Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Little Ball of Stress, I am a

Where'd I leave this story?  Sunday?

So, the contractor said he couldn't do anything else until the inspector came.  So he (the contractor) planned to go to City Hall on Monday to get the permit, and would schedule the inspector for Tuesday.  At which time work could recommence.

He calls me Monday night and says the City said they were really backed up, and that I didn't need a plumbing inspection, but I would need an electricity inspection, and that dude couldn't come until Wednesday.  But, says the contractor, since we don't need a plumbing inspection, he could get back to work on Tuesday and start cementing up the walls to prepare for the tile.

Sounds good.  I lock the cat in the bathroom Tuesday morning.  I return from work Tuesday evening.  The cat wants out of the bedroom.

You'll have to use your imagination on what those seven words actually entail.  It's a lot of meowing that sounds rather like a baby crying.  And bodily throwing herself against the bedroom door.  (It's one of them french doors, so she can see me through a window pane.)  She knows I'm there and she's mighty annoyed that I'm not listening to her.

But I can't let her out.  Not just yet.  See, the workmen have put cement all over the floor (and walls) of the bathroom.  And they've taken the door off the hinges to let it dry.

Picture a room full of wet cement, a curious and impatient cat, and the only thing standing between the two is a door lying on its side in the hallway in front of the open doorway.  (The door actually made it worse.  Had it been completely open, there was the potential that she'd sniff the cement, decide she wasn't interested, and just walk away.  But the door in the hallway meant she'd take a running start, leap over the door, and land all four paws in wet cement on the other side.  Good plan.)

I try to think up a solution to this problem, but it's hard to think with the meowing (punctuated by the occasional attack on the french door).

The answer presents itself in the form of a folding door which used to be cover my washing machine closet,but which kept falling off its track and was presently being stored out on my balcony for no known purpose.  (Actually, I'd been thinking I should probably get these contractors to cart it away.  I mean, it has been out there for about a year.  Through rain and termites and ...  yeah, I should toss that.)  ANYWAY, with the assistance of one of my neighbors ("Can you do me and my cat a really big favor?") the folding door was hauled in and propped up in front of the open bathroom door (conveniently leaving a ventilation opening at the top) preventing cat entry.

I let the cat out of the bedroom and she tore out of there like ... a cat being released from captivity.  (Tip:  If you see one coming, get out of its way.)

Oh... one more thing.  You notice I said nothing about the whole hole-in-the-wall-where-my-neighbor's-stove-is thing?  In the morning:  hole in the wall.  In the evening:  cement over entire wall.  I knock on my neighbor's door and tell them that something has been done to their stove, but I'll be damned if I know what it is.  (Interesting note.  This is the first time I've seen inside my neighbor's place, and their stove is the original equipment that was installed when this place was built.  Which suggests that the hole in the wall with the possibly-dangerous pipe venting into it was done by the original builder.  Just fills me with confidence.)

Which leads us to this morning.  Morning comes, and I prepare to shut the cat in the bedroom again.

My cat is no idiot.  She doesn't come anywhere near my bedroom after, oh, 4:00 in the morning.  No way I'm going to just sneak the door closed on her when she's in there for our usual morning pet-fest.  (She takes a pass on pet-fest altogether.)  I eventually find her behind the television set.

The television set is fairly sizeable.  It's sitting in the center of a corner wall unit and ... hell, there's no point in describing it.  The bottom line is:  If I stand on a chair I can see her curled up behind the TV, but there's no reaching her to get her out, and the TV is way too heavy for me to move it.

Meantime, theworkers arrive -- here to install a second coat of cement.  I ask them what they did to deal with the stove issue yesterday, and they look at me like I'm speaking Spanish.  (Well, actually, they speak Spanish.  They're looking at me like I'm speaking English.  Which I am.)  They say they didn't do anything to the stove -- they're just the cement guys.

I put a call in to the contractor.  He had told me the other day that he'd take care of the stove issue, and now it seems like his guys did nothing and just cemented over it.  (Apparently, we're operating under different definitions of "take care of it.")  I won't let the guys put a second coat of cement on if they're going to have to break through the first coat.  So we're all sitting there watching cement dry for a half hour while the contractor fails to return our call.  We finally get hold of the contractor's brother (who had diagnosed the stove problem at the start).  He explains that the wall needs to be patched from my neighbor's side, so he just went ahead with the cementing here.  (He, of course, volunteered to do the work in my neighbor's unit.  For an additional fee.)

So.  (Anyone still reading?)  I tell cement dudes to commence with the cementing.  I also (after a final futile effort at coaxing the cat out from behind the TV) tell them to be on the lookout for a small cat of the black and white persuasion.  Because they'll be working with the front door open all day.  "If she aims for the door;" I say, "stop her."

I go to work and freak out all day that I'll come home and find my cat missing.  Or, alternatively, that I'll come home to find the contractors have left and she's cemented herself to the bathroom floor.  I finish my work early (hurrah!) and get home around 4:30.

Cat still behind TV.  Huge sigh of relief.  I doubt she's moved all day.  She still won't come out, in fact -- and eventually only leaves when the contractors are gone.  (Good to know, but I'd still prefer keeping her safe when they're here.)

The contractors are still here. 

I notice I can't turn on my TV and the clocks are blinking.  Right around the time I aim for the electrical box to flick the fuse they've obviously blown, cement dude asks me where the electrical box is.  They said they'd plugged something in and all the power went.  They'd been looking in the garage for the box.  (Funny enough, the box is in my bedroom.  Where they never would have found it had I successfully locked the cat in there.)  Anyway, I flick the fuse and all is well.  Cement dude also says the inspector came.  When there was no electricity.  That would be the electrical inspector. 

Anyone think I passed?

Actually, there were three things the inspector didn't like:  the no power thing (of course); the fact that my "primary light" had to be fluorescent (and wasn't); and the fact that "green board" had been used on the ceiling (and was not allowed).  [I googled it.  Green board is "water-resistant drywall."]  Wonder what the inspector would've said if he'd seen my neighbor's stove peeking out between the studs where my shower will be.

Put another call in to the contractor.  Left a message on his voice mail regarding these issues.  [Note to self:  Good thing I was adamant about the permit.]

Thought it might be nice to go out to dinner.  Thought I'd maybe go with my downstairs neighbor, Ally.  I called Ally.

Funny thing.  Ally didn't think I was calling to invite her to dinner.  Ally thought I was calling about the leak.


Seems there was something else the cement guys hadn't been eager to tell me.  Ally heard (and then saw) some water leaking into her bathroom.  From my bathroom.  She'd spoken with cement guys, who told her that the only thing they'd done was reinstall the toilet...

... I pause here to point out that when I got home, the toilet was not, in fact, installed.  And it couldn't be, because there was wet cement all over the floor.  Why would they have installed it if they knew they had to take it out?  Oh heavens, were they installing it just to use it?

Ally said cement guys stopped the leak.  And that they'd said they'd refilled the thing (thing??? toilet? shower? floor of my bathroom?) with water but couldn't recreate the leak.

I am working at home tomorrow -- will keep an eye on the cat and the contractor.  (Tomorrow is supposed to be Tile Day!)  Contractor returned my call tonight and I missed it -- I eventually called him back at 9:30 (very likely waking him up, but he did say to return his call and put no deadline on it).  He'll be coming by tomorrow to deal with the lighting requirements, replace the greenboard on the ceiling, and, um... I'll have to mention the whole toilet leak thing.  Excitement.

I think I want to curl up behind the TV.


hewasolddog299 said...

Your contractor is just damn lucky I'm not the inspector. I didn't allow crap like that when I was on the job and no one else should, either. Continue to stick by your guns and insist on the job being done right. It's a safety issue. That common wall is required to be one hour rated constructon. That's 5/8" "Fire-X" gypsum wall board on both sides. A call to the building or fire inspector will confirm that and I suspect they'd be very interested in the fact that it appears the hole seems to be a "feature" of the original construction. I know I am...


ravenlark2 said...

Oh my stars, what a fiasco. Remind me to never have my bathroom redone....unless your pictures come out REALLY great and then I'll consider it.

Do you think your cat would make room for you back there too? She might hiss and make you lock yourself in your bedroom. Cats can hold grudges like that. HEHEHE

Hope it's getting better soon.


memes121 said...

I never thought I'd be on the edge of my seat about wet cement. Man you're good!