There are pros and cons to just about everything in life. Like living in the middle of nowhere, for example. For the most part it’s great; it’s beautiful, one has lots of elbow room, the crime rate is low, etc. On the other hand, there is a downside. Isolation requires driving long distances for refined cultural experiences and also for many goods and services; Amazon can only fill so many voids. Life in a 36-square-mile township which has a population density of less than two people per square mile is vastly different than the life experienced by most Americans. Most of the time I’m OK with that. And there are perks – like being more than 37 miles from the nearest McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, etc.!
One of the biggest problematic voids plaguing low-population areas is the lack of competent tradespeople. Those who are skilled have long waiting lists for their time; they are constantly in demand. When taking on the Project House, Jim and I intended to farm out as much work as we could to others. It was a goal of the owners to get the exterior cleaned up and painted as soon as possible. Neither Jim nor I wanted to paint the exterior; there were more than enough interior issues to keep us busy for a while. The painters we knew of were all booked for the season. We finally learned of someone new to the area who was looking for work. We took a chance. He worked hard, did what was expected, but disappeared and moved out of the area after working off his advanced pay. No explanation; just gone. Whatever.
Then we learned of a retired guy who was looking for work. It soon became apparent that he cherry-picked all the easiest stuff and fastidiously avoided any thing that required effort, such as caulking or repairing missing putty from window sash. He could not cut in (paint a sharp line of transition between two colors) and avoided any attempt to. He painted several windows shut and when asked why, he said, “I couldn’t get them to open”. All he had to do was to go inside and unlock the windows, but apparently that was too much effort. When asked why he dripped paint all over the concrete porch floor, he blamed the drop cloth that he failed to use. When asked why he didn’t paint the putty on the window sash he said, “No one does that anymore”. Despite having scaffolding and ladders available to him, he never ventured above the first story.
So, Jim and I started painting, but by that time the working days were getting shorter as winter approached. We still have one and a half shed dormers left – including four windows. They can wait until spring, but we would have preferred to have the whole house done in one season. Now that snow is on the ground, we’re focused on indoor work. We have been working on window rehabilitation – in-between lots of other things. Wood windows are vastly superior to vinyl ones – even in deteriorated condition – because faulty wood windows can be repaired or rebuilt. Faulty vinyl windows can only be replaced. Wood windows will last centuries – if properly maintained. The sad part is that many people do not know how to (or do not care to) properly maintain windows. It’s pretty simple, actually; keep the exterior side painted and the end grains sealed!
Because the electrician will be punching numerous holes of various sizes in the plaster walls and ceilings throughout the house, we can’t really begin much finish work until he and his crew are done. There will be a lot of patching and new sheetrock work to do in the aftermath. And because this electrician is in such high demand in this area, his efforts to date have been sporadic. Hopefully he will be able to devote more time to our project now; he returned today after a lengthy absence. It’s a good thing, too, as the owners will by dropping in tomorrow morning for a brief look at progress. They are beginning to understand that things work differently here than in more populated areas!
Here are the highlights of the previous week; a new trap door to the attic and the installation of a bay window unit in the kitchen which the owners requested:
The next project: a new bay window!
After two months of saying, “I’ll be there next week” the electrician finally arrived to trench and lay cable to the house.