Friday, January 31, 2014

Waconda: Don't Even Ask

Every couple of days someone asks us how the house project is going. And the answer we give is always the same: “Don’t even ask.”

According to the project timeline we got from our builder before we signed our contract, they have competed 5 weeks of work in the last seven months. The only change since my last post a month ago is that they tore down the remaining corner of the house and threw it in that red dumpster that is frozen to the ground in front of the property.

I guess Murphy cursed us with his Law, because just about everything that can go wrong, has. To summarize:

We started the project off on the wrong foot when our builder thought his silver tongue would prevent us from needing a variance, but instead we had to appear before the zoning board, who only meet during a blood moon. 

The excavation process took a lot longer than expected, primarily due to the bedrock under our house that would have impressed Fred Flintstone himself, and because our builder proved to be a lot better at talking about paying his subcontractors than actually paying them. 

We thought the lengthy delay in moving the gas line would be our only problem with a utility provider. We dealt with the realization that Consumer's Energy must measure time in a parallel universe because it took three weeks to complete a service that should have been done in three days. But DTE got the last laugh by requiring ten business days to disconnect the electrical lines from the house. On the ninth day our area was hit with the first of several ice storms that tied up every available crew for the next month. (And don't even get me started on why our builder waited until the last minute to put in the demolition order with the utility companies, or why he didn't do them in tandem.)   

And speaking of the weather, we knew that the warm winters we’ve been experiencing the last few years were atypical, but this Polar Vortex is getting really old. According to the carpenters, their nail guns won’t work in sub-zero weather. And apparently using a hammer is out of the question…

     …But that point is moot anyway, since the crew is down and out with the flu.

We’ve explored the option of firing this builder and hiring another. This isn’t our preference – for one thing it’s tricky due to the confines of our construction loan; and as the old adage goes, we could be trading the devil we know for the devil we don’t know. But the main reason to stick it out is that we love the architect who has been working with us to design the house inside and out. He is the builder’s son-in-law and part of a package deal. However, in the interest of our sanity, we met with another builder to see if he would like to take over the project. He said he was interested and he’d send us the quote in 4 days. 

That was over a week ago. <<sigh>> 

Damn you, Murphy!