The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect.  Every homeowner knows what I’m talking about.  You think you have a small, easy-to-deal-with-problem, that turns into a much larger issue and grows and grows, much like a row of dominos that falls, each knocking the next down in a path of destruction.   This is currently my life.

dominoesIt all started at the end of last year.  My recently retired husband was home and needed something to occupy him during the non-golfing winter months.  I had the solution, I thought.  The wallpaper was peeling in the kitchen and laundry room.  The cat had used the rice paper wallpaper on one of the family room walls as an extension to her scratching post, and the dining room paper looked old and dated.  My friend, the realtor, said wallpaper was out; painting was in.  So I suggested my husband take on the project of removing the wallpaper and painting the room instead.

Now painting a room requires you remove all the china and breakables from the china cabinet and dry sink, and all the Stencilpaintings from the walls – a sizeable project!  But I felt assured that it would take my husband so long to do each piece that I would only have to deal with one room at a time.  WRONG!  After finishing the laundry room in January, he announced that I should hire someone because this was just too hard.  (Photo on the right is a picture of the stenciling in my kitchen that is now gone.)

As luck would have it, one of the companies I had contacted about doing this very thing was having a sale in February.  I contracted them at a good price, but that meant I had to get all the rooms ready at once.  The work would be done quickly as they had six guys working on the project, but it zapped my energy and my time to write.

In the process of painting, the workers pulled the refrigerator out to paint behind and discovered significant damage to the wood floor beneath.  In fact the floor was sagging so bad, the refrigerator was no longer level causing the doors to no longer “fit.”  The seal that kept the door closed no longer worked. (That occurred in March).  But we had taxes, upcoming trips to Branson and NYC to plan for.  We managed to get some quotes on getting the floor fixed but every company was backed up till November.  With two excellant references from trusted friends, we asked to be put on next available date for one company.  That date was Monday, November 16th.

fridgeFixing the small area beneath the refrigerator was a really small area.  However, when the floors were initially installed, we opted to leave them natural and just have a polyurethane finish applied.  Over the years, that finish mellowed to a lovely yellow hue.  We were told that the new sealants did not mellow that way.  Had we applied a  color finish, they could have matched it, but leaving the floors natural was a problem.  We figured we hadn’t done the resurfacing and reseal that had been recommended for hardwood floors, so this would accomplish two things – fix the water damaged wood, and refinish the remaining floor.  Sounds good, right?  Well, refinishing floor means we had to take everything off the bookshelves in the family room, have the sofas, tables and chairs moved so as to be off the floor, roll up the rugs, and remove the pictures on the wall (sound familiar), in general, make the kitchen, eating area, family room and laundry room inhabitable. We did that, plus we shopped for a new refrigerator.  We found one, but it’s taller than the space allowed by an inch or so.(The photo on the left is the small space under the fridge.  This is the new not-quite-finished floor so you can’t see how bad the floor was damaged.  But you can see the nice light floors 🙂  ).

So we hired a moving company to move the furniture into the living room on Friday, and the old refrigerator into the garage.  My husband used the weekend to saw off an inch off the over-the-fridge cabinets.  We made hotel reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday nights as we knew the sealant would be too obnoxious to breathe. Otherwise we spent the weekend living out of the bedroom in anticipation of the floor guys appearing on Monday.

They didn’t show.

Tomorrow, the office said.  They should be there between noon and one.  We moved the hotel reservations back by a day.

They didn’t show.  I called the office.  The scheduler wasn’t aware that they hadn’t shown up, but promised they’d be there in the morning. We moved the hotel reservations back by another day.  We’re still living out of the bedroom and it seems more and more confining.cluttered dining

The workers appeared on Wednesday and went to work.  When they moved the washer and dryer to the garage, they noticed that the water hose for washer was badly corroded and the hose itself was showing stress.  It would have to be replaced.  Of course!  Because the workers started so late, they couldn’t finish by Friday as planned.  We moved back in the house, but once again we’re living out of the bedroom.  The floors are projected to be finished on Tuesday. (Photo on the right is the current state of my dining room and the rest of the house, trying to cram everything into two rooms).

But the weekend gave my husband the chance to fix the hose.  With youtube videos assuring him he could do this, he managed to further stress the hose with no impact on the nozzle.  I’m calling a plumber first thing in the morning.  The hope is that I can get one to fix that problem before the washer and dryer is moved back in place on Tuesday.  Wish me luck.  With our current luck, I’m betting replacing the hose will be a much bigger project than what we anticipate. (sigh).

dinnerMeanwhile, we can’t really celebrate with a big feast on Thanksgiving Day as we have no seats.  I had to turn down my brother’s request to stop for an overnight visit on the Sunday after Thanksgiving because…we have no seats and our guest beds are buried under furniture.  I had to turn down an annual gift of a turkey and ham from one of my clients because I don’t have a refrigerator at the moment (that is to be delivered the Friday after Thanksgiving).  With the floors finished on Tuesday, we can’t put the furniture back till December 8th.

Maddening right?  But you know, once this is all done – it’s done.  The floors will be good for another 25 years at least.  We’ll finally have a nice refrigerator that has the vegetables at eye level where we can easily see if they’re in distress. And we’ll have an opportunity to throw out a lot of the stuff we removed from the shelves 🙂

So this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for a huge project finally completed.  (I keep telling my husband that I hadn’t planned to remove everything from various rooms TWICE in a single year.) I’m grateful that we have the means to celebrate Thanksgiving at a restaurant.  I’m grateful that my turkey and ham will go to a food shelter where they will doCharming the Professor final more good than sitting in my (non-existant) refrigerator.  And I’m hoping, really hoping, that the last domino has fallen.

So tell me about you.  Have you ever had a domino effect?  Tell me there is an end 🙂 .  I’ll give a digital copy of my December release, Charming the Professor, to someone leaving a comment.

And for all the stateside bandits and bandit buddies out there – May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

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  • flchen1 says:

    Hugs, Donna!! I know this is maddening now, but yes, when it’s finished, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your gorgeous home in peace 😉

    We had something similar happen in our master bathroom… it started when we couldn’t figure out why there seemed to be slugs. Inside. On the bathroom floor near the shower. When we finally had a contractor in to examine what was UNDER the bathroom, in the crawlspace, apparently those were tiny slugs, with enormous relatives living beneath… the showerpan had been installed improperly, and the bathroom floor had to be ripped out and replace. And they discovered that prior work had been done improperly. It seemed that after they found one thing, that led to something else, and on and on and on… Eventually all that got fixed, and we were able to shower in peace again 😀

    Happy Thanksgiving, despite the dominos, Donna!

    • Oh Fichen –
      That would be TERRIBLE! You know, we had a similar problem last year when we discovered mushrooms growing out the base of a toilet. We had to break through the tile to discover a slow leak in the toilet that had been leaking for 30 years. The wood beneath the tile was soaked. That was another domino type deal.

      But how can you know these things when you buy the house? Little time bombs ticking away…
      Happy you got the ordeal taken care of. Happy we will see the end of this shortly 🙂 And a big HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you in your now slug free home :_)

  • Laney4 says:

    My husband hates change and keeps saying, “It’s fine the way it is.” When I said the doorframes needed painting, he said no. Then my daughter was getting married this past May, and I knew his answer would be yes (based on past examples, like when I was pregnant two summers and wanted air and he refused, but when our baby had a heat rash in the wintertime, he insisted we get air conditioning). I digress.
    My husband said yes to painting the living room/dining room/kitchen on the main floor because the bridal party would be here (and we later agreed to host a shower here). That meant the upper and lower hallways needed to be painted too, as they’re the same colour. I didn’t want to lose my border/wallpaper, but indeed, wallpaper is out, and our 17-year wallpaper had faded plastic holding it to the corners, so the wallpaper had to go. That meant the border had to come down too, as it didn’t complement the wallpaper anymore.
    Since the bridal party was changing in our master bedroom, husband agreed to remove one wall of 30-year-old wallpaper that was torn at the seams and paint that fourth wall a different colour than everywhere else in the room. Fine.
    We were expecting our two nieces and their husbands to sleep in our basement, so he agreed to paint the two white walls/ceiling down there (for the first time in their 55-year history) because pop cans had exploded years ago on those walls, and also to replace the 55-year-old indoor/outdoor carpeting with holes in the rec room with carpet tiles. Well, if you have carpet tile in the rec room, you should do the adjoining laundry room too. If you empty the room to put new flooring down in the laundry room, you might as well paint the walls in there first. When we bought the carpet tiles, we had to buy a certain quantity and there was extra, so I suggested we replace my 55-year-old holey office carpet too (also adjoining the rec room), which in turn meant painting the walls/ceiling in there as well, since the room was emptied.
    All this was done the 6 weeks before the wedding while my husband worked 12-hr continental shifts, although he retired two weeks before the wedding. We even fixed up rough edges throughout the rec room where we could place baseboards/trim to cover chicken wire that ripped our clothes when we came out of the crawl space, etc.
    And somehow we remained happily married throughout the entire process. Not an easy feat. Daughter’s bridal shower was a success, only one niece/husband slept in the basement, photographer took pictures in our master bedroom the day of the wedding, and the wedding day itself turned out well too. And today I have most of my house painted. We painted the huge linen closet in the hallway a couple of weeks ago (ran out of time before the wedding) and only have two rooms not painted (my adult son’s and the bathroom), but they can wait. Now that my husband is retired, he doesn’t have the excuses that he had before, hehe.

    • Laney – Sounds like you’re all set for the next 55 years! 🙂 .

      LOL – Did you know you’d have a renovated house as the result of your daughter’s wedding? Hmmm…anyone else home that might make a trip down the aisle? You could get new appliances! LOL. Seriously, it sounds beautiful. There’s nothing like a freshly painted room to really spiff things up. Congratulations to your daughter on her marriage. Congratulations to you on the new house 🙂 . And while you may not be celebrating Thanksgiving this week 🙂 it sounds like you have much to be thankful for 🙂

  • Mary Preston says:

    I had rain water damage inside, but the painter would not commit to a start until the new roof was on. Some of the added damage to the paint work seemed to be because some stumps had rotted away.

    So, I needed the stumps done before I could get the new roof. I needed the roof done before I could get the paint work done. Of course the paintwork uncovered all sorts of rot from the rain water damage. AAAAAAHHH!!

    • Hugs Mary!

      Do you have that old proverb playing in your head? “For want of the nail, the horseshoe was lost; for want of the shoe, the horse was lost…etc.” You discover a problem and it’s never as easy to fix as it seems. And WATER is the WORST! Nothing eats away the fundamental structures like water. Glad you got everything straightened about! New stumps, new roof, new paint. You folks don’t have Thanksgiving this week either but sounds like you have much to be thankful for. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend 🙂

  • Ki says:

    What a year! Thank goodness that domino effect saw to things that may have gotten worse if not found now. However, it did push back a bunch of stuff and the workers weren’t always on time but everything is looking to go straight this time.

    But do enjoy a great Thanksgiving.

    • Hi Ki –

      This will be the second time ever that we’ve gone out to eat instead of make way too much food at home. Funny, I can’t remember why we went out the first time. I suppose in the next ten years or so, I won’t remember why we did this time either 🙂 LOL. This issues seem so little when they’re behind us, but earthshaking while in the middle. May you never have a domino effect. May I survive this one 🙂 (I will but the malodrama sounded appropriate 🙂 ) and may you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  • Ninfa says:

    Well, that’s one heck of a problem. At least you discovered the problem with the refrigerator early, and.never encounter any electrical problem. Anyway the problem is always like that started it will go on and on. I can’t remember any major problem we face that it becomes like domino’s. Anyways Happy Thanks Giving to your family.

    • Hi Ninfa!

      Yes. Extremely grateful that we didn’t have an electrical problem on top of every else! I just called a plumber for the hose problem. We are making progress! Hopefully, we won’t have any more major problems. I guess that’s the difficulty of being a long time home owner. There comes a point when all the small problems become big. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to your family. We all have much to be grateful for. 🙂

  • Sandyg265 says:

    Recently my boyfriend started peeling an edge of the wall paper in the hall to see how loose it was. Next thing I know he was pulling down all the paper. Of course the people who originally owned the house didn’t paint the wall before they put up the paper so the Sheetrock was damaged. It took multiple layers of sparkle but he was finally able to paint the hall. That made the paint in the bedroom look bad so we decided to change the color in there. Once we painted he decided he wanted to get new curtains. We hung the new curtains and then the tan mini blinds didn’t go with either the new paint or curtains. Of course we needed gray miniblinds which were only available as a special order for a lot more money.

    • Hi Sandy –
      LOL – Welcome to dominoes! 🙂
      At least the problem could be fixed with spackling, painting, and a charge card 🙂 . Having been living in our bedroom for a week, our curtains are looking on the worn side as well. Funny how you never really notice those things until – well, until you can’t miss them. 🙂
      Wallpaper is out, as they say, so you’re right there on the leading edge of house fashion 🙂 . Hope you and your boyfriend have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We both have much to be thankful for. 🙂

  • Kate Sparks says:

    People can get into a lot of trouble when doing projects by using the phrase ‘while we’re at it’… My dad quoted my granddad with ‘ it’s going to cost at least half again as much and take twice as long as you think.”

    • Hi Kate!

      That’s so true. You just never know what you’re going to find. I have a sneaking suspicion that might be the case with the plumber coming tomorrow to take off the washer hose. Sounds like a simple thing, but the guy that installed the washer a few years ago couldn’t do it. My husband can’t do it. I think when the plumber doesn’t meet with instant success, we’ll be facing another large problem. Guess we’ll see. Meanwhile I’ll be celebrating that this project is behind us and the new refrigerator will be here on Friday. Yay! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, Kate!

  • Donna, I feel your pain! We’ve never had a domino effect like that, but we have done a kitchen renovation–with new cabinets delayed, which prolonged the whole thing. I was pregnant at the time and do very ready to have the kitchen back!

    • Hi Nancy!

      LOL – Just what you need when you’re pregnant!
      Already the plan has altered…again. They did the floor moldings and final coat of sealant today, letting it all age tomorrow and coming back on Wednesday to move the appliances (as opposed to tomorrow). Actually, it works out well for the plumber who is coming tomorrow to remove the washer hose. He’ll have space to work.

      This is the second time in as many years that we’ve had a snowball effect connected to some project. Hopefully, it’s the last! For that, I will be thankful 🙂 Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Minna says:

    Oh, I’m so glad I live in a rented flat!

    • LOL Minna!

      Yes. Renting does have its perks. Of course, a landlord would likely never agree to refinishing an entire floor for the sake of water damage confined to a small area. He’d fix the problem (hopefully) and then stain it to be close to the other flooring — assuming he’d put hardwood floors in the apartment in the first place. Our flooring was laid on top of the linoleum that was there originally. Had we stayed with the original linoleum, the water would have leaked out from under the refrigerator (and not soaked into the wood) and we would have discovered the problem before it got nasty 🙂
      But I love my hardwood floors so I guess I have to accept the burden that sometimes comes with them.
      I know Thanksgiving is an American thing, but I hope you have a fantastic Thursday!

  • Helen says:

    Waving Hi Donna

    Oh I do hope things settle down soon and think of how wonderful it is going to be and although I have not had the domino effect this bad yes I have had it where I have started to clean one cupboard and then it snowballs to everything 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all

    Have Fun

    • Clean? I don’t the meaning of that word 🙂

      My husband and I were talking about this over lunch and how there aren’t going to be any more big projects for a while. Of course, these were not “planned for” projects but rather the result of a problem, i.e. peeling wallpaper. Who knew? 🙂

      I realize Thanksgiving is an American thing, but I hope you have a great Thursday, Helen. Take Care

  • Jane says:

    Hello Donna,
    Once it’s finished it’s going to feel so great. Hope the plumber shows up and at least you’ll get to move the washer and dryer back into place. I remember experiencing the domino effect mostly during the teenage years when everything seemed to go wrong at once and being a moody teenager felt like the world was trying to send you a message. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Oh Jane – You’re so right! Those teenage years were a long time ago, but I remember every little incident seemed to snowball. Making “a mountain out of a molehill” is typical teenage angst, isn’t it? Thank Heaven those years are over 🙂

      Hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving as well!

  • Just wanted to send an update.

    The floor guys arrived with an altered plan. They did the moldings and applied the last coat of sealent on Monday. On Tuesday, the plumber arrived. He was an hour late and we’d just started to think we were back on the merry-go-round when he arrived. He replaced the washer faucets and hoses. Today, the floor guys arrived and moved the oven and washer/dryer back in place. YAY!

    We still can’t put any furniture on the floors and the refrigerator won’t be here till Friday – but we have an oven! And I can finally go to work washing the pile of clothes we’ve accumulated over the last week and a half.