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4 2904

Liberty Bank SleepoverYeah, me too… And it’s for real — not just some teaser rate. Zero points paid.

No joke. This is not a scam.

Is that even possible in this financial climate?

The answer is, “Yes!”

Of course, there are a few strings attached — like having to sleep overnight outside the bank alongside the drive-up ATM.

But before you get too excited, I should probably also mention that we all missed our shot at it — the rate was only available last weekend.

Here’s the article by Kenneth Gosselin from the September 14 Hartford Courant:

Home Buyers Camp Out For Shot At 3.5% Loan

Maybe you thought you’d heard it all when it comes to people camping out overnight to get a shot at being the first to own perhaps the hot toy or the latest computer game.

But how about a home mortgage?

Twenty-five home buyers with signed purchase agreements — some of them having waited as long as 24 hours — were in line early Saturday outside the new Liberty Bank branch in Wethersfield for a chance at applying for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at an incredibly low rate of 3.5 percent.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” said Mike Lemos, who was fifth in line Saturday at the Silas Deane Highway branch.

Lemos and his wife, Julie, a real estate agent, were among the 13 who were lucky enough to get a shot at a slice of the $3.5 million program. The remaining dozen were put on a waiting list in case others before them in line don’t get final approval.

The Lemoses hope that the low rate will allow them to afford payments on a $360,000 ranch that’s nearly double the size of their current 1,800-square-foot colonial — and save $100,000 over the term of the mortgage.

“We wouldn’t have had a thought of doing this without this rate,” said Lemos, a securities compliance director at MetLife.

The promotion — intended to call attention to the opening of Liberty’s first branch in Wethersfield — allowed purchases of one- to four-family homes in Wethersfield. Borrowers had to come armed with a signed purchase contract. No points were charged, but closing costs and other fees still applied.

At a time when most lenders are scrutinizing credit and income histories amid the downturn in the housing market and fallout from the subprime lending crisis, the promotion gave borrowers a low rate to help counterbalance lending industry insistence on higher down payments after years of loose underwriting.

A little math reveals the savings for borrowers. On a single-family house in Wethersfield purchased at July’s median sale price of $252,000 with a 20 percent down payment, a borrower would finance $201,600. The monthly principal and interest payment at 5.93 percent — the national average last week for 30-year, fixed-rate home loans — would be $1,200. At 3.5 percent, the payment drops to $905 — a difference of $294 a month, or $105,973 over 30 years.

If the borrowers — many of them pre-qualified, based on credit scores and income — receive final loan approval, they also have to open a checking account with direct payroll deposit and automatic debit for the monthly mortgage payment.

The prospect of sizable savings grabbed the attention of Nancy and Douglas Robertson of New Britain, who were 11th in line. The couple had been house-hunting in the Hartford area, but quickly settled on Wethersfield when they heard about the promotion from their real estate agent two weeks ago. They signed a contract on a $365,000 four-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath split-level near the Rocky Hill line on Labor Day. The Robertsons estimate that they will save between $500 and $600 a month on their monthly payments with the low rate.

Nancy Robertson, a lawyer, said she enjoyed the camaraderie in line, although she could have done without such a long wait.

“But it’s a small price to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime rate on a mortgage,” she said.

Even when 30-year rates were at their lowest, on average, nationally, in June 2003 — at 5.23 percent with 0.6 point — it was well above what Liberty was offering in the program.

The bank took the opportunity to woo those waiting in line. It handed out umbrellas during a downpour Friday night, and later served pizza. Unlike similar campouts at retailers, Liberty brought in a portable toilet, complete with flashlight.

Banks typically trot out promotions when they open new branches in a market as they dig in to build market share. But the promotions are usually aimed at savings, such as high-rate certificates of deposit. But Liberty wanted to do something with loans. The bank chose $3.5 million and 3.5 percent because the branch is Liberty’s 35th.

Robert A. Steele, the bank’s director of consumer credit risk, said the bank expects to “break even” on the loans. But the greater benefit is exposure to the community — and showing the market that the bank has money to lend, even in a tighter market for credit.

Anthony Centurelli, who secured the first place in line, wants out of his condo and saw the rate as the way.

He has a hard time parking his pickup truck in his complex. The $280,000 house he and his wife hope to buy on Folly Brook Road has two garages.

“This came up, and we said, ‘What the heck?'” said Centurelli, a civil engineer.

Well, one thing is for sure — a few lucky families in Wethersfield, Connecticut probably won’t be refinancing over the next 30 years…

6 2750

Individual Retirement AccountHmmmmm… Which to choose… I’m not really sure. I’ve researched the advantages and disadvantages of both and it’s just left me more confused than I was at the start.

It seems most folks my age (32) lean heavily towards the Roth IRA because it’s taxed now and not in the future when you expect to be in a higher tax bracket.

But unlike most folks my age, I’m a little bit more realistic when it comes to my earning potential and what tax bracket I’ll fall in to fifteen to twenty years down the road. I’m not optimistic.

When nearing retirement, though taxes will most likely have gone up, I actually expect to be in a lower tax bracket than I am now so that “advantage” of the Roth is totally lost on me. The Traditional IRA wins out.

On the other hand, with a Roth IRA, you can make withdrawals all along without penalty. No waiting until turing 59 and a half. If I need another $5k to build my dream garage or something, I can grab it from my Roth IRA and not get hit with a bunch of fees, penalties, and/or taxes. In that respect, the Roth IRA is clearly better.

By the end of this year, I’ll easily have enough to fully fund one or the other. Obviously I’m still having a hard time deciding which is the wiser course of action.

Further, I still struggle to come to terms with the idea that being limited to $5k per year will add up very quickly or keep me interested.

I realized that the limit is increased slightly every few years, but even still — what takes me just three years of contributing to my 401k will take over a decade with either type of IRA.

It just seems…slow? It is slow.

The advantages, from my perspective, don’t outweigh the limitations — specifically, the low contribution limits.

It seems like they’re little more than a way to supplement your savings — being limited to such a small contribution, it’s certainly not jump starting anything. It can’t.

But maybe I’m *still* missing something…

1 2238

Net Worth: September 2008Another big gain this month but not everything was a success…

Really, an increase of over four grand should feel awesome — especially considering that my total non-mortgage debt is less than four thousand — but for some reason, I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels all month long.

Probably that darn PMI thorn in my side… Ouch!

Anyway, here are how my finances break down this month:

Cash:
Down a bit as expected. Last month was high because of a paycheck arriving on the last day of the month. I do my best to have this hover around $2000.

Oddly enough, I’ve already written a $1300 check for the mortgage this morning so technically this balance is already down to $1000.

Savings:
In June, I “borrowed” $1500 from this account to pay for vacation. Now, a couple of months later, I’ve finally replenished my ING account. I expect this to continue to rise in the months ahead.

Gov’t Bonds:
As is the norm, no action here. I’d pull the money out since I find I-Bonds dreadfully boring, but they’re earning a decent return right now so it wouldn’t make sense to move then.

401k:
For a bit this month it was way up. But then it came back down. Even still, a gain of $1898 is more than I contributed, so it was a good month. September should be even better as that’s the month my employer contribution is deposited each year.

Home:
Another $1500 drop. Still no where near approaching what I paid for it. That would be $141000.  So, no, I’m not feeling the burn of a housing slump.

Auto 1:
Small fuel efficient cars continue to rise in value and I’m not complaining one bit. It was one of my better purchases. I thought that at the time — now, 3 years later, it’s been confirmed.

Auto 2:
The value of the BMW continues to decline. Even still, as it’s paid for already, I’ve no problem letting it sit in the garage until it starts to appreciate. I’ve no doubt that it will sooner or later.

Credit Cards:
This is the elephant in the room. I’ve been at the zero mark every single month since March, when I finally paid off the last of my credit card debt.

This past month, I wrote a $1500 zero percent interest check to myself in a failed attempt to have PMI cancelled on my mortgage.

No worry, though. I’ve got a weekly payment plan set-up to have it paid off in another 12 weeks without ever having to pay any finance charges.

Auto Loan:
Same idea here. I started the month with a couple of huge payments in an attempt to rid myself of this sometime in September. Then, I smartened up a bit and set-up a plan to pay it down at a more relaxing pace. This balance will be eliminated by December on the plan, though I have a feeling, I’ll wipe it out well before that…

Other Loans:
Zero. Been that way since May 2007.

Mortgage:
DENIED! Like July, there was a ton of progress here but, again, no reward. I managed to knock $2318 off of principle in one month and the purpose was to have my PMI eliminated. Didn’t work because Countrywide is apparently above the law — so I won’t be doing this again.

19 9187

Why is this a big deal? Well, it isn’t. Not to me, anyway.

But, right or wrong, it does have a profound effect on how I’m perceived by my co-workers and others that work in the same office building.

BMW Z3 Roadster

See, I haven’t taken this car to work since, hmmmm, probably sometime over the summer in 2005. And even then, it was for just one day.

But I’ve had the car for 9 years. That’s a long time.

People knew I had it back when I first bought it. I drove it, maybe twice a week, but then it disappeared from view. Rather…their view.

Though it was rare for someone to ask, “Hey, you still have that little convertible?”, it would happen on occasion — maybe once every six months.

I’d be honest and say, “Yep, it’s the elephant in the garage.”

But today, as I peered out my top floor window down at the lot to make sure no one parked “too close” (I’m paranoid of that sort of thing), I couldn’t help but notice people turning their heads in confusion as they walked through the lot…

That’s where Brainy parks… Someone must’ve taken his spot…

I caught one woman, who I don’t even know, take a picture of it with her phone… That was little weird — it’s not a Ferrari or anything…

But I can’t tell you how many people have made their way past my office today — many who I haven’t had a real non-work related conversation with in months — to say *something* about my car in the lot.

Some are as simple and innocent as, “Nice wheels” or “That must be fun to drive!” or “Does it have stinger missiles behind the headlights?”

Others are laced with jealousy, saying things like, “Must be nice to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” though they have no idea where I came from or of my background.

Still, others make stuff up like, “Yeah, my brother in-law’s friend’s cousin raced the M5 version with his bitchin’ Camaro and smoked it…” to put it down as if to boost themselves or something through an imaginary acquaintance.

And some are just plain obnoxious, “Wow you must get some nice tail driving that,” or “Trying to compensate for something?”

(Thankfully, there are select few at work that know the truth — that I worked really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard to be able to buy that car. But even they were shocked to see that I *still* had it.)

Comments like these are the main reason that I don’t drive this car to work. I don’t want the attention. I don’t particularly like the attention. Actually, complementary or rude, they all make me really uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing.

But I will say one thing — it’s refreshing to know that all it took was driving a different car to no longer be thought of as the guy who sports a “home haircut” and shops at Steve & Barry’s (and is willing to admit to both)!

Now to some, I’m Ricky Schroder.

To others, I’m the guy who’s “gay” because I prefer euro-cars over muscle cars.

And still, to some, I’m just the guy who has a car shaped like a penis.

But if I’m lucky, maybe one or two people will make the connection that yes, wearing $7.50 t-shirts and knock-off sneakers and working hard, five days a week, does have its perks…

Now to count down the two hours until 5:00 when I’ll drive away with the top down trying my best to look un-cool even though to some, now, as of today, I apparently am…

Another couple weeks, well, people will forget and my image will be back to being that “cheap” guy again…

Oh, and how come no one takes pictures of my daily driver? Sheesh, its book value is almost double that of the BMW

Oh yeah, perception is a mysterious thing

4 2761

August 2008 Net WorthBack on track and headed in the right direction again after my first down month in roughly a year.

Here’s how my finances break down at the start of this month:

Cash:
Not a lot of movement here. Mostly because I had my checking account riding high at the end of last month for use on vacation and this month was a 3 paycheck month — I “topped-up” yesterday. I’d expect it to hover back around the $2k mark for September’s update.

Savings:
Slight recovery. In June, I “borrowed” $1500 from this account to pay for vacation. This month I returned just one third of that. Not great, but better than nothing.

Gov’t Bonds:
No action here. I’d pull the money out since I find I-Bonds dreadfully boring, but they’re earning a decent return right now so it wouldn’t make sense to move then.

401k:
Still technically losing money here. Not as badly, but when you’re contributing around $1k each month and seeing the balance only go up around $500, well, it doesn’t feel like such a good idea. I say that, but I’m not anywhere near holding back my contributions. In fact, while I’m already at the point to qualify for the maximum employer match, I’m on the verge of taking it one step further to hit the federal $15k limit.

Home:
Still dropped in value, but not that much. In fact, during the month it was down a lot further only to recover about 2 weeks later. Perhaps it has something to do with my neighbor’s house now on the market

Auto 1:
My little Scion xA has retained its value pretty well — back up a nudge this month. It’s nice to know that I was a good two years ahead of the curve when I picked up this little fuel efficient 4-door hatchback.

Auto 2:
It blows my mind that KBB thinks my BMW Z3 only has a trade-in value of $6290. Sure it’s over a decade old and it’s been in an accident but it’s only got 37k miles on it and runs like a charm. I know I could throw a “For Sale” sign on it and get some sucker to pay 5-figures for it any day. I’d pay that much for another one! Even still, as it’s paid for already, I’ve no problem letting it sit in the garage until it starts to appreciate. I’ve no doubt that it will sooner or later.

Credit Cards:
Right back to zero. It may look like I only paid off $601 this month, but once everything we spent on vacation cleared, the total bill was just shy of $2200. Wiped out. Too bad the rewards don’t amount to a pile of beans

Auto Loan:
Stepped up the pace on this one. Breaking the $4k mark puts me in the red zone. By October’s update, this number will be zero.

Other Loans:
Zero. Been that way since May 2007.

Mortgage:
Tons of progress here, but no reward. I’ve never sent so much extra towards the principle before but this was a failed attempt at having the PMI removed from my mortgage. I’ll go hard again this month (to the tune of around $2k) and hopefully that will push me over the edge and put that useless insurance behind me.

Real Estate BookWhen I purchased my home in the fall of 2002, I knew going in that it was going to be a work in progress. A fixer-upper of sorts.

I mean, it was one of those real estate listings with “AS-IS” tagged on. Never a good sign.

I remember my real estate agent calling me up at work and saying that he had a few new listings come in that I might be interested in.

On the way home (my bedroom in my parents house), I stopped by the RE/MAX office and picked up the MLS sheets printed out from an inkjet running dangerously low on ink. It was nothing new, I’d been doing this for at least two months without anything that remotely peaked my interest.

For whatever reason though, that night, after dinner, I brought my younger sister along for a “drive-by” of two of properties the realtor had printed out for me. It was about a half hour ride in total and neither house really interested me.

The next morning, while at work, the real estate agent (who was obviously growing impatient with my complete lack of excitement from his suggestions) called again and I asked if I was interested in any of the properties on the MLS sheets.

“Nope.”

Now, at the time, in the summer of 2002 — houses were selling even before they hit the market. Certainly a different climate than we find ourselves in today.

I’d found a few homes that were perfect, only to find out that by the time they made the newspaper (or even the internet) and I’d caught wind of them, they’d already been sold — usually within the same real estate office that listed them. It was really frustrating.

It was almost to the point where buyers were putting down deposits on homes sight unseen.

Over my lunch hour, I did another drive-by of the two “better” homes that I’d driven by the night before.

One was an updated cape, but a bit smaller than I’d like, it only had a 1-car garage, and it was on a busy road.

The other was a big dark decrepit looking thing with grass approaching the 2 foot mark. Short of boarded up windows, it was obviously abandoned.

Hmmmmm…

What did I have to lose? I hadn’t actually gone through a house for a few months at this point, so I called my agent back and said, “You know what, yeah, let’s take a look at the red one and the tan one…”

I took the rest of the afternoon off from work and headed down to the real estate office — I had become a bit of a familiar face (and probably an inner-office joke of sorts) and as I was waiting for my agent to get his stuff together (i.e. find his lighter), the listing agent for the big red house, an older gentleman, said to me, “I think this is going to be your day…”

God damn shyster… Don’t you tell me… That’s what I was thinking — I didn’t vocalize it.

So we hit the tan house first.

The agent opened the front door and we walked in to two cocker spaniels barking their heads off. They were penned in the kitchen using one of those baby gates people use at the top of the stairs.

The house looked alright I guess, but it reeked of, well, dog piss. I mean really bad. We’re talking so strong that an entire case of Lysol canisters wouldn’t be enough to solve this. Needless to say, it didn’t leave me with a great impression.

MLS PhotoOff we went to the red house. That’s the actual photo attached to the real estate listing — from a distance, yeah, it looked semi-decent.

As we pulled up in my agent’s ashtray of a car, this time *he* said, “This is going to be the one for you!”

“I just hope it doesn’t smell like dog piss,” I replied.

We worked our way up to the front door and he struggled to get the old fashioned latch style storm door to open. One of the panes of glass on it cracked. Not a good start. We broke the house.

He finally gets the front door open and we walk in… Wow! Dark wood paneling (warped too!) and shag carpeting. I’d never actually seen a home so out of date in real life… Then the smell hit. Stale. Musty. Damp.

The house had been vacant for around 6 months and, well, let’s just say that it was pretty apparent. Still fully furnished with, well, cheap, old, sometimes broken, and, really, just crappy furniture…

Peeling wallpaper in the rooms that actually had wallpaper. Cobwebs everywhere. It really did look like a haunted house. Smelled like one too!

The MLS sheet stated that the home had hardwood floors. I guess that was truthful, but they failed to mention that they had been painted battleship grey.

The toilet had a post-it on it saying “Don’t flush”. I tempted fate and gave it a try. It didn’t flush.

No matter, it was a neat old house and I was feeling adventurous, so I went through single every room. Two of the bedrooms had 4 miniture size beds in them — not twin size, but not toddler sized either. Odd — unless the seven dwarfs resided here.

I checked out the walk-up attic, looked around the scary basement, and even hit the “play” button on the answering machine that indicated that there were 5 new messages.

As we left I was thinking, “Hey, that was kinda fun… No way in hell I’d live here, but it was a neat walk through…”

When we returned to the RE/MAX office, we looked through a few more listings through what they considered their “super secret agent only website” (I’d already seen every listing on realtor.com) and the listing agent for the big old haunted house poked his head into my agent’s office and said, “I really thought that was the one for you…”

I laughed him off, “Yeah, right…” and called it a night.

After sleeping on it, I felt my initial reaction was the correct one. Haunted houses are neat, but not exactly an ideal place to live. Even so, I drove by it again on the way to work.

It was a good 600 square feet larger than any of they other houses they’d steered me towards in my price range. It looked HUGE from the street. It had a two car garage. It was on a quiet street with well kept homes (excluding itself). It had an empty lot next door.

I arrived at work and called my agent to inquire about the lot next door — was it part of the property?

“The red one?”

“Yeah, the red one.”

He wasn’t sure. I heard him call out to the listing agent. He wasn’t sure either. I asked them to find out…

About an hour passed and the phone rang.

“Paul from RE/MAX is on the line.”

I took the call. He started off with his canned, “Good morning, how are you…” like he’d never spoken to me before. I really hated that. He did it all the time. Nice guy and all, but when you’ve been dealing with someone for a few months, you can drop the whole act…

Anyway, the property went all the way to the corner. It was just one lot, but a big one. I asked if the listing had been advertised yet.

“Nope, not beyond the MLS sheets.”

“Can I take another look?”

“Really? Yeah — sure!”

I went through the house again that evening but this time I didn’t treat it as a total joke…

This is the first post in an ongoing series I’m working on dealing with the large upgrade and renovation expenses involved when you purchase and live in an older home.

0 1856

Housing Slump HeadlineSo this morning I was updating my 2008 Goal percentages on the sidebar and it’s become rather apparent that my streak of positive gains in respect to net worth is going to come to an end this month.

That’s okay by me. As long as the debts continue to fall.

We did, however, spend a boat load of money this month… and there is still another week to go?!

The $1k+ spending spree last weekend can technically be cancelled out by the ecomonic stimulus check that arrived at the beginning of the month, so that’s not the reason for the pending negative report.

The plumbing repair wasn’t an expected expense, but it also wasn’t so large that it should have made a big dent.

And the vacation reservations we’ve been making aren’t really to blame either (though without them, I do believe I could still squeak out another positive month.)

It wasn’t that long ago when I said that I wasn’t feeling any effect from the housing crisis we keep hearing about but what really killed me this month was just that — the value of my home.

The Zillow.com zestimate value of my house has been plunging around $1000 each week. Not cool.

As of this morning, it’s down another $500. Down $4500 for the month. I’m not 100% certain how the zestimate is calculated, I’m too lazy to look it up, but I have a feeling it has something to do with recent sales and listings of comparable homes in the area.

Usually I’d agree that that would be a pretty safe way to guesstimate the value.

Thing is, while killing time looking at the local listings on Realtor.com a few weeks ago, I came across a home not too far from me. Walking distance, actually.

Same age, same style, and almost the same size too, but what really caught my eye was the listing price. $119k. Wow. That’s cheap.

That night, I did a drive by to take a better look, thinking the list price was a typo. $191 would be more accurate I thought.

So, after driving by two or three times, nice and slow, I noted its faults (in comparison to my house)…

It’s on a busy road, it doesn’t have a garage, and though the lot is about the same size as mine, it’s one of those long skinny ones — very little curb. It also needs a *ton* of work on the exterior.

Hmmm… Maybe $119k was a fair price (actually a bargain still, if you ask me). But when I thought about it some more, the way Zillow would factor in its listing price to my zestimate, it all made sense.

By the measurable numbers, my house is essentially the exact same as this one. Lot size is roughly the same, square footage is within 50 feet, and they’re both X-form gabled ells built in the late 1800’s. On paper — we’re the same house.

That can only hurt the Zillow value of my home.

But at the same time, it makes me feel okay about the value dropping.

The zestimate is just a gimmick guideline anyway — I know its actual value, while obviously falling, isn’t falling as fast as they’re making it out to be.

14 18151

PlumberCan I just say that I hate contractors?

Seriously, is there a reputable contractor in existence? It’s really frustrating.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve done some pretty major renovations to our home. Back in December of 2006, we had our roof done. The original roof had two layers of the asphalt shingles and these were on top of a layer of cedar shingles which were likely original to our 100+ year old house.

Basically, it was a pretty big job simply because of all of the stuff that had to be removed and all of the additional material, like plywood, that had to be added before the re-roof even started. Total bill was around $14k.

It started off great, a HUGE dumpster was delivered and dropped right in our yard and work began. After a few days though, it was as though the dumpster was an afterthought. They were just letting the debris slide off the end of the roof. I can understand that — it would be a lot easier, but they dumped probably half of the roof onto decorative shrubs right in the front of our house?!

It got worse though. I didn’t mind that the debris had ripped probably 80% of the screens in our windows, whatever, but one evening I came home and found the window on our detached garage (which was not being worked on) was broken.

I went in, and noticed some finger dust marks (the car was in storage for the winter and it gets pretty dusty) over a deep scratch on the hood of my BMW?! No broken glass anywhere on the floor. Very odd. My wife and I went all CSI and came to the conclusion that they somehow managed to throw a brick from the chimney on the roof, through the window of my garage.

From there, they went into the garage, probably crapped their pants when they saw the car it hit, and they tried to clean up the evidence. I wanted to barf. Profanity was used.

I was upset about the car. I was upset they went into my garage. I was upset that they tried to cover it up. I was upset that they killed my bushes. While the did a nice job on the roof, in the grand scheme, I wasn’t at all happy with the contractors.

Making matters worse, the dumpster remained in our yard for an additional 3 weeks — on Christmas Day, yes, we had a 40 cubic yard dumpster along side our house. It was very festive. Adding insult to injury, the construction company was stopping by a couple of times a day, driving right up on our lawn, and dumping more into it.

Sure, the neighbors probably thought we were also having our kitchen remodeled, based on the additional debris from other projects piled high above the walls of the dumpster, but in actuality, we were just the contractor’s personal landfill.

The next project was the siding project that I detailed on the site last summer. The contractor we selected had a seedy sales team, you know, were the one guy just goes on and on and on about how beautiful your wife is (while it’s obvious he’s just a dirty pig), and how she’ll love this color siding (I hope so, she picked it…), and how he was a star baseball player for the Red Sox back in the day. I looked him up. He wasn’t. Besides, I hate baseball. Nice try there, bro.

Anyway, the cost of that project was over $26k. It was supposed to take 2 weeks to complete and work began on June 14 — two weeks earlier than it was supposed to.

Things looked good — everyone was happy. And then it took a turn for the worse. They ordered the wrong window for our attic. They put another window in the wrong place. They lost an employee so they couldn’t do any work. They put the wrong header on the front window of our house. They started begging us for more money?!?!

Then the siding on one section of the house wasn’t level — and it was obvious. They put the handles on incorrectly on our front door — and the locks didn’t really work. They even chipped a piece off of the trim on the new front door. They called it a thousand dollar door — though at Home Depot, they run around $300. Either way, they didn’t hang our door correctly.

At that point I just wanted them out of our house, I didn’t care. I’d go out and buy another $1000 door just to make them go away.

In the end, the project was finally completed in October. Hardly a 2-week project. It was a 5 months of hell. Just thinking about it makes me angry.

Making matters worse, have you ever found it funny how all contractors like to take pride in how they clean up after themselves? This specific contractor still highlights that “feature” it in their ads in the weekly paper. Hmmmm… my yard still has 100’s of cigarette butts that I’m still picking up, not to mention thousands and thousands of nails that my lawnmower will surely choke on this year.

Roofing shingle fragments are everywhere, vinyl slivers, styrofoam insulation pebbles, just crap everywhere. And did I mention all of the indentations in the lawn from all of their driving around they did in our yard? No, I probably didn’t. They ruined our yard. Then littered all over it.

So what makes me bring all of this up today? Well, remember that basement plumbing problem I mentioned last week? The one where the plumbing company was coming out to give us an estimate on Tuesday?

Well, they came out and said that they call us with the estimate tomorrow. That “tomorrow” was 3 days ago now.

They haven’t called. And our house still smells like sewage.

Can you understand why I hate contractors now (or again)?

You’d think that after spending in excess of $40k on renovations that your house would be better off for it — but in reality, I’m not certain that it is…

Can You Dig It?

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