16 Mar 2020 – 15:25 GMT – 10°C Mostly Cloudy – Co. Dublin, Ireland
A little vent is long overdue. I’ll try to avoid it becoming a rant. My irritants include a boiler, a grant and trust.
But let’s digress immediately. Why would an electrician wire electrical sockets in one room to two different breakers? In a domestic house, semi-detached and quite small. And why would each of those breakers also be wired to sockets in other rooms, one even on a higher floor? Of course, the house was wired with earthing as it should have been. Just one detail was overlooked, there was no connection to an earth rod.
Perhaps because the electrician was in competition with the plumber who secured a vertical waste pipe with cable ties at a pipe-join wrapped in towelling to soak up the predicted leaks after having cut the collar too short.
Or maybe these sloppy practices were simply because the building sub-contractors weren’t monitored because neither the builder nor the architect nor the house-owner could be there 24/7. Or could it be the absence of proper certification procedures?
The good news is that I could find out who the bad guys were because I have their fingerprints on the remains of their lunch packaging immured together with their shoddy work.
But that was 20 years ago. And the house hasn’t been hit by lightning and hasn’t burned down, immolating a sleeping family of seven. Yes, the joist closest to the towelling is badly damaged by 20 years of exposure to dripping waste water. Small potatoes in the scheme of things.
We know about this because the house heating needed an upgrade. So it was a case of floors-up for a larger gas main and a few walls opened for new pipework. So the decades old miscreance was exposed. As another aside, a friend who used the same builder on our recommendation called recently. Her electrician said he was surprised her house wasn’t earthed considering the renovations were done in 2001.
The new boiler is super-efficient. Happy to say the government encourages such upgrades with a grant. The grant is approx 90% of the VAT on the boiler. I’m not complaining, it’s a lot of assistance. Payment is subject to an inspection to confirm compliance with the regs. Which is laudable. Of course, we have to spend more than twice the grant in order to get compliant. Which isn’t so bad considering that the compliant boiler probably lifts our BER (Building Energy Rating) a notch because we’ve reduced our carbon dioxide emissions. That’s good for the house price in the longer term because it makes our house more desirable than others nearby. It should be good for the planet if lots of house owners are doing the same. And it’s great for a government that surely must be considering carbon emissions as a basis for property taxation and would use such certifications to accurately predict tax revenue. So we went the whole planet-saving hog and reglazed every window. Should push the BER up another notch and reduce the future tax liability. Otherwise, it’ll take 16 years to recoup our investment based on energy saving alone (assuming 10% energy price inflation and NPV10 pa). Unless we sell sooner. Always assuming we’re one of the few who upgraded.
I met a man in a hospital ante-room a few years ago. He was keeping very much to himself despite the chat going on all around. We exchanged introductory pleasantries when it was just the two of us left waiting. Lots in common emerged despite his being 25 years older. And ten minutes later, I was asking about the tie he was wearing. For a reason I can’t recall because I can’t remember the design on the tie, he referred to a place called Clane. I knew then that he and my father had gone to the same school. And from there learned that my father and his brothers before him featured in stories known to my-man-in-the-ante-room despite them never having met. And he told me a few stories about my father’s elder brother, including one that did the rounds of Dublin in the 1950s. It seems that a couple of labourers had mockingly called out to my uncle, dressed as stockbrokers did back sixty years ago. “Hey fairy, where you goin?” to which the reply was “Careful or I’ll wave my wand and make a turd of you” or something similar. My father’s memory was failing in the time I was in the hospital and he had moments when he couldn’t remember what he used to do. Film-maker. Chef. Author. Cartoonist. I had just scanned a bunch of his cartoons of family members onto my iPhone to use as memory aids. And there on my phone, was a cartoon of the incident. I hope my-man-in-the-ante-room had a good outcome and retold the story of this encounter. And somehow it seemed right that I put up the cartoon on Instagram the day my father died, two years ago today.