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Remember the new oven I showed off in 2011?  I was – and am still – so proud of that improvement.  We called a plumber to come to the house that spring and run a gas line to the wall behind the stove so I could finally experience the thrill of cooking with gas.  I-forget-how-many-hours and $600 later, we had an operable oven and gas burners.  I was on Cloud Freakin’ Nine.

When it came time for our home inspection this month as a step toward closing on the sale of our house, there were a few things we knew we could be cited for:  the sink stopper in the kids’ bathroom, or the cabinet door in the kitchen that sticks sometimes, or maybe the bathroom door that opens with a loud “POP!”  But our oven?  THAT was in pristine condition!  The inspector would surely admire its integrity and bow to its superiority! Shortly after the inspection I spoke with the closing agent who said there wasn’t much to be concerned over – something about a gas line at the stove, blah blah blah.

Excuse me???

An emailed copy of the report showed the inspector’s photos of the gas line behind my oven (he actually MOVED my oven out.  Wow.) and the opposite end of the gas line in my return air chase where it joins up to the gas line at the heater unit.  He cited that the wrong kind of gas line had been installed.  Au contraire, mon frère!!  THAT is a new-fangled flexi-pipe that they use now.  How old is this inspector?  Does he not avail himself of continuing education???  I had a ton of questions, as usual.  I decided all this misunderstanding could be cleared up by a simple phone call to the people who installed the line and they could certify their work and explain all about this flexible gas pipe.  I looked up their number and proceeded to dial.

I must pause here to state that I had previously sung this plumber’s highest praises and told everyone how incredibly awesome this company is and if they ever need a plumber for anything, CALL THEM.  Except I discovered that now you CAN’T call them because they are OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!!!!  Gone.  No more.  Zippo.  Outta here.

Can you believe that crap?!!!!!!!

I didn’t know where to turn – I mean, really…look at my track record.  I wasn’t exactly certain of my ability to pull a reputable name out of a hat.  Here I was, convinced that I was dealing with an inspector who didn’t know his gas lines and a plumber who had gone out of business.  So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I asked my builder.

“Hey, Dominick, I need a plumber.  Can you give me a good recommendation?  Check out this inspection report…”

Dominick looked at the report and we both agreed that the inspector didn’t know his gas lines, but true, Dominick informed me that they should have never run my line through the return air chase.  In the world of builders and plumbing experts, that’s just a big ol’ no-no.

In the world of Lori, that hadn’t even garnered a raised eyebrow.  What do I know about building code and gas lines and return air chases?  OK, so now what?  My builder offered, “Let me call the guy who’s doing the plumbing on your new house.  We’ll work something out.”

And then he came over to help Dom get everything ready for the plumbers to work in order to save us money on the time & labor charges.

Promptly at 7:30 on Wednesday morning two gentlemen showed up at my door ready to see what evil lurked within my walls.  I showed them to the return chase, where they examined, scratched their chins, glanced at each other and grumbled.  I took that to mean they weren’t sure what to do, so I chimed in (rather uncharacteristically, I might add.  I’m a listener, not a talker.)

“My builder who put me in touch with you guys said you would cut this line here, put a joint here and another joint here, encase the yellow pipe with hard metal to seal it off from the return and be done.  Does that sound do-able?”  I gave a weak smile.

“We have to make a phone call, ma’am.” And they excused themselves from my home.  I went back to making my coffee, only to discover I was out of milk.  :-{   I don’t do plain coffee.  Starbucks, take me away…

About this time, my Father-in-law walked in to continue working on the wall behind the stove, where he and Dom had spent the entire previous evening.  I offered him a cup of coffee and while I poured, he explained to me that the plumbers were outside waiting for Dominic.

“Oh, Dom’s not coming home for this.  He’s tied up at work; that’s why I’m here.  What do they need?”  I hated for them to waste time waiting on my husband when I was the best they were gonna get, sorry to say.

Dad explained, “No…your builder, Dominick.  They called him and he’s on his way.”

From his home thirty minutes northeast of mine, my builder was driving over to help the plumbers do the right thing in the house I am selling.  Oh. My. Gosh.

And, sure enough, the minute he got here I knew everything would be okay.  He went up and down the stairs with the two plumbers, they talked shop and threw terms around that I’ll never understand in a million years.  Sometimes while the guys were working on the gas line, Dominick would be in the kitchen with me talking about the new house.  Then I followed him out to his vehicle for the file on my new house, and we all five ended up in the driveway talking about this ill-fated gas line.

It was at this point that all the cosmic forces convened to kick me square between the eyes.  Dominick explained to me that the inspector had been dead right.  The plumbers I used last year HAD INDEED used the wrong kind of gas line.  He showed me the cut end of the tube, what looked like flexible yellow PVC pipe.

“See,” he explained, “the yellow flex pipe that is used in homes has a metal lining.  This doesn’t.  This line is only to be used outdoors and buried in the ground.  It is never permitted to be used within the walls of a home.  If you were to come along and remodel this kitchen, you could accidentally put a screw or nail through this line because it’s the wrong kind of line.  A mistake like that could be fatal.”

My head started to spin.  “They used the wrong line?!!?…”

“Yes, they did.  These guys can’t certify this line in your wall.”

I thought I would lose my mind.  “Oh, Dominick! I have to have it certified.  That’s what the buyer wants.  I can’t go blowing him up!!!!”

“No, you can’t.”

I resisted the urge to curse out loud, swallowed hard and accepted that the whole thing had to be redone. What were we looking at?  $600 more?  Double that??  “It’s only money, right?” I asked grimly.  It is at this point, anyway.  Money is nothing compared to safety.

Dominick looked at me and I knew he wished the situation were different.  “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.  “I hate this for you, but it’s the only way to not cause problems later. You don’t want this coming back on you.”

And so, together, we gave the go-ahead to rip out the entire line and replace it with line that is up to code and certifiable.  And safe.  Later, while the guys were still working I commented, “Well, I guess we know now why the other company is out of business.”  Dominick just shook his head.

I cannot imagine having another builder who would spend his entire morning helping out to make a situation right when he had no part in creating the problem, and nothing to gain by fixing it.  But my builder did.  My builder drove thirty minutes one way to stand by my side and see me through an overwhelming situation.  And he didn’t just do it for me and Dom – I believe he would do it for anyone that he knows, anywhere.  He’s just that kind of man.

And the even more overwhelming part: I received a bill last week – yes, after the house sale had already fallen through – for the replacement of the gas pipe.  Three tiny digits is all it was.  That bill could have been – should have been – easily triple what they were asking me to pay.  I am well aware that the invoice total didn’t come close to covering the four hours of employee labor – it was even less than I paid for the original installation of the wrong pipe!   I wanted to cry with relief…and extreme gratitude!  I knew Dominick had selflessly, professionally, and generously worked his magic once again.

Last fall, when Dom and I decided to build a new home, I worried that our lack of experience in the process would make us easy targets for any less-than-ethical people in the home-building industry.  So I prayed that God would direct us to the right people – people we could trust and feel good about hiring.  I have been reassured all along the way that Dominick is one of the Good Guys, one of the best.  I hope I get the chance some day to tell one of his new clients how genuinely wonderful he is as a builder and a friend, and how he was (unbeknownst to him) the answer to my prayer.