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...