18 June 2010

You Can Look at The Menu...

But you just can't eat.
You can feel the cushions but you can't have a seat.
You can dip your foot in the pool but you can't have a swim.
You can feel the punishment but you can't commit the sin.

Thanks, Howard Jones, for capturing in song exactly what I'm feeling today. (There's even a line that goes, "You can build a mansion but you just can't live in it.")

I'm not a patient person, but I do okay faking it for the sake of politeness. Today, however, my patience ran out. We have a fabulous house (albeit not a mansion) full of modern amenities, on which we're already paying a mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and utilities...and yet we're living in a not-so-fabulous house full of 1960s amenities and BUGS. Oh, and since we've been planning to move this weekend, there's no good food in the house. As you can imagine, the hunger doesn't help the crankiness.

In addition to other incomplete items, we've been waiting on a repair to the radiant floor in our bathroom. Since it was installed (by R's handyman, whose qualifications to do the job we questioned from the start), it hasn't worked due to a short in the wire mat. (Radiant floor systems are designed as more-or-less DIY projects. They have very detailed instructions (and even a video) that make the installation pretty straightforward...if you follow them...which the handyman -- let's call him Ryan -- didn't.) We've been arguing with R about various issues related to the floor since it went in. If we had fully understood all of the ways in which Ryan was going to botch the job, we would have taken it over from the start. Instead, we trusted that R had it under control, gradually identified additional oversights, and were appalled to learn that Ryan was charging us about as much per hour as a computer engineer with a Ph.D. would make around these here parts.

Anyway, after the radiant floor mat was installed, Arturo got to work tiling over the mat. There's a device that is supposed to be hooked up to the mat during the tile installation so that, if anything harms the mat, an alarm sounds so you don't finish the whole job and then discover that there's a problem. Unfortunately, Ryan connected that device so long before Arturo started tiling that the device ran out of batteries before the radiant grid was fully tiled. (We are pretty pleased with almost all of R's subs. Ryan is by far our least favorite. In a cruel twist of fate, Ryan is related to the woman who lives across the street from our temporary house, and he had the nerve to turn up on our temporary street on a Saturday a few weeks ago.)

Needless to say, we weren't even a little surprised when R told us that the floor had a short. He brought in his electrician (why didn't he install the floor in the first place?!), and they ordered some equipment that was supposed to find the problem so they could pull up the one or two tiles needed to fix the problem. Six or seven tiles later, they thought they had identified the short, but after they fixed it, they discovered that there was at least one more short...that they couldn't locate. This afternoon R decided to cut his losses and start over with new radiant mats and a whole new tile floor. We don't know yet how long that is going to take...but I think it's safe to say moving on Monday is out. (Ironically, however, our refrigerator did arrive today.) I was scheduled to take today and next week off from work for an easy, gradual move, but I went to the office today anyway because there was no moving to be done. Monday will be the same, and most likely Tuesday and Wednesday, too. With family coming for a visit on Thursday, I really have no idea how it's going to get done.

I realize that all of this paints a very negative picture of R. And we're amply irritated with his decision to entrust Ryan with such a technical task. But it's important to keep in mind, and I can't stress enough, that he really is one of the very best builders around. This was reaffirmed yesterday when we hired one of the best home inspectors in Texas (arguably the best) to inspect our house. While he identified a number of concerns, he was extremely pleased with the overall quality of the construction. Since he looks at houses (primarily new construction) all day, every day, and is used to having to tell builders to fix much more significant issues, his positive feedback was very reassuring.

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