So everything is all lined up…ah oh.

building with stick figure eyes/arms collapses

Uh.

Our contractor sent us an e-mail which, to paraphrase and summarise, said:

Something went horribly wrong on another job due to a subcontractor, I don’t think I can do your job now*

What it didn’t tell us is what state things were in. So I’ve been trying to catch our truss supplier and our roofing company and find out when they need to know by, and please don’t cancel it yet, and dear goddess what do we do now.

After 5 contractors have been and gone, one because we just didn’t like them (so after the bid we were done), and one because he just wandered off in the middle of a text conversation about scheduling and then didn’t come back for months. But now 2 on this job have screwed us and because of one of them we lost another contractor and we’ve pretty much lost all faith in anyone in Oly being a decent contractor.

It’s not like in the UK it was all smooth sailing, we got screwed by contractors doing shoddy work that had to be fixed, but apart from a rare few over the years, people turned up. People did some work of some sort. It may be shit and need rectification, but it actually got done.

We can’t even get past planning here. We get people who waffle around for months then decide they don’t want to do it, we get people who suddenly announce that they need to shuffle our job to months in the future, and now we’ve got a permit, we’ve got approved truss diagrams and quotes, we’ve got roofers ready to go, we’ve ripped out the electrics, we have an electrician scheduled and no f’kin general contractor to put the trusses on.

We’re now considering:
1) Hiring day labour to put them up ourselves
2) Finding an installer to just do the trusses**
3) Screaming endlessly into the void

* Although talking to the Truss Supplier – he said that he’d been told we were worried about keeping the house dry and so he’d had to move the date. Which is a WTF?! We *explicitly* agreed that we were fine with water getting in the house. We didn’t want it open for weeks and weeks, but what now?! Where did this come from?
** Although our Truss Supplier seems to think that is going to be a stretch because most of them are tied up until the Spring.

Ah, yes, that about describes it.

Here is the current learning curve: Overhanging cliff by Jason Priem, via Flickr

So, back when we were planning to build our house from scratch there were many things we didn’t need to learn. Why? Well, because we had an architect who was able to inform us of how we should do things. Now, because we have a contractor for just some of the work – and he’s asking us exactly what we want (which is exactly as it should be), we’re getting to make exciting decisions like “how do we want to vent the roof” or, in our case, not vent it.

Having spent some time reading up on vaulted roofs, our now expert opinion is that we should fork out for a thin layer of closed cell insulation over which we can throw fiberglass (because that’s what we can afford) to meet the required R-value in the space allowed. That means, ideally, tweaking the roofing to have a small gap under the metal to allow it to dry out in an upward direction.

Which means adding furring strips.

Which weren’t in the original quote.

Which means changing something.

Which means getting someone to ring me back.

Which it turns out is proving difficult this morning.

Of the 6 people I’ve contacted this morning I’m running about a 50% return rate (well, actually, it’s exactly 50%). Unfortunately, the 50% that’ve called me back are:

– The porta-loo company (which I don’t need to book yet)
– The insulation company (which I would like a quote from, but he’s asked to do it by e-mail)
– Our contractor (who’s asked for a bit more time to get an answer).

The electrical, the guttering, and the roofing.. the people I actually more urgently need to speak to? They haven’t yet called me back. I’m hoping they will, as they’ve been pretty good about returning calls, but it’s not always been rapid. Problem is I don’t really want to head out until I’ve got answers as I really could do with the answers while I have my big book of notes to write them in, and not them calling me back in the middle of a shop. Which is obviously what will happen.

Not to count chickens but…

Quoth the e-mail this morning: “The above-referenced permit has been approved and is ready to be issued”.

Just the electrical permit to submit and I need to check on my waste water plumbing plan.

Now the terror begins.

In which I think out-typed some more

I’ve been feeling this melancholia or even the vague edges of depression again. I cheer up around Kathryn and around friends, but even then at times I’m feeling the edges of something that’s concerning to me. And I’m not sure exactly why. I know I miss Europe – and I miss feeling comfortable with traveling. I miss a sensible length of paid holidays, not worrying that the the next illness could suck all the money from our scant savings.

I know that the rise of the right wing has fucked up much of Europe as much as it’s fucking up America, and I don’t really know what to do with that in my head. I know that the UK that I thought at least partially existed is nothing more than a mirage from living in left-leaning liberal bits of England where people who weren’t white and weren’t English were welcomed.

I get that. It hurts. But I get it.

It’s funny, because in many respects, job-wise we’re both better off than we’ve ever been. If we can ever get this house project moving and, indeed, get it done, it’s much closer to building our own house than we’ve ever done before. I mean, it’s frustratingly not building our house on the land we bought for that purpose. And that leaves it with an edge of frustration. As does the startling discovery that the city really care about the appearance of that street.

I dunno. It all just feels vaguely unsatisfactory and I can’t entirely explain why.

I’m hoping this will improve when we actually get started on something, as at the moment my brain is mainly occupied with being frustrated about things we can’t afford to do.

Movement (of plants at least)

So, our arborist has been around and hacked down our holly tree, chopped it into bits and stacked the burnable bits (yay). He’s also trimmed the tree of unknown origin* at the front which is interesting. It’s one of those, I’m not exactly sure what he’s done, but it looks much better, things. I mean I can pinpoint some things, like he’s trimmed the low hanging stuff and I know he’s thinned out some dead stuff, but it’s still broadly the same shape and size, but somehow it looks much more cared for.

I’ve also moved two of the four roses (which is why I’m sporting a wrist splint again today). Something I did in the process upset my left wrist, which has been upset since I started hacking this house to bits.

Still, the two roses (which may or may not survive) are now quite definitely far enough from the house that they won’t cause any more damp. One of them also, will no longer be attempting to disrupt the sewage line out of the house, because the person who planted it planted it directly over the sewage line, and one of its roots had grown between the sewage line and a waste pipe that joins the sewage line, and was attempting to push them apart. Not an ideal state of affairs. The roses may or may not survive the transplant. The anchor root seemed pretty healthy, but there seemed to be very little else in the way of roots. I’m used to there being a big clump of rootyness and then a big anchor root. These seemed to have nothing much except the anchor root which might be why they look so sad, but also means that their transplant may not go well, since I certainly didn’t manage to get the entire anchor root.

There’s still two other sad roses that need to be moved, also we’ve some lillies we were gifted that need planting. And there’s some plants that we’re not sure we want to keep, that may be offered up for collection. At least one of them looks healthy, but we can’t decide if it’s the source of a smell we don’t like. Alternatively, it may just be endless, endless cat / rat pee.

Still it felt good to be out making the house look more presentable; at least until my wrist went crunch, at which point I rather rapidly wrapped up proceedings.

In a not entirely surprising turn of events, the soil around the house is absolute shit. I mean, it’s terrible. Almost like a mixture of sand and large pebbles. I foresee an almost infinite amount of mulch in our future, as we attempt to turn the almost completely ungardened space into a garden. I had, originally, thought that someone had done some nice edging of a disappeared bed in big pebbles they’d got from somewhere. It’s now become apparent that’s just what’s beneath the soil.

Another (interesting) difference between Britain and the US discovered today is that the sewer line from our house is PVC just lying in the earth. In the UK that would be surrounded by a trench of gravel. No such anything here. Just dumped in the ground. I don’t know if that’s “to code” (either now or at the time), since I’m just trying to learn enough plumbing code that I can do the in house plumbing right… The whole venting thing here is way more enthusiastic than in Britain.

On which note – the house is drying out! Not having water constantly oozing into the fabric of the building has led to a distinct reduction in dampness at the front entry. Although the temporary sink is leaking pretty badly from the drain. Given that it leaked before I moved it this is not entirely surprising.

The bucket placed underneath it seems to be doing an adequate job though.

Also, in interesting news, it turns out that we can submit what we have for a partial permit – with the final permit deferred for the trusses. This means exciting things could happen. Drywall can come down, electrics can be taken out, plumbing could actually start, repairs under the floor could begin.

I wish I’d known this a while ago, but nudging the planning guy at the city with another round of “what about doing this – can I take the drywall down now?”** led to him to point out that this deferment of the full application submission is a thing that can happen. So that gives me something to do this weekend.

* I keep meaning to ask him what it is.
** He’s so far been a very patient and incredibly helpful person. So yay.

House Maths

So, we’re moving the fuse box electrical panel (and replacing the shonky crappy old panel. I’ve spent this morning sat working through this document that allows you to check the rating required for your service. I’d been thinking we might need to go up to a 300A supply, but it seems like 200A should be fine, which is pleasing. This is probably because the stove appears to be a fan-gas oven, which confuses the pants off me.

So the electrical loads that would normally be consumed by cooking stuff have disappeared into the gas. Which helps.

The sums work out at 96A which seems low to me, but that’s what the maths says. And I guess we normally charge at night when other loads tend not to be in use, so it probably works out fine.

I’ve also been trying to do load balancing. This whole 110v m’larkey makes wiring waaaay more complex.

UK: Incoming power -> RCDs -> Bunch of ring mains (lights, sockets, some single runs to specific appliances). Bob’s your uncle.
US: Incoming power -> Breakers of lots of different flavours -> Many spurs that all have to be balanced so that each of the two (120v) legs of the 240v gets roughly the same current draw + 240v loads that pull off both. You may be able to get an uncle called Robertish if you’re lucky.

So that means sitting down and trying to work out what groups of sockets and appliances are ‘likely’ to be on at the same time and then trying to organise them. Without just generating a billion different circuits. Then add in my desire to keep lighting and electrical outlets mainly on separate breakers (not required, but preferable). Then add in code requirements for specific areas to have specific kinds of breakers, or the dishwasher to have it’s own separate circuit… which it probably needs anyway in terms of power demands, but still…

…gah.

Of course this might all be punishment for the pre-regulation the-entire-kitchen-converges-on-one-socket design that I left in place in the first house I worked on in Bristol. I didn’t *make* it that way, but I didn’t fix it either. Just shoved all the wires back in the back of the socket and said “yeah, that’ll work”. I suspect it got fearsomely hot if you ran the washer/dryer and the oven at the same time.

Anyhow, since I’m not going to be doing that again and this is to be better planned, then I’ve spent some time on it. Hopefully it will work as recent calculations mean that I think I’m wiring the panel and just getting someone else to do the actual moving of the service / installation of the weatherhead… Technically, we could do that too, but I value my hands and my life :)

At any rate, I’m planning to submit the permit today – if we get the Rav back in time (it’s getting a new driver’s door lock, the old one having died).

—-

In other house news, the smell of urine seems to be decreasing. We’ve removed the chipboard that covered the lounge, the hall, the kitchen and one bedroom. All that’s left is a bit of chipboard under the kitchen unit that we’ve not yet removed, the back bedroom and a small front cupboard. Spraying near a full bottle of urine odour remover onto the worst staining and the front step – along with a moderate amount of vinegar – seems to have helped too. I can now go in the house without wanting to run even when the windows have been closed. It just smells of musty old house and crawlspace.

Hopefully when we put down the vapour barrierey underlaymenty stuff that will resolve it completely. Although we’re planning to replace some of the worst car decking with new – and there’s one section which has broken.I’m guessing it’s rotted away under the end of the bath… but when I was lifting the chipboard I levered against it and it descended rather than the chipboard (with tile) coming up.

Pics on flickr as usual.

—-

And in other, other news, I fell for a scam.

It took about a minute for me to twig and undo it, I think. About half a second for me to go “oh, you fucking idiot” and then the rest of that minute in a panicked google search and settings adjustment.

I listed our Insight on Craigslist, then got a message from someone saying they were interested, and could they call. Then I got a message saying that I needed to enter a two digit authentication code to speak to the craigslist person. I was somewhat suspicious – but after the person had tried a couple of times and I’d got messages each time I thought “well, what could I lose – I’m giving them information they’re giving me”. Apparently – this is a means of getting access to your phone number because when I entered it I got a Google Voice message – and allowing them to use it.

Thankfully, the answer is here. So within about half a minute I’d reclaimed my lost number. I’m hoping that the dickhead who did it didn’t manage to do anything useful with it.

After about 15 calls from the irritant, (s)he seems to have stopped. But it’s just f’kin annoying. I also am feeling a bit pissy because the Honda Forum seemed to think that the price was reasonable for the car, but now it’s been on there for a week I’ve had nary a bite. This may mean that all my sums about us replacing the car with an EV have to be reworked. If we have to drop the price of Insight to sell it…

Feh.

—-

And in other, other news, I realised I should have ordered a smaller shift key when I ordered the keys for my keyboard. I did a test assembly of the kit which went fine, but I’ve not soldered it yet because I need the key tops to ensure that the layout I’m planning will work with the keys I’ve bought. It’s still very pretty though. It shall be super pretty when it arrives.

IMG_20170926_163714

I just need to etch the CTL logo into it.

CTL terminal (in very fetching orange and black)

I just wish I could get an orange fabric covered curly keyboard cable to use. They don’t seem to exist :(

Itty bitty reviews

So I recently read Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway. Although it features what is most likely distressingly accurate, and depressing near-future (resulting in my concomitant, but currently unachievable desire to walkaway, as the protagonists do*), it’s a really great read. Like Little Brother before it, I find myself concerned by the possibilities of what he suggests, and finding a little room for optimism. Anyhow, it’s a good read.

Land Rover, by Ben Folger not so much. It’s interesting in very short bursts. I say that because it feels very poorly edited. While he’s got a very approachable writing style**, the book is all over the place, and very repetitive. And look, he’s interviewed someone who wasn’t really able to recall much about the questions he’s asked. Okay, ask different questions. Set the scene a bit. Do something. Don’t just breeze along like “oh, this was great and then I went and had some tea”. It’s introduced as a big thing – meeting this person who’s father was really important to the development of the landy – and then it’s over in a paragraph or two. Yeah, she doesn’t recall much about it – but really? You couldn’t find something more to say?

But the thing that’s really getting to me is the number of times he’s explained that the Land Rover is a classless vehicle. It’s not really true; but in British society there is a sort of classlessness about it. You have to have some money to have one, particularly now. But yeah, when I was a teen it was a car that both rich and less well off people drove***. However after he’s said “let me explain” about the classlessness of the car what feels like 50 times, I’m starting to wear down. And in all honesty it’s neither a story of development, nor so far an actual story of the owners. Either of which would have been interesting.

Ah well.

Anyhow.

And finally – For Pros By Pros “Wiring a House” – so far it seems pretty good. I’ve grasped how [insane] multiphase house wiring is****. I am now comfortable that I understand it well enough to wire – and the book has lots of nice info on how to design and install to meet code. So it should be good.

I forked out today for a set of Ridgid powertools – then found the battery was dead (dead dead). And now it doesn’t look like near so much a bargain, but I’ve ordered a replacement battery. If the whole set works well then I’ll keep it – otherwise I’ve got until next week to return it as faulty (it’s used).

* when 3D printing of drugs becomes a reality then walking away would actually be a possibility, at least for me/us. Until then I’m tied to pharmaceuticals.

** Although me and him stand in very different places when it comes to war, and also to how the UK has acquitted itself on the world stage, which at times I found made it very hard for me to continue reading. Although with his background in the Navy, that’s understandable.

*** for values of less well off that allowed enough money for the purchase of a car.

**** Every time I learn something more about US electrical systems, I more miss Europe’s dead simple, neat, safe systems. Ugh.

Things may get less quiet around here.

Or more quiet. Who can say.

We’re looking at a house. We’ve had an offer accepted, but the survey (inspection) revealed some significant concerns. Well, really one significant concern that breaks down into a number of significant minor concerns.

Tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday, we go back to the sellers with our “fix these things” offer – and we’ll see if they’re happy to accept it.

If we get it, there’s actually a fair bit of work there. The electrics need updating, although that wasn’t obvious before hand, there’s some decorative work, and it needs a new bathroom. This is certainly no-where near the level we were at with the Bristol house, but it should be enough to keep me entertained through the summer.

The other news is that I’m planning to change job. Back to nursing again. Not full time though.

Hopefully I’ll get back to feeling a bit more like myself, and a bit less like I’m wanting to weep through each day. I clearly am feeling a bit more like myself, because we went into a bookshop today (just B&N), and I ended up walking out with books and feeling pretty excited about some other ones that I didn’t end up getting.

This is a feeling that I’ve really missed. Excitement about things.

I’m not exactly sure what our future holds at the moment. We’re both pretty wrung out. But at least I’m feeling more like there is some future.

Plodding along

Life continues to trundle along, and we keep hunting houses. We’ve been to see virtually every house in our price range, I think. There’s one that has some potential but is insanely overpriced. There are a bunch we’ve discounted for a variety of reasons. I’m still sad that we didn’t get the one we offered on first, or the one that we visited before we were in a position to make an offer… because everything since then has felt like much more of a compromise.

Today we looked at an entertaining one which we were quite excited about until we discovered that the pricing seems to be for an imaginary third bedroom. We were thinking maybe the area was worth more than we’d realised, but looking at prices of things sold around there, no, the price is for a 3 bedroom house. It does have a 3/4ths height finished attic space above the garage – which is, I we think, what they’re calling the third bedroom.

But it’s not permitted, nor is the forced air heating system with the slightly suspect ‘furnace in a cupboard in the lounge’ design. Which is a shame, because the lot is really lovely, and there’s quite a lot of potential there.

The house hunt has been painfully depressing, really. Possibly would be less so if work wasn’t quite so tough. But work has continued to be a real struggle for me. I’m hoping that things might change on that front, but that’s really a fingers crossed affair, rather than a definite at the moment. So, well, that’s where we’re at.

Hence the quiescence on the blogging front.

So…

So what might be a perfect house for us has come up. Our realtor is out of town for the weekend.

An adequate car to replace the insight has come up.

I can’t get it inspected in time.

Bother.