Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Home Repairs: The "Double Up" Rule

I had a little time to myself this past weekend. Rather than spend all that time writing for IYM and this blog, I figured I'd get something tangible done around the house.

Goal: Install new vanity faucet in our master bathroom (old one leaking and rusting internally).

Initial Projected Cost: $60-$70.

Let me preface this by stating quite clearly that I am no Bob Vila, nor will the Home & Garden network ever ask me to co-host "Gardening By the Yard." However, I have quite a collection of wrenches, saws, and power tools, and I know how to pronounce and use most of them. I have more cordless drills than my truck has tires. I have a router (the woodworking kind) that I wish I could use more. I wonder how handymen and builders ever got along without laser-guided compound miter saws. Further, and perhaps most dangerous, every so often I actually have initiative.

To date, I have installed one kitchen faucet (a $200 Price Pfister that was worth every penny), replaced the entire flush mechanisms in two toilets, and accomplished various and sundry other minor household fix-its in my time (8 years) in our current home. Contrary to popular rumor, I have not yet flooded or detonated a single square foot of my residence.

But back to the task at hand. One thing I hate is cheap faucets — as evidenced, perhaps, by the Price Pfister model above. For this newest task, though, I didn't buy the top-shelf faucet. I walked out of Lowe's with a $68 single-handle Moen whose handle motion was so smooth I practically wet myself. Throw in a few more bucks for new supply lines, plumber's putty and pipe tape, and a Channel-Lock wrench (didn't have one of those; it would've come in handy for the kitchen faucet). While at Lowe's, I also finally remembered to pick up a water-heater insulating blanket. (Been needing that for a while.)

All of which saw me exiting checkout with a bill for $99.32.

Fast-forward about three hours. The faucet replacement is not going smoothly. Faucet is installed, but water pressure is minimal when faucet is fully opened. Additionally, both water valves beneath the vanity now leak profusely when turned on. They look not so good anyway (house was built in 1979), so I figure this is as good a time as any to replace them, too.

In the interest of time I head for Ace Hardware. It's maybe ten minutes from my house, as opposed to Lowe's and/or Home Depot, both of which would require one-way trips of at least 25 minutes. Ace might have had the parts I needed, but I wouldn't know. Because as I parked my truck in their lot and headed in, I realized I didn't have my wallet. Which meant two things: (1) a great chance to brush up on my profanity, and (2) back home for me.

I went back home, got the wallet, and opted to head for Lowe's. They, of course, would have what I needed, which was two new quarter-turn lavatory water valves and enough other tidbits to total another $17.17.

You can guess where this is going, right? Of course I couldn't remove the old valves — too tightly installed. Of course my messing with the valves only made them leak worse.

So this morning, I, now a decidedly beaten man, called my trusty plumber. This afternoon he came, he saw, and he solved my dilemma ... in all of about 23 minutes.

Price tag: another $60. And all he really had to do was flush some debris out of the faucet and tweak the old water valves.

"These old style valves have a little nut in 'em, right about here," he said, pointing. "Thing's always gonna leak unless it's all the way on or all the way off. Just the way they made 'em."

Tremendous. At least my nice faucet is now fully functional. And no longer leaking. And yes, that smooooooth handle motion is righteous.

Grand Total:   $176.49.

So what I've decided is that in the future, whatever my Initial Price Projection (IPP) is for ANY household repair and / or modification, I will add at least 100% to it, call that my Modified Educated Projection (MEP), and work from there.

Given the power that retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's hold over me, I feel that this is a much more realistic path to travel — fiscally, at least.

Now ... can anybody tell me how hard it is to install a new vanity / sink combo? :)

Related Post:
2005 Sept. 18: New Bathroom Faucet ... Again

— Posted by Michael @ 1:14 AM


Thanks for this great post. You've got some really good info in your blog. If you get a chance, you can check out my blog on
{money from home} at http://www.moneyfromhomemadez.com.

Mary Anne Martin

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]