We’ve gotten ourselves into a Groundhog Day type loop and I’m not sure we’ll ever get out!
A couple weeks ago we learned from Lupe and Rocío that they were having significant problems with their house situation. We knew that would be coming because they weren’t following any of the advice (esp. legal advice from a good lawyer) about how to deal with going through the purchase and construction process. Things were starting to fall apart.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but the immediate issue was that the electricity they were borrowing from the neighbor was 220V not 110V. This they seemed to know, but what they didn’t know was that their electric bill instead of being around 40 or 50 pesos as they’ve usually experienced was around $1,200 pesos! They didn’t know that the 220V was more expensive (and it damaged a few things as well!).
So, Beth took Rocío to the local electric company to find out what needed to be done to get it done correctly. (They also went to the water company because their water source was cut off and that needs to be done correctly too…and that’s an even longer and more complicated story…and will be a very expensive one should they ever get everything in place to get water service which they desperately need!) They needed a concrete post constructed with a couple of meters and a metal pole that could receive the wires and then for those wires to be run to the house about 100 meters away.
To get the post built correctly, Beth looked up the contractor that did a lot of work for the community center years ago and seemed to do good work with concrete and apparently he fixed something here at the house last summer when we weren’t here but Beth’s mom was here. So, Lucio the contractor and David the son-in-law came and we took them up to Lupe and Rocío’s house to show them the situation and last week they did that job (we paid for it b/c by this point, Lupe and Rocío are out of money). That was about $125 USD but a good investment with which to help them.
While we were discussing that job, I realized that our house has needed electrical work since about day 1 of living here in 2005! We’ve never had success in getting much done here with various workers, so if Lucio can do this kind of work, surely he could handle our job here. He assured me that he and David could do it and they know exactly what to do and how to do it.
So, this Tuesday they came to get to work on the electrical issues. However, the shower that Dayton and I use in the main bathroom developed a leaky faucet gone rogue that has been a problem for quite awhile but was manageable until a couple days before Lucio and David arrived for the electrical job. So, they looked it over and looked over the electrical work and made a list of things and said they could come back on Wednesday to get to work. In the meantime, I had expanded the list to a few lighting issues, the entire kitchen issue, the grounding issue, and a toilet base that was leaking and presumably needed a new wax seal.
Yesterday, the electrical job began…as a plumbing job! Once the wall was torn into, it was obvious that the original design was unusual and would require a different approach than is normal but not too difficult to do. I took Lucio to a couple of supply stores that he normally buys from and bought about $250 USD in supplies. David was busy fixing a bad bathroom light in the master bathroom (that hasn’t worked since 2005 or so), checked a bad light in the bathroom of Beth’s mom upstairs (turned out to just be a bad lightbulb!), and then fixed an oddly/poorly designed switch and outlet in the guest room (how do you plug something into an outlet that the metal door to the room opens right into whatever is plugged in?!?). David was able to keep the switch there and moved the outlet to another location. Mind you, this is all concrete/brick walls so this means chiseling and banging and drilling.
Finally, the shower was up and running except there was a problem with the cold side and that faucet (a brand new part!) would need to be replaced internally (but he said it doesn’t cost much and he’d take care of it). In the meantime, we were to use the hot side and take showers to see if there were leaks before he uses concrete and puts the tile back. Of course, there were two leaks so today, instead of working on electrical stuff, Lucio ended up fixing the two leaks.
The bathroom (and ironically the kitchen a mile away…somewhat figuratively) are on the same water line and there are two hand valves outside that bathroom up along the stairwell to the 2nd floor. These have always been a bit aged and haven’t opened and closed easily, began leaking…profusely. They finally wore out. So, late this afternoon when they were about to leave, Bethie and I went walking to find a store that could sell me two particular valves for this new plumbing project. We managed to find them and enjoyed a smoothie on the walk home as a reward for nothing in particular.
Meanwhile, David did manage to replace to our our three circuit breakers (the old ones were horrible and probably damaged…not to mention they noted that they were a really cheap brand…the owner of this house doesn’t realize it but he does everything exceptionally cheaply…and typically poorly). He also managed to ground our circuit panel which hasn’t been done correctly for since before we moved in here. Progress!
Tomorrow, the extra plumbing job hopefully will be completed and the final electrical job will be at least started. They will replace the kitchen circuit breaker and then run a better set of wires (all the wiring in this house is too thin…re-wiring the house is the ultimate solution but we’re looking at something in the thousands of dollars…no can do) and a separate ground wire (b/c 3-wire just doesn’t seem to exist here and the system isn’t set up for that). They’ll run a flexible, waterproof conduit up on the exterior wall, across part of the roof, and then down to the outside of the kitchen, and then run it to all the outlets in the kitchen. This will mean we’ll have a grounded kitchen with proper wiring for our fridges, the microwave, the washer and dryer, and all the smaller appliances we have in there. What a great thing this will be!
Oh, and once they’re done with that. I need to have them re-seal the roof (it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to do it), and once they’re finished with that, then whatever I haven’t finished with the repainting of the house, they finish that too! My health has not been good these past few weeks, so having these guys work us into their schedule has been a rich blessing. And labor is pretty reasonable here. They worked about 10 hours apiece so far. Cost of labor to-date for 20 combined hours: $65 USD. I can’t afford NOT to have them do work for us! 🙂
There you have it, the electrical/concrete job that turned into an electrical job that turned into a plumbing job that turned back into an electrical job that will hopefully turn into a sealant job and finally…dare I say “finally”?…a painting job. It’s all so simple!