Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Renovation Realities: So my contractor quit...


Sad news in the renovation realities game friends. My contractor, who has been less than stellar since the get go - what with his unresponsiveness and horrible communication skills - has finally quit on me. (Pretend there are those little hand clapping emoji things here).

And you know what, I'm not even mad about it. And you know why? Because he sucked. Like majorly. Like I was so frustrated with him that I was ready to punch him in the face. But alas, he only showed up once to look at the work for the second time and was late because he had to stop for something to eat so I let it slide. I mean, he did show up. So sad when someone showing up almost when they say they will get him a pass from PunchLand.

Over the past few months he has made promises that he just didn't keep. "I'll have that quote to you on Monday." So I call on Monday, of course, he didn't answer. I went on vacation and sent him a text (because he has a hard time answering his phone) about not seeing anything coming through via email. Then I left the message with, "If you can't do this work I need to know so I can find someone else." And per his usual response time, 18 hours later, he responded that he was sorry and that he would not be able to do the work because he is too busy. I want to call him and scream and yell profanities at him.

I should have known from the very beginning. I mean, if he wasn't responsive when there wasn't work going on, what was I expecting when work was actually started??

Here's a tip - do your research!! I did not. I used a company that my Realtor had used previously and only because I needed a quote for the work prior to my closing. Turns out this idiot just threw some numbers on paper and called it a day. Which really sucks because my ENTIRE renovation financing was based on his logic and numbers. #epichomeownerfail

I'm meeting with another company on Friday that I've already met with twice. It seems promising - like the guy carries a clipboard, has a business card AND knows how to answer his phone. It's the little things people.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Items not mentioned in the listing....

When I purchased my house, I didn't know that it came with 3 stray cats and 2 crazy cat ladies. I missed that in the listing for sure (along with the happenings of the alley that my house sits on as well). I honestly can not make this stuff up but here's the longest recap you'll ever read of a really short story.

The day I moved in, I noticed a note on my door noting that there were a few stray cats in the area and that Shelly* and her friend Carrie* were long time rescuers and were hoping to finally get these cats rescued and into good homes. I spoke to Shelly one day and she noted that one next door neighbor was an older gentleman that would leave food and water on his stoop for the cats. At some point, my front porch also became home to a food and water bowl. Prior to me moving in, there were also little shelter boxes placed next to a vent from the basement in the winter so the cats could stay warm.

Shelly stopped over to feed the cats before work, during lunch, and after work. Mind you, she lives 10 minutes away and Carrie doesn't even live in Des Moines. Carrie has been rescuing cats from the neighborhood for years, 25 cats or so, so I figured this operation was totally legit and they'd have these cats rescued in no time.

Boy was I wrong.

After coming home to this scene one night last week, I just couldn't help but laugh.
Cat, cardboard trap, big trap by dumpster, someone laying on the
ground on the other side of the dumpster.
And yes, I realize my dash needs cleaned. That's not the point.

And then I offered up my entire front porch for their traps because I'd heard one of the cats meowing the night before. So for about 4 or 5 days, this was the scene.
Um yea, that cat food was INSIDE the trap but is now outside??
I'm thinking they didn't actually have these set to trap anything....

And then I came home to this on Wednesday. Carrie had parked herself on the sidewalk in front of my house with a trap set up on the porch. This is the picture my neighbor sent me.

All I could think was, "Oh my god, what in the world have I gotten myself into?" Well, the neighbor that sent the photo came over and asked to speak to me alone (as I was chatting with Carrie). As soon as we got inside, my neighbor said, "That lady is crazy. She is not rescuing these cats, she's feeding them. She's been feeding them for years, they are not trying to rescue them, they want these cats to live in their natural habitat and they are not trying to find homes for them." Oh, okay. Well, I wish I had known that before I'd offered up my space.

Oddly enough, that very night, both cats were captured. I'm very suspicious of this because my neighbor has actually called the police on them many times before because she knew way more than I did. They've been trying to catch these cats for MONTHS, like before I moved in - YEARS before I moved in and then all of the sudden when the one neighbor talks to me, they are magically caught within hours of our conversation?? Sounds incredibly fishy to me. So I'll leave you with the recap from the neighbor, whose husband saw it all go down:

Ryan actually witnessed the first cat being caught yesterday.  He said that the old lady flung both arms in the air and screamed with delight!  Her old male companion came running out of the car and he also had both hands in the air. Then they couldn't figure out how to take the cat home, so I believe they called Shelly and spent an hour trying to get the cat in a portable cage.  After this they all hugged each other and the drama was over. 

So the cats are gone - or at least I think they are...one of them was pregnant and I'm pretty sure I heard a meow coming from under my porch this morning....

UPDATE: I wrote this post on Thursday and as of publishing today (Monday), I can confirm that there are kittens under the porch. I'm going to try and get them out and to the Animal Rescue League. If you saw under the porch, you'd know why my trying might not be enough. It's a mess under there and full of old trim, columns, and probably a whole lot of other stuff I don't want to know about.
*names have been changed to protect the identity of these "rescuers" 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One room at a time: Entryway

I have decided to do something I have NEVER done in all my designing and decorating years. Well, I guess there are 2 things, but I'll get to the second later. But the first thing I have decided to do with this house is - gasp - only tear up ONE room at a time! Whaaa?? I know, I know, doesn't seem possible does it. I'm use to decorating in chaos and normally have 283 projects going on at once and of those, 1 or 2 actually get crossed off my to-do list. So for this new venture, this new house, I'm going to be doing things one room at a time. First up, the entry way. 

{Insert horrible cell phone picture here because you still don't have internet and even if you did have internet, you can't actually download real camera photos because you have an ipad}
Exhibit A
I've already made some considerable changes in here - most notably is that I've completely destroyed any sort of order and it's a disaster. Second most noticeable change is that the walls are primed and ready for paint. 
It ain't pretty folks, but it's also not burgundy horribleness either.

I think I know which color I'm picking. 

But before I pick the paint color from the samples I selected, I'm waiting for this to arrive:
It's a total splurge on my part - seriously, $160 (including shipping) for a roll of wallpaper. The last roll of wallpaper I bought was from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a whopping $1.00 - and I got 2 rolls. Wallpaper is not something I normally think about hanging - in fact, I removed wallpaper from this room already. And now I'm going to be putting it up?? This is the second thing I'm doing that I've never done before. I've obviously lost my mind and my Instagram friends are all behind me too. So that's ordered and will be here Friday. 

This brings me to a few other purchases I've made thus far:
2 $10 chairs from Goodwill. They were 50% off if you took them at the time
of your purchase. So I texted my lovely boyfriend and he snagged them for me.
Of course these will get reupholstered.

Glass for my front door! Who knew glass was so expensive!?!? This clocked
in at $425 installed. I know exactly why the previous owner used plywood
and duct tape. 
And now this leads me to my next big decision - lighting. I'm keeping the original trim work (although it's getting freshened up with some new stain) and I'm keeping the original floors and may keep the sconces on the fireplace so I want a new light fixture in this space. The fixture that is in there right now is functional and pretty for 1902, it's just not my current style preference so I'd like to replace with something else. Here are my 2 options:
Lowes - $179 and I have a 10% off coupon

Etsy - $300 (including shipping)
I LOVE the second fixture (I realize the picture isn't the best, follow the link to see a few more shots of that one) but am hesitant about spending $300 on a light fixture when I could spend $160 on something very similar. I've looked all over for DIY versions and they are doable and I haven't ruled that option out, but I do have a lot of staining, painting and reupholstering to do and I'd like this room to be done sooner rather than later. 

I don't really have a set budget for this project, perhaps that's where I should start. I wouldn't count the glass for the door as this particular project, that was clearly a necessity and safety issue and I already had funds set aside to cover that cost. 

What do you think, should I Save, Splurge or DIY this lighting project? Or maybe you have seen something similar for a decent price? I'm open to suggestions! 
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