The more you “cut” from the correct purchase price, to arrive at a LOW PRICE, the greater will be the difference between the LOW PRICE and the TRANSITIONAL PRICE.

Bit. Bit. Wet and cold on my left eyelid. I open my eyes from that deep sleep, Sunday morning sleep. By the time I realize how hard it is to wake up, I hear and feel again… BREAK, BREAK, BREAK.

I’m waking up. In my bed, in our bedroom, on a morning in March, 2016. I move my head. The next drop falls on the pillow, next to the head. The pressed bedding lets out a dry pop and sizzles. I look up. to the sky Through the attic window, type Velux. Bright. It’s in position, still where I knew it. Water drops drip from one corner of the window. I observe, amazed, their periodicity. Drop….Drop…..Drop.

I say to myself: “Velux! Impossible”. I get up. I open it. It’s sunny but cold outside. The last load of snow, shoveled 2 days ago, sees its transformation into water and the road on the roof slope. I reach past the heel, remove the snow, check the heel. Its geometry appears unchanged. Gaskets in position. The color of the wood. Everything seems OK. I close the window. I sit in the middle of the bed and wait. After a minute, a small eternity, I see a new drop form. And then from the beginning.

It’s Sunday. The sweet sleep is gone. Who should I call? No one is coming today. The wife also woke up. He didn’t ask me, he didn’t tell me anything. I am the builder in the house. He went to make coffee. Meanwhile, the amount of drops on the pillow reached the size of a palm. I’m going to the bathroom. I take the basin. I prop him well between the pillows. Ballistic calculation, positioning. Ready. Now I collect melted snow in a plastic basin on the bed in my bedroom. With drum reverb. I can hear you well. Rhythmic. Only I don’t feel well. How will I solve the problem???

Until tomorrow, Monday, when the whole country rains, I will be changing the basin at regular intervals. Until then, thoughts, pseudo solutions: to go out on the roof, what do I use to get up there, what will I be able to see, where to intervene, with what tools, with what material???….A missed Sunday. A house with problems. A patient without a diagnosis. Yet.

It’s Monday. I’m calling Velux. I report the problem, turn the report into a complaint, I’m just under warranty, the 10 years will “close” in 4 months. “Hello yes. Yes…… A specialist will come today. At what time? We don’t know, wait.” And after 4 hours, that is, quickly, the specialist appears. We move the bed and the basin, put the ladder, open the window. The specialist investigates the price of 5 minutes. Get off the ladder. He looks at me like a fool and tells me that the basic GLZ window is installed correctly, the gaskets the same. He asks me: “what maintenance work have you done in the last 10 years?”. I answer innocently: “none”. “The leaks appeared between the frame and the frame, due to the dissolution of the butyl sealing tape. More than likely you have the same problem on all 4 windows”. Good. We have a diagnosis. “What is there to be done?” Calmly, seniorly, the specialist answers me: “I can’t take the photo from this position. But when we come to the intervention we will start with photography. We will file it.” “Good. And the intervention? When will it be?” Professionally and dryly, without a smile, the specialist answers: “In 2-3 days, after all the snow on the roof melts, call me (pac, a business card) and we’ll come. But you must know, although apparently the window is under warranty, the intervention will be for a fee. This is because the person who installed the window, including the butyl sealing cord, did not install it correctly, which leads to the loss of the warranty. The butyl cord was fitted so badly that I suspect it was an unauthorized fitter”. Here, at this address, I got angry.

In 2006, we contracted the construction of a single-family house with a ground floor and an attic floor, a total of 200 sqm built, with a price of 100,000 euros. Without VAT. When negotiating with the developer, I specified some options, including Velux windows. 4 basic GLZ pieces. The developer agreed, invoiced me accordingly, emphasizing that at that significant price, the installation will be carried out by a team authorized by the manufacturer, with certificates, with a 10-year warranty, quality goods, for life. “Life time”. I didn’t comment. I knew why I wanted Velux. And that was to be the price. And I paid it. Drops were not included. I take a deep breath, keep silent, and plan how to look for the documents, the certificates, to present them at the time of the intervention. The specialist left. I stayed waiting for the snow to melt.

After a week of nightmare, moved to another bedroom, with basins after basins moved and transmuted, with the quality documents, the certificate and the report of quality reception in the teeth, I receive, smiling, the team. We argue for half an hour, that it’s under warranty, yes with payment, with phones to the company, the warranty is rejected, I accept that I have to pay, that the estimate will be presented at the end, we’ll see how much it costs, a kind of poker dismantled, we get down to business. And so the Epic began.

Metal stairs, the team on the roof, the balancing act of two healthy boys from Zdrave. I see the metal tile hunch under their weight, I say nothing. What can I say? The investigation. “We have to open the covering around the entire perimeter of the window, over a distance of about one meter, so that we can intervene.” I say: “Okay, undo”. From the edge of the gutter I also climb up the house. Assist. The boys begin open heart surgery. I open boards. I remove the protective foil. On it, a little mold. The mineral wool panel in the bottom corner of the window is wet and squished, also moldy. “The foil and cotton wool must be changed!!!” I answer: “Let’s unpack everything, so I can make a complete shopping list, not make seven trips to the store.” We continue. They with the open, I with the view. And the list begins to grow: the fastening screws of the rusted metal tiles, their gaskets, missing. In the area of direct contact between the screws and the tile, the paint is slightly chipped and a rust collar is visible. I’m starting to wonder that they lasted even ten years. 25-year tile warranty. Warranty on the screw? Zero barred. The screws were not the recommended ones. There were others, shorter and much less galvanized. So cheaper. The batten and wooden sash at the lower base of the window had also dislodged it, on the way to decay. Wet, rotten, deformed wood. Visible. Forte, fortissimo.

At that point, after the stupefaction of rigor, I had the guys install new butyl sealant cords on all 4 windows. A technical solution that turned out to be completely uninspired. In the end, I asked them to stop, to lock the “patient” in place, as best they could. I put two silicone cartridges on the joints of the window, enough to last about two or three weeks, I also put some silicone pills on what was left of the screws, at the old holes in the metal tile, and I entered the maintenance period. The team left. I wasn’t even interested in their bill anymore. I had other thoughts, other plans.

I am a lifelong builder. I have had my company for 12 years, I have extremely qualified teams. I am a tradesman in roofing solutions and sealing details. I am a doctor. I’ll go for a big RK. Of capital repairs I say. Not even 10 years since I moved into a 100,000 euro house. Without VAT.

And now the Epic in short.
I took off the whole roof, changed 30% of the wooden elements of the frame. Around all the windows. I changed the whole thermal and waterproofing system, I only kept the drainage film and the vapor barrier, which rot. The “seals” no longer matched in color and the holes with rust beads would have compromised any effort. And how would I plug them? We replaced all 4 Velux windows, under warranty, with new, more expensive and better performing ones. The carpentry was rotten, compromised. The difference cost more than the original purchase price, obviously. The installation was done by the Velux team itself. In addition to all the quality and warranty certificates, we have documented all their operations with photos and film. To validate my guarantees, that is. I also changed all the mineral wool thermal insulation with 1.5 tons of Isocell cellulosic fibers, increasing the section from 10 to 15 cm. For this I had to double the old frame with a new one made of glued wood. I also completely changed the metal tile covering. With a premium one, yes? As a result we achieved the disappearance of the drum effect during the rains and a net superior thermal behavior of the whole house. After I solved the whole roof, I moved on to the interior: I redid all the interior finishes on the plasterboard ceilings and walls, including painting. The parquet floor, which I had to scrape and varnish, didn’t escape either. And I think you know how it is: you start with a patch in a corner and then you do the whole house. Where the hundred goes, there goes the thousand. We redid the entire vertical envelope of the house. At that time, the thermal insulation was made of expanded polystyrene, 5 cm thick, mounted on “posts”. I supplemented with another 10 cm, fixed mechanically in dowels. And we completely refinished the exterior walls and plinth. The operations lasted 6 months. And it all started with a drop of water and a butyl sealant cord. The story of my life.

In the meantime I relocated my family to another house. In another part of town. Other routes for children to school, other time spent, and many other “entertainments”. All the circus. The bills for materials and labor totaled 33,000 euros. Without VAT. One third of the original price. Plus other collateral costs, difficult to quantify. We are not talking about nerves.

And now about the prices.
At the time of contracting the house, I did not have the feeling that I had purchased it at a LOW PRICE, that I had made a bargain. On the contrary. With the mentality of a builder, knowing the market very well, I thought it was a fair price, for which I was going to get quality products and service. Having set the aspiration towards quality, we did not negotiate the price. We had many selection criteria. I was in good faith. But things didn’t go well.

I knew there would be other costs. Of the house itself. We knew that the PURCHASE PRICE, no matter how low or how high, would not represent the FINAL PRICE. I knew all this and had made a plan of my own, personally. And you count. But the mathematics of reality was different. After the capital repairs, with the optimizations and rigorous expenses, now also imposed by experience, not to mention stupidity, also imposed by cultural-technical and technological progress, I had the opportunity to note that the energy bills have other values. Smaller. I insulated the house better and stopped wasting energy and the family budget. I found, beyond the lack of drips, that I achieved thermal comfort while paying lower energy bills. Both summer and winter. Now I am calm and planned the RK in 18 years. Minimum. But I also have a well-structured maintenance plan.

During the glorious epic I revised my opinion on prices. The final price is at FINAL. Either when you tear down the house or when you leave. I still have until there, so I will break down the components of the final cost. For a well-defined period of time. I am making this disclosure for all those who want to build their home, and who, beyond the budget planning for the development of the investment, will have to be down to earth when designing their DREAM, with their thoughts oriented towards the operating budget of the house . Thinking about housing costs, comfort, wear and tear and everything that will follow once you move into your dream home. I also do it for those who are planning a rehabilitation, or a RK, or a building development, either vertically or horizontally, as I detailed in my previous articles.

You must know that in the transitory cost (here is a new concept) you will have to include:

Maintenance costs.
Repair costs, lower or higher.
The replacement costs of building materials, or other products that go into equipping the house, because they are not eternal. Many of them are organic materials that age. Others corrode. Others deform. Others are destroyed or damaged by various factors: moisture, temperature variations, frost, hail, the weight of snow or icicles.
Energy costs, respecting the desired comfort index.
Secondary costs. A damaged roof, subject to infiltrations, can generate defects and damage to the structure and finishes, even the installations. A poorly insulated basement can also be subject to infiltrations with disastrous effects on the structure and finishes, often irreparable.
Costs caused by removing the noise of rain or hail on the tin “drum” of the covering.
Costs with other wear and tear (cracks, cracks) caused by expansion and contraction of materials or even seismic movements, or vibrations due to heavy traffic.
Another segment of costs can be that caused by the repair of damages caused by accidental falls of snow or ice, in the absence of protection systems such as snow guards or de-icing; damage caused by lightning and fire, due to the lack of lightning rods and earthings.
There are also “indirect” complaints caused by the non-compliant operation of the house, the non-compliant configuration of some details, such as infiltrations through poorly insulated places or thermal bridges that lead to the appearance of condensation, the materialization of excessive moisture and damage to the construction,
And finally the “collateral” costs caused by the deterioration of the tenants’ health through chronic diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, TB or allergies acquired by inhaling air contaminated by fungi and mushrooms. We are no longer talking about depressions and dissatisfaction that we do not live in the much-desired and dreamed-of house, in which we have invested a lot and ineffectively.

When you collaborate with the architect, you will have to configure the house not only functionally and aesthetically, not only from the point of view of structural strength, but also from the point of view of resilience over time, and from the point of view of health. You will need to carefully select the manufacturers of building materials so that the effective life of the products adds up to a long life of the construction. Be mindful of durability and sustainability. Assess whether the companies providing products and services will still be in the market to fix the defects that occurred during the warranty/post-warranty period.

Let’s take the example of the wrappers: usually after 15 years of use the final price will consist of:

buying price,
repair and maintenance costs in 15 years will be around 10-30% of the purchase price,
discovery cost,
the cost of replacing the thermal insulation,
the cost of partial replacement of the decking, slats and other wooden elements,
the cost of replacing gutters, downspouts and their support system,
the costs of the new cover,
transport costs and landfill tax for disposal of the resulting waste.

All of these are worth around 150%-200% of the original purchase price. The customer, i.e. you, will pay more for better performing, safer materials, maybe even premium materials. If we also add the potential damage caused by infiltrations or other accidental damage, the transitory value after 15 years of operation of the construction, the covering part, can easily exceed 2 times the purchase price.

The important thing is to establish that there is a difference between the purchase price and the transitional price after a significant period. I chose a period of 15 years because in this interval the costs are sustainable, if the maintenance works were carried out successfully along the way. If the purchase price is the correct one, the difference between it and the transitional price is 30%, caused by repairs and rehabilitation, and 20% due to energy waste. After 15 years of use, the transitional price is at least 1.5 times higher than the purchase price.

The more you “cut” from the correct purchase price, to arrive at a LOW PRICE, the greater will be the difference between the LOW PRICE and the TRANSITIONAL PRICE.

In other words, I would say that the passage of time is the wolf in the story of the three little pigs. It’s up to you how protected you want to be when the wolf comes. It’s up to you how much you want your wolf to charge.

Arch. Viorel Pleșca


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