Monday, February 26, 2007

Criminal Intent

Things I thought of saying to the young man next door, who, for the third day in a row, is out washing one of the family's five (billion) cars (which they can never seem to park in front of their own house, but frequently tend to park in front of mine) with the car stereo turned up so loud that the base from his bad pop music is shaking glassware in my kitchen:

1.) "Turn off that goddamn noise this minute! And stay the hell off my lawn! Oh, and, it's Monday! Why aren't you in school?"

2.) "Naw, I didn't call the cops on you, for disturbing the peace, dude. Are you kidding? Look at me. I'm 26. Must have been the old guy across the street."

3.) "Take this, Philistine!" (Shouted while blasting Mozart out of an open window loudly enough to shake HIS house).

4.) "Oops. Did I just smash your car window with a hammer? And did I accidentally beat your stereo to tiny bits, just after that? Well, I'm sorry. I'm so clumsy! I really meant to hit you instead of the car. You spent so much time washing those windows, after all."

What I have actually said so far:



Because I am trying to tell myself that a teenager who has spent the better part of the last three days washing his entire family's set of cars must either be an exceptionally helpful sort of kid, or he must be under some sort of extreme punishment, and either way, the music is probably helping him get the job done . . .

But if he hasn't finished cleaning out that trunk an hour from now, when my son should be going down for his nap, I am totally cranking up my Mozart, bitches.

Now, as requested, an update on the floor (or, why Jaelithe has once again temporarily become a misanthropist):

Extreme Hardwoods sent over a supposedly "impartial third-party observer" from another company to look at the damage to the floor, walls, and window treatments, and the shoddy polyurethane job. As noted before, we were told that apparently this "impartial third-party observer" was only available to come at 7:30 in the morning, because, of course, Jeff at Extreme Hardwoods actually would prefer that we drop the little matter of this amazingly botched rush job altogether, but still, for some reason I can't quite grasp, wants to pretend to us that he is an honest, honorable business owner and we are just horrible, picky, petty, selfish, vicious, evil customers, so, he is pretending to negotiate with us, and then making the negotiations as difficult as possible, so that, if we refuse to cooperate with his bizarre requests, he can try to blame us for this entire situation.

(Recall his earlier "offer" to pull out of the half-finished job and refund my deposit-- an offer he knew I was likely to refuse since it would leave me stranded with a basically un-useable floor in half of my house. Recall also his statement that WE were somehow responsible for the further delay caused by the issues with the contract, even though he was the one who failed to provide us with the contract on two separate occasions).

Suffice to say that the "impartial third-party observer" was neither impartial, nor observant. He repeated to us Jeff's story that the long scratch in the floor must have been there before the work began. When I confronted him with the fact that I had taken photos of the floor, just before the crew's arrival, after we had removed our furniture, that prove there was no such scratch in the floor, he launched into a convoluted explanation about how sometimes "invisible bruises" appear in hardwood floors, dents created by people moving furniture over the floor, that cannot be seen until after the floor is refinished. When I told him that Jeff had, on numerous occasions, described the blemish as "a cut in the floor," the observer informed me that I knew too little about wood to understand his explanation.

Whatever. To me, that "bruise" sure looks an awful lot like the type of scratch shown on this professional floor refinishing company's page, caused by grit caught in a sander. This can happen when the person sanding the floor fails to clean the floor thoroughly between sanding passes.

He also told me that the swirl marks left by the sander in my floor, which he outright refused to take a close look at, were "perfectly normal" and happen "every time" a floor is sanded.

The site above, as well as these sites, which I looked up while researching how to do the work myself, before deciding to hire a professional, all beg to differ. They actually warn against such marks as a potential problem to watch out for as an amateur, and explain how to avoid making them.

Anyway, the guy left that he would contact us later in the afternoon to let us know Jeff's response to our observations.

And then, surprise! He didn't.

And he didn't call the next day, either.

So, my husband called Jeff at the end of the day on Friday, to ask why the "impartial third-party observer" (whose phone number we were never offered) had not called, and Jeff told my husband he had told the "impartial third-party observer" not to call us.

My husband then informed Jeff that we had made a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

And then Jeff proceeded to blast an incoherent tirade in my husband's general direction, ranting about how we wanted to run his business into the ground, ruin an honest man, and destroy his ability to feed his children, etcetera, and threatening to call an attorney. During this, conversation, if it can be called such, Jeff made, and then invariably almost immediately retracted, various offers, including giving us $80 to purchase curtains, but only if we allowed him to come to our house immediately and take the damaged curtains off the window himself; letting the "impartial third-party observer," whom he had suddenly, inexplicably started referring to as "my friend" (thanks, we figured that out, actually) fix the polyurethane puddles for free, but only at his leisure (i.e., whenever he got around to it), etcetera . . .

Finally Jeff ended the conversation by saying that he was not going to give us any refunds, but, if we wanted to put a stop on the second check we had given him, we could "go right ahead."

Of course, when my husband returned home, I advised him not to do so, as I am fairly certain that:

1.) Given Jeff's previous actions, that we are dealing with a lunatic who will probably try to sue us if we take any action to get our money back that has not been officially sanctioned by some sort of governing agency, and,

2.) That check has almost surely been cashed, and the money is probably already spent.

For now, I am just waiting to hear back from a Better Business Bureau arbitrator, and living with my poor, repeatedly abused floor as-is.

I made a nifty temporary runner for the hallway by tying together five cheap chindi throw rugs from Target. Take that, polyurethane puddles and undisguised urine stains!

(Hey, that boy finally turned off his music. The day is looking up.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Extreme Pain in the Ass, Part II

Start with Part I below if you haven't already.


I called the Extreme Hardwoods business phone early the next morning from my sister's house-- too early to expect Jeff to be in the office to answer, but the men were supposedly scheduled to return to my house at 8:00 in the morning (which at this point I was pretty much taking to mean noon, but one couldn't be sure). I left a message on the voicemail which went pretty much like this (I am paraphrasing, of course, because I don't record my phone calls, though after all of the problems I've had lately with deceptive business people, I'm beginning to think I always should):

"After showing up several hours late yesterday without proper notice, your crew did not finish sanding the floor. There are still several areas near doorways that have not been sanded. They also did not clean up after themselves. They did not vacuum up the sawdust left from sanding, and they did not put dust cloths in the doorways, even though during my previous conversations with you, you insisted your company would make every effort to contain the dust. I specifically hired a professional to do a job I could have done myself in part because I have a small child and a husband with severe allergies in my home, and I did not want them to be exposed to the dust from the floor sanding. There is now dust on every single flat surface in my kitchen and dining room. None of the finish swatches you put down on the floor are dark enough to cover the stains that remain there after sanding, and there are still several dark stains on the floor, despite the fact that you insisted you were certain that most of the stains would sand up.

I am extremely dissatisfied with your service at this point in time. I understand the bad weather contributed to the delay in starting the job, but it does not excuse poor workmanship after your crew arrived. I hope we can come to an amiable solution in this situation, but if you do not make an immediate effort to increase my level of satisfaction with your service, I will do my very best to make certain that every man, woman and child in the St. Louis metropolitan area has the opportunity to know just how dissatisfied I am."

What can I say? I get really wordy when people piss me off.

Jeff called me back almost immediately to tell me that he was already awake because he had just found out his aunt died.

I have no idea whether this story was actually true. On Wednesday, when I asked him why the crew had showed up so late and no one had called me, he had told me, over the phone, variously:

1.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because they were stuck in traffic the likes of which he had never seen in the St. Louis area in his entire life,
2.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because one of the crew members had been in a car accident on the way to work,
3.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because the occupants of the house they had been working at before mine had thrown away some of the crew's sanding equipment, and the crew had to go dig the sanding equipment out of the trash.

Then there was also the bit, previously mentioned, where he told me over the phone the crew was already on my street when, in fact, I could see my entire street from my front window and there was no floor sanding crew on it, and then he told me they must be mysteriously lost. On my street. Which I could see from my window.

Seems like an awful lot of calamities to happen to one business in one week, I thought.

Then again, I can personally attest to the fact that when Calamity rains on a person, it generally pours. And, where dead relatives are concerned, I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

So, I offered my condolences, and apologized for calling at such an early hour, explaining that I would shortly be on my way to meeting the men at the house, and I wanted to discuss the fact that they had not finished the sanding and had not brought the right color finish before they arrived, so that they would not show up without the proper equipment.

And then he started YELLING at me that he thought it was absurd that we had already had six phone conversations about a "small three-day job," and said, "If I had known the deal would go south like this, I would have backed out right at the beginning." He then proceeded to tell me that the men had "worked late" (I suppose working for two entire hours, and then cutting out of work before 4 p.m., is working late?!?!?) because "You and your husband had a problem with the contract." By which he meant our refusal to let two men we had never met before start major construction work alone in our house without finding out when we could actually read and sign a supposedly required contract for the work-- the contract that Jeff failed, on two separate scheduled occasions, to provide. Nevermind the fact that the contract issue added a whole other half hour or so on to the nearly FIVE HOUR delay before the crew EVEN SHOWED UP to my house.

Then he told me that he was of a mind to pull out of the contract entirely, and he would send his men to pick up their equipment from my house and then tell them to leave. He claimed that after they got the equipment back, he would send back the 50% deposit we had given him in the mail.

Now, at this point, I probably should have taken him up on the offer, despite the fact that I was pretty sure I'd never see that check again without taking him to small claims court.

Problem was, at this point, I had AN ENTIRELY BARE, incompletely sanded wooden floor in HALF OF MY HOUSE. Including in the hallway you have to walk down to get to the bedrooms and bathrooms, and right in front of the front door. In the middle of winter, with snow on the ground, so that no one could walk into my house without tracking water in. Bare, unprotected wood boards, that any sort of spill of liquid could possibly ruin. And I had possibly toxic wood-and-floor-finish dust everywhere. I still had a small child, with no relatives nearby who had time to watch him while I worked, a husband who is allergic to everything in the air anyone could possibly be allergic to, and a big from-home project to finish, the combination of which would pretty much prohibit my finishing the job myself in any sort of timely fashion. And if I hired another contractor to finish the job-- if I could even find one who would be willing to finish a half-done job-- and if I could afford to pay them on top of what I had already paid -- who knew WHEN they could come? I might unable to use my living room or hallway for weeks!

Plus, there was the dead aunt story. If it was true, it could sort of explain why he was being an such an asshat on the phone.

So, I told Jeff from Extreme Hardwoods that he was most certainly not going to pull out of the job-- he was going to finish the job, in a timely fashion, to my satisfaction. His crew was going to use proper dust containment procedures from that point out, and they would make every effort to clean up the mess they had already made. And if he fixed all the problems, and finished the job quickly, I would pay him in full, and we would be square.

Well, so, that was a really dumb idea on my part.

This story is already getting really long, so I'll try to list the ways Extreme Hardwoods screwed up their job in a short a way as possible:

1.) They used a wood stain that was too light to conceal the pet stains, even after I told them AGAIN that I wanted a darker finish.

2.) They scratched a very long scratch in the floor, across nine floor boards, which was too deep to sand out, and is now very visible due to the fact that they used a penetrating wood stain on a fresh cut. When we asked them about it, they tried to blame the scratch on us, claiming it was a knife cut we had made when we tore up the carpet. When I told them I had taken extensive photographs of the floor before they started their work, in case of just such a scenario, that proved the scratch was not there beforehand (entirely true), THEY STILL STUCK TO THE SAME STORY that the scratch had been there before.

3.) They did not buff/screen/finely sand/whatever it is you're supposed to do to the floor properly after the initial sanding, and therefore they left spiral marks from the sander all over the floor. Marks which are now quite visible, because, again, the penetrating stain settled into the scratches. Marks which I am not sure I will ever be able to get removed, because I am not sure I can ever get my floor sanded again, because they sanded the floor quite deeply, I suppose because they were trying to sand out the cat piss stains, and you can only sand a wood floor so many times before there is no wood left to sand.

4.) They left pools of polyurethane in multiple spots on the floor that left visible ridges and ripples as they dried.

5.) They left wood stain handprints on my walls.

(And no, that's not right next to the floor-- that's halfway up the wall. Good thing I have yet to paint that wall the color I want to paint it. But they didn't know that).

6.) They splashed wood stain all over my MONTH-OLD CURTAINS, THE CURTAINS THAT MATCH MY SOFA ACCENT PILLOWS PERFECTLY THAT I HAD TO GO TO THREE DIFFERENT STORES TO FIND, which, by the way, it would have taken them approximately TEN SECONDS to pull up over the rod so they would not be in the way (they did this on the first day, but not on subsequent days).

7.) They did not clean up any of the dust in the rooms outside the living room, and they did not bother to use dust cloths on the second day despite my complaint (although I am not sure how much sanding they actually even did on the second day-- see sander marks above).

It took two people cleaning for six hours, an entire roll of paper towels, an entire canister of Clorox wipes, and lots and lots of dish soap and special floor cleaner to clean up the mess, and I STILL smell burning dust when I turn on my toaster.

Thus far, all Extreme Hardwoods has offered us is a $50 refund toward the dust cleanup, and a free spot-refinishing of the areas of the floor that have polyurethane ripples on them, the latter of which we have yet to take them up on, BECAUSE OH MY GOD WE DO NOT WANT THESE PEOPLE TO COME BACK INTO OUR HOUSE.

Forget the fact that they might damage something.

I might damage THEM.

I don't know how this is the same company that came with such a glowing recommendation from my husband's coworker. I guess she got lucky. Really, really lucky. In the sort of way I never seem to get lucky, ever. Well, except for that one time I met my (then) future husband in the food court at the Galleria.

Now, Extreme Hardwoods apparently needs to send an "impartial third party" (i.e., as far as I can tell, some buddy of Jeff's) out to look at the damage tomorrow.

At 7:30 in the morning.


Not like it matters, since I'm sure they won't be here until 10:00.

Extreme Pain in the Ass, Part I

After discussing the issue with various intelligent people (including some of my readers), and researching various options thoroughly on the internet, I finally came to a decision about what to do the damaged hardwood floors I uncovered when my husband and I pulled up the dirty, worn carpet in the living room and hallway of our recently purchased home.

Carefully considering that:

1.) Rental drum sanders are heavy and difficult for a novice to operate,

2.) Being that my husband is allergic to EVERY airborne particle known to humanity, including wood dust, the main person in charge of any DIY sanding project would probably be little ol' (I swear I'm still, really) 130 (give or take) pound me,

3.) Floor finish in homes built before the 1960s, like mine, often contain toxic materials, including lead, that can be harmful to small children if inhaled in dust form,

4.) Dana from Mamalogues was going to spank me or something if I covered the hardwood with laminate,

5.) Painting a hardwood floor would just be dumb,

I decided it would be well worth the money to hire a professional to sand and refinish my hardwood floors; if the extensive animal urine stains could not be removed by sanding, I thought, I would ask the professional floor refinisher to put a dark stain on the floor that would mostly conceal them.

I didn't want to let just anyone into my home; I've heard so many stories about shady contractors that I certainly wasn't about to pick the first name I found searching for local floor refinishers on Google. Aside from the obvious worries every homeowner has about whether a hired contractor will treat the homeowner's living space with respect and provide quality work for fair prices, the fact that I have a small child in the house, and the fact that I work from home both made it especially important in my mind to find someone who would give me a realistic estimate of how long the project would take, would show up on time, and would stick to whatever schedule we worked out.

Because of my son's age, and my husband's allergy issues, it was also extremely important to me to find someone who would be meticulous about containing the dust from the sander and cleaning up properly afterward.

My husband asked his friends at work if any of them had hired a floor refinishing company in the recent past. One coworker recommended a company called Extreme Hardwoods, a small business, based St. Louis, with its office in North County, not far from my house. She said they had refinished the hardwood floor in her daughter's bedroom not long ago, and they had done an excellent job. And, apparently, she herself had been referred to Extreme Hardwoods by friends of hers who had hired them to refinish floors at their house, where they had done a great job.

So, I called the company to schedule an estimate. I gave the business owner, Jeff, the square footage and a brief description of the extent of the damage over the phone, and he told me that, assuming none of the floor boards needed replacement, we would most likely qualify for their minimum job fee, which is $500. We scheduled an estimate for later that week.

He showed up on time, and seemed knowledgeable about the wood.

But when I asked him about the possibility of using a very dark finish, expressing my worry that the stains would not come out. He insisted he'd seen much worse stains, and that he was fairly certain the majority of the stains, would sand out. He said he thought that many of the stains I thought were urine stains were merely water stains caused by frequent foot traffic from the front door and the bathroom off the hallway.

I disagreed with that assessment, explaining that when I had pulled back the carpet myself earlier in the month, the stench alone was enough to convince me that animals had been, ahem, marking that section of the floor repeatedly for a very long time.

He blew me off.

(I probably should have recognized this as a red flag. However, during my several-year career as a young blonde woman I have become quite accustomed to men who work in professions such as construction, landscaping, car repair, car sales, clothing sales, grocery sales, science, medicine, and politics responding to my concerns and opinions on anything remotely related to their chosen field of work by completely blowing them off.

If I made a regular practice of excluding hired professionals on the basis of sexism, ageism, or blonde-ism, I'd pretty much have to do everything myself.)

I repeated myself until he finally agreed that, in the event the stains did not sand out even under the force of his amazing "super-powered" sander, he would be happy to stain the floor a dark enough color that whatever remained of the stains would mostly blend right in.

I asked him about dust containment, and he assured me that they would use a high-quality dustless sander that sucked up dust as it sanded the floor, that they would hang plastic tarps across every doorway to every area of the house that was not being sanded, and that they would use a heavy-duty shop vac to thoroughly clean all of the dust off of the sanded floors.

He said he could come to do the floors the very next week if I liked, and then he left. And I thought about it over the weekend. I checked around for price estimates at a few other places. I called my stepfather, who owns a saw mill, and asked his advice. I called my sister to see whether I could scare up a place to stay for a couple of days while possibly-toxic dust swirled through my home. I considered how I might rearrange my work schedule, and whether I would be able to do some work at my sister's house.

Finally, I called Extreme Hardwoods on Monday and scheduled the floor refinishing to start on Wednesday. Jeff told me that he would send a crew out at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. I would move all of my furniture out of the way before the came, and the crew would start sanding the floors immediately. They would rough-sand a few patches in some of the worst stained areas right away to see whether the stains were coming up or not, and then they would paint three different finish swatches on the sanded spot of floor so that my husband and I could decide which finish to use. Then, we would leave. The crew would finish the sanding completely and put a coat of finish on the floor that day; then, if the finish had time to dry, they would come back in the early evening and apply one coat of polyurethane. In the morning, they would come back and apply a second coat of polyurethane. If everything went as planned, my floors would be completely finished in two days, and on the third day, after the top poly coat cured, I could move my furniture back into the room.

Jeff also said he would send someone over to my house with a contract on Tuesday, describing the work to be done, explaining liability policies, and confirming the $500 price. He said he would call me first thing in the morning on Tuesday to tell me when someone would be coming by with the paperwork.

During this scheduling call, we discussed the fact that snow was predicted in the area for Monday night and Tuesday morning. I worried that perhaps if too much ice fell, my electricity would go out, as it did in the last two major ice storms. He assured me that if the storm caused any delays on his end, he would call me as soon as possible to draw up a new schedule.

Snow came Tuesday morning, without ice, and my electricity stayed on. The roads in my neighborhood were plowed quickly. Relieved, I waited for someone from Extreme Hardwoods to call and tell me when they might be by with the contract. I imagined they would still be able to drop it by despite the storm, considering that their business address was so close to my house.

I waited for the call, and waited, and waited, until 3:00 in the afternoon, when Jeff called and said that because of the weather, no one would be able to come by with a contract on Tuesday.

In addition, he said, the weather had delayed work on another job, so the crew would no longer be able to come to my house at 8:30 as scheduled. They would now have to go back to the house they were currently working on first thing in the morning to put the final coat on the floor, and then come to my house at 10:30, but, he told me, he was certain they would still be able to finish the sanding and finishing part of the job by the end of the day; with luck, they might even still be able to apply the first polyurethane coat, as long as I did not mind them working late in my house. He would send the contract over with the crew.

I was a bit worried about not seeing the contract I was supposed to sign until the work crew was actually at my house for the job, but, I certainly understood that the weather might have caused delays. After all, my neighborhood hadn't been too badly hit by the storm, but I was sure the crew did work all over town, and they may have been working in an area where the roads were quite dangerous. I agreed to this new schedule, and rearranged the plans I'd made with my sister to meet her at her house after the crew set up. My husband arranged to work from home for the first half of day so that he could be around to look at the contract and help make a decision about the finish.

Early the next morning, we got up and moved all of our living room furniture into the dining room and our bedroom. We thoroughly swept the living room floor. Then we sat in the empty room, and waited for the crew to arrive. My husband fielded IM questions from work on his laptop. My son paced around nervously, asking whether we were moving again, but we assured him we were not. I took the opportunity to thoroughly clean the emptied shelves of my entertainment center.

At 9:30 a.m., Jeff called to say the men had been delayed by heavy traffic, and were only just now arriving at the house they had to finish up at before mine. However, he insisted they would arrive at my house by 11:30.

My husband told his supervisor he'd be later than he had expected. I tried to call my sister, but could not get in touch with her.

By 12:30, the crew was still not at my house.

I called Jeff on his business cell phone. Someone picked up the phone, and then it clicked off. I couldn't tell whether I'd just been hung up on, or the cell phone had lost the connection. Thinking that he might be driving through an area with poor reception, I decided to wait ten minutes to see whether Jeff would call me back.

He didn't.

So I called again.

This time he answered the phone, and before I could say much of anything at all, he said, "They're on your street."

"Really?" I asked. I happened at the time to be looking out of my front window. From which I can see pretty much all of my very short street. There was no one driving on the street. There were no commercial trucks or vans parked anywhere. "I can see my entire street right now," I said, "And I don't see your crew anywhere."

"Oh, well, maybe they're lost," he said.

Finally, at 1:15 p.m.-- that's one hour and forty-five minutes past 11:30, two hours and forty-five minutes past 10:30, and a full four hours and forty-five minutes past the originally scheduled time of 8:30 in the morning, a man carrying a beat-up, dusty old drum sander knocked on my door. The crew of two came in and started setting up their equipment. Slightly miffed that they were so late, but relieved they had finally shown, I asked them whether they had brought the contract Jeff had told me we needed to sign before the work began.

They had not.

I asked if someone could be sent over from the office with it.

One of the men called Jeff on his cell phone. After they talked for a while, Jeff asked to talk to me. He told me the men could go ahead and start the job without the contract. I told him I didn't want to start the job without seeing what was in the contract first. I asked if my husband could go pick up a copy of the contract, but Jeff said he had the only copy in the car with him on the road. He told me that if I let the men start working, he would come by the house as soon as he was finished with some business downtown to give us the contract.

I explained that once the men started working, we had had to leave. My husband had already spent half a day working from home and needed to go in to the office right away, and I needed to take my son to my sister's house; I couldn't have him in the house once the sanders were going full blast, because the dust would be everywhere, and anyway (given his medical condition, which I did not take the time to explain) he would be terrified by the noise. I asked if he could bring the contract by my husband's office instead. He didn't answer. Then the phone cut out. When I tried to call him back, it said the number was unavailable.

The crew and I waited for several more minutes before finally receiving a call from Jeff saying he would bring the contract to my husband's office.

It was now almost two in the afternoon. As reluctant as I was to start work without a contract in hand, we had already moved all of our furniture and made arrangements to stay at my sister's house; my husband had already spent half the day out of his office, and I had spent half the day NOT working on a major work project of my own. Not to mention the fact that I was already tired of trying to protect a wood floor missing half of its finish from a two-year-old for the past couple of weeks.

So, I let them finish setting up their equipment. I was worried about my curtains, which I had left hanging so no one would see that the house was unoccupied and under construction and decide to waltz in and take a few things, but the crew just flipped the curtains up over the curtain rod. I asked them to put down the finish swatches Jeff had described to me during the scheduling phone call.

The men looked confused. "We have to sand the entire floor before we put down any finish," they said.

"The entire reason my husband stayed home from work today was so he could read over the contract, and help pick out the finish. And now you are telling me we can't do either one of those things?"

They shook their heads. "No, ma'am, but we can't put the finish down today anyway. It's already two in the afternoon. It won't have time to dry before you come home tonight. We'll have to do it in the morning. So why don't we just put the swatches down after we finish sanding tonight, and then you can tell us in the morning which one you want?"

At this point, I was pretty much furious.

But the men who had shown up to do the work seemed nice enough. They were truly apologetic about the delays. Had it all really been a case of miscommunication between Jeff and the crew, exacerbated by the weather? I didn't know.

All I knew was that I had planned my entire week around getting this work done, and if it didn't get done that day, I might not be able to arrange for it to happen for another month.

So, I went to my sister's house. My husband went to work.

Jeff called my husband at the office and said that he couldn't bring the contract by when we'd planned because instead of coming straight up from downtown, as he'd told us he would, he had driven to O'Fallon.

He finally sent an associate by with a contract a 4:00 p.m.

When my husband called Jeff back with a question about the contract shortly after receiving it, Jeff mentioned that the crew had already finished the sanding and left our house.

Which means they were working at the house for less than two hours.

When we went by the house, I discovered that the crew hadn't even finished the edge sanding around the doorways. There was a clear demarcation between the areas of the floor that had been edge sanded, and the area of the floor that had been sanded with the drum sander, indicating that they had not done the final buffing job on the floor.

The swatches were on the floor, but none of the three colors shown there were dark enough to cover the stains. Which had not sanded out.

And there were piles of wood shavings on the floor, and there was dust EVERYWHERE. They hadn't vacuumed it all up.

And they hadn't hung plastic in the doorways.

Every piece of furniture in my dining room, and every appliance and every flat surface in my kitchen, was covered in 1/16th of an inch to 1/8th of an inch of wood and finish dust.

***Continued next post***

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Lies Beneath

Most of the (fifty-year-old!) hardwood floors in my new house look like this:

(Cue choir of angels).

(Yes, that is a Queen-Anne-style bookcase and a floral rug. No, I am not somebody's grandma. I am just . . . sophisticated . . . for my age. Shut up).

So, though I expected that the hardwood floor beneath the ugly, cheap, smelly carpet in my living room and hallway would probably have a few scuffs and stains, as hardwood floors trapped under cheap carpet generally tend to, given the condition of the floors in the rest of the house, I had hope that the floor beneath the carpet might be, well, passable.

I was wrong.

That is what the hallway looked like AFTER I swept it twice.

That's not glue you're seeing there on the floor. Oh, no.

That's about seven years of dust.

Seven-year-old dust congeals into quite a tenacious sort of paste when mixed with seven years of cat urine.

Oh yes, yes it does.

So, this is what the hallway looked like after I removed the urine-and-dust paste:

And this is what the living room floor looks like, everywhere the previous occupants didn't have furniture:

As you can see, before they put the carpet down, they apparently thought it would be fun to test some white wall paint out on the floor. On the fifty-year-old, still-in-pretty-good-condition, genuine-hardwood-of-a-quality-that-would-cost-a-
frillion-dollars-to-install-throughout-a-house-these-days floor.

Look, even the two-year-old thinks this is such a tragedy he wants to help:

So, I figure I have four options:

1.) Pay someone several hundred dollars to sand the floor and refinish it. In a dark, dried cat urine color to cover up the stains. Only we won't call the color dried cat urine. We'll call it Rich Espresso.

2.) Attempt to sand and refinish the floor myself. With expensive rental equipment that I have never used before. Using chemicals that require ventilation-- i.e., open windows. In the dead of winter.

3.) Cover the hardwood with laminate (sacrilege). Because (see above) I cannot afford to replace the hardwood with hardwood.

4.) Run over it a couple of times with my hand sander, paint the whole floor some unobtrusive color with porch paint (SACRILEGE!), toss around some really big area rugs, and wait five years until I CAN afford to replace the hardwood with hardwood.

Opinions? Suggestions, Internets?

(I know I've been doin' you wrong lately, Internets, by rushing past you with little more than a tip of my hat when I see you on the street, not even bothering to say hello, or ask you how your day has been.

But I know you still love me, Internets.


Don't you?)