To say I am frustrated, after waiting this long, is a total understatement. Every time “ 100 Day Dream Home” comes on HGTV, I have to change the channel. I can’t get 250 square feet built in over 200 hundred days and they manage to finish a whole house? They are definitely not working with the LA County Building and Safety San Gabriel office. This of course, is not my first rodeo. Remember, I am the person who spent 11 months living in a Residence Inn while fighting with an insurance company, the city and my contractors after my garage burned down. The only thing that is keeping me from going completely off the rails, is that all turned out well in the end. I can only hope for the same.
Even before I spent a month lining up a contractor, the addition was full of drama. The first time I had bids done on the project, I was blown away by what such a small addition was going to cost. This year, the bids were even higher. I had thought Covid would drive prices down, but it had the complete opposite effect. The construction business is booming and materials to build are at one of the highest costs ever. Interviewing contractors is an interesting task. They are asking for a lot of money and many of them proceed to tell you how YOUR house should look. Almost like they think you are working for them, not the other way around. Needless to say, that attitude helped narrow down my list.
I finally found a contractor whose mission statement (it was even on the back of his shirt) was “your vision becomes reality”. His bid wasn’t the lowest, but it wasn’t the highest. He didn’t roll his eyes when I said I wanted a dog shower in my new laundry room and he at least pretended to think my binder full of design ideas was fascinating. I called his references and he came in just short of walking on water.
He had his architect draw up plans and we submitted them to the city. And we waited. When we asked what was taking so long to review some simple plans, the reply was, “The pandemic.”
He alleviated some of my frustration around not being able to get started with the addition by doing some painting in some of the other rooms and installing my pet pantry. I also had a new electrical panel put in to prepare for the additional electrical needs. Unfortunately, thanks to the city, that panel is now part of the drama.
The laundry room was originally planned for right off the back of the garage. Since the washer and dryer were in the garage, swapping everything to the new planned space would have been easy. Except unbeknownst to my contractor or me, you cannot build off the back of the garage. I still don’t understand it, but rather than fight it, I had to redesign the laundry room and move it to the other side of the house, off the second bedroom. The second bedroom that has the new electrical panel on the outside wall. The brand new one that will now have to be moved. When and how is still being discussed.
So new plans were resubmitted. And you guessed it, we waited. The week after Christmas, I decided it was time for me to talk to the city, not my contractor, so I made a phone call. They told me the plans were being reviewed for corrections and we should have the corrections back in about a month.
January 24th, they sent back corrections. The architect uploaded the corrections on February 12th. And then, nothing.
The end of March, with still no word, I once again decided enough was enough and made some calls. Turned out the corrections had been uploaded, but the plan checker had not been emailed that they had been uploaded. My plans had been sitting in purgatory for almost 6 weeks because “proper procedure” had not been followed.
I was livid. My contractor tried to back pedal a little, by saying the city should have seen they were uploaded, but he backed off that pretty fast when I said, “Your people should know procedure. I shouldn’t have to be handling this, but now, I WILL be handling it.” I began referring to the architect as Half Done.
I contacted the plan checker via email who had been assigned to the plans asking what timeframe we were looking at. “There are 11 plans in front of you. Contact me in 2 weeks and we will see where yours is,” he sent back.
Two weeks to the day, I emailed Mr. Plan Checker (aka MPC). I heard nothing. Two days later, I emailed him again. I got this reply: “I am trying to do a fair job for everyone. I will keep your project in mind and will try to get back to you as soon as I can.”
I thought my head was going to explode. That was not an update, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Another phone call got me the name of MPC’s supervisor. I sent another email detailing the whole sad story. I heard back from her in a few hours. She also sent an email to MPC, telling him to give me an update and copying me.
He replied the next day. “There are six plans ahead of you. Check back with me in a week and hopefully, yours will be completed.”
A little math here. Two weeks before, there were eleven plans ahead of me. Now there were six. That means this guy managed to complete five plans in two weeks. That’s one plan every two days. I decided I REALLY want this guy’s job. By doing the same math, he wouldn’t be getting to mine for another two weeks.
But miracle of all miracles, I received an email at the beginning of the next week telling me my plans had been reviewed. Two minor corrections needed to happen. One was something about the type of insulation on the plans and something called a T-24 needed to be signed by Half Done. I found it amazing that he had managed to complete six plans in four days. Perhaps having his supervisor on the email chain observing how much work he was completing was helpful. I also found it interesting that Half Done had not signed something that sounded important.
The corrections were submitted in a couple of days. My contractor said we were probably three weeks away from a start date and a possible finish time of mid-August.
This week I emailed MPC to make sure he had everything he needed. No reply. I asked my contractor where we were and he said Half Done hadn’t been able to get an answer.
I emailed MPC a second time. He replied and copied Half Done that the T-24 needed to be registered. Doing some Google research, it seems this mysterious T-24 is a Title-24 energy report. I am still not clear where it has to be registered. It would have been nice if MPC had mentioned it not being registered, instead of saying it needed to be signed. It also would have been nice if Half Done had known it needed to be registered. I don’t want to share the fantasies I am having about what I would like to do to these two because I don’t want to spread hate and violence on this blog.
I am calculating this is going to put us back at least 2 weeks, meaning it is now looking like September before this is done. Which will beat the time it took me to get back in my house after my fire by about 3 months.
Not a record I wanted to break. But stay tuned. I am betting there is going to be a ton more drama to come.