Kittie Howard

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lovely Spa Visit and Quick Story

Ahhh, life is good!  Gertrude (Big Mama computer) and Zoe (baby HP) returned home a family picture of glowing health.  Her parents (that's us, the ones with the checkbook) also got lucky.  An older and very experienced computer technician found and corrected the glitch that had eluded others.  We didn't switch to Windows 8.  Why?  $500.00! 

Much of what we thought had been included in our insurance turned out to be either obsolete or one-time promotions that it would have been more productive to buy a new computer.  This computer is only a year and a half old.  I firmly believe leaves grow on trees, not money.  So, with our insurance covering the glitch that gave Gertrude rosy cheeks, we said thankyouverymucy and brought our kids home.  When the time comes to have another kid, its name will be Mac!

In the meantime, I'd like to share with you a consumer's house of mirrors story that occurred three weeks prior to our visit to Eastern North Carolina, where my husband and I have a house, presently rented until spring.  This house has a recessed area in the back, off the kitchen, and measures about 150 sq. ft.  After the renters left, we wanted to bump this out and extend to the right and left for a screened-in porch.

The realtor who manages the property offered that the builder who had built her house had done a fabulous job but needed work because of the recession.  I thought she jumped into my gig a bit quickly but also thought obtaining a bid would provide insight as to how prices fluctuated in this semi-rural area, an area we knew from frequent visits but not from living there, a major difference in the South.  Since we plan to move into our house this spring, it was time to get to know the locals from the business side of the house, so to speak.

So, okay, a week passed.  We didn't hear from the builder.  Another week passed.  Nothing from the builder.    I sensed this guy was playing with us, wanted to see how eager we were.  In the real South it's never good to appear eager.  So we waited.

At the end of the third week, the realtor e-mailed the builder's bid.  He chose not to bump the porch out as we had requested.  What he chose to do was to bump out the recessed area about five feet.  (This would in no way affect the existing square footage.  That remained intact.) 

The builder's proposal bid was $17,800.00.  If we wanted to brick the supporting cinder blocks, that would cost an additional $3,000.00.

Of course I laughed at this.  I mean, duh!

What made me really laugh, however, was that the builder had submitted a drawing of a lean-to, basically a screened-in shed.  A lean-to kit can be purchased for $1,000.00.  (Construct a lean-to yourself for about $500.00.)

But what made me laugh until the tears fell was that the builder had flanked his proposed lean-to with -- are you ready for this? -- very tall Greek columns!

When the laughter subsided, however, a nagging question emerged:  why would a builder with a sterling reputation (I checked) but one who also needed work to keep his small business alive be so arrogant (ignore what the consumer wanted) and get so greedy?

The nagging question lingers.

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