Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’ve lived in my house for thirty years and hope to live here another
twenty. I’m responsible for some remodels as were the owner-builders
that I bought it from. It has been a safe constant through my two
marriages and divorces. I decided to foot the bill for rewiring, as I am
trying to anticipate any problems. They charged me $1,000 to “map”
the whole house and presented me with a three-phase upgrade plan. I
nixed all of phase three, cut $2,000 from the first two rounds, then
gave a go-ahead. They started with the modern things, wiring for data
etc. Now, when I am very close to the end of my budget, they
identified a “major fire danger.” Apparently all the remodels were
piggy backed onto ancient cloth wiring (several decades of building
code from safety). I am lucky it hasn’t burned. But it will cost several
thousand more to troubleshoot and fix. Am I liable for all the costs or
should they have started with the oldest and possibly most dangerous
areas first? I have been paying the bills as they come in.

Dear Shocked:
Good points for prescience and planning. Too many house fires are
started by exactly the kind of problems that you must continue to
trouble shoot and fix. Lower marks for not being a better general
contractor. It’s too easy to assume technicians will do what would
make you safest. They’re in business to make money and probably did
what seemed right to them. But the old problems should have been
identified in the initial planning stage, So I think you have a good case
for arguing about the final bill

Stop paying bills ASAP. Say you’ll settle up when the work is done.
Accept that you will need to find and fix all the problems. Take the
money out of your equity if you need to. Plead your case when you get
the final bill. Say they should have started with the oldest sectors and
that you want $1,00 reduced for the failure of the mapping and                                planning. Be stubborn and keep arguing. You may not save it all but
you should get some kind of financial redress.