Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bankruptcy, Part 2--Procedures

A date is set up for what is called the creditors' meeting. This is where you meet up with your lawyer at a courthouse or a chosen place with a bunch of other people who sit in a room and wait to be called to come before the judge.

Now you do have to pay for credit counseling online. Before the meeting and then a 2nd class after this meeting. Be sure and check with your lawyer as to which is court approved or recommended. Then that certificate has to be sent to your lawyer upon completion.

Both husband and wife need to be there at the creditor's meeting and you can only reschedule this date in an emergency or really good reason.
Sitting before the judge, he asks you a few questions, first stating your ssn and other personal data, name and address and he asks to see your state ID. He will then ask you a few questions pertaining to your case, reason why you are filing, making sure you don't have anything extra not stated on the forms that your lawyer filled out etc.

You will have to pay court fees as well and we set up the lawyer's fee in payments which was really nice.

What is funny is that it costs you money to claim bankruptcy which is saying you don't have money. What a conundrum that can be!

So then at this creditor's meeting, this is the chance for your creditors to show up or send a letter to protest or seek to get you to keep their debt or challenge you or whatnot. Usually they do not show up and did not for us. Although we did get one company that wanted us to pay for a few items we had purchased a year before and so we had come to an agreement with them about paying a smaller amount than what they were looking for.

After this, the lawyer will file the papers as the judge signed them and we signed them and that is that. It takes about 30 days or so afterwards and then boom, done.

Credit scores fell but within just less than 30 days, the numbers rose right back up again. And then the ads and offers will arrive in the mail looking for you to sign up with them and of course those interest rates will be very high. The reason they do this is cause they all know you can't file bankruptcy again for another 7 years.

This was a painful process mostly for me as I had a hard time not paying my bills. But the lawyer made it a smooth and easy process.

Now the phone doesn't ring from any of those companies and such a huge burden has been lifted off our shoulders and it feels so strange. I did feel bad a great deal for doing that to those companies and most of them I did like and hated to do it but with having been let go like that from my job with no notice or warning, I had no choice, sadly enough. I would have paid them all off this past year if I had had my job still, that was my plan. But like all good plans you know....it happens.

I look forward to the day I make more money than I ever did before. :)

This really sunk home what my dad always tried to instill in me and I heard him and felt his presence throughout this whole process. What used to be a shameful thing however, no longer is these days. I still hated it cause of how he raised me, but there was nothing else I could have done. It was a hard lesson to relearn. Now, it's cash or saving up for what we want and no more charging anything unless it can be paid for quickly. It has slowed us down a lot as to renovations and upgrading things here but it is nice to know we don't owe anyone for what we do at this point. It's a good feeling to be debt free aside from the house and car. I learned a good and valuable lesson.

Bankruptcy--Chapter 7 or 13?

Once the decision is made that you believe you need to file for bankruptcy, there are a lot of things to think about.

Firstly, is to contact a lawyer. Be careful to not go through a 3rd party online who you have to pay a fee and then they will contact or find an attorney for you, who will then charge you a fee as well. Cut out the middle man and go looking for a good lawyer yourself if you don't have one already.
A lawyer who specializes or does handle bankruptcies is the one you want. Check and read over their reviews and references so you know what you are getting into with that person because they are going to be the key person to help you through this.

Second, stop charging your cards or accounts. You definitely do not want to be charging up your cards willy-nilly like you hear of other people doing just before they file. Only charge what you normally would. The reason for this is so that if you charge up a bunch of debt, knowing that you were going to file bankruptcy, the creditors can actually file a suit against you for doing that and it would turn into a nasty mess where you could be fined and/or do jail time for fraud. Because that's what it is, fraud. Big no-no. You can't and don't want to take advantage here as it will come back to bite you in the butt.

Hopefully at this point, you have kept a good record of all the credit cards and debt you have, including account numbers, amount you owe, the monthly payments, interest rates, balances, etc. This is all good info that you really do need to have set up on a nice Excel sheet so that you can see what you have. It would also be a good idea to write the company name of who the debtor is as well.
Plus, you should also keep track of your monthly utility bills and monthly expenses, food and rent/mortgage loan payments and how much your paycheck is month to month, both gross and net.

I always get those two confused, gross and net. The way to keep it straight is to think of it as gross amount being before anything is taken out, where as the net is after everything is filtered through the net, all your taxes and deductions are removed, this is your take home pay or what you have left in the net when you fish. :) So that should help to remember the difference between those two.

You will need to keep your back statements for everything from the past couple of months as well as tax returns from the past 2 years. Set up a meeting with your lawyer and they will go over all that you provide, earnings, debt, etc and what you are wanting to accomplish and they should be able to advise you as to whether you are better off filing chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The difference between those two?
Chapter 13 is when all your debt is taken together and a new lower payment plan is set up over the course of 5 years. You keep all of the debt etc, but then after the 5 years are up of making those lower payments, whatever debt is leftover, goes away and you no longer have to pay anything on them. Your credit is not really hurt by this too much.

Chapter 7 is usually when you lose it all and not make any payments at all whatsoever. EXCEPT! You can reaffirm some of the debt such as your car or house. What that means is that your lawyer lets the mortgage lender and car loan people know that you wish to keep their debt as you can still afford to pay it and you want to keep your house and car. All the rest of your debt, usually credit cards and project loans etc, are all discharged. The credit card companies will write it off as you could not pay your debt that you owed and your credit score drops significantly and it will become harder for you to apply for new credit cards or a car for a while or if you are offered them or approved, the interest rate is very high as you now have become a huge risk for them to lend money to. You can recover from this, but it takes a few years to do so.

Once your lawyer tells you to, you stop making payments on your credit cards if you were still doing so. All of them must stop at the same time thereabouts. Make note of who you paid last and how much as this will be asked of you later.

Also be prepared to fill out a mountain load of paperwork. It will serve you well if you keep a good accounting as I mentioned earlier in this post and keep everything scanned in and put in an organized file on your computer so that you can pull up anything you need instantly and you know exactly where it is located at. I could not stress this enough as to how much this really helped a lot to know.

Once your lawyer and you decide on a plan of action and choose which chapter best suits you, they will begin to prepare the paperwork needed in order to file.
Sometimes, you may have to wait if you have lost your job and that is the main reason for the bankruptcy, for your paycheck to fall off your job history by around 6 months. This was the case with myself. So we needed to struggle for a few months before we could file.

Stopping payments from being made for bills was difficult for me to do. I detest being late and will always be early and usually more than the minimum. The very moment these bills were not paid, the phone calls began. Followed by the emails and regular statements and letters in the regular mail. The calls became incessant. Some people suggest changing your number but as I like my number, I just let the answering machine get it and did not pick up unless I recognized the number.
This was a very difficult time period.

Once the bankruptcy is filed with the court however, all your debtors are informed that you have done this. The calls and emails and mail then begins to peter down and slack off until they finally stop for the most part.

 (continued)

The Home Depot/Breakwater & Design Fiasco

Where do I begin?
First I think I should say all the employees of the Waterville Home Depot are awesome. The manager and assistant manager? No. The regional manager? No. They seemed nice but in the end, they just blew us off. 
 
Breakwater & Design workers are all amazing and so nice! The owners? No. Rude and overcharge and don't give a crap about their customers.
 
It was a horrid ordeal we went through with these two.
When you are new to the whole remodeling side of things, it really does pay to talk to your local tradesmen. They can give you more honest pricing and steer you in the direction of local supplies.
 
Home Depot's materials, we did not feel were overly priced on the whole. Our biggest issue however was with the labor charges and that when contracting out the work, which all companies like this will do, Home Depot in Waterville only goes to one contractor who can then charge whatever they wish to and that is what you are stuck with unless you are able to do the job yourself or know local people to do so for cheaper.
 
Thus began the whole money pit freefall trip we began.
 
Perhaps this is partly a case of buyer regret, or simply naivete or just plain stupid and not knowing what the real pricing should be and also realizing we had a lot of other options in front of us. But after Breakwater & Design had begun, the workers they sent up were great. Very personable and nice, quick to show you things they may encounter etc. They were the ones who were hired to redo my bathroom on the 2nd floor. I'll include some before and after pics later on. It wasn't a hard build, no mosaics, no special patterning nor gold fixtures or anything. Pretty straight forward. No walls rebuilt, only one new one, a half kneewall put in. I was to pick out everything through Home Depot. The problem is that I was designing the bathroom in a nautical theme and they did not have a mirror that reflected that nor light fixtures so off I went to the internet and had to find them and pay for them on my own.
Now the glass doors and half wall were suppose to be on the design and project for this bathroom but it was left off without telling us that. So when the time came for that, I was informed it was 'extra' and I would have to pay more for it as well as taking even longer. I wasn't happy.
This is just one issue amongst 9 pages worth of crap we had to deal with. I'll spare you all of those sordid details.
 
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to say that if you ever make the mistake of doing anything like this, you make sure you go over that project paperwork with a fine tooth comb and make sure every little nit noid thing is detailed out, explained what the scope of work and materials were to be and the costs. All in writing, not verbal. Don't let them generalize squat.
 
What I didn't know was that I would have to pay for my own plumber and electrician.
This company was then rude to both of them over the phone and I was very angry over this as they were not their employees. But yet they were trying to demand for my tradesman to be on site when they wanted them, at their beck and call, and when they could not understand what my seasoned and vastly experienced men were doing or how things work with the plumbing for example, they were rude and cut them off. I was not pleased.
 
Another note was that this company not only ordered some materials in bulk large quantities instead of smaller ones, they instructed their workers to pick up the leftover unused portions and wanted them to bring it back to their garage for their own use!! Instead of that material and product, over $1600 worth, to be returned to Home Depot so my account could be credited. This was not cool and I felt was theft and fraud and all sorts of illegal maneuvering. Thankfully my Mr Fix-it had overheard this and warned me so I went out and inventoried the whole thing on an excel spreadsheet and called Home Depot, had them come up and get it and sign for it to be sure that it would be taken off my account.
 
As the glass portions of my bathroom were kept off the scope of their work they were going to do, I had to call the local glass company, American Glass in Skowhegan, and get them to come over and install a glass door and half wall for me. Which they did in less than a week in comparison to Breakwater and Design saying it would take a month or more and cost a lot more on top of that.
 
Plus, this company kept changing my design without my consent. It was a complete nightmare.
 
Now the workers, as much as I enjoyed talking with them, were not so perfect either but I felt they did the best they could with what they were given to work with and with no help, oftentimes it was just one person doing a job that should have been 2 weeks tops, but took over 8 weeks and didn't get done until I stepped in with the glass company. For as much as I paid, the solutions their workers came up with was the best they could do for the whole mess of the crappy designers/owners of Breakwater and Design had done. They had chosen the expensive as crap cabinets that did not match up nor fit with the sink measurements at all for one! It is just bad. The baseboard trim isn't angled right as they didn't replace the walls like they were going to or had stated on the scope of work they were going to. So it didn't match up. The issues went on and on.

Then of course as the new stain was to be put on the trim, it wouldn't match the door so they said I would need a new door, more money. They ordered the wrong size, delay. The sink ordered by them came in, wrong size, another delay and even then still didn't match up to the cabinets so the solution was jacked.
 
I got charged for everything without any work beginning including interest all the while product sat in my garage for weeks.
 
This is just some of what happened with them. Has this shown you how important your local tradesmen are yet?
 
Now Home Depot itself is not innocent either. After this fiasco was over as we were stuck and had a contract with those bozos, we took pictures and went to the manager of the Home Depot Waterville location, arranged for a meeting with him and the regional manager of this area's Home Depots. We sat in the back offices for 2 hours and I went over my 9 pages of crap and we showed pics to them too of the before and afters and the costs. Their mouths hung open and they were shocked. The bathroom was nothing special. They started to back pedal a bit by saying oh well they would of course not be able to give us the cheapest prices (WHY NOT?) and of course we'd find it cheaper with local guys. But they did say they would look into it and let us know. You could tell they were shocked at everything and felt bad. They were nice enough to talk to, but it resolved nothing.
 
For you see, the whole situation was very confusing as we made the mistake of having them do two projects at once. Therein started the whole mess.
Plus, Home Depot's computer system went down and they lost my entire account and orders as it got locked up and it all got recreated from scratch. Now I don't know how or what was on it and if it was done right or that is where the labor got doubled or what? I don't know. It was hard to tell. So much went back to Home Depot and I wasn't sure what was credited or not like the color of the paint was wrong and had to be swapped out. There was never a record for that. Never a record for anything being changed if Breakwater & Design or Home Depot did it, but if I wanted something else, I had to pay extra or submit paperwork. Even so much as to stagger the tile slightly, they almost wanted to charge me an extra $250 for that. Talk about nickel and diming me. Finally relented to do it for free when I complained, but if I had not, they would have charged me an extra $250. Whoop-di-do in the whole scheme of this mess!
 
That was just the bathroom issues!
 
For the flooring for the hallway and bedrooms, we had picked out that nice porcelain tile that looks like hardwood floors. They were holding it in their warehouse waiting for their other 3rd party installer to give me a date. But no date. They wouldn't give us a date. Said we were on a list, and they'd call when they had freed a date. My whole project was on hold due to this only to be told finally by the Breakwater & Design people that they didn't need to wait for the floors to be done, they could go ahead and start their project with the bathroom. DOH! That was weeks of waiting for nothing! I finally told Home Depot to deliver the materials for the floor (they were charging me for it for weeks and I didn't even have possession of it!!) So they deliver it and thankfully my Mr Fix-it offers to install my floors for me and gave me a price. So as I decided to go with him and I would fire Home Depot's third party installer. I called them and Home Depot to give them a chance first. I told them I needed to know by Friday what the date of install would be and if I did not have a date by that day, I would be going with someone else to install it. No word. Nothing until Monday comes along and I had already told my Mr Fix-it he could have the job and the 3rd party calls me to announce they had a date! They were going to come in September at the start of the month and then leave and come back at the end to finish. They were going to charge me $16,000 to just install it. I said nope, too late. I have hired someone else to do the job. They were like but no, we have a date set now for you, I told the lady too late. I told you and Home Depot that I needed it by Friday. I was not kidding. I have hired someone else to do the job. My Mr Fix-it did it for less than $3,000. I saved almost $14,000!! And he did a great job with it too and helped to level the one room and made sure all the angles were done correctly and pointed things out to me as he came upon them. He was amazing!
 
Yet the bathroom issues continued. It was so bad.
 
Finally, in Sept after having a meeting with the managers and a month nearly of silence, I receive a check for $2,000. We were overcharged labor by about $12,000. But this was our pat on the head or hush money I felt. When I emailed the manager to ask what that was for? I got no answer. Not from him nor from the regional manager. Silence. Crickets. I was being ignored.
 
That was it as far as they were concerned. It didn't matter one bit their 3rd party installer had done this to us. They just simply didn't give a damn. Nevermind that we had been loyal customers for years with Home Depot. Who were we? Just a small little customer in the grand scheme of things. We have 46 acres with big plans and thought Home Depot would be a big part of it but nope, not after this whole mess. I refused flatly to step foot into that Home Depot again. Nor any Home Depot if I could help it.
 
No, we would travel the extra 20 mins and go to Lowes. Which we did. Spent money and opened an account, got a whole house generator and other large items, easily worth over $11,000 that we would have spent with Home Depot. Now we also decided to look locally and make inquiries to see if we could get the lumber from closer to home and other things at the hardware stores in the nearest town.
 
Finally, I wrote an email to the CEO of Home Depot and told him what my horrid experiences had been with the Home Depot here in Waterville and their 3rd party installer Breakwater & Design. They sent me another $4k that I didn't expect to get back. I didn't expect anything at all but the lady who had called me was very apologetic and kind. She told me that she had printed out my email and read it out loud to the CEO of Home Depot. They couldn't believe it and so authorized the $4k being sent to me. The amount wasn't enough however but it was a nice gesture at the very least for all that we had gone through with them. It showed us that the upper management did care what one of their customers had gone through. It showed us they too felt it was wrong and it redeemed Home Depot to a degree in my eyes.
 
 We learned that if you want any materials, you either get it locally and if you don't do it yourself, you hire local tradesmen or if you have to get the item from Home Depot, then either you or a local person needs to install it. Don't let them hire out a 3rd party to do so. Save yourself some misery and money instead. AND! If you do want something from Home Depot, you order it yourself online, don't let them do it for you in the store. That's another nightmare.

Needless to say, Home Depot's reputation up here in the north west woods of Maine is not so good. And of course my tradesmen carried the tale to all they knew and so on and so on. It may not make much of a difference to Home Depot, they are a huge company. But I can say at least that their CEO does care. You bet your bippie he does. I thank him whole heartedly for having taken the time to hear of my experiences and trying to do the right thing by us. He and the lady who had contacted me as well as the dept employees are the only saving grace of this whole mess.
 
 

Verizon Store & New Phone Saga

So my son thought he would pick up a cheap phone at Walmart and take it to a Verizon store near us in Maine and have his old Texas number transferred to it.
When he got there, they told him that the phone he bought was a special kind of phone that he could not do that with. That he would have to wait 30 days and then pay a $30-40 fee and then they would get his old number on it.
 
I wasn't there with him as he went in with his dad.
 
He waited his 30 days without using either phone and then saved his money up and went back in there only for them to tell him that he no longer has that old Texas line and he had given it up. So he was stuck with the new Maine number that he didn't even get to pick out.
 
None of this sounded right to me and I questioned it with my son and his dad and they assured me that was what they were told. I was irritated at this cause it just made no sense as my daughter had purchased an older model phone from Amazon and we were able to just call Verizon on the phone and they were able to get her old Texas number put on it.
 
Meanwhile, after paying the fee they told him he had to pay, he was still getting wrong calls on his old Texas line and phone.
 
I get the Verizon bill in and instead of it being the typical amount as it was last month, I see it is $40 more! and I am paying for both of his lines AND for some reason they upped the data package without any permission to do so!
 
DOH!
 
So I took the chance to not get a "Sheila" (For those of you who know of the commercial reference of "Sheila" is) and called afterhours.
 
I am sure I have stated in old blog posts that whenever you need anything accomplished or fixed with a phone company, you never call afterhours or on the weekends as chances are, you will get a "Sheila" who won't know what they are doing and/or won't help you cause it deviates from their script and they are not used to dealing with problems that are outside the box.
 
I got lucky however and got an incredibly awesome guy who patiently listened to the story as to what had happened as best to my knowledge as I explained it all and then he looked into it and was like oohhhh yeaaa! Ummmm no...
 
So He ended up removing $20 off the bat for a line we should not be charged for and deleted the old line. We chose to keep the Maine number and then he gave us another $20 off as well for a whole month of us not having used it and whatnot. Plus, he also lowered the data plan as we were up to 32 G and we only use like .7
 
Yes...point seven. Not even a whole gig. The reason why is because my daughter has an older phone with no data which she prefers and my son and I live out in the boonies and in a white out area so our signal is very bad and we rarely use the cell phones as it is unless we go off the property. So yea, it was so ridiculous and why the Verizon people at that store did that, is beyond me.
 
Needless to say, that particular store, in Waterville is on my bad list and my son can't go in there or any other store without me at this point. I have a feeling they were shafting him and taking advantage of him. Either they lied, or the person who was helping him didn't know what they were doing, although he went in twice and saw two different people each time. Sadly, he paid a $30 activation fee that we know he won't get back as he should not have had to pay that as he was just moving his old line to the new phone and not adding a new line to the account. It's a hard lesson for him. But yea, I am not happy with that whole mess to say the least.
 
Thankfully the guy in customer service on the phone with me tonight was awesome and got it all sorted out for us. But it goes to show you that you have to really watch your bills like a hawk. When you see a change in the price, make sure you investigate as to why and if you can't find it, don't hesitate to call. So long as you don't get a "Sheila", you should be fine and they will walk you thru the bill and what is going on.
I have done this too when my TDS cable/landline phone bill had gone up for some reason and it did not explain it well on the bill. So I called and got it straightened out and in fact got a better deal.
 
It also goes to show that you can't always believe the sales people in the stores either. They are not always right or know what they are doing or saying. You have to be up on this type of information and how to do it, otherwise, you'll get taken advantage of or shafted. Sadly enough.
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Shocking Turn of Events

So of all things to happen, my work let me go without warning, no notice. Just done. Nothing I did they said but they decided they wanted to have the all positions moved to the inner offices and not have any independent contractors like I was. Later, I had a call from the VP who let it slip out that what had really happened was that I was making more money than the upper management and so they were a bit tweaked about it and enough to where they decided to get rid of me after 15 years.
Nice thank you after taking their sales from $50k a year to 3.2 million. The first million made, all on my own a few years ago and only increased from there on out with me training others to continue. Not to mention I was positioning to help them set up Canada and Europe, Asia, the WORLD!
Aye well...it was difficult because they treated me like an employee but yet I was not. They had a hard time with the money I was being paid. It was the most I had ever seen in my life, so far.  But it was nasty how they let me go. Sneaky, backstabbing, lying. It was bad. I maintained my integrity however as that is who I am. But I didn't appreciate it, not even saying or putting out an email saying I was no longer with the company. Nada. Pretty cold after all I did. Small pittance of a severance and a pat on the head and swift boot to the bum.

Of course their sales went down....and they went on a hiring spree, go figure that. Sadly however, their reputation was already in the toilet and it was getting worse.
Frankly, it had become very difficult to continue to work for them. The money was nice of course, awesome, but the job itself was boring and a cure for insomnia. There was a lot of shady things going on, sad things, and to me, I felt they had lost sight as to why the company had been created, to help people. It felt like it had all become about the almighty dollar to me. Plus there were a couple people who I was stuck workin with that were constantly trying to blow out others' candles in order for their own to burn brighter. So much for their motto of 'together we always win'. That was not the case.

I have been asked by friends if I would ever go back. No. I couldn't go back after how I was treated. The money would never be the same I am sure and nah. I felt so freed afterwards. Like a burden or heavy weight had been lifted up off my shoulders. It was hard at first, the bitterness over the shabby treatment coupled with the shock of 15 years of loyalty being flushed. It hurt.

I wasted no time however and quickly put together a great resume with the help of a good friend and got it out there. It appeared for all of my credentials and skills however it hurt me that I had let my certification go for the medical assistant degree and that I had been working from home for 15 years. Nevermind the sales or what I had accomplished for this prior company. Being out here in the deep woods of Maine, a state where the economy is not too good and that I am far from most towns, it made things difficult.

Before I was let go, oddly enough, I had joined an essential oil company, doTERRA. I had planned to purchase the essential oils at wholesale prices and make things with them and then open an Etsy shop and sell different items on the side along with Halloween props and who knows what all. Toss whatever I made up against the wall and see what sticks or sells best. I knew I wanted to eventually set myself up for something I could do in my retirement.

But, as I was contacted by the lady I had joined up under, my whole world opened up and I decided to begin to sell doTERRA essential oils as a Wellness Advocate. Ever since, I have been learning a great deal about essential oils and the benefits thereof. It's been an amazing journey thus far! (This warrants a blog post of it's own!)

Sadly, the severance pay however from the last company did not last long.

I had written to the CEO of Home Depot to let him know about what had happened here with the renovations, the whole fiasco with the bathroom and floors. He ended up authorizing a check for 4k more in return what had happened but of course that did not last too long either.

The bills were too much. It was getting on towards autumn and winter was around the corner, there was fuel to get. What could we do? Resume was sent out dozens of times but no. Even went to a job fair, no.

Many places were too far away and did not pay enough. There was of course no way that any could pay me what I had been making before. And then, doTERRA will take a while to build.

Eventually however, I -could- make as much if not more with doTERRA, but being that most of my friends are scattered around the world and not in my local community, as I just moved here and didn't know that many people, it would prove to be more of a challenge for me.

There was no other choice but to file bankruptcy. (to be continued)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Importance of Getting Your Own Tradesmen

It has not been easy to find local tradesmen who would come out this far in the country.
 
Tradesman, a person engaged in trading or a trade, typically on a relatively small scale, ie: craftsman, workman, artisan.
So in otherwords, I needed a local electrician and plumber and I really needed a good general contractor or go-to guy, hence, Mr Fix-it!

The first thing I did was look up the nearest town my place would be at and found a website and there it listed all of the different people for different trades. This isn't many as this is a very small town and not even grid like streets. Every place is spread out along different roads. It's not like a city or town that has buildings all set up next to each other along one street.

Searching on the internet was not easy as it came up with special services that would try to find you someone or give you a number to someone but all of those I had tried just led me to people who never called me back or answered their phone or they just were too far away.

I got lucky as the town here listed two electricians. I tried the first one listed as the 2nd one said 'Master Electrician' and I thought he might be too expensive. Well the first one didn't answer his phone and never called me back so I didn't wait and called the 2nd number and wha-la! he answered and we talked briefly and set up a date for him to come out and take a peek at what I had going on.

I mostly wanted the electrician because of the house inspector we had who pointed out several weird things going on that he recommended an electrician look at. Also it's a good idea to get in contact with your local service/trademen so that if something goes wrong, you know who to call.
 
On top of all of that, this house was built in 1978, so it's fairly old already and a lot of the codes back then are not the same as today's standards. So it would do you well to bring the house up to the current codes of today and make sure to identify any issues that may need to address now versus later or when it's too late and you have a major issue on your hands.

So I got in touch with the Master Electrician with Hillside Electric and he came out and took a look and we went over the house inspection report for all the electrical work and I ran down a small list of things I knew I wanted done off the top of my head. He gave me an estimate as to how much it would be and we identified what was more priority than others and then he set up a date and time he could come out and begin to work on them.
 
WOW! I was so excited that I finally got someone to come up AND he is not that far away either!! JACKPOT! On top of that, he was able to give me the name and number of a local plumber and a contractor. I was so excited! The Master Electrician also did not cost me an arm and a leg, he kept his prices reasonable so I absolutely adore him! He's wonderful! Friendly, personable, quick wit and great sarcasm, he is a pure joy to have him work with you on whatever you need. He is very honest and will take the time to explain things to you as well. I just couldn't ask for more. Because of all of that, he will be my electrician for all projects in the future and I would highly recommend him!

My first concern was the electrical system as I wanted to be sure it was taken care of, but after that got squared away, I called the plumber. I noticed that my kitchen faucet was leaking and also I had no garbage disposal.  So John Maynard, the local plumber came out and tho' he charged a lil more than Paul, he was great! He remembered the last time he was here in this house, 1987. He was really brilliant! I loved that he came up so quick and is local and gave me straight, no-nonsense information. He took his time to explain about what I did not know. Very kind and patient man, understanding.
 
What made this even better was that I was able to get a Mr Fixit--handyman through the electrician to come and help me with some of the other items in my house. I also found out through all of these men, just how much things were suppose to cost. I realized then, just how much I was being overcharged by Home Depot and their vendor/installer, Breakwater Building & Design. I'll get into that later as to what a nightmare it has been with them. I just wish I had talked with my local tradesmen a week before I got involved with Home Depot and Breakwater, it would have saved me thousands of dollars that I was ripped off.
 
In the end of this fiasco with the big companies, was the true pleasure it has been in working with the local guys. They are fairly priced and will treat you right. Friendly and forthright, all of them out here in the country are handymen and know how to fix most anything and if they don't, they know who they can recommend to you to get it done and not cost an arm and a leg.
 
Gotta love the local boys! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Remodeling Bathrooms

As we had an approved Project Loan with Home Depot with a 7% interest rate, I saved it to use for both of the bathrooms. I figured we could get both of them done with the 20k that was approved. So started the ardurous task of picking everything out, including the grout color! It was insane and took up a lot of time even with me being as decisive as I am.

I realized what we were looking to do, was even more extensive than having the house built for us in Texas was. Changing things around took a lot more thought and strategy and planning than the whole house.

One thing Breakwater recommended was for us to get our own electrician and plumber, someone local for both of those trades. I already was planning on that anyway what with the inspection report we had done before purchasing the house. Breakwater said that it would be cheaper and easier if we used our own guys. Made sense to me.

So we picked out everything for both bathrooms only to realize it was really just the 2nd floor bathroom we HAD to get done before the floors were installed. The reason being is that with the 1st floor bath, we did not have to worry about getting to the plumbing to move it around as we had a full basement with a drop ceiling and so could easily get to it. So all attention was placed on the 2nd floor bath.

I then had to wait for HD to send it to Breakwater to get an estimate. Days go by and then I get a call from HD saying I needed to go down and pick something else out, so off I'd trek to HD an hour away to pick out whatever I needed. Then Breakwater would call me and tell me the whole design of the bathroom shower probably won't work because of this or that so I have to redesign it over the phone with her. Then I get a call from HD that I have to explain to her what we did and it just went around and around like this for weeks. WEEKS! I was not happy. All we needed was a 3 way conversation and we'd have it done. I am very decisive, it doesn't take long, I am not that picky, I just need it done at this point. Finally tho', we get everything, HD sends it to Breakwater and we then again have to wait for them to send over an estimate.

After it was all said and done, the final cost was over $29,000!! Holy smokes! We had to apply for the project loan to be larger and that was approved. But that was for just one bathroom! WOW! I thought I could get both done for that amount and actually less! It was a huge awakening, rude one at that. But, knowing we didn't have the money to put out at all for the renovation so the thought of being able to finance it all and at just 7%, was really enticing. It was still overpriced. We were able to whittle it to 28k but that wasn't that much better. But after all the trouble we had gone thru already, we decided to go ahead with it, as crazy as that is but we were wanting it done right and professionally.

They had told us that they could not set up an install date however until I had received the cabinets and I would have to inspect them all. If everything was as it should be, I was to either email them or call them and let them know and then we could set a date. This didn't happen.

Meanwhile, we have moved 3 trucks up here from Delaware, all of our stuff, packed into the 5 bay car garage, beds crammed into the house, the queen in the living room! Clutter everywhere. We have been living in this mess and limbo since June 6th and it's now August 2nd! Almost 2 months waiting for them to get their act together.

Luckily, Breakwater did NOT wait for the cabinets to come. Good thing as they STILL have not arrived yet. So Breakwater started a couple weeks ago. Finally. They started to tile the shower yesterday.

Now, the workers are awesome. I can't complain. Not one bit. They are amazing.
The owners however? I am not happy. See next blog post on "The Importance of Getting Your Own Tradesman".