I took the afternoon off to Deal. A/C is fixed: $250. Not that cheap, but definitely in the "Could have been far worse!" category. The cause? "A rat met a really bad death."
Please note: the house DOES NOT HAVE RATS!! These rats are outdoor creatures and are rarely seen, but there is a population of "citrus rats" (did I mention that we are a wildlife-rich environment?) and when we have a chilly night, they have been known to seek out the warmth of the motor of the AC compressor in the backyard. Which then suddenly turns on, and...yeah.
It has happened twice before in nearly 20 years, but this is the first time it actually killed the compressor. In the past, it just killed the rat.
My construction guy at work hooked me up with a fab AC company though. The tech replaced a burned out switch, tested it all, and it's fine again. The rat, not so much.
And the third guy to look at the bathroom is the winner, unless his proposal is ridiculously high, though I don't think it will be. He was punctual, professional, and really on the ball. He is on site while the job is done, he doesn't send subs. He doesn't sub out the plumbing, he IS a plumber, and also has a cabinetry connection, and can do the tile work, etc. He "got" what I wanted to do immediately, and his ballpark price for labor was reasonable at $4,500. And when I told him that the bathtub was unusable and this was the cute little blonde two year old's bathroom, he said he could make us next up on his schedule, after he finishes the job he's on now, and do it in a week after he gets the go-ahead. I predict that the total cost will be somewhere between $6,000 and $7,000, which is in line for a bathroom remodel. He's the kind of contractor I was looking for - he has the team to do it all, and he is on the job himself.
He also understood the idea of "Keep it modest, but make it nicer," and immediately suggested the sort of reasonable upgrades I already wanted to do, instead of sending me out to figure it out for myself in my ample spare time, like the two guys I'd talked to in the last week. We'll go with 12 inch tile, for instance - not too big so there are too many trims and awkward grout lines in a small bath, but it'll make the small bath look LARGER. And 12 inch on the walls, same reason. It will look fresh and updated.
Between my tax refund and a secondary fund for house stuff, I have about $5000 immediately, and I'll figure out the rest.
Two big, scary expenses are now quantified, and if not minor, are now not so scary.
I forgot to mention that Home Depot disqualified itself early in the process. My kitchen designer in the store went online to set an appointment and I put it in my calendar and notified my daughter, but it turns out the appointment wasn't really set. I got a voicemail later that day to call to set an appointment, and when I called back, they were closed. So I called the following Monday and set another appointment. The day before that appointment, another appointment setter called to confirm, and as we were talking, it turned out that what they did was simply the "covering" of the existing tub with an acrylic shell. They didn't do remodels. The gal on the phone was very nice and transferred me to someone else, who called me back promptly, and the appointment was on again. Then they didn't show on time and called to reschedule for later that day. And I said the hell with it. That was three strikes just to get the appointment, and I was out of patience, and hadn't even talked to anybody who would actually work on the bathroom.
They were fine for the kitchen remodel because they control that process from the store. The bathroom jobs are subbed out to an outside vendor. Lesson learned.
I got a quote on yard cleanup (which MUST happen, before the HOA threatens me again because OMG the bushes are so overgrown) and my son-in-law said it was outrageous. We discussed it. He did golf course maintenance in high school and knows his way around yard work, but needs decent tools to do it. I said I'd get him the tools (he'll shop for used) if he can get the job done in the next 30 days. He also has a friend who can replace the bad sections of the fence - if we buy the materials he'll do the labor, and take payment in beer and a ticket to a music festival he wants to attend. Deal!
Dealing with is always easier than fretting about the unknown. Once you know the score, you can make a plan. I'm all about the plan.