Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Do we always get to do what we want "because we can?"

         We are a country of both incredible "bounty" and "waste."  Perhaps one isn't possible without the other. 

     As a builder, I have seen people take perfectly good houses and remodel them into monstrosities, and I have seen "sows ears" turned into "silk purses."  I really didn't like the jobs where you would install one thing and then when it was done, and the client didn't like the finished product, it was ripped out and thrown in the dumpster and started over---just because we could.  Fortunately in my 33 year career as a builder that was an exceptionally rare occurrence----really only a couple of times.  But I also know I was "lucky," because builder friends used to have it happen over and over to them.  I did often however rip out things that didn't need to be replaced just because it was "no longer in style."

     I remember one job where we got the entire bathroom tiled with white tiles----walls, floors, and tub/shower surround.  The owner picked out the tile and even delivered them to the site.  When we were all done----and he had watched the install from the start----he says, "they are pink."  Well, it turns out the tiles were a "warm" white and against the cooler blue-white of the fixtures they sure as hell did look "pink."  So we ripped them all out and did the job again----because we live in a country where we can do that.

     How do we decide when it is time to remodel something?  Are there guidelines that are more "socially" and "environmentally" conscious than others?  It just doesn't seem logical with all our interest in "green" that there isn't also a "green" approach to remodeling.  A green rationale for when remodeling is "appropriate" and when it is just "ego."

     Do we always get to do what we want "because we can?"

     I inspected a house the other day where remodeling the bathroom was necessary because it was a "health hazard"----no ifs ands or buts.  No one anywhere would question it.  They might argue that the whole house should be demolished---but that would be another story.  So here is a picture of the bathroom----maybe I can take the sink to "Second Use" or the "Re-Store?"

bad sink


Charles Buell  

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Comment balloon 12 commentsCharles Buell • September 20 2008 10:45PM


Your right Charles about our throw away society. I watch people spend $20k to fix up their house to sell, never get to enjoy it, just to have the buyers gut the house...

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) almost 11 years ago

Charles, I really think your are nik picking that bathroom. The toilet is intact with running water and the lavatory has running water and holds water. Ok Ok it's a little ugly looking and a little water damaged. a little duct tape along the edges and wha la done.

                                                               ~ Newbie


Posted by Roy A. Peterson, P.R.E.I. (Domicile Analysis of Texas) almost 11 years ago

Paul, that reminds me of a house that I inspected last week. All brand new carpets and the entire interior had been painted the obligory Beige/off-white only for the buyer to have the painter and carpet guys there to give estimates to re-do it all.  Painful.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Hey Roy, see on the sink where the pieces had been held together with duct tape for years?  Now that is what I call getting "use" out of an item before it hits the dumpster:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charles: We do waste a lot in western society. I lived in Asia for six years and the recycling is phenomenal. Plus they produce many kilos less of garbage per person anyway.

Posted by Matt Grohe, Serving the metro since 2003 (RE/MAX Concepts) almost 11 years ago

Charles, yes we do have an abundance of waste in our society. Just look at our over filled land fills. Most products have a one way trip to the trash dump. No, I do not think that the sink will/can have a second life...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

You make an excellent point.  I was just talking to someone a few days ago about folks who go into homes here and if the kitchen doesn't have granite/stainless/maple, they are disappointed while there are days I think I am going to SCREAM if I see one more house with everything the SAME!  What ever happened to a little creativity and originality? 

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 11 years ago

hhhmmm, what's wrong with that bathroom? Looks functionable to me, not that I would want to use it myself!!

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) almost 11 years ago

Matt, seems like "having" is as difficult a cycle to break as "not having"

Michael, it would be quite a start if everything we made had to be "re-cylable"

Susan, you are so right!

Sean, I bet you could buy these fixtures real cheap:)


Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I wonder what kind of battle went on in that bathroom to cause that damage!  Musta been one big fight!  Looks like a foreclosure property to me.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 11 years ago

how did you get into my house and why are you taking pictures?  oh wait you 'said' it is from an inspection, scared me for a bit.  cheryl

Posted by Cheryl Willis, MO Broker - Mt Vernon, Monett, Aurora, Barry & Law (RE/MAX Solutions- OZARK MISSOURI) almost 11 years ago

Barbara, yup foreclosure.  It does take quite a whack to break a sink like that.

Cheryl, say it isn't so---do we need to take up a collection?:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago