Neverending Adventures in Homeownership: Month 8

It’s been six weeks since my last homeownership update, and already we’ve got loads going on with our house. When it rains, it pours. Fortunately, rain damage hasn’t been one of our issues, but lots of other things have.

Always Take the Part to the Hardware Store with You
It started with a toilet running continuously. I tried tightening the float arm, but that made it worse. So I drove four miles to Home Depot. I’d looked at the part, so I sort of knew what I needed. I tried to explain it to the guy there and he handed me something that looked similar. I got it home and discovered it was completely wrong. Back I went to Home Depot. It turns out they don’t carry the part! They suggested replacing the whole assembly, for $8-11. Instead I went to Ace Hardware, which is blocks from my house. They had the part for $1.99. It took me three minutes to install it. I would have saved two hours driving back and forth if I’d done two things: 1. take the part with me, and 2. go to Ace for small parts. Home Depot doesn’t carry that stuff.

Our Emergency Fund Gets a True Emergency
We’ve been having some plumbing problems for about a month. We knew there were branches in our sewer line, so we finally called a plumber to come rooter them. Yeah, turns out there are branches there, but only because the pipe is collapsed. Fortunately it’s a small section, so it will only set us back $1775, as opposed to the $8-10,000 it cost my friend. We asked if it was past the property line, making it the city’s responsibility, but it turns out the homeowner is responsible to the middle of the street. That’s right, you might have to dig up the city street, but that’s not their problem. I’m thinking really bad words about the City of LA right now.

In addition to that problem, we need a new pressure regulator and something is wrong with the water heater. The first problem could be causing the second one, so we’ll have to see how our home warranty company handles that.

Mike Diamond is a Rip-off
We had an estimate to install a water line from an independent plumber that was pretty reasonable, but we have a maintenance agreement with Mike Diamond from when we had our kitchen pipes replaced at Thanksgiving so we called them to get an estimate. My husband and I had a miscommunication, so he had them come out even though they charge $65 just to give an estimate, and it doesn’t count toward the cost if you have them do the work! That’s rip-off #1. The second rip-off is their inflated prices. After our 15% discount, their quote was 30% higher than the indie plumber’s quote. We ate the $65 loss and will never use them again. I’m now convinced that we didn’t need all the work they did at Thanksgiving and that we paid 30% more than we needed to. They had us over a barrel on that one, and we’ll never make that mistake again.

The Cheapest Contractor Isn’t Always the Best
In addition to all that, we have to get a cabinet in our kitchen elevated to make room for the new fridge. We got an estimate for that in December, but the guy flaked. The first guy who came out last week spent 10 minutes detailing his ethnicity (not that we cared) and giving us a song and dance about getting his own reality show. He started out saying he might not even want the job. I simply gave short answers and let him talk himself into it. He promised to follow-up with a quote, but then he would only give a ballpark. He refused to give us an actual quote unless he knew he was getting the job.

The second quote was from a cabinet company. Their quote was $400 more, but included items the first two had never mentioned and was much more thorough and professional. Even though it costs more, we went with the second company. The first one was too shady.

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