Our heads are a mess: I'm still meeting tradespeople at the rate of about three a day, working onsite and coming home then continuing our planning. Moreover, the tradespeople are, unfortunately, acting exactly as we predicted. If during a conversation with a carpenter/electrician/plumber the fact that my partner is in fact a Red Haired Boffin (ie a Professor), and a Canadian, is introduced into the conversation, the price one recieves for a certain job is massively inflated compared with prices for the same job if neither of these factors are admitted. Today, I tested the theory, mentioning Nel's profession and citizenship to a builder. The same builder called me later with a ball park price.
"Hi Martin, it's about £24,000, or thereabouts" he said.
I should mention that this builder has a very bad stutter, and up to this point I was keen on using him, partly because I think that overcoming a disability (of any type) is admirable and my natural bias towards positive discrimination means that among the swathe of burly white men visiting our project, Gary (for that is his name) would only be usurped by a gay female foreign national at present.
I ask Gary to repeat the figure he has just uttered, and he does, patiently. I repeat the figure back to him.
"Sorry, Gary, but £24,000 for a single storey, kitchen extension 15 ft by 9ft? Are you sure you understood what I want? I thought we'd discussed that I was building the kitchen units, drywalling, flooring and painting the room and that someone else was doing the plumbing. Your price is about (I perform a swift mental arithmetic) £800 for each lineal foot of wall you build. It's only about two week's work for a good team of brickies. I really don't know what to say."
Gary hesitates a bit then starts with the excuses - he did'nt understand, there's a lot of work to do, it's bad access, but ultimately he knows he's blown it.
I tell another builder nothing about Nel's job, and the estimate is 50% lower.