We’re in a frenzy of home improvement around here, so today at noon, I expected two visitors to my home: an electrician-sort of guy and a painter. They were each expected to give estimates for work we want to have done.
I spent two solid hours cleaning the teenagers’ room (aka the Boy Cave.) Their room is a sort of communal space located just off the family room. It was originally a garage, but the previous owners converted it into a room long ago.
The Boy Cave features twin beds, two dressers, a simple desk, an enormous entertainment center (home to a small television and a GameCube), a four-drawer metal filing cabinet, an elaborate desk with shelves and a computer, a two-drawer metal filing cabinet, a piano and an old-fashioned child-sized desk that I purchased at an antique store fifteen years ago.
The filth that accumulates in that semi-public, semi-private space is staggering and disgusting. Every once in a while, I spend a breath-holding eternity in there, sweeping up dusty piles of debris and tossing sticky things into trash bags. Today, they worked alongside me, complaining and dragging their feet and disappearing every ten minutes, hoping I wouldn’t notice.
When the electrician-sort of guy arrived, I ushered him into the Boy Cave and pushed the dresser away from the wall as I described the funky outlet which would only work when you stand on one foot, yodel and hold a pinkie to your right earlobe. Or if you jiggled it just right. Behind that dresser lurked a whole family of filth that I hadn’t even thought to exterminate. Oh, the shame!
I pointed out the lighting fixture, or rather the absence of the lighting fixture–a bare, naked bulb has been hanging from the ceiling for about four years because I could not find the correct size glass globe to place over it into the brass-like thing. (Thing being the technical term.) Then I realized I could just buy a new light fixture for twelve bucks. Duh.
Next, I directed him to the bathroom and motioned toward the dead light fixture. The bathroom light has been out for about a year, I’d guess. We were using a night-light to illuminate it. (I have no shame in admitting that I am pathetic.)
He assured me he could easily fix these things (“That’s it?” he said) and away he went to gather tools and magic herbs, for all I know.
When he returned, I handed him the box with a new light fixture and he said, “Oh, I need to know where the breaker box is.”
OH NO! The breaker box is located in the storage room, an area you may know as the Bermuda Triangle and an area I refer to as “Don’t go in there!”
I opened the door, pushed aside the giant suitcase only recently tossed inside, shoved some shipping boxes to one side, moved two Easter baskets and the painting supplies to create a walkway, tossed a sandal into the air and said to the electrician-sort of guy, “Uh, do you have a room like this in your house?” and then, before he could inhale and compose an answer, I waved a free hand and said, “JUST SAY YES!”
He said, ever the diplomat, “I think everyone does.”
(AND IF YOU DO NOT, PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME SO. I’m a fragile flower.)
He installed two light fixtures, fixed a loose wire in the outlet and with a flourish said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” (Okay, I made up that last part, but that is so what I would do if I were an electrician.) Now we have light. If I’d known how easy that would be, I would have done it a long time ago.
The painter arrived with less fanfare and did not mock my planned stripes. (I told him if he’d just do the main walls and a primer coat, I’d stripe the walls myself–it will be easy because I’m painting over painted paneling.)
Oh, and here’s my tip for the day.
We needed to replace a thirty-year old broken sliding glass door. My husband went to Lowe’s to price doors. He picked one out and arranged for them to come out and give us an estimate.
At the appointed hour, a guy came on behalf of Lowe’s. The guy was from BC Windows. He measured the door and on his way out, out of the goodness in his heart, fixed my front door (which had a weird piece of metal sticking up). He said Lowe’s would call me with the estimate.
A week or so later, Lowe’s called. The quote was something like $1700 for one plain patio door, which, frankly, seemed unreasonable considering the door itself only cost $300 or so.
We decided to get another estimate, so my husband called a company recommended by a friend. After we made the appointment with company, I realized the name sounded familiar. The company? BC Windows. So, I called and asked if they worked with Lowe’s (yes, they did) and told them they already had the measurements because they’d been out already on behalf of Lowe’s.
Soon, they called with the estimate. They quoted me $800, which was less than half of the quote I’d received from Lowe’s.
So, if we’d hired Lowe’s, the guys from BC Windows would have installed the door. It would have cost us $1700.
Instead, we hired BC Windows to install the door. It cost us $800.
The moral of this story? Always get more than one estimate. And hire the subcontractor directly. (They came Monday morning and less than forty-five minutes later, I had a new patio door.)
And that concludes today’s public service announcement.