Thursday, September 22, 2011

Co-located disasters

Aaaaaaand we’re back, to the blog which I really should have named Online Yammering I Do When I’m Bored At Work because, man, if I stay home for a couple days, ain’t no updating going on here.

I skipped out on work Tuesday and Wednesday because of the installation of new hardwood floors, which required physical presence of a homeowner to let the workmen in (primarily) and keep an eye on them around our stuff (distantly secondarily – I’m just not that paranoid). Skipping work on Tuesday also allowed me to get up in the morning and get cracking immediately on moving “everything light enough to be picked up by one person” off the floor and out of the living room, dining room and kitchen, before the workmen arrived, instead of messing with stuff like getting dressed in work clothes and catching a train and whatnot. Then, once the installers arrived, I was able to retreat to the basement where I had work of my own to do, namely replacing the drop-ceiling tiles. Only a couple of them were damaged by the leaking water from the dishwasher directly above, but all of the drop tiles were old and cheap so it seemed like a good idea to do one massive sweep, clear and replace operation.

Thus the stage was set for two comparable yet contrasting jobs to unfold literally within inches of each other on separate floors of the house. Above, professionals doing skilled work which would end up having a transformative upgrading effect; below, a DIY gig which would (theoretically) end up being subtle at best, with things looking more or less the way they did before. And as the guy on the DIY end, I gotta say, those are my least favorite kind of jobs. I don’t mind maintaining a house, I don’t mind physically demanding or tedious labor, but dagnabbit when I finish I want to be able to show off what I’ve done and say “Look, look what I did, look how impressive that is!”

Not only was I bound to be disappointed in that regard with the swapping of old white textured ceiling drop tiles for new slightly sturdier white textured ceiling drop tiles, but it turned out to be physically and mentally grueling work out of all proportion with reason. To condense a very frustrating and long couple of days’ worth of lessons learned, here’s the deal: the drop ceiling frame in the basement was installed right up against the crossbeams beneath the main floor of the house. So there’s no clearance above the frame, and no space in which to insert a solid drop tile upward at an angle along the diagonal before straightening it and settling it into place. This was no big deal when the tiles were flexible foam with vinyl surface and could just be curved to fit between the frames and then uncurved to lay flat in place. This was an almost insurmountable deal when trying to install sturdier, rigid tiles, as I was. There was much cursing, which made me glad that we sent the kids to daycare while my wife was at work and I was playing fixer-upper. Eventually I figured out some ways to loosen the drop ceiling frame just enough to create maybe two inches of clearance to play around in, accompanied by much grunting and straining (sounds more fun than it is). Which didn’t solve the problem of the many weird corners and A/C vents and suspended fluorescent light fixtures I had to work around, which again is not hard with soft tiles but a royal pain with rigid ones …

Sorely tempted, more than once
Meanwhile at least someone else was doing to genuinely harder work of repairing our floors, but that ended up being a mixed bag as well. The crew leader was doing his job by the book and testing the plywood underflooring as they went along to make sure it was install-ready, but when he got to the end of the kitchen where the leak originated he found that it was not, in fact, install-ready; despite the days during which we tolerated all that water amelioration equipment, the subfloor had never completely dried out. So they ripped out a lot of old floor and installed a lot of new floor on Tuesday, then they came back on Wednesday and installed a little more new and ripped out the rest of the old, so that they could leave the underflooring exposed for four or five more days before finally putting in new floor in that part of the kitchen. Thus for the next few days we are living with half a kitchen/dining room floor, trying to keep the little guy from wandering onto its pointy-poky debris field, and skirting around a few pieces of furniture that have been dumped in the den until they can be restored to their usual sites in that half of the kitchen.

The new floor in the living room looks great though! And by midday Monday everything should be finished, so don't let the post title fool you, nothing going on at home really qualifies as a disaster (yet). Nothing’s ever simple, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment