Thursday, February 16, 2006

Remodel Hell - Hell Hath No Fury like an Electrical Inspector

Ernie from Martinez Construction called me bright and early this morning to say that the building inspector was going to show up at about 10:30 at my place to sign off on everything: mechanical, plumbing, electrical. Ernie was coming over early so that he could make sure the old switch box would open (it had been plastered shut, which is why the electrician on Friday was pounding on it), and to mark the switches so that the inspector, and I, would know which went to which room.

The first thing he did after he pulled up in his '68 Cougar (his truck had broken down) was to try to get my gate to close. Aha! There was something wrong with it after won't shut because the old fence wasn't anchored, and when the Honey Do carpenter tore the old fence down, there was an impediment to the newly installed gate. So he spent the first 20 minutes trying to sand it down so that it would close.

Then we tried all the switches in the old box inside the den. I would stand in the room with something on, like a hair dryer, and yell to him when it went off. We did this until we were down to 3 switches and just couldn't figure what they went to. Finally, we got two: one was for the microwave in the kitchen, which was installed with the kitchen remodel two years ago, and the other was for the air conditioning, which was installed around the same time. The third unnamed switch, however, was a puzzle. So while we pondered that, Ernie got on the phone to some other customer who had called, and I went to play on my computer....but it suddenly didn't work. I went into the office to check the wireless router, and it was off. The whole power cord was off. "Ernie," I said when he was off the phone, "did you leave a switch off? My whole four-plex in the office doesn't work." "Aha!" he said, and told me he had inadvertently left off the unnamed switch. That problem was solved.

But we ran into a whole new set of problems when the Inspector arrived. He yelled at Ernie several times for not having the gate open, or wasting his time in some other way. At the end, we failed the electrical inspection. He turned to me and said, "Ma'am, I'm going to sign you off on the plumbing and the mechanical, but there are still some problems to take care of on the electrical end. We want you safe, after all." He turned on the charm when he talked to me. Apparently he only yells at contractors.

Something about some wires not being grounded, and some wires that don't go anywhere that are loose in the box. Plus some no-fault adapters, or something like that, missing in the box. The walk-in closet's overhead light was four inches too close to the shelves, according to Mr. Inspector. And I was missing a smoke detector in the main bedroom.

So, the electrician is due out tomorrow morning. And the inspector has been rescheduled for next Tuesday.

As the inspector that day was leaving, he came back to me and said, "You know this neighborhood. Do you know where this address is?" His next stop. I brought him back in and did a mapquest find, and told him how to get here. He was very appreciative, and threw off a pleasant, "That's a real nice bathroom you got back there," in a slight drawl and a smile as he walked away. I wonder if we'll see him again next week.

While we were testing the electrical panel switches, I discovered, much to my surprise, that there's only one tiny outlet in the middle room, in what's to be my new office. Ouch! I can't do office work without outlets. So Ernie and I talked about that. There's more work to be done, as I'll need a fourplex against the wall where the desk will go, and outlets on the other two walls as well.

Ernie also mentioned that they should pave over the plaster the electrician boys destroyed when they had to break back into the panel box.

Let's started in mid-October, I was thinking it would be done by Christmas... So a two-month job is now in its 5th month. Ouch.

Oh, I had my new taupe-colored, leather loveseat delivered today! Here's a photo. Things are falling into place. If I can ever get rid of the workmen traipsing in and out, just think what the place will look like!

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