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Bathroom saga -- part I 
22nd-Feb-2007 04:21 pm

The story starts in about April of 2005
While the spouse was deployed last time, I got lots of work done on the house. Borrowed a few friends, tore out the old/bad/moldy insulation & drywall in the garage, put up new, did some wiring and put in more plugs and lights. Put in many shelves. Then the deployment was cut short by about a month, so I didn't get the chance to finish (taping, mudding, painting) the garage.

The other project I'd been "in the middle" of was one that I'd actually mentioned to the spouse. (I said not one word about the garage.) I'd said I was thinking about painting the bathrooms. Spouse reminded me that if I were to do that I should probably put some exhaust fans in first. Good idea.

Another friend suggested the Expo (up-scale Home Depot) stores as a place to buy them, as they install what they sell. Cool.

I went to one Expo out East & North, and the fellow there was very nice & friendly, but said that since my house was over 50 miles from their store, there would be an additional charge for installation. But there was an Expo store closer to the house, and I planned to go there next.

Then the spouse returned home a month early, and was not allowed to go back to work for a month, so I suggested that work on the house would be a good thing, and passed off the task of getting the fans.

I wasn't there (I was working) so I may be confused, but I think at the closer Expo, the staff said "install? Huh? We don't install anything!" so the spouse went back the Expo I'd visited and purchased 2 bathroom exhaust fans, and paid the extra money to entice them to come out and give us an estimate on installation.

Within the week and a half or so between when these were bought and when they arrived, all the Expo stores in Michigan closed, and they refunded our money for them to come out and give us an estimate.

Spouse went to Home Depot and a few other stores, and was told "we don't install anything like that".

The next few months
I complained to some friends about my inability to get this done, and one friend mentioned that one of his coworkers has a Brother In Law who does that sort of work. I called and we played telephone tag for a while. Then he dropped the ball. A few months later I called back, asking if I'd fallen between the cracks. Indeed, I had, and he apologized, commenting that things had gotten busy for him, but he had a friend that will often do this sort of work for or with him, and he passed me along that number. I contacted this person, and I don't remember how it all boiled out, but he blew me off, not calling me when he said he would, often enough that I
got pissed and I've not called back.

More recently
I mentioned to the friend that had sent me to Expo in the first place the hassles I've been having. He suggested that I call Home Depot's Corporate office. Ok, I'll give that a go.

Friday, 2/2/2007
I called Customer Care, and ended up taking with a very nice and apparently competent man named Nathan. He said that he was taking calls now, but between 4:30 and 6:30 he'd be able to do research and call me back, so I gave him my work number. He called back. He told me that there is plenty of signage up at the Home Depot on Carpenter, and that I should call them and talk to the service desk, and that they would be able to help me. He gave me their number. (It matches what is in the phone book, but I wanted to be sure.) Since it was late on Friday when he called, and I was at work even later, I didn't call Home Depot until ...

Monday, 2/5/2007.
I was originally put on hold, and after a while got cut off. I called back, and the woman (Ellen?) asked if I were the one who'd called before and apologized. She said that she didn't know if she could set me up for an appointment without me coming into their store, but she would try. She took my number, and said that she would call back later. I was up until 2am tomorrow and she didn't.

Tuesday, 2/6/2007.
I called the store from work. The woman (Donna) who answered the phone said that the person from the night before had been trying to set me up with the electrical folks, who might or might not be able to do that sort of an installation, but really, since there is duct-work involved (I agreed that there is no fan there now, and there is no current duct-work) they just don't do the installs.

I called Corporate back. This time I got a nice man named Alex, who took a bit of time to read through my paperwork and familiarize himself with my case, and who then called the local Home Depot store, and ended up connecting me with a manager over there (Mike Stuber?). Mike said that they might not have done that sort of work 2 years ago -- that they're adding things all the time, but he didn't know if he had anyone who could do the work. He asked that I give him the time to make a few calls. I agreed, and verified that he had my work number. (He didn't.) Darn near 2pm and I've not budged from my desk and I'm getting hungry. Perhaps I'll perform the "summon telephone call" ritual by running off to get some hot water so I can at least have some Ramen while I'm waiting...

When I got home at midnight-or-so, there was an answering machine message from a local company that I had not been familiar with. It had arrived sometime between noon and two.

Wednesday, 2/7/2007
I called this company back, and now have an appointment for Monday morning at 9am. I expect that they'll just be staying for a few moments to give me an estimate (and I'm assuming it will not be low, and I'm assuming, from the questions she asked me on the phone, that they'll also try to sell me a new furnace &/or Air Conditioning unit -- but the spouse has been talking about doing that for many years now) but I've told work that I don't know if or when I'll be in on Monday, since I don't know for sure they won't want to get started. The name is Miracle Mechanical, and they are located quite close to where I live. More later.

Monday, 2/12/2007
He (Jeff) showed up early. 10-15 minutes before his 9am appointment. I showed him the task. He looked around the upstairs bathroom. He verified that I had (but didn't investigate) the access to the attic. Since he was going up there, I was very relieved that he had a slight build. He looked at the downstairs, and told me that he REALLY did not want to take on that task. Between exhausting the fan (between floors) and having to knock out dry-wall to get power to it he was not interested. Personally, I cared far less about the downstairs bathroom. It has never had a mold problem, we don't use it much, and the paint is still mostly good. He quoted a number that the do-it-yourselfers in my audience will think is high, but which is a fraction of what I expected, and was similarly a fraction of what my time would be worth -- it would have taken my many times the amount of time that it took him.

He asked me the scope of today's task. I mentioned that while all I had an appointment for was an estimate, I didn't know if he'd want to do the job today or not, so I had taken the whole day off of work. He said he needed to go back to the office, but that he would be back. I made and ate breakfast. About 10:30 he showed back up. He asked me how I wanted the switch (same as the light or different -- I wanted different, as I am likely to replace it with a timer at some point). He asked where the access to the attic was. (I had actually managed to scrape a path along the upstairs hallway, and had piled a bunch of stuff on to the futon in order to make a path to the closet in that bedroom.) I spent a little bit of time on work-work and otherwise worked on my finances. He interrupted me once to mention that the power came up near the door to the bedroom, not the door to the hallway, so the switch would need to be there. I walked by a few times, and cringed to see all the nasty pink stuff that had fallen from the attic. He interrupted me once again to get a bulb, since the fan did have a light in it -- a fact I'd been incorrect about. I had a stash of incandescents, and gave him one of them. (NOTE: A few days later I bought a set of smaller CF bulbs at Sams, but due to the construction of the light section, even these don't fit.)

Mostly I ignored him. Between Noon and 1 he told me he was done. I asked how the fan was vented. As a programmer, I appreciated that he told me that he (re)used the hole already in the wall for ventilation. I wrote the check and he left. Then I noticed that he had taken all of his trash with him. (I've had construction folks use my trash cans before.) I was quite pleased.

Thus ends part the first.

23rd-Feb-2007 02:06 pm (UTC)

Sounds like a keeper. :-)

24th-Feb-2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Good contractors are worth keeping. They're very rare.
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