The Price Epiphany

I got smacked in the brain by something yesterday. Maybe everyone else has always known this, and I’ve been slow all these years. If so, please overlook my stupidity.

I realized, no home repair will ever be quoted at less than four figures. Ever.

Why? Simply because a $200 job doesn’t pay a company’s bills. The scale of the U.S. economy requires that homeowners pay contractors thousands for repairs. A contractor can’t maintain an office (sometimes a whole building), and trucks, and staff, and utility bills, and taxes, and health insurance, and various other insurances necessary for their and your protection, and the accountant, and an occasional attorney, etc. on $200 jobs.

So if there is a $200 solution to your problem? You may never hear about it.

Right? If I’m wrong, please share in comments! I’d love to be wrong about this. But years of experience in getting quotes to solve one problem or another delivers a damning data set. I may blog about design here, but I also appreciate data and what it can tell us.

This mess is in our India apartment, but I’ve yet to find $200 solutions there either.

I’ve had enough. I’m gonna do the currently-needed repair myself. Wish me well. There is a very good reason why this blog isn’t one of those DIY blogs where people rip their houses apart and build them back up again, much more fabulous. (I can DIY a small craft pretty darn well, though, and have it go viral on Pinterest, so I’m not entirely useless.)

We’ve done years of expensive repairs, replacements and maintenance the right way, paying the quality people and trades to do the work: replacing a 40-year-old boiler with a new radiant heat boiler/water heater system. Replacing a roof. Repainting our cedar-sided house. Twice!! Removing the ugliest and toughest wallpaper that makes you swear every nasty word you know, from five rooms (there’s three more rooms to go, but we needed a few years to recover from that!). Repairing foundation cracks that flooded our basement. Installing drainage tiles where ponds threatened to take permanent residence on our property. Arborists to keep old huge trees healthy. And to trim and remove trees when needed — it’s breathtakingly expensive to remove a huge tree and then you don’t even have it to enjoy anymore. Ripping a bathroom to the studs and rebuilding it, because too many times we found water creeping across the living room ceiling below it.

Big willow trees are beautiful, but beware the beauty — they’re also messy and expensive.

You can find the coolest stuff behind bathroom walls!

What have we been rewarded with? A market value that’s less than we owe on our mortgage. Which doesn’t even include all the above investments and payments. Thank you so much, U.S. economy.

I’m now waging war on being on the losing side of this equation.

I’ve come up with a $200 home repair solution. Contractors are proposing $3,000+ solutions that involve ripping, digging, dirt-flinging work. And that’s in the house.

I’ve decided, it’s all so unnecessary. I have an elegantly-simple solution that I believe will be effective. It involves physical barriers and prevention, rather than leaving the problem to exist and diverting it when it does happen, and at much higher cost. I do believe my public health training has taught me to think and solve problems this way.

Decades of wallpaper — none of it our doing, but all of it our undoing

We’ve always joked that when there’s a problem, no matter how minor, my husband’s first words are “call somebody!” I once hired a guy to saw 1″ off the bottom of our kitchen pantry door, so it could clear the carpet runner in front of it. We have never, and maybe never will, owned a saw. Hiring that guy was far cheaper than buying a saw we would use once every five years. But that was $50. The $3,000+ checks, I’ve had enough of writing those, when there is a better idea. An idea that no one else would dare suggest, because it’s not in their best interest.

2 Replies to “The Price Epiphany”

  1. You’re not wrong. Realized long ago in private practice that the vast majority of money I paid out (argh..ps your site design doesn’t allow iPad users to comment in landscape mode with the bigger keyboard. The box we type in is off the screen) anyway, the VAST majority of money I paid out seemed literally to serve no other purpose but to employ a body. Renewing a city license yearly. Renewing ANY fees YEARLY? Business, property and income tax? Fees for this and fines for that. I think that our system literally I creates red tape, to create a division, to create departments that gather money simply to pay the people they employ, whose only life purpose is to send us bills for debts we wouldnt owe if those people didn’t need a job. Inflation is man made, and nobody is smart enough to refuse to continue the madness. lol

  2. Thanks for the note about the iPad format — I’ll let WordPress know. It’s a common WordPress theme and they should make it work. Yes, this economics issue is hard for me to wrap my mind around but is it really ONLY true that everyone needs to earn more in order for everyone to have more?? I don’t know. And more philosophically, should we really all have more? This whole blog is about stuff, so who am I to talk. LOL.

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