Sunday, September 15, 2013

Soothing taps and a whole lot of trouble - Reno day 115



This was not a great week where the reno was concerned. Finding out that there are problems with all the flooring inside and outside your newly renovated house is not conducive to a good week. Let me start with the solitary highlight of the week which involved the installation of our kitchen tap. Complete with light up hot and cold sensor, one of the gimmicks agreed on to keep Legoman happy. He has subsequently been using this as a calming tool and watching it change from red to purple to blue does appear to be rather soothing.

The remainder of this post is a whole lot of trouble. Look away now if you are not interested a ranting commentary about problems renovating. Keep reading if you plan to install a deck during rainy season or have your floors sanded and polished. You will either sigh with relief that you escaped these processes unscathed or reading this may prevent you from getting into a pickle.

Now, for snag number one. When our spotted gum decking was laid four months ago it had been raining significantly around that time. As it was being laid I started to notice lots of small black spots that looked like mould appearing on the timber. I queried the builder about them and he reassured me it was no problem, that they would wash out when they cleaned the deck at the end. Fast forward four months and as the reno winds up, he goes to clean the deck ready for sealing. And then discovers that despite using six different products that the deck now appears to look like this.






From one end to the other, covered in mould staining that cannot be removed. The builder has never seen anything like it before. The timber yard claims the rest of that batch of timber is fine and no other builders have reported issues. Apparently it is thought to be related to some sort of fungal spores that have penetrated the timber and caused the staining, probably from one of the trees in our yard. There are no easy solutions.

The deck has been installed correctly with a dome headed galvanized nail designed to sit above the timber to encourage water drainage. This means that the deck cannot be sanded back or the nails will be damaged and no longer galvanized. No one feels responsible as apparently this is just a freak environmental event. The BSA to whom we have paid insurance to cover the builders work, tell us that as this is only an aesthetic defect and not structural, there is no fault and they will not cover the repairs. The builder offers to bring out a scientific expert who for $1000 will tell us exactly which species of fungal spore is involved. Of course this will not provide any solution to the actual issue.

We attempt to find a surface product to conceal the staining  of our (brand new, permanently damaged but no one is at fault) deck. We contemplate the costs and time to replace the entire deck. Finally the builder decides that he can sand back the deck if all the nails are individually punched in by hand. He covers the cost of doing this and the deck is sanded back to remove the staining. The downsides are that we now have lots of tiny nail holes that are a risk for pooling water and a rough deck as the sanding process has removed the normal smoothness only provided by milled timber. We accept this and get on with it.

A few days later we hit floor snag number two. This is also an unlucky event however this time not due to random environmental factors and more to the messy activities of air conditioner technicians. You may remember me mentioning that we were talked out of getting the high gloss floors that we wanted and getting semi gloss instead. Then when we were unimpressed with the semigloss we told the builder the next day that we would cover the cost of changing it to gloss.

 He suggested that we wait until all the other work was complete in order to protect the final high gloss coat.  This seemed sensible and we agreed. What he did not tell us was that if any silicone based product came in contact with the floors in their current state, it would not come out with cleaning and it would then repel the top coat when it was applied weeks later. And guess what plumbers and air conditioner technicians tend to spend their days squirting around? Yep, we were in big trouble.




Both our living areas have large puddles where some sort of silicone based product has been left on the floor and has repelled the top coat. They are of course not in any inconspicuous areas that will be covered with furniture. And the icing on the cake is that someone has then stepped into the puddle and walked the product into several other rooms in the house. The floors are, essentially, a dog's breakfast.




To say we were cranky about this completely preventable situation that will no doubt cost us extra money and time to fix is an absolute understatement. The builder and floor sealer are just shaking their heads and no doubt wanting this renovation to end so they can move on to other (non cursed) jobs.

Legoman meanwhile has just been playing with his new tap and rocking himself quietly in the corner. So,  we are now waiting for the worst sections to be re sanded back and completely done again. There is talk of us sharing the cost of this three ways with the builder and the floor sander. I  just want to have my house back so we can go home. We  are now waiting another week for the floor sander to get back for this job and it has delayed moving home. Luckily we have been able to extend our lease.

It appears that we have now been out of the house so long that the wild ducks are moving in.




See, how they are using a hole in our big tree as a nest. That's the head of the mama peeking out. The dada appeared to be standing guard on the roof.




There was a whole lot of quacking going on, no doubt a running commentary on the state of our floors.

So, that is the whole lot of trouble. Feel free to commiserate with your own renovation mishaps or any other cheering thoughts.

28 comments:

  1. Oh Dear. I'm so sorry Mel, what a mess. I hate things like this happening on site. If you have a contract with your builder, he should be repairing the floors inside at his cost. It's his job to choose the sub contractors, and make sure the site is run smoothly, and to take responsibility for other trades he has employed as well. As this is completely outside the bounds of what is considered acceptable for a site defect, he should be repairing them. Outside is unfortunately just one of those things. I'm glad you've got a solution to it, but it's something that due to what caused it is not your builders fault.
    All sites have a lot of problems, and unfortunately building never has perfect outcomes. There are a lot of things on our site that I have to accept. It's funny, my husband thinks I have too high a tolerance for what is unacceptable in his view... I tend to think of my husband as like a typical client who wants everything to look perfect. Sadly, this never happens, and it comes down to what is acceptable or not as an industry standard... and what caused the issue in the first place. As an Architect, I guess I've got a better idea of what is considered acceptable. And it's actually quite low. Hopefully everything goes smoothly from here.
    Love the tap! xx

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    1. Very much appreciate your comments Heidi. I agree with you about the deck. Very annoying for us but also not the builders fault, just plain old freakish bad luck. The inside is another issue altogether and I agree that we should not be paying for it. I did think that after the previous conversation with the BSA about the "cosmetic" issues outside they would say the same about inside and we would be in the same unfortunate position. I also worry that if we pay nothing then as the builder and sanders are making a loss that they will do a dodgy rushed job. Also just dealing with these conflict situations I found very stressful as a lay person as I have no idea what is reasonable to expect. We have generally liked our builder and hope we can just get it sorted and move home. mel x

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  2. Oh Mel, I am gutted for you. (I kind of knew there was some bad news and I hope sharing it has eased the pain.) However after reading this post, I furiously went searching through your archives to see if I could spot what I think might be the actual problem (I have a hard time believing those black spots are due to fungus!) After a new timber deck has been built, it is vital to either protect the boards or thoroughly sweep and clean to remove metal filings from drilling, nailing or other construction which may cause black spots on the hardwood deck when exposed to the elements. Did your builder use metal battens on the deck roof? If so, was your deck covered up when they screwed them and the roofing in place? All those metal filings laying around on your deck will cause black spots when they get wet. I wouldn't wear any additional costs to repair this - sorry. Can't wait to see the rest of your kitchen - the little glimpse you showed today looks v. nice. xx

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    1. Metals (ie dust or filings from drilling/grinding steel etc) react with tannin in the wood to form a blue-black stain in the presence of moisture. Oxalic acid (or a brand-name timber cleaner containing oxalic acid) will remove iron stains (apparently). You mentioned that various products have already been used to clean the deck - ask the builder if he used Oxalic acid? xx

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    2. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and support Caroline. Like you I googled madly and wondered the same thing. These spots appeared on the timber as it was piled around our yard and were there prior to installation and are also underneath some surfaces. After sending the images to a separate timber yard one bloke had come across this before and said it was related to spores from a native gum tree- we do not have one but the neighbours do. The boards have been sanded and although slightly rougher now look like the original timber and the staining is all gone and we did not pay anything for this which is probably more than fair considering the builder has not actually done anything wrong. Was very frustrating for me though as I had concerns four months ago as it was being laid and if he/we had have known it was not resolvable we could have ordered new timber then and only paid extra for this and not the labour. Just all round bad luck. The inside floors are another issue altogether but our builder is a genuine bloke and wants to get it sorted. Hope your reno is going more smoothly than mine and yes it does help to share, especially when people respond as you and others have. mel x

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  3. Cranky? I'd be livid!
    But before I continue let me say how beautiful your marble looks Mel. Really, really beautiful. Just go and stroke it when you're feeling angry about the other 'disasters'

    I don't think the decking looks too bad (even though I'd be devastated and just as cross as you if it were my brand new deck!), and I'm a bit scared to say this, but, ahem...I think it adds character (don't hate me!)

    I don't know if it's too late, but (there's that word again) have you thought of using tung oil for your floorboards? The beauty of it is, you can sand little patches and re-coat as you need to without having to sand and re-coat the whole room. I have found it a really good and practical alternative, because let's face it - even the most professionally finished floors will get scratches from time to time. With tung oil you can touch up as you need to.

    I feel your pain Mel, it is so upsetting when you pay hard earned money and end up with a less than satisfactory job. It totally sucks actually.

    Now, go and stroke that glorious marble! x

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    1. Thanks Kylie, and yes the marble is awesome and since it was sealed this week and cannot be wrecked by the trades I am starting to enjoy it! The decking was worse than the picture and looks exactly like black mould, short of painting the deck which defeats the purpose of a timber deck we could not make it look better. The interior floors will hopefully be sorted this week, your suggestion is a good one but I just love high gloss hoop pine floors as they reflect all the light and trees beautifully, feel nice to walk on in bare feet which we do much of the year and is low maintenance with kids. The hard bit is when someone else messes up your house and then you are left to sort out a solution which is never as good as how it should have been. Anyway, this all happened last week ( I am behind on posts) and I have calmed down a bit since then. mel x

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  4. Mel I'm so sorry to hear of all the trouble. Could you get an independent private building inspector out for a second opinion and what your rights are? I know it all costs money, but none of this is your fault and Caroline's theory of the metal filings seems very viable! I hope you can get back home asap xxoo

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    1. Thanks for your comments. We could do what you suggested but after talking to an inspector at the BSA we had enough information to know that the builder could not be considered "at fault" and this was one of those situations that crop up that you just have to muddle through and resolve. Just a life lesson in not expecting perfection and in a few weeks it will all be water under the bridge. We are all just hanging out to go home - hopefully next week. mel x

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  5. This sounds so horrible for you. I am sending you ((((hugs)))) from here to you. I know that it will all be worth it in the end, but it would be so much easier if it could be less stressful. I hope that you are able to resolve all of the issues so that you are satisfied in the end without too much more stress. Whatever happens, try not to let the stress take the fun out of actually living there when you return! It is easy to keep remembering the tricky bits (trust me), but much more fun when you let them go. I just hope that the ducks don't think that all of this reno is for them!!

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    1. Thanks Amy, you are quite right about letting it all go. I completely agree and have actually had much bigger stresses going on with one of my children that actually help keep perspective when things like this occur. I did want to share an honest account of when things don't go well as I thought that might help others who were dealing with difficult times during a stressful reno. mel x

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  6. Oh I would be so angry!
    I hate that angry helpless feeling...it is just the worst.
    I would be right there with Legoman seeking solace in that nifty tap.
    I wish I had some solutions or even just some wise words.
    I hope that everything works out in the best way that it possibly can and that you get to move in soon.

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    1. Thanks Caitlin, the anger has settled and a week later I'm in a much more positive and calm place. Frankly many many worse things can happen when strangers take your house hostage and hopefully we will be home soon. mel x

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  7. I so badly want to type "fuck a duck!"...there I did it....I will not comment or provide advice re flooring as clearly a person who resorts to insulting cute ducks has not an iota of sense!.....but shiiiit Mel, how badly do you want to smack someone over the head!. I`ll pray to my plaster of paris jesus for you ....who knows may help. im with kylie...stroke that marble, pat it, lay on it....get your soothe on!....who knew legoman liked a disco in his sink!!.....All will be well! xx

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  8. Oh yep Al, the cranky pants were on for a good week. There were tears and some ranting. Then my mother said, you do realize there is almost a war in Syria?. Yep, point taken. mel x

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  9. oh i really feel for you! I am frowning reading all of this. we had a swarm of ants crawl onto our freshly polished floors and all become stuck as the varnish dried. when i popped in one afternoon to peek through the back doors to see my new floors all i saw was a black stripe down the entire width of the house. about 10cm wide. we scratched them off by hand and i cried at the little white bubble marks they left behind. a few days later a friends child dropped a bag of 50c pieces on the floor, dinting it in one big spot. i stopped caring pretty quickly but i know how frustrating it is. it sucks, but just think its adding more character.

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    1. Oh Elizabeth I am so picturing you down facing off with those crusty ants one by one! The first time you see it is is like a punch in the stomach, especially as despite small children we really look after things in our house. We vacillated about leaving it but felt it really was too extensive and obvious to leave and probably would have infuriated me every time I mopped until the end of eternity. mel x

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  10. Our spotted gum deck did exactly the same thing...we put it down to part water contact with rain during the build and part contact with sparks from the welding. It did wash of with a deck clean product and plenty of elbow grease. If you google it there are lots of theories about black marks on spotted gum decking.

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  11. OH NO! How shattering for you! I'm glad that you came up with solutions you are reasonably happy with, but it's so upsetting! I hope venting was theraputic, and although it may not seem like it now, soon you will be in your wonderful new home (although maybe not quite as soon as you hoped) and you will be using your lovely marble benches and fancy taps, and it will all be a distant memory. Sending hugs!! xxx

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  12. OMG what a nightmare. No amount of symbols keys will make it feel better, I know, but I may as well give it a go: HOLY F*&^%%$%^&*^***£$@%$$^ING CHR&^%£%^&*T$$^ST!!!! And BTW, commiserating hugs from me ;)

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  13. How disappointing! I hope you have a quick and affordable resolution soon.

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  14. Hugs from me too. I know how disappointing these things are. Ness (above) is right though. Once you've moved back in and you're living in the space again, all this will become a distant memory. As for your mum. Bless!

    My father walked on our newly polished floors in his dusty work boots before they were properly set. His foot prints are still there in the living room. And guess what? I don't even see it anymore. And if I don't see it, that means NOONE else ever would. But I haven't spoken a word to my father ever since (wink).

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  15. Oh no, I feel so bad for you. It will get sorted, but i hope it's not too expensive and depressing a process for you. Just try to keep your eyes on the prize. I know that's hard when you are so nearly there, but not there enough to be able to move in. It sounds like you've hit a (metaphorical) wall with this reno now. Hang in there lovely, you will have the house of your dreams. xx

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  16. Yikes! That sucks. Truly. Thank goodness for the 'you beaut' tap. I'm picturing your hubby maniacally turning it on and off during times of stress. Chin up. The end is in sight. xx

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  17. Oh Mel! This is the part where Bill Nighy comes in with his famous "sh-t bug--r fu-k a-se head and hole!" line. Why should you pay for any of the fixing up of it though? It's the inconvenience and delay of it all that is the absolute pain. It will be so so brilliant when it's done though. Hang in there. We're all cheering you on!!! xxx

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  18. Perhaps the spots on your deck are from wood sandings that have been wet(during construction) and the tannin has stained? Bummer about the floor Mel, hope the financial pain is not yours (it shouldn't be) So glad we diy, contractors sound awful. Battling rogue bush turkey here, you need a dog!

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  19. Gosh Mel that is crappy! We had a couple of glitches when we built. We are living with them and one is occasionally annoying,the other I've forgotten about. It's so upsetting when these things happen tho. The silicon disaster is just wrong. Seriously some tradies are so careless. We had our couch cleaned when we moved into our brand new home the cleaner had a mishap with his hose and water pooled all over our floorboards. He was in no hurry to clean in up! Well all the wood raised where the water had been. Lucky for him it dried out and settled but it did freak me out for a bit. Fingers crossed for smooth sailing here on in and Mel.. you are just so awesome maintaining a sense of humour throughout this post when I can imagine the grief if caused.

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