We introverts tend to be very analytical, and I'm no exception.
If I look back on the 4.5 months since mid-May, when things started going haywire with my mom, I clearly remember very many decisions that needed to be made: some were big, some were small. But I can look back and see more easily which decisions I got right, which I got wrong, and which didn't matter at all.
What I got right:
1. Negotiating the realtor's commission down to 5%. This took very little effort, maybe 1 minute of my time, and saved me $1400. No brainer.
2. Ignoring my sister. My sister's offhand comment, very early on, that she thought I was "jumping the gun" by putting my mother in assisted living really upset me (still does), but I'm glad it didn't deter me from doing what I did.
For many years I looked up to my "big sister," even though we never had a great relationship, but she has shown herself time and again she makes ill-informed decisions based on very little factual information.
I recall her also saying she would not go on the MS medication I've been on for 15 years, because my sister is generally anti-medical establishment. At the time she made this pronouncement, she knew very little about the nature of MS or ANYTHING about this drug, so for her to dismiss it was really quite ignorant, IMO.
3. Choosing Maplewood. OK, Maplewood is not perfect. My biggest complaint about them is that they forget things, seem disorganized and mess up many small things, like forgetting to keep my mother at the facility the day my cousin traveled up from New Jersey to pay her a visit.
There are things with the billing that I don't like, like the way they bill me for little outings to Friendly's for instance, with no proof that she ever ate there except their word. And it kills me to let her eat at a fast food restaurant that she would never have eaten at before the dementia, because my mother was an extremely healthy eater, not to mention the fact I'm paying exorbitant fees that already include 3 meals a day. So why pay twice?
They did provide a receipt the last time, but it was a receipt for a whole bunch of people, so again, it's not at all proof that my mother was with this group. Basically, I have no choice but to take their word for it unless I want to say my mother is not to go on outings anymore, but I'm not willing to do that for $15 or $25 a month. I've freaked out about expenses all along, but this is something I've decided to let go.
And so despite things like this, the people there are mostly pretty good and the facility is gorgeous, filled with natural light and airy. And my mother has a private room and bath with a great view and they have lots of fun activities. So for all these reasons, I feel I definitely chose the best place in the area.
4. Devoting all my free time to getting the condo ready for market without delay...for obvious reasons. I would have paid thousands more in carrying costs if I'd taken my time and not put it on the market til next spring, not to mention the psychological weight of having this hang over my heads for an additional 6 months in an uncertain stock market and housing market.
5. Screwing up the courage to ask my boss to work at home. This was huge. After enduring 4 long years of underemployment that ended in 2013, I was very careful to never do anything that jeopardized this job, becus i needed it too much. That included asking for work at home time, but because nearly everyone else in the company does work at home to one degree or another, I finally worked up the nerve to ask for it in a very compelling way. I was extremely candid with her about what was going on with my mother and she immediately agreed when I asked for 2 work at home days.
Here's another important thing: I'd been prepared for her to say no, I'll give you just 1 day, but I misjudged my boss. I was SO glad I asked for more than I expected to get rather than the absolute minimum I needed.
Asking for only the bare minimum in life is usually what I've done over the years, to try to make it easy on the other person and create minimal inconvenience to others. I'll try not to do that so much, whether I'm asking for a raise or anything else! I think this is a self-esteem issue. I should ask for everything I think I deserve, period.
This same flawed way of thinking would come out whenever I had a tag sale. I dislike negotiating prices, so I always hoped that if i priced something low enough, people wouldn't feel the need to negotiate. Wrong! They still do, becus people like to feel they're getting a "deal," regardless of how low the sticker price is to begin with. So you may as well price it higher.
Having the 2 work at home days has been indispensable in allowing me to get so many things done related to my mother. It would have been impossible if I worked at the office 5 days a week.
What I got wrong:
1. Listening to the doctor, Round 1. One of the biggest things that gnaws at me still is that I followed the advice of two different CT weavers about how to go about selling my mother's yarns. The first one, a retired anesthesiologist, was no doubt pretty comfortable financially and so perhaps didn't realize how important raising funds was to me, even though I told her. I also told her I wanted to sell everything fairly quickly because it was all over my home, so perhaps she only heard one part of it. Both she and the other weaver said well, if you want to get rid of the yarn quickly, price everything at $2 or $3 a yarn cone, etc. etc. Many of these yarn cones go for $30 new, and I've found that on Facebook and in private sales here in my home, people are quite happy to pay $15 a cone. The silks go for even more money.
2. Listening to the doctor, Round 2. Along the same vein, I followed the advice of the retired doctor/weaver (she ran the website of the handweavers guild) to price the larger of my mother's 2 looms very cheaply, at $200, and to also throw in, as an inducement, a couple bags of free yarn. I had the paperwork from my mother's purchase in the 1980s when she spent $3,000 odd dollars on the big loom, but according to the doctor, no one wants a large loom like that anymore because it's not portable.
So I priced it at $200 on their website and I soon had a buyer willing to drive all the way from PA to come get it. By that time, I realized I'd under-priced it. She told me she'd been looking for this particular model, which was discontinued, for a long time. I regretted saying in the ad the buyer could also take 2 large bags full of yarns free. She picked them out herself and no doubt took the most valuable yarns before I realized what I had. I cringe at the thought. At least I limited how much she stuffed in the bags to 20 cones per bag. And to her credit, she did buy an additional $125 or so of more yarns, which she paid for.
What I got wrong, but didn't really matter:
1. Choosing my realtor. I didn't have much of a basis for choosing this particular realtor except that she had a very bubbly, sweet, upbeat personality and obviously wanted the listing. However, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have chosen her, because she seemed quite content, after listing the place and holding some open houses, to sit back and wait for the buyers to come. I really felt I had to push her to even consider doing a little marketing flyer and developing a list of renters the flyer might appeal to. (She never completed this.) It was obvious she hadn't done this before, which surprised me, because it seemed pretty basic to me and it even said they did this sort of thing in the Caldwell Banker brochure she gave me.
She also was unavailable many weekends when I could have used her help in doing stuff and worst of all, I felt, she never volunteered to do things that, according to my friend, the former owner of a real estate brokerage, a good realtor should do, so you don't have to. They are, after all, earning a fairly hefty commission.
Like, my friend said my realtor should have volunteered to sit at the condo for 3 hours waiting for the chimney sweep to come and do the inspection. Just one example.
Another example: When another realtor and his customer came to look at the condo, they accidentally dropped the key in a crevice and were unable to retrieve it. So my realtor called me and said can you get another key made and drop it off at the condo. Now I live in a neighboring town about 20 minutes away while my realtor lives in the town where my mother's condo is located. A day went by and i got the duplicate key made but hadn't had time, due to work, to drive down and drop it off. At this point i was getting annoyed that i was doing a lot of running around while my realtor directed me, so I emailed her and said i was unable to drop it off, could she pick it up and she said no, she was outside the area, yada yada yada. This kind of thing happened a few times where she was at a party, at a rave, there was always something she was doing.
Honestly, all she did was list the condo and hold open houses.
The other thing I didn't like is that she saw nothing wrong with dual agency when the buyer wanted to use her as her own realtor. It's legal in CT but considered controversial and every objective news source i found online advised against it.
When I said no to my realtor, she let her sales manager represent the buyer, but to me that wasn't enough degrees of separation,
Plus, if you can believe it, she sent me an email weeks later mentioning that she was at the condo with the buyer because the buyer wanted her painter to give her an estimate. She wasn't supposed to be representing the buyer and signed papers to that effect! I think this was a slip-up on her part by telling me this. I didn't say anything but I was pissed and for all I know, she could have had regular dealings with her all along despite my request there be no dual agency.
HOWEVER, she did manage to get the place sold in 3 months time and it was that sweet, bubbly personality I mentioned that likely sold it, because the young woman who came to her last open house asked her to show her a few other condos. When my realtor relayed this info via email, before i started thinking about the obvious conflicts of interest, i wrote back and said, I hope you showed her some really lousy condos! She replied and said yes, i certainly did, or something to that effect. So that buyer was naive to think she could trust my realtor even with something seemingly harmless like showing her other condos that truly represented what was available, because obviously, my realtor wanted to get her listing sold, not someone else's listing, so she showed her other listings that made my mother's place glow.
If she wasn't as personable, it might not have worked out the way it did.
So that's why I said I think I got it wrong when I picked this realtor, but it all worked out in the end.
If there's one big lesson I've learned from all of this, it's follow my own instincts. It's great to gather feedback from others, but above I described some mistakes I made along the way because I followed others' advice. There were many times when I felt overwhelmed with all that had to be done and decided upon, and so I felt a little insecure about my ability to make the right decisions. Also I had very little time to waste pondering my options.
Archive for September, 2015
We introverts tend to be very analytical, and I'm no exception.
I spent about $1900 more than I earned this month. This rarely happens. It's mainly due to my paying both my car and homeowners insurance ($1400) and my trip to Rockport ($584), plus I managed to blow $453 on food this month!! That's what happens when you shop at warehouse clubs.
On the plus side, my "mom expenses" were less than my "mom income." Expenses came to $769. I paid another installment of her property tax, her HOA fee, her pharmacy bill and the fee for the condo resale certificate. However, I made $1278 from selling her yarns, art and couch and so I reimbursed myself from those sales rather than writing myself a check from our joint checking account.
I know I don't have to do this and have been advised not to, but I want her money to last longer at Maplewood. If a year or so from now I see she's failing, mentally (and thus not really capable of enjoying the quality of life at the very expensive Maplewood), I will begin to reimburse myself from the check book, not the sale of her possessions, because it would then not matter as much if she ended up in a Title 19 nursing home a little sooner.
Preserving her nest egg as much as possible has not cost me anything to date because I've been able to sell a lot of her possessions. It's taken A LOT of time to do this and many, many sales of yarns, for instance, $20, $30 or $50 at a time, but progress has been steady and I'm proud to have held the line on these expenses whittling away at her life savings.
Today, I had another meeting with the people at the rehab place (all agreed she's doing MUCH better but needs more time to show further improvement, so we're meeting again in 2 weeks), I made a gingerbread quick bread, sold the little table lamp for $8 to a local person who picked up today, rescheduled a dentist visit for myself, talked to Medicare to inquire about the status of a denied ambulance trip claim I appealed (answer: call back when a full 60 days has passed) and posted some glittery yarns online and promptly sold them (i mean, in like 40 seconds I had a buyer) for $80 for the whole lot. (She has to wait til payday, Friday, to send payment.) I had intentionally been holding off on posting them for sale because I wanted to wait til people began thinking about the holiday season. I guess September is not too soon.
I got a reply back from my cousin that not only could I bring my dad down with me when I deliver the art she bought from me, but she volunteered to come with us as we continued on to my dad's house on the Jersey shore to help us clean up, clear out or do whatever needs to be done, "because that's what family does." She's not even related to my dad, she's from my mother's side of the family, but I love her attitude, because, after living with a very fragmented family due to my parents' divorce and my sister's lifelong disinterest, family is so very, very important to me, too.
I hope i can talk my dad into letting her help us. My dad can be very stubborn. If he's smart, he'll say yes!
Great news! The realtor told me the bank's appraisal came in fine. Curious, I asked her what their number was, but she said they don't usually give a specific number, only if they feel it's overpriced.
So we're looking at a potential closing on Oct 7, 8 or 9. I can't believe this is really going to happen. The exact date doesn't really matter to me since I don't plan on being present. (I remember when I bought my house, I was so surprised when the sellers at that time also didn't show up.)
Soon, I'll be able to exhale on that score. A Really Big Exhale.
I will also have a large sum of cash deposited into my mother's checking account that I will be looking to invest. Somewhere around $128,000. The money will be totally spent in 2 years or less, so I want some fairly stable investment choices, not stock funds. I haven't given it much thought, had just assumed I'd put it in some kind of Vanguard funds, but maybe laddered CDs would be better/safer. With interest rates due to rise before the end of the year, maybe this would be a good idea. They'd have to be short-term CDs, like 6 mths or a year max. I could first exhaust the $100,000 in mom's Vanguard account. Any ideas/suggestions out there for the best thing to do with the proceeds from the house sale?
Here are some things I want to do once the closing is behind me:
1. Drive to NJ to deliver 2 pieces of art I've sold to my 2nd cousin. Collect $900.
2. Invite a weaver down from northern CT who was interested in my mother's art. (I'm not sure if maybe she's just got time on her hands and is looking for a friend, whether she wanted to merely view another weaver's work, or possibly buy something.) We had already planned a visit earlier, but I had to reschedule after my mother broke her hip.
3. Prepaid funeral. This one's a downer but everyone is telling me I should do this before I file for Title 19 Medicaid/nursing home as this is a permitted cost. I have thought about this a lot. It's going to be difficult to do, but better to do it now while i have a relatively clear head.
4. Hire an electrician. I have an outlet in the garage that's not working, and my attic lights also are not working. Did mice chew on the wires or something?
5. Drive up to a gallery about 30 minutes north of here and collect some of my mother's work that has been there way too long. I mean, I certainly don't have much room here, but at the same time I feel a little nervous having the gallery keep my mother's art for so long, especially as I don't know which or how many pieces she has. My mother is no longer capable of managing this and I want to make sure her art is safe and all accounted for. If the gallery hasn't sold it in over a year, I think it's time to take some of it back.
At the same time, I have a great deal of unframed, matted art of my mother's. I might get some prices from the gallery owner for framing a select few, either for my own enjoyment or to sell. Because without framing it, there's no way to hang it and thus it's kind of hard to sell. And over time it would much more easily damaged without a frame. I should know, as I keep stumbling into art all over the place here.
6. Help my dad with his house in NJ. My dad plans to sell his house in NJ now that he is living up here, at my sister's. I can't imagine how much work it is for him, at 82 and macular degeneration, to be trying to do this on his own, especially given that he's now living 3 hours away from the house. I have offered several times to help him and each time he (rightly) said, don't worry about it, you've got enough on your plate.
I hope he'll accept my offer to help after the closing. I can be his eyes and his legs and I have plenty of energy for a 50-something-year-old.
I was even thinking (I'd have to clear this with my cousin), of inviting my dad to join me as I deliver the art to my cousin and we'd be halfway to the Jersey shore. So after my cousin's, we'd continue south to dad's house. We'd get 2 things accomplished and save on gas.
Today I was hoping my friend at work would pay me for the art she bought ($425) but she forgot her checkbook. I know she's good for it, especially as she has already taken the art home and thus will feel more "committed," but I was anxious to get payment in hand nonetheless. Hopefully when I'm back in office again on Wednesday. She did say her husband really loved the piece too.
I have someone supposedly stopping by to purchase a lamp (very cheap, but I was going to donate it) and possibly the woman who already paid for my slipper chair.
I have the big follow-up meeting with the people at Masonicare.
I want to call Medicare to learn the status of the claim they denied...the infamous 911 call my mother made becus she was constipated...It's over $600 if they deny again.
I also hope to wash some of my mother's laundry so I can bring it with me when I go to the meeting there as I'll pop in to see my mom, and I would like to post a few more yarns on the Facebook page where I've been selling.
Finally, I want to see if I can order a beautiful photo of my mother that appeared in an Litchfield County newspaper about a year ago when they did a feature story on her. It's a really great shot that captures who she is, and I could use it with PR for any future shows/exhibits the art consultant can drum up.
1. Out before 9 to load up my car with 4 or 5 small boxes of old, leaking artists' paints, turpentine and who knows what other toxic chemicals my mother used to clean her brushes and so on. I dropped them off at the household hazardous waste drop off site, an event they have just once or twice a year, so i was glad to dispose of this and make room in my garage again.
2. Back to the condo. Buyer doesn't want the shelves there so with my little power screwdriver, I made quick work of taking down shelves in two rooms and a picture hanging system my mom had in lower level. The shelving brackets and screws I'll drop off at the landfill for metal recycling but I'll keep the picture hanging system. Someday, when I move into my little condo, I'll put these up on 2 walls of my office, maybe, and hang lots of art there. It saves you from putting lots of holes in the walls.
While there I STILL managed to stuff my car with odds and ends. I really AM getting to almost totally clearing out the condo.
3. The tears came on the way home. Each time I go to the condo there's less and less of my mom there. I have literally stripped away every remnant of her old life, and she can never return to it again. Does that sound like guilt? Yes. It's there, even as I know that letting her continue to live alone with worsening Alzheimers was like waiting for a really scary shoe to drop.
On the way home I stopped at assisted living place and left payment. So I'm paying over $5,000 and my mother's not even there, but what can I do? The goal is to get her back to Maplewood asap. It will be a few weeks. Money down the drain. The alternative would be to pay the same (or more) money to a nursing home, which would offer much less quality of life.
I'll keep my mother living at Maplewood for as long as her money lasts her, while she can still enjoy it. I am guessing that if she is well enough to return to Maplewood in a few weeks, they are going to escalate her to "Level 1" level of care, because she'll need assistance with daily tasks of living and so on. I believe it's a $1200 monthly bump-up in price for each of several levels of care. Luckily, I had negotiated a 1-year reprieve from paying Level 1 once my mother progressed to that stage. Once I do have to start paying it, it will just accelerate the draining of her savings.
I have a feeling my mother's life will never be the same again. She hasn't made much progress yet with physical rehab though she seems to be healing fine. She had a number of medical issues that interfered with her being able to start the rehab sooner, like a UTI and issues with pain from the surgery. So she lay in bed for a week at the hospital, and sat around in a wheelchair mostly for another full week at the rehab place, often delusional and completely out of it.
I had a meeting with the folks there last Thursday and we agreed to delay finalizing any rehab plan until Tuesday, so they'd have more time to assess what they think she's really capable of. I'm afraid all this sitting around has further weakened her so that when she does finally does begin the rehab in earnest, she'll be starting from an even lower level and have a real uphill battle. With the dementia, you can't really even emphasize how important it is that she focus on the rehab exercises and all.
It's just all so sad. I know this is what often happens to elderly people, and eventually, they die, but it's been very painful to watch my mother, who, while she has dementia, was in pretty darn good shape physically just 3 weeks ago. Now she's not supposed to stand up without assistance.
4. Came home and slowly unloaded everything from the car into the basement and garage. Sorted through what I was taking to the landfill and left that in the car.
5. Changed the hummingbird sugar water. Haven't seen a hummer lately; they may have already left for the season.
6. Made a double batch of my granola.
7. Watered all my potted outdoor plants.
8. Packed up the latest shipment of roving for a NY buyer who has bought all my previous roving. USPS will pick up from my doorstep on Monday.
9. I dragged a 36" round glass tabletop sitting in my garage and brought it into dining room on top of a new rattan luggage rack I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond. Cleaned it up. Looks good. I piled it full of my wool yarns. By consolidating my yarns and bringing more into the dining room, I was able to clear a folding table that was filled with yarns in my family room.
I dragged the folding table up to the attic where it can be put to good use tidying up there. (The attic needs attention too.) But now, at least, there is more room to move around in the family room.
Which is important as I am donating my couch in another week or so to Make a Home Foundation and I'll have to clear a path through there. I'm really tired of that couch but don't plan to buy a replacement right away. Cus it would just be another piece of furniture I'd worry the cats would be scratching.
Once it's gone, there'll be more room to stack my mother's art against the walls as I very slowly dispose of it.
I'm also selling for $25 a gold slipper chair I bought years ago. When it was delivered I immediately didn't like the color or fabric but didn't want to have to return it, so I've lived with it all these years. It's a thin chenille type fabric and after I sold it (the woman still hasn't picked it up) I noticed what could have been cat spit-up (clear). So i dabbed the spot with a damp paper towel and then let it dry, and now there's a noticeable mark on it just from my dabbing it! I hope she still takes it. I'll be glad to see that thing go. Another scratching post taking up space.
10. Ran down to the organic farm and bought some fresh tomatoes, potatoes, apples and a dozen eggs, which technically isn't vegan.
11. Posted some red bricks for sale on Facebook. I have about 300 that I dug up from north side of house where I had a little walkway but it's completely overgrown and all I want there is grass. I took pix of the bricks (2 types) and a guy said when could he come over to see them. They're bricks, man! A brick is a brick! .25 each. It occurred to me that he could come here to "see" the bricks and then decide he didn't want them, but come back later when I wasn't home and just take them from the driveway. I would like to sell them, becus .25 a piece doesn't sound like much but x 300 it's $75.
Anyway, I felt it was a pretty productive day. So glad I was able to get all the shelving down at the condo. I was also going to spackle all the holes, but darned if I didn't leave the joint compound in my garage this morning when I left. Will have to do it later.
All that's left to do with the handyman is move the bed/headboard, sewing cabinet, a small particleboard cabinet and 2 large boxes of poster board or something. THAT'S IT. I'm tired.
Tomorrow will visit mom, get gas and get groceries, probably at BJs. Would be great to squeeze in some yard work.
It really is true that as you earn more, you spend more. I try my best to resist that tendency unless there's a really good reason.
After years of being a tightwad with my landline phone and Internet bill (I'm currently paying $57/mth) I decided to double my Internet speed for another $10 a month. Mainly because I'm now working at home twice a week and there are many times my work-issued laptop is very, very slow. The IT guy at work explained why; it taps into my home broadband, which is just 6 mb. Hopefully I'll see some improvement at 12 mg. There are times when all I'm trying to do is access a certain Word document in a subfolder on a shared drive, and I have to wait about 4 minutes just to drill down one level.
The rep also said I should see reduced "buffering" when I'm watching a movie. That would also be greatly appreciated. So we'll try out the faster speed and see if it's worth the extra $10 a month. I wince to think my total monthly bill will be about $69, although I know there are many people who pay $100 or more for cable/phone/Internet or some combination thereof.
Today I sold a 2nd piece of my mom's art to a coworker and friend for $425! I had emailed her a bunch of seashore-inspired pieces, she picked out these two, and i brought them into work in the trunk of my car. On our lunch break, we walked out to look at them and she really liked Bedlam at Sea. (So do I, but I have to part with some of them.) She took it home tonight and will have a check for me next week.
My mother would be happy. I'm actually doing better selling my mom's art than the 2 galleries who now have her work.
I really do appreciate these sales since I think my friends did this yes, becus they liked the art, but also becus they felt they were helping me out. And there are only so many people I know who will do that. I don't anticipate all my art sales to go so easily when they're being marketed to strangers.
Tomorrow morning I'm dropping off several boxes of old paints, turpentine and other toxic chemicals my mother used with her art at the household hazardous waste drop off. I'll be glad to get this out of my garage, making room for my car to fit in again over the coming winter.
After that it's back to her condo once more. I have a lot more work to do now that the buyer has said she doesn't want any of the existing shelving in there. There is shelving in 3 locations:
1. Her studio. The kind with vertical metal brackets and shelf supports. Got most of it down except for what's attached by 2 stuck screws. Will see if I have any WD40 to loosen them up.
2. Her lower level studio. This will be a real pain. This isn't shelving, but is a fairly expensive picture hanging system. It's basically some aluminum brackets installed horizontally going around all 4 walls, high up on the wall and close to the ceiling. From here she hung these vertical bars that slide along the brackets and allowed you to hang paintings and re-position them if you wanted, without putting any holes in the wall. It's meant for use by artists, primarily. It will be a pain unscrewing everything and then by right i should spackle over the holes. I hope I can do this all myself. I might as well keep all this myself and maybe someday when i move to a condo i can put these up in one room and hang lots of art.
3. The storage room off the lower level studio has more shelving. I'd forgotten about these. All will have to come down.
There is still stuff to move out with my handyman (I know you're getting tired of hearing about this) but at least the couch is sold and my dad helped me remove all the over-sized, unframed art last night. Then we had dinner at the diner.
Outside of those must-dos, it is just the usual chores this weekend, like filling the car gas tank, grocery shopping, hopefully doing some yardwork, making granola and of course, visiting mom.
I had a productive conversation with the owner of a contracting firm I'd used to install new slider doors in my mother's condo before I put it on the market. I gave them a "C" and went into great detail about things I wasn't happy about. NOthing to do with the install, but more with their back office operations.
Anyway, this guy had tried calling me several times after reading my Angie's List review, but becus numbskull here (me) didn't know how to retrieve messages from her smart phone (there's no manual!) I didn't actually listen to his message until last week.
I called him back and we had a good talk. He said my review led to some internal conversations there that caused them to make a decision to end their practice of only refunding half the $175 fee for giving estimates. This was just one of my issues with them. I reasoned that if their goal was to reduce the number of people asking for estimates and then not giving them the work (basically wasting their time), they would still achieve that goal if they gave a full refund of the estimate IF they got the job. He agreed. However, when I then asked for a refund of the other half of the $175 I had to pay, he said he would give me a credit in that amount on the next job I gave them. I was a little miffed about that, but felt good that I got them to change their policy. And he was not at all defensive about talking to me, which most people would be. He was very professional so I give him credit. He did seem to sincerely want to making his company better.
Tonight I updated my review to report all this but I'm not sure I would use him again because I don't want to waste $175 if I got an estimate and then went with someone else. I mean, the whole idea of getting an estimate is you get 2 or 3 of them and then decide. If I wanted to ensure I wasn't throwing away $175 by going to this same guy, I'd have to not care what his price came in at. 99.9% of companies today don't charge for estimates so IMO this does not help their company.