We are a country of both incredible “bounty” and “waste.” Perhaps they always go together like two sides of a coin.
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 didn’t really like the jobs where I 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—and they could “afford” it. 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?”
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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