Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Only Ones Plumbing Enough...

There will be no link to this posting, as it is born of my own personal undocumented experience. This is really more of a rant than anything. We're selling our house, having found a larger more suitable abode in which we would very much like to reside. We got an offer on our house soon after it was on the market with one unusual stipulation.

Our washing machine drains into an old non-functional toilet. (All in the basement.) This was to be brought up to code by a professional plumber. I asked my realtor if there was any reason I couldn't just do the repair myself. She said that normally we could negotiate that point, but since this buyer is using FHA as a lender, they would require a "certified" repair. I gutted through my disapproval, wanting to sell, and thinking that would be it. Little did I know.

Along came the actual whole house inspection. Now we've been asked to hire an electrician to cover some open junction boxes in the basement and a roofer to install flashing around the chimney and (drumroll please) re-roof the garage. My wife said my face, ears and neck all turned red when I read the addendum they submitted.

Here's my beef: my dad and I rewired 99% of the house - to code, mind you - and what they're asking for is essentially clean-up of the remaining old wiring that we didn't get to. Had I remembered that there were two open junction boxes, I would have taken care of them myself, and nothing would have been noted. Had I known the washing machine "drain" would be an issue (since most people are sooo picky about the route their gray water takes to the sewer) I would have called my grandpa and we would have fixed it in half a Saturday morning. But now, because the buyer has a picky lender, I have to hire professionals to do something that I could capably do myself, or with the assistance of family (in the case of the plumbing stack.)

We're trying to negotiate just who does the work on the garage roof. The jury is still out, and I'm worried that they're going to walk if we don't hire someone. As my realtor points out, "Roofing isn't exactly rocket science." No offense to any professional roofers out there, but as roofs go, this one's as easy as a dog house.

Beyond the face-reddening frustration due to the extra money we'll have to spend (to SELL our house!!!) I'm angry at a deeper level. I think this sort of crap is symptomatic of the larger ills of our society. Gone is the pioneer spirit of independence, self-reliance, and resourcefulness. Gone is a fearless can-do attitude that faces down problems with a toolbox and a little advice from your elders. Instead, we have a culture that increasingly welcomes total dependence upon the expertise of others to fix anything and everything. Of course, that's because we live in a remarkably prosperous society. If you don't have to spend all weekend figuring out how to change your brakes, why bother when you can spend $300 to have the pros do it in a few hours?

Before I go too far down this gripe-train, I should point something out: I don't think everyone should be a handyman. Certainly not everyone is gifted with mechanical abilities (some would probably argue that I'm not, although I try), and I don't expect someone to change their own oil just because I do. I know plenty of good men who never turn a wrench.

However, what has really chapped my rear-end is that this dependence has now been inflicted on me. Everything electrical that wasn't cited by the inspector was what my father and I did! And yet we have to hire someone to cover a damn junction box? Come on!

This mind-numbing "leave it to the professionals" attitude is permeating every pore of American life. Of course the first example that comes to my mind is the responsibility for your own safety. Dare to carry a gun in your own defense? "Vigilante! Rogue! Cowboy! That's why we have police!"

Dare to take responsibility for your kids' own education? Fundamentalist! Cult follower! Heck, in some places they won't even let you anymore.

Want to improve your own house? Well, get ready to buy permits just to make sure it's OK with the government.

And want to sell your house? Get used to hiring people to do things you could do yourself. Heck, I wonder if they're going to make me get a janitor to vacuum before we leave...

4 Comments:

Blogger ajw308 said...

It's not so much as "leave it to the professionals", as it is "have someone the government approves of" do it.

There is a county in Michigan where you have to get a permit to get a permit. My bosses brother lives in it.

gov't is just to big and greedy. They take every excuse and than make a few more, to get their hands in our pockets.

But with the licensed professionals, they are usually bonded and that is what I think drives the call for them. To minimize risk, the insurance companies want some one they can sue with guaranteed assets, thus the requirement for the bond.

I did some roofing during the summers when I was in college. It's not hard. The only difference between me and a "pro" is the speed at which we work. The pro is definitely much faster.

11/4/08 11:28 AM  
Blogger MartiniMartini said...

Okay, I'm really glad that you finally stated that not every man should be a handy man. I love my husband dearly--in fact I would never chose anyone else in the whole wide world (past, present, or future) to be married to...but he is NOT a handy man (not to mention that he's never home enough to fix anything). And seeing as how I would like to reach life expectancy for a woman in the US, I don't EVER want him touching my brakes or the wiring in our house! We aren't rolling in dough, in fact, we pay to have the oil changed, because it's cheaper than hubby doing so himself. Due to his frequent absences, I fix what I can (in the house) and pay someone else to take care of what I can't or am unable...rather than blundering through and screwing it up. All this is to say: not everyone is like you. If I were buying a house from you, I'd have no problem with you making the repairs needed with help from similarly knowledgeable fam. BUT, if I didn't know you, I'd want a professional taking care of repairs. The morons who owned our house before us attempted a great many repairs on their own, and did a miserable, glaringly inadequate job. So please try to understand where buyers and banks are coming from. Now, permits are another subject, and I'm inclined to agree with you on that one.

11/4/08 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selling your house: advertise 'as is, where is'...no gaurantees...

If that dq's FHA mtgs, so be it.

As to permits, here in duh Bayou City I'm supposed to pull a permit to put an exhaust fan in the bath, or to move the a/c condenser unit 6 inches to the left, or to repair a fence.

Of course Chertoff's satellite surveillance from above will turn me over to the inspector when they note the new fence.

yep, land of the free...

11/4/08 4:03 PM  
Blogger ajw308 said...

Here in Anchorage, you have to get a permit to change the filter on your hot tub. No one does it and it's not enforced (yet), but that's how far they'll go, if you let them.

14/4/08 11:41 AM  

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