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Mud men and their tarps

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Written by Nancy Ranchel   
Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For an interesting change of pace, how about a shout out to all the great contractors out there! And, no. I'm not joking. Have you seen my house? It's that cool because I have awesome contractors. And because I'm a bit nuts. And the guys who work with me humor me every step of the way.

myguys1No, I'm not on drugs, and I'm not trying to blow sunshine up your skirt. But tips for finding a good contractor are for another time; today is about showing what the guys at my house are all about, and how incredibly crappy, dirty and plain old muddy their days can be.

I got pretty lucky the first time out and started working with a great remodeling firm. Over the years I don't know how many of Arciform's guys and gals have been at my house, but it's been a lot. I refer to them as the guys, as in "my" guys. This level of familiarity may sound good, but it hides the fact that I see them entering and leaving the Honey Bucket, and they see me sunbathing. They see me when I wake up in the morning. Poor guys. Nobody needs that. Nevertheless, we get each other. It took a while for the guys to learn just how much wackiness was my normal, but they've been on board for a long time. I like to think it's a good collaboration. And yet, there's an area where we don't collaborate at all.

myguys2Primarily, this: I don't get in the mud. When the guys are digging in the mud, walking in it, loading and unloading, putting up foundations and designing pathways, I ain't anywhere to be seen. This disparity was not always so evident to me. I have no ability to construct anything, but I always thought I would if I could. And maybe I would. But the mud thing? That issue just became apparent with this project. And it became apparent because of the tarps.

My house has seen extensive interior remodeling, during which time parts of my house were partitioned off by heavy plastic with zippers. Zippers. I would have to unzip to go the kitchen. But those were inside tarps. My house and garage were re-sided, and it was a somewhat complicated and time-consuming siding job, but I don't remember too many tarps. The container roof leak was discovered during rain (duh), and there were tarps covering the door during the interim. I would show off the container by leading my guests on a crab walk against the front of the container, under the hanging tarp, to the door. We could hear and feel water shushing down the tarp behind us, over our backs. Fixing that leak was a soaking-wet type job. I remember thinking, well, being a contractor definitely isn't all fun and games and hiding the microwave and drinking Rock Star.

Nevertheless, I really didn't understand the extent of the problem. You know, the age-old problem of being a contractor and working outside in Oregon in the 10.5-month rainy season. And then we started the marathon deck project. Alternatively called “the coolest deck of all time,” the guys started working in the May and June mud, had some lovely days in the sun from July 5 through Oct. 11, and are now back in the mud. They are trying to roof and side the sauna, weld railings, put in patio - all in the mud. And so out came the tarps!

myguys3The tarps are over the sauna, over dirt piles and tree branches, extending the container awning for more work space (see picture 1: three tarps in this pic), and covering the deck tower. And yet, with all those tarps, the cold and wet permeate everywhere (see picture 2 for welding under a tarp). I love these guys (picture 3), and if I could make the rain stop, I would. But I cannot. So I continue to watch from inside my warm house and marvel at the quantity of mud in my yard and on the guys. And I watch the tarps get moved around the yard to provide what little relief from the rain that is possible.

And here's the funny part. I'll throw them a big party when the job is over and feed them well. There will be adult beverages. It will be fun and raucous. (FYI, contractor parties are no-worry parties. If they break something, they always fix it.) And it will probably be raining, and they'll probably be outside checking out their handiwork half the night. They'll get muddy, but they won't care. Because it's a really cool deck. And they're really good guys who couldn't do what they do without tarps. And in Oregon, what alternative is there? Nothing would get done if we all stood in the house and watched.

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user, and blog writer.