So, here we go people. We're going to journey right down into the bad.
I could not even imagine when our house caught fire how much time rebuilding our home, our lives, would consume. Not in my wildest imagination could I have understood what our lives would look like going forward. To say I was naive was an understatement. We both were, the Big Guy and I. Naive.
He trusted contractors much more than I. Much more. I wouldn't trust a one of them any further than I could throw them and I really couldn't throw any of them at all so...
Actually, I could probably throw the flooring guy. I can do a lot when I'm angry.
Well...wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning here. I'll try to be brief. (Me? Giggle.)
The flooring guy was hired to install flooring. Carpet. Tile. Linoleum. Carpet in 2 bedrooms and on 2 sets of stairs. Linoleum upstairs, and down. Tile on the main floor. Simple. For a set amount of money, Flooring Guy was going to install the flooring in 5 days. F-I-V-E days. This is where the story gets reminiscent of The Money Pit with Tom Hanks.
A week in, Flooring Guy had not made it out of the master bathroom. Every day, every single day, he would say "tomorrow I'll start the linoleum." Every day, I would visit the house and find him laying tile.
He ran into lots of issues you see. The floor was extremely un-level he said, and he worked hard to level it. This required multiple trips to the big box hardware store to buy more floor leveling stuff. Then, an unscrupulous contractor who had agreed to be paid when the insurance check arrived (another blog post entirely), blazed into the house one day demanding payment immediately. He apparently yelled and cursed and made quite a scene.
Some of our contractors were humored by the scene. Others were angered. Some worried they wouldn't get paid. Others just fled the scene never to return. The 'others' included Flooring Guy's crew. So, our already painfully slow flooring installer moved even slower. He borrowed other contractors and helpers to assist from time to time. Our other crews were generous with their time and muscles and helped carry large rolls of flooring up and down stairs for him.
At one point, he used some of our other crew members to help carry a very cold roll of linoleum into the basement. He turned a corner too sharply, with no direction to his new-found helpers and cracked the roll of linoleum. We paid for materials on this job so this was at our expense. He left in anger and did not return that day.
I was, at this point, beginning to joke that when we moved back into the house Flooring Guy would be eating breakfast with us because of course, he would still be there laying flooring!
I was wrong. He demanded a check for the remainder of the bill. This amounted to several thousand dollars. If it was post-dated and given that day, Flooring Guy would show up once again with a full crew and finish the job. As I said earlier, the Big Guy trusted contractors more than I and he wrote this check.
Flooring Guy promptly disappeared. We promptly stopped payment on the check.
This is what is finished in the basement. The linoleum ends just outside of my son's room. It is not adhered to the floor. The basement floor has been 'leveled' which means the washing machine, when it leaks (again, a whole blog post right there) leaks water across the floor toward the sheetrock instead of toward the floor drain. Criminy!
The basement stairs never got carpeted, but the stairs on the main floor did. Sort of. For reasons only Flooring Guy could possibly understand, the carpeting above that top stair is cut into two strips and as you can see, the top strip is not exactly attached.
For all that fancy piece work, Flooring Guy still ran out of carpet.
A whole stairway plus a single stair did not get any carpet and yet...there were carpet strips scattered here and there like confetti on the front lawn.
So anyhoo. Today we get a call from the county prosecutor's office. This nerd has turned us over to the prosecutor for a bad check. They required us to prove that we had enough funds in the bank when the check was written to cover the check. Our bank was all too happy to write a letter stating that we did indeed have the funds to cover the check. We've assured the prosecutor's office that we have sent a formal dispute letter to Flooring Guy via certified mail and that he is fully aware of why he is not being paid.
So here is the whole crock. I'm mad. I'm fighting mad. I am so angry. I am angry that this nerd would do this shoddy job and try to collect the full amount of money on it. I am angry that he would even pursue it. I am actually quite stunned at the nerve of Flooring Guy.
But, this is just ONE story. One blog post. I could write a hundred more. I could fill a whole shelf with proverbial crocks. I could tell you about more battles. More contractors. It just drags on and on. The fire? The flames? That was just the beginning of this disaster. I thought those first steps back into my burnt out home were the hardest steps I would ever take, but they were just baby steps. I have walked this walk until I am exhausted. I am sick of the path.
I had no idea how long and complicated this journey would be. How could I have known?
I do want to acknowledge that we chose this particular path. We chose to contract this mess ourselves. (Okay, not exactly. The Big Guy chose it. I went along kicking and screaming.) We could have hired a contractor. When you face a house fire, you have several paths to choose from. What I've realized though, is that none of those paths would have been easy. None of them were going to be simple or pain free. There was no good option. I have talked with many fire recovery survivors. The stories are different, but they are all tear jerkers.
So, we are living in our home again and for that I am grateful. It is so much easier to fight the battles from our own home. And, there are things I love about the house. It is fabulous. But we are far from finished. We are still in full-fledged fire recovery mode. We still have contractors to deal with. We still have projects to complete. We still have insurance money to fight for (though we have now hired someone to fight that fight for us). We're still recovering. I'm afraid this time next year we will still be recovering.
That is the whole crock. The good and the bad of the thing.