Greetings from a Basement-Dweller

I’ve been sleeping in the basement with the dogs since Wednesday, while Amy has been staining and polyurethaning the stairs. I’ve driven the dogs to the vet every day and picked them up every evening, not only to keep them out of the poly but because the fumes are terrible.

Before the project started I had showered and packed three days’ worth of clothes. It now appears — surprise! — that it will be Tuesday (six days) before the stairs are finished. Luckily I have the laundry machines in the pantry.

Nick is a very sunny person. “You’ll be fine in the basement,” he told me cheerfully. It’s true. Though I’m not sleeping well, I am fine. However I’m beginning to find it grating that never once has he apologized for or even acknowledged that it’s four months past his contracted finish date of June 30 and I have had great inconvenience (living in a construction site since June 30) and considerable extra expense (paying for the extra appraisal, paying for the dogs at the vet for weeks) due to his faulty planning.

Yesterday Nick emailed that he would finish the stairs, our master bath shower, and potentially the mudroom floor, and then he would not be back until May.

I would have liked to stay longer and finish all the original items of course (none of which at this point are an inconvenience to normal living for you — which was top priority for me) but just so you understand my thinking: throughout the construction up to this point, I would have had all the original items completed had it not been for issues I’ve had to deal with: re-do’s, changes, problem solving etc. I’m obviously happy to do it and glad things worked out for you!! But all those things take time and take time away from original items as you can appreciate.

He certainly did save my neck with the stairs and put a lot of work into the faulty kitchen cabinets. He also removed the misplaced front porch posts. However, none of these issues ate four months. He was overdue long before we discovered those setbacks. I understand his problem; he has other jobs waiting and also needs to be earning money. Since I followed the contracted payment schedule, his final check from me was written at the end of June. He has had nothing coming in.

The basic house is now finished. However, the doors and trim and a few windows are not painted, the kitchen trim has not been installed, the ceilings of the dining room and kitchen need repainting due to an error, the mudroom porch is missing its beadboard ceiling and its railings, the front porch is missing side rails, the screen porch is not started at all. The chimney brick has not been installed. The entire exterior of the house, including the garage, was supposed to be painted with two coats; everything is primed but only the bottom half has a first coat. (The fireplace in the living room, the tiny back mudroom porch, and the basement toilet are “extras” which I added to the contract and always planned to pay and wait for separately.)

There is a big part of me that wants to rant and roar, unleashing my sadness and disappointment. We have paid so much money! We’ve lived in chaos for four months! Why is our house not done!?! However, it does not appear to me that relieving my feelings this way will accomplish anything at all. It seems it also could cause a lot of problems. Besides, I like Nick and the quality of his work has been great. So I have carefully not yet replied to his email. I’ll wait until I’m calm.

In the meantime, I have a long weekend list.

Painting crew, August. Nick, Amy, his 11-year-old daughter

3 Responses to Greetings from a Basement-Dweller

  1. Maya Walker says:

    While I can certainly understand your frustration, it might help your to know that each change made in a construction process has a chain effect on other parts of the project, as well as the schedule.
    When customer changes, weather, and supplier issues are included, it can be like herding cats to get everything across the finish line on time because every single process is dependent on at least one other, be it the actual construction or just getting the right materials delivered at the right time.
    We have been fortunate in that we have been able to do so most of the time, but there have many nights of stringing lights or working by headlamps or vehicle headlights along the way.
    The few that have gone over by more than couple of weeks were mostly large projects that were started late in the year that had to be adjusted many times for periods of rain, snow, or zero degree weather. Customers are sometimes surprised to know how much weather, humidity, and air temps affect paint, drywall, concrete, tile work, etc. We have been in the residential housing industry since 1978 and by far, the most challenging, and time consuming projects have been the ones in which the customer moved in before completion.
    I have watched – and very much enjoyed – your home rising up from the earth through the eyes of blog. It is a beautiful home and like carrying a child for nine months, the pain of the process will fade quickly once the birth is complete.
    You should right a book. No matter what you chose for subject matter, I would buy it! Wishing you peace and happiness!

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thank you, Maya. I am already calmer. Just venting let me relax. Nick just stopped by and I didn’t mention a thing. 🙂 I think the two biggest issues for him were the bad weather and falling in love, both of which he didn’t expect. 🙂

      I will probably remove this post.

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