After an extraordinary amount of thought, Mare said yes to building the porch.
Maybe "Mare said yes" is putting it a bit too strongly...What he actually said, after I asked him for about the fifth time if he was going to help me build the porch, was "Well, okay."
That scares me just a little bit. Actually, a lot. Enough that I said, "Are you really? I mean, really really?" To which he replied, "Yeah, I'll help you, as long as you don't mind if a week or so goes by in between times when I can work on it." So I went from scared to terrified.
See, here's what you need to know about Mare: He's a genius about old houses. I don't throw that word out there lightly. He can take one look at a boxy, unremarkable house with vinyl siding and plastic windows and tell that it's really a pre-Civil War Greek Revival that's been remuddled. And, given enough time and money, he can turn it back into that antebellum house with an attention to detail that would make the original builders proud. It's nothing short of genius. Hand in hand with that genius, though, go other things not so great: he's undependable and difficult and easily distracted and, well, flaky. No need to go into detail about what I mean by those words because I am certain, now that he's agreed to do this, that every one of those traits will be shown, and maddeningly so, before the porch is finished. So why do I put up with it? Because Mare's a genius and he works for cheap. (When you're a flake, it's hard to command top dollar for your genius.)
So now that he's signed on to the project, albeit less than enthusiastically, I have other scary stuff to consider. Like money, and a Certificate Of Appropriateness. (That name still makes me giggle.) Because I live in a National Register Historic Neighborhood, I have to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness for any exterior work to the house. That COA is a building permit and a seal of approval from the city's Historic Preservation Commission that the construction is appropriate for my historic house. The Commission meets only once a month, and I can't do any work until the COA is issued. (It would be really bad, for instance, if I demolished the existing porch and then the Commission said no to the new one.) A big part of Mare's lack of enthusiasm, although he hasn't come right out and said so, is that he thinks I'm pushing him about a spring project when it's still winter. I can see where he's coming from. But because demolishing the existing porch will take awhile, as will building the new one--and more importantly, because I'd really like to be done building the porch before the simmering heat of July and August--I needed him to give me an answer now. When I explained this to him, I saw his eyes glaze over. Anything more than a week or so away is too far in the future to hold his interest.
And the money? When I asked him how much he thought it would cost, Mare said, "We might be able to do it for as little as $800, but it might cost as much as $2400." Um, that's a pretty big difference. I made several attempts to get him to narrow that gap a bit, but he refused to do so. So, either 800 bucks (which doesn't seem likely) or three times that. Well, okay...