Thursday, July 30, 2009

Building a house via the internet. In Alaska

We have been at this little old house thing for just over 4 years now. And what a whiz-bang adventure it's been too. Why, there's nothing to turn a normal, reasonable person into a screaming harpy-shrew quite like building a house with your chosen life-mate.

Have I mentioned that I live in a small town on an island enough? Because living here has turned us into the sort of scary dumpster diver hoarders that start collecting pieces of thread "because you never know." I know, I know. Life choices and whatever. But still. I'm from California (shh don't tell) and I should be able to go to the store and buy whateverthehell I want wheneverthehell I want it. It's my right as a consumer.

"Ho ho," Say the stores here in town, "Yes, muskeg harpy, you can buy this here for the low, low price of your first born and a toe. Plus a paycheck. Because, you know, we need to make you really feel that you live on an island with our punitive pricing. SUCK IT."

Sometimes we get stuck and have to pay an unreasonable amount of money for something stupid because we didn't plan ahead enough and buy it during one of our spending orgies away from our fair burg.

Now all of you out there in the webiverse are now screaming, "USE THE INTERNET YOU ZERO." Yes! The internet! Why hadn't I thought of that? Wow. What an amazing array of products and services! Huh, why does the $8 part cost $56 to ship. clicky clicky. Oh, it's because these pirates don't believe in the postal service, just UPS. Again the Island strikes again (only expensive 2-day air UPS, FedEx for me!).

Free shipping! Whee (except for those of you who choose to live in America's fake states like Alaska and Hawaii...they are not really part of America so they can take it in the shorts when it comes to shipping.)

The internet is an amazing marketplace where one can see pictures of a whole bunch of stuff without dimensions, installation instructions, or prices. Purchasing things for your house over the internet is based on faith. You hope it looks like the incredibly grainy picture. You pray they actually package it correctly and it doesn't break in either the truck or barge it has to travel on. Right now, as I type this missive, our $2000 euro-style acrylic bathtub (with flange) is on the barge to us. We hope that it comes with instructions since there are none to be found on the entire interweb. They may be in German since our tub is mfg'd in Germany. If they were in french then it would work. But something tells me that the German instructions would look like this:

halsenfrasssneeorpet (translated, place the tub on a level surface while balancing a goat on your shoulder. This is best achieved by using a Micronesian jumping long haired goat.)

See, it would take us at least another 6 weeks to get the specified goat for installation and we just don't have that kind of time. Story of our life. This is the saga of our house. We get something big, like a bathtub, but can't complete the task because some small, integral part is needed and we didn't know about it until the last minute.

We've made some gains recently, especially on the shipping. Since you can drive a truck across most of America we just have things shipped to a barge in Seattle and it magically appears at our house. It's amazing that you can put your name comma city above the address of a barge company and it gets here.

Our current problem, or problem du jour, are plumbing fixtures. There are approximately a frillion different types of shower and tub fixtures. Many of them are clearly from China with names like AwesomeBrass or Americans Best Shower and they are very cheap. Or they are very, very expensive. The tub faucet I really like costs about $1,100. The $1,100 fixture is probably exactly the same as the Chinese one but I can't tell through the magic of the tubes.


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