The work on the fence has been going on for almost a week, which means that even Licorice is pretty much over it, not even bothering to bark at the guys anymore. That’s fine, because Otto has pretty much taken over on the barking, inbetween small head explosions as we traverse this particularly delightful path of home renovation.
When we signed the contract, by the way, we were told “one full day, or maybe one full day and half a day.” That’s all it was supposed to take. And this is not our first rodeo; we figured that meant maybe three days. Heck, I even said it to the fence guy, laughing, and he insisted NO NO, really, it’s pretty much a one day job.
But, hey, look. There is some GOOD news. I am pretty sure that by the time this is all over, they’re going to be paying us to take this #*%&+$ fence, so there’s your silver lining, right there.
Let’s review, shall we?
In the beginning: Otto and I carefully discussed our options and decided on what we thought we wanted. We got several estimates. We selected Fence Guy based on both the quote he gave us and the recommendation of the general contractor we often use. Hands were shaken. The contract was signed. We were told our fence materials would arrive in two weeks and he would call to schedule our installation.
The day before: The company calls to say the crew will be out the next day, which happens to be a Friday. I ask if they’re sure they want to start then; we don’t mind waiting until Monday, if they’re going to need more than a day, and we definitely don’t want to get into a situation where part of the pool area is left open while they’re mid-job. Oh no, I’m assured, they can probably do it all in a day, but regardless, they’ll take down the old fence in sections and be sure not to leave the pool open, not to worry. Okay, then.
Otto goes outside with a can of purple spray paint (the only color we have on hand; left over from a school project) and carefully marks all of the pool piping on the ground which the builders will need to avoid. (Note: this is called foreshadowing.)
Day 1: The crew arrives first thing in the morning. Hooray! Otto chats with them before heading off to work. They set about working on the chainlink dog-run portion of the project, and I am amazed at how fast they sink all of those posts and get to unrolling the fencing. Also, they knock down one wall (of three) of our existing wooden fence surrounding the pool, and begin putting up in the vinyl in its place. At 4:30 p.m. the crew packs up and vanishes without a word to us. Huh. There is still two-thirds of our existing fence untouched, so our dreams of this being a “one day, possibly one-and-a-half day job” are pretty much toast. And of course there’s half of one fence wall completely missing, but that’s okay, because it’s enclosed by chainlink… right?
Oh, hrm. WRONG. Although they erected all the chainlink, they neglected to PUT THE GATES ON. Which means our pool is completely open to entry two different ways on the side where we have neighbors with preschoolers. I may have said OH HELL NO. I guarantee you that Otto said something worse.
At 4:45 we call the fencing company and demand that they send someone back out to at least secure the area so that the pool isn’t open all weekend, and are told that the crew is coming back with our missing gates, not to worry. Also, the crew will be back Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. sharp to finish the project.
At 5:45 a guy shows up with two gates, which he then zip-ties to the openings in question. Otto discovers another opening between old and new fence that needs to be closed, and rigs something out of old fence pieces.
Day 2: Otto gets up at 6:45 so he can be ready for the crew when they arrive; he has a few questions. The crew arrives promptly at… 9:00. Otto is just as pleased as you might imagine.
They attach the chainlink gates. They continue working on the vinyl fencing. By the time they leave (shortly after lunch), we have… the chainlink enclosure and one vinyl wall.
Otto walks around the work done so far and discovers that:
1) The poles for the chainlink gates are set too wide, and consequently there are huge gaps—like, big enough for the dog to get out gaps—between the gates and the fencing.
2) The chainlink itself seems to have an enormous amount of “give,” as if it hasn’t been stretched tightly enough.
3) Several of the poles appear to have been sunken at varying heights even on level ground (?).
4) The litter around the work area suggests that they used a type of concrete about which Otto had specifically inquired and was told they would NOT be using.
5) They left our hose on (it has a spay nozzle thingie on the end) and… it burst.
And the CROWN JEWEL Saturday afternoon discovery:
6) The vinyl fencing erected so far is… badly damaged. Scratched all to hell. And covered in white dust. Which indicates that this crew took our brand new fencing and DRAGGED IT ACROSS THE POOL DECK CONCRETE during installation.
Otto sends a very strongly-worded email to our fence guy, who immediately sends his head foreman out to take a look at what’s gone on. Otto expresses dismay about this crew potentially returning on Monday, and the foreman affirms that this crew does indeed seem to be “facing some challenges.” He tells Otto he will discuss with the fence guy and they will figure out what to do.
Day 3: Sunday! Let’s have a nice relaxing day! The kids haven’t been able to swim while the guys have been here working on the fence, but today no one’s coming, so yes, absolutely, let’s have a family swim. Otto goes out and cleans the pool for us. He then switches the pump to backwash to clear it, and a small water feature appears along our new vinyl fencing.
Remember the purple spray paint? If you were here, you could follow it along the ground directly to the point where the crew not only dug through and broke our irrigation pipe, but then POURED CONCRETE AROUND IT for good measure. The good news is that it’s an outflow pipe, which is why it wasn’t discovered until Otto tried to backwash the filter (had it been a main filtration pipe, it might’ve drained the entire pool). The bad news is that I’m just not sure I’ve ever seen Otto quite so livid.
The kids and I have a nice swim while Otto spends two hours digging out and replacing the pipe. He then leaves a voicemail for the fence guy AND sent another email, this time letting him know that if that same crew shows up Monday they will be asked to leave immediately.
The fence guy calls and says he’s bringing up his very best crew from Florida, and he was so sorry for all the problems so far, and NOT TO WORRY, on Monday it would all be completed, fixed, perfect.
Day 4: Happy Monday! The new crew arrives at 7:00 sharp, and surveys the mess and explains that they would first finish installing the vinyl, then correct the issues with the pieces already erected (in addition to the damage, apparently one section was set too low, and the posts had to be redone), and also fix the chainlink, and NOT TO WORRY, THEY ARE EXPERTS!
These guys drove up from Florida and arrived at 3:00 in the morning and then came to work at 7:00. I liked them immediately. And they work really hard, all day, putting up vinyl and never once dragging it across the pavement. But it was slower going than they’d anticipated, because Georgia clay is hard and on one side they couldn’t use their auger because it was too close to our septic tank.
Around 2:30 or so the lead guy tells me he needed to talk to me. He’s very sorry, but apparently one of the two vinyl gates was missing. He’s making some calls, trying to determine if it had been delivered to distribution and just not sent to us, or if it hadn’t been delivered at all. They would get it, not to worry! But he wanted to let me know. Oooookay.
A few hours later, he comes back to talk to me again. The good news was that they found the gate! The bad news is that they weren’t going to be able to finish today. On account of… they were one section of fence short. And it had never been ordered. Someone counted wrong. (And in case you ever want to have your own vinyl fence, bear in mind that it’s ALL special order. So order enough the first time, kids!) He says he’s called the fence guy and he started yelling so much he’d just hung up. They would get the missing materials, but… he wasn’t sure when. They would be back tomorrow, though, to work on the chainlink, either way.
Day 5: The crew shows up around 8:30, but with bad news: The missing material wouldn’t be in until Wednesday. They’ll go ahead and do some work on fixing the chainlink section, but they were actually being called to another job and were going to have to leave in a few hours. And they’d be back on Wednesday, but listen, the main guy’s kid has an all-star baseball game back in Florida on Thursday, and he can’t miss that. If it doesn’t get done on Wednesday, it’s going to have to be another crew that finishes. Just letting you know, ma’am.
(That was a low blow. Like I’m supposed to argue for my fence over his kid? Even I cannot go there.)
They spend a few hours tightening up the chainlink and putting together the two vinyl fence gates. By the time they call me out to look, it’s to show me that they installed the second one backwards and to ask if it’s okay to just flip it around. I say yes, because what’s the alternative…? But of course they’ve already drilled eleventy holes in the wrong post, and that doesn’t go away when they flip the door. Also, oops, half the hardware for the doors is missing, so that piece that allows you to open the latch from the opposite side is MIA. One of the crewmen has helpfully tied some twine to the latch on the inside, then weighted it with a couple of washers and thrown it over the fence to the other side, so that outsiders can pull the string to undo the latch, Little-Rascals-clubhouse-style. Nice.
Also, um, sorry, but both gates are badly damaged—bearing scars from the too-tight twine lashings they were delivered in.
Otto comes home from work and his head explodes. He prepares to send the fence guy an email telling him to TAKE IT ALL DOWN, WE’LL HIRE SOMEONE ELSE, but I talk him off the ledge. Instead, the men begin the negotiation of exactly how much of a discount we’re now going to get and how many pieces need to be replaced.
Day 6: It’s Wednesday now, around 10:00. Theoretically the missing section of fence arrived at distribution via FedEx for 10:00 delivery, so the guys should be here in a little bit. Even once they finish the structure and then go back to digging up and moving incorrectly placed supports, there’s still the issue of all the damaged pieces. Otto spent an hour yesterday walking the periphery and marking all of the damage with painters tape; the pool is now enclosed with blue-polka-dotted fencing.
We don’t know when it will be done, or how much we’re paying for it.
But at least it’s all been a gigantic pain in the ass, in the meantime.