Well, y’all, I’ve been struggling with motivation lately, and I have no idea why. I think I had one good day the other day (that I’m pretty sure I mentioned in my last post) where I really felt motivated and got things done, but the next morning, my motivation had completely fizzled.
I honestly don’t know why I’m having such a hard time. In all of my time blogging and working on projects, I’ve certainly gone through periods of time where I just needed a break. But this feels like something else. I feel like I’m at the point now that if I had the money to just hire out every single thing, I’d probably do it.
I’d also probably be really disappointed in myself in hindsight, though. I didn’t want to buy a fixer upper so that I could hire out everything. I wanted to buy a fixer upper to challenge myself and see what I could do with it. So I’m hoping my motivation will return soon, because forcing myself to work on things that I feel completely unmotivated to do is torture.
But that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I forced myself, and I made some really good progress on the back entry of the studio. Perhaps if I can get that one small area completely finished, that will bring back my motivation. Hopefully.
Anyway, here’s how it looks as of this morning…
The cased opening and all of the doors are trimmed out, and I got most of the baseboards and half of the base cap installed. I just need to finish installing the rest of the baseboards, base cap, and all of the shoe molding, then I’ll start on the wood filling, sanding, caulking and painting.
It’s getting there! And realistically, if I can stay focused and not get distracted, this area could be done this weekend. But that’s a big IF.
Anyway, speaking of hiring things out, over the last week, I have had two dealings with probably the worst contractor I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. I mean, it culminated in me getting so angry at him that I yelled at him yesterday morning.
Now let me be clear. When I get angry, I’m a yeller. BUT, I never, ever yell at the person who angers me. I always stuff my frustration and anger until I get home, and then I unload on Matt and he gets to hear me yell. 😀 And don’t worry. After almost 17 years of marriage, Matt can handle me. He generally just listens until I’m finished, and then laughs at me and/or makes fun of me somehow, which softens my mood and makes me laugh, and we go on with our lives.
But this is a very rare case where I actually yelled at the person who angered me. Y’all, I was fuming.
So just to clarify, this has nothing to do with my contractor. My contractor is fantastic. If you’re in the Waco area and need a contractor, just email me. Seriously.
And y’all, if you find a good contractor who is knowledgeable, stays on top of things, is honest, etc., you hold onto him (or her!) with a death grip. Those contractors are rare, and worth their weight in gold.
In fact, you might need to dig up some dirt on him (or her!) that you can threaten to release to the public in the event that he (or she!) begins talking nonsense about retiring.
Okay, well, maybe not that last part. But the “death grip” part…yes. And the “worth their weight in gold” part…yes.
Anyway, in my friend’s house, she had a wall completely separating her kitchen/dining room area from her living room. So she wanted an opening cut in one end of the wall to open the kitchen/dining area to the living room. And then she wanted part of the remaining wall cut down into a half wall with a countertop placed on top to use as a bar with some lights installed above the bar.
Not too hard, right? I mean, even if it’s a load-bearing wall (which it was), any contractor should know how to do this. Heck, I know how to do it!
But she contacted me one day last week absolutely frustrated because she knows nothing about building, and she said at every turn, he was adding extra charges on top of his original quote, and she didn’t know if these charges were valid, or if she was being taken advantage of. So I headed over there to see what was going on.
First, she had told the contractor that she wanted the half wall with the countertop to be “a bar.” She wanted to use some cute bar stools and have seating for four people (two on each side). Well, they had cut the wall down to countertop height without confirming with her if she wanted bar height or countertop height.
She made it known that it was too short and not what she had in mind, so they extended the height to make it bar height by adding some flimsy framing. But the wall was so unstable that it wobbled back and forth with the slightest pressure (and probably even with a stiff breeze).
In the meantime, the granite guy came to measure for granite, and the contractor wasn’t there to meet him. So he basically leaves it to my friend, the homeowner, to deal with the granite guy, answer the questions, give the information, etc. But again, she knows nothing about building, and this is precisely why she hired a contractor in the first place!
The granite guy came in, saw the flimsy wall, and said to my friend, “There’s no way this wall will hold granite. This needs to be built out of 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 lumber to be strong enough.”
Well, my friend, not really knowing what this means, relayed this information to the contractor and the guys working at her house, so they tore the half wall out and built it with 2 x 6 lumber.
And somewhere along the way, the contractor informed her that this will incur an upcharge of $200 — probably the second or third upcharge of the project so far.
So this is where I entered the picture. I walked into her house to see this half wall, built out of 2 x 6 lumber, butted up against the original wall that was framed with 2 x 4 lumber. So on each side of this half wall that will be turned into a bar, there was this weird jut out because, of course, 2 x 6’s are wider than 2 x 4’s.
And of course, the contractor isn’t there and hasn’t seen this ridiculous half wall.
So I started asking the guys working, “Why is this built out of 2 x 6’s? Can you not see this weird area that juts out on either side? That’s not going to look good at all when it’s finished! This should have been built out of 2 x 4’s just like the rest of the wall!”
They went on to tell me that they were just going what the homeowner wanted.
Well, no. The homeowner didn’t want a wall built out of 2 x 6’s. She was simply relaying information from the granite guy because the contractor evidently didn’t think it was important to be present (or to send a knowledgeable, trustworthy, reliable employee) when the granite guy came to take measurements.
So I asked them to call the contractor and tell him to come to the house. He got there pretty quickly, and I explained to him that this 2 x 6 half wall butted up against a 2 x 4 wall was unacceptable, and it needed to be redone.
His response? “Well, the granite guy said he needed it built with 2 x 6’s.”
I was like, “The granite guy? Why are you — the contractor — letting a granite guy tell you how to build a wall? You’re the contractor. You should know how to build a wall. You let the granite guy take care of GRANITE. And this needs to be redone without an upcharge, because you should have known how to do this in the first place! You don’t pass off upcharges to homeowners because you don’t know how to do your job!”
I mean, honestly, what’s next? Was he going to let the granite guy tell him how to install the tile? How to do the electrical work? No! Granite guys take care of granite.
So I literally had to walk these guys through how to build a half wall out of 2 x 4s in such a way that it wouldn’t wobble back and forth when you breathe on it, and so that it would be sturdy enough to hold granite.
He did agree to redo the wall with no upcharge, so that was good. And then I spent about two hours there, going over every single minute detail of how the finished bar would look — the granite measurements, how much it would extend on the sides and on the end, how the granite would be notched to wrap around the full wall, how far it would extend on the full wall, exactly where the corbels would be placed, and how everything would be trimmed out.
There was no detail left to question. I covered every single thing, wrote down the details, and left nothing out.
So by the time I left last week, the new 2 x 4 wall had already been rebuilt according to my instructions (for the most part. but not exactly). It was incredibly sturdy, and barely budged even when I tried to move it back and forth.
And I thought the project was back on track.
But then my friend called me again yesterday morning to say that she felt that some things still weren’t quite right, so I headed over there.
The half wall had been sheathed with paneling to match the rest of the walls, and had been primed. It was ready for paint and looked really good.
But the corbels. *Sigh* I had instructed them to use a total of six corbels and to screw them into place. After all, they had to hold granite, which is very heavy. Well, one of the corbels was visibly crooked. and every single corbel had been nailed on. As in, nailed on with a nail gun using 16-gauge (or maybe even 18-gauge) finishing nails. You could literally move them back and forth with your hand.
I mean, seriously?! Finishing nails to install corbels that are supposed to support a granite countertop?
So somehow the information was relayed to the contractor that this wasn’t sufficient, and he sent someone over with some screws. And while the guy was working on the first corbel, the granite guy showed up to deliver and install the granite countertop.
So once again, a major part of this job was being done, and the contractor was nowhere on site.
And not only that, but the granite was cut to the wrong size. And the granite guy was confused, and he was asking the homeowner questions, and she had no idea how to solve this problem or where to go from there. And she shouldn’t have even had to deal with it because…
THE CONTRACTOR SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!
Y’all, I was furious. After all of the details we had gone over in excruciating detail, how in the world did we end up with granite that was cut the wrong size? So I started saying (and no, I wasn’t using my inside voice), “WHERE IS JOSE? WHY IS HE NOT HERE? This granite is cut the wrong size, and he needs to be here!!”
So they called the contractor, and he showed up pretty quickly. I had stepped out when he arrived, so I walked in, said hello, made a little joke to try to ease any tension, and he says to me, “First of all, you won’t yell at my guys. AND you won’t yell at me either.”
For the record, I hadn’t intended to yell at him. But oh my gosh, that just made me angrier.
I told him that I wouldn’t be angry if he would be present and stop making the homeowner deal with the problems he should be taking care of, and he said, “You realize I have other customers, right? I can’t be here all the time. And I don’t work for you.”
Y’all!! I was like a volcano about to erupt.
No, he didn’t work for me, but he works for my friend who felt the need to call me in for reinforcement because he’s doing a crappy job and upcharging her at every turn.
So I said, “Ummm, yes, Jose, I WILL yell at you, and let me tell you why!”
And then I proceeded to tell him how he should be doing his job while his guys stood around watching and listening in stunned silence.
I told him…
- YOU are the contractor. You do NOT leave major construction decisions to the homeowner when she knows nothing about construction. That’s why she hired a contractor in the first place!
- You do NOT make the homeowner deal with subcontractors and deal with issues that come up.
- You do NOT make the homeowner relay information from subcontractors to you when YOU should be the one dealing with them, and you DO NOT rely on this second hand information to make major decisions about the job.
- You do NOT let subcontractors tell you how to do things when they’re talking about parts of the project that are outside the scope of their expertise.
- You do NOT let someone tell you how to do the basics of your job when you should know how to do these things in the first place. And you certainly DO NOT pass on the cost of your incompetence to the homeowner.
- You SHOW UP when people like granite guys are scheduled to come and when major decisions are being made.
- You SHOW UP when major deliveries are being made so that YOU can deal with any problems that arise.
- YOU are the contractor. This is literally the whole point of YOUR job. This is what homeowners PAY you for.
Y’all, I went off. I don’t think this guy knew what hit him.
So he said he would send the granite guy back to cut another piece. Fine. But then he and the granite guy and two or three more of his workers stood over there talking, measuring, planning, scheming, etc. for about another 30-45 minutes.
They came up with a way to make the original piece of granite work. It was an okay plan, but solving that problem created a new one, because the lights above the bar were no longer centered and had to be moved.
He said he would move them, and mentioned nothing about an upcharge. And that’s where I left things yesterday.
And my friend was stressed beyond belief. This project was supposed to be done by now because she’s leaving on vacation today. And yet, they still had to trim the wall around the bar, paint the walls, move the lights, patch the ceiling, mud the drywall on the ceiling, prime and paint the ceiling. I just don’t see any possible way they could get it done on time.
Anyway, all that to say that I’ll stick with DIY as much as I can, and rely on my amazing contractor for the rest. I’ve never been so thankful in my life to have found a good contractor. Bad contractors can make your life stressful and hellish, and if they don’t care about the quality of their work, they’ll leave you with areas in your home that look like a bad DIY project gone wrong anyway.
So I’m going to start digging up dirt on my contractor that I can use if he ever threatens to retire.
I’M JOKING, of course! 😀 (Or am I? Muahahahaha.) 😀