Thursday, August 10, 2017

Twenty-One Days Until TEOTWAWKI - Day One (Housing)

The phone rings.  The caller ID tells me it's Deus Ex Machina.


"Is everything okay?"

"Yeah.  Why?"

"Mr. Moocette called.  He said the roof blew off."


"Moocette called.  He said ...."

"Yeah, I heard what you said, but I don't know what you're talking about.  Let me go outside and take a look."

I hung up the phone and walked out the door and around the house.  There, on the ground, lay huge pieces of the rolled tar-paper covering that the roofers had used to cover the flat, shed-style roof over our bedroom when they'd resurfaced it only six years earlier.  Up on the roof, I could see a sheet, probably six feet square, flapping in the strong winds.

Well, that sucks.

I mean, we KNEW that the roof was bad, or something.  We'd had leaking issues for a while, and everything in our closet smelled musty and damp.  Actually, everything in that corner of the room was damp feeling, and the books on the bottom shelf were a little mildewy.

There was also the fact that the backdoor would no longer open and close properly.  It stuck, most of the time, and there was a mildew growing up the door.  Come to think of it, everything on that side of the room smelled musty and damp, too.  We thought that it was just the house settling.  It's all good.

We ostriched ourselves, put containers to catch the water when it rained a lot, and pretended that it would just be okay.

It wasn't okay.  The roof was blowing across the neighbor's yard.  We could no longer ignore what was happening.

So, we decided to take this opportunity to make some real changes.  We decided we should go big or go home, and started looking into having the entire roof - over the whole house - replaced with one contiguous roof, a plan that would also give us an attic storage (and in a perfect world, maybe some extra living space in the form of a loft, or two).  At the same time, we could also add insulation.  Increased storage.  Extra insulation.  It was a good plan.

There was only one problem.

Our house.

You'd have to know our house to understand why every contractor we called would come out to inspect the property, hear what we wanted done, and then, disappear without a trace.  No estimate, no phone call.  What we wanted, I suppose, is not possible.

Eight months after that call, we finally resolved ourselves to the fact that we weren't getting a complete remodel.  At best, we were going to have the roof over that ONE room replaced/rebuilt.  We finally found a roofing contractor who would do the work.   We had to replace the roof - have it ripped off and rebuilt, and that door that was sticking?  When the door was installed, there was no header - that is, there was no support piece between the top of the door frame and the roof.  So, the roof was, essentially, sitting right on top of the door.  Every winter, when it snowed, the weight of the snow would press down on the door.  It was causing all sorts of problems we still don't fully understand.  What we needed to know was that the roof and the back wall would be new.  Yay!

We moved out of the room, and the contractor began working his magic.

That was three years ago.

We're still not living in that room.

It's been a very slow process ...

... which ends with Deus Ex Machina having a several weeks' paid vacation and a lot of time for us to work on the room.

So, yes, this particular thing can not be accomplished in a single day, but the purpose of this exercise is not to *do* each activity in a single day, but to begin the process of thinking about preparedness as not a one-time deal, but a constant, ongoing process.  It's the journey not the destination, right?

Also, it would be really cool, for me, if you all could learn from my mistake - which is don't wait until disaster strikes to DO something.

If we had acted faster, we wouldn't have ended up with a rotted roof and a lot of our belongings ruined.  For instance, my clarinet, which was in that back closet, needed a whole overhaul - to the tune of a couple hundred dollars.  I wouldn't have bothered, but it's a rather expensive, antique wood clarinet manufactured in France.  It was worth the repair, but the repair wouldn't have been necessary if we had taken care of the roof sooner.

Also, if we had planned for the roof repair by saving, rather than being forced into reacting when it went bad, we might have saved some money, at very least in the form of interest we've paid on the money we had to borrow to pay for the work.

That said, it's all about timing, and there are some really good things that came out of taking our time on the project.

The construction and insulation parts of the project were pretty expensive. I won't lie.  We're still paying for them.  And so, perhaps, if we had not been in a hurry to get the outside work done (because the tarp on the roof is only going to last for so long), we might have gotten more of what we wanted, instead of only so much as we could afford.

But the interior work was actually cheap, because it was all DIY.  Deus Ex Machina did most of the work with me helping in an OR nurse kind of way, where I handed him what he needed and held stuff up while he operated.

The materials were pretty cheap, also.  We spent, maybe, $250 over the past three years.  The room was entirely gutted, and so, we had to replace all of the wallboard, the ceiling, and the flooring.

We entered a home improvement contest sponsored by a local bank ... and won!  We purchased the drywall using that gift certificate.  We paid for mud and tape.   The primer was $12 for the gallon we needed, because we got it at the contractor price (pays to know people in the industry).   The paint was on the oopsy table at the hardware store.  It was $10/gallon.

The floor is part tile and part reclaimed pallet wood.  The tiles were a free Craigslist find.  We paid for the concrete backer board, adhesive, and grout.  The pallets were free.  Deus Ex Machina started collecting pallets from work, because it was usable wood that was being thrown in the garbage.  At very least, we reasoned, we could burn it for heat.  It makes a nice floor.  We have enough for some other projects, like building a fence along the back of our property to keep the dogs and chickens in our yard, and to make our property more private, for when the house next door finally has a new owner.

The ceiling is pine tongue-and-groove.  It was also an oopsy given to us by a friend who purchased it for a client, and then, the client decided he didn't want it.  It was already paid for - unrefundable, apparently - and so, our friend had to get rid of it.  We were the beneficiaries of our friend's client's change-of-mind.

We decided not to build in a new closet, because it would have cost us more in time and materials, plus not having a fixed closet in that oddly shaped room allowed us more options for future uses, like an office where we could meet with clients or have a door to close against noise (which we don't currently have).  Instead of a built-in closet, we found an Armoire for our clothes.  It can be moved around the room wherever we need it, giving us more freedom of choice.

The goal of preparedness is to be proactive rather than passive and to have a plan for when TSHTF.  We didn't make a good plan for repairing the room as soon as we knew the damage was being done, but we did decide how we wanted the room to ultimately look, and then, we started making it happen. And because we took our time, it ended up being mostly free.

We have a couple more in-the-short-term projects to finish, and the good news is that we have enough materials - on hand - to accomplish those tasks.  It shouldn't cost us more than just our time.

The challenge for this day, then, is that you look at your house and identify those structural or designer elements that aren't working, and start making a plan to fix them - before the emergency happens.

1 comment:

  1. We've gone through things like this too. Our air conditioner died in the middle of a house sale oh Joy. When our air conditioner at our smaller house we downsized to started dying we got multiple bids got a good deal and replaced the furnace at the same time which which was also on its way out. Both are much more efficient and use less energy. A refrigerator We inherited when we bought our current house started having some issues and we looked at repairing it. We finally settled on a new refrigerator the suited our needs better and was a good deal. We sold the old one to a person who wanted to fix it up. Every time my husband got a profit sharing in the spring from his business the first thing we would look at with home improvements. Most of them weren't appearance-based but we're more the high ticket items. Plumbing AC and insulation. We also invested in fruit trees Etc so we could grow more of our own food. All those things cost money. Looking forward to seeing what you're going to write about next!