Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beach Tale: "Moving Right Along..."

          The theme song for today’s construction update is brought to you by The Muppet Movie.  Click on the imbedded play button to watch the clip with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear singing while driving a Studebaker across the United States:

          The part that is stuck in my head is “Moving right along, footloose and fancy free.  Getting there is half the fun, come share it with me.”
          “Fun” is the operative word there, and in my case means “fun--NOT.”  Not in the least.       
          So to continue my construction saga, while the plumbers toiled away (see previous post), the HVAC and electrical crews rolled in and did their thing. Picture seven tool-belt wearing guys working a 480-square-foot space on a 95-degree day in equally high humidity in a place with no air conditioning and very little breeze.   What's a mother-hen such as myself supposed to do?  I went inside my own air-conditioned space and baked them cookies, delivered fresh from the oven with bottles of cold water.  Then I went back in my house.  There, guilt assuaged.    
          Two days—and thousands of dollars—later, this is where we stood:

          Okay, still not quite ready to hang out the For Rent shingle.
          When they left, the plumber handed me two plastic things that looked like this:
          The guy said, “We don’t install these. You’ll have to call a roofer.”
          I didn’t want to appear ignorant so just smiled and accepted the funny-shaped plastic things that I have to admit didn't look all that important.  I mean, my son had toys that were sturdier than these.  So I did what any constructionally-challenged woman would do--I tucked them away and promptly forgot about them 
          The next day the insulators rolled in and stuffed all the walls with rolls of fluffy stuff with the appropriate R-factor (okay, I'm going to showing off a bit here--the R-Factor is the measure of thermal resistance on insulation.  Different values are used for floors, ceilings and walls.  I am just getting so fluent in construction lingo I can't stand myself!)  It was a super quick job (less than two hours--I didn't even have time to bake cookies for them!) and after watching them I thought, “I could have done that myself.”  But when the inspector came through, I was glad I hadn’t.  There are a lot of tricks to the trade, so that was money well spent.   
          Things were definitely “moving right along” at this point. 
          Next on the construction flowchart was sheetrock delivery.  The carriage house sits on a very narrow alley with limited access.  When the bid came in, the guy warned me we would have to do something to make sure the end of the alley was free of cars so that the big BOOM truck could make its turn.  The only other option was to PAY the guys to carry the heavy sheetrock down the alley and up the stairs.  I’m talking double the cost.  Okay, you do the math here...this big truck:

on this narrow alley:

          Was I worried?  YES!!!!  I’m talking sleepless nights, here! 
          The delivery was scheduled for first thing on a Monday morning.  For ten days I watched that corner like a hawk to see how often cars parked there.  My observation?  Rarely.  Ninety-nine percent of the time that road was free and clear.  But just to make sure that it was so on the Monday of delivery, I planned to move our cars to that spot on Friday afternoon and then just move them Monday morning when the truck arrived.  Wouldn’t you know that two hours before I moved the cars down, a green sedan pulled into the spot that inhibited free and clear access to the alley.  I watched and waited all weekend, but the car never moved.  I left a note on the windshield, but the note never moved.   The entire rest of the street was empty, except for that one lone green sedan parked at the entrance to the alley. 
          The BOOM truck arrived and they tried every which way to drive to the carriage house.  Eventually, through pure perseverance on the driver’s part (and a lot of pleading and praying on my part), he managed to maneuver the truck to the back of the house.  A little grass and a few pine branches were sacrificed in the process, but fortunately no cars were damaged or mailboxes taken out. 
          The truck parked right behind the carriage house and it was like a well choreographed ballet as two guys ran upstairs and removed a window and screen and another guy climbed on his boom seat and used levers and gears to maneuver a big hook to lift the sheetrock and buckets of plaster off the truck and raise them ever so gracefully threw the open window, where the two guys would haul them into the apartment.  I am not describing it well, but as they say, a YouTube clip is worth a thousand words.  (Just picture this all happening in my very narrow alley...)

          In less than 30 minutes, the guys got back in their truck and took off from whence they came.  (I didn’t dare watch to see if it was as difficult to get out of the alley as it was to get in!)  I went up to shut the door on account of it was starting to rain pretty hard, only to discover that seven sheets of drywall (I think they told me 50 pounds each) were stacked in front of the open door, preventing me from closing it against the elements.  Sigh. 
          A phone call to the plastering company went something like this:
          Me:  “The guys left the sheetrock in front of the door and I can’t close it.”
          Plastering Company:  “They did what?”
          Me:  “The guys piled the sheetrock in front of the door and I can’t close it. And now it’s raining in.”
          PC:  “Let me get this straight…they left it in front of the door and now you can’t close the door and it’s raining.”
          Me:  “Yes.”
          PC:  “Is this an interior door or an exterior door.”
          Me:  “Exterior.  I want to lock the place up and I can’t close the door.”
          PC:  Complete silence.  <I think I heard laughing, and possibly a snort of disbelief.>
          Me:  “It’s too heavy for me to move and I don’t want to break it or anything.”
          PC:  “I’ll send somebody right over.”
          A crew arrived within 30 minutes and moved the heavy pile about six inches further inside and we got the door shut, but I understand the crew that delivered it will be teased about their gaff for years to come. 
          Back to the rain issue.  Remember those vent covers the plumber left?  The ones that weren’t needed as long as it was sunny out?  Well, it turns out they were quite important, as I discovered when water dripped down from the attic.  I climbed up there only to discover they’d run a 2-inch PVC pipe out of a 3-inch hole drilled in the roof.  That left a whole lot of room for the rain to get in, especially when it was running down the shingles like Niagara Falls. Those plastic collar devices would have prevented that.  And also remember all that nice insulation we had installed?  Wet insulation is a bad thing.  Very bad.  It can lead to mold problems.  Sigh.  Another lesson to chalk up to our little construction project experiment:  An emergency call to the roofer on a rainy day doesn’t come cheap. 
          Oh, one more thing, that green sedan?  It’s STILL parked at the end of the alley, one month later.  I can only guess that a member of our armed forces has deployed so parked his/her vehicle somewhere out of the way.  If only they knew how IN the way it was.  And I still need more sheetrock to finish off the garage itself sometime in the next few weeks.  What, me worry?  Yes, it’s what I do best. 
          But the good news?  We’re moving right along! 

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