Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don’t Worry. I Didn’t Die. I Promise.

Well.  It’s bee a looong time since I’ve written.  I am the worst.  It’s been a mixture of not excuses (for some weeks) and an actual excuse (in-law craziness.  Literally).

I’m not going to go crazy and write a million words right now, even though I’ve been known to blow out these posts in the past.  Instead, I will update all of you folks on the financial situation as of now.

During the road trip, I was sent a couple of checks related to both the insurance claim (still not closed) and the construction part of the 203(k) loan. 

*Aside* – Here’s what happens in Windows 7 Live Writer (which is awesome by the way, at least for blogging) when you type “(“ followed by “k” and then “)”.  Red lips  Apparently that means kiss.  The internet is both the best and the worst, simultaneously.  Yeesh.  *Aside over*

With those checks, I paid some folks a bunch of money.  I still have not yet received the remainder of the insurance money, nor have I received the remainder of the loan money.

For awhile, I was fighting with the bank (who loaned me money) to get them to release the rest of the funds, since the house was pretty much finished up and I was broke.  I am still broke.  Only last week did the fine folks at M&T Bank finally acquiesce and allow for the final inspection and subsequent money release.  I asked Richard Who Hands Me Money to stop by for the final inspection, but instead of doing that, he just sent me an email with a bunch of forms to fill out and told me to take pictures of things.  Lazy turd.

I filled out the forms, had Al Medina, General Contractor sign them as well, scanned them and emailed them back to Richard.  I also took pictures and sent those along.  Hopefully doing those two things will mean I will finally get the rest of the loan money sometime in the very immediate future and will finally be able to pay Al the rest of what he is owed.  My bill is currently at close to $17k owed (please note that he has been paid over 32 grand in American dollars, so he isn’t flipping out about money just yet).

The insurance is another matter entirely.  It’s been months and months since the house I am currently living is caught fire.  It was on the 3rd of July.  I still have not yet received the final check for the repairs (which have been finished forever) nor have I received the financial hardship inducing “pay Ryan back for all the money he spent when he lived in a hotel and had to eat out every single meal for over a month” check.  For an idea of how much money I spent, but still haven’t seen, the total cost for the hotel stay only, not including meals, was over twelve thousand dollars.  Out of my pocket.  I would really like to see that money again, as I am starting to get a little worried.  When will I see it?  I, literally, have no idea.

I’ve been bugging Richard, who, if you remember, helped me get a lot more money than I needed from the insurance company, about that money for months now.  he keeps telling me that it is a separate issue from the insurance claim, and thus, it is generally reviewed and handed out after the final check has been cut.  Since that has not happened yet, I cannot get repaid for living it up at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Providence.

This process was, and remains, ultra frustrating.  It’s been over five months since I initially called Traveler’s to let them know that someone lit some garbage in my yard.  The repairs have been finished for months, I haven’t been able to pay my general contractor (but have managed to pay everyone else), and I will be unable to close on a sale of the place (I that were to occur) without this stupid claim being closed once and for all.  I really have not had a good time dealing with all of this. 

Oh, and since I have not been paid the final amount of the claim, I still cannot reveal to you how much it was for.  I know you’ve been anticipating the final number for months and months, but I can’t let the feline out of the bag quite yet.

So, in short, I am waiting on tens of thousands of dollars worth of checks to be mailed to me.  I have done everything I can to make sure that the folks sending the checks are in a position to mail them.  I wrote this post to complain.

The next one will probably have complaints to, but it should also have some images of the house.  I know you like pictures more than text anyways.  Imbeciles…

Just kidding.

Red lips

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tradesmen Are Both The Best and The Worst

When I last left off, which was, admittedly, too long ago, I mentioned that I needed some plumbing help.  Joe Merritt, Plumber was unable to unclog the, um, clogged piped in my basement and the washing machine was rendered almost unusable.  Joe Recommended a friend of his, I gave him a call, and he showed up the next day.

He parked in the driveway and took a look at the basement.  I let him know that I would have to leave at some point during his few hours of work, so he would have to park his giant blue van on the street, rather than on my terrible property.  He agreed, hopped into his van, and made his way here:

Plumber Crash 001

I watched the journey from driveway to curb.  It was GREAT.

The plumber fired up his van and backed out of the driveway completely.  He then moved his van pretty much where it ended up in the above picture, but decided to fix the angle at which he was parked (which I appreciate) and to do so, he started to back up again.  He slowly backed up and slowly backed up until he had finally smooshed the rear of his van into the telephone pole, also pictured above.

It was hilarious.

He was probably only going about seven miles per hour, but (at the risk of sounding like a pickle commercial), man, what a satisfying crunch.  The result?  I nice tall dent:

Plumber Crash 002

He popped out of the van, once it was finally completely parked, and was livid with himself.  A nice quote – “If my effword effword-up brother did that, I would have fired his ayword.”  he complained about his driving prowess for a few minutes while angrily unloading hi van and getting ready to fish out poop.  He was great.

Another fun conversation I had with him later on (I added only a few ‘yea’s’ and nervous laughter to the conversation) started by him letting me know that he recently lived in my neighborhood.  He said that he used to live only a few streets over from my house and he asked me if I had ever seen a woman walking around the neighborhood with two white dogs on leashes.  I had not.

He then let me know that he was, ahem, “trying to get with that.”  Gross enough.  Also, “she wouldn’t let him because he would have to take her to dinner or some essword like that.”

Why do people tell me these things?  I met the man twenty seven minutes earlier and he was admitting to me that he is a terrible person who tried to have sex with a woman, but wouldn’t take her to dinner first.  Yeesh.  If you want to tell me that story (you shouldn’t), just admit to me that the woman turned you down.  I know it already.  It’s not a secret.

I also learned that he didn’t usually smoke, but he had recently rehired his brother who smokes, so naturally, he started up again.  His brother did a lot of drugs.  his dad is kind of a deadbeat.  Etc.

I did not, and still do not, care about any of this.  Please.  Tradesmen.  Do not continue to tell me these things.  Please just show up on time and do the job you are being paid to do.  No more stories, anecdotes, family secrets or anything else.  Please.

In other news, the heaters are still not installed.  We are using a small, but surprisingly effective space heater on the third floor, as we don’t want to be freezing people.  Since the heaters have not yet been installed, we cannot have the floor Asians start (or finish) the floor reconditioning.  This is terrible, as we can’t rent out these places without refinished floors or, you know, heat.

The good news is, a week and a half after he said he could show up, Dan Costa, Electrician is here now, working away on the first floor.  Yesterday, I received an email from him around 6:30am stating that he’d be by to start working between 10am and 11am. 

I called him at 11:15am, wondering where he was.  Surprisingly, he was not on his way.  He said he would be there in an hour or so, as he was “held up”. 

An hour and a half later, I gave him another call.  He was, this time, back at his office looking for the estimate he did for me.  It would be another half hour or so. 


An hour thereafter, he finally showed up, hopefully to start working, as he said he would be.

Apparently, to Dan Costa, “starting work” means “ask for a check”.  I didn’t, and still do not, have any checks to offer, so I handed him a few hundred bucks in cash and he said he would be back the next day (this morning) around 8am, to start.

One more day without heat.  Hooray.

He showed up this morning right on time.  No he didn’t.  Only a half hour late though, so that was nice.  I handed him a huge check and he is currently working.  he should be finished in the next few days. 

Since he started, I called up the floor Asians and set up their start date.  Next Monday.  Blamo.

Almost finished…

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Live In A Wonderful Neighborhood

No I don’t.

So, over the last few days, I’ve been dealing with smelly things.  The installed washer in the basement, as I mentioned in the last post, doesn’t drain so well.  The three or four five gallon buckets per washer load wasn’t a great time, so I called up Joe Merritt, plumber, to take a look at it, and also replace a few dripping basement water valves.

He showed up a little bit late (surprise) on Monday and headed down to the basement.  I showed him what needed to be done and he got to work.  After a few tens of minutes, I checked in on his progress.  He had replaced all of the valves (three of them) and had moved onto the clogged waste pipe, seen below the pipe with the bucket resting on it here:

We're Back 002

He was prying the PVC pipe back to let it drain a bit into the bucket.  Some really super smelly water was coming out of it.  Like, super extra poopy.

Now, keep in mind that this drain had been sitting idle for months and months before we moved in.  There was likely all kinds of crap (literal and not) sitting in there, drying out, and thus, shrinking a bit.  Once we moved in and started to flood the drain with water from showers and sinks and toilets and hopefully nothing else, that old, dried drain stuff swelled again and made for a slow drain.

Once he had sufficiently and slowly drained the pip of grossness, he started to snake the drain with a small hand snake and I headed back upstairs to not snake a drain with a plumber.

When I returned to the basement after I heard some swearing, I smelled something truly awful.  Just abysmal.  When I finally fought through the stink cloud and found out what the problem was, I was met by a huge pool of drain stuff all over the place.  Apparently, the snaking didn’t go well and to figure things out, Joe Merritt removed the pvc pipe from the sleeve to the left of it.  Big big mistake. 

As soon as he removed the pvc, all kinds of disgusting and old, um, material came flying out of the sleeve.  He caught some of it in a bucket, but there was more than five gallons of material to catch.  The result?  All kinds of poop, grey water, hair and all things disgusting all over the floor.

Better news?  When trying to put the pipe back into the sleeve, he broke the pipe, and the attached trap right off.  Awesome.

We moved the appliances out of the way and got down to cleaning things up.  Well, he did, as I pay him to keep poop off of the floor.  He used the shop vac for a few minutes and brought a bag full of gross out to the garbage can.  Once the chunks were gone, he replaces the pipe and the trap so it was all back to normal.  But much smellier.

Here’s the after picture:

Poop Pipe 001

And another, for fun:

Poop Pipe 002

Everywhere that is wet on the floor in those pictures is where the drain sprayed grey water and poop.  There was a lot and it smelled very terrible.  It still kind of does after two days of open windows.  Gross.

I paid Joe Merritt for his troubles and he left.  he gave me the number of a plumber who actually unclogs drains, rather than just does rough/finish plumbing and he came here yesterday.  I will write about that shortly.  Why not now?  Because I have better things to write about.

As I mentioned in the title of this post, I live in a crappy neighborhood.  The evidence has been mounting for awhile now (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) and I think, based upon what happened last week next door, the verdict can finally be rendered beyond a reasonable doubt.  Here is the nail in the defense team’s proverbial coffin:

Around 11pm, I was in the living room watching an illegal feed of the Celtics overtime win in Boston over the Chicago Bulls.  In the final few seconds of the overtime period, I heard a bunch of yelling and commotion from outside.  Since the yelling in my neighborhood usually amuses me (it’s usually a teenaged guy yelling about a girl who wronged him, seriously), I opened the window next to me to listen in.  Nothing crazy, just a girl yelling about something and a guy trying to explain himself. 

After a few minutes of this, Amanda, who was in bed, appearing out of the bedroom and asked me if I heard all of this.  Of course I did.  Since there isn’t much space between buildings around here, it’s tough to tell the directionality of yelling in the neighborhood.  I figured it was coming from around the block, but Amanda let me know that it was, in fact, coming from the parking lot of the house next to us.


I bounded into the bedroom, we turned the lights off inside (as to not be seen), high fived and hunkered down for some greatness.  We were not disappointed.  It was a group of about five or six people (of college age, but most certainly not enrolled anywhere accredited), all visible from our bedroom window, milling about around a four door sedan.  There were two or three girls, one yelling hysterically,  two fellows near the car and one guy who seemed to be playing intermediary between them all.  It was clearly the two fellows near the car versus the hysterical girl and her roommates, with the third guy trying to calm people down/keep the fellows in the yard.

After a bit of time, one of the two fellows, started to get really nervous, antsy, as it was revealed that the police had been called and would be arriving shortly.  he really did not want to be there when the police arrived, but he never actually had the nerve to run.  We surmised that it was because the car was his and he would be caught one way or another (either now, or later I guess).

Knowing that something funny might happen, I grabbed my video camera and got to immortalizing the experience.  The audio is a bit soft, and it was nighttime, and thus, dark, so I apologize.  Oh, and there’s swearing, so heads up:

So here’s what we think went down: The crying over the trunk fellow drove his friend, the other arrested guy in the white striped black leather jacket, to the house next to ours.  The other arrested fellow apparently had a key to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.  He used the key to enter her apartment while his driver waited outside.  While in the apartment, he managed to grab her computer and television.  Before long, his ex-girlfriend came home and parked behind the perpetrator’s car, boxing it in.  She flipped out.

The police came and made me laugh a lot.  Apparently, he broke into the apartment and tried to steal his ex-girlfriend’s stuff because she, *throat clear*, she owed him five American dollars.  This guy broke into a house to steal things over five dollars.   He was arrested and went to jail, at least for one night, for five dollars.  He convinced his pants peeing friend to be an accomplice with a car for five dollars.


This neighborhood is hilarious.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back In Business. Or Rhode Island With Minimal Business.

So.  The Road Trip is over.  We came back a week or so ago and have been kind of sitting around ever since.  I’m still in the process of writing all about it here, but figured I’d get my regular house blog readers up to speed.  All seven of you.

Miraculously, nothing in the house or outside of the house was destroyed.  I was shocked to say the very least.  Not only was nothing in the house burned, exploded, melted, eaten, broken, leaking, busted, stolen, ruined, etc., but the house was in better condition than when we left it.  Also?  Amanda’s terrible car wasn’t even stolen or broken into.  Can’t win them all I guess…

As I said, the house was in better condition than when we left it for five plus weeks.  This was because I asked Al Medina, General contractor to finish up most things in the house while we were gone.  I figured that since we got too much money from the insurance company, I could give some of it to Al to keep things moving while we were gone.

When we first got back, I checked the mail:

We're Back 001

We have a mail slot, so it could just pile up inside the door.  It piled up for sure.

One of the things that Al and his folks did while we were gone was hang some cabinets in the first and second floor kitchens:

We're Back 007We're Back 003

He also finished up each galley, including painting the second floor countertop grey:

We're Back 008

He replaced the first floor shower surround (as the old one was hilarious and made partly of wood):

We're Back 004

New bathroom floors for the first and second floor bathrooms:

We're Back 005We're Back 011

Finished up the painting on the first and second floors:

We're Back 006We're Back 012

There are still some little things that he overlooked, like this bathroom floor trim:

We're Back 010

For the most part though, Al Medina and his crew are finished up here.  Still to be done though?  Refinishing the floors, installation of electric baseboard heaters and a little bit of plumbing.  Oh, and finding tenants that only smoke heroin a few times a month…

The washer and dryer have been installed in the basement.  That is good news.  The bad news?  The waste pipe that drains the washer is super clogged.  I found this out a fun way, when testing out the washer.  A bunch of water came spewing out of it.  not as bad as the last house, but still, stinky water is no good.

I sat in the basement for an hour watching the washing machine fill up and drain.  When it drained, I got to unplug it, then head outside to dump out a bucket of dirty, detergent filled water.  The bucket pictured here:

We're Back 002

Apparently, the washer uses three five gallon buckets of water per cycle.  I wish that was in the manual.

Joe Merritt, Plumber is headed here Monday morning to take care of that, as well as replace some leaky valves in the basement.  No big deal.

Hopefully, Dan Casta, Electrician will also make his way here this coming week to install the heaters and hook up the brand new electrical meters that were somehow installed when I was away.  I was, again, shocked.

Next installment?  A video of what happened at 10pm or so at the neighbors house.  You won’t want to miss it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fun At the Bank

Not actually at the bank, as that’s in Buffalo, but I guess fun with the bank on the telephone in the car travelling to New Jersey.

I’m still waiting on tens of thousands of dollars.  The repairs on my house (fire repairs) have been finished for weeks.  I still can’t pay those who finished said repairs.  I am a deadbeat. 

I was supposed to get a check for $8k, as the bank folks said they sent it out on the 10th.  That was a long long time ago.  I was a productive member of the workforce way back then.  Since we were leaving for a road trip for five weeks, it was kind of important that the check arrive at the house before we left.  I explained that to the bank folks before the 10th and they assured me that the check would arrive before we left (yesterday).  They are liars.  I have no check.

Kind of angry about it, I gave the folks at the bank a call as soon as we got on the road to smelly NJ.  On the call, I explained my situation, then told them to cancel the check that they “sent” and then send a new check to a different address overnight.  Normally, there is a $25 fee for overnighting a check.  I told them that I would not be paying that fee. 

The woman on the other end of the phone had a quick (not quick) chat with her manager while I was on hold and told me to, ahem, call back on Monday to cancel the check and they would send the new one out then.  Also,  she let me know that I would be paying the overnighting fee.


She explained that I would have to wait ten business days to cancel the check (as it still might be delivered at the house) and that since they aren’t the US Postal Service, the overnighting fee would have to be paid by me, as they’re not responsible for delivering mail.

I was kind of pissed at this point and decided to re-explain the situation, hoping that some logic might seep into the conversation.  I also asked to talk to her manager.  My basic point was, since were were already gone and wouldn’t be returning to check the mail for five weeks, it doesn’t matter if the check arrived by Monday, because, duh, no one would be home to open it.  I told her it made no difference, since we wouldn’t be there on Monday, if I waited until then to call back and request a new check, since I was going to have to do that either way. 

I then moved on to why I wasn’t going to pay the overnighting fee.  In short, they told me that the check would be there by the 22nd, as it was being sent on the 10th.  I then postulated that they requested that the check be cut on the 10th, but sending the request, and actually cutting the check (which is done by a different department) too a few extra days.  I surmised this because the US Postal Service doesn’t take 10 days to delivered anything, especially something from Buffalo to Providence.

She took in the argument and basically told me that she wasn’t authorized to do anything and that I would have to call back on Monday.  Jesus.

I once again requested to talk to her manager, so she said that she would see if he was available.

After another few minutes on hold, she was back on the phone telling me that my requests were reasonable and that she could cancel the check and send out a new one shortly. 

I was stunned.  After all of that, apparently all it took was asking her to tell the manager my logical argument and he obliged. 

I felt like I won something.  I now have a check for $8k and $39k headed to my friend Dan’s house (we’ll be Dan’s House Guest) outside of Philadelphia.  Hopefully it will be there when Amanda and I visit there this weekend on our way out to the West Coast.  Heads up Dan.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


So. Since all of the work was completed on the house, as far as restoring it to livable condition after a fire, I scheduled an appointment with the mortgage companies inspection service. It was supposed to be at 8:30am yesterday. It was actually at 9:30am yesterday.

Aside: "Tardiness" is not even close to related to "retard" linguistically, but I'm glad that they are similar. Aside over.

The woman who showed up in her late model white Dodge Durango, with the back windshield replaced by a taped on piece of thin Plexiglas, was super extra hot. Like, really super hot. I couldn't figure out, despite the entire meeting's worth of trying, how such an incredibly good looking woman could be stuck in such a terrible job. Maybe she was recently divorced and needed to make ends meet before the settlement money? Maybe her friend needed a favor and she was filling in? Perhaps she actually enjoyed it? Is that even possible? She was so physically appealing, it made absolutely no sense to me that she would do inspections for a mortgage company for a living. She was just so hot.

No she wasn't.

She was exactly what I expected: A squat, round, bespectacled troll of a woman with a little too much dark hair on her upper lip and a tinge of social anxiety.

That aside, she was very nice, if not a bit awkward. I showed her around the house, she took a few photographs and approved the house as 100% complete according to the contract with Al Medina, General Contractor.

It is now a race between me leaving Rhode Island for the road trip and the check reaching my mail slot. If the check loses that race, we cannot pay for anything during our road trip. I will have a better idea of the check's chances early next week, when I can bug people at the mortgage company.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breckin Meyer Was Also In Garfield The Movie

It's been two days since my house's last accident.

On to the big news I promised yesterday: After a phone call from Dan (yes, the Dan), I confirmed that my golf clubs were also stolen. Both sets of them. Crap.

Smaller news, but news nonetheless: I quit my job, my actual day job, a few weeks ago. A week form tomorrow is my last day drawing a paycheck/doing work for a gigantic/antiquated toy company. I tried to convince some folks there to let me work remotely, but the multi-billion dollar corporation dumb enough to employ me is against it. How quaint.

Related: Amanda quit her job as well.

Why did we do this? Because on October 28th, I have to hand my leased Mercury Mariner back to Ford. I have about 8,000 miles to use before I hand it in. Of course, to use all of those miles, we are going on a month long road trip all over America. Awesome.

We're headed from here (Providence) to Portland, down to San Diego, over to Atlanta and back to Providence. We hope to see a lot of weird stuff, including a family that is half socially inept midgets, led by this man:

After the Road trip is finished, we're going to stick around for the holidays, then move to Puerto Rico to continue the property flipping and headaches. Only when we're there, I get to yell at people in English while they retort in Spanish.

This obviously effects the house renovations and thus, this blog. When we're gone, I'll have nothing house related to write about, so enjoy the last few posts before next Wednesday.

Also related: I'm super broke. This is going to be great for the road trip. No it isn't. It turns out that living in a hotel and eating at restaurants for every meal drains your bank account. Here's a nice shot from my online banking account:

Oof. A note about the above: that was the final amount of money that the Marriott took from me. It was the last of three. It cost $12,796.39.

I have received a check from the mortgage company that I deposited yesterday, so hopefully today it will post to my account. The bad news? It was for a meager 5 grand that will immediately be given to workers and a home insurance company. To remedy this terrible financial situation, I have been calling the mortgage company, who have all of my insurance money, daily to get them to send more. I also set up an inspection for tomorrow morning. That inspection will hopefully go well and then the insurance money that my mortgage company is holding will be mailed to me. I will have more money for the road trip if that happens.

Lastly, there's an advantage to living in a hotel for an entire summer: the rewards points. This will pay for a lot of free stays on our trip:

Monday, September 13, 2010

While We Were Out

There used to be a television show on TLC that I pilfered the title of this post from. The basic premise of the show was this: A homeowner is coerced into leaving their home for a weekend. While the homeowner is away, renovations and redecorating are completed on the home. The homeowner comes back and cries.

This past weekend, as I mentioned in a previous post, Amanda and I were out of town. Teresa Strasser, host of the now cancelled TLC show, did not show up, but redecorating of another kind was certainly completed. Here's a recap of the events:


Al Medina walked through the house with an inspector. That inspector signed off on the building permits that Al took out, so everything is seemingly approved (aside form the electrical systems). This is good news on the surface, but great news on a deeper level. Or on a more important level. Or something else that has to do with levels.

Because the permit included doing work to make Dan's Guest House unlivable by humans, the City now says that it is unlivable. The kitchen was removed and the electrical and plumbing lines to the House were cut. This was apparently enough to satisfy the City and they have removed the violation from the house. This is fantastic news. Really, it's great. now I don't have to go to court and stand in front of a judge with a tie on. The court date is scheduled for the 29th of this month, but now I don't have to show up. Instead, the Inspector will show up and tell the judge that the violation has been removed and that I shouldn't be fined further. Great.


We left on Thursday, but the folks at Venture Windows still showed up on Friday to install a bunch of windows. They did just that. See?


There was nothing scheduled for the weekend as far as work being done on the house. Amanda and I were away and not many folks work on weekends anyways, so I didn't expect any visitors until the folks at Lee's Flooring showed up on Monday morning to refinish the hardwoods. This in mind, we were surprised to find a little bit of work done on the house when we returned on Sunday morning. Not good work mind you, but there was definitely something different about things when we pulled into the driveway. For instance: The door to Dan's Guest House was open when we pulled in.


Little known fact: In some instances, very rarely, the word "peculiar" is a synonym of the phrase, "mother effword. That stupid effword door is open and that is terrible. All of our stuff is likely burgled. Essword."

This is the rare case when peculiar is synonymous with the above. Dan's Guest house was broken into and a lot of the stuff we were storing was stolen. Hooray.

On Friday, when the new windows were installed, the window installers failed to put up the curtain that was hung to obstruct the view into Dan's Guest House. I postulate that some neighborhood jerks looked in, saw all of our stuff and decided to take it. Here's the scene:


This window was broken. The burglar pushed the screen aside, broke the window reached into the hole in the glass, unlocked the window and climbed into Dan's Guest House. He then opened the door from the inside to make things a little easier and proceeded to rifle through the remaining crap in there and remove it from the premises.

These shelves were filled with tools (including a still in the box, never used table saw):

There used to be a very expensive bicycle over here:

Here's where two snowboard and two skateboards were last seen:

If you look at that second picture (where the bike used to be), you can rule out looking at the local library for the thieves. They likely aren't strong readers, as they left all of our books (some still in the original box we packed them in!). I didn't mention this to the policeman that showed up, but I think he can figure it out for himself...

A few other things were taken (old computer and monitor, video games, etc), but all in all, not too bad. They didn't break into the main house, so our bigger/more important stuff is still in our possession, but it would have been nice to keep that snowboard and bike. Oh, and, you know, since we're renovating a house, all of those tools. Farts.

The good news in all of this? I still don't have insurance. That is not good news.

In the end, it's only stuff. Stuff that we were going to sell soon anyways, so while we're out a few hundred (or maybe thousand) bucks, at least we still have the huge television, video game systems and our bed. And 200 foot extension cord. And primitive plumbing.

To cap things off here, I'd like to give thanks. I generally don't show this side of myself to anyone, especially the internet, but once in awhile it's probably healthy to let those in your life know how thankful you really are and why. So here goes:

I am thankful for the folks who put in my new windows and left all of our stuff on display for anyone who felt like looking in.

I am thankful for desperate people in society who risk physical harm and terms in prison for a three year old computer and two snowboards.

I am thankful for the insurance company underwriters that canceled my policy despite my repeated logical arguments attempting to sway them.

Lastly, I am thankful that my friend Josh got married on the day I was getting new windows installed.

Big news tomorrow. I promise.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Well, We Moved In

As I mentioned, we moved in on Tuesday evening, fully expecting electricity. I didn't hear anything from Dan Costa, Electrician during the day, so I was a little worried. Luckily, when I got home on Tuesday evening, after work, my worries were completely founded. No electricity. Sweet.

To remedy this, I ran an extension cord from a working outlet in the basement all the way up to the third floor. 200 feet of cord later, we had essentially one working outlet in the apartment. I then plugged a bunch of other crap into the cord and we had a working home entertainment center and a few fans running. Basically, I had 10 things plugged into one outlet in the basement. I am ghetto.

After a few fun phone calls and messages with Dan Costa, he sent one of his cronies (not really a crony, but it's a super word), to hook the third floor up to the house meter. Basically, he took a huge electrical cord and connected the third floor panel to the house panel. Kapow; electricity on the third floor.

Now that there's electricity on the third floor, it's completely livable. Last week, Joe Merritt plumber put the hot water heater in and National Grid turned the gas on and lit the heater. We have electricity, pressure tested plumbing and hot water. Awesome. The apartment, however, is far from perfect. The biggest problem? The kitchen sink is not hooked up to any sort of plumbing. See?

We do have running water in the bathroom sink, so it's not unlivable, but it does make washing dishes very difficult. For instance...

Last evening, we had the first home cooked meal in months. Tacos. Delicious. The downside to home cooking is having to deal with the messy dishes after eating. It's a pain in the bottom under ideal circumstances, but when living somewhere without a working kitchen sink, it is terrible. It led to this:

That's me washing a frying pan used for ground turkey and taco seasoning in the shower.

In other news, here are a bunch of pictures. This is where we live now:

This is the work that Al Medina, General Contractor, along with his workers, did in two days. Insulation, Tyvex wrap, clapboards, windows, custom window overhang, prime, paint.  They are the best:

 I also found the below when unpacking. This is apparently what happens when you leave deodorant on its side during the summer:

Lastly, this house just keeps on giving. Last weekend, when we were readying the house for living, I spent some time removing the baseboard heater covers throughout the house. Behind one of them? Some nostalgia:

 I'm headed to New Hampshire this weekend for a wedding. I won't be doing any work. I also won't be doing any dish washing in the shower. Next week? Some insurance fun.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Text Today, Images Tomorrow

We checked out of the Courtyard Marriott Downtown in Providence this morning. After work today, we will be officially living in a building that I purchased months ago. I am both happy about this, as I'm tired of eating crappy food and living in one room, and sad about this, as I don't want to pay for an air conditioner.

Over the weekend, Amanda and I spent a bunch of hours getting the third floor livable in the hopes that Dan Costa, Electrician would spend his day today getting electricity routed to the third floor. Since the water heater was installed and lit last week, the plumbing was pressure tested and Al Medina, General Contractor finished up his work, all that's left to make the third floor tolerable is electricity. I have been trying to talk to Dan today and have not yet been in touch with him; this does not auger well.

At any rate, I will have some pictures up tomorrow of the work that's been done as well as of the bill from the hotel. It's a very big bill.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Big News and Assorted Minutiae

I had no idea how to spell 'minutiae'. You probably didn't either.

Anyways, some updates:

Al Medina, General Contractor has been back at the house working. He's almost finished with his first contract (original estimate) and his second one (fire stuff). He really is a great contractor. Here are some photos of his handy work:

Exterior Door:

It's brand new and it's red.


As you can see, he and his employees fixed and painted the cabinets, installed new doors, replaced some broken glass and cleaned up. It looks kind of great by comparison.

3rd Floor Master:

Busted ceiling? Fixed.


Most importantly, the exterior of the house is almost completely repaired. The burned siding is removed and replaced, new windows are installed, and everything should be painted by the end of the day today.

Also, Al spent a few hours making a fake window overhang thing to match the other, original ones. He's really good at being my contractor.

Over the weekend, Amanda and I got back to work. I cleaned up the yard, which had all kinds of fun new trash in it (thanks neighbors):

It was not fun at all, as there was plenty of broken glass, and even some buckets of concrete with poles in them. They weighed a lot and made me very sore. I am too skinny for things like that.

Once the trash cleanup was finished I spent the next four hours cutting and placing vinyl tiles in the third floor bathroom. It was a lot of cuts:

While I was cleaning and sticking tiles for hours, Amanda spent her time sorting through and lugging all kinds of our crap from Dan's Guest House to the third floor apartment. She got a pretty good amount of crap up the stairs:

In other house work news, Joe Merritt, Plumber worked and remains working in my basement getting that enormous water heater installed. That should be finished up today and he will move on to pressure testing the plumbing (making sure nothing explodes when the water is turned on) and removing the old useless baseboard heaters.

Also, the electrician will be going by there today to get back to work. He's got a lot to do in order to get those meters installed. He's going to probably cost me a fortune.

All of the work outlined above was done with the idea of moving into the third floor this weekend. So far so good. The biggest problem will likely be the electricity. There is none for any of the floors (only for the house meter - hallways, etc). There are two option, provided that the meters aren't installed by the weekend, which they will not be:

1. Have the electrician hook up the third floor box to the house box. This will run the third floor, obviously, off of the house meter.

2. The second option, which makes me laugh and thus, I hope it happens, would be to run super long extension cords from the basement outlets that work (and are hooked up to the house meter) up to the third floor. Plug everything in to those extension cords and enjoy redneck/ghetto life for awhile.

Lastly, National Grid is supposedly coming to my house tomorrow to hook up the gas line. This will make sure we can heat up water to shower and do dishes with. Ho hum.

Enough minutiae, time for the big news alluded to in the title of this post: The Travelers news.

As I mentioned last week, Richard Who Hands Me Money has been trying to squeeze some more money out of the insurance company on my behalf. Last week, he was not able to get in touch with the insurance agent at all, despite numerous phone messages and emails. On Thursday of last week, the agent finally responded to Richard, via email, asking if I had accepted the latest offer ($68k). Richard was dumbfounded, as he had been calling all week to not agree to the offer. Regardless, Richard sent along another email saying that I didn't accept and we waited to hear back.

Yesterday, I received an email from Richard that said the following:

We are up to $69,471.23. Blah blah blah.

I mulled it over for about 35 seconds and, considering both the estimate I got from Al for the work (which I have yet to reveal and won't until I get the check from Travelers), as well as the fact that Al will be completely finished all of his work, without payment, today, I accepted the offer. I am still waiting to hear something, but as far as I know, a huge check will be mailed out and I can start paying people, then finish paying people, then pocket a nice bit of cash.

I am super excited to not only get back to regular work at the house, but also to get an enormous check because some neighborhood vandal decided to light garbage on fire. Soon enough...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Uninsured Homeowner Alert

Please don't vandalize, burn, burgle or otherwise disrupt the multifamily property I have been writing about. I am not allowed to have insurance on it. Seriously. No one will insure the house, since there is an open claim on it. I spent the week last week trying to find some company that would help out. No one will. This is terrible news. I need this claim closed soon.

Speaking of that, Richard Who Hands Me Money is still trying to squeeze a few thousand dollars more out of Travelers and says he should have things wrapped up this week. Once that is finished, I will immediately try to get insurance again.

In other news, Al Medina, as mentioned before, is back in the US. He has resumed working in the house. He also gave me his estimate for the repairs. It is GREAT. I won't write it here until Travelers has sent the check, but I am literally giddy about it. I cannot wait to settle with Travelers, get the check and finish the work at this house. You really aren't going to believe how well Amanda and I will be making out on this whole fire thing. It's incredible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oscar Moved Out and He Took His Door With Him.

Not much going on. I’m still waiting for an update from Richard Who Gives Me Money. No word yet from him or Travelers. Hooray.

There is some progress though: today, I met with Al Medina, General Contractor, who is back from Portugal. We went through the house and he took notes on what needs to be done. He will give me his estimate probably tonight and I can send that to the jerks at Travelers. Once that is done, they will cash that dumb check and give me a pittance from it, keeping the rest until the work is completed.

Also? During my visit today, I noticed something was missing. It was there the previous day when I picked up some mail. I know for a fact that it was there yesterday because I used it. Can you spot what’s missing?


Stupid neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You're Getting Warmer

I received another good looking email from Richard Who Hands Me Money yesterday evening. In it, he said that the adjuster has raised the estimate to just over 68 thousand bucks. That's pretty good. He also said that the next step might be going to appraisal. I called him to discuss this morning.

My main questions for Richard during the conversation centered around the appraisal process. Here's the process, in a nice four (or six) step process:

1. Travelers hires an appraiser
2. I hire an appraiser ( and pay him)
3. The two appraisers compare notes
4a. If the two appraisers can agree on a figure, I get that figure.


4b. If the two appraisers cannot agree on a figure, the process goes further
5. A third appraiser, nicknamed the "umpire" (awesome) is hired, with the fee split between Travelers and me
6. The "umpire" looks things over and gives a final figure. That final figure is it. No more fighting. I get a check for that number.

Basically, this is a two or three week process (at least) that I really don't want to go through. Especially since it could end up being worse than what has been negotiated so far. After the thorough explanation from Richard, I vetoed the appraisal option. Plus, he said that he can probably squeeze a few thousand more dollars out of it (as the allotments for the siding and the floors are insufficient) and we would settle thereafter.

Al Medina, General Contractor is in Portugal, returning tomorrow, so when he's back, I will get his estimate and get to work.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everyone Gather Round and Chant Fight Repeatedly

I received another email this morning from Richard Who Gives Me Money. In it, he included his big list of reasonable things that Travelers decided they didn't need to pay for. Here it is:

To contrast, Richard sent along this email from the representative at Travelers. it is a response to the doc that Richard sent to them:

As you can see, hiring PuroClean (Christopher Cleanup) to do anything at my house is going to cost me a lot more than the $4,400 they charged to dry things out. PuroClean has told Travelers that things are fine and that is going to lessen the final check that Travelers sends along. Crap.

To counteract this, I am going to go to the house after work today to take some pictures of the ruined floors and fun stuff like that. It will not sway Travelers, I'm sure.

Unrelated to my house, but related to the title of this post: Did kids gathering around a scuffle and yelling "fight" do anything but attract the attention of authority figures intent on stopping the fight? If kids actually want to see a fight, rather than see a teacher break it up, they would shut their mouths.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phone Fun. Or Phone Phun. Or Fone Fun. Whatever.


I gave the awesome folks at Traveler's a call to sort out the whole "we'd like to cancel your coverage on the 20th of this month" thing. I spoke to an overly friendly, soft spoken woman about my situation. I laid out exactly what happened and what as happening, and asked if it would be possible to have my policy not canceled. She put me on hold to talk to the underwriters of said policy. Underwriters are the worst, so I was not hopeful.

She got back on the phone after about five minutes and informed me that the underwriters told me to go pound sand. They didn't actually say that (as far as I know), but said something to that effect, as they are still planning on canceling my insurance coverage, because the house is still vacant. I vented a little frustration to the woman on the phone by asking her if she could kindly, and as sarcastically as possible, thank the underwriters for me. She probably won't. She definitely won't.

What's next? I need to get insurance from somewhere else by the 20th. Hooray.


Saw Salt. I won't tell you whether or not Angelina Jolie is on the side of the Russians, but I will tell you this: she needs to eat a cheeseburger or seventeen. She looks like my grandmother looks right now. My grandmother died in 2005. I don't understand her appeal (Jolie's, not my grandmother's). Blech.


I woke up and checked my email account, and found an interesting correspondence from Richard Who Hands Me Money. The gist of it? He wanted to hand me money. I gave him a call and we made arrangements to meet up at my home (the Courtyard Marriott) at 2pm. Waboom:

After he handed that sweet check over, I asked him how it was going. He said that the Traveler's is trying to copulate with me against my will. Obviously. I knew going in that the insurance company would look out for their best interest. It's, um, in, uh, their, er, best, ah, interest to do so. Here is a fun tidbit that Richard passed along:

They wanted to only pay for one week of living expenses. One single week. In other words, they want me to foot the bill for the rest of the time I can't live in the house. Considering that the estimate from them took two and a half weeks, at least, to be delivered, one week of additional living expenses comes up a few yards shots of rational. These people are the worst.

Richard assured me that it's (again borrowing from golf) par for the course and to not worry too much.

After that nice revelation, he pointed out that I would have to get in touch with M&T Bank, the mortgage holder on the property, in order to get that check cashed. It's apparently state law here in RI to make the check out to everyone, including the mortgage holder. This is terrible news:

I gave M&T a call this morning to find out how to get some money, and, ur dur, there's a huge process involved. Basically, I have to wait for them to send me a bunch of stuff to fill out, then send it back, along with the check. They will then cash the check and put the money into escrow. Once in escrow, they will send me a meager 25% of the check amount to get started with. In other words, the above check, which is a fraction of the total check that I will get from Traveler's, is going to be held away from me until the work is completed. Ugh.

This house may never be inhabitable. Please don't tell that to my next insurer.