Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lagerfeld vs. the Irishman

Things are gradually coming together at Lil' Ugmo.  Some people can handle living their lives with things everywhere and disorder.  We are not that family.  It's making our skin crawl to have all our stuff out of place and no pictures on the wall but we're trying to take things slow and pace ourselves.  We did a big purge of books and assorted miscellany so we're feeling a little lighter on that score, but it's still slow going and it involves many, many trips to Ikea.  I've realized that my adult life consists of trading in various permutations of Ikea's Expedit series of bookshelves.  We go from 4x4 to 2(1x5) to 2x4 to 2(2x2).  It's crazy.

We had some contractor woes.  At first I was going to general contract manage the whole job by myself.  So I was calling people in to quote us on demo, drywall, electrical, floors, and painting.  I called a few carpenters to get a sense of how much it would cost to get the stair railing done.  Looking on Homestars, I found quite a few and called them.  One of them was the Irishman.  He gave me a quote and then asked who was doing the demo and drywall.  He said that he could do the work as well.  So he gave us a quote that was decent.  I checked his references, and away we go.  He apparently used to work as a carpenter under some dude who is featured on HGTV all the time (I don't watch that channel, so I dunno) and recently started his own business.  It all seemed legit.

Things started off pretty well.  He said the job was going to take one week and so I allotted 2 1/2.  He was originally going to start at the end of July.  When I emailed him a week before to confirm, he pushed the date back a week (this is after I had made arrangements to move out of our house, etc.)  I wasn't pleased, so I told him what he had told ME and told him it was a giant pisser since we'd made arrangements based on his original timeline.  We decide to meet in the middle and he starts work on August 1st (ANNOYANCE #1 - LACK OF ORGANIZATION).  His drywall taper doesn't work on weekends, and the work runs late, so the taper isn't into the house doing his first coat until August 8th.  The whole week the Irishman is telling me that I can have my painter start on August 10th or that my floor guy can start earlier, but I have them all slated in and scheduled for while we're away at the cottage, so I'm not making any changes.

The night of my birthday dinner at Guu (August 9th), I get a call from the Irishman telling me that the weather is too humid and the drywall isn't drying and he has to "crank the furnace" to get the heat on in the house so his taper can finish the job before my floor guy starts (August 14th).  I'm like, yeah whatever.  Then the Dotytron gets all stressed out about it because we had plugged up all our vents with towels to prevent the demo dust from getting everywhere and he thinks the furnace is going to backfire.  So I text the Irishman and let him know, just as an FYI.  And he calls me back and starts wigging about not knowing what he's supposed to do with this information, etc.  And I'm like, dude, just go to the house and take the towels out but put them back after. And he's getting kind of pissy with me on the phone about it but eventually does what I ask him to (ANNOYANCE #2 - BEGINNING TO SHOW TENDENCY FOR POOR CUSTOMER RELATIONS SKILLS)

We leave for the cottage and I'm assuming that the Irishman's work in the house is done and that David Lee Roth is going to start on Tuesday and everything will be fine.  I get a call from David Lee Roth while I'm at the cottage telling me my house is filthy, and that he brought stuff to protect the furniture, but it's all covered with dust and there's no point, etc.  So I call the Irishman to relay this information to him and to tell him that the painter is starting the following Monday (August 20th) and that we had specified with him that the house will be paint-ready, and the Irishman starts giving me mad static.  Saying stuff like, "It's my busiest time of year..." "I'm a carpenter, not a house cleaner..." "You're back on Saturday? Why don't you go down with a broom and a mop and clean it up yourself" (ANNOYANCE #3 - OH NO YOU DI'N'T JUST TALK TO ME LIKE THAT!).  The Roomie bore witness to my end of the phone conversation and was proud of me.  She said I stayed calm.  Basically I told him that our agreement was paint ready and that he should have the house paint-ready.  What I didn't include was: "I DON'T KNOW YOUR LIFE YOU HOOKER, SO IT'S NOT MY PROBS THAT IT'S YOUR BUSIEST TIME OF YEAR."

So that's settled.  Then my floor guy calls again wanting to know what's going on with some unfinished vent holes and what he's supposed to do and I tell him to call the contractor.  So he calls back the next day and says he tried to call the Irishman at 9am.  The Irishman didn't get back to him until 6pm, and so my floor guy put in the baseboard that he could and left like, 30 feet for the Irishman to do once the Irishman put in the vent covers.  So I tell the Irishman that and he's like, "That wasn't included in my original agreement with you.  If you want me to put in the baseboard then I'll have to charge you my hourly rate."  (ANNOYANCE #4 - STOP BEING SUCH A HOOKER.)

I get back from the cottage.  Go to the house (solo, because if you remember, the Dotytron was on his bachelor party camping trip).  THE HOUSE IS A S**TSHOW.  Dust EVERYWHERE.  NOT paint-ready by any stretch of the imagination.  Between Saturday and Sunday I spend about 8 hours cleaning the house so that the painter can start as scheduled.  The Irishman calls on Monday wanting the last chunk of his money and to know if "we're happy with things."  I tell him to meet me us at the house.  We go over all the little details we want fixed.  I give him $1000 and hold back the last $600 until we've lived in the house a bit and see what's what.  He takes the cheque, goes to "Home Depot" to pick up the supplies he needs (I think what he really did was immediately cash the cheque I wrote him) and then came back and fixed some things, but then did a sloppy job on the rest.

The next day, we were still pretty sore about everything and kind of unhappy.  Meanwhile, our painter comes in and sees what needs to be done and just goes ahead and like, fixes everything.  Plasters, putties, fills holes, sands, and just does it, because he has pride in his work.  We were getting increasingly unhappy with the entire situation, so the Dotytron wrote the Irishman an email.  He started with the positives, and then listed all the negatives.  At the end, he offered the Irishman a deal - we could pay him $300 and hold back $300 to give to our painter, and then we wouldn't write a review on Homestars and he wouldn't use us as a reference; or, we would pay him the whole $600 but we would write a full review on Homestars.  We wouldn't drag him through the mud, but we would list the positives and negatives we had experienced.  

The Irishman calls me up and is pretty cross with me.  But here's the thing, I think he called me up thinking that I was the good cop to the Dotytron's bad cop.  What he doesn't know is that with the Dotytron and me, it's like, Dotytron = bad cop and I = CRAZY cop.  When he started getting all defensive and cross and telling me about how busy he was and how it wasn't his job to do such and such and how he thought my floor guy was supposed to start Wednesday or Thursday, I laid into him (calmly).  I basically said that I don't care how busy he is with OTHER jobs.  I hired him to do MY job.  I also told him that I had multiple records where I told him all the dates, how I had to clean my own house for 8 hours, how his crew stood on MY furniture and got it dirty and scuffed, how he didn't try to fix any of the stuff we had problems with, how I had NEVER been talked to by anyone the way he spoke to me, and how, in my opinion, maybe he SHOULDN'T have broken off from the general contractor he was teamed up with and gone off on his own.  Then he got all moochy and was like, "Karl, I'm not trying to argue with you," (ANNOYANCE #5 YES, YES YOU ARE) and does that thing people do when they're on the losing end of an argument and pull the "now now, calm down" card which is the pussiest card ever.  It's like, UMMM...YOU MADE ME THIS WAY.   

On the plus side: we love our floor guy and our painter, so if any of my 5 readers need referrals for those two tasks, I've got amazing peeps for you.

Finally, allow me  to leave you with some Ice Cream F**K.  Errr...truck.

You can also hear him doing the "truck-k-k" thing.


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