House and Home

Yesterday I put a water sealer on the deck.  I wish I had an exciting story to tell about that, but it was so boring that I didn’t even bother to take a picture.  It was a smelly, messy job that I hope to soon forget about.

That about sums up my week at work too.

I have made some progress on cleaning up the mess in my shop.  There are no pictures of that either since the remaining mess still overwhelms the three or four places that are cleaned up.  Maybe in a month or so I’ll be willing to share what that looks like.

I love doing DIY projects around the house, but there are things I won’t tackle.  Plumbing is one.  For years I tried doing my own plumbing until I realized it would be cheaper to admit defeat before I started and just call the plumber.  The only plumbing I take on is the irrigation system – even there I should probably just give in and hire someone.

Other systems in the house I am much better with – electrical for instance.  I can fix most anything electrical, know the finer points of wiring and haven’t been electrocuted in a couple of decades.  Trust me, you only get a hand across a live circuit once before you learn a healthy respect for volt meters and turning off circuit breakers.

Which brings me to the next fun project for our old house: rewiring the electrical system.  Yup, all of it.  We still have the circuit breaker panel from 1954.  Museums are asking to display it.  However, it still works and can deliver a whole 80 amps to the house.  There are one or two problems – like you can’t run the toaster and microwave at the same time and I can’t work in my workshop if Heather is in the kitchen cooking.  It makes for great stories to tell your friends, but it does get rather tiresome to live with.

So now after living 14 years in this house, we’ve decided it’s time to dive in and have the electrical redone.  We’re going to upgrade the service to 200 amps and get separate circuits for the toaster and microwave and my shop tools.  From my perspective it will be great as I’ll be able to work in the shop while Heather is cooking.  Although I am sure that will increase the number of times I am ‘asked’ to do the after-dinner-dishes.

Still, I am looking forward to having a modern electrical system.

I am not, however, looking forward to getting it installed.  First there is the problem of hiring a qualified contractor to do the work.  Even though I currently have two working voltmeters, I am not foolish enough to do that level of work on my own.

A few years back we thought of doing this work and I called a few electricians to take a look at the project.  The results:  one never sent a quote after looking at the job (and refused to return my calls); one was just a creepy man and I wouldn’t return his calls; and one didn’t even show up for the appointment to do the quote.  In the end we just gave up and postponed the project.

I hate this process.  Asking people for referrals, doing Google searches, checking out reviews on yelp and so on.  I thought about looking in the yellow pages, but then I remembered I haven’t seen those in about seven years.

Even when I manage to find an electrical contractor who will show up to see the project, actually sends a quote and is someone I’d feel safe letting into the house, it’s going to be a mess.  Furniture will have to be moved, our recently painted walls abused, city inspectors, a million decisions and the constant worry of will the guy actually finish the project?

So the next few weeks will be a less than fun time trying to get contractors to call, show up, and send quotes.

I have had one guy show up to look at the job.  He came out today, a Sunday (because I would be home then and didn’t have to take off work). He was knowledgable, professional, honest, had lots of great ideas, and spent nearly 90 minutes documenting everything so he could give me the most realistic quote with a few different options.

It was a very weird experience.  I’ve been thinking of calling my doctor to see if any of my medications are known to cause hallucinations.

Till next week,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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7 Responses to House and Home

  1. gpcox says:

    More power to you – I would rather tackle the plumbing, something solid to work with. The electrical – I don’t work with something I can’t see!lol

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  2. deb reilly says:

    Memories! We lived in a 1920’s Victorian, but couldn’t brew coffee and toast bread at the same time. Hope you found THE contractor! 🙂

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  3. Marv says:

    With 200 amps, you will need a bigger shop with more power tools. Try a 5-star “Diamond” contractor. We have had good luck.

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