Posts Tagged ‘repair’

I’ve had the uncomfortable feeling all week that I’m fighting the painter for possession of my house. Perhaps I’m reaping the other end of my current karma – although I haven’t squashed anything lately including ants. But since fixing the leaking sink and drying out the downstairs ceiling went so smoothly a couple of weeks ago , perhaps hitting a snag in the fixing process was inevitable.

The first hurdle was finding a painter at all. I called five or six on the first round and got zero callbacks. Hmm, I thought, perhaps I should give up law and fiction and learn painting. Although standing on high ladders is not my forte.

By and by a slick corporate outfit gave me an estimate, and a wiry little self-employed Irishman from Dublin bid on the job. Same price, both of them. Now I should explain I actually have two ceilings to paint. A month before the sink hit an iceberg, a strange, dark H shape appeared on my bedroom ceiling which is upstairs, just above the ceiling the sink would souse a few weeks later. I convinced myself it was a shadow for about two days, and then gave in and called the insurance company. The adjuster (and her rather cute boyfriend) diagnosed a leak in the circa 1978 skylight which sits high atop my roof. My buddy with the cute boyfriend sent me a check for painting the ceiling minus my deductible and left me to fend for myself with the dreaded Homeowners Association, who had jurisdiction over the skylight. Normally the HOA would rather die than move quickly but since it was about to rain, for once they acted promptly and fixed the leak. Whew! I thought I was home free, until the sink did its thing, and I wound up with two damaged ceilings. (Louise Hay has all kinds of wisdom about avoiding the thoughts that attract illness, but she says nothing about what kinds of thoughts attract wet ceilings. If I knew, I’d never have those thoughts again!)

Anyway, now flush with insurance company cash to paint both ceilings (within two dollars of the bids, can you believe it), I set out to hire a painter to do the downstairs ceiling which had two brown spots about the shape and size of Australia and New Zealand and the upstairs ceiling thoughtfully monogrammed with my last initial. (Or the beginnings of Helter Skelter, take your pick.)

You guessed it I picked the Irish painter. Three reasons. First, I am self-employed, and I try to hire other self-employed people. Second, the slick corporate guy also owned a day spa called “Coconuts,” and he kept talking about the “girls” who worked there. Did that make me a “girl lawyer” I wondered but didn’t dare ask. Third, I spent some time in Dublin when I was working on the Ph.D. that became a J.D., and I hadn’t heard anyone say “tink” and “mudder” for years. And, then, the Irish are born storytellers, and I love a good story.

But now it is Thursday night, I’m tired of stories, and my house has been a mess since Monday. Worse than that, the job was supposed to be finished today, and while the H has disappeared (thankfully) upstairs, Australia and New Zealand are still plainly visible downstairs. He’s turned them white, but he hasn’t made them go away. I have a bad feeling he doesn’t know how to. Just in case, I have developed a backup plan. If I’m still looking at albino continents this time tomorrow night, I’ll hire an artist to paint a full color world map on the ceiling. Might as well go with the flow.

Australia and New Zealand ceiling art to be

Australia and New Zealand ceiling art to be

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It all began on Wednesday morning when I found a large water spot in front of the vanity in the bathroom just off my bedroom. After sticking my head into the dark depths of the vanity (and living to tell the tale), I discovered a leaking cold water valve under the sink. Another piece of original 1978 hardware had failed in my condo.

About that time my son called from downstairs, “Mom, did you know water is dripping onto the living room floor?” Soaking wet myself from my shower, I dashed down to see the sodden ceiling just under the dripping sink. I grabbed a bucket and old towels and summoned the plumber.

Two hours and two hundred dollars later, the leaking valve was a thing of the past. But the fun was just beginning with the ceiling. The “Restoration” service attached to the plumber called to schedule an appointment and cheerfully announced they were going to tear out my wet ceiling “just in case.” Of what, I wondered. I suppose their theory was an absent ceiling can’t grow mold. But an absent ceiling isn’t much to look at. And how does tearing out my ceiling qualify as “Restoration”? I quietly and firmly informed them that, although I had telephoned my claim in to my insurance company and they agreed I was covered sans deductible, the Nuclear Option was not going to happen that afternoon. Couldn’t they just bring over some big fans, please?

Not long after that, a cocky “Restoration” specialist arrived to tell me they would bring fans, but the fans would sound like 747’s taking off, and they would run 24 hours a day. Mind you this is the area where I compose my unbrief briefs 24/7. Appellate work is a quiet scholarly activity. You do it in libraries, not on airport runways. And Mr. Cocky Specialist also informed me that if the errant ceiling didn’t dry out (and he fully expected it wouldn’t) they’d arrive on Monday to tear it out. I said, No thanks. And summoned someone associated with my insurance company for a Second Opinion.

Mr. Second Opinion was a very nice, quiet Hispanic gentleman who spoke a soft waterfall of Spanish to his female assistant. His peaceful demeanor was reassuring. He and the assistant measured and studied and figured and eventually informed me the upstairs wall between my bedroom and the bathroom was also wet. Mr. Cocky in his fixation on demolition had missed that. They said the 747 fans were unavoidable, but they didn’t think they needed to tear anything out.

I surveyed my options. Only I didn’t have any options. Large noisy equipment was going to have to take over my bedroom and living room, including where I work, until Monday. And I had deadlines in the Court of Appeal and I couldn’t just go on “Water Vacay” while I waited for it to be over. Plus my Golden Retrievers, who hate loud noise, and my son’s cat would never last two minutes with the 747’s in the house. Not me mention me, who hates loud repetitive noises.

So here I am on Saturday morning evacuated to a hotel that allows pets while the fans have rendered the house uninhabitable. The hotel is actually quite nice, but I would rather have skipped the ordeal of packing and taking everything down in the condo that the 747’s could damage. I was up really late on Wednesday night.

And then, too, there is the problem of uprooting dogs who never go anywhere except the vets and the groomers. You can explain to a toddler that the family is going to stay in a hotel for a few days while the house is fixed, but you can’t take two Golden Retrievers into a hotel room, turn on TV, and plug them into Cartoon Network for the duration. Melody and Rhythm are better today, but on Thursday they would not let me out of their sight.

This morning thoughtful Mr. Second Opinion informed me we can go home tomorrow. And he installed Hepa filters yesterday because I mentioned I was having trouble breathing from the dust the fans are blowing around. What a change from Demolition Man!

This whole experience has stirred up the homebody in me who loves to live peacefully surrounded by her little treasures. I see why I dream about traveling and then just stay home.

What looks like a fan and sounds like a 747

What looks like a fan and sounds like a 747

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