And so it begins...

Another year has come and gone and, true to the old adage, the only constant thing is change. For us here at the Where's My Head World Headquarters and Bait Shop, that change is coming primarily by way of formulating some new digs.

In the beginning, there was just a big field. Then, some idiot (that'd be me) decided that this field would be a good place to park a house. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's gone downhill from there.

A surveyor came out and marked some boundaries, we signed a bunch of papers and proceeded to put stuff in place. First thing to do was call the County Health Department (motto: "It's our job to deal with your crap.") to poke at the ground, dig some holes, play with the dirt and tell us where our septic system needed to be. They made their decree and we had four lovely, little, yellow flags that marked the corners of the septic field. I even put up posts and bordered it with caution tape to ensure that nothing could drive over it to compact the ground. Things were off to a rollicking start. That was July and I had hoped to start digging for the basement in September and have a dried in structure by late November/early December so that work could continue inside during the winter.

Then the lawyer decided to take 3 months to transfer the deed. Without it we couldn't proceed with financing, insurance or pretty much anything else.

Once that was (finally) complete, we started to deal with the bank, the Property Value Assessment office and the Planning & Zoning Board. Oh - also the Streets & Roads Department who are responsible for creating a driveway entrance. But see, they can't do that until P&Z give you an official okey-dokey address number. Without that number (aka the 9-1-1 address) we also couldn't proceed with financing, insurance or pretty much anything else. Noticing a pattern here?

So, with the help of a friend, I took out a bunch of the fencing where we wanted the driveway to go. We purchased a culvert so that the Roads guys would actually have something to do other than just pour gravel and crossed our fingers. But apparently, a 50-foot hole in the fence isn't enough to tell them where your driveway is gonna be. If, however, you have a 50-foot hole in the fence along with a 2-foot high sign with your name on it that seems to do the trick. (For perspective, this is a rural road with all of about 10 houses on it from end to end. This is far from a busy construction zone where multiple projects are going on at the same time.)

Anyway, we eventually got the magic number, the culvert got set and we were deemed worthy of at least the beginnings of a driveway if not yet the whole thing.

So now the insurance is in place and the financing is finished except for signing a few more papers - but now the weather's getting cold. So we left a message with the contractor to get their opinion on whether we should proceed as planned or wait until warmer weather returns. In the meantime, some mysterious orange lines and arrows showed up on the site. Best guess was that these were to mark some sort of utility lines since they pointed directly at a pole. Sure enough they mark the phone lines for our friends (and now neighbors) from whom we bought the property. And, of course, they run directly through the dig area and the septic field. (Nothing is ever easy...)

So we got on the phone with the phone company to request moving the lines. This is an experience that I wouldn't wish on anybody short of Bin Laden himself. Everyone we talked to told us that some other department handled what we needed. We were transfered, re-transferred and re-re-transferred. No less than three times we were referred to the company that marked the lines to begin with. I have never EVER dealt with a company that had less of a clue or just didn't care - sometimes it's hard to tell which. It was bad enough that I am seriously considering not having landline phone service if for no other reason than to never have to deal with them again. By the way, you'd think the phone company would have better hold music - especially since you spend 15 minutes or more on hold at a time while they try to figure out what they're doing - or eat their lunch - sometimes it's hard to tell which. You can only listen to so much bad chamber music before it starts to affect your mental well being. And they wonder why people get cranky. Three hours later I'd gotten nowhere.

I finally got an decent answer from someone and got an actual phone number in my area code that we could call to set up the move. I eagerly dialed hoping to get this whole thing behind me. Alas, I got a message saying that I had to dial the area code along with it. So I did. And I got a message saying that the call couldn't be completed as dialed and to try it without the area code. I tried with a leading 1, without the leading 1, with the area code, without the area code, you name it. I think I dialed my driver's license number at one point. You'd think the phone company could get dialing right. Either that or they've got some special numbers that can't really be dialed at all but that they give out just to get you off the phone when they're tired of dealing with you.

Eventually, after starting over for the umpteenth time and bringing in the folks who's phone line it is in the first place, we are scheduled to have it moved on Wednesday, January 5th. I think. I'm not holding my breath.

Oh - in response to the question of whether to delay or move ahead, this thing showed up yesterday. They assure me that it's still warm enough to pour concrete without affecting the way it cures. So we're moving ahead. Should start digging next week.

So that brings us up to date. More as it happens.

Re: And so it begins...

UPDATE: SWMBO received a call this morning from the phone company's local engineer who was on vacation all last week and walked in this morning to a fax about the whole ugly mess. (As I suspected, the local tech folks who actually do the work are perfectly nice and incredibly clueful. It's the $7.50/hr phone-answering-script-readers-who-just-want-to-get-through-the-day-and-go-drinking types that have no idea what they're talking about.) She confirmed what I already knew - namely that moving the line is no big deal so long as it's only a service line and not a main. It certainly looks to me like the main is traversing the poles and that this is just a service line that comes down the pole and runs underground from there. She said that it does, indeed, sound like that but she wanted to do some checking to try to find out for sure. Better yet, she gave us her cell phone number and told us to call her directly if nobody shows up Wednesday morning. Ahhhhhh. Deep cleansing breath. I'm still not sure I'll get a land line, but we'll see.