Saturday, February 28, 2015

Raise the Roof: Step Two The Preparation

See that? That was a full clothes line when I left for work that morning. Anybody else might assume that their very capable teenager decided to bring in a basket of laundry when she raided the line for school clothes but I know there is more chance of my neighbour thoughtfully deciding to bring the washing in than my teen.

I had a few moments of panic when Madeleine rang me after school to stress out that all her clothes that she had seen on the line that morning were now missing. She knew they were there this morning because she collected a school shirt, but now the dance uniform she was seeking was missing...along with everything else.

We found the answer soon enough. Our roof cleaner had been out to the house to start work that day, something I knew, but given the short notice had not put much thought into how I should prepare. Thankfully, he very kindly took all our washing off the line and into a basket we had left outside as a hint for Madeleine. He'd put it aside where it wouldn't be affected, which was a very thoughtful touch.

At the point of sale, we had been promised that the cleaning process would consist of two people, one on the roof, and one on the ground cleaning up as they went along. We were asked to let our neighbours know that the workman might be on their side of the fence to clean up any mess to ensure the neighbouring properties wouldn't be affected. Not being home to supervise the process, we can't honestly say whether this happened, however it didn't seem so. From both the mess left behind and later conversations with the tradie that restored the roof, it would seem that there were was not two people doing the roof clean, and nor do they clean the mess left behind unless the owner specifically requests them to. They also do not enter the neighbours property without the neighbours express permission. 

Our roof might have been clean, but our property was filthy. There was a black film on everything that had apparently come from the roof. When I say everything, I mean everything. The cubby, outdoor table setting, swing set, clothes line, walkways, gutters, window frames, everything. And because I didn't get home with the little ones till the light had started to fade, we followed our usual routine of playing on some outdoor equipment while I sat on the grass watching. By the time I realised how dirty it all was, the kids and I were covered in it. Fortunately, thanks to the roof cleaner, my laundry is about the only thing that wasn't covered in it.

At the conclusion of our roof restoration (more on that in my next post), we gave the tradesman a call and gently asked when he would be taking care of the cleaning. He seemed surprised, as he indicated he didn't notice anything dirty, but promised to come the very next day and take care of anything I wanted at the same time as giving us our warranty. So as it turned out I need to work from home that day in order to ensure everything was cleaned.

My Tips for Preparing for a Roof Restoration (do as I say, not as I do)

1. Remove all laundry from the clothes line!
2. Move all outdoor furniture to a sheltered location, either in the house or garage
3. Cover any delicate plants or flowers if at all possible
4. Clear the yard of any toys
5. Cover any permanent outdoor structures with a tarp

Be prepared for anything you leave exposed to be covered in the nasty black film that comes from the roof. Even after cleaning we can still see traces of it everywhere.

More to follow on the results of our roof restoration. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Raise the Roof Step One: The Negotiations

It all moved quite suddenly and unexpectedly this. 2 weeks ago we started organising quotes to repair and restore our roof. We got some quotes from locals, people recommended as great tradies, as well as some majors. Out of the blue, the company we booked with had a cancellation that left them free this week, so we are proceeding 6 weeks earlier than expected.

Before we picked who to go with, we did get a series of quotes. Every offer was a little different to the next, it was hard to compare them as no one quote was to the exact same specifications. We had some extremely low quotes, which were very simply to replace broken tiles and repaint the roof. 1 of these had no warranty, another offered a 1 year labour, 10 year materials warranty. The catch with this kind of warranty is that you need to claim on the materials warranty through the manufacturer - in this case Dulux. While Dulux is a brand I know and trust, I'm not keen on 3rd party warranties, they are never straight forward to claim on.

We ended up going with Modern, in part because their 7 year warranty is with them, but mostly because we like the process they will follow in cleaning, repair/replacing tiles, priming, coated, and double painting with some assurance that we will see a reduction in our cooling and heating costs as a result.

The proof will be in the pudding. No matter what, we had to do some roof repairs as our building inspection identified a series of problems that won't withstand another couple of rainy seasons. But we are taking this opportunity to change the colours and include the elements barrier that should reduce our bills.

I'm not allowed to share the end price (which sucks) as we agreed to keep it private once we negotiated the crap out of it, but I can share the starting price, and the first negotiated price. For those of you wondering what it will cost to do a full scale overhaul of your roof our starting price with Modern was in the higher $7,000's. (We didn't remember to write it down so I can't be more specific). Agreeing to keep a sign out the front advertising their services for 6 weeks brought the price down to around $5,900. 

Given that we are living in a gorgeous suburb, but on one of the older streets with homes around 16-17 years old, many of them home owners, our neighbours are a ripe market. No-ones roof's (rooves?) have been redone yet that we can see, but will probably start to need it over the next few years. We counter offered signage for six months and the price came down even further. What I am trying to convey by sharing (or not sharing) my end price and situation is that it is always worth doing the research on your street and counter offering, even once the usual sales pitch and price has been finished.

Our end price is higher than any other quote - but not significantly so. The inclusions however definitely feel worth the extra.

Mostly I'm happy to know that I've gotten the last of my important structural home improvements out of the way and I can start to focus on fun stuff with my next lot of savings/bonus/tax return - like an outdoor eating area.

B T Dubbs: This post is 100% NOT sponsored. Any brands mentioned have not paid or asked me to do so, nor am I remotely on their radar as a blogger.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Flare Ups and Thermomixes

Coming on the back of a renewed determination this year to manage stress and my Crohns disease is a weekend long flare up. When I wasn't paying attention work worries translated themselves into work stresses, and those combined with worrying about Madeleine's health not to mention the perpetual money planning that is forever at the back of my mind have mixed together to become my latest flareup.

For those of you not in the secret Crohn's mystery club, flare up seems to be the euphemism we use to describe any range of painful, uncomfortable, or mortifying circumstances that fall outside the range of day to day management. I tend to use it to explain away a far too intimate relationship with the toilet bowl. It's the most graceful and tactful way to explain to a semi-sympathetic employer why you suddenly need to work from home for the day anyway. As a general rule when I'm 'having a flare up' I tend to not be sleeping well as a result so working from home buys me a little more sleep too.

I fall asleep each night planning, worrying, thinking. I wake up in the morning having executed all those plans, having worked and parented and lived all night long, exhausted from the lack of sleep. Besides work being a little more high pressure than normal right now, Madeleine has been showing some worrying signs.

Over the last couple of months, we've come to realise that she was vomiting and having her own intimate bathroom issues when she ate certain foods. It took us a while to notice a trend, but eventually we realised it was whenever she ate Spaghetti Bolognaise or Lasagna. This was puzzling, because these are regular staples in our home, we would eat it at least once a fortnight, if not more often. But Christmas and holidays meant that life was busy, so I tucked away this trend to deal with on a future day and made a point of cooking something different for Madeleine if those dishes were on the menu.

When will I learn to stop postponing health issues? I've regretted it before, and sure as shit I've regretted it again. She's gone from being sick when she eats Spaghetti and Lasagna, to being sick pretty much every day. Chicken and rice, nuggets and chips, meat and salad sandwiches, pizza, you name it, she's been sick after she eats it. Dr Google and I have diagnosed Maddy with Coelic Disease because of course. Of COURSE. Thanks to me and my Crohns my kids are pretty much guaranteed to get any number of immune conditions. Right?

I'll rationalise this shit later once I've had a chance to get Maddy to a doctor. It will take a few days to get an appointment for her, because our doctor can be hard to get into, but I don't want to see just anyone at a medical centre either.

Crazy, CRAZY dreams have eventuated from all of this. Dreams that start with serious conversations in the workplace, conversations I would never have in a million years, that morph into arguing with the husband about using my annual bonus money to repair the roof instead of buying a Thermomix. Because a Thermomix is the cure for our daughters terminal disease. (Don't get all commonsense on me, I realise that even in the likely hood that she actually has Coelic Disease that it isn't a death sentence). But Husband still, obscenely, insists on repairing the roof. Bastard.

I'm grumpy. And tired. And hungry. But I can't eat, and I can't take a day off work right now. So I will work. And I will flare. And I will get my kid to the doctor as quick as possible so he can tell me whats wrong with her.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grommets 8 Weeks In

Little Sebastian had grommets put in his ears back in early December. I wasn't expecting to see big changes in him, although I've heard from so many people that their children practically changed over night once they had the procedure.

I wrote a post within a few days of the procedure and I can't say that I noticed anything in particular at the time. But 8 weeks on and there are HUGE changes.

My son is speaking in small sentences now, instead of two words tops. His words are clearer, and his vocabulary is so much broader. We can understand much more of what he is saying, his baby slurs have given way to crystal clear phrases that leave no room for doubt.

Now he's also taken an interest in various TV programs. He's never been a child to be attracted by the different ABC3 shows, it was only a rare music show that could hold his attention for a few seconds. He sings constantly, tunes we can recognise, and breaks into various medleys all day. Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney's Cars, Frozen, these are all favourites now. He actually has favourites which is incredible for a kid who had zero interest not that long ago.

I think back to us looking blankly at the specialist when she asked us if Seb had hearing problems. We hadn't noticed any hearing problems. He answered when I called him, and just how talkative did I really expect a 2 year old to be? Even though he is my third child, I still didn't notice that big a difference to the milestones he was marking compared to his sisters. Maybe if he wasn't the youngest, I would have noticed a younger sibling getting there earlier.

He's happier. More forceful in his requests, because he knows what he wants and how to ask for it. He sings and dances his way around the house, and stands up for himself verbally with his 3 year old sister, instead of resorting to biting straight away. That's the weirdest one - I've noticed a massive reduction in his biting over the last few weeks, and I can only pin it on the fact that he has another conflict resolution tool now.

Grommets for the win.