Monday, November 25, 2013

Waconda: The road to a full house is paved with empty promises

Finally, we have basement walls! The 2-man masonry crew has slowly, painstakingly placed the blocks to create our basement walls below the grade, and since this picture was taken, the wood portion above the grade has been finished. The quality of the work so far has been good, but somehow no one except Senior noticed that somewhere along the line a footing was left off the drawing, which has to be corrected. So next week we can look forward to… nothing. All the contractors are going hunting. The latest plan is that they will begin to lower the house the Monday after Thanksgiving, weather permitting, and then promptly knock it over.

The biggest learning experience so far has been the disappointing realization that no matter how many times our project manager promises to keep us informed of any changes to the schedule, he will never contact us unless he wants a check. If we push for an update to the timeline, the answer is usually "next week". The weather had been gorgeous all October, so it was frustrating to visit the site on a beautiful afternoon and find that the crews hadn't shown or had already gone home, or that materials hadn't been delivered. We knew to expect that the project would take a lot longer than planned, but we didn't realize that communication was a one-way street.

On the bright side, Senior and I have been meeting with Toby on the interior plans and they are coming along great. We want a simple, clean, energy-efficient design that puts the attention on the view and not on the house. It's been a lot of fun picking out materials and finishes. We download a gazillion pictures from Houzz and Pinterest, and have become pretty good at stealth photography of anything that inspires, no matter where we find it. I find myself noticing details that never seemed important before - for example, now I can tell you the finish on every driveway on my block, including the apron at the garage, and what type of faucet is used in most of the upscale ladies rooms in the tri-county area. We send our ideas to Toby, and he manages to put them into a cohesive design.

Back at the job site, we've heard the neighbors are having fun imagining how much money we are throwing into this hole. So far they have all been patient with the workmen's trucks encroaching on their driveways and a big old Porta Potty taking up prime real estate by the road. We've tried to respond quickly to any concerns, which has been well received. But they still think we're crazy. And maybe we just are.

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