Repairs Gone Bad

May 30, 2023

As I spent yesterday fixing things around my house I began to wonder: why? In my intro to Economics textbook from college Greg Mankiw proclaims “Trade can make everyone better off.” However I have learned time and time again that the effort required to procure competent people to fix things exceeds the effort to simply learn how to and fix them myself.

Why It Matters

Randy Pausch once implored that the most valuable thing to buy is your time. In a world where trade can make everyone better off, I should be able to reliably trade my money for help to fix things I don’t otherwise know how to fix. Tech companies made it easy to DoorDash food or Uber to your destination, but nobody has a solution for handy people.

Months to Fix a Broken Couch

It took nearly nine months to build and ship our Joybird sofa. So it was even more frustrating when a piece of it broke two months ago. Instead of having a local repair person come out with basic tools and repair material, they took out to manufacture an entirely new part of the sofa that had broken. They shipped us the wrong part two weeks ago, and we still are waiting. Yesterday I finally used clamps and wood glue to fix the broken part myself, in a way that will likely be more durable than the factory fix.

$500 to Review a Leak

When I had a water intrusion into my kitchen it took calling over nine contractors to find someone able to review it. Many simply declined. Finally one offered to do so for the eye popping sum of $500. This was just to diagnose, not to fix it.

The Useless HVAC Repair

When I had an HVAC technician drop by to inspect why my system wasn’t switching on they drilled a hole into my drywall to access the system, didn’t patch/fill it, and merely pronounced the system fine. It did not take much effort for my father to identify the issue as a relay on its way out.

A Botched Front Step Repair and Flood

My neighbor hired a contractor to refinish our front stoop showing wear. Instead of merely refinishing and painting the wood, they stripped it out down including the caulking that was waterproofing our basement crawlspace. They then sprayed water and flooded the basement. I had the privilege of re-insulating the crawl space after drying it out. The paint job on the newly poured concrete step began to fail a few months because the contractor did not properly dry it before painting and sealing.

My Favorite Resources

My favorite resource is my father, who has clearly dealt with all of this before. However lacking that or wanting to save time, YouTube is a great place to check including my favorite channel: Home RenoVision DIY. I have also learned that when it comes to painting or using repair material manufacturer instructions are often highly detailed and useful.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.