Sunday, August 28, 2011

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.


I worried about a lot of things before signing my life away for the Frankenstein House.  One thing I  didn't pay much attention to was the front door.  I noticed that it existed, and that it opened, and that it closed with some difficulty.  But with everything else going on, that was the end of my door thoughts. 

Doors.  Who cares?  

I'm just a door, in the world.

Just to be on the safe side, before I moved in, I looked up doors online at Home Depot.  The ones I liked  cost a couple hundred bucks.  Great!  I thought.  I'll deal with that later if I have to, and it'll be no big deal.

So, as with a variety of other things, I was wrong about that.  

Not long after I moved in, of course, I started to notice things about the front door.  Frankenthings, if you will.  I am not an inordinately tall person, but the doorknob was at my lower hip.  The door also didn't fit in the doorway very well; I had to pull the door to the left, and then shove it hard to get it to close all the way.  When I did that, the front windows rattled their displeasure at being disturbed.  The door's white color turned out to be paint, which had the feel of plastic coating, and started to peel off and reveal shards of bright red underneath.

But, I kind of thought-- oh well.  That's what I get for not paying attention to that, I guess.  That'll just have to be what it is for a while.  I can live with it.

Then, the bottom of the door fell off.
  

something is missing...


oh, it's the thing that goes at the bottom of a door,
that thing that keeps outdoor things from walking in.

The door had been eaten by termites, and so the wood could no longer support the screws that held the bottom thing in place.  I know that bottom thing has a name.  Sweeper?  Not that.  But you know what I mean.  The door was wood, and even though the sellers had paid for termite fumigation as part of the terms of the sale, it hadn't been done soon enough to prevent the door from being someone's tasty last meal.  


The fear of bug incursions motivated me to quick action.  I went immediately to Home Depot, expecting to spend that couple hundred bucks.  I was sure it couldn't be much more than that to have a door installed.


So, as you perhaps expected, I was wrong about that.


I couldn't get a standard size door off the shelf at Home Depot-- or rather, I could if I wanted to, but I'd have to find a way to make it fit the non-standard doorway dimensions of the Frankenhouse.  The other option was to have a custom door installed.


I figured-- well, this is not the time for DIY.  I could see that the sellers, in a laudable attempt to save money, had DIYed (DITed?) the door, and that had resulted in the door's less-than-charming array of Frankenthings.  So, I decided to go ahead and jump in for my first major house purchase: a much-more-expensive-than-anticipated new door.  I located my nearest bullet, bit it hard, and consoled myself with the fact that I really liked the new door design.


When the installers came, a father and son team, I was working from home and was watching their every move.  I'd been told to be suspicious of Home Depot and its contracting ways, and so I was on High Paranoia Alert.  I noticed that they hadn't put up any bags to catch flying debris, as they should, per EPA regulations given the age of my house.  Surreptitiously, from my dining table perch, I photographed them as they worked.  Let's take a minute for that to sink in-- I took pictures of them.  I did that.  Who does that?


When the project coordinator called to see how everything was going, I yelled: 


I WAS TOLD YOUR INSTALLERS WOULD TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS AND THEY HAVE NOT DONE SO AND I WILL NOT SIGN THAT I AM SATISFIED UNLESS YOU GET ME AN EXPLANATION.  ARE YOU GOING TO PAY MY HOSPITAL BILLS WHEN I HAVE LEAD PAINT POISONING OR MESOLTHELIOMA?  I MEAN, NOT TO BE TOO DRAMATIC, BUT THIS IS AN OLD, LETHAL HOUSE!  IT *WILL* KILL ME.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND?


The project manager said she would call me back, and hung up quickly.


Before the installers left, I asked them why they hadn't put up any protective bagging around the door as they worked.

Well, the Father of the pair said, looking startled-- we didn't really cut anything.  We made one cut to the wood on each side of the doorway, and we vacuumed the debris from that.  Other than that, all we had to cut was nails.  It didn't make sense to put up a plastic bag to make 2 cuts.  Sometimes, the EPA goes too far.

I had seen the nails, sticking out every which way in the guts of the doorway, and I could see why he would have had to cut them.  But I also felt like -- I have no idea whether it makes sense or not to put up a plastic bag to make 2 cuts.  When someone tells me they think the EPA goes too far, that triggers the first alarms of Paranoia Alert.  And even though I was taking pictures, I have no idea how many times they actually cut into the wood of the door frame.


I felt like all I had to go on was what this Father was telling me.  He seemed genuinely surprised that I was worried that he hadn't put up a plastic bag around the doorway.  

The High Paranoia Alert died down.  I signed the papers.  I felt silly for the surreptitious photography.  The Father and Son went on their way.  I called the project manager and explained what I had been worried about.  She still sounded like she was little a bit afraid of me.  


And there is so much to fear!  So much to fear, potentially and actually, in owning any house, and particularly in owning this house.  Things you didn't even expect to be dealing with or thinking much about can become opportunities for yelly paranoia.


But!  After all of that, the front door:

fake leaded glass, like these windows.
yes, the light switch next to it is crooked.
pretend you don't notice.  thanks.

I can shut it now!  Without having to reach down six inches and pull to the left and heave, without window rattling, without leftover paint and misplaced colors.  I like it!  And of all the things to be afraid of, I am no longer afraid of bug incursions, or of the door being eaten away.  This door is fiberglass.  Fiberglass is nobody's snack.


But...fiberglass is basically plastic, right?  Doesn't plastic cause cancer?  And if I start to show signs of lead poisioning...maybe I should start saving now to cover all the hospital bills?  


Oh well.  In the meantime, I have to say, I'm very much enjoying shutting (and opening!) my lovely new front door.  

2 comments:

  1. Very pretty door. The light switch reminds us that it's still your frankenstein house regardless of any new front door finery you install.
    Love it.

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  2. I hadn't thought about it that way, but I like that- the crooked light switch keeps it real!

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