Thursday, September 29, 2011

Back to Plan A

We've been in the new house a couple days. Our original plan was to shore up the foundation, tear off the roof, replace all the rotten wood, and then put it all back together (maybe with the ceiling pushed up to the roof and a couple skylights), and move in. But at some point Plan B took over: do the minimum now – replace the sewer line to the street and upgrade the electrical system – go ahead and move in, and leave the big repairs and renovations for next summer, when we'd have some experience living in the house. There's things you learn about what a house needs for comfortable living that you only know after you've lived in it for a while.

(I suspect Plan B also took root because Martha thought it unwise to keep me under the stress of living without a home kennel for that long: but she hasn't confessed to that yet.)

But yesterday we found a tiny puddle of standing water up under the ceiling of one of the closets, and tearing down a spongy bit of sheetrock revealed some flourishing mold. Mold like that is serious bad news. So last night we moved back to our long-suffering host's house. It's back to plan A.

Really, I'm relieved. I felt we were jumping the gun, that the house wasn't really habitable yet. And moving in before doing all that work – which would require emptying at least large sections of the house – seemed like deliberately doubling our labor. But we're displaced persons again, for a while. Meanwhile, the sewer work and the electrical work go on. I'm happy anyway to be employing people.

The scale of the sewer work has startled me. When the guy described it, as snaking a new pipe through the old sewer line, I was picturing something minimally invasive: laparoscopic sewer surgery. But this is really impressive incisions: trenches ten feet deep, two mounds of earth on the parking strip as tall as I am. There's a shovel like Mike Mulligan's, only gas-powered, and two big trucks, and crowds of wiry brown men in bill caps with worried expressions and moustaches on their faces. I've never initiated so much physical fuss and to-do in all my days. It's very odd to drive up to one of those “road work” signs with a sense of of ownership. This is my road work.

So – dispatches from the field, as events warrant and permit: we're not home yet. xoxo


Zhoen said...

How trying. Still, it is good to get everything done right.

Lucy said...

Well done you for your equanimity.

It's probably partly their moustaches make them look worried.

JMartin said...

I'm a bit tempted to cheer the mold, as sounds like a horrific renovation to live with. Roofers alone reduce one to a terrified animal, waiting to be snatched from the burrow. And how fun to be the force behind major earth-moving. What is more imposing than a genuine trench?

Melinda Fleming said...

We know how you feel about the earthworks part. When work started on a 3-foot high retainer wall in our garden (for keeping a hillside from sliding into our dining room), we couldn't begin to imagine what it would take. Six cement trucks later...

We now refer to that part of our yard as the Hanging Garden of Babylon.

FaithD said...

Hey Dale,

Liz and I would be thrilled to have you come visit for a while - please please feel free to come stay in our guest room!

big hugs,
Faith and Liz

Dale said...

Oh, Faith & Liz, that's very sweet! Thanks. We're really perfectly comfortable.

Dale said...

Thanks everyone. & Welcome, Melinda!

Jayne said...

Renovating--or is it rehab?--is a Pandora's box. In our old house, I was always afraid to look under things. But I enjoyed the work we put into it. I grew up in perpetual construction so I find some comfort mounds of dirt and sawdust.

What I want to know, though, about this move: did you take along the half-shelf of old journals, kept from 1971 to 1985? ;)

Dale said...

Yikes. You're paying way too much attention, Jayne! :-)

Yes, I did.