Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: Demolition Days (Week 1)

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danger, danger: wrapping the perimeter of my house with CAUTION tape was the first thing the crew did when they arrived. it was a Monday, the first day of August 2011, and Operation: Home Remodel had officially begun.

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step 2: a huge plastic sheet appeared at the side of the house that separates me from my closest neighbor. this was to catch any debris that would (surely) result from the demolition.

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man in white suit: thankfully, there was no little pointy hat to match, but the suit did resemble the alien spacesuit you’d see on a hazmat team. turns out the paint on my existing siding contained trace amounts of lead, which has to be removed under stringent EPA guidelines that mandate white suits, respirators, plastic sheets and gloves, special receptacles and complicated disposal techniques.

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by the book: apparently, there is a big fine if lead-laden paint is not disposed of properly, as even a small amount can kill a kid if it’s ingested, so my contractor and i made it a point to follow the code to the letter — in this instance as well as every other — because we are law-abiding people who never jaywalk or download pirated music.

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day 2: demo moved pretty quickly and by the end of the second day, all the siding had been removed, leaving the bones of my house exposed. the great surprise is that they were pretty good bones and the insulation was solid. but the best news of all: no more pink house.

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other surprises: ok, so not every bone was perfect. there were some overrun with dry rot and termite damage, but rest assured that every faulty stud was torn out and replaced. thankfully, there were more good than bad studs. (there’s a pun in there somewhere.)
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front door awning: this area was the most damaged area of the house, fully rotted through, and it unnerves me to think i spent three years walking under this unstable thing, which could be pulled apart with bare hands.

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tornado alert: a lot of folks have asked me how my dogs are handling this ruckus, to which i reply, “as well as can be expected.” (this goes for my handling of it, too, though i don’t get as many questions on that.) needless to say, it’s been disruptive to all our lives and i’ll be happy when it’s over, but it’s the cost of doing business — a cost i’m willing to bear for a nice house.

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day 5: a dumpster arrived, taking over my driveway (and making my already ghetto house look even more stylish). first thing to enter the dumpster was the demo’ed debris in the foreground from two planters — the one i’m sitting on in the photo above and the brick one at the right of me, below the deck. the two brick planters that line my walkway (pictured above the debris) will remain intact.

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another surprise: underneath the stucco that covered the master bedroom at the far end of the house was the same pink siding that covered the rest of the house. this was surprising because i had always understood that bedroom to be an addition, which would explain the stucco-siding discrepancy, but it appears it was always part of the house, which means the stucco doesn’t make any sense at all.

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already forgotten: as the demo was moving along quickly, i didn’t dwell on this mystery or any of the house’s many others (like why there was a tile factory in the crawlspace) and instead focused on the drama that was brewing between my contractor and his sub.

turns out there was a dispute over money, a dispute i knew nothing about until day 7 of Operation: Home Remodel, when my house stood naked, siding gone, bones out, and the sub and his crew of four beefy guys showed up on my doorstep. it was early sunday morning — i answered the door in my pajamas — and they were asking for money.

as delicately as i could, i explained to the sub that i would not be giving him any money that day, or any other day, as we had no contract in place, and that they should take up any issues they had with my contractor. then came an earful about what a shitty guy he was (all lies, he’s been an awesome contractor) and after realizing that i wouldn’t budge despite the intimidation, i let the crew into my garage, where they recovered their tools, told me they were quitting and left.

i wish i could say that was the end of it, but the sub called me later that day to keep complaining. he was convinced he was owed more money, even though he and my contractor negotiated a wage at the start of the week, which was paid, but the sub convinced himself it wasn’t enough.

why he kept working without renegotiating the wage i’ll never understand — nor did he have an explanation for — but he was relentless in his complaints, which he kept peppering with, “i wouldn’t want you to be affected by this.” when i called him on it, out came the threats, none of which i care to go into, (and none of them particularly aggressive), but they were enough to disturb me. also disturbing was how kept following each threat with, “you understand me?” yeah, buddy. i understand that you’re an asshole trying to blackmail me.

obviously, this prompted several lengthy discussions between me and my contractor, in which we decided to do absolutely nothing. the result? absolutely nothing happened. the old sub ultimately left us alone, and a new crew arrived to take over where the old crew left off. they’ve been working steadily on my place ever since — no drama, no fuss. with demolition complete, it was time to install the new windows, build a few things and prep the house for siding, all to be covered next.

4 comments:

Wade said...

I might consider filing a BBB complaint vs. the sub -- just so that you have your side already explained when the inevitable lien comes up.

Anyanka said...

I agree with Wade...also, tile?!? So crazy

Milla said...

the guy has no case so i'm not too worried about him filing a lien. my focus is on what's in front of me now, like choosing exterior colors. so hard.

Jade Graham said...

I used HardiePlank on an addition to my house and am slowly replacing all of my siding with it. Best Panini Press