That “shoe-string budget” repair job stinks!.. quite literally…
Mr. Fulton (name changed for privacy) patted himself on the back: he just saved close to $10,000 by hiring his neighbor to work on his gas line rather than allowing the contractor who gave him a bid earlier on to do the project. His neighbor seems plenty smart and careful, and he fixed a bunch of things around his own house, saving a ton of money doing his own work – and it looked great, so Mr. Fulton had confidence that his project is in good hands. To be safe, he also planned to have an inspector come out after the project was done to check and certify its safety.
Two weeks into the project, some unexpected costs came up that had to do with the fact that the property was built on a slope and special reinforcements had to be put in to prevent the line from being damaged. Mr. Fulton complained to the neighbor about the fact that they were now over the original budget (and it was eating its way into the money he saved by not going with the expensive contractor), but the neighbor pointed out that he was still faster than the contractor, who estimated three weeks for the re-piping project, and the work was ready to be completed a week sooner.
A few days and $2,000 extra costs later, the project was done. Mr. Fulton was thrilled. He paid the neighbor, moved back into the house, and arranged for the inspection to take place in two days. His joy, however, was marred the next morning by a strong smell of gas in the kitchen… and bathroom… and some in the yard by the house walls… Irritated by his discovery, Mr. Fulton called up the man who did the work for explanation. There wasn’t one. “We did the best possible work we could” was all he got out of his neighbor. He did come back to test and see what was wrong, but could not pinpoint where the leak could be coming from and figured out it “may be normal when you first turn it back on.”
The inspector, however, did not think it was normal at all. The meter was red tagged, Mr. Fulton’s gas service was turned off until the leak was fixed, and the last discovery was a complete horror. The whole project involved replacing about 200 feet of gas line. By code, every joint had to have been sealed with special gas tape or liquid that would prevent the gas from escaping out of the line… neither type of sealant was used on Mr. Fulton’s property. The gas pipe came in 10ft lengths, so at the minimum, there would be 20 connections (not counting turns, kitchen fittings, dryer connection, etc.), and each connection was now leaking gas…
This was worse than any Halloween nightmare, because it was real! Instead of saving money, Mr. Fulton ended up having to pay twice. He ended up calling the licensed contractor he first refused to tear out the flawed installation and to re-do the whole project over – up to code and safety standards.
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We all want to save money – making it is difficult enough! When it comes to things like gas, electricity, or plumbing, however, it quite literally pays to hire a licensed professional to do the work. Not only can you avoid the potential of ugly surprises down the line if you have it done right the first time, but also, especially if you are hiring someone to work on a rental unit, it could provide you with legal proof that you were acting in a responsible manner and tried to provide safe and up-to-code environment by hiring someone who was licensed to handle such issues.
Marina Alkasas | Realtor® | Cal DRE License # 02070557 | Century 21 CARE
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