Monday, June 30, 2014

So Expensive: Part 2

Part 2:  Install new floors.

[read part 1 and part 3 on how our new house is proving so expensive to fix up]

The old floors in the kitchen and family room were insane tile of the brownish-shape-pattern variety. It was not a good look.

If you look closely, you can see that the pattern is repeating perpendicular dog bones.

The rest of the downstairs had hardwood floor, so we decided to get hardwoods to match. We knew it would cost, but would be worth it in the long run. So all we had to do was find someone to do it. Easy enough right?

WRONG. It is unimaginably hard to pay someone to install a new floor for you.

I dont’ know if there is a profession-wide state of willful insouciance amongst floorpersons, or if floor installers are just rolling in the dough and don’t need work, or if they all just dislike Husband and I personally. But it was nigh impossible to get someone to do hardwood floors in our house. Here is a flowchart of how our process with hiring these guys went:

Finally, we hired someone, which after all of that felt like a miracle. Floor Guy had the excellent credentials of "being the first person to have answered his phone." Our standards were low.

We bought the wood from the guy.  That meant waiting for the wood to ship, which took a couple weeks.  And then once the wood arrived, we had to leave it to "cure" in the house. Apparently wood is moody and needs to get used to the ambiaaaaaaance before you install it.

That would have been just fine. We didn't mind having a ton of planks of wood in the family room - we didn't have any furniture to put in there anyway. It was fine having planks of wood around for Husband's birthday party.

What wasn't fine was that by the time the wood had cured, the floor guy had vanished. He wouldn't answer calls or e-mails. Oh, had I mentioned?  This guy didn't have a website.  He wasn't actually on yelp.  All we had of him was a phone number, that he wouldn't answer, and an e-mail address, that apparently meant nothing to him.

It was like he had been a figment of our imaginations, except for the pile of red oak he had left.  Which meant that we restarted the process:

Finally, one of the earlier non-answerers picked up and agreed to come install the floor. When he came by, he made a big fuss that we had ordered waaaaayyy more wood than we needed. Waaaayyyy more. Husband ignored Floor Guy #2's histrionics and firmly said, "Okay, fine, we will be glad to have the extra for spare then."

We set up a schedule with Floor Guy #2 to install the floor.  But this meant first that Husband and I had to manage to move the entire refrigerator through various narrow passages in our house out of the kitchen.  We were going to put the fridge in the laundry room.  Except it turns out our fridge is wider than the door to the laundry room, or to the bedroom next to the kitchen, or to anywhere but the back door.

So onto the back porch it went.  I wish I had a picture of how our back porch now looked like we were trying some avant-garde experimental kitchen project.  No, wait, it just looked weird.  And was very inconvenient to have to go outside.  In the winter.  To get milk.

Did I mention it was the winter?  Everything in the refrigerator doors froze.

Floor Guy #2 got to installing the floor.  Which you'd think is a fairly simple process.  But it wasn't at all; it was instead days and days of process:

  1. FG2 comes to remove the old tiles from the floor.
  2. FG2 comes the next day to sand down the gunk from under the old tiles.
  3. FG2 comes to install the new wood.
  4. FG2 comes to install the pegs and the wood filler on the wood.
  5. The wood filler cures endlessly.
  6. FG2 comes to sand the floor.

All of the above was complicated by the fact that he was incapable of showing up when he had said he would, or of informing us when he would show up.  So Husband would leave work early to wait around for the floor guy to show up, when he wouldn't; I would be at home on a conference call and answer the door to find, unexpectedly, that today was evidently Sanding Day.

Once he got the wood down, at long last, it looked nice, but pretty raw.

raw floor in kitchen

raw floor

And for blah blah blah reasons, he couldn't stain and finish the floor (which itself was a multi-day process) for another x number of days because he probably enjoyed making our lives difficult. Don't tell me it wasn't intentional.  He could see the fridge out on the back porch.

So for another week or two we stepped very gingerly and carefully on the unfinished floor on our way out to the back porch to the refrigerator.

The floor guy finally stained the floor after Husband signed a BLOOD CONTRACT that the stain was in fact the stain we wanted.  And Husband has a good eye, because it looked awesome:

We were enjoying the finished product until we had a near-simultaneous recollection of a conversation that had happened approximately 300 trips to an outdoor refrigerator ago.

Liz: "Where's all the extra wood he said we would have?"
Husband: "Maybe it's in the garage?"

It wasn't in the garage. It was nowhere.

When we called Floor Guy #2 to ask him where he had taken the rest of our wood, he played dumb. I don't think it was a tough act for him. But he wasn't prepared to deal with two disgruntled homeowners, one of whom was a cranky lawyer with experience in litigating over home construction cases. And if there's one thing you learn in law school, it's that the one still holding the money has the power.

After writing a series of terse letters to Floor Guy #2 (i.e. Stealy McStealerson) that featured the charm of a young litigator and the lyrical elegance of an engineer, we finally agreed to pay Floor Guy #2 a certain amount, which was less than he had quoted us, to compensate for the disappearing wood.

A slightly less aggravating detail of this was that the new flooring also involved removing the old wood-burning stove that was in one corner of the room, which took up a lot of space and made little sense in a place with central heating.

Husband wanted to keep it because it was old.  I pointed out that we had plenty of old stuff around already and that the entire garage was, in fact, full of something old.  He agreed.  We replaced the large black eyesore of a stove...

with a large black eyesore of a really old TV.

But the stove didn't show me episodes of Chopped while I wash dishes, so this is definitely a net improvement.  Though the downside of the TV is it also shows me HGTV, including episodes of shows where people effortlessly install hardwood floors in a single day, and there's no flowchart I can draw to show how enraging that is after all of these shenanigans.

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