Thursday, April 27, 2017

Summer plans and waiting for sunshine

The days fly by, as per usual.  We’re all relatively healthy now, so knock on wood it stays that way for a good long while.  Most of us still have a bit of a lingering cough but nothing compared to how it was.  My mom, on the other hand, has a touch of pneumonia and then just when she thought maybe she was noticing a bit of improvement, she came down with a head cold.  This winter has been brutal!  And I just realized I’m still referring to it as Winter when in fact it’s been Spring officially for weeks now…

Our weather just hasn’t been very spring-like.  Of course, we don’t have snow like some places are still getting, but we’ve had more rain than our fair share and I’m pretty sure we’ve beat long-time records for most rain in a month.  We had one really sunny day in the past week that was GLORIOUS, it was actually so hot that it felt more like summer than spring.  It was a shock to the system, but a good one!  I could definitely get used to that.  We just get these little teasers of a bit of sunshine and then the wind and rain force their way back.  It’s annoying.  Fingers crossed we have a hot summer, I think we deserve it!!

This past weekend I booked us a place to stay for two nights in Seattle after we go for a camping trip somewhere nearby for a family reunion.  Yes, we’re gearing up to be able to camp, and so far have a tent, a few air mattresses, and a few other supplies, but we have a LOT more to get before we can actually go.  I want to say I’m excited...I’m excited for the kids and want to try to enjoy it for their sake.  It’s just that I’ve never really been a camper - I’ve literally camped 3 times in my life.  Once was an overnight on Newcastle Island (off Nanaimo) during a summer camp I was in, and I think I was maybe around 7 or 8 when I did that.  I remember absolutely HATING it.  The next time I went with my boyfriend at the time and his family, when I was 16 or 17.  I somehow think it was only one night as well.  I shared a tent with my boyfriend’s sister and I remember we heard a wild animal outside our tent in the night and the next morning found out from the park ranger that it had been cougars.  It was an OK experience overall but the actual camping-over-night part I could have just done without!!  And the last time I camped was in 2001, with James, his brother, and his dad and his significant other.  It was OK and again, I enjoyed the outdoor activities that we did during the day time, but I remember disliking very much the sleeping-in-a-tent aspect.  I’m even more concerned for myself now that I’ve had children and seem to need to go to the bathroom OFTEN...but don’t want to use outhouses...and yeah...kinda creeped out by the idea of sleeping outside, truthfully.  But I’m sure I can get used to it?!!!

We’re going to do a trial run camping trip sometime soonish, once we’ve bought all the supplies we need, and then in the summer we’ll be more prepared (hopefully) for that two night trip.  What I’m really looking forward to, though, is staying in a house for 2 nights afterwards that looks SO nice and will be a prime location for all the places we want to visit, which include the Woodland Park Zoo, and all the main attractions in Seattle Center.  

We’ve never taken the kids on a trip that wasn’t to the island to visit family, and while yes part of the trip will be for a family reunion, it’s with James’ bio dad’s side, which we don’t see often (most of that side of his family I’ve literally met once), and it will be a huge adventure just because of the camping aspect.  And the nights in Seattle will be exciting because we’ve always wanted to be able to take the kids there.  

So I’m happy we have something fun to look forward to this summer, and I can’t wait to be able to spend more time in the yard.  I’ve started my yard cleanup, and we’re starting to get things out on the back patio.  I cleaned up (almost all) the leaves from the front yard area and have some plans for what plants and things I want to get.  I got my decorative birdhouses back up (and some finches have set up home in a birdhouse Andrew made a few years ago that’s attached to the carport, which is SO CUTE!  We never put food in our birdhouses because we don’t want to attract rodents, but they’ve obviously taken it upon themselves to build a little nest in there because I often see the mama coming and going and it’s the sweetest thing EVER, even more so because Andrew made the house himself!) and some solar lights by the driveway and have it all looking quite nice.  I’m still having a bit of a time emotionally because there’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to try to make things look nicer around here after everything we’ve been through with the house and management...but at the same time it does make me so much happier to have it looking better.  I can’t live like a total slob, it just makes me feel worse about everything.

All we need now is for the sunshine to come back so we can get out there and enjoy it!

My letter to management

When I wrote my last post I realized that I hadn’t actually blogged about the whole insanity of the house being ‘fixed’ after the flood.  I’m posting the letter I wrote to management on April 7th about it...3 weeks ago tomorrow and they have yet to respond.  I’ve sent two more messages since asking for a response but still nothing…They had responded to my initial request for monetary reimbursement but were offering us $200 off our next rent...which is a slap in the face given our next rent is when our increase happens and that’s $62 a month.  Plus they owe us for a can of paint they said they’d reimburse for, which was almost $50.  So the ‘compensation’ would be a few dollars at best.  Unacceptable.  Also, I speak of the back door and window getting replaced in this letter...it has yet to even be discussed when that might actually happen.  They had people come in to finish the vinyl flooring (adding a strip to separate the floor from the bathroom, and to switch out a few planks that were cut really jagged, and to add baseboards to the downstairs bathroom which wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been able to ‘find a baseboard somewhere’.  When they were here they told me they were also told to ‘patch up’ the area by the back door but I refused to allow that because if they did that, I KNOW they would claim the back door no longer needs replaced, even though in reality it needed replaced before we even moved in over 4 years ago, and besides that it wouldn’t fix the problem of the structure of the building ROTTING AWAY because they keep doing nothing about it…

Anyway, here’s the letter...

April 7, 2017

ATTN: Management
(company name removed)

I appreciate that you responded to my letter.  There are a few things I wish to clarify and hope that we can re-negotiate what is being offered, as we feel $200 is not an acceptable amount given the circumstances.

While normally I would agree that ‘flooding due to the pipe failure could happen at any property,’ the reality in our case is that this time around it was avoidable.  We had a leak in the exact same spot in December of 2014.  I remember it vividly and I saw exactly where the pipe was that was ‘fixed,’ and it was in the exact same location this time around.  If the job had been done properly just that short time ago, the fitting should not have been able to break apart so soon.  I honestly, and sadly, believe that the shoddy workmanship is what is to blame for this happening.

Living in the state our home was in for two weeks, and nearly the entire time without walls in many places, was extremely challenging, in particular with three small children.  They basically couldn’t go downstairs unless absolutely necessary, and certainly never unsupervised, or without wearing shoes which they sometimes forgot and ended up with scrapes on their feet from some areas of the concrete.  There were days when we could use the kitchen for some things, but it wasn’t entirely functional for cooking proper meals because of the amount of dust that was on everything and the stuff that we were storing on the counters, etc.  Believing in the beginning that it would only be a few days before the drywall would be going up, it didn’t make sense to do a lot of deep cleaning to ensure a safe space for cooking larger meals, as it would just be getting dirty again.  (I did clean in that time, but  there was no way around a lot of things being dirty, or inaccessible).  The fridge and stove also had to be pulled out for some time in order to dry the sides of the cabinets and walls where the water had seeped in, so during that time we couldn’t access the kitchen at all.  We definitely ate out more than we ever normally would in that span of time, and not because we wanted to but because it felt necessary.  We didn’t have access to our dining area for most of the time either because we had nowhere else to pile a lot of our belongings but in that space.  The downstairs bathroom also offered zero privacy for that entire duration as there was a hole in the wall large enough you could look out the living room window from the toilet!  Basically the entire downstairs was unlivable for much of that time, and given the amount of belongings we had to bring upstairs from downstairs, much of the upstairs was in total disarray also.  We literally lived in the master bedroom for that time.

In terms of the efforts made to deal with the flooding…unfortunately ‘effective’ is not a word that comes to mind.  The drywallers were given one day to do the entire house, and we didn’t find out they would be working till 9pm until they showed up to start the job.  It’s impossible to do that much work between two people in that many hours and be completely effective (for example, drywalling around a shelf without actually removing it to do it properly).  They also told us upon leaving that no painting should start till later in the afternoon the next day at the absolute earliest because the drywall wouldn’t be dry yet (which makes perfect sense).  Yet the ‘painter’ (I have to use the term loosely since the job he did still horrifies me to think about - I’m not exaggerating) showed up shortly after 9 to start priming and painting.  I told him the walls hadn’t been sanded, and I also told him several of the walls still felt wet.  He went ahead and started painting anyway...Mind you, he started with the walls that didn’t need painted, and like I said before, got paint on my curtains and did a sloppy job in general.  The one and only wall that he actually painted that NEEDED to be painted ended up with the paint cracking and splitting apart by the next morning due to having been painted when the drywall wasn’t yet dry.  I will attach a picture, which only shows the portion above the shelf that we ended up putting in that spot so as to cover the hideous wall, but the whole length of where the new drywall is has completely split from the wall and the entire thing will need to be stripped, sanded, and redone.  

When he was about to start painting yet another wall that had no damage and didn’t need painted at all (which I had told him several times by that point), I had no choice but to tell the ‘painter’ to stop and that I would do the painting myself later once the new carpets were installed (even though that was supposed to be done the next day) not because I wanted to do the painting myself, but because he was not doing a good job, and kept painting things that I told him not to paint.  I literally couldn’t take it anymore.  I have since managed to paint all the main walls and all under the stairs, and in the hall closet, but haven’t had the time yet to do the bathrooms because of all the other work I’ve been doing to try to get our house back in order.  The thing is, as much as I don’t want to have to paint the bathrooms myself either, I feel like I don’t have a choice unless I want to run the major risk of having our personal property damaged, since that seems to be the norm with the workers.  It causes me too much stress to deal with.

Unfortunately everything has not actually been done within 15 days of the incident.  I will include pictures below with examples of areas that still need attention, such as the closet door for under the stairs that was broken from its track and is currently propped up against the front hall closet because when it was propped in the living room it nearly fell over when our kids were playing, which obviously is completely unsafe.  My dad has since gone out and purchased parts to fix it for us, which he plans to do this weekend, because it needs to be done sooner than later.  He also had to bring us a special cleaner and spent about two hours scrubbing away the primer paint that one of the workers had tracked from the front door right to where the carpet starts.  I am very upset that we weren’t even offered for someone to come and remove that for us.  Yes we received brand new floors, but they shouldn’t have been left damaged for us to deal with ourselves.  Primer is meant to stick, so you can imagine the elbow grease required to remove footprints of it off the floor.  Another example of something not completed is the back door issue, as currently there is a big hole in the corner where the wood is rotten, and we can’t even attach the cover to the furnace vent because of the damage.  I was told someone would be coming to look at it at least a week ago but haven’t heard anything since.  (That being said, we do appreciate that the back door and window will be getting replaced - could we please get a timeline as to when this will be happening?)

Our time is worth something, too, which is one of the other reasons I feel that we’re owed more than $200 for compensation.  My husband having to take a ‘vacation’ day, in part to help with the craziness of the day of the flood but in larger part because his computer power cord drowned in it so he couldn’t work until he replaced it.  Those two things alone equal more than $200, not to mention having to eat out when we normally wouldn’t.  But it’s also bothering me a lot that my time seems to mean nothing.  The massive amounts of clean up I’ve been having to do have already taken many, many, many hours and will take many, many more before everything is back to the way it was before this happened.  There is drywall caked on to several of the panels that cover the lighting in the kitchen (picture for reference, which shows a couple of the spots), there are chunks taken out of the paint on several of our cupboard doors, which the only way to fix will be to sand and re-paint them, and I know that will fall on me to do.  There is still dust on everything as it continues to settle, and I am constantly finding more areas that need to be cleaned.  Because I was told by a worker that it ‘wasn’t necessary’ to remove anything from under the bathroom sink, I had to take everything out and wash each item because there was dust covering literally everything.  That was totally avoidable as I could have much more easily just removed everything and kept it clean.  Even the driveway is disgusting and we’re still tracking drywall dust back into the house constantly because it’s all over the driveway, which would need to be power-washed to properly clean now.  

I had our house in excellent condition before this happened, so it’s not like I needed to be doing a deep clean of everything.  Now I’m finding myself plugging my kids into the TV and am not as focused on them because I’m stressed out about all of this, and trying to pick up the pieces and fix the house so it doesn’t feel so dirty and unhealthy to be in.  We’ve all had eye issues in the past several weeks, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence given the amount of dust we’re dealing with.  I was not once offered help with any of the cleaning throughout this entire process.  Had I hired someone to do all that I’ve already done myself it would be many hundreds of dollars, so why is it that I feel I’m doing it for free, (not really for free - it’s costing me money for all the cleaning products!) when again I strongly feel that this all could have been avoided if the work had been done properly a few years ago?

I realize this is lengthy but I feel I have to offer such details to show you where I’m coming from.  After enduring as many leaks as we have over a short number of years living here, and the way things have been done this time around in particular, I truly feel we are deserving of more compensation than $200.  I hope you will take this into consideration in your reply.  (Please see pictures below).

Sincerely,

Elizabeth
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This is how the drywall was left under the stairs, which I then had to stuff with steel wool as it’s a gaping hole.  Especially in light of the fact that our neighbours on that side had a mouse infestation while all of this was going on, I didn’t feel comfortable with big gaps in the walls.  To me that was left unfinished, and I was left to do something with it.
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This is the way the drywall was done in the laundry room.  Around a shelf, rather than removing the shelf and actually drywalling the wall.  If  we ever decide to remove our shelf, the wall will be an absolute mess where it’s visible.  When it comes time to paint this room, it’s also going to be a challenge figuring out what to do with this area.
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Shards of razor blades I found strewn across the vinyl floors after all the workers had ‘completed’ their jobs.  Not safe whatsoever - what if my kids had found them before I did?  There were also several of these in our carport, which could have also been a hazard to our kids, the neighbours’ kids, not to mention our tires as well!

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This is some of the primer paint that took several hours to scrub from the floors after trying three types of cleaning methods.  Not a job we should have been left with.
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It was like this throughout the entire hallway.
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Areas where I told the ‘painter’ NOT to paint, and in particular because it would be the wrong colour - and yet he painted anyway, and got the wrong colour in places so that I had to go back and fix things that were fine to begin with.
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Drywall caked onto the panels by the kitchen lights.  Several of the other panels also have this, which is going to take a lot of time for me to clean.

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The pipes for the toilet in the downstairs bathroom.  This looks unfinished.  As well as again with the issue of a gaping hole, perfect for rodents to come through should our neighbour still be dealing with her infestation.  Stuffing this with steel wool (which I don’t have any more of and will have to go out and buy) will help, but will be an eyesore.  Shouldn’t this have been drywalled?
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Yet another gaping hole I found while removing everything from under the sink to clean because there was dust on everything in there.  Also needs to be filled/covered.
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This is right by the front door.  The vinyl planks are cut all misshapen.  Actually, there are many areas of the flooring that were cut uneven like this.  I thought they would be coming back to put some sort of strip there to cover this?  They told me if water gets underneath the planks they will lift up and need replaced, which concerns me for washing it when it’s like this, because water will easily go underneath areas like this.
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The baseboard is sitting beside where it’s supposed to be attached, and the two baseboards here don’t even match up no matter how we try to configure them. This is in the front door area.

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Not attached.



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Our closet door to under the stairs currently sitting in our front hall area because the track pieces were broken when the workers took the door off.  

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The area between the hall and downstairs bathroom needs to have a strip that separates the two floors.  The part on the left already looks like it’s starting to lift because it’s not properly attached to the ground.  I was told people were coming back to finish that, and in fact the people who did that flooring said they’d be able to put the new baseboards in the bathroom to match up with the hall, since it still has the gross rubber ones, but that never happened.
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One of the spots on my relatively new curtains that has paint dripped onto it.  That is completely unacceptable.  Who paints a wall with the curtains still up, and a wall that was said did not need painted??!  Our personal belongings should not be damaged by workers (as well it reminds me of my great grandmothers’ antique sugar container that had been used as a step stool and as a result the lid is now indented...I’m not OK with that).
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This is the current state of our back door area.  I had been told that this would be dealt with before the carpet was installed but that didn’t happen.  The wood is clearly rotting, and the furnace vent can’t be attached.  I do hope that the door and window can be replaced soon so that this issue is dealt with.
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The line across the cupboards in the kitchen was not there before all of this work started.  Because of the ugly condition of the cupboards when we moved in, and with permission from management, I sanded, primed, painted and even updated all the cupboards with proper knobs a couple of years ago.  I put a lot of time, energy, and money into the project, and as a result have taken very good care of the cupboards because it meant something to me to have them nice.  The only way to fix problems like in the picture above would be to sand it down and start all over again.  So we end up having to just live with it (or re-do all that work ourselves, which hardly seems fair), when it’s not something we caused damage to, and something that wouldn’t have been damaged if the workers weren’t so careless.  
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This is the kind of mess I am up against.  Look at my children’s toy guitar, for example.  That will take an insane amount of time to clean.  If the workers had covered our belongings like I thought they were going to (I saw them cover one chair so figured they would keep going, but in reality that chair was literally the only thing they covered!) this stuff wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t be left completely overwhelmed with trying to clean and fix everything.
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This is the aftermath of one small portion of the wall where the drywall wasn’t dry enough to be painted but the ‘painter’ went ahead and did it anyway.
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I would need help to move the shelf we put in front of the ugliness of that wall, but suffice it to say, this is what it looks like along that entire strip of wall.  That alone will be a time consuming job to repair the damage that wouldn’t have happened if the jobs had been spaced out enough to ensure they could all be done properly.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

It has been A TIME.

This past month-and-a-bit has felt sooooo looooong.  Between the flood and the aftermath of that and all the crap we’ve had to put up with in terms of how things were ‘repaired’, and everyone in this house getting sick with cold/flu bugs and the kids transferring pink eye (or some sort of eye issue) back and forth with seemingly no end, it has been A TIME.


I did so well and didn’t come down with anything through the worst of the ‘renos’ but just before Easter (so about a week ago) I ended up getting whatever this bug is that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do.  Usually I get a certain feeling in my throat and a bit into my chest at the onset of a cold and after a day or two that feeling subsides and the cold hits me.  I find that ‘certain feeling’ the worst part of the virus, usually, because it makes me feel unwell in a way that’s more debilitating than the stuffy nose part.  This time around, that feeling lasted for nearly a week and today is the first day I haven’t felt it, at least not yet.  Fingers crossed I’m on the mend, although I still feel very weak, extra tired, and have a really annoying cough that I KNOW will linger for weeks to come because everyone in my immediate family as well as my parents have all had it for weeks already and still haven’t managed to shake it.  Good times…


Despite feeling flu-like and waking up with a nasty headache yesterday (because OF COURSE The Curse is out to get me now, too!) it was James’ birthday so I had to shake it off and get things done because I wanted it to be a special evening for him.  He had to work, unfortunately, but I went all around with the girls looking for a nice cake for him in the morning.  I was wanting to get a cake from an Asian bakery that James and I used to go to for treats occasionally years ago, but we got to the store it used to be at only to find it was no longer there.  We hit up another Asian bakery in the area but the cakes there are made to order, and while they could have had one made the same day, it would have meant having to come back at dinner time to pick it up.  Not happening.  We ended up getting a big trifle from Safeway, and a small slab of red velvet cake, mostly for the kids in case they didn’t like the trifle (but it turned out everyone enjoyed the trifle, which from now on we will be calling ‘the custard covered fruit’ because that’s what Andrew was calling it and I think the name has now stuck!)


My parents came over in the early evening, and James came home an hour early from work.  First he had a glass of Sangria (as per his request) and opened his prezzies.  Andrew gave him tickets to a Lego Convention happening this weekend, the girls gave him some random camping gear as well as some rechargeable batteries (just because he’s been mentioning a million times lately that we need some), my parents gave him money and a big bottle of liqueur, and then he got his ‘big’ present, which is a new Smart TV.  It was a more extravagant gift than we’d normally do for a birthday, but I thought it was also an ‘investment’ in the sense that eventually we’re going to feel the ‘need’ for two TV’s (which I feel is silly to say because obviously no one NEEDS TV’s, but…!)  We’ve never had more than one TV, ever, and I think a lot of households have more than that.  It still feels like a luxury to me that isn’t totally necessary, but at the same time I thought it would be fun for us to have a TV upstairs as well as downstairs.  So now we do! James of course was THRILLED with it, because to him it’s like a fun toy to be able to set it all up and get apps on there and everything.  It’s pretty cool to have a TV that has everything on it that we need or want (and more!) without having to have at least one external box to go with it.


After the excitement of gift opening, we had Eggplant Parmesan, which I’d made the night before just in case I’d been feeling too unwell to make it the day of, and I’m glad I did that because I would have been way more tired if I hadn’t.  There was also a salad and a herb bread to go with.  My parents left shortly after dessert as they’re still not feeling great either, especially my mom who has a touch of pneumonia...Yes, we’re a really healthy bunch right now!


All in all I think James enjoyed his birthday, and even got to go out for an expensive lunch paid for by the company because someone else on his team was leaving so they were having their goodbye party.  I felt a bit jipped not getting to see more of him on his special day, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I’ve just been feeling so foggy-headed this past little while, as well as mentally AND physically exhausted, so I haven’t felt up to writing much (although I have done a pretty good job of documenting things in case I still have to go the route of arbitration with our management company here...which is looking more likely at this point, unfortunately…)  I still feel like there are a million and one things I need to fix/reorganize/DO around the house to get it back to normal after everything that happened.  The flood REALLY threw me for a loop, and I feel like it has caused me to become more fearful/even less able to fully relax than how I was before.  Not that it’s the first time this house has made me feel that kind of unease, given all the many other leaks we’ve had, but this one was pretty severe.  James and I were playing a videogame (L.A. Noire for XBOX 360 - I love it!  Not often I truly enjoy a video game but this one is awesome!) the other night and at one point the character we play had to go downstairs in a house to investigate, and it was flooded so you could hear him sloshing around in the water.  I know it’s not like the water in our house was up to our knees or anything (THAT would traumatize me on a whole other level, I don’t even want to imagine it) but it definitely made a sloshing of water sound when we walked around, and now I just feel anxiety when I hear that sound.  I guess it will take a while to process it and move past it.  Which probably would have been made somewhat ‘easier’ had the workers done a better job and been more respectful of our stuff in the process.  The way things are handled in a negative situation can totally make a difference in how it affects a person, and sadly our management is incapable of doing things in a way that make any sense at all or make a person feel better in any way, shape or form.  

Anyway...hopefully there will be time for more writing soon, once I have a chance to clear my head.

Friday, March 24, 2017

First a flood and now...mice?! PLEASE NO!

I was already beside myself with stress given the current situation of our house being torn apart.  We got word yesterday that the drywall will be put up next Tuesday (so basically 2 weeks after the flood), followed by painting the next day, and carpets the next.  I don’t know how they’re planning to do all the drywall in one day when they only have 2 drywallers and whenever they’ve done drywall here before they’ve only had a few walls to do in one day and it took the entire day just for that.  But that’s what we’re being told.

That doesn’t answer what’s happening with the back door, which due to not being properly sealed has caused the actual frame that is part of what holds the building together to start rotting away.

To make matters way worse than I thought they could be at this point, our next door neighbour came over this morning to inform me that they’ve had a problem with mice in their house for a week now.  Management is of course doing nothing and saying ‘maybe next week’ they’ll get someone to come have a look.  She’s caught 8 mice as of today, and can hear them in the walls upstairs at night time.

I AM TERRIFIED OF MICE AND RATS.  Like, intensely.  To the point that I would have a serious panic attack if I saw one in our house and I literally don’t know how I’d be able to handle going through that right now given everything else that’s going on.

I haven’t seen any signs of mice in our house, and since she mentioned it to me I’ve looked everywhere I can.  Of course, our upstairs in particular looks like an episode of Hoarders at the moment, which is NOT our normal but has been since the flood since everything we could take upstairs from downstairs is cluttering every room and space imaginable up there.  So I’m even more concerned now thinking they have a lot of extra places to hide in our house right now.

Every single little noise I hear now is giving me the heebee jeebees because I think it’s a mouse in the wall!  And given half our walls are non-existent, they wouldn’t have to make any effort to get into our home.

I CAN’T TAKE THIS, seriously I can’t even!  I am going crazy inside.  I just want to move SO BADLY.  I don’t feel safe/comfortable/happy here.  And what makes everything worse is having a management company that skirts around every issue possible, cuts corners on every job that they can, so that we’re left picking up the pieces whenever anything happens.  If they just dealt with things properly, and made the effort to actually get things done when they should be, it wouldn’t irk tenants so much to know we’re paying a lot of money given all the issues that happen here.  I am so beside myself it’s not even funny, not that any of this has EVER been the least bit humorous.

The Flood

(I wrote this on March 20th, so it has now been a week and 2 days...) (I also am way too wrought up right now to proofread so I apologize in advance if I was too wordy!)

It has been an insane almost-week that has felt more like a month at least.  The word ‘whirlwind’ comes to mind, though in reality it was more like a ‘whirlpool.’

Tuesday the 14th was my dad’s 65th birthday.  We’d hosted his party on the Saturday before, which I’m thankful for since if we’d waited to have his party the next weekend, it would have been cancelled.

On his actual day, he and my mom came over later in the afternoon and we visited and then closer to the time that James would be getting home from work we ordered some take away.  The plan was Chinese Food, but our go-to place was closed so we decided on Greek, which ended up being really good.  We had strawberry tall cake with ice cream for dessert.  After my parents left and the kids were in bed, James and I checked out a comedian show on Netflix, Mike Birbiglia.  I highly recommend checking him out.  His show was really funny, and all around enjoyable.  I didn’t find him at all offensive, although of course that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t offend anyone!  I just found his comedy to be the kind I really like.  I’m glad we got to have those laughs, because in all honesty it would be our last for a while!  (I haven’t found myself laughing much at all since).

I didn’t go to bed that night till just before 2am, which in some ways I was kicking myself for as I headed up to bed, because I really do need to start going to bed earlier, and I really do crave better rest, which I’m not going to get if I go to bed that late.  In my defence, however, with it being Spring Break, I was finding the kids SO GOOD about letting me get up on my own, and I’d had sleep ins on both Monday and Tuesday, which was glorious.  The clocks changed last Saturday so my internal clock was a bit wonky, and so it may not have been all that much of a sleep in truly, but it was better than I’d be getting on a school morning.  I actually thought for a second that I was in for TWO WEEKS of awesome sleep ins, that have literally never happened for me in over 8 years (before Andrew was born).  Well, apparently I jinxed myself.

I half-awoke to the realization that EVERYONE was in the bedroom, and without even opening my eyes I knew it was early and my first reaction in my head was, ‘Why am I being woken up so early, it’s SPRING BREAK!!!’  Then my eyes were forced quickly open to James talking, although I’ve got to give it to him, he was very calm and talking in the nicest way possible, under the circumstances!  He said, ‘I don’t want you to freak out, but something very serious happened downstairs, and I need you to get up right now and help me with it!’  I knew nothing had happened to any of the kids since they were all there too, just quietly staring at me (they all had to know I wasn’t going to be pleased with what I was about to see!)  I said, 'What is it?!' And James said something along the lines of, 'Well, imagine the worst leak we've had...and it's way worse than that.' I shot out of bed, grabbed my glasses and went down the stairs to see several inches of water EVERYWHERE throughout the entire downstairs of our house.

Downstairs is everything aside from our bedrooms and our full bathroom.  So we’re talking living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom/laundry room, under the stairs (although the top step under the stairs, where all our xmas stuff and other random things are kept was only just starting to get wet, so LUCKILY, VERY luckily nothing was water-damaged in there), front hall/shoe area, hall closet....Literally every square inch of it was in enough water to come up over the entire sole of my flip flops, and they’re at least if-not-more double-thick flip flops compared to the basic ones you can get!  

I’d never seen anything like it.  I know it could have been far worse (it has since been brought to my attention that ‘it could have been sewage backup’ and yes, that would have been far, far worse, and now I will probably have nightmares that it will happen to us, because PARANOIA/PTSD - both of which I’m feeling effects of over what happened.  Not kidding.)

But it literally is the craziest situation like this that I’ve ever been in, and I found myself going into a sudden state of shock and panic both at the same time.  We quickly made sure the main water to the house was completely off, I ran upstairs and peed and threw some clothes on (thank goodness for capri leggings, since my pj pants were of no use to me with so much water!)  I called the emergency line for maintenance and left a voicemail.  I called my dad, who by this point was at work an hour’s drive away.  I didn’t ask him to leave work and come over, just for advice on what we should be doing first because I was so overwhelmed, no pun intended but my head was ‘swimming!’  (But my dad ended up leaving work immediately and came to help us, which ended up being a lifesaver because my dad is awesome and so knowledgeable about so many things and a true Jack Of All Trades.  If not for him, the whole process of even finding the source of the leak would have taken longer, because the actual maintenance people were slow (which is not surprising because everything is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with the management company...no offence meant to the real Mickey at all!))

I called the manager’s mobile right after I hung up with my dad and she ended up calling me back soon after and said that she’d left a message with the plumber but didn’t have an ETA, other than that he was notified.  I texted a neighbour friend of ours from a few houses down, which sadly had a huge leak throughout his place before as well (all our neighbours have had leaks), and he came over a little while later to take a look/take some video for documentation/and also brought us some water so we could make some coffee, which was much appreciated!

We just started frantically moving things and it was crazy to discover just how much stuff we have, and how much of it can’t be near that much water!  THANK GAWD neither our family laptop nor James’ work computer were on the floor, as we often had a habit of just resting them against a piece of furniture on the floor at night time.  I say ‘had’ because NEVER AGAIN, obviously.  It would have killed me to have lost those, or our backup thingie, which thankfully was tucked safely in a cupboard and the power cord didn’t fry.  The power cord to James’ work laptop didn’t survive, though - he had a meeting at 9 that he had no choice but to attend, so when he took his computer upstairs to plug it in he found the adapter got super hot and seemed like it was going to do something bad so he unplugged it.  When he tested it again later it was for sure toast.  So he couldn’t work more than a few minutes because his computer was almost without power, although he wouldn’t have been getting much work done anyway because there was way too much house stuff to do.

We just kept moving things, and the plumber fixed the leak.  He then informed me that all the walls in the house with pipes would be cut in order to change ALL the pipes in the house, which they would be doing the next day.

I LITERALLY PAINTED OUR ENTIRE HOUSE LAST YEAR AND ALMOST EVERY WALL WAS GOING TO BE CUT OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was (and still am) so upset.  This was by far the worst leak we’ve ever experienced, but it was also our TENTH since moving here 4 years ago!  That’s insane.  And this is not the first leak to cause a lot of damage, although it wasn’t to this extent.  All the downstairs carpet had to be replaced in December of 2014 due to a leak IN THE EXACT SAME PLACE as this leak.  I guess we just caught it earlier, because it didn’t travel into the rest of the downstairs area, and it wasn’t nearly as deep either.  But still.  Something’s gotta give, I am completely NOT ok with this continuing to happen, always having to live in fear of what’s next because the workers do such shitty work time and time again.

A little later the carpet people came and ripped up all our carpet and the underlay and sucked out as much of the water as they could and then brought a big fan in.  (When they first came in they said they were going to try to save the carpets and just get as much water our as possible - SERIOUSLY! It was a few inches of water EVERYWHERE! They realized once they cut them up that they wouldn't have been able to get that much water out, but imagine if we'd said OK to that, we would have major mould issues starting by now!) We also had them get as much of the water as they could out of our living room rug THAT I JUST BOUGHT ABOUT 6 WEEKS AGO FOR $250!!!!!  I was totally freaking about my rug, since I LOVE that rug and looked around at a million stores before I found it, and now it’s tainted.  But anyway...that and my new ‘pouf’ chair, which I got for $75 with the gift card I got for my birthday from a group of my friends.  It got soaked right through and while I THINK it’s dry now, I’m not entire convinced it doesn’t have an odour to it that could get worse with time.  We will have to see.  (I’m also concerned about our couch, which luckily does have legs but it still managed to get quite wet in parts and could end up with mould issues in time).

Anyway…

So the rug was left to dry and literally only seemed dry as of yesterday, so it took 6 days to dry out.  I THINK it’s salvaged but it’s definitely not the same as it was, and it’s definitely dirty and just not the new rug I had before this happened.

The XBOX was in water, since we had it on the floor (which we never will again!) but LUCKILY it managed to survive.  We put it in front of a fan for a day and a half before we even attempted to turn it on, and it worked.  I would have been so heartbroken for the kids if they’d lost that since we just got it for them for Christmas.  The power adapter for James’ work computer fried, and he lost a full day of work because he couldn’t put in any hours once he lost power to his computer.  Luckily his work replaced the cord, but that doesn’t account for the fact that he had to use up a vacation day because of this stupid leak.

We lost several books from my childhood that had been on the floor, as well as some puzzles (although thankfully not the ones that were from my brother and my early childhood, which would have killed me a little to lose!)  There is some furniture that only time will tell whether it’s OK, as it’s possible with particle board stuff that it will warp, and we have yet to test out the subwoofer which was quite saturated with water, as well as the piano pedals, which were in water.  The feet for the piano are thankfully plastic, but water getting in where the pedals are may have rendered them useless.  Which would really be upsetting considering I gave that to James for Christmas and it cost me around $150 between buying and the shipping charges.

I know it could have been much worse.  But, you know, it also could have just NOT HAPPENED.  And the thing that really pisses me off is that IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED considering that area was supposedly replaced just a short time ago, which means whoever did the job didn’t do it properly.  Knowing that all of this was completely avoidable makes me angry.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things that were damaged but it’s all such a blur right now and I felt like I was just thrown into this crazy mode where I was both panicking and completely numb at the same time.  In some ways those feelings haven’t changed a whole lot since.

I should mention my dad had taken Andrew back to my parents’ place and left him with my mom, and a little later (before the carpet people had arrived) I took the girls over and the kids stayed with my mom for the day so that James, my dad and I could just work on moving things and figuring things out at home.  That was a lifesaver because I can’t imagine being as stressed as I was and in that crazy situation and also have the kids in my care the entire day! I picked them up around dinner time, swung home to get James, and we went to Boston Pizza for dinner.  The dining room was chockablock full of stuff and unusable, and the kitchen wasn’t much better, and with everything we’d been through there was no way I was up to cooking a meal.  We ate there, and then came home and James set the TV up in our bedroom so the kids would at least have some entertainment, because even their toys in their bedrooms were a disaster because everything from downstairs was randomly placed upstairs and it was just CHAOS.

So the norm has become that everyone piles onto our bed and watches TV in our what-feels-like tiny cramped bedroom.  In reality we have a big bedroom, and thank goodness for that because it’s currently storing a LOT from our living room!  So it’s crammed in and it feels claustrophobic to me when we’re all in there for hours and hours on end, since there’s really nowhere else to go in our house.  We spend the majority of our time in there for sure.

So the day after the flood, workers came and spent the entire day cutting down walls and changing pipes.  When they were done they told me that a cleaner had been in to clean up, but literally NOTHING was clean.  I wasn’t expecting there to be no dust, but I didn’t expect the toilets to be left with dust all over them, or for there to be a layer of drywall dust on every piece of fruit in our kitchen, the counters, etc.  There’s no way anyone ‘cleaned’ ANYTHING.  Also, they hadn’t covered our couch with plastic, only one chair was covered, so literally EVERYTHING else has massive amounts of dust, and not realizing it I sat down on the couch and a huge cloud of drywall dust came up at my face and I could taste it.  After having just finished cleaning the kitchen as best I could and the toilets and the stuff we would NEED clean for the next day, I had to spend the late evening vacuuming the dust out of the couch.

Oh and to add insult to injury, when I was cleaning up the kitchen I discovered that the workers had dropped something ON THE BRAND NEW COUNTERS THAT HAD LITERALLY BEEN INSTALLED LESS THAN 2 WEEKS EARLIER and CHIPPED one of the counters.  Seriously.

Also, my great grandmother’s antique sugar container had been used as a step stool (I could see by the footprints on top) and the lid was indented (and now always will be because it’s nearly 100 years if not older and obviously can’t be fixed.

I’m sure there’s more, too, I know there is…

I can’t even remember that evening...But I do know that day I talked with management and they said that replacing the drywall wouldn’t be happening till Monday or Tuesday.  The next day was Friday (St. Patrick’s Day) and James had the day booked off as a vacation day so we could do something fun during Spring Break as a family.  (Spring Break was/is all last week and this week here).  I was already feeling bummed that James had booked a day off that wouldn’t be as fun nor relaxing as we had originally planned it to be, but they have a policy at his office where if you book a day you shouldn’t change it around without some notice.  I told management that since they’d told us no one was starting the drywall the next day, that just a heads up to know we would be going out by around noon and wouldn’t be home for several hours, as given it was a vacation day, I didn’t want to be waiting around at home all day for workers to come over.  I was assured that nothing would be starting till Monday at the earliest, so that was fine.  The only thing we had to be home for was the carpet people (different than the ones who ripped it all out) who would be coming at some point to measure the area.  Which worked out because they arrived around 10:30 or so and it was done in a flash.  (And might I add, unlike ANYONE who works directly for the management company we rent from, who never introduce themselves or say why they’re here), the carpet guy introduced himself, told me the company he works for, and was immediately pleasant and made sure it was OK to come in to take the measurements.  Which is what I’d expect from anyone even remotely professional.  Which I guess is why people who work directly for the management company DON’T do that, because let’s face it, they are NOT professionals.

We also had to have a maintenance guy come and reattach the hoses to the pipes for the washer, because the guys the day before had not informed me that our washer wasn’t re-hooked up, and I needed to wash some stuff that was covered in drywall dust due to no one covering anything.  He also had to fix a fuse for the electrical in the upstairs bathroom because obviously it was blown the day before from all the equipment the workers were using, and of course our panel doesn’t say the right thing for what breaker is for what so we had tried to no avail to fix it ourselves.  Luckily all of that got done before noon when we wanted to head out, and as well the other carpet guy had come back and collected his big fan.  The place was mostly dry by that point but under the stairs still needed more time, and of course our rug that still needed days of drying.  Luckily we have several fans so we brought them downstairs and set them up where need be and ran them 24/7 for days.

So Friday afternoon we went and checked out what was happening for ‘Feel Good Fridays’ at Brentwood Mall.  They have a DJ every Friday afternoon, and some other fun ‘free’ thing (like the one time I took the kids and they had a caricaturist who drew such cute pics of the kids that we had them laminated and put on their walls!)  This week it was a free 5 minute massage, which James ended up partaking in but it was too bad there wasn’t something more fun for the kids.  That being said, they made several song requests to the DJ and he came through for them (after some waiting!) and their songs got played, which was pretty cool, and they did some dancing.  They requested Scream and Shout by Will.I.Am and Britney, Good Feeling by Flo Rida, and something else that escapes me at the moment.

We went to Taco Time for lunch because I again couldn’t fathom going home and having to cook, especially since that day we had the stove pulled out into the middle of the kitchen, as well as the fridge, in order to dry out the sides of the cabinets where water had seeped.

That evening I went on my own to Walmart and bought some plastic bins to put our Christmas stuff in because I had a lot of it in cardboard and NOTHING can be in cardboard in this house every again.  LUCKILY the water hadn’t made it’s way high enough under the stairs yet to cause damage, because everything in their is on a step above the floor.  The wooden board was only just starting to soak through with water, which would have ruined our Christmas tree  and other ornaments if the leak had gone another hour I’m guessing.  So I got 4 bins which cost me about $60 and that was with the bins being on sale.  And I’m going to need to get more before all is said and done.

On Saturday I went out for a while on my own because I just couldn’t stand being at home given the conditions, and a little later because it was so sunny out (although it ended up being freezing cold and windy despite the sun) we took the kids for a walk at Deer Lake and then to the Burnaby Village Museum so they could enjoy a few rides on the carousel.  

On Sunday I took Andrew to his dance class to be able to get out for a while, and then I don’t even remember the rest of the day.  Everything is a blur to me right now!  I think we had the kids playing out in the backyard a bit, even though it was still cold it was sunny again.  We just can’t keep them cooped up inside upstairs in our room all hours of the day, but there also isn’t much we can do when the weather isn’t cooperating to be outside (and of course now we’re back to rain so the yard isn’t even an option).

On Monday the manager came by to look at what had been done and I had a chat with her about things.  I had left a note for her at the office on the weekend so she had got that, which detailed my displeasure with how things were being handled in terms of the damage being caused by the people who were supposed to be ‘fixing’ things, and the fact that I want some monetary compensation for what we’re going through this time.  The fact is, with all the leaks we’ve had in these past 4 years we’ve had a lot of upheaval and have spent a lot of time waiting around for workers and cleaning up after them because NO ONE EVER CLEANS UP AFTER THEMSELVES around here.  I am so beyond tired of how much of a disruption this is, and I’m not ok with paying full rent for a living space that is half, if not more, unusable.  Enough is enough and I feel we deserve some compensation for what we’ve been put through.  We’ve had way more than our fair share of issues here, and the vast majority of them were avoidable because if they had people doing the work the first time who were actually qualified and knew what they were doing, we wouldn’t be in this situation at all.  Why should we have to pay for their mistakes?!  

I was basically told that it was beyond her control but that the drywall wouldn’t even START to be redone until ‘at least’ next week, meaning this whole week we are left in limbo, and even then there is no actual date for when they’ll be starting.  She said there would be no monetary compensation unless I take the issue to arbitration.  She first said that there would be absolutely no reimbursement for the paint I would have to buy in order to repaint it the colour I chose (because there’s no freaking way I am going back to the beige they would paint it!)  I spent hundreds to paint our house last year, only finished it a couple of months ago, and when I think I put so much effort into it and all my ‘spare time’ of which I have so little to begin with, and then I have to rebuy the paint because of the errors of the unskilled workers who didn’t fix the pipes properly last time?!  Seriously?!  That just doesn’t sit well with me AT ALL.  By the end of our conversation she said that she could make it work that they would buy one can of paint, which sure if better than none at all but it’s still completely not good enough.

Obviously she herself wanted to make some effort to appease me, so that afternoon she had her maintenance guys come and ‘fix’ the drywall above the light fixture in the kitchen.  Which all I will say about that is, luckily no one can actually see it.  They fixed the drywall by duct taping pieces of drywall to the outline of drywall that was still there.  I couldn’t have done that myself, really, but whatever.  I can’t even question it at this point.  Luckily other than leaving some drywall bits and dust in the sink and our new kitchen faucet that we bought and installed ourselves after our new counters were installed 2 weeks ago (because our old one leaked and had a bucket catching water from under the sink area for YEARS because no one would ever come to fix it...and the guy told me it needed replaced but that they only had the same style which would have the same problem so I was better off buying what I wanted myself...so I did...for a rental unit...and you better believe I will take it with me when we move from here one day, too, even if I don’t need it where we’re going!!) they actually did clean up after themselves, which I am sure they were told they’d better for fear I would drop off another letter of my disdain!!!  But seriously, who could blame me for that?!   This is beyond unacceptable at this point.

So I basically told the manager I WOULD be taking this to arbitration if nothing is offered to us for compensation because this is beyond being unfair.  After setting up to have the maintenance guys come to ‘fix’ the drywall above the kitchen lights, she called again to say that the flooring in the very front of the house (vinyl) could be installed the next (yesterday) morning.  She had told me when she was here on Monday that they’d be done, but last because it was the least priority of everything we needed done.  But it turned out it was the only thing available to be done and that they’d be too busy to do it if it was left any later so best to get it done now.  So that was done all day yesterday, while the kids and I were basically confined to upstairs, which by early afternoon was proving to be hellish because we were all totally stir crazy.  But at least the floors in the front did get done, and I’m glad we have actual baseboards now and not the ugly plastic ones we used to have.  Which we still have in the bathrooms but I’m hoping to have them replaced soon, too.  We can get tile put into the downstairs bathroom but I’m kind of hoping to leave the linoleum since it’s easier to clean.  We’ll see what happens there.

The workers were friendly enough, and over all I do like the more modern look of the new floor, but of course it’s not without its flaws, too.  There are areas that are cut too short and don’t match up, and the way it’s cut around the bathroom door area is questionable.  I also had to use an exacto knife to cut down one piece that was way too long on one part and was already lifting up.  Several pieces need more glue under them.  A friend who installs flooring as a living came over to check out their job and even had to lift one of the pieces up because it was sticking up so high in the middle and it turned out there were a pebble underneath the vinyl.  This is what we’re up against!  If you don’t look too closely at the things, they tend to look OK, but the closer you look the more you’re going to notice that things aren’t quite how they should be, and that pretty much sums up everything around here, aside from the stuff we’ve done ourselves.

I should make note as well of the fact that the back door is creating so much condensation (which I’ve been mentioning to management for at least 3 years now, but was obviously a problem long before we even moved here) that it is now rotting the wood frame around the door/window, which is part of what holds the house together!  I mentioned to the manager what the problem is and the only way to fix it but didn’t get an actual answer as to what will be done about it.  There are so many other problems that desperately need attention, too, such as our carport roof that eventually WILL cave in, it’s not a matter of if, but when, and the gutters that all need to be replaced.  They were cleaned recently, but our neighbour’s gutter has fallen and is hanging into their yard, and ours leaks through the middle and isn’t even functioning and now I worry it could fall, too, and potentially hurt the kids if they happened to be outside.  SO MANY THINGS.

As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ and I’m aware that despite how much needs to be done, it can’t all be done immediately.  But I would at the very least expect they’d get the drywall done right away so that the painting could be completed, so that the carpet could be installed, so that we could get our house back to working order and feel like we’re actually LIVING here, and then get the rest done in a timely fashion.  It really doesn’t have to be as complicated as it’s made out to be, it just has to actually happen.

Another side note, the dryer ducts by law have to be cleaned out 'in a timely fashion' - most places I know of do it once per year...and it’s been well over 2 years now since ours were done, and they’ve been done once since we’ve lived here and who knows how long it had been before that.  They only did it the one time because I asked them to.  Our neighbours who I’ve talked to have lived here several years longer than us and have literally NEVER had theirs done.  That’s a fire hazard!  Our furnace only gets serviced if we request it and even then they do it only once per year when it should be every 6 months according to one furnace inspector I spoke with.  They had our chimney cleaned for us once a few years ago, which should be done every 2 years at most but have no said they will no longer do that for us and we have to pay to have it done ourselves.  Like I said, there are SO MANY THINGS.  And yet they’ve raised our rent starting May 1 by $62 per month, and what are we getting?!  We are going to be paying that much more soon, and they won’t even compensate us for all the crap we’ve been dealt since we moved in.  What a total slap in the face.



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