Sep 17

House Update – Paint and Damn Drains

I’ve been posting a lot about the show recently, and not much about the house because I was in Canada and relatively removed from the process.


The good news: it’s almost done.  Everything is installed (the air conditioners went in today), put up, and painted.


The bad news: the electrician is obviously either an idiot, lazy, or just doesn’t listen.  He didn’t install any of the electrical outlets in the office the way I requested (earthed, with twistlock-style 3-prong plugs).  One outlet I’d requested at 40cm off the ground and he installed it at what must be 140cm off the ground.  Even a couple things he suggested himself (four outlets on the one behind my computer desk for one) didn’t get done.


The bad news: Japanese painters apparently are used to painting exteriors only.  The paintjob inside the house looks like it was done by me,  I think there are maybe 5 straight lines on the entire first floor!  One of the walls in the living room is painted so thinly you can see the roller strokes.  Plus there are lots of little brush mishaps, which Tsukide-san was going around fixing on his own (we’re lucky we ended up with such a conscientious guy as our main renovator) on Wednesday.


The bad news: remember that drain I mentioned in my last post?  The trough-like thing that runs around the west side of the house and drains all our first floor grey water?  Well, it was plugged.  Good and plugged.  We ran a test by emptying the bathtub (it had been filled by the gas company to check that the water heater was working properly) and it absolutely backed up.

We started cleaning it by pulling off the concrete covers and shovelling out the silt and other junk that had built up over the years.  That worked until we realized that a bunch of the concrete blocks on the west side of the house wouldn’t come up… and that’s where the pipe was good and plugged, with debris almost touching the top of the concrete slabs.


I was thinking we’d need to call in a company with a rooter, but I went over this morning and while I was futzing, Ichikawa-san joined me.  He had a couple of crowbars with which we were able to raise several of the slabs that we’d previously though were unmoveable.  There were still a few that were wedged in place thanks to a proliferation of roots from the tree planter on the west side of the house.  We also managed to pull up the four concrete blocks in front of the main door, which I’d also though were not moveable (I thought that the drain became a pipe under them).


In Ichikawa-san style, though, while he saved me time, he also took a few scenic routes.  To get to the slabs at the front, we had to shovel out the white stones and earth in front of the door.  We then spent about an hour WASHING the stones!


Just as we were getting ready to do a final flush, at about 11:15, Ichikawa calls a halt to work.  “Tea-time.” is all he says, and we proceed up to his house where we take more than an hour’s “tea time”.  It was very nice of him and his wife, and on a day on which I didn’t have to be in Tokyo and running auditions at 16:00, it would have been great.  At some point, an English-speaking neighbour (who lived in England for quite a while, and whose son is there still) was invited over.  At 12:40 or so, I had to apologize for my rudeness (oh, if only I could have kept talking!) and go back to the house and finish.


I had been hoping originally to go back to the old house (where we’re still living until Monday) by 12:00 or 12:30.  My goal now was 13:00.   Yeah, right.  After running the bath and letting it drain, there was still a lot of silt and gunk in the moat.  Ichikawa-san and I flushed the whole length again with the house and realized that the level of the moat wasn’t perfect, meaning that it didn’t consistently tilt downwards enough, meaning that the water will pool and there was nothing we could do about it today.  After that, we had to put the cleaned stones back in the front (actually, I’m very happy now that he did this: the front area is now all concrete, which is much easier to deal with).  I think I was on my bike and out of there by 13:40.


I won’t even write a big thing about how I had to go back again, after I was ready to leave for Tokyo, because I realized that I’d left the automatic bath thingy on and wasn’t sure whether it would try to make a bath while I was out (and the drain was open).


Well, that’s the update.  Not the most well-written one so far, but I felt it was important to get it posted.


Oh, and moving day is Monday, but we’re starting to sleep in the house as of tonight.  More in the next post.

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