Thursday, March 06, 2008
Spring's here – a bit too early but there you go – so it's time to dig up the old hammer and start DIY-ing. On the agenda this year: install central heating and a new bathroom, and refurbish Milady's office.
The central heating thing is the biggest challenge (not that I ever installed a bathroom before – or revamped an office space for that matter), so some preparation and homework is on the order. I snooped around on the internet a stumbled upon an interesting formula: some companies make all the difficult calculations of how many radiators you need and how much capacity the heater needs to have based on the plans of your house. Then you get a training on how to install everything, and they deliver a number of kits with easy-to-follow plans to your doorstep. Then you have to install everything, and in the end their specialists come over to check if you didn't do anything stupid, correct it if you did and finally do the difficult jobs like setting up the central heater.
Piece of cake! And it costs about half of what you'd pay for a professional to turn up somewhere between today and mid-November 2814 AD.
So last week I drove to an appointment I had with one of the firms that I contacted. It was in the evening, so I half expected to be there alone with the salesman. Was I a measly bit wrong! It was a coming and going of people, there were desks all over the place with scores of salesmen and -women trying to sell-sell-sell. I don't want to imply that they were pushy, but before I had settled in the comfy chair the guy had already tried to jam a rainwater recycling installation and a new sanitary installation through my throath.
It took a while before he finally started with what I came for: a central heating. I felt he was barely interested in what I wanted, it seemed more important for him to get all the information HE needed. I really had to press him to include a condensation boiler in stead of an ordinary one. 'Yes', he said 'but it will be easier to install, with the exhaust and all'
'But doesn't it burn much more gas?' I asked.
'Well, only 25 percent.'
'Only 25 percent?' I said. 'I want that condensation boiler, I don't give a damn if it's a bit more difficult to install!'
The difference with the second supplier couldn't be bigger. It was as busy as the other one was, but here the salesman took their time, really listened to what we wanted and gave us some pretty darn good advice that will save us a lot of money and make installation easier. Not unimportant if you do such a major job in a house that you still have to be able to live in the whole time.
Now even when the first company offers us a better price, guess which one will probably get the contract?