What we are doing:

In what spare time we have, we decided to spend it (and our savings) on remodeling our rowhouse in South Philly. When we purchased our casa it was a 3 story, 5 bedroom, 1 bath that hadn't been touched in 50+ years. It's currently a 4 bed, 2 bath construction site with so much more to do it's hard to believe.

We use this blog to mark progress, say hi to friends and family, rant about the process of remodeling, and try to have some fun along the way.

- Bryan and Christina

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The stark reality of NOT doing it yourself

It's Bryan. So, in the past 2 weeks we've had the framing in the bathroom start, the electrical get roughed in, and as of yesterday most of the return plumbing installed. And it's about 65% correct. that means that for the most part Christina and I walk in the door now, not excited to see what's new, but rather expecting something to be incorrect.

Now, a little history here. In my day job I coordinate various software development endeavors between what my bosses think they want, and the developers that will be grinding the code. It's usually a dance, but my job is to make sure that when the developers start work...they have every possible piece of info to make the application close to 100% as requested, (virtually) bug free, and on time. So I take the requirements from the business units, translate them to 'tech speak' and lay out the technical architecture for everyone to look at and understand that the knee bone is going to be connected to the thigh bone, and it's going to use REST web services and the like.

I'm basically a contractor...only a nerdy one.

Now, what I don't understand about the shenanigans we are seeing, is that there is no communication (or very little) going on between all of the parties involved. The contractor walks the plumber and electrician through the house, and even with my wife (an architect) there to explain the plans. Great! But the funny thing is that when the plumbers showed up on Friday to start, they weren't the same guy(s) that had toured the house. They had been 'briefed' on the project, and had 'an idea' on what is going on.

Come again? You mean that for our third floor OASIS that we've been planning and saving to do for years...you have an 'idea' about where the entire BATHROOM is going to be? It's the general passing the orders down the ranks, and somewhere in there I'm watching and wearing my life jacket...because I know this ship might sink. Quickly.

The electricians have run almost an entire wall of lines (carved into the brick party wall) that are...oh...about 5 feet too low. There are switches where a pocket door will slam into them upon closing. I know what you might be saying..."details, details". Well that's me. The devil is in the details all right.

Let me be very clear here: Our contractor is great. Seriously, he's been great, and pretty much available at all times when we freak out and call him. I know he trusts his subs, and that's one of the reasons that we went with him. The problem might be that my mother thinks I'm type-A, and I would argue that my mother-in-law says the same about my wife. I mean our jobs for years have been to herd cats day in and day out, to prepare for the best and worst and to make s@#t happen. I feel handcuffed.

I can't frame a bathroom, knock a hole in a wall for a new window, or lay tile everywhere. I know that. But I think my mind says "you know Bryan...it's not that hard to do...plus you can control every last detail". My mind is a dangerous place to be in right now.

Anyway, we're really hoping that some of the plumbing things are fixed today (I won't get into the stack connection right now...that'll be tonight probably), and the electricians are coming back tomorrow I think.

In the mean time we have friends in town this weekend, and I guess they'll be sleeping on an air mattress in the living room. Sorry Susan and Steve, you’ve entered the Danger Zone. Time to listen to the Top Gun soundtrack and get pumped for plumbing!


Jessie said...

Ask Christina about my bathroom remodels. The first time she filled the whirlpool tub, climbed in and turned on the jets, it tripped the breakers for the house. The GFS that I had contracted and paid for was not installed, "Rocky " piggybacked a regular wire on it. He took it upon himself to install a piece of marble for the window ledge that he had. Well, the bottom was/is rough. I wanted it polished in both sides as I see it when I'm inthe recline mode. Rocky had a soap dish that he planned to install as well. I did not want one. I wanted the smooth, clean, white tile wall. Then to the faucet and shower. As you may remember, the pipe stem for the shower leaked. When Dan finally went into the wall, it was were Rocky had attached the new faucet. Even the stopper was one he decided to install. The tore up my storm door which was new . It still does not close correctly on its own. In my BR, they knocked a hole through the drywall into the next room and did not tell me. I found it behind the dry sink years later. Did you ever wonder why I have a rough surface paint in there? Drywall patching due to Rocky. I can relate . They don't listen. I think you need to be there in person watching every step no matter how much detail you go into with them. The flooring people were equally as ..... Jessie

Todd said...

Keep your chin up.....paying attention to the details on your end will pay off in the end. Your general contractor however should really be spending more time on-site directing the subs at this critical time. Just remember to try and enjoy the experience...before you know it the project will be over. Take lots of pictures and always ask questions.

Best of luck!