Ignorance Isn’t Green. But It’ll Cost Ya!

Are you a blissfully ignorant homeowner? Do you eat, drink, shower, sleep, wash dishes, etc. in your home, never giving any thought to how any of its systems work, until one day…. they don’t?

That’s a bad day, isn’t it? It’s a bad day because you know that looming in your not-so-distant future is a conversation with a contractor who will diagnose a problem and quote a price; and you will not have the first idea whether he is correct or if he can even be trusted. If you’ve owned a home for more than a few years, you know what I’m talking about.

The President of a local homeowners association (HOA) confided to me recently, “In our experience, the level of disrespect we get [from contractors] is astonishing. Folks cut corners when they think you are not looking, quote crazy prices for small requests, and fail at follow through.”

That same HOA President also said to me, “Many contractors count on lack of knowledge by the buyer to manipulate the situation.”

Sounds about right.

There’s Nothing Green About Being Dumb; Even Though We’ve All Been There
Recently, a dear friend of mine, who is also a contractor (yes, there are good ones out there) was doing some touch-up sealing and painting on our rental house. Now, mind you, this home had been freshly painted just a few years ago – shortly before we rented it. It looked great. The painting contractor, recommended by a friend who is also a real estate agent, was polite, professional, fast and (yes) cheap.

I thought they did a good job until a few weeks ago when my contractor friend showed me how they had not primed any of the hard-to-reach places on the exterior of the home; they also had not properly caulked the nail holes or seams in the siding. So, less than three years after I had this entire home painted, I got to pay to have it painted all over again – or risk moisture damage to the siding.

Was I blissfully ignorant? Yes I was. But in fairness to me, what homeowner thinks she has to catch a visualof a painter priming the hard-to-reach areas of a home just to confirm it wasn’t skipped!

Today’s lesson? Yes, you have to get a visual of your painter actually priming all of the hard-to-reach places of your home. Sounds ridiculous, but that’s reality.

Today’s other lesson? Ignorance ain’t so blissful. And if you make a lifelong practice of it where your home is concerned, I hope your socking away a lot of extra cash. You’re gonna need it.

Finally, what’s green about this blog aimed at eradicating homeowner ignorance?

  • Wasting money isn’t green! It ultimately leads to excessive use, waste, and disposal of other resources.
  • Ignorance allows bad contractors to get away with it. This means our houses aren’t as sustainable or healthy as they should be. (Can you say MOLD?)
  • Third, ignorance makes it hard for good contractors to make a living doing a good job. And we need good contractors. All six of them.

My advice? Don’t talk to a contractor until you’ve done a little research on the problem yourself. Pretend for a half hour that you’re the one that has to fix the dishwasher or leaky shower. Get out the manual, Google some words on the Internet, or write me — anything to get you on the right track toward asking the pertinent questions. At the very least you’ll make an impression that you are a homeowner to be reckoned with.


4 Responses »

  1. Thanks for this informative post.

  2. Trish, I’m wondering if we’re all simply running too fast that there isn’t enough time to get educated. I agree that we all need to learn more about our homes but then I think about my dentist, and the lawyer, and … You get the idea.

    I enjoy learning about the home but that’s mostly after investing enough time so that I’m comfortable in that space but gosh, I don’t want to develop similar skills for my car repairs so I can see why too many home owners don’t realize what a good job is or isn’t

  3. I am a building consultant and tell all my clients, “you’re power lies in your control of the money”. If you had scheduled an inspection after the painter claimed the “job is complete” those issues might have been discovered. The “recommendation of a friend who is also a real estate agent” should NEVER replace checking references and due diligence.

  4. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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