Posts tagged ‘frustration’


Dealing with the Difficulties

“Um, there’s some bad news”.

Yes, these are pretty much the worst words that can be uttered during a massive renovation. Just like the reno that my house is currently going through. I’ve been more mum than usual about the process. Mostly this is because my contractors and crew are fabulous, and tend to just handle any problems that come up without even telling me until later.  For a worrier like me, this is a good thing. However, all the “bad news” issues make the renovation more costly and time-consuming, but that’s not even the worst part. The worst is the “what, now?” feeling. That expecting more badness. The fear of something horrible that is just too much to fix, or will result in losing some beloved part of my house.

First, it was that wood floor in the bedroom would have to be replaced. Then, the front porch was pretty much devoured by termites, as were two walls in the second bedroom. Then it was finding out that the contractor  paid to add the first addition didn’t support the roof as needed. Next, all of the original wood in the bay that I was hoping could be saved was rotten. Then it was that the back porch was only supported by a single 2×4. More problems? Oh, yes! most of the soffit and fascia was rotten. That’s not even everything. I can’t even remember all the problems. So, yesterday, when my workers told me that the fascia on the bay was completely rotten was kind of a blow. Not because the fascia can’t be replaced. I know they can fix it, probably better than it was, but because that leads to this negativistic thinking. If the fascia is rotten, maybe the rafters are rotten. If the rafters are rotten…Does that mean I have to lose my beautiful, original, metal roof on the bay? You see the worry here?

 So, yeah, we’ve had a lot of nasty surprises and problems. I think this whole process would be easier if I was less attached to the house. Yet, if I cared less, I probably wouldn’t be going through this whole thing to begin with! The bottom line — renovations are stressful. More stressful than even I originally anticipated. I must keep that in mind for future projects.


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I had a major break-up this week. I broke-up with a major building supplier. Now this building supplier, which shall remain nameless (but let’s just say that the name rhymes with some rather important appendages on the feet) has caused me problems before (see this post), but this last delivery was just unbearable. Nobody wants to read the sad tale, and I’m pretty sick of recounting it. So, the cliff notes version: Stuff was supposed to be delivered Thursday morning. Stuff was actually delivered at about 7:40p.m. And it was only delivered after I called them about every two hours, labeled them as ridiculous, and threatened to never buy anything there again. Oh, and the reason it was so late? The delivery man, who was very nice, informed me that it was late because they are painting the store and they had put a bunch of stuff on top of my order. Lovely, right?

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty angry. We had a bit of a blow-up. Essentially, I kicked them out of my life in a not particularly graceful or thoughtful way. I do kind of regret that, but I was still angry, so what to do? I wrote a constructively angry letter and e-mailed it to their corporate headquarters. To be fair, things did get better from here. It resulted in many apologies and a refund.

I guess they did the right thing in the end. They tried to pacify me, win me back with money and apologies…but I don’t think it is enough. It was kind of the equivalent to showing up at my door with roses, and I still kinda hate their guts. It was just too little, too late. The trust is all gone out of the relationship. Two nightmarish delivery experiences are just too much for me. If they had called me that morning and explained that they needed to reschedule, I would have been ok with that. I’m not unreasonable! So, where does this leave us? I think we are through. Over. The End.  For the most part. I may buy things that I don’t need delivered. I may buy some decorative items. However, any large complicated orders, that require this supplier to bring them to me? I don;t think so. In other words, we might see each other occasionally. We might stay friends, but for the most part,  this relationship…is over.


Keeping Calm

They say patience is a virtue. I’ve posted before about my difficulties with maintaining my patience during the renovation. The whole process is just stressful. However, now I have a whole new series of events that is trying my patience. This is the delivery process.

As I said in this previous post, I’ve been purchasing and organizing the materials for my contractor to begin extensive work on the house. When I finally got all my estimates and numbers straight, I purchased the materials. Lots of materials. So many materials that picking them up and hauling them was not even an option for me, so they had to be delivered. This brings about a whole new set of issues to try my patience.

 The first load of materials from supplier #1 was set to be delivered Saturday afternoon. I wait all day Saturday on them to bring these materials. I could have been doing many things on this beautiful Saturday, reading the Dark Tower series, playing playstation, visiting friends, working on the house, etc.  I called the supplier that morning to make sure they were delivering them and received a confirmation. Then I called back when they had not been delivered by 4:30. supplier #1 told me to call back at 5:30, so I did. Which began an elaborate game of phone tag lasting nearly half an hour, where I was passed off to nearly every employee in the store. I also believe I was hung up on twice! Finally, after I start ranting, they play hot potato with the phone a couple more times until I find out that the delivery guy didn’t show up for work that day. Now, I try to be a reasonable person. If the delivery looks like it is going to be late, such as when the guy that was supposed to start deliveries at 8am does not show up for work,  just give me a call and reschedule. It is not that difficult!

Check my ruthless ability to keep my cool after this renovation

This begins my saga with supplier #2. While this process was not nearly as painful as with supplier #1, my irritation scale was already elevated. At 8:00 am, when the wood was to be delivered, I had already laid out 4x4s to place the wood on. I was all ready to go. Then, he dumps the wood, the straps break…and my pile of OSB and plywood looks like a half shuffled deck of cards in my front yard. Essentially, half of my wood is on the ground, and I can’t move it, because it is too heavy. The delivery guy blamed it on incorrectly packaging the wood. I’m not so sure it wasn’t just  a weird occurrence. I just hope none of it is too damaged to use!

Tolstoy wrote that, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” With all the exercise and practice  my patience is getting during this renovation, it will be a ninja by the time we have finished.

*Images via google image search


The House So Far…and Photo Update, May/June 2011

Ok, so I know I said I was going to try to update soon in my last post, but I didn’t and I’m sorry. I guess I’m terrible at keeping my word. I did have to go out of town again, this time for a high school graduation (congratulations, T!). That’s not really the reason I haven’t updated, though. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the house again, and the sheer amount of work to be done. It’s just all the decisions, and planning, and doing, and ordering things.  I’ve been waiting for my contractor to finish for four months now. All of it together, is just a lot of stress. Luckily, things are beginning to look up again. I have a renewed interest, mostly bolstered by the exciting things to come. More on those things later…

For now, let’s discuss what I have actually finished. I tool up the baseboards in the dining room, and all the moldings around the doors. I left the window moldings for now, due to thekunfortunate incident where I tried to remove the molding, and pulled the whole window out. Oops. I really have to watch those rotten sills! We also cleaned up a lot of the plaster. The most important thing I have completed recently is a plan. The plan is to get the house buttoned up before winter. Everything else can wait until next year. I also have come to terms with the fact that I am basically building the house from scratch. I tried to fight this for a long time, after my uncle pointed it out. It is true. It may be the same frame and blueprint, but I have to put in new windows, a new roof, new sheathing, new siding, drywall, insulation, plumbing, and wiring. Sure, it’ll have old doors and moldings, but the house is just too far deteriorated to pretend it can all be saved.

Ok, enough rambling and apologizing. Here are the pictures!


Lists and Accomplishments

Maybe a house "burn book" would be easier?

I am impatient. This is not necessarily a new realization. I don’t like to wait and I push myself pretty hard. I just didn’t think it was going to be an issue with the renovation. When we bought the house, We gave ourselves an approximate two-year timeline until we could move in the house. Now, I see that I push to finish projects quickly, and I’m always planning  two projects ahead of where we are with the house. To quote Tina Fey in Mean Girls,” I am a pusher, I push people.”

While there isn’t anything wrong with being like this, it does make it hard to see some of the things you have accomplished. I still feel like we get so little finished, and that we all need to work harder, and faster; to get finished quickly, and to reach my goal for the end of the year. What is this goal? To get the outside of the house sealed up. New windows, soffit, gutter, and siding. I want it ready for winter. Next year will begin the push to get the inside completed. We do some of that now, just most of it we do ourselves, and they aren’t big budget projects. Anyway, back to me pushing to be finished like a Walmart shopper on black friday, the big downside to this is the unnecessary stress caused by feeling like you haven’t accomplished enough. So, it has been suggested to me that I should stop, chill, and just write down all the projects we have completed/nearly finished so far.

It has been just over 4 months since we closed on the house. In those four months we have:

  • removed the old carpets
  • removed all the old papers and knickknacks left in the house
  • donated all the furniture
  • cleaned and treated the mildew and mold issues
  • cleaned up all the maple leaves in the yard
  • replaced the rotten sheathing on the roof
  • replaced the roof
  • built a 16×8 addition
  • removed all the plaster from the exterior walls
  • gutted the entire kitchen and bath
  • removed most of the plaster and lath from the house
  • removed most of the nails left from the lath
  • emptied and cleaned out the basement
  • removed the old gutters
  • cut down most of the bushes and trees
  • filled in all the holes in the yard
  • planted grass seed in all the filled in holes in the yard
  • removed the wolf pens
  • removed at least 40% of the moldings that will be removed
  • replaced the breaker box and ran new wiring
  • ordered 5 replacement windows, ordering 5 more next week
  • had the house treated for termites
  • attached the large piece of pipe in the drainage ditched
  • filled in a portion of the drainage ditch
  • trimmed the holly tree in the back

Well, I think that is it. I’m crossing my fingers that this will help me relax a little and stop feeling so pressured about it!

image via google image search


Creepy Crawlies

I decided to get the house sprayed for termites. Yes, it looks like the termites have been hitting the studs as if they were a buggy McDonalds, and these hungry beasties have lots of trails leading up the root cellar walls, as seen in this post. None of this was particularly alarming to me. I mean the house is 100+ years old. They did not have Terminex back then, right? There is no way to tell if the damage is new or old, and luckily, none of it so far has been majorly structural. Which I credit to the beams and studs being twice the size that builders use now, and that the wood being harder wood than is used today. While I planned to have the house sprayed eventually, we were going to put this job on the  to do list  a little later.

This all changed when I walked in and found hundreds of tiny wings all over my bay window. After consulting the internet, and determining that these transparent offerings were not signs of more pleasant winged things, like butterflies or even fairies. They are definitely signs of live termites. According to Terminex, who came to give me an estimate today, termites have a frantic orgy, lose their wings, and then go to start up brand new colonies where they are kings and queens. While I appreciate the establishment of new societies and a system of government, I do not like them trashing my house with their destruction and orgies.So, they need to be eradicated. However, I’m not particularly that freaked out about them. I mean, no structural damage, and honestly, I was expecting some problems like this. Apparently this attitude is not the norm, and the Terminex guy expected more histrionics and drama when he gave me  this news. He told me that I didn’t scare easily, which was pretty amusing. I don’t think you can afford to be dramatic over every little thing when undergoing a massive renovation. It just ups the stress level, and drives you crazy. Ultimately, they are just tiny squatters, right? I just have to kick them out!

Image from Google images


Amateur Entomology

Want to know what I’ve learned about old houses in the last few weeks? You suddenly spend vast quantities of time studying things you never thought you would ever need to know. I’m not talking about building knowledge, per se. I think it is a given that I will need to read up on that! It is the other things that I didn’t expect. I spent weeks studying Victorian architecture and insulation options; months studying the history of the area and the history of the house, and now…it is bugs. Yes, creepy crawly things have now become my current obsession and focus in leisure-time reading. This is not something I look forward to, or even expected to do. Not that I am really squeamish, bugs don’t really bother me…unless they are ants. The problem is, the obsession. “What kind of bugs are these? Are they hurting my house? How do I get rid of them?, Are they a symptom of a bigger problem?” are the key questions I have been asking myself on encountering a new species.

First, there were the spiders. In this house, there are spiders everywhere! I mean, the mummified spiders in the root cellar were a dead give away that they would be an issue. Now, egg sacs turn up everywhere in the house, behind a door, behind a mirror…stuck to wolf fur. Fortunately, I have always liked spiders. I even had a sort of pet writing spider for a year that I would feed by  finding other bugs (mostly ants) and dropping in her web for her. This kind of makes me sound like a sociopath, but I promise, I am not. I just love science and was really attached to Charlotte’s Web. Anyway, the spiders, mummified or in embryo form, don’t really bother me.

Those things that look like cracks? Yeah, termite mud tunnels

Then there were the termites. Turns out there is quite a bit of termite damage in the house. Nothing majorly structural, or too serious, thankfully…mostly damage on some moldings, or through a few floor boards. See, these are more worrisome than the spiders because they actually can damage the house. They also look like albino flying ants, so that’s just scary. They made weird mud tunnels in the basement to climb up to the wood. See? They are definitely high on the creepy meter and must be obliterated. The problem is, they may already have been destroyed. Perhaps the damage was done before the previous owner moved in, when the house was last renovated. There’s no way to tell if the damage is old or new. If it is bad, and needs to be taken care of soon, they should start swarming in April, so…we’ll see.

Yes, those are wasps in my windows

Then, last but not least, are the wasps. They aren’t the type that damage the house, so not so alarming. So what’s the problem with the wasps? They show up in the weirdest places! My first encounter with them was when I removed the wood blocking the chimney in the dining room to clean it out. No evidence of what was to come. The next day, when I went back to finish, wasps started coming out of the chimney. Not flying, just slowly crawling, confused and searching, out of  the chimney. It was so creepy! I quickly stunned them with Tilex, and stomped them. Then, this week, when I was ripping the window moldings out, I found nests in the wall, beside the window casings. Several of them all in one cavity. We also found a huge nest in the wall beneath the plaster in the kitchen.

Maybe it is because the house is next to a swamp, in disrepair for 20 years, or on a Hellmouth. I keep running into all these insects that I am just not prepared to deal with! At least I have the upper hand on them. I can dial the phone and connect with the exterminator, so maybe that phone number is all the research I need.


This is a Post About Fabric

A smaller scale floral

I have been struggling a bit with the amount of work to do in the house. It seems daunting to me this week. It is not that I was oblivious before, but I guess I made up for it in enthusiasm. I think it is probably normal in a project of this scale. Anyway, to cheer myself up. I’ve been planning stuff to put in the house when it is all fixed up. Yes, decor is essentially my Xanax for this project. The truth is, I’ve been purchasing stuff for my house before it was even a possibility, and this tendency has only escalated in the past few months. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy a ton of stuff, just small things here or there, mostly vintage things, that I won’t find again. One of these is fabric. Fabric is perfect as it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and I need it for things like throw pillows and cushions, and it helps me solidify my house color palette.

My favorite so far

The palette has been an issue because my sister and I are sharing the house. I like blues, teals, aquas, greens, and purples. She only decorates in white, black and grey. I’m okay with that, but convincing her to have a tooth pulled is easier than convincing her to use color. However, after much cajoling , I won out, and the color palette will be black, white, grey, and (muted) teals and greens. This will allow us both to use may of the things that we already own, and I can actually make it look like I live there. Plus it ensures every room will not end up a variation of grey.

This brings me back to the fabric. I love prints. I love mixing different ones together and somehow making it work. Yet, with this color palette, the prints have been quite limited. We will probably end up with black and white damask, and black and white stripes, but finding prints with blacks, greys, teals, and greens, has proved difficult. Most people want to pair aqua with chocolate brown. My sister has made it clear that this is not an option. And so, I search all the time for different prints, buying a yard or two here and there, so we have some options. Not all of them will be used. Some will end up as trim on dish or bath towels, table runners, outdoor cushions, etc. I want to be able to have a wide array of samples to put against things like the sofa and chairs. Also, many solids will be mixed in as well. Don’t worry, it won’t be a kaleidoscope.  Here are the ones I have found so far. Do you guys have any favorites?





photos from:,,,,,,,,,, …yeah, I buy a lot of stuff on etsy.


Staying Positive in the Midst of More Problems

Be still, my moldy heart!

So, my sister and I have been slowly and gradually cleaning up the house. The outside construction has yet to begin, and outside stuff is not really my area of expertise anyway. So, while I’ve been cleaning, I’ve made all kinds of little …discoveries. Most of these are not welcome discoveries. One of my moldings has succumbed to dry rot. Many of the floorboards will have to be replaced, as they have been eaten away by wolves, rotted, or are damaged by some other random occurence. Outside, one of the floor joists has rotted, and parts of the original porch posts have been demolished. I have some extras in the areas we are enclosing that I hope can be used to replace the others. This all brings me to today’s discovery…mold. I knew the house was moldy, it has been unoccupied for 9 months. Yet, I did not expect a veritable petri dish on my walls; a mini ecosystem inhabiting my home! Yes, today I found fuzzy walls, and not fuzzy from wolf fur! Luckily, I have never been prone to hysterics.

Lovely Hinges

So, it’s days like this I have to look at the positives. I mean, not all the discoveries are bad. The house has lovely, elaborate, Queen Anne style door hinges. You can’t buy those anymore, and they are definitely a nice feature. The cast iron fireplace inserts are all intact. I love the look of them. The living room and dining room floors  are in great shape. The foundation is solid, and so everything else can be repaired, right?  Truthfully, it is all a labor of love, I guess. That, or my over-developed visualization skills. I can see what it will look like when it is finished, and it’s beautiful. That is the image that drives me. Unfortunately, the distance from where the house is at now, to that image, is a little bit further, considering I didn’t envision living in a terrarium. Oh well, good thing I have a whole bottle of Clorox.