gauge nail gun, which was recommended by the bamboo supplier.  The cleats are just too fragile, and kept crumpling, jamming, and causing misfires.  So, finally yesterday it was decided that we would go with the glue-down installation, after all.

Here is how the floor will look tomorrow – “Bob” has pre-sawn and laid out the courses to give us an idea of how the finished thing will appear, when he starts gluing it:

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Now it is really clear how helpful all that sorting up front was, because this does not look anything like the patchwork you typically see in bamboo floor photos, including those on the supplier’s website:

He even matched the ends, so that it’s hard to see where one plank finishes and the next one starts.  It’s one beautiful, uniform pattern and hue.  He’s designed the transitions so that even though the hallway will have a different pattern/hue, it’ll blend across the threshold.

In fact, he says he’ll be laying planks in the hallway as well, tomorrow.

Huzzah.

March 12, 2009

Bamboozled

Filed under: home improvement,technology — origamifreak @ 7:39 pm
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Well, so much for the screw-down approach. “Bob” tried it on a few courses of planks and discovered that even with countersinking, the screws broke the tongues of the strand-woven lumber. This stuff is incredibly dense. He said he’s never seen anything like it.

So, back to Square One. Since we had opted not to go with the glue-down installation, this left only one remaining possibility, nailing the floor down with L-shaped cleats. Some research and communication with the flooring supplier confirmed that standard 16-gauge flooring cleats will break the strand-woven tongues, and that we’d have to go up to a higher (smaller) gauge, such as 18 or 20.

The flooring supplier kindly emailed a spec sheet recommending some manual and pneumatic nailers that do this gauge (it can be hard to find them, since it’s a nonstandard size), and after looking at the manufacturer’s website, I finally located a couple of distributors in the Fingerlakes.

We eventually went with the cleat/nailer supplier in Waverly, who kindly put aside a 20-gauge pneumatic nail gun and 8 boxes of cleats for “Bob” to pick up today. (That was all the 1.5-inch cleats they had – “Bob” estimates we will need 25 boxes total.)

I hope he’ll try nailing some down today when he returns to the worksite. If so, stay tuned for pictures…

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