Friday, October 7, 2011

Snafu City

Yesterday was quite the interesting day.  The hubs and I encountered quite a few snafus, but we successfully navigated our way through them all.  {Insert BBM "Whew!" face here.  No, I don't have an iPhone yet.  I'm counting down until my upgrade, which is November 1st.}

Early in the day we got a phone call from our contractor.  He let us know that he tried to pick up our permits, but the building department told him they needed $850 from us first.  When I found out that permits were that expensive, I almost fell right off of my rolling desk chair.  It took me a couple minutes to get over the shock that we had to cut yet another check, for almost $1,000, for the second time, in one week. 

This week was financially stressful.  The way our loan works is that we have to front the costs for all materials and so on, and then we get reimbursed at intervals throughout the construction process.  Because of the amount of work we are doing, we get up to 5 draws from our escrow account (ideally when 20% of the work is done, then 40% of the work, then 60%, etc.).  Luckily for us, I arranged to have our HUD consultant come out and inspect our progress this week.  He came yesterday and gave us the green light to release some funds.  We aren't quite 20% complete, but enough work has been done so we can get our first draw.  So now, after some paperwork, we should be getting a little monetary relief next week.  And thank goodness for that, because we are scheduled to give our contractor another check this coming week since the plumber and electrician will be starting.

The major down side to the way this process works is the timing between when we make purchases and when we get reimbursed.  Money can only be released for work that is complete or partially complete.  No funds can be released for materials if the work wasn't done to install/use those materials.  It is definitely a delicate juggling act making sure we have funds available to make all material purchases needed, cut checks to our contractor when needed, and have enough money in our account to pay our bills.  Thankfully, I am an auditor at heart and I'm quite attentive and careful with our money.

Back to the permits...the hubs and I decided to go to the municipal building at lunch yesterday.  We figured we could bring them a check, pick up the permits and then drop them at the house.  It'd work perfectly because we also needed to pick up a window invoice from our contractor to give to our HUD consultant.

Well here is where snafu #2 occurred.  (Snafu #1 was our money, or lack of money, situation I described above.  It's a constant snafu that we have to navigate through during this whole process.)

We got to the building department office and there was a printed sign on the door that said they were out to lunch from 12:15 to 2:15.  The hubs almost lost it!  We were both so frustrated.  The abbreviated hours of the municipal building drive us crazy as is, now they are taking 2 hour lunches and we just wasted our lunch break getting nothing accomplished.

We headed straight to the general office to see if they could help us in any way.  The hubs angrily gently explained our situation, and after some demanding coaxing, the general office arranged to take our check and have someone from the building department drive the permits to our house.  Talk about customer service!

Woohoo...permit is in the window!

Then the last debacle of the day revolved around the tub and shower surround that I had ordered for the main bath.  I did extensive research on which 4 piece bath/shower unit would be best for our house.  I decided on Sterling, which is a Kohler brand, because of their amazing reviews and caulkless design.  I thought getting a very wide, 36" wide tub would be perfect...especially for my wide wing-span relatives who would be using the main/guest bath.

Well, wouldn't ya know...all our bath items were set to be delivered to our house by Columbus Day (which is perfect because the plumber is starting the day after that), EXCEPT for the dang tub and shower surround!  And it's not like the delivery would be a day was back-ordered and not even set to ship until October 18th.  We explained all of this to our contractor and he told us it would cause major delays on the job.  Worse words than that could not be spoken.  Then he proceeded to tell us, without coming out and saying it, that we needed to find another bath/shower unit.

So after work, the hubs and I made a little detour on our way to the house.  We stopped at Home Depot and found the tub/shower unit I had ordered online, but it was only 30" wide, compared to the 36".  That would not cut it.  We wanted at least a standard 32" width.  Plus, we couldn't help but notice that the tub was ivory-ish.  Or was it just a very dirty white??  We couldn't figure it out...but whatever color it was, it wouldn't work for us, even if it was in stock. 

So we left HD and headed to the house.  (See "Beam Me Up, Scotty" post for progess pictures.)  After we left there, we went straight to Lowe's determined to find something!  We found the Sterling unit there. was the same dirty white color, and this time it had some ugly faux tile pattern all over it.  Not cute!  Then we saw it...a beautiful, shiny, white bath/shower surround.  It was Aqua Glass.  I had read some not-too-good reviews for that unit online, which is why I stayed away from ordering something that was available off the shelf.  But my parents had two Aqua Glass units installed in their new house in North Carolina, and our contractor has an Aqua Glass unit in his house.  That info boosted my confidence in the brand, but we still weren't convinced to go with AG.

We found a helpful sales person who attempted to see when the earliest the Sterling bath/shower unit (with smooth walls, not faux tiled walls) could come in.  Bummer.  It wasn't until the same time frame as our original delivery.  We left Lowe's stumped with what to do.  The sales person said Aqua Glass will crack and it's not as good as Sterling; but if we went with Sterling, then we'd be pushing our job back...maybe even a month!  Plus, there was this nagging thought eating at me...the Sterling unit was just not as attractive.  It just looked dirty white.  That will only be made even worse because we intended to put white floor tile down in the main bath.  Would this cause our brand new bath/shower unit to look discolored and dirty?

(The difference in color between the two units is due to the fact that the Sterling product is made from Vikrell and Aqua Glass is made from fiberglass.  The fiberglass can be buffed and polished to perfection.)

After speaking with my Mom and Dad, they helped to calm our nerves and point out the fact that everything happens for a reason.  This is the saying that has kept me and the hubs sane all throughout this entire process, so why wouldn't it apply to us now?!?  There is a reason this Sterling tub isn't available when we need it.  Guaranteed it would come in, get installed and then look terrible next to the true white tile we wanted to put down.

So, snafu resolved!  We ordered the Aqua Glass bath/shower unit the minute we got back to the in-laws and could get on the computer.  Now we can't wait for the plumber to come and get our bathrooms back into working order!

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