My Old House

Issues and Events involving our Home in Independence, Missouri
My Old House on Winner Road
4/9/2008

Good news / bad news: We won an award, but had to shell out $$ to a plumber

Filed under: General,History,Neighborhood,Plumbing — Admin @ 8:54 am

Greetings All !

At the end of last week, we had some good news come in, but then had some bad news that resulted in me paying a plumber an outrageous sum.

First, the good news: I had submitted our house’s exterior renovation project to the City of Independence’s Heritage Commission for their annual W.Z. Hickman Preservation Awards. We received word “through-the-grapevine” last week that we had won! And, sure enough, we received the official letter about it on Monday. My wife will have to accept the award (as I will be working) at the City Council meeting on May 5th!

I should also mention that our neighborhood association, the “Neighbors of Winner Road Association” (www.winnerneighbors.org) also applied for and won a similar award for the street/sidewalk/old-style lighting improvement project! (The category for that award was a bit different, since it wasn’t really restoring a historic feature as much as making a historic neighborhood more beautiful.)

But now, the bad news: OK, those of you who know about our “fun” with the house more thoroughly know that we weren’t too happy with the kitchen contractors that my wife hired when she ran our “kitchen renovation project” about three years ago. We had hired “MasterCraft Kitchens”, based out of Kansas City, KS, based on not only the recommendations of a good friend who had hired them, but also on the stacks and stacks of testimonials that were present in their showroom. Well, as you may recall us stating here, we found out only WAY DEEP INTO THE PROJECT that the company had been bought since the time that our friend had used them….and they bought the testimonials too. So, they were under new management and new staff. In our minds, this is a completely different company. And the fact that their owner’s word seemed to be so much hog-wash…and that they were totally stumped by how to handle ceiling trim when one has a tin ceiling just confirmed that for us.

Anyways, we have had one minor, lingering problem with our kitchen sink since then: When you turned off the hot water, the handle would stop a little bit FURTHER than where it was before you turned it on, every time you used the hot water (if you weren’t careful about it). It had gotten to the point where we were well past 180 degrees in terms of how far this thing had spun around.

Well, I had hired my stepson to do some odd jobs around the house. And since I couldn’t fit under the sink too well, I decided to have him get up under there with a recently-purchased faucet wrench to see if he could tighten the hot water handle.

He got under there and in a few minutes, he declared that there wasn’t enough room between the faucet’s “cylinder” (for lack of a better word) and the wood casing that was holding up the sink…for him to slip that wrench in.

So, he came “up top”, took the handle cover off of the hot water cylinder and started looking at it. At this point, the phone rang so I answered it and started talking. When I turned back around, hot water was shooting into the air!

I quickly reached down and turned off the shut-off valve. The boy then started putting the hot water handle / valve back together again. Unfortunately, when we reactivated the hot water, we found that….while hot water no longer spurted to the ceiling, you couldn’t actually turn the hot water OFF as well. Oops. Somehow, he’d put the handle back together incorrectly. I checked the drain and found a spring and a rubber washer in it.

Of course, we then and there decided to call a plumber. But which one?

I thought the last plumber we had engaged was Snake & Rooter. So I called them. This was at about 11:15 AM. They said they’d call when their guy was on his way.

So, at about 3:45 PM I finally get the call that the guy is coming out. Thirty minutes later, he arrives.

Now, I SHOULD HAVE asked up-front how much these guys charge. I had been under the impression that since plumbers all have a UNION, that their prices would be all quite similar. WRONG.

He fixes the faucet. We can now turn off the hot water. I ask him, while he’s at it, can he fix the fact that the hot water handle slowly “spins” over time. He started working on this. He soon confirmed what my stepson had said: When MasterCraft remodelled the kitchen, the “countertop guy” basically screwed-over the “sink installer guy” because he hadn’t left enough room between the countertop’s wooden support frame and the holes in the countertop for the faucet handles.

Our plumber said it wouldn’t be hard to fix: just take a wood chisle and carefully chip away at the wood frame until you had enough room to slip in a faucet wrench past it.

We discussed this and agreed that although HE thought it’d be a simple job, WE thought it’d be better to have him do it, since he was here on-site right now and worked with this stuff on a regular basis.

Well, he started working on this but soon told us that a large “nut” in the hot water handle refused to budge. He had sprayed it with a chemical designed to free up such “lock-ups”… and he was going to let it sit overnight. He’d be back out in the morning, but he said if that chemical didn’t work, he’d have to cut through the nut, which would effectively ruin the entire faucet. He advised us to go out to Home Depot or Lowe’s and find a similar faucet, buy it, bring it home, and have it here for him in the morning. If he had to destroy the old faucet in this manner, he could then simply install the new one and we’d be back in business.

Then he gave us the bill for his 1.5 hours of work so far: $199! Yes, Snake & Rooter charges about $135 per hour. YIKES!!

So there we were, $200 poorer and the faucet was essentially back to being the way it was originally that morning.

The plumber asked if I had the paperwork on the faucet. Fortunately, I keep a pretty good filing system. I found the exact receipt in just under 10 minutes of searching. (Would have had it sooner, but I checked a folder for our previous house first by mistake.)

The plumber took a look and said, well, even though it’s a “designer” faucet, it was from Mexico and was essentially…cheap. He recommended getting a Kohler or a Moen faucet instead.

Terry and I went out and hit both Lowe’s and Home Depot. Any faucet resembling our current one was only available by “special order”. They did not carry any in stock.

So, at 8:30 AM Saturday morning, the Snake & Rooter plumber was back on-site. Terry and I had both prayed… yes prayed… that the chemical that was suppossed to free up the locked nut would work. And, when the plumber tried it again, it did !! He was able to then get in there and tighten the hot water handle completely. The additional charge was for 15 minutes of time (he tacked this trip onto the first trip, thankfully, so there was no second trip charge) was $31. (Yeah, they charge slightly less for time after the first hour.)

Both the short-term and long-term problems with the faucet were solved for a total of $230.

That’s incredible. At our previous house, I had hired a plumber that is located not far from here on Truman Road, Evans Plumbing. I had one good experience with them, as I vaguely recall, where they fixed something and didn’t charge me through the nose. And I had one experience where I felt I was being overcharged at $80 an hour. (That was at least 5+ years ago.)

So, frankly, I’m still hunting for a good, not-as-expensive-as-$135-per-hour plumber. I forsee two further plumbing jobs (both small) this year:

1) As I slowly (and I mean slowly) remodel the second floor bathroom, I’ll need shut-off valives installed for the sink there. (Yep, not sure if I should be surprised about the lack of shut-off valves to that sink or not.)

2) This is a nuisance: There is one water faucet on the outside of the house. The valve is old. When you turn on the water, frankly, you get to take a nice shower. So, there’s a washer that needs to be replaced, but more-than-likely, the entire valve needs to be replaced. This is preventing me from expanding a drip-hose watering system to our flower beds. And it wastes a lot of water, which all seeps down next to the foundation.

Now, if I really had a ton of money, I’d also get an estimate on installing an exterior water faucet on the OTHER side of the house. But hey, I haven’t won that stupid lottery yet. And my 401k isn’t looking all that lovely lately either.

Well, I’m off work this week. Took a bit of vacation to catch up on a few things. The weather isn’t exactly cooperating. It’s a bit colder than usual. An article in the paper recently said the weather is behaving as if Spring were about 7-10 days “behind” compared to normal. I really need to get some plants in the ground and dig up a few new beds. Plus, I need to wash 31 windows. (sigh)

Thanks for stopping by !

-= Dave =-

11/11/2007

Saturday — Update on all sorts of little things

Filed under: General,Neighborhood — Admin @ 4:56 am

Greetings All !

Well, it’s been a long time since I made a post here, so please forgive me for that! We’ve been extremely busy… to the point where I’m trying to “finish up various business” and get it off my plate forever.

But here are some relatively-recent minor house-related tidbits of news:

1) New Dining Room Chandelier — One Sunday night, my wife was sitting at the dining room table doing bills, and she suddenly noticed that the chandelier was hanging a foot lower than normal !! We concluded that our new cat, Samson, who is fascinated by anything that wiggles, probably jumped up there to slap at a crystal…and snagged the whole chandelier with his claws! …



3/21/2007

Spring is here!

Filed under: General,Neighborhood — Admin @ 6:35 am

Yes, signs of Spring are all around:

Our painters started working again today!  They typically only work Saturdays, as both father and son have full-time jobs.  But this week happens to be Spring Break week for a lot of school districts… and the father, being a math teacher, gets this week off.   So, they hope to be painting a good 5 days straight this week, weather permitting.

While they were painting yesterday (Monday), I finally got around to installing the new Garbage Disposal unit that I bought on-sale at Sears a few weeks ago: a Kenmore 60581 model, 3/4 horsepower unit with a 7 year in-home service warranty.  I only paid $149 (tax included) on this baby.  The warranty was the strongest seller, …



10/10/2006

Big Update

Filed under: Cats,Exterior and Roof,Garage,Neighborhood — Admin @ 5:30 am

Captain’s Log, Stardate 20061010……

(Sorry!  Always wanted to start a post like that!)

 

I am approaching the end of a one-month sabbatical from work.  What with all of the meetings I’ve attended for various groups devoted to improving conditions on this side of town… and with hand-delivering 200 newsletters to area homes, frankly, I think I overworked myself.

I’m setting aside Thursday as a day to do nothing, but even then, I’m committed to work at an area fundraiser for the police.

The last couple of weeks have been quite busy, but overall, quite productive.

 

New Garage Door Openers — Several months back (April?), lightning in the area managed to knock-out the controllers of BOTH garage door openers.  We didn’t have the cash to immediately …



8/18/2006

Burglary two days ago…

Filed under: Events,Neighborhood — Admin @ 10:24 am

On Wednesday morning, I woke up, got dressed, and immediately went out onto our sun-porch’s roof.  I started bagging up the asbestos shingles that I had broken off of the house on it’s back / west side the previous day.

Finishing up with that, I showered, dressed in cleaner clothes, and then left the house at 8:30 AM.  I went to a couple of hardware stores and a craft store.

When I came back at 10:30 AM, I was startled to see that one of the two kitchen windows on the rear of the house was wide opened.  Not broken, just lifted up all the way.  But its screen had been torn-out and was lying on the ground.

My first thought was that my …



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