When last I posted (two years ago!) I was, simply put, in a state. The farm, my happy place, had seemingly turned on me. The renovation was stalled, the pipes had burst leaving a mess and an extra expense of a new bathroom, and the Workhorse was beside himself. Our contractor, who had begun to seem a little fishy, was starting to smell like a decomposing whale. The lies, once convincing, started to pile up. I wanted to trust him – he seemed like a nice guy, and if I believed his stories, he’d had all kinds of personal problems. The Workhorse wanted him gone. I stalled.
Then the City shut us down. The building permits, we had been repeatedly assured, were just waiting to be picked up the next time the contractor was in the vicinity of the permit office. Turns out no permits had ever been applied for. This was a very hard pill to swallow since I had tried to convince the contractor to let me handle the permit process but he had insisted that he could do it better, faster and easier. It also turns out we had hired a pathological liar. I’ve never encountered anyone like him before and I hope never to again.
The City was not amused. All work was halted. We fired the contractor and begged and grovelled to the City inspectors who didn’t want to believe we had been duped. We started to hear from trades, whose work we’d paid for only to find out they’d never been paid by the contractor. That was one of the worst parts. Everyone felt awful about it, except the lying contractor, presumably. A new (wonderful) contractor was hired and the City let us know we’d need a $20k septic system before work could continue. The good times rolled on.
Everyone who wades into the waters of home improvement has one really bad renovation, I think. This was ours. Work didn’t really start again until April. It cost a trillion dollars, more or less, took 13 months, not 60 days and probably took two years off the Workhorse’s life in stress.
In the meantime, I fell out of love with the farm. Besides the stress and hemmorhaging of cash, the place looked like crap. Grass had been ruined, there were piles of wood and fill around the farm and it looked like hell. It was all a mess and I certainly didn’t feel like writing about it. We didn’t get the farm cleaned up and pretty again until this past summer.
At the end of the day, our addition was everything we wanted and more. It’s beautiful and it has changed the way we live at the farm. We put in a basement gym and the big family room is the best place to spend time together. We have a big mudroom with lots of storage. And the addition also made space for a smaller sitting room where the old living room was.
Here’s what it looks like now
It took the better part of two years, but we recovered from the betrayal of the bad contractor, we came up for air financially and we cleaned up the grounds. Somewhere along the way I fell back in love with the farm. Some things are meant to survive being tested.