Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beach Tale: Coming Down the Home Stretch!

          O.M.G.  I am so excited.  This project is almost done.  Then I get to put on my decorating hat and “cozy” it up.  Just a few more subcontractors in and voilá, we’re ready for guests. Or tenets.  Or a neighborhood cocktail party, at the very minimum. 
          So first thing we need is a Trim Guy.  I’m going to admit my naiveté because I didn’t even realize I’d need a Trim Guy but when the plumber showed up (he was the very first contractor at the very beginning of this project) he asked me if I needed a Trim Guy.  I said “Yes,” because obviously I did.  He gave me a name, and I’m really glad I made that call, because there was no way we were capable of doing trim work ourselves.  Where is that General Contracting for Dummies book, anyway?   
          I hear you asking the same question I asked myself, "What exactly does a Trim Guy do?"  Well, for starters, he installs all the kitchen and bath cabinets.  And the door frames.  And interior doors.  And the doorknobs.  And window frames and sills.  And crown molding. And baseboards.  And shoe molding.  I have no idea how I thought all that got done, but I’m glad I got a Trim Guy.  I scheduled him for three days.

          And in my haste to get the party started, I also called the HVAC people back to install the vent covers and such.  Also called the electricians to install all the fixtures and assemble the ceiling fans and screw in all those tiny screws to hold the outlet covers in place.  And then I went ahead and scheduled appliance delivery.  So one morning I had seven workmen in a 484 square foot house.  Can you say “crowded?”  I did my best to stay out of the way, but wanting to supervise the construction ballet, I had to be there.  I only got hit in the head with a two by four once. 
           But back up just a bit.  On the first day it was just the Trim Guy working alone to install the cabinets.  And once they were in, I realized we had a problem.  A color problem.  I’d ordered white appliances.  But the Marble white trim was just slightly off-white, and the sage-colored cabinets looked stark against pure whiteness.  Yikes.  Total decorator panic set in.  I ran through my options in my head:  Black (too dark): Stainless steel (too expensive) or Bisque.  Hmmm.  Bisque.  Which is just ever so slightly off white. 

Then in my head there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to me phone and began to chatter.
 “The order needs changed” I said to the clerk. 
“And delivered tomorrow.  Please make this all work.”

(My apologies to Clement C. Moore, but the radio station in the car today started playing Christmas Carols and I heard this one.  Yes, I realize it’s early November! And a neighbor was already decorating her house for Christmas yesterday!  It’s insane…but I digress…)
          But the clerk worked her magic (and saved me $200 in the process.)
          Now back to the workmen crowding my carriage house…The electricians were the last to finish: 

They spoke not a word but heeded their task
They finished the jobs and turned to me to ask
“It’s cooling off now you’ll need to have heat,
When will the power be connected to the street?”

<<Insert sound of phonograph needle scratching across the vinyl record.>>
          “What?” I asked, staring at the spot on the house where the electric meter case waited forlornly.
          “You need to call Virginia Dominion Power and have run the electric lines from the base to the house.”
          “What?” I asked, again staring at the spot on the hose where the electric meter case waited forlornly, one big thick wire sticking up.  I need to call?”
          I had asked that question of the electricians who came through in phase one.  I had asked that question of the electricians who’d been through the day before.  All had told me their company made the call.
          My error was in not calling the home office to verify. My general contractor ignorance was showing again. 
          I hustled myself inside and made the call.  Sure enough, it was my job to call the power company.  Which I did post haste.  And twenty phone calls and two days later, I had my answer.  The project needed to be designed and verified there existed a spot on the transformer and paid for.  And then they’d schedule the trenching to lay the lines and later an actual hook up to the meter.  Final verdict, “Barring any natural disasters, we’ll have you hooked up on November 6th.”
          What, me worry?  Not really.  After all, hurricane season was winding down and it as too early for a snow storm or anything.  So I made the calls and scheduled all the finishing up for Tuesday, November 6.
          Turns out I should have worried.  And waited on scheduling the finishing touches.
          I suppose you all heard about the largest natural disaster in recent memory, a storm so big and monstrous it was nicknamed Frankenstorm, that hit the east coast last weekend.  So we received a phone call informing us the project was canceled until further notice.
          So here we sit, with a carriage house this close to being finished, and no electricity.
          It’s looking good inside though, and we’ve been able to the final things at our leisure, like touch up painting and window cleaning and shower curtain rod installing and window blinds…
          O.M.G.  I’ve had a month to order window blinds, and I plum forgot.  So sorry to cut this short but I’ve got a Home Depot run to make.

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