Come on, Baby, Light a Fire

doors 0419
Here is one page of one door catalogue. Lynn and I thought were were responsibly picking an inexpensive door: wrong! But notice how the door at bottom left of the right-hand page looks like the Enterprise. That would be worth going over budget, right?


Making wrong decisions are a part of life. You know, learning from our mistakes and all that? Well, it turns out, there’s a different kind of “wrong,” and Lynn and I are excelling at it.

Wrong as in “focused on what our contractor tells us” rather than “focused on what he really means.”

One week ago, for the first time, Dusty said he needed every last interior color to be selected by Thursday, meaning yesterday. So instead of picking up or packing up anything in the for-sale house over the weekend, Lynn and I pored over paint chips, bought lots of little cans of paint, crawled over and under everything in the garage to get to my scrap pile of lumber (I knew this stuff would come in handy some day!), painted said lumber, which really becomes just a larger paint chip, and put it in our drywall-in-progress house.

[Let us pause here for an update on the drywaller. His name is Seth; he lives in Lake City, 60 miles away from Gunnison; he has a wife and three small kids; and last weekend his truck was on-site at 7:30 a.m. — and when we were there at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we found him hard at work. In his spare — ha! — time, he is a hunting and fishing guide.]

Lynn had a couple of sleepless nights over color, and then I started doing math and realized that even under Dusty’s best vision, we would not need to know every single color by yesterday. If we had some they could start with, that would be good enough.

So how many colors did we need to have in pocket yesterday? Not one.

Dusty goes on vacation next week — because everyone working on this project has to go on vacation at least once during their work phase (here is my strongest piece of house-building advice: do NOT do this over the winter), and he is trying to get everything arranged and keep his crew busy while he is gone.

For some reason he thought that would be painting, but the drywall, which was still wet when Tia and I went out Wednesday, needs to be textured, and that won’t be finished until sometime in the middle of next week. Paint priming will thus take place the following week. Lynn and I can’t even put test colors on actual walls until a week from tomorrow.

That doesn’t get us off the decision hook, however. Late yesterday afternoon, Dusty brought me a door quote from Western Lumber and said he needs to order interior doors TODAY, no pressure.

Here is the problem with that: every door we looked at is well over our budgeted amount. And here is the problem with that: we have no idea what is budgeted.

Dusty wrote on the quote paper that our budget for interior doors is $190 per door. Every door we had selected was $350 to $550. But we knew NONE of that. The entire door process has been the blind leading the stupid.

Let’s take the budgeted amount. I brought the piece of paper home and looked at pieces of paper here. In our contract I found a “doors” line item for $11,000 in materials. But it doesn’t specify what’s included in “doors.” Front door, back door, doors in the garage, garage doors, interior doors, closet doors? There’s a sliding-glass door in one room, and it’s not clear if that’s in the door or window budget. Included, or not?

Then I found a schedule that Dusty handed us just last week, which allocates $175.67 per interior door. That’s less than $190. It also leaves one door allocation blank, and offers zero indication for how much the garage doors (the big ones, for cars) are supposed to be. How am I supposed to figure this out?

The great news: the clear-coat six-panel pine door he was envisioning us ordering for the interior of the house was priced yesterday by Western Lumber at $201.89. Good luck staying on budget.

So, handed catalogues with no prices listed, operating in the dark as to what budget we should be targeting, and now we have to make a selection by today. Or so we’re told.

The other part of the bid sheet from the lumber company said that delivery of all the doors we had looked at would take four to six weeks, and Dusty wants them here in three. But I don’t know when doors that are supposed to be in stock might be delivered, because Western Lumber didn’t get any deliveries from Denver this week. I don’t know which end blamed the “blizzard,” but the weather between here and Denver was never that severe, certainly nothing like everything from Denver east.

I assume Dusty’s assuming we’ll just authorize the six-panel doors, but out of every door I’ve looked at, the six-panels are the ugliest. They offend my sense of symmetry. There are two long panels on the bottom, then a gap, then two panels either the same length or slightly shorter, then a narrower gap, and then two little tiny panels up top. If the little panels were in the middle, fine, but they aren’t, and I don’t like the look. I don’t like lots of little asymmetrical boxes, once you ask me to start looking and pick out what I like.

If we can’t get the doors with diamonds in them, or the ones that look like the Starship Enterprise, then we’d like some design with an arch near the top, to go with the new arches in our house (love them!).

So I once again abandoned my “shop local” standards, and went on-line. I have to say that while I don’t care if I never go into Home Depot again, their website is a lot more comprehensive than their competitors’. And after locating a door that seemed like it would work, Home Depot gave dates for when it could be picked up at the Montrose store or shipped. Either way, delivery wouldn’t happen until the end of May. That’s more than three weeks.

Menard’s, which I’m not sure has a footprint anywhere in Colorado, seems to have an option, but it’s not clear when it might ship. It says something about it taking seven days to prepare for shipping, but I don’t know if that means it would be here two weeks from now. And they’re offering a mail-in rebate, through April 13, but it’s not clear if you have to request the rebate by then, or just make the purchase.

Here’s the really stupid part about this big rush: doors in our house are mostly just decorative. I once lost a shirt in our current house, and found it over a year later (maybe two) hanging off the doorknob on the backside of the bedroom door. That’s how little the doors get used, or not.

The frustration with always focusing our energy on the decision not du jour is that it feels like we’re scrambling. Of course at some point we were always going to need to make decisions on doors, and we thought we had made some. The doors we liked weren’t wood and they weren’t solid, so we thought they would be less expensive — and then they turn out to be double (depending on which of various figures you’d like to use) the allowance.

Making uninformed decisions is wrong, just like thinking about paint when doors are the urgent decision. But let’s circle back around to us being handed a catalogue without prices, and a budget of $11,000 with no price breakdown, and you begin to wonder where exactly that breakdown is really taking place. It might be in my nerves.

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