Categories: all aviation Building a Biplane bicycle gadgets misc motorcycle theater

Sun, 26 May 2019

The New-House Contractor Shuffle

As previously related, I found a new house to live in after a few months of searching. I can no longer complain about that being too long, having run into someone who was looking for 2 years before she and her boyfriend found their new house.

Anyway, my new house (provisionally named Brinkley Manor, so I don't have to constantly refer to it as "the new house I just moved into") was not without faults. Particularly, much of the interior paint was patched with the odd bit of spackle and generally looking well-used; the main floor bedroom (which I was planning to occupy as bedroom and office in one) had some quite dingy beige carpet in it; and the main floor bathroom's floor was acceptable but uninspiring vinyl.

Now, I know what happens when I approach this kind of project: I plan things out for way too long, when when I finally overcome the mental inertia to get started, discover that I completely failed to plan for 20% of the stuff I should have known about, and then I can only work on it evenings and weekends. It's probably better now than it has been in the past, but either way, I decided that as long as I was splashing around money like a drunk with his Maddog 20/20, I'd hire contractors to do the work for me. This way it would get done quickly, and well, and wouldn't involve 20x more trips to the store than I had previously considered feasible. And, I could actually move into my new house in a reasonable amount of time.

I knew all this more or less as soon as I saw the house the first time, and I discussed the possibility of getting my contractors in to prepare bids ASAP, ideally before we closed, which was still a month or more in the future. Normally, you can ask the seller's agent if you may have permission to let contractors in to do this kind of scoping-out of work once you're under contract -- after all, they're not touching the house, just figuring out what needs to be done. Since this was a vacant house, there was no complication of asking the residents permission. Easy peasy.

Alas, no. The seller's agent was remarkably hard-nosed about the whole thing, and refused to even consider letting my contractors in before closing.

We had one opportunity where it could happen whether the seller wanted it to or not, which was the walk-through. This is where the buyer gets to check out the house to make sure it's still in the condition promised, and that no one kicked in all the doors out of spite (I assume this kind of thing is a possibility when a rental house is sold, since the renters are getting kicked out and may be unhappy about the situation). So, we scheduled the walk-through date, and I invited my two contractors. I was fortunate with floors and paint, as I had contractors I'd worked with before, and liked: Reliable Floor Coverings in Edmonds, and Juan Hernandez.

The walk-through date came, and a third agent (my agents were out of town, I think it may have been Spring Break for their kids) and I walked through the house. The staging stuff was all over the place. Somehow, the wires had gotten crossed. I couldn't inspect the house when there were tables and rugs and stacks of framed art piled against the walls, and I wanted to see the house after the stagers had gotten everything out. Still, the contractors were called, so we waited until they both had their chance to walk through and we could talk through the work to be done.

The process ground forward, and with interior floors and paint covered, I tried to figure out the garage floor situation. There seem to be a zillion nearly-identically-named garage floor companies in Seattle with a variety of nearly-identical floor coverings they specialize in. I ended up settling on a company that would put down a polyurea base coat, grey vinyl chips, and a polyaspartic top coat for a mere $6 per square foot.

Anyway, on April 24th, I took possession of the house, and I had a mini party with a few friends where we sat on the floor in the dining room with paper towels and ate delivery pizza. It was glorious, of course, but only marked the beginning of the next phase.

Enter, the Contractors

Juan was able to swoop in and get started on the paint right away. He started on Monday the 29th, and was done before the end of the week, having done a great job. I had imagined paint might take a while, so that was very gratifying.

Flooring was a different question, and the bathroom tile didn't start until the following week, though it wrapped up quickly once started.

The initial carpet removal for the bedroom was actually done very quickly, only a few days after possession, but we ran into a snag. My hope was that we'd be able to save the 1921 era vertical-grain fir flooring under the carpet (I'd dramatically slashed a big gash in the carpet with my friends over, so we could see what the fir looked like -- ah, the liberties you can take when you own the place). It looked to me like it might be possible, though my contact at Reliable was pretty sure it was a lost cause. It was covered in paint from what I could see, but looked good other than that.

Sure enough, once the Reliable guy came out to remove all the carpet, it wasn't really salvageable: the room had clearly once been two rooms, and a wall had been removed to make it one big room. Where the wall had been, some previous owner had had to fill in the missing flooring, so they jammed some plywood in to make it all level when they installed carpet. Patching that seemed pretty unlikely, so I reluctantly made the call to replace it with new oak. Of course the price more than doubled compared to the initial refinish-the-fir estimate. Sigh.

The other thing that happened with the new oak plan is that oak had to be acquired, and allowed to acclimatize to the house for most of a week. By the time all was said and done, the oak installation was scheduled for May 15, and the person scheduling it with me said it would last from that Wednesday through the following Monday to get all three coats of the finish down. That would put it out to about Wednesday the 22nd before I could be in the house again -- Swedish finish is awesome in a lot of ways, but it's viciously toxic-smelling while it's curing, so I wanted to give it a day or two to air out.

Then came the question of movers. A friend had turned me on to what sounded like an awesome deal: union stagehands doing work on the side as movers. I was in for that action, for sure. Scheduling with them took longer than I expected when my first email went to the wrong gmail address (and of course whoever got it didn't reply to tell me they had no idea what I was talking about), and I didn't follow up until a week later to see why I hadn't heard anything yet. Then was the interminable and increasingly anxiety-producing wait to schedule the exact date -- mostly because by the time the moving date was scheduled, it was less than a week away, and I was having visions of having to wait another month or more to schedule with a different company, in June, the very height of the everyone's-moving-now season.

I popped my head into the house on the Tuesday after what I had supposed would be the final day of floor finishing (wearing a respirator, because I enjoy having brain cells). It was with some consternation that I spotted a couple of dead flies on the floor that had been there on Saturday as well, indicating that the putative third coat had not happened. I tried a tentative breath without the respirator, and sure enough, no evil smell (or at least not enough to fuss about). I called the flooring place to figure out what was going on -- it turns out that either I misunderstood or the scheduler misunderstood, and we had reserved time for one more coat of finish than I'd been quoted. Most frustrating about that was it left me thinking I couldn't really be in the house until Wednesday, when in fact the previous Sunday was fine. I could have been moving then, dammit!

My agents had offered to bring in a cleaner as a closing gift, and that was the final thing to schedule before I could start moving in fa realz. I'm glad I waited, they did an amazing job, even cleaning inside kitchen cabinets and drawers, and cleaning up all the masses of cobwebs in the basement.

Then, finally, on Thursday last, I was free to actually move into the house I'd bought so very long ago. I know I brought on the delays myself, and they were totally worth it (the paint and floors look great!) but I was very ready to be moving in already!

Fortunately, the move date was Saturday on the long Memorial Day weekend (this year I will be remembering our nation's fallen soldiers by unpacking boxes and arbitrarily deciding this cabinet will be the snacks cabinet and that one will hold the plates), and went well. We got most of the stuff out of storage, and most importantly got all the things which absolutely require two people to move. Naturally it started pouring rain for our second trip from the storage unit. I greatly enjoyed working with my stagehand movers. We are cut from the same cloth, which made working together very natural.

I am even now sitting in my new bedroom, surrounded by boxes and arbitrarily-placed furniture while listening to music from an Android tablet, but at least I'm here. As of 10:15 tonight the final curtain rail is hung in the bedroom, so I can actually maybe sleep in tomorrow a tiny bit. The important stuff is available: a bed for sleeping, a shower so I don't feel completely grimy, and a somewhat assembled kitchen to prepare bachelor-chow (Now With 10% Fewer Rat Parts!™).

The contractor shuffle is done, and now it's up to me to get it all done. I've only been to the store five or six times in the last two days. Not bad.

Posted at 23:54 permanent link category: /misc

Categories: all aviation Building a Biplane bicycle gadgets misc motorcycle theater