House of Horrors part 1

If you’ve been following our blog – apologies for the long absence – you know that we finalized our building plans a while ago but had to delay construction during the building boom. It wasn’t just the cost of materials – contractors kept putting us on the back burner as they could make more money on the huge houses many people wanted. Quite a few people are choosing to commute rather than live in the metro Atlanta area, and that drove demand up for a couple of years.

So, then came my cancer diagnosis (incurable lymphoma)….. I no longer wanted to wait for a usable kitchen (or get jerked around by any more contractors), so I convinced Hubby to go look at mobile homes. We found one that felt (feels) like home and looks like a real house. The dealership was selling the lot model, so we could get moved in very quickly.

We closed on the house before Thanksgiving and had high hopes of being in our new home by Christmas or at least over Christmas break. Now some of the delays that followed were due to heavy rain, but not all. There were unnecessary delays in getting the foundation in, and then further delays getting the house here. The house was finally delivered at the end of December. Meanwhile, Georgia Power was also dragging their heels, which didn’t help matters.

Eventually we had electricity and lo and behold – we had no power to the laundry room or the master bathroom. In addition, when the water pressure test was done, water started pouring out of the bottom of the home. The factory (Live Oak Homes) sent out a maintenance guy who showed up after dark with a flashlight and no tools after driving 5 hours. He said the electricity issue was probably a GFI outlet somewhere and he couldn’t look at the water problem in the dark, and promptly headed back home. On Monday, he discovered that the installation crew contracted by Wayne Frier Homes of Byron had not hooked the shower up to the sewer lines, so any water running into the shower ran straight into the insulation below the house and stayed there until he cut the protective membrane. His plan was to plumb that and let the insulation just dry out on its own over time — a plan we said “Heck no” to — or words to that effect. There was an additional water leak in the line going to the shower valve and the shower valve would not turn off. That required cutting a hole in the master bedroom wall.

A week later, we had multiple holes in walls, ceiling vents hanging down, a rats’ nest of electrical wires hanging down outside from the frame of the house, a huge (insert profanity here) mess throughout the house, but still no electricity in those rooms. At that point we insisted that a licensed electrician come inspect the house and diagnose the problem. The electrician came on Tuesday, took 40 minutes to find it, and two hours to fix it. (He installed a new three wire Romex from the breaker panel, under the house, and back up to the light switch). The factory could have saved themselves a lot of money by sending the right person from the start, especially as the maintenance guy never seemed to actually be onsite for more than 3 hours at a time. Oh – and the problem ended up being a missing neutral wire going from the breaker to the light switch in the laundry room. I’m not sure how you end up with a run of wire without a neutral, but the factory managed it!

Now the second crew that came in to do regular maintenance stuff was fantastic (more about them in a future blog), and they fixed the holes in the wall from the above fiasco, but they ran out of paint. Here’s an example of what has frustrated us in the extreme over the past three months – the dealership and the factory couldn’t agree on who should pay for the darn paint. Meanwhile, we had patched walls and were already close to paying our second mortgage payment. We ended up buying a gallon of paint — for $14.95 and I painted! The last time we heard “That’s a factory problem” was two hours ago — no, the house is still not fixed.

The first crew that came in to do the initial sheet rock patching etc. did a fairly good job of the walls, but when they left we had a speed bump going through the kitchen. Eventually this turned out to be a problem with the front half of the double wide being half an inch higher at that point that the back half — or so we thought. This is an installation issue, and after many, many, many phone calls, the leveling was resolved a couple of weeks ago (6 weeks after delivery, or thereabouts). The first crew tried to mask this by piling what looks like sheet rock mud over the join to create the speed bump and then gluing the floor tile to that. Surprise, the surprise, the floor tile popped off on both sides. Never mind, that we don’t really need a speed bump (trip hazard) going into the kitchen. The installation supervisor FINALLY came out today, and in addition to the floor leveling problem, a board the factory installed along the marriage line sits above the subfloor. Now there are hammer marks along the way where crew one tried to beat this board into submission, but the misalignment increased toward the pantry end of the kitchen. This is when the supervisor announced “That’s a factory problem” this morning. We are waiting to find out who will fix it and when. We know it’s going to require sanding at a minimum, and that will require cleaning….. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent wiping shelves, blinds, ceiling fans, walls, etc. down after multiple rounds of repairs.

We’re also still waiting on the installation of the underpinning….

Other smaller construction issues include at bathroom water faucet without a drain plug, another with a drain plug that wouldn’t close, doors that wouldn’t close, a bathtub valve that didn’t let any warm water through, vinyl tiles with gaps between them leaving subfloor exposed, missing sheet rock in a closet, misaligned sheetrock behind the fridge, and a dryer vent that is jammed up against the washing machine instead of being behind the dryer space making it inaccessible. If you’re interested, here’s a link to Hubby’s blog with pictures.

To close — will this house be worth it eventually? Yes, we still think so. It overlooks the creek and that is where I go when I need to calm my mind as I deal with my diagnosis. I am doing well enough post-treatment to have a positive mindset 95% of the time, and when I do have to repeat treatment, I’ll be able to look out the window at the beautiful place with which we have been blessed. What would we do differently if we could go back in time? First and foremost, check the Better Business Bureau rating of any home builder, whether it be a modular home or stick built. Do a quick Google Search. Doing either of those would have sent us in a different direction. I let my emotional turmoil get in the way of good sense while I was still weak from treatment, and Hubby let his concern for me and big heart get in the way of asking me to be patient. I met this wonderful, wonderful, man 21 years ago today. So while the house has brought a lot of stress into our lives, as long as I can look at the creek with Hubby by my side, life is good here on the farm.


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