Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Subtraction by addition

This is my home, circa 1998.

As you can see it was undergoing a major remodeling.

Unable to afford a new house, unless we moved to a double-wide in Palmdale or Mojave, my wife and I were left with no other option but to blow out our modest California ranch house and add a second story.

It was not an easy decision.
Particularly since my knowledge about construction was quite limited.

In my teen years I had seen my father acquire the entire Time Life Homeowners Collection. And I witnessed his incredible growth from a tinkerer to a full fledged carpenter. When he wasn't CPA'ing, he was always playing with his band saw, his miter saw, his two fisted router and his belt sander.

At one point, he grew so ambitious that he single-handedly tacked on a Home And Garden-worthy Finnish Sauna to the master bedroom. I could have learned quite a bit from him, but typical father/son friction made that all but impossible.

And so it was I found myself entering this remodel business completely unarmed. Fortunately the Internet was coming into its own and offered a wealth of information and references on potential contractors.

So I did my homework. Lots of it.

Mostly because I didn't want to flitter away thousands of dollars. But also because it gave me a good excuse not to change diapers and escape from the non-stop crying of our two colicky daughters.

I ended up awarding the job to Fischer Construction. The owner, Joel, was perhaps one of 13 Jews in America (my dad had passed away a decade earlier) who knew his way around a Nail Gun, a Torpedo Level and a Hammer Tacker.

My exhaustive research paid off. Apart from some miscues with his subcontractors, my experience with Joel the Jewish Contractor was outstanding. He showed up every day. Did what he promised. And as you might expect, did not exceed the budget.

Which is why I find it so amusing that my landline phone is ringing off the hook with cold call solicitations from contractors who are "in my area and ready to get going on my next project."


I never thought of demo-ing my home or adding another bathroom as an impulse buy, but hey if you're nearby, sure stop on over and let's fire up cement mixer.

Seriously, who does that?

What these contractors lack in marketing savvy they certainly make up for with persistence. I have asked over and over again to be taken off their calling list. But they keep dialing my number.  So now I have a new way to get crossed off their list.

I purposely whet their appetite and get them worked up about landing a big job. The script goes as follows:

"Yes. Yes I am interested in remodeling the bathroom, maybe even the kitchen, we're thinking granite counters. Even granite shelves…wait, can you hold on I have another call…(slight pause) thanks for holding, that was a creditor on the other line…well, one of the creditors…hello….hello?"

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