Monday, January 29, 2007

Fun with Contractors

This is the long sad story about one of the kids bedrooms and the ordeal of getting it fixed:

A couple of years ago we noticed that a small crack had appeared in the ceiling in one of the kids bedrooms. We weren't overly concerned about it at the time. Over time the crack got bigger and bigger and turned into a split in the plaster. It's an old house and the ceiling is basically slats and plaster. By last spring the split was getting pretty bad. There was a couple of inches difference on each side of the split and you could easily see the slats above the now hanging side of the split. So we decided to call the landlords and get this fixed before the ceiling fell in on one of the kids. This would have been around March, 2006.

We had a contractor arrive and take a quick look at the damage and he decided that the roof was leaking and that the roof would need to be repaired before the ceiling could get fixed. Fine by us!

Spring passed and with each heavy rainfall the ceiling dropped a little bit more. Another call was made to the landlords. They assured us that it was going to be fixed ASAP. Meanwhile, I decided to screw some slats into the ceiling to keep the plaster from falling in. The dust that fell down while I did this took my breath away. It was incredibly over-powering, like ammonia. It wasn't pretty but I figured it would last until the ceiling was fixed.

In August the roof finally got fixed. It took about 2 days to get the job done.

Now we're getting somewhere! Now it's just a matter of getting the ceiling done now.

Summer turned to fall and fall turned to winter. Finally in the week between Christmas and New Years the contractor arrived. YAY!!!

Within the first couple of days he'd torn down the entire ceiling and replaced it with a vapor barrier and nice new drywall. He even took on the walk-in closet issue that we'd been complaining about for a couple of years also.

The walk-in closet was more like a walk in freezer in the winter. There was so much of a draft that I had to seal it up with plastic this winter (and what a difference it made!). I attempted to cut the cold down last year by moving boxes of books from the basement into the closet and using them to line the walls. This helped a bit, however, when the spring arrived I learned that the closet was not only drafty but it leaked. I lost many books to that closet. The leaks were causing the panelling to become warped and lots of debris and other gross shit was falling into the closet.

Needless to say we were happy that this problem was going to be resolved also.

This was great, but there was something strange happening with the contractor.

One day, he went out to get something and never came back. The next day he said that his wife had some infection and he was stuck at the ER with her for 5 hours. Oh well, that happens, right?

A few days later he skinned out early because he was going ice fishing with our landlord. That's a little odd but whatever, the landlord is paying the guy so it must be OK with him. When Jules asked him how they made out fishing he said that he ended up not going for some reason but he still didn't come back to work.

Then he was over one Saturday morning. He was going to go out and get some insulation for the closet and be right back (do you see a pattern here?). You guessed it he never came back. You know this wouldn't be such a problem, but when he tells us he's coming back we usually believe him and so we make sure someone is home. When he doesn't come back it means we were basically tied to the house all day for nothing.

Then he stared coming by less and less frequently. Finally he got to the last part, the sanding. He mentioned to me as he was leaving one day that he was going to see if he could get one of his "guys" to do it for him because he didn't like sanding. The next time I saw him he said that he couldn't find anyone to do it for him and that he'd have to do it himself. Oh well, goes with the job.

We never saw him again for 15 days!!

We called the landlords after a week had passed with no word from the contractor. Mr. Landlord said that he was busy and assured us that he would get back to is as soon as he could. Another week passed and Jules decided that if he didn't show up by Friday the 26th of January that she would call and complain again.

Friday arrived. The kids had the day off of school for an inservice and I took a vacation day too, so we could do something with the day off. Guess who decided to show up a 8:45 am. Yup, it was the contractor. No sleeping in on the day off for us! We all get up. We strip the bed in the room he's working in and remove all the stuff except the bed (I don't know how many times I did this as part of my morning routine before work, only to find out that he hadn't come and I'd done it for nothing). He came in looked at the room and said, "I don't have my sanding tools here. I'm going to have to go for a drive and get them."

Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure he knew he was going to be sanding. That's why he'd been avoiding the job for so long. In the back of our minds we knew he wasn't going to be back and he didn't dissappoint.

Jules called the landlords and left a message explaining that we were fed up with this guys showing up without notice, leaving because he wasn't prepared, and most irritating of all, telling us he's coming back and then not showing up. She also said that we would find someone to finish the job and send them the bill. That got their attention!

Around 7:00pm we got a call from Mrs. Landlord (I was hoping it would be her. Mr. Landlord is just a little too nice and if one of them got a fire going under this guy it would be her). She was still seething from the call she had just made to the contractor. Apparently we weren't the first to have this kind of problem with this contractor. She told me that they've had people refuse to let him back on the property because they were so fed up with him. Anyway, she said he could be at our house within 30 minutes. He was and he was done sanding and cleaning up by about 9:30pm.

He told me that he would like to do another coat of mud because it still had some imperfections. He asked me if I wanted him to do it or not. I just asked him how long it was going to take. He knew what I meant right away and he assured me that it would be done right away.

He came back Saturday morning to mud and was back again Sunday to do his final sanding. Finally.

I have to say the guy did a good job...when he was there.

I volunteered to paint the room, which it totally fine with me. In fact I already got a coat of primer up on the ceiling and in the closet.

It is so much better when you aren't relying on someone else.

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