Someone, anyone - please help!!

61tinkerbellSeptember 8, 2011

I'm in hard labor, really hard.. it hurts!! LOL

We really are tackling a whole house restoration, and doing a lot of it ourselves (hiring people is a joke, some are lazy, no shows, others just do sloppy work, and want to put a band-aid on instead of correctly fixing issues.

Anyway, we bought this VERY EXPENSIVE, waterfront property, built in 1937. Hard to find any houses like this, as most are always knocked down, and replaced with key west style homes.

DH didn't really want the house, but because it was on the water (which I didn't want) we comprised. We are four months into the restoration, I see finally see progress, but this week, my "love-hate" relationship with the house has been hate, and I'm a little down as to why we decided to do this! I look out my windows and see these pretty key west (new) homes and our neighbors out playing, while we are working 7 days a week. My wrist is in a brace, and this week, 3 contractors have came to give us estimates on bathroom tiling, and 2 of them come out and say "it would have probably been cheaper to know this house down and build new" and all of them look and say "wow, you have a lot of work to do". Just when I start feeling I could see light at the end of the tunnel, they throw mud in my eyes.. and make me wonder if the light is way further away than I think!

It would have been eaiser to tackle same things at a time, yet, doing all the major restoration at once is nice since we don't have to live in the mess. When we move, all major stuff will be done, and I'll be able to work on doing the doors, and more outside repairs.

I just need support, from people who love old houses! I know they think we are NUTS fixing this old house, and maybe we are? We are spending a lot of $$$ to get it restored and beautiful, but someday we will sell, and now I'm afraid - I'm the only one in FL who likes old houses - boo hoo.

I really needed to vent!

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Oh tinker, I feel your pain!
What you're going through with hiring people, unfortunately, seems to be typical. We've been through the same with trades not showing up when they say or doing any of the work they're hired to do. Our progress is at the mercy of other people and it can be a nightmare. We've heard from a few who have told us 'That's just too much work than I want to tackle.' Gee, thanks!

I do believe the worst thing people can say, and we've heard it alot too is 'Why don't you just tear it down and start new?!'That just defeats me sometimes too.

Chin up and try to keep seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I try to remain excited and enthusiastic for my husband since he's doing much of the work and dealing with much of the battles himself-it wouldn't help much if we were both feeling down and defeated. Remember why you bought it and keep the vision of its restored beauty at the forefront of your mind.

Oh and feel free to vent any time!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:13AM
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I hear ya! We're over 2 years into our restoration and still hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We've been without a kitchen since Easter and it is getting old.

Re contractors - have you tried angie's list? For everything we had to sub out, we got at least 3 quotes from top rated tradespeople from that site. So far, we've been able to find solid people that way. The key is to just be brutal in the selection process. Not returning calls promptly - out. Not giving quotes in agreed upon timeframe - out. No excitement for older homes - out. Condescending attitude - out. Life is too short to work with people who bring you down.

Oh - any you are nuts. Just like me. Embrace it. Normal is highly overrated.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:31AM
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I agree with Billl - don't put up with BS from contractors. 25 years ago I figured out that if they don't return my initial call, they don't get called back. Period. There are too many good people out there to put up with that crap.

My best contractors have always been from word-of-mouth recommendations. Even if you can't find another old house person in your neighborhood to ask,go to a different historic district nearby. Old house people love to talk house & are usually very willing to give recommendations.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 3:12PM
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Just home, I was able to read your posts this morning on my iphone, THANK YOU!!!

Lilybug, your post just put a smile on my face, it really did!

Bill, you're right.. normal is highly over-rated!!

I did have a much better day today, the women I hired to help sand and prep for paint, returned.. that was a good sign!

The fireplace repair man came, and overheard me talking about the house, and how people were saying we would have been better off tearing it down and buildng new, he shook his head and said that is some people's mentality (true). He went on to say he is a craftman's, and houses today are not like they use to be, and he went about admiring all my cypress wood, and commented if I was to build new, and wanted my 3 fireplaces, I'd be looking at $25,000... so he really brightened my day too!

From here on out, I'm going to do the "cross off the list" method - that's great advise! I tried Angie's list - not enough listed in our area.

Thank you all for letting me vent and responding - it really, truly made today so much brighter, I still have a ton of work, but one day at a time - I'll get there!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 7:04PM
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It's our daughter's home, not ours, but we're walking in your shoes, tinker. We're helping as much as we can to keep the expenses down, but it's almost more than we can deal with.

This is what happened today:
There's an attached block "utility room" that houses the washer and dryer and it serves as a work/tool storage room as well. Today she and I attempted to pull down some wall cabinets so she can repurpose the old kitchen cabinets in there.

In one of the cabinets we found a huge stash of acorns so I imagine squirrels were living in there. As she started to drill the wall screws out, a heap of roach droppings fell out from behind that cabinet and we apparently disturbed a tribe of roaches living behind it because they came running out in all directions.

I love my daughter and she loves me, but at that point in time it was every woman for herself. We both made a run for the door and somehow we both fit through the doorway at the same time without killing each other. OMG!!! We laughed afterwards, but at that moment we were just running for our lives. Those #$&%**%!! roaches can FLY!!! and they were gunning for us.

The work is hard but the results will be gorgeous. Redoing an old home takes guts and it's not for the feint of heart. But if you love old homes and their history,it's worth it.

Don't give up; there are many of us who understand what you're doing, and why.

Hang in there; we have shoulder to lean on and we're good listeners.

Have a good evening and get a good night's sleep. We're going to try to do the same.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 7:51PM
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"There are too many good people out there to put up with that crap. "

The ones sitting around returning calls are often less than "good people."

The good ones are often very busy.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 10:25AM
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The busy ones get busy by providing excellent service. Part of that is returning phone calls of clients.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Circus Peanut


We've done almost 3 years of DIY work restoring bits and pieces of our house, and we still aren't done (is anyone, ever, DONE?). Yesterday someone we really respect stopped by for the first time and couldn't stop praising our work, how special the house is, how wonderful it is to save all the old bits that make it unique, and how the house just "radiates love". (I know, snort, but seriously, that's what they said!)

Try to remember that the hard work you're putting in now will radiate love back at you and yours for many many years to come. :-)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 1:07PM
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If they don't even call you back, they don't want your business. No matter how excellent they may be, they aren't interested, so why waste the time? I didn't say that returning calls makes a contractor necessarily high quality.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 1:10PM
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Mona, I am still laughing about your story of the roaches! We had problems with those suckers when we first moved into this house. I even crawled under our crawl space to try and figure out where they were coming from. It turned out their nest was in the wall behind the stove. Ugh, I can still remember the droppings when we took off the socket cover. I also remember being attacked by a flying roach when I would open one of my cabinets! I can laugh now, but it wasn't fun then. One of the best things we found to do was to spray outside with a product called Demon. They love all the pecan trees on our property, and that was the root cause of our problem. I also sprayed it around where the nest was although you do have to be careful around food. Our house is a 60's ranch, but we have worked for years to fix it up. Even though it isn't a true old house, we have spent plenty of money and time. I am so glad that there are people out there who love and preserve old houses!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Tinker- Your house is going to be wonderful! You're just at that stage where it's easy to get frustrated...but stick with it! You'll get through it and start seeing light at the end of the tunnel :)

It sounds like things have already improved. Not everyone understands those of us, who love old houses. Any time you start feeling frustrated, jump on and we'll all remind you why you're doing this. Enjoy the process and post more pictures...I like to see your progress!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 10:02PM
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Thanks everyone, venting really has helped, and knowing I'm not alone in my C-raziness, helps too! LOL

Mona, oh my... this house is full of cockroach droppings, and I've spotted a few running around, but your story made me laugh, and remember our last house we remodeled (not old, but a dump). I lifted a piece of garbage left on the kitchen counter and about 25 of them came running out! I ran for my life too!

Circus, you're right - it will radiate love.. someday! I think it is true, and old house will never really be done, there is always something to do! It has to be nice when people notice and appreciate your efforts!

lavender, we are seeing progress, the contractors just really put some doubt in my head this week, making me question everything!

I really am going to stop hounding and begging people - either you want a job or you don't.. if you fail to get back to me, you're off the list - plus I plan to "report" all the good and the bad to our Realtor friends and neighbors!

Last week, we had a flooring company come over to the house, to look at our FOUR (4) already gutted bathrooms. They are just about ready to tile and finish. The guy spend 2 hours at the house, and said he'd get back in a couple of days... no phone call at all last week, and I called him a couple days ago.. and no return call! Jerk... he's off the list! They wasted my time, as I stop working as I have to go around from room to room telling them what I want to do, that annoys me to no end!

The drywall people called yesterday to confirm they are coming.. yippee! Monday, we are hanging drywall over the existing plaster on all the ceilings, the past water damage has the plaster loose, and I searched and searched for someone who could repair, but found not a soul! They are also skim-coating ALL the walls in the house, so they should be looking good and ready to paint.

I'm staying positive... tired, but positive that this house will be worth all our efforts!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 7:12AM
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When people say things like "it would be cheaper to tear down this [solid] old house and put up an efficient new house with new materials" I think they're not considering 1) the beauty of a prewar house and the great materials used in their construction, or 2) the embodied energy costs of all that new material they are building into a new house. God knows how long you'd have to live in a new house, however energy efficient, to make up for the energy required to manufacture it's components. Does anyone ever do those calculations? It's pretty efficient to recycle an old house, even if it can't be made as air-tight and efficient as you would like. So take heart. A life-long source of belly laughs with your daughter like that roach and squirrel routine? Priceless.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 11:23AM
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I can totally relate! My husband and I bought a totally gutted 1905 Victorian-ish house three years ago. The master suite is still the only habitable part (I wouldn't call it finished)! It's been mostly DIY, but we finally hired out the framing for the rest of the upstairs - I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant and we need the extra room! He keeps telling us how he could build a new house from scratch in less time and for less money than it takes to renovate an old house. It's all I can do to keep my mouth shut! He does good work, but I'm not paying him for his opinions!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 1:02PM
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"The busy ones get busy by providing excellent service. Part of that is returning phone calls of clients."

Unless I have room on my schedule the only calls I bother returning are from old clients.

I stay very busy.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 3:48PM
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"The busy ones get busy by providing excellent service. Part of that is returning phone calls of clients."

I agree, part of an excellent service, is returning phone calls, even if it is to say you are too busy and are unable to help! What really flipped me off is when they accept the job.. and never show!

I'm home early today.. needed a break!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Once old clients no longer need their services, what happens to the "busy ones" that provide excellent service but have a policy of ignoring potential new clients?

Seems like poor business policy to me...or just plain arrogance.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Tinker, you earned a break - give yourself one, when you need it... "guilt-free"! (Barry Manilow's McDonalds jingle is stuck in my head, now.. I suppose I'm the only one to remember it?).

I want to point out, there are "clients", & there are "potential clients". This is a rare moment, where I advocate for (good) contractors. For every lousy contractor of services, there is a lousy client that won't pay for services, has unreasonable demands, constantly changes their mind about what they want, etc. I'm not a contractor - & I know there are many that just plain stink! (We had to testify in court & have one put in jail for a while).
I know that none of the members of this forum would be bad clients, lol, owning an old house means caring about the house - & being difficult is not in our best interests... Quality work is a priority when it's your house, thus good contractors get coffee service, & paid before other bills. :-)
If a contractor is excellent, they will get a lot of calls - referrals alone, not including phone-book calls... How can they meet our high expectations, if they spend several hours a day returning calls to say they don't have time to take a job? If they show up late, is it "ok" if they tell you they spent the morning on the phone with people that aren't paying them - when you ARE paying them & expected them to show up before 9:00 am? (Worse if you took unpaid time off work, & waited for them like they were the cable guy!).

Just saying - a bad contractor is a nightmare! A good one is like a good partner - hard to find, & when you do - you do not want to share, but everyone wants them.. ;-)

That said, once you are a "client", they've agreed to take the job - they should be where, & when, they said they would. If they're not, more than once or twice... They're either lousy, or (lol), spending too much time on the phone turning away work.

Is your house is going to be incredible? I don't doubt it for a minute!

Will you ever want to see cute green plaid wallpaper again, EVER? Probably not. Bummer, right? It was so cute!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 12:19AM
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Should've pointed out - I'm in kansas, obviously, & a pretty small town as well. The "contractors" available locally are not large companies! There are but a few, & tend to have few employees that aren't experience-heavy! Like a one-man-show, with assistants? If the Top Dog doesn't show up at the jobsite, your confidence in the work sinks... The workers may as well pile out of a clown car at the curb & run around squirting each other with pretend hoses, falling down together in a pile-of-clown, etc... More metro areas, should be different.

Running family business, before & during family difficulties, probably slanted my opinions a bit. Sometimes you just can't take/return calls. I was managing office, payroll, scheduling work crews, book-keeping, fielding calls from clients, being a party-chief of my own crew, & doing my "official" cad/drafting job "after hours". Sometimes business gets ahead of you, & you just have to try & do what's been promised already. (Not always - sometimes people are just lazy & rude, lol!).
Tinker - the previous post wasn't directed at you - just responding to the responses, lol! Hope I didn't seem snarky. :-)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 1:01AM
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you got it Mona ...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 8:55AM
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I see brickeyee's pov.
most of my work is referrals.
its not a bad thing, the people
you work for know the quality of work
you do, and refer their family and friends.
this eliminates your spending time with people
who just want bare minimum cover up the problem
and make it look pretty.

while I do some new construction work
it is the old houses that I like to work
with. I much perfer an antibellum to a mcmansion.

best of luck and take a rest've earned it.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 7:08PM
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