Thursday 8 September 2022

My Spirit Animal, Plus Home Repairs

I may not run as fast as the little guy in this video, but most of the time I fall asleep this fast.

As for the snoring, well, let's just gloss over that part.

(The video is six seconds long, for those who are wondering.)

Click here.



I've been offline more than usual, trying to arrange to take care of things that need fixed around the house, which takes longer than I ever thought possible, and also worrying about everything that needs fixed, which also takes longer than I ever thought possible.

So far I've dealt with a plumber, to fix a leaky supply line, replace shut-off valves, and stop toilets from running; an air exchanger technician, to find the source of an air quality issue and fix it; and the power company, to reconnect a loose power supply line where it attaches to our house.

Now I'm waiting on a masonry company and a general contractor. 

The need for a mason arose because the floor-to-ceiling brick behind our wood stove started separating about mid-way up the wall a few years ago. The gap continues to grow. I was recently advised to have it repaired or removed ASAP as the top half is not being held up by anything other than brick ties, air, and my naivete, and it could (and probably will) fall down at some point.

Yay! There's nothing like the thought of an imminent fall of 126 bricks inside the house to make a person get on speed dial to a chimney and fireplace expert.

The chimney also needs a new cap, an inspection, and a cleaning. We rarely used it, and heaven knows what they'll find. But it's the back-up heat source in case of prolonged power outage, so it needs to be reliable.

The general contractor is needed to replace some very drafty windows (original to the house which was built thirty-four years ago) and also - I hope - expand the main-level half-bathroom to include a shower. That will make the ground level of the house more accessible and potentially self-contained. I would like to keep living here for a good many years and I hope this renovation will allow me to do that. I'm crossing my fingers that the way I envision it being done will actually work.

It's hard to find tradespeople who are available to do any of this kind of work. They're in short supply as many are aging out of the industry and not many young people are training for this work. Those who are still working are very busy. It is not uncommon to have to book work six months or more in advance.

But just as hard, in my experience, has been finding contact information for smaller businesses. Often they do not have an office or an assistant to take calls, and they use cell phones, which are not included in our phone directories, and they don't advertise in the yellow pages of those directories. Frequently they are not on the internet either. I think they have so much work from word-of-mouth that they don't need to look for any more. For every successful contact I have made, I have chased several dead ends. When you are an introvert who gets anxious even phoning your relatives, it makes the job of finding and calling complete strangers who may cost you enormous amounts of money a trying situation indeed.

But what must be done must be done. And I'm slowly crossing things off my list. 



Fix-it funnies! I hope I don't end up with any of these - except maybe the dog in the hole in the fence.













Until next time, I hope you need zero home repairs - or if you do, I hope they are easy and successful and do not involve 126 bricks potentially falling on your hardwood floor, or on you 😬




Anonymous said...

I admire that you are having those home jobs done. It is so easy to do nothing. We too have a great qualified tradesperson shortage and it can be stressful and disheartening to make all those calls. Having said that, the service we now receive is vastly superior to what happened years ago.

I can't fix ur brakes, so I is making ur horn louder. Hilarious.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: Well, I chose the "do nothing" option for a year and a half, so don't be too free with the praise :) I'm good when it's a crisis, not so much otherwise. And now things are getting to the crisis stage. I love that meme too!

Elephant's Child said...

I hope you can see the end of the renovations. Soon.
The I make ur horn louder reminded me of India where LOTS of the trucks seemed to have three and four very loud horns.

Martha said...

House repairs! It sometimes feels like a never-ending journey. I hope you get all the jobs you need done DONE. The shortage of tradespeople is a big problem. Young people need to be encouraged to get into these fields. Some incentives might help!

Joanne Noragon said...

Keeping up with a house can be a funny challenge, especially with a living room of bricks. Good luch.

Infidel753 said...

Mittens may have saved money on a DeLorean, but he's in for a bit of a shock when that time machine starts running.

I hope you can get that chimney taken care of. It sounds seriously dangerous. I've seen videos of brick chimneys collapsing where the chimney just fell right through the outside wall of the house as if the wall were made of cobweb. If you can't get a contractor to do it in a reasonable time, you might want to see if the local government can do anything, on the grounds of it being a dangerous situation.

messymimi said...

I wish you great good luck on getting it all done.

We need a new mailbox, and we have a spare cat carrier...

jenny_o said...

Elephant's Child: I think I'd go mad listening to that many horns!

Martha: Exactly - and they tend to be fairly well-paying jobs, too. Hard on the body, though.

Joanne: I'm hoping once I get this bunch of stuff done, nothing else will break for a while!

Infidel: LOL at Mittens and the substitute DeLorean :) The bricks are not actually part of the chimney; they are just decorative behind the wood stove. The chimney itself is in good shape except for the cap. And possibly the liner. I have to wait and find out on that. If the bricks were part of the chimney I think I'd just move out :)

jenny_o said...

Mimi: You're all set!

Red said...

You've got some major projects on the go. I hope everything works out for you. It sounds like you've done your homework.

River said...

With the bricks being just decorative, have them removed and use something safer for decoration.
I have cracked walls too, cause by soil movement and I worry that one day the entire bedroom corner will collapse and the upstairs unit will land on me while I sleep. it seems to be stable enough though. For now.

jenny_o said...

Red: I think the hardest part is just getting hold of the people to do the work!

River: Can the owner of the apartment not do something about that? It doesn't sound safe. A cracked wall is a sign of a problem. Get your local politician involved if you have to. And yes, I will have the bricks removed and have something lighter put in its place. The weight of the bricks may have caused the floor to sag slightly and there needs to be a solution, not just a replacement.

Marie Smith said...

I understand the difficulty with getting tradespeople to do some work. They are in short supply on the island too and getting someone to do work is near impossible. Good luck!

Steve Reed said...

Well, I'm glad you're getting those bricks fixed! That sounds dangerous! The fact that it's so hard to find a tradesperson makes you wonder how we're going to get these jobs done in the future.

LOVE the memes. Those mailboxes! That "pool heater"! Best one is the dog putting his face through the fence, though.

jenny_o said...

Marie: Thanks - and it's some comfort to know it's not just me :)

Steve: I would have gotten them fixed sooner had I realized the potential danger. I had actually been spending a good amount of time in that room. Not anymore :) At least the pool heater isn't connected to electricity as I've seen in some memes!

kylie said...

My mail box is not in good shape so I'm glad to see the one on the chair. I can probably achieve that!

Mike said...

I've done most of the projects around here myself or hired someone to help me. The older I get, the longer the project list gets. That would be a fun post for me. List all the projects that are waiting on my list. It would be a LONG post.

dinthebeast said...

Unreinforced masonry, that would be bricks, are dangerous. After the Loma Prieta earthquake there were piles and piles of them on the sidewalks and in the streets after they fell off of the buildings they had been mortared to the front of. Afterward, everyone still having them had to "retrofit", which as far as I can tell, meant anchoring them to the building with structural steel. I lived in a warehouse space on Peralta street that had been retrofitted, and on the front of it at regular intervals were little metal squares held on with half inch bolts.
Finding a good contractor can be tricky, especially if you don't know much about the kind of job you need them to do.
The chimney at the house in Humboldt County that Briana is trying to fix is pulling away from the wall and leaving a large gap, and she needs to have it looked at before she can do much else with the place, but she managed to accidentally meet a contractor in Oakland when she was driving through last time, and he said he was interested in taking a look and writing up an estimate. We are hoping that he will be able to go up to Miranda with her the next time she goes, as the estimate is fairly high on the to-do list.
I wish you luck with your projects, and none of us here can get any of our cats interested in auto mechanics at all.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

I hope you find someone to do these jobs, and to do them as you want them done, which I think is the second-hardest part - the hardest being to find one, just like your place. It's the same the whole world over ;)

Diane Henders said...

We have a similar situation here on the west coast - far too much work and far too few tradespeople. Even if you do actually find someone to do the work, s/he may or may not show up when agreed; or at all. Here's hoping your household repairs go smoothly, with no bricks falling!

P.S. The wheelbarrow in the pool made me LOL. Hey, it's a creative solution! :-)

DB Stewart said...

I've been completing my list too. Although it's never ending, it feels good. We're hoping to do a bigger renovation soon. We'll see what happens.

Mr. Shife said...

Get that chimney fixed. We don't want 126 bricks heading your way. I wish I could fall asleep as fast as that dog. Good luck with those renovations and repairs, take care of yourself, and I love some of those DIY fixes. Bye, jenny_o.

jenny_o said...

kylie: Go for it! lol

Mike: I'd read it, in the hope that it would make me feel better :)

Doug: I laughed when I read your final phrase. Wouldn't it be excellent if our pets could help out more around the house? I hope you can get that estimate for chimney repair done soon. It sounds urgent. I looked up "brick ties" on the internet because I had no idea what they looked like, and discovered there are all kinds of them. Basically anything from a thin-ish wire to heavy duty metal that sounds like the ones you described. I have no idea what was used here, but it's been doing a good job holding everything up so far.

Charlotte: I feel a little better knowing that it's not just me, and not just a local problem. A lot of folks seem to be having the same problem. Good news - I have my first choice of general contractor scheduled to visit to discuss the things I need done - yay!

Diane: The shortage of tradespeople seems to be widespread, which makes me feel a bit better. Misery loves company, and all that :) I wonder if that wheelbarrow-fire was an honest attempt at heating the pool or just a joke by someone with too much time on their hands. lol

DB Stewart: I hope you can get your reno done, on time and on budget :)

Mr. Shife: Working on it! Have a great week :)

baili said...

Wow that is quite a work to be done dear Jenny but what makes me happy is that you have started to get hold on situation you have been stuck in for a while my friend.

Translating a folk song from my native town

" my daily chores are greater healer that keep me from falling into sorrowful memories"

Recent heavy rainfall has created a long list of due jobs here. Everyone seems frightened and concerned and wants to repair his roof before next sudden surprise by weather. Masons are hard to find these days.

Hubby has appointed Labour on fixing rooves since some days. Work can go about or more than month I think as we will have to renovate our guest room and main bathroom in front yard too.
I hope you continue to have courage face things right from front!
My heartfelt best wishes and prays are with you always!

jenny_o said...

baili: It sounds like you have a lot of work to have done; I hope your workers do a good job and you are happy with their repairs. I'm sure they are very busy with all the damage that was caused by the weather. Good luck with everything. Thank you for your good wishes and I send the same back to you, my friend. Hugs.