Thursday, February 23, 2006

It Was A Little Embarrassing

A few months back I overheard a conversation between two of the bookkeepers at work. One woman was talking about how she had just had new vinyl windows installed in her old house. She went on and on about the expense and the crew that installed them and how much of a mess it made. Naturally talk of window replacement on an old house got my interest. I eavesdropped and eventually I heard her complain about all the old sashes they left behind. After the expense of putting in new windows she was now going to have to pay to throw away the old sashes. It was time for me to be a butinsky.

It told her I would be happy to take the old sashes off her hands. I even told her I would drive out to her house to pick them up. She was thrilled. The next day she said her husband was eager to get rid of them and he would bring them in to town and deliver them (They live in a small farming community about 15 miles outside town). I said great, have him toss them in my truck in the parking lot. Sure enough, the next day when I got off work the back of my truck was filled with old redwood window sashes. Some had some really nice Florentine glass and others had a different kinds of obscure class. The sashes were in beautiful shape. Not a hint of rot on any of them. They don’t fit my house, but that’s OK. They didn’t go to the dump and I can use them as barter at a salvage yard some day.

Anyway, the next day I made a point of thanking her for the window sashes. It was a win-win situation. I got these great old sashes and they didn’t have to pay to dump them. Of course, the house was the big looser in all this but there is nothing I can do about that. After I thanked her she told me that if I like old window sashes her sister-in-law also had her windows replaced and she has a barn full of old sashes I could have. Here sister-in-law lives in Ferndale, the land of old Victorian homes. I was very much interested in them and I told her so. She gave me her sister-in-law’s phone number and said to give here a call but not until after the holidays.

Today I called the sister-in-law. It turns out she lives right across the street from some friends of mine in Ferndale. And she lives in an 1898 Victorian. The potential was very high that these would be the classic one-over-one, tall Victorian windows just like my house has. Most of my windows are in good shape structurally (lousy shape functionally) but I would still love to have them for future projects or for bartering. We set up an appointment for 3:00 this afternoon.

I drove out there today and sure enough the house was a late Victorian Queen Anne similar to my own. The windows looked identical to mine own. I went to the door and we exchanged pleasantries. She is retired and in her late 60s. A very pleasant woman. We went out to the barn and sure enough there was a king’s ransom in old Victorian redwood window sashes with wavy glass. Not all were the classic one-over-ones but there was a lot of them. I gushed a bit over how they would be perfect, even though I wasn’t really sure if they were the right size for my house.

Anyway, after a few minutes of chit-chat I finally said, “OK, let me pull my truck around and I’ll get these babies loaded up”. She paused for a minute and then said, “Well, aren’t you going to offer me anything for them?” I stammered a bit and felt very awkward. I had just assumed that this was the same situation as with the bookkeeper at work. I assumed she just had windows replaced and was eager to get these out of the barn. I assumed I was doing her a favor. That wasn’t the case. She had replaced her windows 12 years ago and was expecting money for these old sashes. She expected me to make an offer on them.

I should point out at this time that I am a full-fledged member of the cashless society. I rarely have more than $10.00 in my pocket. If her barn were equipped with an ATM machine I might have been prepared to haggle, but as it was I had about $2.00 in my pocket and $2.00 would have been an insulting offer for 30 or 40 sashes. I explained to her as polity as I could that her sister-in-law had given me the impression that the sashes were free. I told here that I was obviously mistaken but that I was not prepared to pay for the sashes right then. I’ll take just about anything old and Victorian house-part related for free, but when it comes to paying for something I normally only buy things I need or will need in the not too distant future. I didn’t tell here that in so many words but she got the point.

We finally agreed that I would take a few of the sashes and see if they will work for me and if so I will buy some or all of them. She mentioned a price of $3 or $4 a sash and that seems fair to me. Even if they don’t fit my house I am planning on someday doing a glassed in side porch (suck in those BTUs) where I removed the 2 story addition and the windows would be perfect. If they fit my house I’ll take all I can get. Some of mine maybe be in worse shape than I know. If they don’t fit, I’ll just buy 4 upper and 4 lower sashes for the future porch project. Even if I pay $5 a piece it’s still a great deal.

Oh, and I almost forgot. She had three Eastlake doors in the barn as well. I asked if she wanted to sell them and she said no….but it was a slow no. If I swing a deal on these windows I’ll make a good offer for the doors and maybe she’ll bite. Keep your fingers crossed.


Gary said...

Any interesting sash locks? I need 3 for the living room. I see they average $6 - $12 each on ebay. If you can buy the windows and sell off any excess hardware they may end up making money for you!

amanda said...

Or lifts! We need both lifts and locks! Oh, BTW, I bought two matching Eastlake doorknob/backplate sets on ebay that won't work for me. Do you have any interest? I paid about $45 for them. Email me if you're interested and I can send pictures.

Greg said...

It’s funning you should mention the sash locks and lifts because when I picked out 4 sashes (2 upper & 2 lower) I made sure they had a complete set. Now, what they look like under all the paint is another question.

Thanks for the offer on the other hardware but doorknobs and back plates are one of the things I have enough of.

Jenne said...

Buying things from people can be awkward.
My aunt had a man out to take the wool off her sheep. She had joked that he could have her horse trailer, if he needed it...thinking she was implying that he could have it for a price.
The man showed up the next weekend with a trcuk to haul away the trailer...My aunt asked him what he would give her for it, and he said, "You said I could have it."
My aunt didn't say anything else, because she was bewildered, and he drove off with her horse trailer.
Sometimes awkward situations are just...confusing. Hope you get the rest of that stuff at a deal that leaves both you and the lady satisfied.