Tales From the Contractor Crypt: Part “Duh.”

We see some movement!  At last, some progress in the right direction!

Roofing supplies!

Roofing supplies… and a truck!

Josh and I were at our wits end! We were there, ready to cut our contractor loose.  I called the bank to see what would happen if the deadline mapped out in the contract wasn’t met, which would be around the end of January.  I was told, basically nothing… they would just have to request an extension.  Sounds like junk right? Why even have a “deadline” at all if there’s no penalty or incentive to keep their word?  Why not just say, “as long as you get to it at some point”?

The bank representative also told me that we should utilize our advocates in this situation.  Advocates?  What advocates? The Lynch brothers that do all the inspections on properties for these types of loans and initial the ok for the contractors to get paid.  Apparently, they are not just the inspectors but also our advocates.  I had no idea and this information was definitely not effectively communicated during the loan/closing process.  If we had known, we might have involved them a lot sooner!  DUH! I explained to the bank that practically no work had been done at all and we were concerned about the progress and trustworthiness of our contractor.  She seemed concerned also and told me to contact the Lynch brothers.  If that didn’t seem to help, we should call her back.

The next day, Josh called the brothers… our advocates, to explain our complaints and dissatisfaction with buildpros.  They sent buildpros an email saying that the customer was not happy with their performance or progress.  When we heard from our contractor, he said, “if you think I like having $13,000 already invested in a project without payment, you’re wrong.”   Is this guy a bozo or what?!  Josh chose to ignore it since they promised “guys would be there the following week”.  So, would you be surprised to hear that we waited, on edge all week as usual for someone to show, and nothing!  The next week, we were promised again.  That Thursday night, Josh was positive the roofers or their “guys” (these mythical creatures we had yet to see) would be there on Friday.  He said our contractor was pretty adamant that they would be there.  So, Josh stayed at the house until 3am making sure every last bit of demo was completed, getting ready for that big commencement of work we’ve been waiting and praying for.  And… would you be surprised to hear that it was a no show, AGAIN?!  AGAIN?!

Josh called me to tell me the news.  I was down in NC for my sister-in-law, Piper’s baby shower for baby #6!  I was seething when he told me! Josh was trying to figure out how long to wait this time and I was DONE!  “That’s it!  He’s out!  How many more chances to take advantage of us can we give this guy?  Not to mention he just got a check for $14,000!  He’s out,” I shouted.  I was freaking out.  Josh said that he was on board with the decision to end our pain and frustration with this guy.  We sent text messages back and forth to each other, devising exactly what to say in the formal “heave ho” letter.

Josh thought he should probably call the Lynch brothers and let them know we were done with the buildpros bull and that we wanted to fire them.  When Josh called, he talked to Ken,  (one of the brothers) and was livid in explaining our mental state and desire to get these people out of our house.  Ken told Josh to calm down and assured him that he’s heard all of this before.  He’s been doing this job for 25 years and asked Josh to hold off on firing buildpros and to let him take care of it.  I don’t know what he did or said, but do you know that the “guys” showed up the very next day, on a Saturday?  There was work going on Monday through Thursday of that week;  then also on the following Saturday and Sunday!   I almost don’t want to say anything out loud, afraid of jinxing it!

So, things are looking up!  Our spirits are higher and there seems to be an end in sight, which makes the whole situation a bit more bearable.  Please pray that the work continues at a steady pace and we can move in soon!  My Thanksgiving hope for the red house is dashed, and I don’t think I’ll put any more expected, arbitrary move in dates into my mental calendar… it doesn’t do me any good!  My only hope now is to see consistent progress with the project.

Til’ next time, be blessed!

 

The History of Our Future

During the course of negotiations for buying the little red house, our real estate agent, Marilyn Lusher and I went to town hall and did a bit of historical digging.  (Side note: Marilyn is a take no prisoners, real estate beast from Re/Max in Waterford, CT… I highly recommend!) The house was built in 1866 and has had only two families own the property in all that time!  We are the third; I thought that was pretty interesting.  The Gray family originally built the house along with a barn in 1866 (Maaaaaaan, I wish the barn was still there!), and was part of a 15 acre property. Educated guessing says that it was possibly a cattle farm… we think.  There is a working cattle farm just up the road and is a cool field trip for the boys. The ownership I feel over the history of our house is weird.  I look around at my neighbors and think, “at one point in time, I owned you!”. (Who let the CRAZY out?)

I found this picture of our street!! Our house is just around corner, up the road a bit. I so wish I had a historical photo of the red house... but this is pretty cool too.

I found this picture of our street!! The house is just around corner, up the road a bit. I so wish I had a historical photo of the red house… but this is pretty cool too.

The property is now just under an acre.  I also can’t help but wonder what made them sell off their land.  I mean, money can be the obvious assumption.  But money for what?  Just to have or was there a more specific reason?  Maybe to help their kids start a life?  Maybe someone was ill and the money was a necessity for treatment or care?  Maybe life on the farm got tiresome and they cashed in for an easier ride?  I could go on and on with the what if’s…its’ fascinating to me.  I did learn from a survey report done by the RI Historical Preservation Commission in 1976 that Ashaway experienced its’ first and most significant boost in population in the mid nineteenth century.  (Right around the time our house was built).  I also learned that in 1825 Captain Lester Crandall started an open air business along the river that runs through Ashaway,  making fishing line.  This location is just around the bend on our street.  The company grew over time, and became incorporated in 1883 as Ashaway Line and Twine Manufacturing Company, which exists in operation today, almost 200 years later!  Jaxon goes to an after school program at the Crandall House (the original home for Captain Lester Crandall). Josh picks up Jaxon there after work so I don’t have to make the 1 hour and 20 minute round trip twice a day! (Pheeeww!)

That sign is still on this building!

That sign is still on this building!

While from the outside, the little red house is the cutest Victorian style cottage you’ve ever seen, its’ what’s unseen that’s really desirable!  It has what every girl could ever want in a dream home!  It has mold in the basement AND the attic, termite damage, a rotted sill plate, left over knob and tube wiring, insufficient support columns, 4 layers of shingles, a sagging roof line, higher radon levels, lead paint… should I go on?  I told you it was perfect!

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Reminder 🙂

We’ve made some pretty interesting discoveries along the way of our demo work.  Some are just fascinating clues to the past and others equal dollar signs. ($$$$!)

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Josh found this ancient wallpaper under the walls in the boys bathroom on the 2nd floor. A pink bunny with a butterfly and lace stripes.

We've discovered that the walls covered in wood planks (which I loved) are covering up the original horse hair plaster walls. Josh found this ancient wallpaper under the walls in the boys bathroom on the 2nd floor. A pink bunny with a butterfly and lace stripes.

We’ve discovered that the walls covered in wood planks (which I loved) are covering up the original horse hair plaster walls.

I found this under the ceiling in the half bathroom on the 1st floor. I'm pretty sure that is lead paying up there. This space is going to be toy storage for the boys.

I found this under the ceiling in the half bathroom on the 1st floor. I’m pretty sure that is lead paint up there.

This room, Braedon's future bedroom, is where the sloping roof is. (to the right side). We've discovered after taking down the wood and the original plaster walls behind, that there is actually NO framing holding up the roof. NONE! It depends on the outside wall of the house! Awesome.

This room, Braedon’s future bedroom, is where the sloping roof is. (To the right side). After taking down the wood and the original plaster walls behind, we found that there is actually NO framing holding up the roof!!NONE!! It depends on the outside wall of the house! Awesome 😉

One afternoon when Josh was at the house working with my dad, we had a special guest stop by for a visit, John.  He and his family bought and moved into the house in 1940.  John was 3 years old.  His brother eventually took over the home from their mother and lived the rest of his life here, raising two boys.  John helped with answers to some questions and speculations.  The pink bunny wallpaper in a bathroom?  That was actually “the baby’s room” he said, which his brother eventually converted into the 2nd floor bathroom.  No one but a baby could have managed in there!  The small space was probably big enough for a crib and a dresser… the end.

un-demoed

un-demoed

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demoed

demoed

John also helped lead Josh to one of the most brilliant ideas in our plans for the house thus far.  One of those “DING” moments… even though I’m referring to the ding of adding those dollar $igns to the budget!  He told Josh that the original and only bathroom in the house, was located in the room that we were going to make into a 4th bedroom on the 1st floor.  His brother enclosed the small back porch and created a very, very, we’re talking VERY small half bath on the 1st floor.  Our initial plan was just to replace the half bath with new everything, but keep it as the one and only bathroom on the 1st floor; also making it the bathroom that Josh and I would share.  (Huh?) This is where I found the wood plank ceiling from the old back porch painted with lead!  We decided to go back to its’ roots and make the “4th bedroom” a gigantic bathroom; complete with walk in shower, separate tub, double vanity, and a secluded toilet room.  (Aaaaaaaahhh….that’s more like it!) Did I say “Cha-ching?!”

Half bath on 1st floor. A shower stall would have been where you see that washing machine.

Distant memory half bath on 1st floor. A shower stall would have been where you see that washing machine. (Go figure.)

Now this will be a HUGE storage room for the kids! A hide away for books, toys, and art supplies!!

Now this will be a HUGE storage room for the kids! A hide away for books, toys, and art supplies!!

This was the original and soon to be location for the 1st floor bathroom. It was being used as the master bedroom.

This was the original location for the 1st floor bathroom… and will be again! It was being used as the master bedroom.

Now, the biggest puzzle John helped us solve was the reason for the state in which the house was left for us to move into.  Our contract clearly stated the house and property should have been left in “broom swept condition” when we took over the keys.  Josh and Marilyn did a last minute walk trough before closing and found that the basement was still a disaster with broken furniture, decorations, books, memorabilia, and  trash; as well as large items of furniture left throughout the house. We were ticked and tried to use it as a last minute negotiating tool, to no avail.  We got a “too bad, too sad” response from the estate lawyer.  We were so aggravated about the added work and headache!  We grumbled and complained several times to each other and family about the mess.  We assumed that whomever was responsible for cleaning up the property was probably lazy or angry that they didn’t get what they wanted in terms of selling price for the home.  It took me 3 hours to clean out the basement, all hazmat suited up, looking like an alien!

After they went through a tour of the house and Josh learned a little about our home’s history while telling John about our hopes for the future, John stopped Josh to apologize.  Apologize for what you ask?  This sweet, almost 80 year old man, apologized to Josh for not being physically able to clean up the property and empty it out like he wanted to!  (Whaaaaaaaaat?!  Yes, you read that correctly). I felt like dying of embarrassment and regret swarmed my conscience.  John 7:24 crept into my brain, nestled in and hasn’t let go since. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”.   We had no clue why the house was left the way it was.  All we had were assumptions… the wrong judgment by appearances only!

I so wish we had known! Poor, elderly John, the same little boy who at 3 moved into his childhood home, was trying his best to clean and clear out his brother’s things; clearing out his past, his history, before we could start our future.  Josh and I would have been eager to help!  Seems selfish and self indulgent to have been so pre-occupied with the history of our future, while John was dealing with the future of his history.  This is just another example of how I totally blow it on a daily basis; and how my blowing it can bring an invaluable life lesson from the Spirit!

Til’ next time… be blessed!!!