“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” –I have no idea who said this.
“What the hell is wrong with people?!?” -me
We’ve lived in
Uglyhouse* our current home for 16 months now and we’ve been working on it almost the whole time. This isn’t the first time we’ve renovated a house, but some things never change. One consistent and disturbing thing I’ve noticed in every home I’ve ever renovated is extremely shoddy work performed by past occupants. Some of it is superficial. In other cases, it’s dangerous. The current home is no exception. We’ve stumbled upon the following:
- Ungrounded electrical runs
- Plumbing without any venting (this is why sink and shower drains bubble and gurgle)
- Electrical fixtures installed without electric boxes. Yep, just wires coming out of the ceiling with the fixture screwed into the drywall.
- Caulk, lots and lots of caulk! Caulk is the sloppy worker’s savior. Screw something up and just fill your mistake with caulk. Massive quantities of caulk is never the answer.
However, this summer, Mrs. 1500 and I discovered something that epitomizes crap construction. We were doing some yard work when a part of a little concrete wall that borders our property fell off. “Interesting” we thought; concrete walls aren’t supposed to crumble after being bumped with a rake. We looked down to investigate further and saw this:
Your eyes do not deceive you. Some joker built a wall with beer cans inside! To add insult to concrete wall injury, it wasn’t even good beer. Perhaps the wall itself is the result of drinking too much beer:
Hey Bob <BUUURRRPP!!!>, I have an idea! Let’s build a wall from beer cans! Yeee haaa!
I have no idea who did this, but I hope this dude’s career doesn’t involve construction of any type. I would love to know what this guy’s full time job is actually so I can avoid him and the business that pays him to do something. Someone help the world if this dude is a civil engineer designing dams or working at a brake shop.
Shortcuts or beercuts are never the answer
It drives me nuts when people take shortcuts. Why can’t they just do it correctly? Some random thoughts:
- The difference between doing it right and doing it wrong usually isn’t very much. Did Mr. Beer Can Wall save much money? Nope. Did using beer cans as a construction material make the job easier? Nope. If anything, it probably made the job more difficult.
- The right way to do something is usually obvious. If you do something wrong on purpose as Mr. Beer Can Wall clearly did, what does that say about his character? I wouldn’t hire this guy to serve donuts.
- If you do it wrong, you’ll probably have to redo it sometime in the near future. Perhaps this guy did it right before he sold the home which makes it even worse. Again, it all goes back to character.
This is the main reason why I never hire anyone if I can help it. With only a couple exceptions, most of the people we’ve hired to do anything have been big disappointments. People show up late or not at all. When they do show up, they do bad work. I have no idea how any of these folks live with themselves. I do the best job I can for myself. When I’m working for others, I try even harder.
I don’t even let my friends and neighbors hire out without a fight. Instead, I try to convince them to do it themselves with my help. This never works and they end up with shoddy construction. The most recent example involved neighbors who hired some random person to tile a bathroom. $3000 later, it looks horrible. Perhaps, there are even some random beer cans inside the wall.
*Uglyhouse has turned a corner and isn’t ugly any more, so I will cease to call it that. It is Averagehouse now, but well on it’s way to being KickAssAwesomeHouse.
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Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
Wow. We’ve seen some make-do construction in the past, but I think the beer can wall takes the cake.
The sad thing is these half measures end up being more expensive in the long run, needing to be repaired or replaced long before something that would have been done right would have needed to. It makes me wonder… if the folks that installed the tile in our house had picked up a $5 bag of tile spacers, would we have felt quite as inclined to be ripping it all out? Or used a $15 tile leveler to make sure they were laid level?
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted…He Said She Said – Blogs We’re Reading Lately
You know, I’ve seen lots of botched tile jobs due to forgoing spacers. What is wrong with people? How basic is that? Does a carpenter now use a tape measure or a painter not use a brush?
Points With a Crew says
Have you heard of Earthships? http://www.earthship.org – sounds like something from there
Points With a Crew recently posted…New AAdvantage program, $15 Starbucks gift card, family of 6 to Europe and bye-bye Old Amex Blue
Ha, maybe. Perhaps these people were just ahead of their time? Ha!
Mr. Frugalwoods says
I laugh, because the last several weeks I’ve been working on what I thought was going to be a simple project, and every step of demolition uncovered another thing that needed to be fixed.
You know an _interior_ project has taken a turn for the worst when you find yourself covered in dirt using a shovel to dig a new foundation pier…
But my addition to this litany of construction half-assed-jobs is this: The previous owner of my house thought it was a good idea to re-use pieces of cheap cabinet box (so foil covered particle board) as subfloor in a mudroom/shed structure. 4″ from the soil (untreated 2x4s as joists) and covered in 9 layers of carpet. Yes. 9.
Ever wonder what 20 years of ground moisture does to particle board? It turns to soil. The 9 layers of extremely mouldy carpet was the only thing holding it up. Plus there was no actual foundational support. Of course.
In that case, I’m sure he did it to save money. And to be fair, it lasted him probably 20 years. But the $150 in PT lumber and cinder blocks from home depot will last 100 years.
It’s a lot easier to make that calculation knowing we want to keep this as a rental for the long term. Fix it once, and never again!
Mr. Frugalwoods recently posted…Great Trash Finds: The Kitchen Edition
Whoah, be care in there Mrs. FW! Wear a respirator at least. That sounds really, really nasty. Like I said, what is wrong with people?
WTF. I can’t even picture this. Did you take pictures LOL?
Mrs SSC says
Down here in Houston, we have an entire house built out of beer cans! http://www.beercanhouse.org/ But, at least they were smart and used a real house as its skeleton, and not vice-versa!
Mrs SSC recently posted…Death of a Cellphone
Ha, perhaps the cement workers (I use this in the loosest terms) at my place were inspired by that guy?
Damn, that is shitty construction. And who thinks of that? I can hear the conversation: “Need a beer. Yeah. Where’s the garbage can? It’s way over there. That’s ok, let’s just put it in the concrete. Great. No one will ever know. Awesome. Get me another beer!!!!” What morons! Can’t wait to see more of the progress as your house gets to kick-ass mode.
Jason recently posted…Why I Switched to Fidelity
What I wonder is how far the beer cans go in the wall? We only saw one part of it. I was scared to touch any more of it after this. I have enough to do right now…
Wow that’s some poor constructions there. I watch HDTV from time to time and it amazes me what people find behind the walls during renovation projects.
Tawcan recently posted…5 frugal ways to save on grocery bill
I know, right? I leave easter eggs too, but just Warren Buffett advice:
Even Steven says
In a college humor way, I’m impressed. In my grown up, craftsmanship and doing things right I am disgusted. Always bringing up great points to DIY, I’m slowly getting on board.
Even Steven recently posted…Confessions of a Landlord: I Raised the Rent
J. Money says
Did you check the insides??? Maybe you have a Saddle Ridge-type gold coin hoard right under your feet 😉
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Ree Klein says
Is this Gollum looking for a gold ring again?!?!?! (hee hee!)
Ree Klein recently posted…Reflecting on Failure as a Byproduct of Growth
I have had some similar issues in our house. When I went up to check the wiring, I found out that they had simply run 14/2 from the box to the attic, then just spliced that into the existing KNOB AND TUBE wiring system, leaving the poor grounding wires just hanging out, unused. The splices were not in boxes either, just twisted together with a wire nut and some black e tape.
To string power out to one of the outbuildings, they simply fished some romex (inside grade) out above the porch and into the building, and left it for many years, leaving the wire brittle and the casing hardly hanging on.
they did their own plumbing “work” and failed to put many of the pipes back in the wall where they belong, and of course to cover the drywall they had to cut out, they replaced it with spray painted cardboard boxes.
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Oh wow, I have nothing to complain about. Painted cardboard?!?
Frugal Buckeye says
Congratulations on turning Uglyhouse into Averagehouse. I look forward to following the transformation into KickassAwesomeHouse!
Frugal Buckeye recently posted…Why is Achieving Financial Independence Important to Me?
Thanks FB! Stay tuned for an update soon.
Trying to find good construction help is the worst. I do a lot of repairs/updates myself but I know my limitations so sometimes I do have to hire somebody. I get anxious every time because I am sure their work will not live up to my specifications. And of the 10 or so different companies I have hired to do work for me, I would only recommend two of them to anybody. Also, I think your house looks pretty cute.
20% is actually a pretty good success rate! For our recent home project, I called about 50 people. Out of those, less than 5 returned my call and only 2 were interested in the work. It took me 6 months to find someone I finally felt comfortable in.
Thanks for your kind comments!
Ree Klein says
Hey, Mr. 1500, so glad to see the humorous you back…did you ditch the soylent and go back to the usual fare?!?!?
I love to hear these stories and those of your readers…gotta love @frugalwoods find. That is some count on the layers of carpet. Must have felt like walking on a mattress!
Cheers (but with a cold one, not a moldy old rusty can found in your wall!)
Ree Klein recently posted…Reflecting on Failure as a Byproduct of Growth
Cheers indeed! The Frugalwoods are lucky that they didn’t sink into that mess like quicksand!
Mrs Y says
Unfortunately, not all men are honest and hard working. Sometimes it is better to do it yourself since you know exactly what you did and what materials you used. Newer houses supposedly have better materials, but older house have better workmanship.
Mrs Y recently posted…Progress – Year One
I agree with every thing you say except “sometimes!” If I can do it myself, I will. Hiring people raises my stress level through the roof. I have many, many horror stories.
Myles Money says
I can relate to this: the house we’re renting at the moment was built by the owner who was forced to turn to DIY when his builder went out of business. To his credit, the house is still standing, but the electrics and plumbing are a complete disaster, you get breeze coming through the windows even when they’re closed and the doors don’t fit the frames properly.
Having said that, DIY done properly is clearly going to save you a ton of money and you’ll (hopefully) do a proper job because you’ll make the effort to do things right with your own property. It’s certainly something I would be interested in learning.
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Mom @ Three is Plenty says
Now I’m feeling worried about the building of our new house – I’m *sure* some of that will happen, even though it’s being built by “professionals”.
I’m having an inspector come by before the walls are closed up, so hopefully, we’ll be somewhat OK.
Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted…September 2014 Early Retirement Progress
I feel your pain, unfortunately I’ve had the same type of experience. Hired a guy to fix a retaining wall, 2 years later it had to be fixed again. Hired a guy to replace the roof, he did a crappy job. I’ve found that almost everything I hire someone to do has to be redone and that just makes me so mad and frustrated. My neighbours and friends are always going on about how great it is that I’m so handy….I’m NOT, I’ve just had to learn how to do all these repairs and upgrades myself because hiring someone is so aggravating. And yes I’ve run into previous “repairs” in the house that have left me shaking my head.
Bleh, apparently this shoddiness happens all over the place.
“My neighbours and friends are always going on about how great it is that I’m so handy….I’m NOT, I’ve just had to learn how to do all these repairs and upgrades myself because hiring someone is so aggravating.”
Exactly! It’s easier to watch a couple YouTube videos and figure it out yourself.
Maybe the guy was thinking of the song “99 bottles of the beer on the wall” and got mixed up – thought it was 99 cans of beer in the wall?
LOL! Hilarious! I should hire you to write my titles! Thanks for the laugh tonight!