In 2011 we had the north side of the house re-sided with fiber cement lap siding. You can find out all about that project in the Archived PDF files under the Greenovation Section entitled "Greenovation : Siding". The rest of the house had to wait until we could afford it and the original siding told us we had better figure out a way to afford it in 2017. The panels no longer over lapped and that meant air and even water could be infiltrating the cavities behind it. Why fiber cement siding? The answer is covered in the PDF with the info about the 2011 siding project.
2017 found me immersed in the world of aging parents needing to be uprooted from their home of 56 years to an assisted living facility and all that entails. For once, I was not at the leading edge of something because my parents successfully lived in their home until all of us kids became senior citizens ourselves. Most of our friends had already dealt with these issues, the world at large had discovered the need for places where elderly people could live comfortably and relatively independently, and a new niche in construction had arisen so senior citizens could Age in Place.
With this knowledge, I evaluated our home and was happy to note that Aging in Place construction/remodeling is very similar to (or even a subset of) Universal Design. That means our home already has many positive Aging in Place aspects because Sustainable Building using Universal Design had been a driving force in the selection of the house and continues to be part of the entire Greenovation.
I also compared the costs of remodeling to Age in Place with the price of assisted living facilities and deduced that it is cost-effective to make the changes necessary to stay in my home for as long as possible.
Armed with this information, I started doing internet searches for contractors who focus on Aging in Place and found that there are few in the Kansas City area who use that phrase. One happens to be a local business in Blue Springs, which is relatively close to my location.
I contacted them and had a lovely conversation with the woman who is their Financial Concierge. She and I later had a phone meeting in which we discussed what kind of grants and other financial help is available for Aging in Place upgrades in the home. She spurred me into action regarding financing (something I always dread because we generally make enough money to live on [and therefore too much to qualify for assistance] while not enough to pay for major improvements) and after some frustrating encounters with my mortgage company, etc. I learned from my hubby that we would be able to borrow enough from our 401k to make at least a few of the major improvements (and eliminate our debt beyond our house payment… which was necessary so we would be able to pay back the 401k). This may be too much information to be sharing, but I think it is important to say it because there must be other people who are in a similar situation and you need to know that it IS possible to work these things to your benefit within legal means. Luckily for us, we borrowed before the latest stock market “check” and so sold high and are paying ourselves back with interest… meaning we did not fare as badly as we would have if we had not borrowed against our retirement funds when we did. We will be scrimping for the next 5 years (the length of the loan) and at the end of that time we will also have a nice amount of equity in the mortgage since we did not refinance it to get the money for the improvements. AND we will have enhanced the value of the house besides.
I was so impressed with the Financial Concierge that I asked her to have someone come out to evaluate what they think we need to Age in Place and provide a quote. We hired that company to replace the north porch (you can read about it here) and I hoped they would do such a good job that we would want to continue to use them for more work on the house, but alas, no.
Hiring a Contractor
Usually, I enjoy spreading the work around but the experience with the north porch contractor was fresh in my mind and it was unpleasant. I had a great experience with the Bordner crew who replaced the siding on the north side of the house in 2011 so I decided to contact them about a quote for the rest of the house.
It turns out that Bordner has been bought out (or merged or something) and is now part of a national business. They talk like they are a local, neighbors-helping-neighbors business but they act like the profits-before-people corporations. The Project Manager on our 2011 job no longer worked there (not really all that unusual) so I agreed to have someone else come out and give us a quote. He was nice enough and seemed to know what he was talking about. We decided to hire them.
He came back with samples of the cementatious fiber siding they use. Uh-oh, first red flag! It is not the same product that was used on the north side, so they would not be able to patch the area that needed it due to the new porch steps. Second red flag! The siding is prepainted so I would have to choose from their samples to get the price quoted or have it painted at additional expense to match the rest of the house. We really needed to schedule this job and so we decided to move forward. Third and biggest red flag! They only work through a financing company. We had to use it, we couldn't just give them a deposit and pay for the job when it was completed. Grrr, grumbling, we let the guy set it up (digitally, an application process) because he promised that we COULD work the finances the way we wanted.
I soon discovered that what we had applied for was a CREDIT CARD with a limit the amount of the quote. I was extremely angry. I contacted Bordner to get it cancelled, I was told they "could not". I spent a week going back and forth with the Credit Card Company AND Bordner to get the "financing" cancelled. I spoke to supervisors of supervisors on both ends and kept a paper trail just in case. FINALLY, we received proof that the account had been closed and the "hold" amount of money had been removed.
And, back to square one.
I still had the phone number of the subcontractor from the 2011 siding job since we had been given permission to contract with them to do the painting of the rest of the house. So I called Monica Hernandez and she remembered working on our house. Yes, she knew about the changes at Bordner and, yes, she was free to contract jobs directly.
By now, 2018 had arrived, so this project was officially a 2018 project. It took a few weeks for Monica's foreman (same person as in 2011) was available to come out and estimate materials etc. but I was happy to wait for someone I trusted.
They were able to resource the same materials that were used on the north side, so everything would match and the patch could be included. The lap siding would need to be painted (which is what I wanted anyway) and so the quote included both the siding and the painting. The price was within our budget and we hired them to do both jobs providing a 30% deposit (this basically gives them enough to purchase materials) and 70% upon completion. No fuss, no muss regarding payment... personal check was just fine.
The crew were scheduled to start work on March 17, 2018 and they figured it would take two (2) to three (3) days, weather permitting, for the siding. The paint crew would arrive after the siding was finished.