Beyond the Windswept Prairie

Posted by kelley on Oct 31 2008 |

England.  Settled is far from the word of the day, but we’re here.  I  didn’t believe all the books, articles, people and sites that said it would take 12 weeks from offer to get into our new house.  It took longer.  Not only is there a lot more red tape (red rope, red blankets, red wall)  we had issue with the seller.  First, our seller was officially non-compos mentis.  An older gentlemen, who had just been moved to an assisted living facility, was far from able to oversee the dispersion of his estate.  Therefore, we ended up dealing with his sons. They were a bit…um..absent.  First, no one could remember where the deeds were located.  This is a wee problem.  A week goes by and finally they’re unearthed.  Then, Goddess bless him, the actual owner passed away. We were sad for him and for his family.  We understood that they would need extra time to handle details, mourn, and go through probate.  We really did understand.  Finally, there were the solicitors.  They had to talk.  They had to exchange. They had to agree.  All the time, I’m calling everyday and saying, “What’s the bleeding hold-up now?”  Finally, we’re down to the wire.  We’re supposed to exchange contracts on Friday the 19th of September and the sons say they want to wait another week because they might not have time to go and get all of the furniture out of the house.  This is the point at which I lost patience (imagine that).  I spoke to the solicitor.  I spoke to the selling agent.  She said, “They really can’t get over there this week to do it.”  I say, “That sounds like a personal problem.”  She says, “I’m really not sure there’s much I can do.” I say, “I’m really getting pissed off now.”  She says, “I’m sure I understand.” I assured her that she had no idea.  And, lo and behold, we closed on Friday the 19th of September.  Amazing what getting a bit ticked with people will do for you.

Then the fun began.  Try, I dare you, try to hire a builder on a budget and a schedule.  I swear by Almighty Bob, we could not get anyone to take our entire kitchen renovation as a serious job.  The builder we finally did hire  told us the Friday before he was supposed to start that he needed to put us off a week because he had gotten a bigger job.  No seriously.  He said that.  You can imagine that my demure southern manners suffered a bit.

Then the fun really began.  After two days of furious work; wall out, lintel in, chimney breast breached and mended, the builder says, “I’m done.”  What about the holes in the ceiling?  Oh, the plasterer can take care of that. What about the great gaping hole in the bay from the structural repair?  I’m due on another job tomorrow.

This became a consistent theme.  Everyone thought someone else was coming after them to clean up.  The builder left it for the plasterer. The plasterer left it for the decorator.  The decorator (me)  spit nails, gnashed teeth and screamed imprecations at the walls.  I finally said to our favorite (the electrician), “John, you don’t love me.”  He, looking rather shocked, exclaims, “But I do.”  “Then why,” says I “are you ripping up the lovely paint I just lovingly rolled onto my son’s new bedroom walls.”  He, at least, was more careful after that.

After removing the wall in the kitchen, we realized the concrete floor in the (former) kitchen was an inch higher than the wood floor in the rest of the house.  This wouldn’t do as I envisioned a seamless, new, laminate floor from the back of the kitchen to the front door.  So we hired a guy.  This guy assured us it would be good.  He would take out the first few inches of the old concrete and lay a nice new screed (thin concrete layer) on top to level it with the wood floor.  We proceed along these lines, happy with ourselves for doing it right instead of doing it fast.  Only as he is pouring the floor does he mention that you can’t lay laminate on new concrete for 12 week.  3 months. A quarter of a blessed year.  January.  I yelled…at Sam (DH)…that ought to tell those of you who know me something.  Deep breath…shift focus.  We can still install the kitchen and when the floor goes down run it up to the plinth and hid the fact that it doesn’t go under.  Brilliant.  (Thank you John, the electrician.)

In the mean time, we’re still on a barrel-rolling schedule to move into the house.  We’re telling the children it’s happening.  We’ve told the storage people to bring it on…move the stuff into the house on Thursday.  I’ve got the kitchen (via IKEA) on the way and I’m still completely sure I can pull it off.  No.  Not even close.

Anyone who has ever gotten anything from IKEA knows there’s always something.  As it turns out, despite all of my detailed lists and careful planning, the counters won’t be here until November 20th.  They have to be custom cut and delivered because of the particular configuration of our new layout.  Aaaack.  Deep breath….shift focus.  We’ll put in a temp counter with the sink and deal.  I’m not going to be kept out of the house for another week.  No…no way.

Everything arrives.  Most of it fits (don’t ask).  The house is wall to wall to wall boxes and still, I’m pretty happy.  I have, however, acknowledged, that I’m not going to be able to put together the entire kitchen on my own.  Sam is now on a crushing deadline at work and I hire a guy. (You can feel it coming, can’t you.)  He says it will be good.  He says he can put all of the cabinets up in a day and plumb the sink.  Pbbllltttt.  He  picks up at 3:30pm and say’s, “I’m done.”  What about the rest of the cabinets.  Sorry the wife wants me home.  What about the sink and running water.  You’re plumber will take care of that.

You would think at this point, Friday, that I might give up the notion of moving in the next day. Ha ha ha.

We move in on Saturday.  I’m resigned to washing dishes in the bathroom sink upstairs.  Our plumber assures us he’ll come over Saturday afternoon to deal with the kitchen sink.  Since he lives behind us, I feel pretty good about this.  Suffice to say, the sink doesn’t get plumbed until Monday evening.  He didn’t realize we had actually moved into a house with no running water downstairs and two children.  He obviously doesn’t know the depth of my stupidity devotion.

We’re in…we’re rolling.  I’m unpacking everything in sight.  There have been other ‘oops’.  The dresser for the bedroom had broken parts (wait till Sunday).  The bed for the master bedroom didn’t  come with slats (go back next week).  We need way more bookshelves (IKEA again).  But we all have a place to sleep.  I’m cooking on my brand spanking new, fantastic cooker.  I have a desk and working wireless.

Great Glorious Bob…what a ride.

:)k