Home Improvement Hell: Day Five

by Ben Goldfarb on April 15, 2014

in General

The siding job proceeds apace. While last week we had only two guys and a floating foreman, this week we’ve got four guys plus the foreman. That means both increased productivity plus the potential for diminishing returns when they start getting in each others’ way. Fortunately, there has not been much of the latter.

Nevertheless, there are always unexpected twists when doing a major renovation job. If you didn’t read my earlier article on the subject, I’ll briefly summarize the project. I’m replacing all the siding on the second floor of a two-story house (the first floor shell is masonry). So, all the fun stuff associated with demolition and reconstruction is happening in real-time here starting at 7 am.

Let me state that this is the best crew of home remodeling guys I could hope for. They speak English, they show up on time, they care about their work, and they know what they’re doing. It has taken them five days to rip off all the old Masonite siding, nail up 1/2″ plywood, and cover the plywood with a moisture barrier in preparation for installing the new siding. My house has a lot of irregular walls and it’s got 3265 sq. ft. of living space, so that’s why it has taken this long. If it was a rectangular box, they would have been done with this phase within a couple of days.

Jump Start

Yeah, that’s what it was for this turkey, when at 6:55 am I was jolted out of bed by concerted pounding on my front door. I knew what it was all about. The guys needed access to my rear patio so they could plug in their equipment and get started. So, I went down and let them in.

Remember that I had replaced the exterior duplex outlet by my front door for these guys (c.f. Home Improvement Hell), and although it was more of a job than I had expected, I was happy to get it working for them. I have another exterior duplex outlet on the side of the house next to a couple of air conditioning units, and a third back there where they guys wanted to get into the patio. They had been using the front two from the inception of the project. Now, they wanted to use the back one, too.

At some point, they tripped the breaker for the front outlet. At the same time, their equipment stopped working in the back. It was then that I determined for the first time since buying the house in 2000, the back outlet and the front outlet were on the same damn circuit — a lousy 15 A circuit at that.

These guys had a 20 A rated compressor plugged into the back outlet, as well as a circular saw, which I think was rated 8 A. In the front, another compressor was plugged in. Of course, compressors cycle as air is drawn from the tank, so that happens at varying intervals for any two compressors. Furthermore, the saw is used intermittently. But if everything is used at once, all this equipment was probably pulling about 50 amps from a 15 amp circuit.

This happened a few times before I got tired of answering “Can you reset that breaker?” knocks on the door. I felt bad for the guys because they needed to get their work done ahead of some impending foul weather. Having an FPE panel and breakers (which I need to replace — another forthcoming project), I’m lucky that the damn thing tripped instead of burning down the damn house! The problem was rectumfied by finding some different circuits for the veritable plethora of power equipment.

“Oh, by the way…”

So I’m on the phone with a fellow ham (amateur radio operator) with an appropriate call sign, W3BS. That’s what hams do best — BS. I thought I heard the doorbell ring a couple of times, but during a good BS session, who can hear, already? But I got a call waiting indication on my cell phone, which I answered. It was the foreman, asking if I was home because he rang the bell a couple of times and I didn’t respond. OK. Alright, already. He needed to see me. So, I signed off with W3BS and went out there to see what he needed.

After some impertinent convivial chit-chat, the other shoe dropped.

“You know they broke a window, don’t you?”

“Hell, no! I didn’t know that,” I responded.

“Then I shouldn’t have told you about it,” replied the foreman.

I punched him in the shoulder somewhat less than playfully.

However, I told you that these guys were good, and accidents do happen. He showed me the broken window. Windows ain’t cheap, particularly  double-pane thermal windows. Just ask me. I recently replaced several panes, to the tune of $2,200. Coincidentally, I had told the estimator for this remodeling company about the window guy I had used for that job when we were discussing his proposal, so they had his number in hand. By the time the foreman had apprised me of the broken window, he had already called the window guy and made arrangements for the replacement. All he wanted to do was let me know the window guy was coming so I could call him in at the gate and give him his check for $200 as a deposit for the window job. Now that’s a stand-up contractor, man!

His handling of what could have been a completely crappy situation actually made my day. Furthermore, that thermal pane would have needed replacement in a year or so, as it was beginning to show some signs of seal leakage, so I think I made out on the deal.

The guys got everything buttoned up before the torrential downpour — a regular Florida frog-lifter. It is great working with pros, even if they wake up one’s ass as some ungodly pre-dawn hours.

I’ll be back sometime, as promised, with either more home improvement hell or home improvement financing fiascos.


Five More Months, Damnit!

by Ben Goldfarb on April 13, 2014

in Penn State Football

Well, the Blue-White-Grey game has come and gone, so we’ve had the last taste of football until August. The game gave us a chance to build our expectations for the fall, and then cruelly kissed us off until then, but such are the tortuous ways of football. We use the off-season to bitch about Mark Emmert, Vickey Triponey, and other sordid crap.

Coming out of the spring classic, there is good reason for optimism at running back, and the damn secondary was looking better than I’ve seen from this bunch of jokers in quite a while. I mean, seriously. (I know, right?) Clearly, the big problem will be staffing the interior lines, and I’m still a little shaky about the kicking game.

It was good to see the loyal fans returning to Beaver Stadium for the spring game — 72,000 of them (or 82,000 unofficially, if you believe Franklin — I guess he must have counted). It appeared to be a gorgeous day, so I’m interested in knowing who of my five readers actually made it to the game.

Here at the Cave, we gathered and watched the damn delayed BTN broadcast while enjoying the usual Bacchanalia, which this time featured Maryland crab cakes contributed by Jackstand, who commutes to Maryland. They arrived via FedEx and were amazingly fresh, completely authentic, and damn good.

Not much to say, I know. Now, to compound my time expenditures, the NHL Playoffs loom large, and I’m back to home improvement hell. The Penguins take on the Columbus Blue Jackets for their first-round series starting Wednesday. As for me, I think I’ll next vent here about home improvement loans and the schmucks who approve them, unless the siding job takes an unexpected turn.



Home Improvement Hell

April 11, 2014 General

I’ve been fixing up da turkey coop. Yeah, it’s a big time consumer, even though the major portion of the work is contracted out. There are several subjects I want to catch up with, such as the Blue-White game this weekend and the NLRB ruling with regard to unionization, but I won’t be commenting about them here. Nay, this post is strictly blowing off some steam about the home improvement project. So, read on at your own risk.

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Musty Burger Outta Heah!

March 13, 2014 Sports

Have you heard the news from ABC/ESPN? Chris Fowler will be doing the Saturday Night College Football broadcast with Kirk Herbstreit starting this season, as Brent Musberger has hopped over to the fledgling SEC Network, where he’ll be teamed with Jesse Palmer. What happened there? Musburger, who is closing in on 75 years old, was […]

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