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Friday, November 28, 2014

No Painters

We had a nice, relaxing day for the most part today.  We had a leisurely breakfast and then came back upstairs to relax in the room.  Carolyn did some reading and the kids did some building with the magnatiles.  I did some work and then Jon took the kids down to the pool so I could finish.  Once I finished my reviews I started packing up the room.  When they returned I had finished packing up for the day and was writing my thank you letter to the hotel.  We will send a thank you to the corporate office as well, as they have been so great here.

While I was packing up I decided to text and neighbor and see if anyone was at the house.  Our fears were realized when she said no one was there.  Holding on to my optimism, I told Jon that perhaps they were there but had just been dropped off to work so there was no truck in the driveway.  A little after 1 we left the hotel to drop some more things at the house.  As we pulled up it was obvious no one was there.  We went inside and could tell that no one had been in the house since we left the day before.  We dropped off our things and the postwoman gave Jon a package before we left.  She even asked him when we'd be back, so nice of her.  Jon called the contractor while we were at the house, whom was surprised to hear the painters were not working.  He promised to call back quickly once he found out what was going on.

We got back into the car and headed to the store and out to dinner.  After about 10 minutes we receive a phone call back, the painters were finishing up another job.  I kept my cool and reiterated the frustration I shared on Wednesday with the lack of work being completed.  I informed Phil that we will be moving home tomorrow and people will have to work around us.  He apologized again and said he would be by the house later to remove the tarps in anticipation of us moving home.  So we went on with our day.

We stopped by the house to drop off a box of diapers and a new crockpot and were only half surprised to see that we had been lied to again.  No one had been in the house and all the tarps were still in place as of 4:30pm today.  Somehow I doubt he showed up after then to take them down.  Why tell me you are going to do something if you aren't going to?  The tarps he promised to put on the skylights on Monday... still not there.  I just don't understand what the problem is with doing things when you say you will.  If I worked for my company like these people I would find myself out of a job.  This honestly is unbelievable at this point.

We have been out of our home for 13 weeks.  And tomorrow when we go home, there will still be a long list of things still be completed:
1.       Paint interior 
2.       Install skylights and finish roof 
3.       Install gutters
4.       Install LR floors, replace trim
5.       Replace cracked laundry room tiles
6.       Complete sidewalk (Spring) – frame and fill with gravel to make area usable until then
7.       Seal and paint siding due to cracks 
8.       Lightly clean furniture and move back into living room
9.       Repair coffee table
10.   Clean carpet in playroom
11.   Install pole for antenna (we would like to take the loss payment here and get the replacement ourselves)

12.   Replace area rug(s) in living room 

I know God is in control and our house will eventually get back to normal.  But we are both pretty well beyond our threshhold of frustration with people not following through on promises made.  On Sept 22 I was told the work would be mostly done by Oct 22 and I have a contract to prove it.  I wonder if we have any recourse since this estimate was so incredibly far off and nothing had even started by that date.  We might just have to look into that if things don't pick up quickly at this point.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Temporary Occupancy Permit

Today was a long, yet somewhat productive day.  Both of the kids were up at 7 and spent some time making thank you notes for various hotel staff.  I had them make handprint turkeys that say "I am thankful for you" and they colored and added their names.  We handed some out today and will give out more tomorrow.  After breakfast we headed to the library to get some books to read this weekend and do a craft.  Then we went towards the house.  To our dismay, no one was there to work today.  So this week only 1 day has had any work done.  We spent much of the day at the neighbor's so the kids could relax and play.  Carolyn read an entire Cam Jansen book, she definitely has missed being able to get absorbed in a book.  I spent some of the morning at the house cleaning things up.

Before I get to today's findings, let me rewind to the information we received yesterday afternoon.  Our contractor finally got in touch with the commissioner and was told we need smoke detectors in every bedroom and they need to communicate with each other.  This was the first time that this requirement was mentioned.  The village also said they had no paperwork regarding our home being designated as not fit for occupancy.  So we could have been living there this whole time and no one would have cared!  Not that I really wanted to live there during the construction.  But that is unbelievable to hear.

Just after 1 our contractor arrived with the smoke detectors.  The village commissioner showed up at almost exactly 1:30 and didn't take more than a few steps inside.  I was still working on cleaning the playroom and kitchen so heard the whole conversation.  He definitely remembered being at the house on the day of the storm and quickly wrote out the temporary occupancy permit.  That means we're allowed to be back in our house.

I discussed with the contractor that we are very frustrated with the very slow progress of the last couple weeks.  He said he's trying but coordinating the different groups is hard, yada yada.  There's no reason that work is only being done 1, maybe 2 days a week.  We will definitely be letting the referral service know of our frustration once our house is put back together.  The must frustrating part of today's conversation came when we were discussing the occupancy permit.  He said that they could have erected temporary walls so that we could live in the rest of the house while they were doing the work.  He tells me this now, nearly 3 months after I've been living in a hotel?!  I would have slept on the futons if it meant having my own kitchen and disrupting the kids' lives less.  Not many days would have been disrupted by noise since they haven't done that much work.  It's a good thing we were separated by some distance when he said that, because I really wanted to punch him.  He says he understands how hard this is, but there's no way he does if he didn't think to offer that as a solution back in September!

In any case, we're headed home Saturday.  Obviously nothing will be done tomorrow, but the painters will come Friday.  That means the tarps can come down once they are done, so we can get through the house easily.  I thought I'd be more excited about going home, but there's a bunch left to do.  The skylights aren't in, there is no flooring, no gutters, and no sidewalk.  Our table hasn't been fixed and the carpets haven't been cleaned.  Overall the house is really dirty.  So Saturday we'll go home to clean and get things situated while doing laundry.  And then Sunday we'll get to enjoy at least being in our house.  Everything but the sidewalk is supposed to be done by Tuesday.  But it's hard to believe any timeline from this guy now, since everything gets pushed back.  I hope that everything will be okay by next weekend and we can get closer to back to normal.  At least on Saturday we can start to deal with the psychological issues of being in the house again.  Hopefully there won't be any storms for a while.

Thank you God for watching over us through all of this.  Please continue to guide the workers' hands as the finish the final repairs.  Bless all of the hotel staff for they have been wonderful to our family.  And bless everyone else around us for all of the support they offered.  We're going home... and I can't wait to use my kitchen again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Delays

Yesterday was quite a disappointing day.  I dropped Carolyn off at school, we stopped at the store, and then headed to our neighbor's house for the day.  She has wonderfully given us the key while they are out of town for a few days, so we're hanging out across the street from our house during the day.  We arrived and got the key from another neighbor and couldn't help but notice that there were no cars/vans/trucks at our house.  We went into the neighbor's house and I got James settled a bit before going across the street to get some things to make dinner.  Upon entering I noted that there was water on the floor boards, again.  The skylights haven't been installed and only boards were put over them, which doesn't work real well in a soaking rain.  I made a mental note to call the contractor and began gathering supplies for dinner.  Once I returned to the neighbor's house I called our contractor, to inform him no one was there to work and there is a leak.  He said he wasn't sure why no one was there and promised to come out and tarp the roof.

By 11am no one was at the house, so I emailed the contractor to try and find out more and remind him that our current hotel reservation is up Sunday so we need to know if that will need to be extended.  His response was that there was an emergency but the crew would be at our house the next day (Tuesday) and they would be done Saturday.  Jon then responded asking about an occupancy permit, to which the contractor said he would call the village.  Had I not called and then both of us emailed, I am wondering when we would have found out about the delays and whether an occupancy permit would have been a thought in this guy's head.  We were promised that he would get back to us by the end of the day.

We had a great dinner last night, although Carolyn may be getting sick again.  It was wonderful to cook myself and sit at a kitchen table as just our family for the first time in 12 weeks.  When we left the neighbor's around 5:45, no tarps had been put on the skylights.  When I went to bed at 9:30 last night, we had no word about the occupancy permit.  So before bed I sent a follow-up email letting the contractor know that I need to call the housing service company back today (Tuesday) if we're going to need another extension.

We received a response at around midnight last night that he is awaiting a response from the village.  I just received a text from a neighbor that the dumpster is being taken away (it was overflowing anyway), I wonder if it will be replaced?  I would imagine there will still be things to dispose of as they cut the drywall and flooring.  The email from the contractor promised the drywall crew would arrive at 7am today to begin work.  It's 7:30 now, I wonder if they're there?  And I also wonder what the point of arriving so early today is... they still have to wait for the mud to dry.  They're the professionals though, right?  Maybe they have some tricks to help it dry faster and maybe they do plan to start on things in the kitchen.  Alas, it appears there is no one there.

Time to wake up the kids, hopefully the last school morning in this hotel!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Promise

We are definitely getting to the end of our rope here.  The house sat again for most of the week, the insulation was installed Thursday and supposedly the inspection done yesterday.  But we've heard no update on that.

We have been told the contractors are being given 3 days to finish the inside of the house.  Is that really how it works, you tell them how long they have to do everything?  There's just so much left to do that this seems crazy and very unlikely.  But I long to be home.  Anyone have any experience in construction?  Here's what is left to be done, any way this could actually happen in 3 days?

  • Sklylights installed
  • Ceiling + 1 wall section drywalled - tape, mud, etc
  • Paint - entire living room, entire kitchen (covering over cracks, so whatever needs to be done for that)
  • Install floors in living room, replace 2 tiles in laundry room, possibly replace kitchen floors
  • Clean and move furniture back into house
Some could wait until we're home like
  • Pour cement sidewalk (without it we lose back door access)
  • Install gutters
  • Seal and paint siding
  • Clean playroom carpet
I'm trying to be optimistic, but this just seems like so much in such little time.  I am frustrated that this has taken so long and it seems that the construction company is to blame for a large chunk of it.  No idea why the insulation was pushed from Friday to Tuesday to Thursday.  We lost an entire week due to something that takes just a couple hours to complete.

Prayers that we are able to be home next week are appreciated.  I miss my kitchen and my bed so much.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Even more delays

The roof is on, hooray!  At least, I saw them putting on yesterday and today.  So I assume at this point that it's been completed.  Our head contractor was at the house this afternoon for an inspection of the rafters and structure, and possibly the electrical.  I emailed him to check in and let him know we want to go home as soon as the drywalling is done.  We've decided we would rather be in a house with no floors and needing to be painted than continue to live in a hotel while they finished.  And the response I received back was rather deflating.  He let me know that the insulator was pushed back to Tuesday in case today's inspection didn't go well.  Um, so are we assuming that we won't pass the inspection?  And if so, why are we assuming that?  This makes me worried on so many levels.  But overall it makes me sad.  I was very close to tears today when I received this email.  I had my heart set on being home next weekend.  We would have a couple days to get settled in before the long Thanksgiving weekend.  And now I'm honestly not sure that we'll be home by Thanksgiving.  It just seems there's delay after delay.  I am honestly amazed at how slow this all going.  We have now been out of our house for 10 full weeks (well, as of 3pm tomorrow).  In that time I think 5-6 days have had some actual work being done on the house!

I just want to go home!  It's cold and it's started snowing, I want to park my car in a garage.  I want to sit in front of my fireplace.  I want to relax with my family.  I want to bake in my own kitchen.  I want to have my own space.  Yes, a lot of I wants.  I want to just be selfish for a bit.  In fact, I may need to be soon.  I am starting to see signs of the adrenal fatigue returning.  I have headaches nearly every day, at times so bad I can't complete my work.  Each afternoon I am exhausted and nauseous, eating only helps minimally.  I seem to need sugar to keep going.  And yet there's really nothing I can do until we get home.  Once we're there I can eat the foods I know I need, I can get more sleep since I'll have less time in the car.  I can heal my body, but the longer we're here the worse the damage and the longer the recovery.

God, we really need You right now.  Help me get through these next weeks until we're home.  I'm afraid any more bad news on the schedule for completion will completely break me.  It's in Your hands, help us.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Things Not to Say

For the most part everyone has been great through all of this.  But something at MOPs on Friday got Jon and I thinking about all of the responses we've received.  It's very clear that nobody really knows how to respond.  The best is when James tells someone (generally a stranger) that we're living in a hotel because a tree fell on our house.  The adult naturally looks at me like "What an imagination he has, that can't be true?"  And I step in for a moment and let them know that unfortunately what he's saying is exactly right.  There are a few responses, some we heard multiple times that are not only unhelpful but even somewhat frustrating.  Now, we're not keeping track of who says what and my goal here is not to make people feel bad.  But honestly, there are some things that are really frustrating to hear right now.  If you don't know what to say, sometimes the best thing is just to be honest and let the person know you can't relate.  I'm finding this applies to so many things in life.

1)  I remember when we did our house remodel, that was hard.  (Gee, was that by choice?  Did you have time beforehand to prepare?  Did you get to choose the time of year to start the project?  Did you get to work out the details of where you would live instead of being at the mercy of the insurance company?  Did you pay to replace something and then have it destroyed less than 2 months later?  Self-inflicted remodel projects have many pieces that we're without.)

2)  At least you have a pool.  (I get it, trying to find the positive.  When you stay in a hotel, the pool is generally great.  But when you still have to live the rest of life, you don't get a chance to use the pool.  We're lucky if we can find an hour or so on Sat/Sun to enjoy the pool.  And since 1 of our kids isn't tall enough to stand in more than the very corner, it's really not relaxing.)

Best things we've heard?
1)  Wow, that must be really hard.
2)  I don't know what to say, I've never been through anything like that.
3)  So glad to hear you're all okay, that must have been scary.

God is in control here, He's going to get us to where we need to be.  I'm amazed by the insights into various things that I've gained through this experience.  We are very ready to be home and continue to pray that in 2 weeks I can be in my own bed and my own house.  Hoping the snow can hold off until then!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Major Progress!

On the way to school this morning I received great news via text message from my neighbor - a construction crew was at my house and had started!  This was a wonderful way to start the day and James quickly became excited about going to see what they were up to.  We dropped Carolyn off at school and headed to the library for story time.  We chose books before story time and afterwards headed back to the house.  What we found when we got there was our house without a covering over the living room.

 Yes, those are trees you can see right through our house.  So weird to see this in the room that used to hold so much of our life.  But these guys certainly did work quickly.  After a little while, James became cold so we went to the garage to hang out.  I decided to do our usual fall clean up and move the summer toys into the sheds.  This should make the garage more usable going forward.  James found a rake and played with the leaves for a bit.  When we went back to the front of the house to wait for the guy in charge to meet us and go over floor samples and paint colors, this is what we found:

 Everything was completely torn off and the crew was having lunch.  Weird to think that a tree could do this much damage.  But nice to see everything that was cracked taken down.  The rest of the house was really bright at this stage.  The guy in charge arrived and we went into the kitchen to look over some things.  We chose the flooring, selecting an engineered wood to minimize the lip between our bedroom as well as the rest of the house.  We'll be finalizing the color to match our bedroom in the next couple days.  I showed him the paint cans so we can match colors for the living room and he told me they'll be painting the kitchen ceiling due to cracking and thus the walls as well.  We also looked at the coffee table so that it can be repaired.  That is the only thing really damaged personal property wise and I want to see it fixed.  Looks like some new hinges and sanding/staining will have it back to new.

After the meeting, James and I headed back to the hotel for lunch and nap/work time.  I loved having James snuggled up next to me for a nap.  Took me back to when he was a baby and would only sleep on/with me.  We then picked Carolyn up and took her to gymnastics before returning to the house.  It's amazing how fast these guys work, because this is what we found when we returned:

To the casual observer that knows nothing about this type of construction, they are done.  We have wonderful new framing, including two large spots for skylights.  Everything looks great!  Apparently they aren't quite done and will be returning tomorrow to finish up.  The roofers are scheduled to come on Saturday and we're told the village can come inspect the framing from the inside if needed so there will be no delay there.  I was a little sad to hear the goal is to get us home by Thanksgiving, as I had hoped we would be home next weekend.  But hopeful things continue to progress well and we can be home as soon as possible.  It's awesome to see so much work done.  I am getting even more excited about getting back into our house!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Materials delivered

Yesterday was quite a long day!  Carolyn did not have school, but James still had gymnastics and soccer.  So our morning was spent with him at his activities.  Luckily I was able to get some work done while he was at soccer.  Afterwards we had a nice lunch out, but I spent 20 minutes of it on the phone with a woman from AT&T.  I've wasted hours trying to get them to correct our account and finally feel slightly like they realize how frustrating this has been.  Had an ad from W.O.W. on our door though with an offer for $20/m internet that I'll be looking into as our contract runs out next month.

Our meeting with the contractor to pick out finishes was pushed back until today.  But it was wonderful to walk to the front of the house and see a pile of wood and other things waiting to be installed.  I counted 27 large beams, looks like this roof is going to be quite strong.  The weather doesn't look great for tomorrow but I really hope they can get started.

We really need to go home.  We are all starting to get extremely tired and yesterday was a small taste of what being home again could be like.  We spent the afternoon at the park and the kids loved it.  But we still had to trudge back to the hotel after gymnastics and the kids will have to be up extra early for chess.  Carolyn is starting to struggle with gymnastics skills.  Both kids miss their freedom so much.  Their imaginations and ability to play with just little things has really taken off though.  It makes me consider boxing up a large portion of the playroom when we do return home.  Now would be a great time to get rid of some of the junk since they likely won't remember what was there.  I wonder if I'll have any time to go to the house by myself to perhaps move some things into the garage.

We just want to go home.  Pray that the weather cooperates so they can get this process started.  If they get the roof done, enough might be done that we could be home next weekend.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Weather Delays, Illness

We had a wonderful time yesterday celebrating Halloween.  James and I spent most of the day doing laundry.  Or rather, he played with Jon's dad while I worked and did laundry.  Around 2 we headed to Carolyn's school for her parade and party.  The wind was very strong and it was snowing and off all day.  I could feel a tightness in my chest from the time we left until we entered the hotel around 7pm.  Mentally I knew everything would be okay.  But watching the trees bend and the traffic lights sway had my hands shaking for most of the day.  Carolyn had fun at her party, and then we packed up her things and headed to the store.  We grabbed some veggies and dip for our neighborhood gathering and the kids rode on the mechanical horse at Meijer.  Then we headed home, where the kids spent a couple minutes in their rooms and we turned on the furnace to keep the house at 50.  Some brief research online shows that will keep us from needing to worry about anything freezing.  Then we headed across the street for some playtime, dinner, then trick or treating.  I was amazed when we returned from trick or treating (by the kids' requests) and it was only 6:20.  We had a little more play time then returned to the hotel for bedtime snacks and bed.  Both kids were out by 8.

We had planned to go to a chess tournament for Carolyn this morning but she woke up with a bad headache.  We went down to breakfast and she was still saying she wanted to go.  But we were able to convince her that she'll have another chance in a couple months.  Turns out that was good as she has spent the day in bed, with several trips to the bathroom and her fever is up to 101.7.  We had done well to avoid any illness while living in a hotel for 8 weeks.  Hopefully this will be short-lived, she'll be better tomorrow, and no one else will catch the germs.  It's hard though to get her the rest she needs and not feel like we're all trapped.

I received an email from our contractor today as well.  The materials have been manufactured and will be delivered Tuesday.  Due to rain forecasts, the crew is scheduled for Thursday to complete the carpentry work.  This of course pushes everything at least another 2 days back.  So it looks like we'll be here another 2 weeks.

Off to take care of Carolyn.  God, please comfort her and move this through her body quickly.