Lesson of the Year: It Takes Seven to Eight Months to Finish the Job

This year’s lesson: It takes seven to eight months to finish the job.

I was sitting here, typing the day’s lesson when I heard the motors, bangs and thumps of machinery in the back ally. After listening for a while, I finally had to get up to check if what I though was going on really was happening (I’ve been fooled before). Sure enough, there are city workers in the back and it looks like they’re filling in some holes.

We bought this house in December, and within a week or two of possession, we started having drainage problems. We called 3-1-1 and had some city workers come to take a look. They did something that cleared it up for a couple days, but the drainage problems came back so they scheduled a team to come with a camera so they could take a look…in January. Come mid-January, they finally showed up and took a look: our drain was severely broken about 25m out (that’s on city property). The good news: we didn’t have to pay to have it fixed. The bad news: we were on limited water usage until it was fixed.

They told me they’d send someone in “tomorrow” so nothing showed up until a couple days later – on Friday. They set everything up nice and early in the morning, left by 3PM and didn’t come back until Monday. It took them a week or more to thaw the ground, dig twice (someone had put a gas line right on top of our drainage pipes so they had to put a whole new route in instead of just replacing the broken pipes). They were still working on it near the end of January when we had guys here installing the furnace and I was about to pop. Eventually, they finished, filled in their holes and took all their equipment away.

Fast-forward to spring. Our new neighbours had just recently sold their house and were cleaning up their yard (something they did weekly, oh to have that drive). I was out trying to rake up all the lovely poplar* leaves that found their way to our yard before winter. We struck up a conversation and they informed me that there was a big hole in the back ally and that they had already called the City about it. I swear this hole was big enough to swallow a car! It was so bad that Ian started taking the long way in and out of the ally just to avoid it – it was after all just outside our garage.

Aside from garbage day, any time I heard heavy vehicles back there, I assumed they were fixing the hole…well you know that they say about “assume.” I was wrong. They did put up lights and a roadblock as well as mark up the entire area. Still, months went by with no progress. Now, it’s August – over eight months since we took possession and over seven since they started work on our drainage pipes. I haven’t gone out to check yet (it’s still only 16 degrees after all), but I think they’ve finally filled in the holes they made in January.

*Our city uses poplar trees to line the streets because they are hardy trees and grow quickly. Unfortunately, they are very thirsty trees that spread their roots quite far to find a good source of water (including under your house which may cause cracks in your foundation). They will also crush pipes with their roots to get at the water inside them (yes, the city is causing their own drainage problems). On top of that, they’re deciduous trees and therefore drop a pile of leaves on your property every fall (and lose lots of twigs every thunderstorm) which you are obligated to clean up even if you a) didn’t plant the tree and b) don’t want it there anyway. You will also get fined if you try to remove it because it is technically on city property even if you have to mow the grass around it.

Update: (Aug 21, 2011) I’ve been out there now and they have indeed filled in the holes…but they left the roadblock behind. I may have been a little premature in stating that it takes 7-8 months to finish the job.

Update: (Aug 31, 2011) When we went out yesterday, the roadblocks were finally gone!

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