Sunday, November 13, 2005

...Tales of a Pink-Blond Homeowner

"You're such a girl"...recently commented my friend, MadDog, much to my amusement.

Boy-0-boy, that phrase has been on rewind-repeat in my head for the last 24 hours.

I purchased my 'lil house a little over a year ago. The former owner had done a general amount of maintenance and remodeling, which was a big selling point for me. Home maintenance isn't one of my strong points.

Oh, I'm a terrific homemaker and decorator, but I don't do wiring, plumbing, roofing, siding, window installation. Worse, even, is that I often can't even recognize when these things need to be done...or if they're done incorrectly.

I have a sunroom on the back of my house that consumes roughly 1/6 of my living space, so I've been working towards making it as functional as possible for the most months of the year. The windows to the sunroom, when I bought it, were disasatrous; it seemed as if each were picked up at different junkyards, none matched. Pine needles blew right into the room through the mis-aligned windows and frames. I had to seal the room off for my first winter here.

This summer I hired a BIG company to put 11 new windows in my sunroom. Windows are expensive, jack, and it was a somewhat stressful transaction for me.

There were a few red flags: When I phoned to schedule an estimate, the woman on the other line asked me, "Are you single?" The idea of her checking off a box on a form somewhere: "SINGLE", didn't sit well with me. I asked her, before getting off the phone, what difference it made. She said they require all homeowners to be at the estimate meeting. Hmph.

This particular company, a very large one, made me an offer I couldn't refuse. $2K, actually, to install 11 windows. I'd done some shopping at home depot, and the numbers seemed to make sense, so I signed up.

It was months before the work was actually done, but they were finally installed, and I thought them beautiful. I can begin the painting, carpeting. But first, I must hire someone to insulate the room, and perhaps add a heating duct to it.

I called an old friend starting a new business, Herman, to give me some ideas and estimates. He had plenty of ideas, and in the interim, he's shaking his head at the shoddy workmanship on the entire structure. Well, yes, even I can see that it was sort of a piecemeal project for whoever put this together; and I am trying to fix this now. Then, Herman said, "your windows are in some sad shape, that guy must have been a moron."

I am dumbfounded. My WINDOWS are in bad shape? I let it sink in for a few minutes before I meekly admit that my windows were just installed in August, and maybe he should show me what is wrong with them.

Herman has a fit, and drags me around to show me my window problems. The windows are not even sealed into the walls. They clearly do not fit, there is wood showing, and rain can run right into my walls. He brings me inside and stands me on a chair to show me that daylight is shining right through, around the outside of the windows. The tops and bottoms of 8 of my 11 windows look like this:

I am feeling like a little pink-haired girl in a dunce-cap; How can I not have seen this? It's very obvious; did I ever even go outside and inspect them?!! NO! I was on autopilot; I was pleased; the windows are done, I paid good money to have them done, and it didn't occur to me that Midstate Siding and Windows (heh heh hehhh) would have done anything less than a stellar job.

Herman is *thoroughly* annoyed, I have been taken for a ride. He insists, of course, that I get on the phone, and make them make this right or there will be hell to pay. I am deflated, now, and unsure of my abilities even to have that conversation. I honestly don't even know what to tell them is not right about the windows, or what I want them to do to fix them. Is there a part? a frame? is flashing something? I know only that I should be seething! Herman told me so, so I believe it!

I'm somewhat anxious; when the workmen last left here, they made me go through, I kid you not, a RECORDED exit interview: Is everything done to your satisfaction? YES, I said, happily.

While I'm not meek or stupid, I will probably call on the assistance of my knowledgeable men-friends to help me fight this battle if it become a battle. I can write a mean letter, and make phone calls, and this will be right.

I still wonder, though: Was SINGLE checked off somewhere?!! What if, on that initial phone call, I had lied, and suggested that there WAS a man of some sort in my house, a man that would be inspecting those windows, a man that would have said "I don't freakin' think so" on the exit interview, would those installers DARED to have walked away leaving sunlight and wind and water to rain to run right into my walls?

I'm disenchanted.


  1. That really stinks. We're having some work done on our house too. (after reading your post, I admit I'm a little frightened)...

    They came by with the formal estimate on Friday and wanted my hub there. He couldn't get out of bed, his back was out -- so I was it. I know they were annoyed that it was just me. I hate that.

    I've often thought of opening a car service center for women only. A place where we can be treated with the respect we deserve. And perhaps sell a great cup of coffee and a manicure while you wait for your oil change?

  2. Just reading this made me sick to my stomach. Flashing? What's flashing? I don't know that I would have gone outside to look at the windows, either.
    Home and car repairs turn me into a sniveling 13 year old girl! I just feel so out of my element and I hate that I feel that way. Your father was a mechanic and my father was a carpenter, we grew up around repair. Why don't we know this stuff or feel more comfortable dealing with it?

  3. Now I feel bad. "You're such a girl" is meant to convey, "more charming than big, dumb boys," not "you should know everything about flashing" or anything else big, dumb boys ought to know. I'll be the mean old hammer of justice on this one if you don't do it yourself. I feel bad now.

  4. Wendy: You are a GENIUS!! An Oil Change/Day Spa! Start your franchise NOW, before someone takes that idea out from under your nose!

    PP: I don't know flashing, I think I made it up. I'm not sure how it is I came away with so little home repair knowledge though, thanks to Dad, I can still recite the firing order of an 8-cylinder Chevy engine. Fat lot of good that does me, yah?

    MD: Don't be going off and feeling bad, now, I never had any doubt that I AM more charming than big dumb boys.

    And don't you worry, I will let down my (pink) hair and wait for you to come clunking over in shining armor to exercise telephone warfare, if those wiindow sneaks trip me up tomorrow! Show up foaming at the mouth!

  5. I was just talking to journaljim about your window dilemma and he said wisely "She's the consumer, she hired the company to be the experts. Why should GG be expected to be an expert in window installation?"

    When did we need to know everything about everything? Cars, home repair, medications, surgery, the law, lawn care, computer repair. You name it, we now have to be experts when we hire our experts, so we can make sure they do it right.

  6. Wow. I'm as shocked as you. This was so blatant. Are businesses still getting away with this kind of swindling these days?

    I'll call them for you. I hate to say it, because if you're anything like me, you just want this to go away, but 2,000 is a lot of money, and you'll want to at least TRY to get it back or get the work repaired at no cost. I'll call them for you and pretend to be you. Then mad dog can be there with you when they show up.

    Perhaps Herman would write up the list of things wrong? Then you would have that going into it. If they ask "specifically" what's wrong, or some such shit, you'll have the list. Herman doesn't have to get involved, but maybe he can make you a list? And tell them that you've taken some pictures too.

    It's times like this that we all wish we'd just stayed in apartments. Honestly, I think that's what keeps apt. complexes in business. People who don't want to deal with crap like this.

  7. If they see those pics - they will know what is wrong, damnit!!! And they should fix it.

    I work for an attorney.

    (hee hee)

    Plus, my husband has much experience in the complaining to authorities dept. if you need his bitching expertise.

    But - I have a feeling - they might fix this. Just like you got your rugs fixed. :0)


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