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June 30, 2005
Topsider's Indian burial ground

A pile of insulation that Gail had to rip out from the floor panels due to mold

These days, every trip to the mountain top seems to be followed by a series of emails and phone calls to Topsider.  Sometimes, as non-professional builders we need to better understand Topsider's instructions and specifications.  Usually, we are able to figure out, guess, or improvise a workable way to a solution.  But other times, we are downright confused by what Topsider has supplied us with and why they have supplied it.

After our weekend of fascias and edges, we came home with a new list for Topsider.  As we discussed in our last letter, Topsider had provided us with only 25 out of the 32 4" lag screws that we needed to affix the iron fasteners to the second-story floor fascias.  In addition, we questioned whether we should be using iron at all on the exterior of the house.

Furthermore, while we were up on the roof, we noticed something wrong with the eight "closing pieces" that Topsider had supplied for the roof apex.  While the roof beams are 8" high,. the closing pieces are only 6" high.  This leaves a number of large gap holes where the roof is supposed to be sealed.

While the beams are 8" high, the closing pieces (behind the insulation) are only 6" high

Lastly, we have noticed with increasing alarm that the second-story corner posts are all starting to split down their length.

Gail inspects the second-story corner posts
The result is not pretty

Our usual contact, Brian, was away on vacation, so on June 27th Gail spoke directly with Al Fielders, Topsider's Client Services Manager.  We have consistently found Al to be friendly, knowledgeable, and direct in our conversations with him.

Al reassured Gail that the posts will naturally begin to split as the wood ages, and that it will not affect the integrity of the house.  He acknowledged that Topsider had supplied the wrong closing pieces, and that he would have 8" pieces sent out.

Al also agreed that the iron fasteners should not be used on the exterior of the house.  Apparently, Topsider provides two different kinds of FS-1B fasteners.  One kind, made of cast iron, are meant to be used in foundations.  The other kind, galvanized, are meant for the exterior of the house.  Al said that he would have a set of eight galvanized FS-1B fasteners sent out.  As well, he would provide us with more lag screws.

Gail emphasized to Al that we would need to receive all of these parts no later than end-of-day Thursday, as we would be going up to the building site again on Friday.  Al promised that they would be here.

On Thursday morning, Gail received a Fe-Ex shipment as expected.  As she brought it into the house, she noticed that the box seemed remarkably light, considering that it was supposed to contain wood, metal fasteners, and lag screws.  Opening the box, she was surprised to discover that it contained several rolls of foam in various colors.

Gail was immediately back on the phone with Al.  As she described the contents of the box we had received, there was a pause at the other end.  Then Al said, "Let me get back to you."  Again, Gail reiterated that we absolutely must receive the correct shipment by the end of the day.

As we found out later, Al immediately called Fed-Ex to find out the status of the correct box.  As he worked with her to ensure that our correct shipment would be received on time, he mentioned that he couldn't understand why our project continues to have so many problems, mis-shipments, and errors.  "Maybe," the woman replied, "They're building on top of an old Indian burial ground."

The good news is that we received another shipment later that day.  The heavy box contained 8" closing pieces, galvanized fasteners, and lag screws.

What about the box of foam rolls?  "That shouldn't have been shipped to you," said Al.  "Go ahead and throw it away."


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