Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pool Demolition: the Saga continues...

Pool Demolition, Day 2 - Thursday
At about 11 AM, I lost internet access. I did the usual things: powered down, disconnected the modem and router, etc., etc.

Nada. So I called my cable supplier and had a tech walk me through the same process. Still nothing. The tech said, “Hold on, I’ll check your connection...” There was a pause, then he said, “This is looks like your line might have been cut...”

“It’s not so weird as you might think,” I said, and explained that there was a backhoe in my backyard. I didn’t tell the tech, but at least one electrical circuit was also taken out this morning. The cable company is sending out a guy tomorrow afternoon to restore the line. Ha! I wish him luck in finding it.

Here's why those lines you can see, the 12' deep hole is filled to the top with concrete and rebar...

I can, of course, write to my heart’s desire...I just can’t post until the cable is restored. This also keeps me from being able to work from home, which is what I had arranged to be doing while this is done. This means I will have to either use vacation days (of which I have precious few) and then have a small backlog to face on Monday, or I’ll have to work all day Saturday and Sunday to make up for Thursday and Friday (the more likely scenario at this point).

Ah, well...

Pool Demolition, Day 3 - Friday - Fun Toys at My House
It’s a little after 7:00. The crew is here, and of course I’m up, typing away. I am so ready for this project to be over. In spite of the fact that they inadvertently cut an electrical circuit and my cable line, this company appears to be doing an excellent job. The remainder of the shell of the pool was broken up and removed yesterday morning; then a great deal of time was spent breaking up the big debris into smaller pieces. When that was done, the huge hole was full almost to the top with debris, including tile, chunks of concrete and cut up rebar (see pic). Many pool demolition companies leave that debris in the hole and cover it with dirt, but that can eventually lead to the formation of a sinkhole, among other things. So, after they filled the hole with the broken debris from the pool, this company first smashed the debris into small pieces (see pic) before removing it.

By late afternoon, the hole was empty, and they began hauling in truckloads of fill dirt. They’re still hauling in fill dirt this morning, and that will be compacted and graded and then...voila...pool removal will be complete.

A dumptruck of fill dirt... Xander approves....

11 AM - When it rains...
No, it’s not actually raining, but...they’ve cut the phone lines too.


6:00 PM - Baseball, Anyone?

Next up: a new fence.
Katharine looked over the fence bids, and suggested I needed to get the guy whose bid I’ve decided to accept to lower his price by about 15%. I admit I was completely dumbfounded by the suggestion.

“But how would I do that?” I asked incredulously.

“Mom, it’s EASY!” she said. “First, you tell him you have a comparable bid for...” she named a figure one-third under this guy’s bid.

“He’ll tell me to accept it!” I said.

Kath laughed. “No he won’t,” she said, “he’ll counter”.

In response to my skeptical look, she laughed and said, “Mom, this is what I do all day for a living, trust me, he’ll counter! Good grief, Mom, it’s the last day of the month and he has to make his nut...”

“And if he doesn’t counter?” I said.

She grinned and said, “Well, Mom, then you call him back and tell him you found a couple of complaints against the other guy on the BBB site, and so you’ve decided to go with him after all....” Then she said, “Seriously, Mom, if he doesn’t drop his price, you absolutely must not sign with him tomorrow...”

She was born at home, so I know she’s mine, but I have no idea where she got these negotiating skills.


So I signed with the fence guy, and I did shave some numbers off the bid, but by choosing things that cost less.

Random observations
I hate being without the internet. I’d never really paid much attention to how much surfing the net has become a part of my day, but I’ve lost track of how many times, in the past two days, I’ve wanted to go on the net to look something up and felt incredibly irritated when I realized that I couldn' say nothing of blog-withdrawal...

Re that lost connection...the cable company (Time-Warner) totally no-showed. On Thursday, when I reported the problem, a Time Warner rep asked if I could be home Friday between 2 and 5:00 so Sergio could come to repair the cut line. I assured her I’d be here, and of course I was. At a little after 5:00 Friday, I called Time Warner to inquire as to Sergio’s whereabouts only to be told that he had called me twice, at 3:00 and 3:11 (ya gotta love the little touches when lying...not 3:00 and 3:15, but three eleven) and got no answer so he didn’t show.

Uh-huh. When asked what number he’d called (my land line being out), the T-W rep verified that it was my cellphone number (which is the number I’d provided, just to be safe). My cellphone was with me, turned on, batteries charged, all afternoon. I received several calls, including calls from the fence guy and the landscape architect, both of whom came over, but nada from Sergio. My call record showed no missed calls, and there were no voicemails from Sergio/Time-Warner. T-W rescheduled Sergio for Saturday morning, totally screwing my plans to drive to Fort Worth to log some hours. Just to make sure that Sergio doesn't no-show again, I intend to be an absolute pain about this, calling every hour to verify my appointment until he shows. Grrrrrrr.

Follow up note: Sergio no-showed again this morning, despite my calling in every hour to check that I was still on the schedule. At each of my check in calls during the 8-11 slot, I was assured that the records did not indicate that Sergio had tried to contact me, and the service call was still open, i.e., still scheduled. I was lucky enough to get the same T-W customer service rep a number of times, so he knew the situation (“Hey Art, this is Judi, I spoke with you earlier and the tech is still not here...”)

However, at 11:15 when I called to report that Sergio had again no-showed during the scheduled time slot and to ask for a status check on my service call, everything had changed. The records suddenly showed that Sergio had tried to contact me twice, at 8:12 and 9:10, and received no answer either time. Because he indicated he’d called me twice and received no answer (in effect, I was a no-show for the appointment according to the tech), he’d canceled the morning appointment and rescheduled it as an open, all-day call. To add insult to injury, I had not been notified of the change in plans.

Informed of this, I was furious and incredulous.

“But I’ve been at home, calling in every hour since 8:00 to make sure I’m on record as being home, waiting for the technician, and your records should indicate that!”
I exclaimed. I again had the customer service rep verify my contact number. “I’ve received two brief calls on my cell phone this morning,” I said, “but to make sure there’s no problem with T-W reaching me at this number, why don’t I hang up right now and have you call me back to confirm that it works?”

The rep agreed, and called me back; my phone rang; I answered.

“See, it’s definitely working!”
I said.

“Well, the tech will be there sometime before 8:00 this evening,” the rep said. “I don’t know what else to tell you..." Then she chirped cheerfully: "Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Uh, yeah, I’d like a good supply of Xanax for having to deal with T-W...

p.p.s. - AT&T called late this afternoon to confirm their appointment and came out and fixed my land line. At which time I called Time-Warner again. "I just thought you might want to know," I said, "that AT&T, who provides my land line, just called me on my cellphone to say that a tech was on his way over to fix the phone line. Their reps got through to me with no problem, and even as I speak, their tech is HERE, in the alley, doing the line repair. Maybe you need to talk with them about how they handle their service calls..."

Maybe it was a coincidence, but within 10 minutes of that call, Sergio was here, and FINALLY, I have internet access again. Hallejujah!

A couple more random observations...
I used to think that I wanted to work from home, but after the past couple of days I’m not so sure about that. Admittedly, I’ve been on call to the deconstruction crew, so this is hardly what “working from home” would usually be like. That said, I’ve found it incredibly frustrating but totally necessary to be here. For example, if I hadn’t been here, I don’t know when I’d have discovered the extent of the problem regarding the damage to the electrical circuit. As it was, as soon as I discovered it, I told the guys it would have to be fixed. After the workers spent a fair amount of time trying, unsuccessfully, to make the repair, this morning, the owner of the construction company came out himself to do it. He showed up, introduced himself, and announced that he intended to solve the problem by simply disconnecting that circuit from the breaker box. Whoa. As I explained to him, among other things, there’s a yard light on that circuit, so simply disconnecting the entire circuit wasn’t an acceptable solution. He agreed, and fixed it (at least, I think he any rate, the yard light works). I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened had I not been here to discover the problem and get the ball rolling on the repair. The same is true for the cut cable and phone lines, but...because those lines were down, I got absolutely no work done, and because I needed to be here, I couldn’t even go out and run errands, thus my frustration...

I’ll have to do this again in a little over a week when the fence is put in. The salesman told me I’ll need to be here the first day, when they demolish the old fence and dig/drill the post holes to make certain everything is located where I want it. The next day I’ll be able to work because the posts will be setting up in the concrete; then I’ll need to be home for the rest of the week to make sure the fence is built according to plan; e.g., I want this gate to open out, this gate to open in, etc. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do this, because, for starters, I don’t have that much leave left. Also, December is not a great time to be out, because we shut down between Christmas and New Year’s. Still, this has to be done, and I’ll have to work it out. I didn’t take the time to supervise the work after the fire, and I’ll always regret it. A number of things for which I paid good money ended up badly done because there was no one here to say, “Wait a minute, what are you doing?”

Which is not to say that I don't realize that in the big scheme of things, this is small stuff...and I know, I know, it's best, always, to not sweat the small stuff...


Chris said...

Holy smokes that's an entry and a half - methinks you WERE bored!

Question about the dirt that they trucked ya suppose it came from other people's yard who were having a pool put in? (joking of course)

Is that a Strokes t-shirt Xander is wearing? How cool:)

emmapeelDallas said...

Yeah, left to my own devices...I think the dirt actually comes from excavation sites for new houses, with a few inches of topsoil thrown in at the end for good measure...and yeah, Xander is wearing a Strokes t-shirt...he is one cool guy!

Anonymous said...

I am looking into removing my pool in the DFW area. I read your blog with interest as I am trying to decide whether to cover it up or remove it. It sounded like you were happy with the company you used. Would you be willing to tell me who did such great work?