Friday, July 22, 2016

Give a guy a hammer and he thinks he's a carpenter, give him a screwdriver and he thinks he's an eletrician. Which is why people should hire things done professionally

There was a time when people built their own homes, construction occurred with the owners own labour and shared knowledge of friends and family. Today we leave construction to the professionals and chose instead to invest our time paying the mortgage on the place.  It's easier to be a lawyer or company executive and buy what you want than it is to go build it yourself,  people no longer know how to build things.

As Henry David Thoreau said "the joy of building has been left to the carpenters."  As much respect as I have for lawyers, I can't imagine being one as the tedium would kill me. Legal briefs are an oxymoron.  I can  get my head around the construction business.

At the end of the work  day, the Carpenter or the Electrician look at  what  wasn't there yesterday and say "fuckin right I built that", and they probably say that out loud that every time they drive by for years after. I don't know many lawyers who say "fuckin right, I nailed that real estate closing" or think "cool, my shit is in there" every time they drive by the land titles office.  Maybe they do think like that, but I kind of doubt it.

My passion of house inspection, particularly in Belize  is all about helping the lawyers, doctors and retired civil servants get a good place where they can live or recreate.  The average Belizean might also use my service, but it'll be a while before that market matures.  

Everyone deserves a safe place to live, not everyone gets  a beachfront condo in San Pedro, but I am not going to discriminate against people just because they have money. The fees the beach front people pay me will help the people on the third street back from the beach, likely your house and grounds keeper, have safe places too.

A safe place might mean not having bad wiring, or the house collapsing from rot. It might mean asking the service and church people to do more than painting on their mission trips.  It will  mean training local people to understand  structures and teach them to inspect their own.

"Give a guy a hammer and he thinks he's a carpenter, give him a screw driver and he thinks he's an electrician"  This is true: most of the bad things that happen to buildings are not done by the pro's,  it's  amateurs who think they are pro's.

I used to cringe at  do it yourself deck construction until I started to see well intentioned people do their own electrical work.  This can kill you, in Belize or at home.

In  Alberta it is still possible for an owner to take out a permit to do alterations to their home. The work is subject to inspection and must be up to code. The problem begins when people do not get permits and don't know what they are doing.  For example: if  I tell you the neutral and the ground can only be bonded in the main disconnect would you be able to show me:

1) the main disconnect (not your grounds for divorce, no)
2) The ground (not at your feet)
3) The neutral (not  the Swiss)
4) The  bus bar  (a great way for public transit to increase ridership)
5) the sub-panel.  (which better NOT be underwater)

If you are standing in the shower and plug your blow dryer into a three prong outlet that has a false ground, what is the likely outcome?
1) Wet hair
2) A weird power surge like in a Frankenstein movie?
3) A paramedic named Igor shouting "He's alive, He's alive" 

Speaking of which, if they shock you with electricity to start your heart, why does getting shocked with electricity stop it?

The hardest thing to kill yourself with at home is the plumbing; that or soft fruit. 

Electricity, structural failure and natural gas all rank higher than a plugged toilet in the likelihood of death department. However, plumbing definitely has the highest ick potential of all the trades, especially when  combined with soft fruit.  Nobody wants to come home to a basement full of floating turds, be they your own or someone else's. Nor does someone want to see the dishwasher spouting a geyser across the kitchen. 

Electric hot water tanks can be quite dangerous if they are empty and the power is on; they can explode and ruin your whole night (ask someone's brother about that), more likely  they just stop working and your shower will be cold in the morning. You will be grumpy and your wife will be mad because she married an idiot who can't fix a hot water heater.

It's  incorrect to call them hot water heaters because what they actually heat is cold water, this is the kind of technical stuff it takes years to master, it's on the final exam.

Off to your law firm you go;  you ask your paralegal, who seems pretty handy, to get someone over to your house to fix the hot water heater so your wife can stop bitching about it.  Your paralegal, you can't call her a secretary anymore as it's against company policy, says the cheapest guy wants $1,800 and can't do it until Thursday. At this point your wife calls to see if you are still incompetent and says that she knows a "guy" who can do it. Now why your wife would know a "guy" is itself curious, but you say ok and make a diary entry that will likely interfere with your 2080 billable hours target, to be at home when her "guy" comes to replaces the hot water heater.

Her "guy"  shows up the next morning with a couple of wrenches, but no truck or hot water heater.  The first step he says is to take out the old hot water heater, you realize that the "guy" isn't that bright after he asks you to help him carry it up the stairs and forgets to drain it. (ask someone's brother in law about that)  Now with a hernia because a full tank weights 400 pounds, he asks if the seats fold down in your Audi A6 because we need to run to Home Depot and grab the new tank and some fittings.  He picks a new water heater, a nice white one, and 300 dollars worth of greasy black iron fittings that burst from the bag all over your beige leather the minute he slams the back door.  As you drive away from Home Depot the heater shifts and squeezes the tubes of pipe dope  onto the carpet.
Eventually you get home and six billable hours later he still has not got it hooked up, after three more trips to different Home Depots to find a 5/8"  frammis nozzle, you realize the "guy" might not have a  clue and you feel much better about your life because if your wife is dumb enough to sleep with him, you are going to get a divorce and buy  a condo on the beach in Belize, which you will have professionally maintained by others.

As you enjoy the first shower with your new tank, you wife hollers  that the down stairs toilet is overflowing.

24 billable hours later, you get up to go to work, realizing you could have showered at the gym and had the water heater replaced professionally, and with that the basement rumbles and  goes boom because the "guy" neglected to install a T&P valve. Or so said the real plumber you hired to fix the other "guys" work.

Total cost, including lost wages, car detailing and minor surgery: $8,000.00.  Actual cost after the dust settles on the divorce: priceless.

It is said  a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. It should also be said that just because you own a screw driver does not make you an  electrician. Hire a pro, it's way cheaper in the long run, divorce can be expensive. 

Tomorrows topic:  Why YouTube videos are not the best place to learn to fix things.

No comments: