Archive for May, 2010

Anson and I have decided to get an air conditioner for our new house. Maybe I’m getting old, but this seems much harder than the last time we did this! I’ve spent the past couple of weeks interviewing contractors to install it. Of course, no 2 contractors offer the same air conditioners. And Consumer Reports doesn’t give enough information to be able to make a detailed comparison. There is, in fact, only one chart (which, of course, has the company that made our furnace on the very bottom of the list…good sign). I determined that all of the AC units we were looking at were about the same, so it came down to the contractors.

We’ve decided to go with the contractor that installed the air conditioner at our old house. Most of the articles we read said that having a good contractor install it is almost as important as which kind of AC unit you choose. At least we know this guy does good work!

The next step is where it gets a little frustrating—the paperwork. I started the process of applying for a permit to have it installed. I called the City of Kirkland offices and they led me to the paperwork that homeowners need to fill out. Naturally, it’s not written in any format that a homeowner without experience in the field could understand. There are a ridiculous amount of abbreviations! So, I’ve spent three days calling my contractor and having him answer questions for me (he’s been very nice and understanding). I finally had all of his information filled out when I discovered a line that asks for the electrician’s information. Sigh. I called the contractor and he gave me the name of the electrician he uses. I called the electrician who informed me that he pulls his own permits and I cannot pull the permit for him. I explained that I am MORE THAN HAPPY to have him pull the Electrical Permits, but I still need his information to complete the Mechanical Permits. He said, “okay, what do you need to know?”. I started to read off the list of 3 things that I needed from him and he had no idea what the form was asking for. Of course. Sigh. So, he said he would take the weekend to look up the form and call me with the information. Why is this so complicated?  Hopefully we will have AC before I head back to MD…

Maybe this is just my luck with home improvement projects? I’m convinced a trained monkey could (in general) do a better job than I can.  Let’s take the curtain rod for example. I spent 2 days working on, what the instructions described as, a 30 minute project. All I needed to do was drill 6 holes (2 for each hook), put in wall anchors, screw the hooks into place, and put the rod in it. Easy, right?  Well, maybe for a trained monkey!  I’ll list the ways I failed at this project below, in chronological order of A-HA! moment (the moment I realized what I had done wrong):

  1. I drilled the holes in the wall, but did not drill deep enough. I discovered this as I tried to push in the wall anchors and they would only go in 3/4 of the way.  I even tried hammering them in and they wouldn’t move! Drilling FAIL!
  2. On the 2nd day I went back and re-drilled all of the holes. In order to drill deep enough I had to stand on a stool holding the drill above my head and push it into the wall for about 5 minutes for each hole. On the 6th hole (that’s right, the last one) I accidentally hit the reverse button on the drill…and it went right in. I’d like to congratulate Anson’s Uncle Joe for figuring this one out!  I even double-checked! At least, I thought I had double-checked…FAIL!
  3. After re-drilling all of the holes, I tried to push the wall anchors in. Unfortunately, I had tried to hammer them in the day before. That, apparently had distorted them enough that they would STILL not go in any further than before. FAIL! So, I hammered them again. Secretly, the hooks are probably still about 1/8 of an inch from the wall. But Anson hasn’t noticed. Though that might be due to the fact that I instructed him not to touch the curtains EVER.
  4. The first hole, upon putting a mild amount of weight on the hook, would not hold the screw. Hook FAIL! So, I found a random, longer screw in the tool box and used that. I’m pretty sure it went straight through the wall anchor, but it also holds the hook in place. Phew!
  5. The middle two holes were uncooperative. Even with extra drilling AND hammering, the wall anchors were still too far out to put the hook up (not to mention, the hammer was taking out chunks of wall instead of pushing the anchor in…oops!).   AND, since I hammered the anchors so much, they are now too soft to remove from the wall. It kind of looks like the wall has little tubes coming out of it. I’m categorizing this one as a hammering FAIL. Though, the curtains cover it up. Speaking of the curtains…
  6. We wanted room-darkening curtains. I bought a cream/brown striped set that looked like it matched our bedroom set. When I hung it up, it turned into a 1970’s yellowish-brown. But, since it technically darkens the room and covers the holes in the wall….FAIL-ish?

I’d like to dedicate this post to Angie—and ask her to remember it when I get to MD and she needs help around the house 🙂