There’s always room for improvement

Our story so far: Electricity, heat and water—we were ticking basic utilities off our list as we demolished the interior of the church we planned to turn into our home.

# # #

Plumbers weren’t the only recalcitrant contractors. Tyler was the general contractor on our project, and I learned quickly (I say “I” because Tyler probably already knew) that a general contractor’s primary responsibility is dogging subcontractors.

Roughly eight weeks into our project, Tyler estimated he’d called sixty different contractors for various projects from plumbing and electrical to concrete and storm gutters. He guessed that about a third of those called him back, and only about ten actually showed up to provide bids.

Just when Tyler lost his last shred of patience and understanding with flaky contractors, a warm day in January dawned.

The effects of global warming, or climate change, or whatever label you’d prefer, were causing deadly mudslides in California, but in the Midwest, we were experiencing a 50-degree day in January, and that’s just not normal. We took advantage of it, and we weren’t the only ones.

Tyler put me to work on reorganizing the garden shed behind the church. He wanted me to clean it out and make room for some of our construction materials we hoped to repurpose. While I wrangled about a hundred muddy garden hoses into submission, Tyler met with a parade of contractors who actually showed up.

First there was the concrete guy who eyeballed our proposed driveway and garage pad. When I asked Tyler later what the contractor said about it, he told me, “He said it was a lot of concrete.”

Then a pair of HVAC experts stopped by and toured our mess. Tyler had recently pulled down the primary ductwork on the main floor in anticipation of running plumbing and electrical, and it looked like a squarish metal snake on the floor.

trimmed trees
Even with shorter skirts, those trees have a lot of flounce.

Meanwhile, one of Tyler’s cousins stopped by to see our project, and he gave us a gift. With an expertise in trimming trees, he offered to trim ours. So he climbed up the trunks of our enormous pine trees, and trimmed away a forest of low-hanging branches. (We’d found an old picture of the church that showed one of those pine trees as a seedling; now the biggest one had a four-foot circumference and was fifty feet tall.)

Then a contingent of window contractors showed up with a display trailer. We climbed inside the trailer, me in my muddy jeans and garden-hose tousled hair, to see life-sized windows, cut-aways that showed their construction and plenty of custom shapes and designs. The samples were beautiful and covet-worthy.

But as I walked down the sidewalk away from the church admiring the tree-trimmer’s work, I could have sworn I saw dollar bills flying out the open windows and doors of the church.

Ten days later, we had another bumper crop of contractors who actually bothered to show up, all in one day: Tiler, drywaller, another pair of HVAC experts, the electrician and our now-good friend, Reroofer.

We were entering Phase Two of our church conversion project: Utilities and mechanicals.

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Tomorrow: Some things are inevitable. Read about it here.


3 thoughts on “There’s always room for improvement

  1. I look forward to your progress reports. It just makes me laugh. It is so interesting will probably have to corner your mom and dad someday and take a trip to see the finished product.


    • Oh, I’m so glad you’re following along. As much as we enjoy showing off what is right now a big mess, I know we’ll enjoy having visitors once the thing is finished. And I imagine my parents would enjoy a road trip. Plus, we’re close enough to Chicago to take in some sights there, too.


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