Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 years

Happy 3rd anniversary to my wonderful, handsome, fun, kind, smiley, intelligent, amazing Blake-o!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adios UFO's

For those of you who might be wanting to see progress on our basement...remember when I spent a week painting the pine paneling back in January of 2010?  Well, the basement reno has basically been stalled since then while I attended to the scads of other project ideas whirling around in my mind.

The catalyst that finally got us moving on our wish list was the sump pump installation.   As you can see from previous photos, the installation left us with a half cement/half linoleum tile floor circa a 1950's grade school cafeteria.  It was fun while it lasted, but that combo had to go. 

Our contractor team is wonderful.  They've been working non-stop since Monday morning and have transformed the place.  It's not finished yet, but so far they've:

-Removed the horrible UFO drop-lights.
-Torn out the recycled paper tile ceilings.
-Installed 13 (it's finally light down there!) can lights.
-Rewired the light switches and installed dimmers.
-Removed existing crown moulding.
-Installed drywall on the ceiling.
-Created a drywall box for some of the exposed duct work (we're leaving some of it exposed so as not to use up any of the precious ceiling height).
-Installed new crown moulding around the ceiling.
-Installed a new entry door, moulding and thresh hold.
-Created a built-in media console in the wall by the fireplace (it's all dead space under the stairs, so we decided to make use of it by building something in, rather than taking up space in the narrow room with a piece of furniture).

Phew. That's a lot.  I'm tired on their behalf.

Today they're going to:

-Paint the ceiling, window casings and crown moulding.
-Remove the current baseboards and shoe moulding.
-Prep for tomorrow's flooring installation.

Anyhow, here's some pictures of the progress.  We rush home every night after work and are consistently blown away by the quality and beauty of their work!  It's like Christmas morning every time we get home and walk down the stairs to check it out. 

I can't wait to show off (I mean, let's call it what it is, I'm totally showing off, but I don't care because I'm sooo excited about it!) the finished product.  You may just die seeing it. 

P.S.  If anyone in the DC area is in need of a fabulous contractor, let me know.  Tony does stuff for Blake's whole family and always does a fabulous job at rock-bottom prices. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

I've really not got much to report.  No funny stories.  No dead family members of any current contractors.  No angry homeless people throwing drinks at me.  Nothing.

My life lately has been consumed with work, friends, family and drywall dust.  Tony, our favorite contractor, started in on our basement renovation on Monday morning at the bright (read: gloomy/fatigued) early hour of 7:00. 

Blake spent four hours (and, well, I won't even tell you how much money) with Tony at Home Depot while I cleaned the other two floors of our house and did the much-needed grocery shopping.  Then, are you ready for it, we went back to Home Depot again that afternoon to spend even more money.  We also made stops at Best Buy and Target.  Why is it that every budgeted renovation ends up making you hemorrhage cash?

Anyhow, the day was completely exhausting and I have now sworn off shopping for the rest of my life. 

Oh the drama.  Ok, not the rest of my life, maybe just the rest of the month.  I'm sure I'll regret that statement, so lucky for me it's the shortest month of the year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Having some fun Valentimes

Last night Blake and I treated ourselves to our annual Valentine's Day dinner at Fajita Coast.  It's our go-to place (I hate to think of the thousands of dollars we've probably spent there over the past few years...) and we're never disappointed.  It's a perfect place to go on a night when all restaurants are packed-to-the-brim.  We know the staff there really well and they always get us a table quickly.

I am not the biggest Valentine's Day fan, but nothing beats a weekday evening where we don't have to cook or clean up.  (Sigh).  It's so luxurious.

After successfully convincing Blake not to buy me an (extremely overpriced) bouquet, he surprised me with the best flowers of all:

Now I have poppies that I can enjoy every day.  Thanks, Blake-o!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cha cha cha changes.

Having our basement jackhammered last week was the catalyst we needed to jump-start our search for new flooring.  Maybe it's because the rest of the reno process has been so painful and we deserved some cosmic justice, or maybe it's just luck, but we found the perfect flooring after visiting only two stores.  Soon that horrible cement will be covered with beautiful hand-scraped cherry (on the top of the pile of wood samples).  I can hardly wait!

Oh, and that tumbled travertine tile?  Well, that's just back splash daydreaming at this point...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The strangest phone conversation I've ever had.

Last week when the waterproofing team drilled out our basement and installed a sump pump, they also lugged out our old cement utility sink and replaced it with a newer, lighter, cleaner fiberglass version. 

It's a nice upgrade from its cracked and graffitied predecessor.  However, Mike the technician was missing a part, so we set a day for him to come back and finish installing it.  That day was yesterday.

Normally I wouldn't care about not having access to our utility sink, but our washing machine drains into the sink, so we've been without a washing machine for a week and are running out of clean laundry.

I called Mike yesterday to confirm our appointment.  He didn't answer, so I left a message.

He called me back yesterday afternoon.  The below is an (as far as I can remember) exact account of our conversation:

Me:  Hi Mike.  Thanks for calling me back.

Mike:  Hi Rachel, I've got some bad news.

Me : (Thinking he's going to say he is too busy and can't make it out that night) Oh?

Mike:  I just walked in the door and found my Mom dead on the floor.

Me:  What?  Oh my gosh! That's horrible.  I'm so sorry!

Mike:  Yeah.  I mean, I haven't called anyone yet.  My kids are freaking out. 

(Kids crying and dogs barking in background)

Me:  Mike, I'm so sorry!  Please just take care of what you need to take care of.  Call the ambulance. 

Mike:  Yeah, I mean, I need to clean it all up.  It looks like she had a heart attack, but I'm really not sure.  My kids are just freaking out right now.  I just brought her up from Oklahoma to live with me.  My kids don't know what to do...

Me: I'm so sorry.  This is just horrible.  I'm so sorry.

Mike:  I noticed that your husband has some tools.  If he has tools, you can just hack the pipe off yourself and install a new pipe.  It's not that hard.

Me:  Don't worry about that, Mike.  We'll figure something out with your company.  Don't even worry about that right now.  Just take care of what you need to take care of.

Mike:  Yeah, I mean, my kids are freaking out, you know?  My mom is just lying there dead on the floor.  I don't know what happened.  I haven't called anyone yet.  She's just here and she's dead...

Me: I'm so so sorry, Mike!  Please don't worry at all about your appointment.  Just take care of your kids and take care of what you need to take care of.

Mike:  Ok.  Ok.  I'm sure you can do the installation yourself.  We'll talk later.

I think he must have been in shock and I must have been the first person to pop up in his recently called/call back list.  I felt so horrible for him.  What an awful thing to have happen...especially with his kids there!

I've never had a stranger phone call in all my life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A warning to residents of the D.M.V

To all you folks living in the (202)/(703)/(301), here's a word to the wise.  Don't ever use the following companies:

MER Waterproofing.  We waited half a Saturday for them to show up to give us an estimate.  They never came or called.  When I called to report the issue on the following Monday they said they'd figure it out and give me a call back.  They never did.  Infuriating.

Mr. Tire.   I'm sure you all distinctly remember my recent whiny post about spending 4.5 hours in a crummy Mr. Tire shop while Blake argued with an extremely dishonest and rude manager.  We ended up paying them what they asked, but it was a rip-off.  It's not surprising that a company can talk you into things when they've got your car 10 feet off the ground and refuse to bring it down to you unless you pay their fees. 

Deep Breath Air Duct Cleaning.
WHAT A JOKE.  Blake and I bought a Groupon for this company about two weeks ago.  I set up the appointment for the past Wednesday from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Having not received a phone call from Deep Breath to confirm the day before, I called them on Wednesday morning.  I did not receive a call back until 12:00 noon from a technician that was at my house.  He claimed that my appointment was from 12:00 - 4:00 rather than from 3:00 - 5:00 as had previously been confirmed. 

After some arguing and a few calls to the main office I found out that they had switched my appointment without telling me.  They claimed to have left a message on my phone, but I never received a message or any proof that they had even called. 

I arranged with the technician to be home by 2:30 and he confirmed that he'd have someone at my house at 3:00.  I raced out of work even earlier than I'd planned and made it home by 2:15.

Well, 3:00 came and went.  3:45 came and went.  I called the technician several times.  No answer. By this time I'm extremely frustrated. I called the office.  They confirmed that they'd have the technician call me.  20 minutes later- still no call.  So I placed another call to the office.  I called the technician again.  He answered and I asked why they had not yet come and tried to confirm that they'd be coming before 5:00 p.m.

Here's a little of our conversation:

Hi, I'm just calling to confirm that you'll be coming before 5:00.

No, no one is coming to your house today.

Um, sir, you confirmed for me earlier today that you'd for sure be here by 3:00.

No.  I never said that.

Yes, you did.  And I took time off work today to have this done.  I came home at 2:30 because you confirmed I needed to be there by that time if possible.


Sir, that is not what you confirmed for me earlier.

Click.  Yep.  He hung up on me.

So, for the 15th time that day I called the office and explained the situation.  They were apologetic, but refused to do anything for me on that day.  I set up an appointment for this weekend, which was the earliest they could slot me in.  I also had them confirm that they would not be sending that hostile technician to my house.

This morning comes and I call to confirm that we have an appointment this weekend.  Turns out there's no record of us having any appointment this weekend and they're all booked for the next three weeks!  They also refused to do anything for me for my trouble.
So it's obvious to me that this company is neither professional nor honest.  I'm working with Groupon to get a refund, and I'm very much hoping that other people in search of duct cleaning come upon this review and decide never to use Deep Breath Air Duct Cleaning.  Don't use them.  I can't emphasize that enough. 

(Sigh) It's been a really long couple of weeks.  And maybe I've lost a little bit of my faith in humanity...or at least in Corporate America.  There's a moderate to high chance that the Better Business Bureau will shortly be receiving a call from me with a long list of grievances.

P.S.  D.M.V. = District Maryland Virginia