Homestead

Crazy April – Managing the contractors

Spring is the time for building a barn and fencing our pastures! Our little homestead will be completely transformed, and it took hours of drawing and planning and months of researching in order for this to come together. But, it’s funny how things work out. Managing a big job like this on a budget is tough because I sourced the work out to smaller contractors that were knowledgeable but still small-time guys that didn’t charge an arm and a leg like bigger companies would.  And when you go that route, you have to be patient. Let me give you the condensed version of the craziness.

I had been waiting for my grading contractor to return to do the final grade for the barn pad. While he left the barn site itself flat, there was a steep drop on the back side of the barn where the dry lot for the horses was planned and a very steep section leading up to the barn (where the future barn driveway is planned). Grading Guy was supposed to show up the last week in February to fix this. This is after I had been emailing and texting him since November. Every couple of weeks I would send him a text or email asking him when he would get to our job. He was giving us a good price and had done all of our previous grading work, so I kept hanging in there and waiting for him to set me date – finally he said the last week in February. Fencing Guy was scheduled to begin the first week in March, (after Grading Guy was supposed to be finished). Barn Guy was scheduled to begin March 29th. So, I thought finally it was all planned out.

Yeah right. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you know you are in trouble! Fencing Guy delayed due to rain, and then again, due to rain, and then again. Grading Guy was MIA – I had no idea if he was actually going to do the job! I kept trying to emphasize to Grading Guy that his work had to be done before Fence Guy could start. And I would say in my message, “the fence is starting this Monday so please plan to be here before that”. But then, Monday would pass and Fence Guy had delayed and I had to leave another message for Grading Guy since he hadn’t responded. Inevitably, my threats didn’t hold much weight since Fence Guy kept changing his date. Barn Guy had to delay a week due to weather- but at least I got a head’s up and they only made one change to my start date – I could deal with that!

I completely understand that when your work can’t go on when the ground is wet, delays are inevitable.  Check out the wheels on this tractor.  If this (relatively small tractor in the farming world) drove on the grass when the ground is wet, it would totally rip up everything and leave huge tracks.

“The tire is bigger than me!”

We can’t control the weather and in Spring, rain it is. Regardless, my little plan wasn’t working the way I thought it would.

So that brings us to April 3rd. The material for the barn was dropped off! So far, that was the only thing I knew for sure was going to happen.

All the material to build our 24×48 metal pole barn

 

I call Grading Guy to tell him to move his bobcat off the building site since the barn was going up the next day. I didn’t say anything else to him. At this point I had reconciled with the fact that he wasn’t ever going to do the work – I just wanted him to move his machine.

Bobcat is here, but where is Grading Guy?

But he must have sensed I was at my limit, because he quickly said he was planning on coming tomorrow. (um, okay, I’ll take it.)

Well, it turns out that EVERYONE shows up on the SAME day. April 4th was the most crazy, crazy day I have ever experienced! Grading Guy, Fence Guy, Barn Guy, plus our home builder’s warranty had lined up multiple contractors to fix issues on the inside of our home (plumber, hvac, windows, painter) – all on the same day. No, that was definitely NOT my plan.

I found out, that as much as I thought I was ready for everyone – I was not. Although I had walked the future fence line so many times, I wasn’t sure exactly where to put gates and how much space I wanted to fence for our garden.  I had bought a 100 pack of property flags so I could mark the area and get a visual for how it would look. So in between checking in with every contractor that day, I was crazily sticking pink flags around the property and trying to decide the final details. I also was disappointed because when Miss Utility marked the power lines, I realized that along one road the lines ran exactly where I wanted my fence. It was tough having to make a decision when the only decision I wanted was not an option. I felt like a child throwing a silent tantrum that delayed my decision making.

Those darn red utility marks!

 

Usually, I watch carefully when we have people fixing items in our home, to make sure I am happy with their work before they leave.  But today, I had to let go of that and trust they were doing a good job.  Early in the morning, I called my mom to come and keep my company.  Not that there was anything specifically she could do to help me, but I wanted someone just to be there with me through the craziness. I am so lucky to have family nearby!  So she came and watched the circus unfold and made me tea – that I carried around but didn’t have time to drink.

Somehow I made it through that day.  And two weeks later, so much has changed here on our 7 acres! We now have a barn and fencing (mostly complete) and we are very close to welcoming home our very own farm animals.  I can’t wait!

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