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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Attack of the Home Improvement Gremlins

Warning: Ranting may occur in the contents of this blog.  Home Improvement + Fat Woman = ranting.  Yea, there shall be ranting in the valley.
The house the way it's supposed to be.
(Not exactly to scale.)
Recently we had some work done to our house.  This is always a fun experience because it's like a vicious cycle.  You see having something fixed in this house ALWAYS leads to having something else fixed.  Usually the something else fixed is expensive.  I'll give an example.  Contractor A walks in, says, "Great, I'll get to work.", works.  Then comes back for the payment and says, "Did you know your deck is pulling away from your house?"  Our response is: "Why no, we didn't."  Contractor A, who also builds decks, says, "If it keeps doing that, you'll have to have it torn down, and another one built.  The footers were put in wrong and erosion is making them move."  We say, "Oh, fab.  We were already planning on eating Top Ramen and two day old bread for the next year anyway."
The house the way the contractor says it is.
So we think about it and we think about it.  (Which hurt.  I'm not actually supposed to think about stuff I don't want to think about.)  We fixed most of the drainage issues.  (Haha.  It's like a Dutch dam.  Water keeps popping out of the holes you don't have your fingers in.)
I googled "Finger in the dyke" to look at
pictures of little Dutch boys sticking their
fingers in dams.  You wouldn't believe what
I got.  I should think more carefully about
search terms in the future.
At first I think, we'll dig out the concrete supports and put better ones in, all the while, the upper deck magically stays in place by itself.  Or we could get magical animals to hold it up while we pour the footers.

Oh, that niggling problem with physics and gravity.  Damn you, Sir Isaac Newton.  I hope you never invent a Fig Newton.  (Okay, I know.  Newton does not equal Fig Newton.  I'm not sure if that apple really bonked him on the head.)

(Hell and damnation, now I'm going to have to go look at the proper spelling of Isaac Newton to make sure I got it right.  I worship Google.  Also Bing.  Except when I'm searching for fingers in a dyke.)

Bad laws of gravity.  So I think, what can I do to keep the supports from slipping down the hill?  Elephants?  Nuclear tainted super chipmunks?

Say the hell with having a deck, knock it down and put up a nice set of steps?  (I like the covered deck.  It's one of the things I like most about this house.  You can go out, have a cup of tea, listen to the birds, escape HIM and HER, which is now what I'm calling my post-school, summer vacayed kid.)  (The kid is on summer break.  She does not understand that Mommy must write.  Things clash.  Very sad.  This is only the second day of summer vacay.  I have two chapters left to write in this book.  Veins in my forehead might explode.)
I know.  Nothing to do with anything, but while I
was looking for pictures of flying monsters I found
the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Apparently, he has a lot of followers.
Very weird.
No, it finally came to me while I was asleep.  Apparently I haven't got anything better to dream about.  A retaining wall built around the bottom of the supports will keep them from moving, and it shouldn't cost that much.  (Hahaha.  I said that, I actually said that, before we got some estimates.)

Next plan of action, acquiring estimates.  I called eight contractors.  EIGHT fricking contractors.  One called me back promptly and came out to give me an estimate.  He got an idea of what I wanted, made some suggestions and then said, "This is going to cost a lot."  Me: "Define a lot."  Him: "Oh, about eight to ten."  Me: "Eight to ten what?"  Him, cringing in anticipation: "Eight to ten thousand."  Me, much later, after I woke up: "But it's just a wall."  (This was more like a wail.)  More wailing ensued: "We're going to have a wall that's worth more than my car?  Wahhhhhh."  He then went onto explain why it would cost so much, adding, "But I'm just guessing at this point.  I'll do up an estimate and email it to you."

So whilst I was waiting for that, I waited for the other seven contractors to call.  They did not call.  In fact, no one called.  The first one didn't even call back.  I called him twice to get him going.  He finally sent me an estimate and it was for $6500.  I think I was supposed to be relieved that it wasn't eight to ten.   (THOUSAND!)

I called back the other contractors.  One eventually called me back, three weeks later.  By that time I had moved onto the five next contractors on my list.  The deck guy who originally told us about the deck pulling away from the house, mentioned that he had a friend who does retaining walls.  His name is Guido and he doesn't take checks, Visa, or MasterCard.  In fact, he doesn't take consecutive number bills and prefers twenties.  I think I saw him before on a poster at the Post Office.  Maybe.

So we finally got one to agree to do the work.  Allegedly.  It's supposed to happen next month.  We'll see.

Last week during a storm, water started pouring out of the electrical box outside.  Let's just say I was alarmed.  Electricity + water = badness.  Shocky, my-hair-will-look-like-Bride-of-Frankenstein badness.  We called the city and the city sent out a water department guy.  Maybe she thought the water department guy was best suited to deal with the water pouring out of an electrical outlet box.  I do not know.  The next day we called the city back and specifically asked for the guys who deal with electrical issues to come out.  He did and said he sees this all the time when it rains because the junction boxes are uphill from the house.  The water goes into the junction box and comes out on the lower end (my house's electrical outlet box) like a like electrical waterfall of doom.  (Don't touch it.)  He even opened up the box and showed me that the pipe that contains the wires was still full of water.  (IN WHAT FREAKING UNIVERSE CAN THIS BE A GOOD THING?)  The gist of the conversation was not to worry about it until the water goes so high in the box and reaches the hot spots.  The utilities guy used the phrase "hot spots".  I did not.  So since I cannot open this box (It's sealed shut so people can't mess with their utilities numbers and cheat the city out of revenues.) I'm not going to be able to see this happening until it explodes.  This leads me to a YouTube video I saw last night that will demonstrate what happens when electricity does bad things.

Onto the next contractor.


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