Everytime I talk to my mom on the phone lately, she asks me about the blog.
"Why aren't you posting? When are you going to post?"
"I'm busy," I tell her. "What I'm doing takes a lot of energy. So much energy that I fall in bed at night exhausted and wan, a mere husk of my former self because all of the spirit has been sucked out of my body."
What is it that I am doing? I am fretting. That's right, fretting. And not just any fretting. Fretting over figuring out what to do about the fireplace. Fretting about which contractor to trust in our pursuit of putting the living room back together.
Contractor-related fretting is the most intense kind of fretting ever. Worse than worrying if you will ever get asked to the prom and by whom, because you can always go hide in the bathroom at the prom if things go badly. I never have to look at pictures of my prom again if I don't choose to. I didn't have to keep the dress. And I eventually dropped the "Farrah hairdo."
But I would have to wake up every morning and look at what the wrong contractor did to my house until we sell the house. *shudder*
Originally, we were hoping that we could retrofit the existing fireplace to be woodburning, thus satisfying Aaron's desire for burning things and my desire to have an alternative fuel source when natural gas prices drive me to let Aaron burn things in order to stay warm.
Unfortunately, a few things dashed that dream to pieces. One, the flue above the fireplace is too narrow for a wood burning fireplace. Two, at some point, the previous owners of our house climbed onto the roof and stuffed fire-retardant insulation down the flue that would normally vent the fireplace. Which wouldn't have been SO bad except that they also poured a lot of Portland cement in on top of that. A lot. About 15 feet of it. So, bye-bye wood burning fireplace.
Okay, next idea? Rear vent gas insert that would fit into our existing firebox, with a blower for the heat.
Or maybe something that looks a bit more in keeping with the style of the house.
We don't know anyone who has ever installed something like this so I am in a bind. Most of the time I am able to get contractor referrals from people I know and product reviews on the internet. I am learning that I like to shop for fireplaces and fireplace contractors as much as I like to poke a sharp stick in my eye.
I am overwhelmed. The choices are all over the place. To make it more complicated, some of the top fireplace manufacturers have been acquired by other companies in recent years and so it isn't always clear who produces a quality fireplace anymore.
And the installation requirements? Argh. But after nail-biting research on Google night after night, here is what I have been able to determine:
I know. I know. Everything costs three times more than you anticipated. But I didn't expect that this fireplace project would cost more than a 2005 Chevy Malibu. That doesn't include our recreating the built-in bookshelves, the windows on either side and the front of the fireplace ourselves.
And then, who do we trust to do this? For degree of difficulty, this project involves almost everything I get the most nervous about. Fire. Gas. Electricity. Ventilation. Carbon monoxide. If the project also involved running water or drains, I would run screaming out of the back door of the house.
I searched the Chicago area for possible names of fireplace dealers and installers. I immediately eliminated any of them who have been in business less than five years or who have poor ratings with the Better Business Bureau. But I'm still less than confident about my remaining choices because this purchase decision is so confusing.
So. Here I sit. Fretting. Paralyzed. And not getting a whole lot done.
But I posted about it, Mom!