Access-A-Hut's Blog

December 21, 2009

Of meltdowns and breakdowns and heartache and earache

Filed under: Accessibility,Configuration and space ideas,Construction — by accessahut @ 9:47 pm

Well, when you are busy doing, you don’t have so much time for planning and writing and linking and thinking.

But here is where we are at:
We have the house!!! We have been homeowners for an entire total of…drum roll please… 10 days!!!!

In that time, I have had to work (with all the [di]stress that that entails), friends have come in from out of town, MaJe had a lovely birthday, we’ve both had some rather major doctor appointments, I got my new PT toys and a new health regimen, our caretakers have moved in, and we are discovering the joys of contractors.

Of course, the penultimate bit is a story in and of itself: moving in involving temporary homelessness, quick work to be done to make the house livable, etc. Which brings us to the ultimate tale of contractors…

The carraige house is 350 sf with an interior wall and a furnace spewing carbon monoxide and an 8 foot ceiling. As MaJe is rather tall, this last presents some problems. So we are going to do some major work:

Knock out the inner wall. (How the couple in the 50s lived there in that tiny 8 foot by 15 dark room the census does not relate, sad to say!)

Knock out the back wall and install a patio sliding door. We need to do this for my entrances–the 32 inch front door is just barely doable with about an inch on either side of the wheelchair. This is tough. (As a total aside, it is NOT a good assumption that a one-inch lip can be easily smoothed out–that takes skilled work and would be about $200 for a ramp to slope the one-inch to the door). We can, however, do a very smooth sliding glass door with a 36 inch opening, which does accommodate me and my chair. And since the place is level, I can get out of my car into an outside chair, then wheel the 22 feet to the back of the house, and then transfer into my indoor chair.

Knock out half the ceiling and seal it so we have a sealed place for storage (which I need for my collection of Mac Classics) and then have a vaulted ceiling (8 foot wide, 6 feet high at the apex, and 3 feet at the nadir, and 22 feet long, so the ceiling would vary from 8 feet over the kitchen, bathroom, and closet and then be 14 feet at the center of the house and then 11 feet at the “living” side of the house). This would also give us wall space to hang the lovely blue wedding kimono I brought from Japan lo these almost 20 years ago and MaJe’s art.

Remove the carpet and do a wooden floor–my PT does not want me walking in the house anymore–one of the reasons we have to move in the first place.

Knock out the bathroom wall and remove the lovely new tile and a built in drawer so that we can have a roll in shower. (We won’t have a bathroom door–just a downward sloping floor so it does not slop into the hallway and a shower curtain). We also (luckily!) can use the same pipe and put a washer/dryer in the closet (so we wash clothes every other day or so and put clothes up on the rack about a foot away from the washer–one of MaJe’s more brilliant ideas.)

So we hired a contractor who had done stellar work for us in the past. But of course, this is a bigger job, and we did not communicate well.

We listed all these and some other things that need to be done. She gave us quotes and off we go.

Now we have some timing issues–some of the renters in this lovely building will move into our space and they have friends who will move into their space. And work needs to be done in our present apartment. So this is like a huge game of dominoes (do you wonder why our lives were so stressed out during the “can’t tell anyone, but we may get the loan and we may not and we may…”??? We have 8 lives riding on this deal!!)

And we are (only!!) a week late on the closing. And then somehow we lost a week in there with disasters. Now there are jobs that are just jinxed and so this one seems to be: a pocket door project took over a day (and will take longer to repair the damage as we found there was no pocket door). And then we had the Incident of the Augur (let me sum this one up in 5 points. *1* a family of women moving into a macho, hispanic neighborhood. *2* very butch-dyke stereotype contractor who is 5’3″ and maybe 100 ppounds soaking wet. *3* completely screwed up augur frozen and stuck in the front yard. *4* for two days. *5* resisting all attempts to remove it, including trucks, axles, winches, etc.

And then there are the to be expected unexpected disasters: the crack int he floor that will require a LOT more work. The holiday season.

We have been regaled by friends, neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers about the horrors of contractors–it will take 5 times as long with 10 times the amount of money for 1/2 the work. sighhhhh….

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