Next on Deck

NOTE: As of September 23, 2009, this post has been edited in
accordance with a court-mediated settlement. The names of the
contractor and his excavation subcontractor have been replaced with

Now that we've got the pantry livable (but not, of course, completely done), you might think we'd take some time and enjoy the holidays before getting started on our next project. But you would be wrong. This is what we've been doing for the last week:

Front parlour, before

That would be the front parlour, still partially completed after years and years and years. Well, we decided to just get it done. It may look like not much has happened in there, but keep in mind that this space held my desk, our sideboard, a small pump organ, and a grand piano, quite a bit of work went into getting it this empty. We still have to clear out a bunch of computer pieces and a surprisingly large collection of dog crates, tape off the pocket doors to keep dust out of the back parlour, and then I can get to work.

Then the tasks are: fix messed up drywall work (from when the house shifted during the foundation work, and from where Contractor A (best known for having shown up drunk on the job site) made a sloppy patch while taking out the brick chimney), clean the odd adhesive goo off the floor, patch up the spot near the pocket doors where there was once a floor heater and the previous owners put down particle board to fill the hole, prime and paint, and maybe come up with some trim. Not to be done right now is rebuilding the old chimney breast or installing a new gas fireplace. While we will get round to that eventually, we just don't have the time or money right now to find a nice mantle, and Noel wants to base the size of the chimney breast on the mantle rather than try to find one to fit the old size. Fair enough.

I have the next three weeks off work thanks to the indecisiveness of a client, so I have actually hopes for being able to get this room mostly done before I have to go back to work next year.

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posted by ayse on 12/12/08


Fabulous! I bet this will be spectacular when you get done! Happy Holidays! I really enjoy following this blog! meo

Take my word for it, hire a drywall finisher. Theres a zillion Mexicans that will do the work for a reasonable price and will do a good job. I can tgell by looking at the mudding that you are doing it yourself or you have someone whose work is no better thatn a do it yourselfer.

Interesting perspective, Robert. You could, of course, also tell by just reading this blog that we're doing it ourselves, of course (so there's only one "Mexican" involved). I used to just delete these comments, or the (rather ruder) e-mails along the same lines. I'm generally not interested in getting in fights on my blog, especially with people who pretty much just want to abuse me for daring to do things myself (especially because I am a woman, which seems to really offend a lot of people, when they don't get all worked up about my name and where they think I come from). But I've had enough of it.

You are wrong. Oh, in how many ways you are wrong. You are so wrong that the wrongness just oozes off your comment along with the lazy spelling and the inability to use apostrophes. You are so wrong that you have gone around to right and past it again into even more wrong. There is nobody as wrong as you, Robert. We should just call you Rongbert.

First, the cost to have a professional do the work is very high indeed. We had estimates that ranged from outrageous to insane, all in five digits, and not one drywall or plastering firm in the area was able to guarantee the sort of smooth finish I asked for, even for tens of thousands of dollars, though the use of orangepeel was suggested to cover up their inability to smooth out the lumps. For tens of thousands of dollars I can do a lot of work on my house, thanks. In order to not use that money on my parlour I'm willing to spend a month finessing the finish myself.

Especially since, second, the quality we could get was not so great. In fact, it has consistently been the case in the last six years that contractors have overcharged and underperformed, and been angry with me for calling them on it. There have been a few exceptions, but they have been the exceptions. For the most part, by doing the work myself I end up with a finer end product, and I don't have a big angry man yelling at me.

Third, you can't even tell how wrong you are about the quality of my work because you're judging it based on the first application of mud, not the last, you twit. Not even the most practised eye can tell from looking at photos from across the room, less than a third of the way through the job, how the final product will look. (Had you looked in the archives, you would have seen our work on the library drywall which is very fine indeed. I won't tax your angry little head with that, though.)

Finally, we're not interested in taking shortcuts. If you want to suggest them, go elsewhere. Find somebody who decided to renovate an old house to flip it, not because working on a house is their primary hobby. And you think to suggest using slave labour to cut costs? A "zillion Mexicans"? Go die in a car fire.

I used to be an office manager for a construction company. Quite honestly, a conscientious trained chimp can do drywall. Its all about putting in the time.

I am with Ayse about the cost. I am a very lazy chimp and hate doing ceilings, so I hired some of the best guys in the Bay Area. Smooth as a baby's butt, but expensive. Five or so years ago, it was $3000 for two ceilings in two small rooms. I shudder to think what that Victorian room would cost.

Ayse, you go girl! You are my new favorite blogger.

I have just spent most of an afternoon reading your blog from 2007 on and am enthralled. I love old houses and want to get a fixer some day. In the meantime I can live vicariously by following your project.

Keep up the good work.

Glad you liked it. I wish there were a way for me to send a load of crumbled plaster and rotted wood to fall on your head over the internet, so you could share the experience.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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