When life gets in the way...

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…do you ever forget where you were in a project?

A couple of months ago, one of my older daughters bought a house that was built in the 1920’s. It’s a concrete block 2-story monster of a duplex with a full and finished attic and a full but unfinished walk- out basement. The place has been empty for several years. A previous owner had painted directly over the old oil based enamel paint with latex, so you can imagine what the place looked like after years of winter cold, summer heat, and uncontrolled humidity. The latex was peeling off in sheets. To make matters worse, thieves took advantage of the place being empty for so long and stole all of the copper pipe and electrical wire. They even took the boiler, piping and radiators!
I tried to talk her out of buying it, but she wouldn’t listen. So, for the last couple of months she, her husband, and their two children have been living with me. Since neither of them knows anything about fixing a house like this, it fell on me to get it livable. My first priority was getting the plumbing installed. I could have started with the electric, but the water was helpful for cleaning. Besides, I have a battery version of nearly every power tool. To my dismay, the thieves had cut the entrance pipe flush with the basement wall. The portion of pipe that was buried in the ground was unfit for coupling on a new pipe, so it all had to be dug up and replace all the way to the meter. That meant the water company had to come out because the curb stop is in the sidewalk. Luckily for me, the curb stop was broken and needed to be replaced anyway, so the city didn’t charge us for that.
Once the water was on, I started on the electric. Since the service had been off for so long, it had to be inspected before the electric company would turn it back on. I knew it would fail, so I had to start from scratch. Originally, there were two 125A services for the building, one for each apartment. Being that the boiler, piping, and radiators were all gone, I have to install baseboard heat throughout the house.

Here is a sample of how little they know and how dumb my SIL is…When I asked them just how they intended to heat the house my SIL looked at me and said “I’ll just buy a furnace.”——- I’ll let that sink in for minute.*

So, since I have no choice but to use baseboard heaters, 125A service is completely inadequate (my daughter fears natural gas like the plague). Everything, stove, water heater, home heating…all electric; she had to have 200A service. Fortunately, both apartments were served buy the same service drop, so it was rated for 200A. The meter box was a dual unit fed by the same weather head. However, both were only rated for 125A service. So, I had to remove the meter base and install a new 200A base. Of course when I did that, the meter sat to high on the wall (there is a limit on how high it can be). So, I had to take down the entire service entrance, weather head and all so I could extend the pipe and lower the base. Which, of course, made the entrance cable too short, so I had to replace that. The 1/2" ground rods were not to code, nor was the #6 ground wire, so I got to drive new 5/8" rods and install #4 ground wire.
After getting all of that done, I gave her a brand new 200A breaker box and all the breakers she would need. In the meantime I rewired the house (well, only one side…the side they are going to live in while “they” renovate the other side).
While all of this was going on, they were supposed to prep the inside and get it painted. That’s when another wrench got tossed into the works. His parents decided they wanted to help…I soon learned that the idiot nut doesn’t fall far from the idiot tree. They decided that texturing the walls with drywall mud would be a great idea. Not only that, but filling the numerous holes in the PLASTER walls with drywall mud would work great. Of course, it didn’t. It did exactly what I said it was going to do…crack all to heck. So their solution was to fill the cracks with…you guessed it, more drywall mud. I gave up.
Anyway, in the last couple of months I have single-handedly re-plumbed the entire apartment, replaced the entire electrical service, passed the inspections and got both the electric and water on. The place is still not painted. Yesterday was the last straw. I informed them that they would be spending last night, and all future nights in their own home. Yep, I tossed them out.
I can only take so much laziness. I work out of town a lot, living in hotel rooms. I have been spending every minute of my off time working on their house. When I got home Friday, after being out of town all week, I discovered that absolutely nothing had been done in the house. I spent all day there yesterday, only to come home and find my SIL sitting on the couch watching TV. As I said, the last straw.

So, a couple of months ago I started a craftsman style night table for another daughter. I haven’t even thought about it since this whole nightmare began. I haven’t even been in the shop. Well, last night, too cool off and avoid killing anyone, I walked over to the shop and found the table just as I left it, in pieces all over the bench. The clamps were still on the one piece I have assembled (the back). I had completely forgotten even gluing it up. I couldn’t even remember what I was going to do next.

When life gets in the way…do you ever forget where you were in a project?

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

You know, actually what was giving you mental block wasn’t the time away but the the experiences between. I imagine a little head scratching probably calmed you down a bit and I suspect you sorted it all out in your head once you stopped being angry.

Woodshops are good at calming people down. I like to think it’s the smell of the sawdust but it’s probably the fumes from the glue.

Keep calm.

-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I was wondering where you were. Now I know…
I guess I can say that was a hell of summer.
I would titled the post “when love get in the way”. we ben forward and backward for our kids.

I say stay involved, maybe as an adviser. Just refer them some contractor when they ask and just look over to make sure the bid and work is correct.

Good luck. I am sure you are not done yet.

As to forgetting where I was with that project I started a couple weeks age? I just ruined one today. I was supposed to sand all laminates to size before gluing. I walked in look at it and just glued the whole thing.

Welcome back.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Talk about a story…you hung in there WAY longer than I can imagine I would. I’m certainly happy to hear that you sent your SIL and daughter to reap what they sowed.

Oh and dry wall mud everything? Sounds like covering things up and ignore the problem.

-- paxorion

Sometimes just writing it down is therapeutic… so’s the woodworking :-)
Good father… caring… patient… and you understand tough love!


You’re a good father for helping and for giving a kick in the pants when required. ;-)

Losing fingers since 1969

No doubt about, kids can be a challenge! As for the forgetting where you are on a project: for me that usually happens the next morning when I walk out to the shop to see where I left off yesterday!

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd

Kids will be kids and the more you " kid" them, the more they will take advantage. I have three.
Thanks for the story. maybe we all can learn from this.

Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

I think I have the table back on track. The frame is assembled and the shelf is in. I hope to glue up the top today and start on the drawer. I was supposed to be out of town all week, but there is some kind of teacher conference going on in the small town I am working in so there were no hotel rooms available. That meant I got to come home last night.

I think my daughter is mad at me. I haven’t heard from her since Sunday. She’ll have to get over it…especially if she wants heat this winter.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!