Over At Last

The Extremely Frustrating Home Improvement Project.

Thank god.

And since all our friends and family keep asking where the hell we’ve been every weekend for the past THREE MONTHS, well… Here’s the whole long story, as short as I can make it.

Ready?

Okay.

PART 1, WHEREIN WE GET AN AWESOME NEW FLAGSTONE PATIO…

We hired a nice guy to rebuild our shitty falling-apart flagstone patio. Both levels. And the stairs. And put in a new firepit.

He did it.

It looked great.

We were happy.

Oh, everything seemed so nice back then... If only this were the end of the story.

Oh, everything seemed so nice back then… If only this were the end of the story.

PART 2, WHEREIN WE FACE MINOR OBSTACLES, BUT OVERCOME THEM WITHOUT ANY INDICATION OF THE TROUBLE TO COME…

A step in the stairs cracked, but we didn’t panic.

We could tell why. There was too much air left around a drainage pipe running under said step, allowing the stone to flex a bit.

Nice contractor came back a day later, no questions asked, pulled up the step, relaid it, and even re-fortified additional steps.

It looked great.

We were happy.

BUT… While at the house, he mentioned the best way to protect the patio long-term against cracking, weathering, etc. of any kind (stone weathers? WTF! yes – yes it does, apparently…) was by sealing it. But, don’t worry – this was an easy project any homeowner could do.

Construction Manager Lisa – wanting everything perfect and THE BEST for 3675 – immediately added “OPERATION: SEAL THE PATIO” to the top of 3675’s to-do list.

PART 3, WHEREIN LISA DECIDES TO BE STUPID-NICE (also known as “The Part Where Shit Really Gets F#@%ed Up)…

But Team Temple didn’t really want to seal the patio; research showed it to actually be kind of a shitty job.

As luck would have it, just as we finished cleaning off the patio and JUST as Trent was about to head to Home Depot to look at sealant options, Mr. Nice Contractor texted asking if HE could seal the patio.

Kismet!

He needed work.

(not a good sign)

Yay! Team Temple didn’t have to seal the patio! For $500, Mr. Nice Contractor would come the very next day and seal it for us.

And come he did.

Only this time things did not end happy.

Mr. Nice Contractor sealed the patio like a retarded one-armed walrus on meth.

He used a paint roller that still had paint on it, so that paint streaks were left in the sealant.

He actually rolled sealant onto our driveway, but only an area about 3′ x 2′ (why, you ask? WHO THE F#@% KNOWS WHY!).

He dumped leftover sealant in our planter beds, leaving a plastic coating on the mulch, declining clover, and Lisa’s prized calla lilies.

He didn’t seal the edges of the patio or its supporting rock walls, so that as sealant ran off the edge, it left clear drip marks everywhere.

But best of all, his pump sprayer BLEW UP in the heat, and he didn’t bother to distribute the sealant it splattered.

That’s right: a RIVER of dried sealant was clearly visible snaking all over the lowest level of the patio.

Lisa’s first reaction was to kill Mr. Nice Contractor. But, seeing the beautiful color and gleam the sealant DID bring out in the stone, Team Temple decided to bring him back once more and demand he fix it.

And being “nice,” come back he did once again. BUT – upon arrival, he insisted he needed $250 more to buy more sealant; he was out (of course – that river wasted quite a bit! duh…).

In agony, Team Temple decided to pay him. $250 more, and a long list of fixes: (1) Strip sealant off driveway (2) Remove “river” of sealant from lower patio (3) Remove all traces of paint from job (4) Seal over all stone edges and rock walls to cover drips.

And UNDER NO MEANS WAS HE TO DUMP SEALANT ON ANY LIVING MATTER. OR ONCE LIVING MATTER (like mulch).

He nodded agreeably. And within two days, he fixed (1) and (3). And completed (4) about 75% (he did also successfully manage to dispose of all job waste WITHOUT plasticizing our plants).

Lisa’s first reaction was to kill Mr. Nice Contractor. But Trent insisted it was time to let it go.

PART 4, WHEREIN TEAM TEMPLE GOES ALL TEAM TEMPLE ON THE PATIO…

Team Temple then vowed never to speak to Mr. Nice Contractor again. Even though his stonework was good, his sealing work was so bad he was dead to us. DEAD.

Except, we needed to know where he got the sealant. Dammit. Research showed it was indeed the best stuff out there, but we couldn’t find it for sale online.

So we texted him.

No reply.

Hmm… That’s not like Mr. Nice Contractor?

Lisa began digging. Calling.

Guess what? Sealant not available. Hadn’t been available for months.

MR. NICE CONTRACTOR DIDN’T BUY MORE SEALANT! LIAR! LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!

We still don’t even know where he got the first batch.

Lisa got through to the manufacturer of the sealant, conveniently located in Livermore. Sharon at Triangle Coatings connected her to their nearest supplier in San Lorenzo, only 15 miles away. Steve at Moyer’s Paint connected her to his know-it-all field rep, Joe Frankie.

“If anyone can find the stuff for you, Joe can.”

With Sharon, Steve, and Joe on speed dial, it was finally determined there was NO White Mountain Wet Look Lacquer to be had anywhere in California. The masonry world had been waiting with baited breath for release of a new batch for months. Mr. Nice Contractor WAS a f#@%ing liar (but at least he had good taste in stone coatings).

But never fear! The new batch was headed to market in just ONE WEEK. Lisa swore a blood oath to Joe Frankie that in exchange for his help, all our project needs would come from Steve at Moyer’s. Steve pledged to give us a discount and put us at the top of his hungry White Mountain list.

And with the discount, it only cost almost $400.

HA.

MR. NICE CONTRACTOR IS SUCH A BAD F#@%ING LIAR, HE SHORTCHANGED HIMSELF ALMOST $150.

And together, Joe and Steve let us in on their little secret for removing the river of sealant…

Xylol.

With the Xylol – which Steve at Moyer’s slipped me from his declining stash, since it’s now nearly impossible to order online and ship to California thanks to our environmental regulations (but whatevz – I’m sure it’s all good and we won’t get cancer or anything) – we were able to achieve what Mr. Nice Contractor could not…

We re-liquified the sealant and redistributed it perfectly on the patio.

Ridiculous. But it worked.

Ridiculous. But it worked.

(or, nearly perfectly, at least; good enough!)

(and not that it’s THAT big of a deal to outdo this guy – he does possess that unique kind of intelligence that allows one to apply sealant with a dirty paint roller)

We also sealed over all the remaining stone edges and boulders.

And we repainted the areas of the house where jackass splattered sealant (late-breaking discovery!).

AND we repainted all the lumber in the gravel steps down the east side of the patio, by our olive tree, where he also splattered sealant (another late-breaking discovery!).

AND we cleaned all the plastic crispies out of our planter beds (as best we could) and laid our plastic-choked plants to rest).

I swear, this guy has never heard of a plastic tarp. Or hazardous waste disposal.

And now we are done.

And summer is only half over.

So, come see in person soon, okay?

In the record books as the worst project yet. But look how it gleams!

In the record books as the worst project yet. But look how it gleams!

The End.

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7 thoughts on “Over At Last

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    Holy cow!! All I can say to that story is, “Thank God it is over!” Lesson learned. I would say that as home improvements go, if you only have one incident like that, you are lucky. And I think the patio looks great!

  2. Marge Wisniewski says:

    The grandparents give their approval! And, as contractors go, your track record has been pretty good up until now. Make sure you sit on that patio and enjoy it!

  3. Marlene says:

    Congratulations! Looks great!

  4. Emily says:

    So glad it’s finished! It does look great. You guys must be exhausted.

  5. Viola says:

    I say put up your feet for the rest of the year.

  6. Carla says:

    WOW. When we came by to return Sam I had no idea you went through all of that. Glad to see you were still in good spirits! Burritos make everything better.

  7. lisatemp says:

    We ARE exhausted and our feet are OFFICIALLY up until further notice.

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