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The Too-Much of Technology

by admin ~ April 10th, 2008

It is Thursday now and we sit here without a sales contract in the old house.

There is a list of seven issues mentioned by the buyers, most of which have been addressed. One is still pending. The first issue came as a total surprise to us. The home inspector they hired found a three-inch spot of what he termed “active moisture” in the corner of our dining room ceiling, just abutting the smaller guest bathroom upstairs. We never use this bathroom and we were unaware of what appears to be a very slow drip of a leak. The inspector did, of course, run water in that bathroom on that day as part of the inspection proceedings and so the moisture did appear in the form of dampness. Though within a day it was bone dry to the touch. We have since engaged a plumber who will rip open our bathroom floor tomorrow morning and replace the 88 year old lead drainage pipe that has been compromised. The buyers wish for the plumber to have a moisture meter on hand to “prove” the leak is fixed. Our plumber does not own this instrument, nor is he interested in buying one.

We also have a chimney inspector coming on Friday. I called one inspector last week and asked for a “Level II” inspection at the request of the buyers. This is supposed to entail extending a video camera down the chimney and filming it. Mr. Chimney arrived and did not film it. “I don’t need to film it,” Mr. Chimney exclaimed with finality, “I can see what I need to see.” What he saw was a need for a new stainless steel liner and some work on the brick. Expected cost $7,000. End of story, no discussion.

Not good enough for the buyers. They suggested we had purposely not followed their instructions for the video and Level II inspection and for the first time we saw a hint of anger. Despite my being clear with Mr. Chimney regarding the video when I established the appointment, he refused to do it. That was it. The sellers demanded the level two and so we have it on schedule for Friday to the tune of $425, our cost, with yet another chimney inspector. We shall see what happens next.

I can only wonder about the use of technology in such jobs. I am not saying it cannot help any examination or assessment. However, the people we have hired in to assess and potentially repair are long term trades people, skilled and knowledgeable in their field. When Mr. Chimney says he can look at everything he needs to see and make a judgement call, I believe him. When Mr. Lewis, our plumber, says he can find a leak and repair it, I believe him. I don’t think we need video cameras and moisture meters and who knows what other devices in every instance. This is escalating into a huge pain and I am actually ready to walk away and call the next highest bidder. This is just not worth it. There is always one more thing, one more demand.

Brooklyn is different from almost everywhere else in the world. It isn’t easy to get a written estimate. Contractor receipts often look simple and amateurish by other standards. Contractors even showing up is always a guess, the smaller the job (and potential profit) the less likely they are to show when they are scheduled to. Unless of course you have a working relationship with them, and even then its iffy. It’s just different here. Not trying to scam anyone, just working with and in Brooklyn, USA.

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