September 16, 2004


Woke up this morning and fixed our sink. Our drain was broken many months ago, and Maggie had just about had enough of it remaining broken, so I finally fixed it.

Thank you, local hardware store guy. Our local hardware store is packed full of stuff, and the guy who works there always steers you right when you need plumbing supplies. In contrast, Home Depot (while they have more stuff) can’t seem to help you do squat.

It’s not that the people at Home Depot aren’t decent folks. And it’s not that I’ve ever really been mistreated there. But finding someone who can help you with whatever your problem is can be an exercise in frustration. Local hardware store guy needs only to have you say 3 or four words and perhaps wave a broken piece of hardware in front of him. Next thing you know he’s handing you a replacement part and telling you what you need to do to fix it. And his prices have always been reasonable. So, take that Home Depot. In a pinch, no one can replace local hardware store guy.

I fixed the sink. And it made me happy. Plumbing is awesome. I love having clear goals, something that is so often missing in my programming full-time job.

Posted by James at September 16, 2004 12:21 PM
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Don't you love people who need a box of nails and drive 20 mins to Home Depot; spend a half hour locating them; and then another 20 mins in line just to "save" 75 cents?

I love local hardware stores.

Posted by: Steve at September 16, 2004 1:01 PM

Why we don't go to Home Despot, as Bob calls it:

1. It's a fantastically long drive.
2. It's crowded.
3. Finding someone of whom you can ask a question is nearly always impossible.
4. Mega chains suck business away from local businesses.
5. I can usually find what I need at the local store.

By the way, DIY plumbing is prohibited by MA state law. I am _not_ making this up. From the City of Lexington FAQ page:

Q: Can I do my own electrical and plumbing/gas work?

No. State law requires anyone performing electrical, plumbing or gas work to be licensed.

More from

"Only a master or journeyman plumber examined and licensed by the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters, with the proper permits issued by the local plumbing inspector, can perform plumbing work at your home or business."

Posted by: Patti M. at September 16, 2004 1:09 PM

So Steve, you've met my dad?

Posted by: Patti M. at September 16, 2004 1:11 PM

The law is to protect plumbers jobs. As your dad likes to say. "Hot on the left, cold on the right, water flows down hill." What's left to know for simple jobs? Love the local Ace Hardware. Still a chain of course but at least it's small, locally owned (francise) and has a frinedly staff that know what it's talking about. I also haven't found that it's really much more expensive for most items, and when the item only costs 3 buck to begin with how much could you possibly save.

I'm also always fascinated by people who drive 45 minutes to NH for beer to save a couple of bucks. What kind of gas milage do you get you probably lost the difference in gas/tolls dumass.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at September 16, 2004 1:27 PM

Unless you live right next to the border like me. That sales tax savings is nice when buying large items.

Posted by: Mike at September 16, 2004 1:50 PM

Home Depot often doesn't have what I need. Strange but true. I wanted pipes to vent my dryer. They had a few 4" pipes left but they were all kind of mangled. I bought something inferior for a quick fix. A few months later I went back (after the inferior quick fix gave out) and they still (or again) didn't have what I wanted. I mean, damn, that's basic stuff. The place is always a zoo, too.

The True Value that's near me isn't too bad, but my favorite place is the Aubuchon Hardware near work. I won't miss Bourne when I get a job someplace else, but I'll miss the Aubuchon.

If I just needed a box of nails, though, I'd go to Benny's.

Posted by: Julie at September 16, 2004 2:48 PM

Thank goodness there's no law against writing a ficitonal blog post about doing your own plumbing, eh?

Posted by: James at September 16, 2004 2:58 PM

What James actually did yesterday morning was clean his ear out with a q-tip, but he embellished the story to make it more interesting.

I've noticed that a lot of people don't follow the law when it comes to their own property. The neighbor behind us built an entire addition onto his house, one that I'm guessing is much too close to the neighbor on the other side, and I never saw a permit posted. In our town you're supposed to get a permit to replace your front steps! I'm sure you've all seen the Easy-Set swimming pools all over the place. We have one. They're only about $100 and they're wonderful for the children. But in our town, if you have anything over 2', you're supposed to have a fence. I think that's a little silly, actually, because it would be hard for a toddler to fall into an easy-set pool from ground level, however a toddler can easily fall face-down into a bucket of water (I've seen that happen). Anyway. I've seen only one other easy-set pool that's fenced in. We, of course, after buying the $120 pool, spent $2500 fencing in the back yard.

As Bob says, it's to protect plumbers' jobs, but I think it's also for insurance purposes. If somebody gets electrocuted in your house, or if there's a fire, if you nail through the wires in your wall, if somebody puts their foot through your front steps, or God forbid, a child drowns in your pool, then if you didn't get all the appropriate permits and inspections, I doubt your insurance is going to help you out. Even though nobody can see our little pool, we have a day care behind us and a two-year-old next door, and I felt a lot more comfortable with the fence.

I haven't checked with our insurance company, it's on our to-do list, but I think it's a good idea. I know that a lot of companies won't insure you if you have a trampoline. And I've recently read that most insurance policies are not for replacement cost, although they use similar wording so people think that they're getting replacement cost. I wonder if anybody on the coast of Florida is going to be able to afford insurance after this fall.


Posted by: Maggie at September 17, 2004 10:33 AM

My ocross-the-street neighbors have one of those pools in their driveway. No fence.

Posted by: Julie at September 17, 2004 11:16 AM

In their driveway -- ouch! They're so shallow, it's very easy to bonk your head on the bottom.

Posted by: Maggie at September 17, 2004 11:48 AM

My first thought about the pool in the driveway is "Lord! How tacky!"

Julie, did you thank your neighbors for giving your neighborhood a trailer park feel?

Posted by: Patti M. at September 17, 2004 12:58 PM

No, they are very nice people and they don't have a yard. It was the driveway or nowhere.

Frankly, a "trailer park feel" would be a real improvement in my neighborhood, where someone was murdered earlier this year. In any case, several of my relatives live in a trailer park, and if I hadn't had a dog I probably would have considered living there myself.

Posted by: Julie at September 17, 2004 1:10 PM

Up here you'd probably be safe in a trailer, but I would caution against such a move in other states where the hurricanes and tornadoes are definitely not trailer-friendly.

You could have a dog in a trailer, couldn't you? Not a small one, but a larger one would be fine, I would think.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 17, 2004 1:32 PM

I should all, with all that diving I do off the 2nd floor deck into 2+ feet of water.


Posted by: James at September 17, 2004 1:33 PM

I know about the other states - I used to live there. My cousin's grandparents' trailer was recently destroyed by Charley.

I could have a dog in the trailer, but it wouldn't have any way to get outside when I'm not at home. (A small dog is better for a trailer because it can get the exercise it needs without going outside.) I really needed something with a fenced-in yard, and it had to be something I owned so I could put in a dog-door. (Some people will let you rent with a pet, but it's so expensive you might as well buy.)

The dog is amazingly continent, but I don't want to push my luck, especially since she's getting old. It is bad enough that she doesn't have a good-sized yard to run around in and chase squirrels anymore, but at least she's got a place to pee, and jump up and down, which are her main hobbies these days.

Posted by: Julie at September 17, 2004 1:49 PM

Folks tell me I should try to look on the bright side. They tell me that I should especially try to be gracious to a presigious office like the President of the United States. In an effort to show some respect, I am now seeking good things to say about the president. Thanks for giving me an item for my list, somehting good to say about Bush.

Like Polly, our president is, as far as I know, continent. Perhaps amazingly so.

Posted by: James at September 17, 2004 2:33 PM

Polly can also shed like crazy. If there were competitions for shedding, she'd surely win great cash prizes and I could probably quit my job.

Is there a Bush joke in there? Eh... something about not having a job...

Posted by: Julie at September 17, 2004 2:47 PM

Is Polly a corgi? The shedding you mentioned made me think of this.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 17, 2004 2:58 PM

I don't know exactly what she is, but probably no Corgi in her at all.

Posted by: Julie at September 17, 2004 3:00 PM

Corgis are extremely cute and friendly, but they go "poof" all year round. I don't think I could vacuum that much. It's pretty bad now, with the dog, two cats, and my hair.

Back to plumbing...

My favorite hardware stores:

Tags, Porter Sq., Cambridge
--If you need a toaster oven, baking utensils, nails, or paint, this is your place. I love to wander around in there.

West Concord 5 & Dime, W. Concord
--It's a seemingly small store, but they have EVERYTHING. Do you need crochetting thread? A replacement carafe for your coffee maker? How about various board games and puzzles? A 49-cent squirt gun, perhaps?

I was in there one day, meandering through the isles and picking up a few things, when a man asked me if I needed help finding anything. "I don't suppose you have a harvest gold toilet seat," I said. "Oh, but I do," he replied, as he disappeared into the store room. Sure enough, he had one. I was then able to throw away the wooden toilet seat the previous owners had put on the golden bowl.

Ace, Stow and Acton
--A good local shop that has just about everything I need. Not nearly as fun as either Tags or West Concord 5 & Dime, but useful.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 17, 2004 3:11 PM

One day I'm going to walk into Tags and say "Can you give me a toaster oven, some kitchen utensils, some nails and some paint?"

Let them figure out what I'm making.

Posted by: James at September 17, 2004 3:36 PM

Then the men in the black Town Cars will come and take you to "an undisclosed location."

Posted by: Patti M. at September 17, 2004 3:37 PM

I love Benny's, a RI tradition. I call it my Home Away From Home Depot.

Posted by: KissyO at September 20, 2004 8:53 PM

Yes, Benny's rules. There are one or two here in southeastern Mass. as well. Not in town, but nearby.

Posted by: James at September 20, 2004 9:37 PM

Way out here in San Diego, I haven't located my local options yet. Home Depot has been largely useless. Lowe's has been slightly better. Home Depot may be the closest hardware store to my house, though.

Posted by: briwei at September 21, 2004 5:17 PM

Google "hard ware" and your zip code or town name, OR go to, type in "hardware" in the business category, and plug in your zip.

You'll find something that's not Home Despot or Lowe's.

Posted by: Patti M. at September 22, 2004 8:53 AM

looking for a format to log on plumbing + gas permits for my town , so i can access and reg .

Steve Pechonis
inspector, wellfleet , ma.

Posted by: Steve Pechonis at March 31, 2005 11:46 AM

I need some help loging permits on . the town juet gave me this new contrapion! SO if someone has a format that i can use... Thanks

Steve Pechonis
Plumbing+ Gas inspector
Wellfleet, Ma.

Posted by: Steve Pechonis at March 31, 2005 12:07 PM

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