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Saturday, November 11, 2006  


I really can't complain about the contractor who's been running the remodeling on our home. And not just because I have a rule about not making fun of people here whom I know in real life. Sure, I can be hard on celebrities, because I'm not actually going to meet too many of them. So far I've only met one famous person that I'd dissed here (an Oscar winner, as it happens), and it's not like he knew about it.

But our contractor is cool. He told us it would be six to eight weeks, and so far it's only been two and a half months. Since contractors are generally like Scotty from Star Trek in reverse, I think that technically we're ahead of schedule.

Even the delays we've run into so far haven't been his fault. The second year we lived here, we built a deck in the back yard and learned an important truth about doing home improvements in Minneapolis. City inspectors here are picky, busy, and backed-up like the freeway at rush hour, so getting stuff approved so you can move on to the next stage can be a time-consuming stage of the process. This happens several times in between the acquisition of the building permit and completion of the project. This isn't the important truth we learned. The important truth we learned is, don't get a permit. All of our home improvement projects have gone a lot more smoothly since we adopted that rule.

But our contractor is going a little more by the book, probably because the sheer scale of the project surpasses anything we've attempted before (which, after all, is why we got a contractor in the first place). So all the permits and papers and inspections have been in order for a couple of weeks, setting the stage for the guy to come and put up the sheetrock.

Now if only the guy would come and put up the sheetrock.

He's not an employee of our contractor, but a subcontractor. And as far as I can tell, he's been here twice in the past two weeks. The original plan was for him to come three Fridays ago, and finish up that Monday or Tuesday. Instead, he showed up for a quick looky-loo on Saturday, and we expected him back after the weekend. Monday and Tuesday came and went, as did Wednesday. Wednesday night, BuenaOnda and English showed up for their scheduled visit, and we had to put their air mattress on the floor in what will be M. Small's room, because that was the only place that didn't have sheets of unattached drywall stacked all over.

Thursday, while they were still here, the drywall guy showed up late morning, acted like a big grump to everyone, and put in a few hours of work. He did part of our bedroom and part of the bathroom and knocked off for the day, probably to go find someone else to charm. But at least he'd gotten started, and we figured that even if he wasn't done, things should be finished Monday or Tuesday.

This was based on the assumption that he'd be back Friday. He wasn't. Nor was he back the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Yesterday, it looks like he stopped by and did a bit of work. He screwed a few haphazard segments to the ceiling in M. Small's room and also covered the entire south wall. I'll miss the window that used to be there, but progress is progress.

What's funny about this is that when we were originally putting together the contract, I suggested to Trash that I do the sheetrocking myself. Just to save a thousand bucks or so, you know? But Trash said no, it wouldn't be worth it, because it would take me weeks, while the pros could do it in a matter of days. Now here we are, hoping we'll have it ready to paint by Thanksgiving weekend. I can only take comfort in the fact that I'm not that good at it anyway. It's a little weird, being in a position where you find solace in knowing you suck at something.

Our actual contractor has been great, completely on our side through this. We call him every night and say, "Dude didn't come again," and he promises it'll get done this coming week, even if he has to do it himself. "It's just that he really does good work," he says. "I just wish he'd do more of it," I have to respond.

Maybe the guy's been sick, as our contractor tells us. Or maybe he looks at all the weird-ass angles he has to deal with and becomes disheartened. Don't know, don't care. I want my walls, dammit,

posted by M. Giant 8:28 PM 3 comments


Do you have a "penalty" in your contract for late work? Even if you don't, just tell your contractor you're deducting 10% if the work isn't done by Thanksgiving and he can go to court if he wants to get the money back. The first rule of working with contrators, particularly ones you like and don't want to fight with, is have very clear financial penalties for them if work is not done within a certain time frame. I'm sure you have atleast 50% of the bill left to pay which gives you a lot more leverage with these guys. In any case, the only thing that makes them listen is the money. Good luck!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 13, 2006 at 5:09 AM  

You think the Sheetrocker is bad....wait until the very very amiable "snail-like" taper and mudder shows up. He's friendly and kind but he takes FOREVER!
He does do great work though. Just don't engage him in conversation....he can't work and mud at the same time. I found that out the hard way.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 13, 2006 at 6:22 AM  

I've got to somewhat agree w/anon above - we worked w/a lovely man as our contractor, who never knowingly did a single thing to upset us, but yet sometimes the only way I could get him to lean on his subs was to withold HIS payment (we were on a monthly payment schedule.) I have no idea what kind of attitude he used on his subs after that, but stalled projects very quickly got done. I hated it, because we've known the contractor for years but had never worked w/him, but my Daddy reminded me that "bidness is bidness." (I won't depress you by telling you how long we spent building our custom house. AND we were out of city limits and not liable for any sort of codes or inspections.) After this became a repeat pattern, I wound up hiring subs myself. Just hang in there and put any thoughts of polite (or even civil, at times) behavior out of your mind. Some subs only respond to absolutes - why, I have no idea.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 20, 2006 at 5:27 AM  

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