Saturday, September 15

Ten thousand more

Progress on the house ground to a halt when the bid from the electrician came in. As usual, it was $10,000 over what we had planned. Sometimes I think all these contractors get together and say, “Okay. Whatever you can do the job for and still make a profit, add another ten grand.” Finally fed up with the ten-grand-upcharges, I said that’s it. We’ll find another way.

A small part of the silvery snakes in the attic.
Note the white plastic pipe to the right side. "What's that for?" I asked the installer. "That's the furnace's stove pipe," he answered. The furnace is so efficient it uses ordinary PVC for its exhaust!
Karla and I were making a progress payment to the air conditioning company owner. His people had finished stuffing the attics with silvery pipes going every which way. We told him about our frustration regarding the electrical job. He said, “You can do it yourself. It only has to be to code.” That got us thinking. When I was in the Navy, I was an electronics technician. Put an old vacuum-tube radar in front of me (or one of those new-fangled transistorized gadgets) and I can fix it with my eyes closed. But modern house wiring isn’t the same. It is the most heavily-scrutinized part of building a house. Every circuit, every connection, every wire run is pored over till you are drenched in sweat, waiting for the inspector to spot a piece of cable that’s too close to one of the nailing plates on a ceiling joist. Or too many outlets in a run. Or wire size too small for the circuit’s potential needs. Or a hole in a wall stud that isn’t exactly centered, making the wire going through it just a tad too close to the wall where you could possibly pound a nail to hang a picture and touch a hot wire.

We still needed someone who knows the code by heart. I could pry it out of a book, but an experienced eye is priceless. We know an electrician who used to work for a pack station at the lake. We hadn’t seen him in years, but had his phone number. Karla called the number but it didn’t go through. Had he moved? We were stymied. Then guess what? We found out that he was in the campground by the dam. He hadn’t come back up to the area in years, but when we needed him, he walked into the store. He had 45 years’ experience and said he would love to help us with the wiring. When asked what he would charge, he said, “Cost plus my salary plus ten thousand, just like everybody else.”

Just kidding.

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