The Front Door Saga

My husband and I recently discovered that we need a new front door. It’s been sagging a bit for a while, and rain sometimes flows in underneath it if the wind blows in just the right direction. When my dog jumps up against it to say his hellos as we are unlocking the door, everything kind of wobbles and shakes. About a year ago, we replaced some of the moulding around the door — near the bottom, where the water seems to collect and pool up a bit when there is a hard rain. The moulding we spliced in is now a bit rotted and sort of coming up in places. I mean, it happens. Things wear out over time. Even things like doors.

No big deal, we thought. We would just have a contractor come out to measure, get new wood to reframe the door, and then rehang our current door (which is metal and still perfectly good). Yeah … Not so much. It turns out that getting a new door is going to be a much bigger ordeal than either of us expected.

Our front door isn’t just a door that’s hung and surrounded by moulding and framework. The framework, sidelights, door, and all the moulding around them are one big piece. Like, the WHOLE THING is our “door”, not just the part that swings open and closed. When the contractor comes to change out this door, it’s basically going to feel like he’s taking a big chunk off the front of our house. Just thinking about it leaves me with visions of a gaping hole where my door should be, like when kids lose their two front teeth and things don’t look “quite right” for a while.

When we went to order the door, we found out that, because it’s all one big piece, our door counts as a “custom order”. So, if the measurements are wrong and the door doesn’t fit, we can’t return it. I never thought about this before needing a new door, but doors are expensive. This is a large purchase. Just to give you an idea, we could buy some extremely nice jewelry for the money we are spending on this door. Or, like, a gazillion bottles of nail polish. What I’m getting at is there is now a tremendous amount of pressure to feel that we have the measurements “just right” so that we are not tossing away thousands of dollars.

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We did the usual thing and got contractor recommendations from friends in our area. We found a guy who seemed decent. Our friends said he was reliable. What they should have said is that he is reliable for a contractor. Because I think “contractor reliable” is a completely different thing than general, dictionary definition reliable. I have never really hired a contractor. Actually, I take that back. We did hire a guy once, to do some work on a leaky window in our house. And he was supposed to come back and do some work on our deck, too. He fixed the window. But then, he completely disappeared off the face of the earth and never came back to work on the deck.  At the time, I thought we just had bad luck with this one guy. Now, I’m beginning to wonder.

Things started out pretty much okay. I contacted our prospective contractor. I explained the job to him. I asked him for an estimate. He agreed to come out and measure in order to give the estimate to me. He actually did come out and measure, as agreed. He told me our door was one huge piece that included the sidelights and everything, and that we couldn’t replace just a part of it. But he said we could order it from Home Depot, and he gave me a pretty decent estimate for his own work. It fit within our budget, anyhow.

Yay (!), I thought. I figured we had gotten lucky with this guy, and that it was going to be smooth sailing. I was feeling quite smug and patting myself on the back over this. It felt like the universe was lining itself up just right, and that we would have our new door in no time at all.

Yeah … WRONG! After our initial meeting, which I thought had gone so well, this contractor also dropped off the face of the earth. I texted him to ask for the measurements and/or any advice on how to order the door, and I didn’t hear back from him for days. When he did finally text back, he didn’t answer any of my questions and only gave me information that wasn’t at all helpful. He never told me the measurements. I texted again with my same questions and heard nothing. I called his work and mobile numbers. Someone who didn’t speak English answered the work number. This didn’t help me because I didn’t speak that person’s language, so there was a complete break-down in communication. I called the mobile number, but he didn’t answer. I texted again. And again. And again. Basically, I felt like I was stalking this person, begging him to take my money. It was like a series of really bad dates, after which the person on the other end decided to ghost me. I started wondering if there was something wrong with my money. Maybe it wasn’t green enough. Maybe it didn’t look “money-ish” enough. Maybe, maybe, maybe …

But no. In the end, I don’t think it had anything to do with me or my money at all. I talked to friends in several different states (via FaceBook, of course … because I’m old and “not cool”), and they told me about their contractor experiences, all of which were eerily similar to mine. At this point, I concluded that all contractors are mad as cats. Which made me feel like less of a failure. But wasn’t going to get my door fixed any sooner.

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I finally had to go all “bad guy” on the contractor. Which, if you knew me at all in real life, you would know is just not “me”. I am a total softie and typically really even-tempered. It takes quite a lot to push me to the point where I’m willing to open up a can of virtual whoop-ass on someone. Not that my “whoop-ass” is ever very scary, anyhow. But, you know …

Whatever the case, it worked. The contractor now texts me back almost immediately after I text him. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. I think it’s more of a double-edged sword kind of thing. I mean, it’s great that he gets back with me right away. And that he answers my questions. But I have a feeling he’s only doing it because he thinks I’m nuts. Oh well. Whatever gets the job done, right? Yeah, right. This is what I’m telling myself, at least.

We ordered the door a couple of days ago. My husband is still freaking out over the measurements. The contractor came back out to measure again, so that makes twice that he measured everything. He went to Home Depot and had their door person put all the measurements into the computer for our order, and we ordered based on that. My husband has now measured the door four times on his own. Each time, he comes up with different measurements. At this point, I’m not sure if the door we ordered will fit. It feels like a huge leap of faith in many ways.

For my own part, I’m feeling pretty much “done” with the whole ordeal. I’m about ready to take down our current door, tack a sheet of plastic over the opening, and call it a good day’s work. I bet our HOA would just love that.

 

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