Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reason #2 for the long disappearance

Refinancing and the porch. What a nightmare. Suffice to say that the Phila. Credit Union is atrocious. Their business motto "better.honest." needs to be changed to to "lousy.sneaky." Not only are they not upfront about things - never mind being able to admit mistakes - but their customer service is textbook awful. I miss my California credit union - I asked - they can't carry my mortgage in Pennsylvania. Woe to me.
The bottom line is: in order to "take advantage of record low interest rates" I have to fix the porch now. This has been a problem since I bought the house. But I figured it would just lower the value of the house - not be the reason for the denial all together. Call me crazy, but I figured it would make more sense to refinance, SAVE money, and then start the repair. Nothin' doin'.
So repair the porch it is. Before:
Hole in the back - the masonry piers are not holding things up and that is the biggest problem. Once those are fixed we can reconstruct the rest. This is a hellishly expensive project. The credit union told me it should cost some ridiculously low amount. Maybe I could do it for that amount if I had some south philly connection with all the lumber falling off the back of a truck... but not for honesty. Thank goodness I knew that before starting or I might have believed them!
And while the expense is the biggest part - it's also the prep work and inconvenience that this project will be.
Forget a nice crop of raspberries this year:
Except for a little patch and some that I hope will take around the garden - most of these are gone now.
I also had oodles of bulbs planted right next to the porch - those all had to be moved or I would loose them. After talking with Wally and Andrew who will do all the heavy lifting, one Saturday, full of rage at the blasted credit union, I went out to my porch armed with a sledge hammer and crow bar and got to work. You know, blessings come in the strangest disguises...
About half an hour into the demolition, some stranger strides onto my porch like he owns the place. I've never seen the guy before in my life. Before I can say anything, he waves me away and says he's just looking for his brother who owns the property next door, basically indicating I should just let him take care of his business without bothering him! Well - that doesn't go over too well with me because he's standing on MY property in case he hadn't noticed. This of course disintegrates into a screaming match with him calling me every name in the book and me screaming that he should get off my property over and over. He finally stomped off the porch and had the last word when he told me to "go ahead - and call the police - I'll talk to them!" I thought, you know, that's a good idea. So I did. Two seconds later I realized - I should call my neighbor! (Ram, who doesn't live there - Mr. El's son, just owns the place and works on it in perpetuum). Well, that was much more effective. Ram was there in five minutes - I explained what happened - he said it probably was his little brother. "He's got a short fuse," he said. Yeah, well, so do I. Sure enough it was his little brother and Ram made him apologize and I said - fine let's put it behind us - no worries, no hard feelings. About five minutes AFTER that has all happened, the police show up. I had to recap what happened again and assure them (and Ram - who came right over to listen in) that everything was fine, that we had worked it out and there was no problem. I have to say - I was so relieved that I could say that! I'm so glad that whatever my weird relationship with Ram is - it was good in this situation. And I think one of the officer's recognized that too. He said he was glad to see neighbors working out their problems together, and I think he really meant it.
So where is the blessing? Well, about 1/2 hour after all of this happened, Ram sent one of the guys who works for him over to help me. We got so much more done than I could have done on my own. Not to mention that I learned how to really use a crow bar. Did you know there is a little notchy-thingy in the middle of it to help yank up nails? Who knew? We got most of the porch ripped up in one day with major team work. He did one side, I did the other, ripped of the slat at the same time. Most of the beams underneath are in pretty good shape, thank goodness. The far end, the corner is kind of rotten, but at least its not all rotten.
The following day my fabulous tenants came out and had nothing to do with their day. (That must be nice!) They helped so much taking up the rest of it and Rie dug up all of the bulbs and transplanted them to other tubs. They will bloom on the "deck." Once all of the porch is done I'll put them back where they belong. I was a little worried about my azalea that is slowly coming back from the brink. They are not easy to transplant, so I put a tomato cage over it and hoped for the best. It survived the masonry repair very well. It should bloom soon! Wally came and had to dig up the old piers and pour new foundations and rebuild them completely. But they are done now! Yay!
He's got one more to point before it's all done, but wants to wait until Andrew has done all of his construction. I'm just glad we can move forward. Last time I checked in with my new mortgage person, she said interest rates had gone up a point. Cross your fingers for me that they just stay put for a while. I need this. It will same me a bundle every month.

And it's spring! Glorious Spring! I know it's not supposed to be spring - but I have to tell you I'm so glad it is. It's been gorgeous all weekend. I spent both afternoons sitting in the sun in a tank top.
I even had to do the first lawn mowing of the season.

The trees are blooming, there are pink blossoms everywhere, daffodils like crazy, no tulips yet, but they are on their way, even my garden violets have decided to spring forth - no blossoms yet but they will come.
The spring brings one unfortunate ritual with it though; the anointing of flea stuff on the cats. Oh and how they hate it. Jacques was absolutely crushed last night when I put that junk on him. He pouted and hid then came out but wouldn't let me touch him, accepted treats, but then ran away from me. Poor baby. He's been thrilled this afternoon to be able to be outside with me in the spring sun, taking dust baths, running after little flying things, and looking disdainfully at the dogs who of course are irate that he is in their line of vision.

Happy Spring Everyone!

2 comments:

Katitch said...

That was a really interesting, and funny, post!
I'm only seventeen so unfortunately I can't buy a house and renovate it myself, but I'm very interesting in all of that stuff and have watched many episodes of "Grand Designs". Reading your blog is like watching one of those episodes, only better!
Also, my Dad is thinking about building a house so maybe that will be good experience?

tara said...

Hi Katitch - thanks for your message. I'm glad you got a laugh out of the post!
Tara