Saturday, April 5, 2008

08 Rant Renovation

It is widely known that renovation is never easy. So why my husband and I thought it would be a quick and easy project to install a washer/dryer combo unit in our bedroom closet is beyond me. Way beyond me.

This all started when we had Ada and realized, (insert light bulb here), that babies soil everything they touch and thereby increase your amount of laundry dramatically. And to compound the issue, we’re trying to save money and the environment by using cloth diapers(see 07 Advice). So having one baby equals three or four additional loads of laundry each week for us.

My whole reasoning for even putting a washer dryer in our condo unit is that it is better for resale, we’ll get the investment back when we sell our place, and it will be more convenient not having to walk out the back door, down a flight of stairs, unlock the basement door and lug the laundry to the coin machines. My real breaking point was when one washer and one dryer out of the four machines downstairs decided to not work properly but to continue eating my hard earned quarters. Five quarters per load to be exact, then five more for the dryer.

I hit my breaking point quickly. Ada was born mid-December and I made it to Valentine’s Day-- almost two whole months mind you. I researched different machines online and went with an LG WM3431HW that we purchased from Compact Appliance. It’s an expensive piece of equipment, $1,300 after free shipping and the romantic holiday sale. It arrived just three days later, and has since been a conversation piece in our living room and then a night stand draped in plastic in our bedroom.

Our first mistake was to assume we could install hookups in our closet by sprinkling fairy dust in our bedroom. Turns out that in reality it took our friend Martin and my husband a day to bump out the closet wall six inches, several nights of re-mudding the drywall, half a day for the electrician, and a day and a half for the plumber, not to mention all the time it will take my wonderful husband to re-drywall, mud, sand, paint and re-install the closet organization system.

An inch of drywall dust later, (unfortunately they were out of fairy dust), we might have a running washer/dryer Tuesday evening, April 8th. Yes, that is just shy of two months later. Why? Because we thought our friend could do the plumbing, but it turned out to be way too complicated with a cast iron stack in the basement and no access to a vent pipe. Then we made the mistake of believing our plumber when he said he’d get us a quote. After three weeks of nagging him, the quote was $2,500! Ticked off from all that drama we called plumber #2 and he stopped by that day, quoted it on the spot, and is starting one week later for $700 less. Still way more than we expected but what can we do?

So that is the background to the story. Let’s zoom in on the day Plumber #2 came to visit.

April Fool’s Day started out well. Rick called to say that the plumber would be calling sometime today and maybe stop by to give us a quote. Awesome! Finally a responsive plumber. I was still in my pajamas feeding Ada when the plumber, Chuck, called. Mind you this was already my second pair of pajamas since Ada woke up this morning and threw up on me, down my cleavage and all over my pants at her first feeding.

Chuck said he’d come over at 11 to take a look. Fabulous! It’s 10 am and Ada is a bit fussy. I get the wise idea of taking a quick shower before Chuck arrives so I feel human and don’t smell like barf. I put Ada in her bouncy seat --which has no bounce as the batteries are dead and Rick hasn’t had a chance to change them and I don’t have four hands or a clone to do it either. I set it in front of the bathroom door as gather clothes to wear and undress for my shower. She starts screaming the instant I’m naked. Thank goodness I’ve got the blinds closed throughout the house as I now have to pick her up, walk to her room and nurse while naked. A few minutes later we try again. She’s still fussing in her bouncy seat and I jump in the shower. I have fifteen minutes until he gets here and can get ready in three so this is good.

I’m showering when, of course, the phone rings. I quickly shut off the water, grab my towel, run on tip toes past the screaming baby to the kitchen to get the phone, but it’s in the living room. We have 1,000 square feet of condo, two cordless phones and a wall phone and they are all in the living room. What are the chances of that? So I run on tip toes to the living room, soaking the floor along the way. “Amanda, it’s Chuck. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” “Great. See you then.” I go back to the bathroom, towel off and jump into my clothes while singing to Ada to calm her down. I’m mopping up all of the water I’ve strewn through our condo when the buzzer sounds. It’s been five minutes and he’s here. Ada is fussing as I let him in. I grab her and introduce her as our family mascot. While she screams, I show him the closet.
“Oh, this isn’t good. That’s a problem. Is there a unit below you?” he asks.
“Nope. It’s the basement.” I reply.
“Okay. That’s good. Can I see it?”

With Ada under my arm, I grab the key and head downstairs.
“Oh, this is better than I thought. If you were on a higher floor this wouldn’t work.”
He proceeds to tell me how he can do it and quotes it out. I thank him and we head out of the basement. Again with Ada in my arms I fumble with the MasterLock for a minute and finally get it to click, no thanks to him.

Back inside he checks out the closet again.
“I’ll have to make a new hole in the wall since the electrical is in the way.”
I laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“When the original plumber came to give us a quote, the electrician was here and I asked that question specifically and he told me it wouldn’t be a problem. I work with engineers and married an architect so I understand the whole coordinating projects and tried to prevent this. Oh well. It’s just drywall. Rick can fix that.”
“Okay, so we’ll cut the back wall open and put in a vent pipe at 48 inches.”
“Sounds great.” I reply.
He leaves and I call Rick to relay the message. We agree to go ahead with the project.

After calling the plumber to give him the go ahead, I hear a strange thumping noise. I thought maybe it was cell phone interference with the computer speakers but they were turned off. After a few minutes I decide to investigate. Then it dawns on me. As I enter our bedroom I realized that I had tried to put Ada in her swing before I sat her in her bouncy seat. She didn’t care for the swing so I folded it up and put it in our bedroom. I assumed the batteries were dead since it never seemed to swing on its own. To my surprise, there it was, folded up against the bedroom wall and rhythmically knocking it. How about that. The batteries do work!

Now it’s time for lunch. Ada nurses for a bit then goes down for a mini nap. I heat up a baked potato. As soon as the microwave goes off saying it’s done, she wakes up screaming. Hold on potato, I’ll be back. I get her back to sleep long enough to reheat the potato, add cheese, bacon and just as I’m adding the sour cream, she starts screaming again. Will I ever get to eat? I put her back on the boob and eat with my magical mom skills (aka the mysterious third hand).

In all of the chaos of the day, I decided to use a digital microphone to record this crazy line of events so I could blog it. To do so, I needed to get the batteries from the closet under the stair and to top things off, I hit my head on the low ceiling.

Moral of the story: Don’t remodel and think twice before procreating.

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