In which she discusses home repair and other issues with the Universe

by DaniGirl on November 30, 2010 · 20 comments

in The ongoing saga of the house

It went something like this.

*ring, ring*


Hey, Universe, it’s DaniGirl again.

DaniGirl! Delightful to hear from you. How’s that new house of yours?

We love the house, Universe. We truly love it. It felt like home from the day we moved in. I still keep pinching myself, I’m so amazed that we’re lucky enough to live in this gorgeous neighbourhood.

And the boys are getting settled in their new school and with the new caregiver?

Yep, that’s all working out fine. More than fine, actually. That, and the amazing sense of community here, are giving me reasons to be grateful every day. Did you notice a few weeks back, before it got cold, that Saturday morning when the big boys disappeared from the breakfast table and played outside for nearly THREE HOURS, just rambling about in the yard, the treehouse and the porch?

I did see that. They have a lot more freedom here than they did in the old neighbourhood, don’t they?

And last week, when one of the neighbours invited me over for a street hen-party to welcome a new baby to the street, that was just amazing. The whole street gets together for social occasions — this is the kind of neighbourhood I’ve been dreaming of for years and years.

So what’s on your mind then, DaniGirl? You seem troubled.

Yeah, Universe, I got a lot on my mind. You see, as much as I truly love this house, and the neighbourhood, and the community, the home repairs are about to break the bank.

Well, you knew going in that you were buying an older house, right?

Yeah, sure. We anticipated a lot of expenses going in. The well upgrades, the roof replacement, that was all accounted for in the purchase decision. When that musty smell didn’t go away, we called someone in to check for mould in the basement and he didn’t find anything, but he did suggest a dehumidifier and to consider replacing the carpet. It was pretty old and on our eventual to-do list to replace it anyway, so we just bumped that up in the priority list.

And you are replacing the sump pump?

Yep. That one didn’t come up in the home inspection, but we could see that it was old and had another specialist come in to check it out. We’d heard that you should have a dual pump system anyway. The last thing you want is your sump pump failing during spring run-off season! So we’re forking over an unexpected $2,000 for that, but it’s the kind of investment that pays for itself over the years.

And the electricians are doing some work too?

They’re actually here as I type. The building inspector told us we need to upgrade a few things. Like, the dishwasher had an electrical cord from a freezer gerry-rigged to it and plugged into the same outlet as the fridge. And the sump pump and well pump were on the same circuit, so they needed to be separated. A few other small things. We can’t get the sump pump upgrade done until the electrical fix is in. We knew about all the electrical stuff when we moved in, though.

Okay, so it you’ve got a plan. You’re right, it’s a pretty big investment now, but at least it will all be taken care of. How’s it all going?

Not so good, actually. We moved all the furniture out of the boys’ bedrooms downstairs on the weekend to get ready for the new carpet to be laid. Yesterday, Beloved was pulling off the baseboards, when he found black mould underneath them, where the wall meets the floor. Not too high up the wall, but at least six feet or so along the joint.

Oh, that’s not good. Where do you think the water is coming from?

Well, there are two possibilities. The room where Tristan’s bedroom is used to be a garage, but quite a few years back they converted it into a finished basement and moved the garage to the other side of the house. The sump pump guy also does things like vapour barriers and other basement waterproofing, and when he came in to give me a quote on the sump, he walked in and said, “Hey, I’ve been in this house before!” Apparently the previous homeowner had some moisture issues and they’d installed a high-end moisture barrier. So that is one possibility, as it’s the same wall where we found the mould. BUT, the corner where it is most prevalent is adjacent to the shower in the bathroom and Beloved found evidence of water on the baseboards in the bathroom beside the shower. It actually looks more likely that the leak is coming from the seal around the shower or the drain.

Oy. So what are you going to do?

Frankly, I don’t know. I’m trying to stay positive about this, but holy crap. I called the mould remediation guy back again and chatted with him, and he’ll come out and see how bad the mould issue really is. I’m just praying that it’s easily contained and removed. And then we’ll have to figure out where the water is coming from — cross your fingers it’s as easy as sealing the shower drain or something equally simple and not a foundation issue — and fix that. Then we’ll have to rebuild the drywall that got taken out.

What about the carpet?

Well, they were supposed to come on Wednesday to install the new carpets. We could either go ahead with one room and have them come back to do the second when we fix the mould problem and do the other repairs, or just delay the whole thing. I’m leaning toward waiting and having it all done at once, if for no other reason than it will be an extra $125 for the second half of the installation job.

Did you really send an e-mail to the people that produce Mike Holmes’ new show on new homeowner’s problems?

I did. There is nothing I’d like more than a hero in a pickup truck to show up and rescue us from this stuff. I don’t know anything about sump pumps or mould or electricity or well pumps or leaky showers. There’s been a constant parade of contractors for this, that and the other thing ever since we moved in and frankly I’m worried that every contractor that shows up is going to fleece us. I don’t know how to prioritize this stuff anymore, and I’m sick of the inconvenience, let alone the cost. But they don’t film outside the GTA, so I’ll have to find my hero elsewhere.

That’s a lot to take in. How are you handling it all?

Well, Universe, that’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about. The past week has been crazy with decisions big and small. We finally decided to book a snow-removal service rather than buy a snowblower, partly because it delays the investment of $1000 or more on a snowblower AND gives me the luxury of staying inside and watching from the window the next time we have a blizzard. And no sooner had we decided that then we started wrangling the natural versus artificial tree debate. After much dithering, we finally decided on a natural tree if for no other reason than we just can’t justify $300 for a Christmas tree right now with everything else going on. See the theme of delayed expenses here?

And that was before the whole mould discovery, right?

That’s right. And the day we decided that was the day we got that dusting of snow, and I fishtailed twice on Prince of Wales. And then when I got home, I couldn’t get in the damn driveway!

Oh yes, I did see that one. You didn’t realize how much of a slope the driveway had, did you?

Well, I mean, I noticed it as in I said to myself that we’ll have to be careful that the kids don’t ride the slope in their plasma car and bikes and whatnot right on to the road. It’s a very quiet road, true, but it is a blind corner with those giant cedar hedges. But it never occured to me that with a bit of ice I’d have to take three runs at it to get my car up the slope. And so that led to a discussion on…

Snow tires?

Snow tires. Can you believe I’ve never put snow tires on my car before?

What kind of a Canadian girl are you anyway?

I know!! So I spent all day Monday getting quotes, with my head full of new versus used, and prices from $300 to $900 for just one car, and yeesh, then I come home and find out about the mould thing. I mean really, Universe. Could you lay off for a bit, do you think? Maybe take a vacation or something? Go see what that black hole at V4641 Sagittarii is up to?\

Hey DaniGirl, it’s only money, right? Let’s keep this in perspective.

Sigh, yes. It’s only money. I was thinking about that last night. In fact, I was thinking about our infertility days, and the dark nights when I was afraid we’d never have this beautiful family that means everything to me. Really, I know these are first-world problems and will eventually be resolved. But damn, it has been a long and expensive couple of weeks. And frankly, I’d like to have a weekend go by where I’m not frantically googling and information gathering on mould and snow tires and Christmas tree stands and PVC content in artificial trees and generators for sump pumps and GFI circuits and carpet versus laminate in a basement and acceptable humidity levels and the three hundred and fifty seven other home maintenance issues I’ve gotten an education in since August.

So tell me, do you still love the house?

You know what? I do still love the house. And the community. And the neighbours, and the yard, and the boys’ school, and even the new caregiver. There’s so much wonderful about this whole scenario that I’m willing to suck it up and deal with this other crap. But, Universe?

Yes, DaniGirl?

Lay off for a bit, okay? Give us a bit to catch up?

I’ll see what I can do, kiddo.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kerry November 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

The Universe has a cruel sense of humour sometimes. At least you’re keeping yours!

2 Alicia November 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Love this post. I didn’t realize you could call the universe…hmm. I wonder if I could get through. It sounds like you are truly happy in your new home! Keep treading!

3 Lee-Ann Sleegers November 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

You do such a great job putting things in perspective. Even here in London we’re having the snow tire debate and I was informed it resulted in sticker shock by the Husband.

4 Finola November 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I always love your Universe posts. You present such a good argument that I’m sure this will work. Hang in there in the meantime!!

5 Mary November 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Keep your head up! Home repairs are like renovations – one snowballs into another and another and another….
It may be only money, but it still doesn’t mean it can’t get you down when you’re in the thick of it. At our house, we joke that we never pay off our line of credit, just make room for the next expense. You’re right though – I’d much rather be overwhelmed with finding the cash to pay for home repairs than struggling to find the cash for fertility treatments.

6 DaniGirl November 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

So, the electricians are just wrapping up, and the consensus is that the house was wired by a bunch of drunken sailors. The original wiring is good, but some subsequent idiot fancied himself quite the handy man and apparently wired the place with whimsey and caprice. Sigh, so reassuring. They’ve untangled the worst of it, and assure me that there is nothing left that is worrisome.

We opted against the generator panel that we were planning to install, simply because it’s an extra $1500 that will now have to go to mould remediation. Off I go to get one of those little AC backup generators to run the sump and well pumps in case of a power outage. Cuz did ya hear, the forecast is for biblical amounts of rain tonight.

That’s just not funny, Universe! Just. not. funny.

7 Laura November 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Oy that’s terrible! I say we petition Mike Holmes…so he can help make it right. Shall I get that going? πŸ™‚

8 Coco November 30, 2010 at 4:34 pm

You will always beat the Universe ’cause you have a better sense of humour…..just don’t lose it!!!!!!!

9 Amber November 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I’m crossing my fingers for you, and hoping that things will settle down for you REALLY SOON. πŸ™‚

10 Paula November 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Oh my, it never rains but it pours! It’s a shame that your home inspector did not find the mold problem, you might have been able to reduce the price of the house again to cover the repairs. You really are a candidate for Mike Holmes new series Holmes Inspection and it’s unfortunate that they won’t film out of the GTA . I recall that they did go outside of the GTA on a few occasions with Holmes on Homes.

Just today we had our generator panel installed and even if we never have to use it, knowing that it is there, ready to kick in to keep things running in case of an outage is so reassuring. One thing to note, when you do find that little AC back-up generator make sure that you have one large enough to handle your well pump, sump pump AND septic pump.

I really hope that you have discovered the last of your *hidden* issues with the house and hopefully the *universe* will spin more in your favour very soon.

11 Danielle November 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I feel your pain. Our beloved house has had both a leaky roof and basement this year and we’re discovering a million other little things that went unnoticed during the home inspection when we bought it 2 years ago. Our sump pump wasn’t old, it was missing entirely! At least they left the hole so we knew where it should go.

My saving grace is knowing that eventually everything will be fixed, looking and working even better that before (and somehow get paid for). Yours will be too. Good luck and stay positive.

12 Gordon Dewis November 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

@DaniGirl That's a BOLO-worthy entry you just wrote at Sorry to hear about the mould et al. Hang in there!

13 Gus&Otto November 30, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Oh, I feel your pain. Your life is my life, or my life is your life. We found mold in our basement. It had been leaking for years. We had to waterproof the ENTIRE exterior, gut the basement, install and sump, and then refinish it. Five years and 80K later, it’s finally all done. Now we just need to decorate (um, right now a new $500 TV is out of the question!). Hopefully it won’t come to that…but if you need a contractor for waterproofing, I’ll happily tell you who NOT to hire. We got snow tires two years ago and had to purchase new rims as well. We also had to redo our electrical because the previous homeowners did so much themselves it was a mess. The first sign that the house was going to be a gong show was when the inspector noted that we’d need to remove the gas fireplace from the basement that they directly hooked up to the furnace (!!!). And, our inspector missed a lot. We wrote to Holmes on Homes, but we never heard back.

All that to say, houses = bleeding money. But, there’s so many things that make it all worthwhile. Short term pain for this beautiful new home.

14 Paula Riopelle November 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm

As a lawyer, when you say one of the repair guys said “Hey, I’ve been in this house before” because the previous owner had moisture issues, you should be checking your SPIS disclosure form to verify if the seller had disclosed his/her moisture issues. If they did not, you know they they were misrepresenting the home because the sump pump guy has confirmed it. I strongly suggest you review your SPIS statement that should be in your reporting letter from your lawyer, and if there is a misrepresentation in this regard, you need to call your lawyer. If this is the case, you can sue the vendor for the misrepresentation in small claims court to get back the costs associated with the repairs due to moisture that may not have been disclosed.

As for the winter tires, with 3 small children myself, I could not imagine not having them. You are carrying precious cargo and once you drive with them, you won’t regret it!

15 Denise Nielsen December 1, 2010 at 9:22 am

Loved this post. As the happy owner of a house built in 1836, I feel qualified to say that I understand what you are going through, and as another commenter pointed out, you never quite get that line of credit paid out do you, lol. We demolished out kitchen a few years ago to discover the cupboards were propped up in one corner by an unopened can of goat meat (!?!), and the insulation in the walls consisted of a few sheets of newspaper (on, that’s why it was always so cold). Don’t even get me started on right angled walls (we don’t have any).

But as you cleverly point out, these are first world problems, and my kids are happy, healthy and get to play in nature every day of their lives. What’s a few bills? (Although I say this with trepidation because my car too needs new snow tires this year AND the light telling me the brakes pads are wearing came on this morning. Never rains but it pours.)

16 Sara December 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm

“Hey Universe” (in my most taunting voice)

“Over here, look, look over here!!!”

I have someone in mind for the universe to taunt next. Send em’ my way πŸ™‚

17 DaniGirl December 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Be careful Sara! You’re messin’ with powerful mojo! πŸ˜‰

Thanks to everyone for your sweet comments. The bad news is, we’ll probably have to rip out our basement shower and buy a new one. The good news is, we probably *won’t* have to rip out our foundation and buy a new one!

18 Chantal December 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Oh Dani, that is a lot to manage. I am glad you still happy with your decision to move. Older houses always come with such fun. I hope this is it for a while!

19 Annika December 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

You have a great sense of humour, chin up! You have no idea how much I can commiserate with you on this post (I won’t go into detail, but could write at least 15 paragraphs). Thank you for reminding ME to put everything into perspective.

Sending good vibes your way…and Ottawa needs it’s own Mike Holmes!!! Keep us posted as things evolve, Dani.

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