This May Cost A Little More (Issue 750)

In which we recommend at least modest due diligence before quoting a price on a project or sale.

We’ve been in our new home about seven weeks. It’s an 1883 brick house divided into several condominium units. We live on the first floor.

A couple of mornings before we were scheduled to begin some bathroom beautification, we noticed a brown spot on the bathroom ceiling. Didn’t think much of it.

“We can paint over that,” we thought.  iStock_000070633135_Small

Next morning, we noticed a drop of rusty colored water on our bathroom sink. And, then, another. We looked up. Damp brown spot on the ceiling and a long, damp, rust colored line running parallel to the bathroom wall. All potential explanations led back to “plumbing leak in the unit upstairs”.


A couple of telephone calls and a quick visit to Jim on the second floor confirmed: Leaky toilet.

Jim turned the toilet inflow valve to shut off the water. It twisted off in his hand. More water…for several hours until the plumber arrived and administered his magic. By this point, the descending water had caused the paint on our bathroom walls to sag like tattoos on an old Merchant Mariner’s chest.

When our carpenter arrived a couple of days later to begin the beautification project, he had to tear out the bathroom sheet rock, walls and ceiling. Everything had to come out, it was saturated.

And, oh, my! Who knew? With the exception of the ceiling joists, which looked great, the carpentry behind the bathroom sheet rock looked like it had been done by a couple of seven year olds using weather-beaten scrap wood from a 19th Century barn and whatever nails and baling wire they could find. No two pieces of wood matched. Nothing was square.

“This may cost a little more,” the carpenter deadpanned.

Sometimes our clients are like that. They draw up RFPs or RFQs or project plans. They ask us for pricing.

We can quote then or we can poke around a bit – interviewing, reviewing documents, observing processes. Sometimes we find stuff that the clients knew about and thought not important to share. Other times, we find stuff that the clients didn’t know about and that should scare the pants off them.

Good to know.

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