Sunday, February 13, 2011

Free stuff from the government is always too expensive.

This morning I had breakfast over at S&L's, and D&L were there.  D's been laid up with a knee replacement that didn't go real well, but this morning that wasn't what had him upset.  Seems there was this big lawsuit over the local utility company having ripped people off over a lengthy period of time, and somehow the settlement involved the utility having to give "free" stuff to people, even though I don't really see how the people could have had it coming.  Not the best thing I ever heard of, but that's not where it gets bad.

Anyway, D&L signed up for this new "free" woodstove, to replace the falling-down one they have in their workshop.  It's a $1200 stove they're only paying $200 for, with the utility picking up the rest.  Sounds good, right?  Hah!

To qualify, you have to ensure that the stove is installed correctly according to code.  The code for installing wood stoves is so stringent in its efforts to prevent house fires that it's a wonder wood will even burn in the stove.  D&L only installed that stovepipe in their workshop a few years ago, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the installation. *


  • They have to pay $50 for the pre-installation inspection.
  • The new "free" stove can only be installed by a person from a short list of approved contractors.
  • The installation must meet code, and you're responsible for all installation-related expenses.

D&L got off cheap, because the inspector couldn't find anything wrong with their ceiling box no matter how hard he tried.  But they have single-wall stovepipe coming off the stove (double-wall at that point is a pure waste of heat, but it's the code) and the inspector decided the pipe at their roof wasn't quite high enough.  I just installed a woodstove myself, and I happen to know that the material cost for that "fix" is less than $50.  But since D&L aren't allowed to do it for themselves, they have to pay the inflated price for the "repair" prior to the installation.

Total cost - $800.

And according to what they told me, they got off cheap!  Some folks got hit with so many charges that the installation cost more than full retail on everything they got "free."

Suckers.  I really like D&L, but frankly it's hard to have a lot of sympathy.

Okay, sure - it could be a little taller.  But it's worked fine for years.  "We're from the government, and we're here to..."

*Which, btw, was passed by the building inspector at the time.


Mayberry said...

Try doing something here in hurricane country. Nightmare doesn't even begin to describe the ordeal...

Anonymous said...

Definitely that sucks. But how have they lived so long and not known it would be that way?

And how could the local utility "owe" them anything when they're off-grid?

Not in the same league as what's happening to D&L, but our local government electric company is offering free CFL lightbulbs -- all you need for your entire house. The only catch is that you have to agree to let them come to your home to "properly install them" -- in other words, let them inspect every room of your house, plus your garage, plus whatever other structures you've got that are electrified.

One of my friends promotes this to me as a very good deal. Yeah. When hell freezes over.

Matt said...

Funny. Guess TANSTAFL was fully in play. I installed a gas hot water heater and a wood stove this past year and didn't even inquire as to what they "codes" might actually be. I have since learned that if I had purchased either appliance from a local store, they would of been required to report me to the city so they could force me to get required permits and hire an installer. Ha! Find out what your are getting into before you buy local.

MamaLiberty said...

Tee hee... NO "codes" here at all (outside the city), and no "permits," inspectors or any of that other horse pucky. The electric company is a co-op and we get both good service and damned cheap electric. Oh, and you've got to buy your own stoves. :)

If you've got to live on the grid, it's a good place to live.

Ye Haw!! Wyoming. :)

Anonymous said...

There are codes here-and once in a while, you'll get the inspection you play for. The Three Stooges could do a better job. To be truthful, we have a permit-issuing(and most importantly) fee collecting agency.There' no benefit in it for the consumer at all. Technically, you have to have permit in hand to get a furnce or water heater, but this is seldom,if ever, enforced. The store doesn't give a rat's if you have a permit or not..The code enforcement division has long since been considered a joke.