Raoul's China Saloon (V4.0 Beta)

The Bar Room => The Bar (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: AMonk on May 18, 2007, 09:31:06 AM

Title: DiY??
Post by: AMonk on May 18, 2007, 09:31:06 AM
Hubby is very handy about almost all "routine" home repairs and fix-ups (he is a carpenter by trade) and he is well able/willing to undertake to fix whatever may go awry...with the exception of electrical matters, beyond lightbulbs or switchplates.

What is the usual Chinese attitude in regard to Euro-tenants and repairs?
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 18, 2007, 10:34:33 AM
Most will LOVE it if you do your own repairs...especially if you also pay for the parts and materials yourself.  ajajajajaj

This really comes down to the individual character of your lanlode.

Some of them really love having foreign tenants. We're more demanding, and there are communications problems, but we typically pay a higher rent than the Chinese will. These landlords will do their best to keep you happy and comfortable, and promptly take care of reasonable repair problems.

The more common type already has your money, and is currently somewhat vague on who the hell you are although your face does ring a distant bell. You won't be able to get even the simplest repairs done without threats; economic threats (announcing that if they don't do it you'll get it done yourself and deduct the invoice from your next rent payment, refusing to pay rent until the repairs are completed, etc.) are the most effective. These landlords view you simply as a source of free income; expecting them to go to any trouble or expend any money to maintain their properties will be met with astonishment and outrage. You're also likely to have a fight on your hands to keep the point that the problem is not your fault.

I had one landlord try to stick me with 50 RMB in repairs to an ancient water heater, because "everyone knows foreigners use more hot water than Chinese." Another one tried to force me to buy her a brand-new TV to replace the 10-year-old one the apartment came with, after it suddenly went black in the middle of South Park. In both these cases I stuck to my guns and the landlords eventually backed down; you should do the same when it happens to you.

You should know that things like building infrastructure, uh, well...just aren't the same as in our home countries. Much of the work in China is done by its largest conglomerate, The Idiot Cousin Company. We all know their work....fast-food boxes that don't stay closed unless you rubber-band them; door lock systems with the handles on the wrong side of the door; eyelash-thin uninsulated wiring in the walls connecting to a socket with 4 power strips plugged into it; paints made from water, cornstarch, and banned toxic hazardous dyes; tea jars that leak like sieves...all done by The Idiot Cousin Company. No matter the need or problem, you can always just call Idiot Cousin and get the job done for next to nothing. Sure, the quality is bqbqbqbqbq, but only foreigners and troublemakers care about such things. The Price Is Right.  bfbfbfbfbf
Needless to say, the materials and workmanship of construction and decoration here is quite an interesting hodge-podge... aoaoaoaoao
I strongly suspect there are some amazingly adept craftsmen here, but are under such pressure to keep things cheap that they can't do the work they're capable of.

I'd say that if your husband can fix something up fast and easy, will enjoy himself, and will only have to spend a Yuan or two, go for it. Probably faster and easier to do it that way. Anything significant, though, you should make the landlord take care of.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: George on May 18, 2007, 12:43:37 PM
Anything electrical,be very wary of!! I can sort out problems at home, but I refuse to touch anything electrical here. Even changing a light bulb is a scary task! That and plugging in a powerboard is as far as I go.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Lone Traveller on May 18, 2007, 02:47:04 PM
I agree with George. All electrical things seem to spark, spit and hiss at you whenever you draw near. Be very wary.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Newbs on May 18, 2007, 09:33:27 PM
Amonk, I posted something the other day about electrical safety in China.  There's a theme happening here.

Bit later.  Just scroll down to Surge Protectors.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: AMonk on May 19, 2007, 10:49:22 AM
Got it!  Stay away from the electricals!!...Not hard for Hubby to follow that advice....he doesn't trust it, at the best of times.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Vegemite on May 19, 2007, 02:46:16 PM
I agree with George. All electrical things seem to spark, spit and hiss at you whenever you draw near. Be very wary.

Yep, I agree and even our dog barks at the electric sockets, especially at the one that we plug our washing machine into - she goes crazy when we use that socket.
Plus, we had two computers get killed by a faulty socket...I now have power surge protectors and have swapped the computer socket for another.
Chinese electrics give me the shivers.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: dragonsaver on May 20, 2007, 12:05:52 AM
I wanted to change a light bulb, but it was in the ceiling.  I wanted my ayi to do it, but my friend (and her friend) said no.  Get a man to do it, it isn't safe to do it.  She said her father was an electrician and he told her never to change a light bulb.  I thought it was just a 'girl' thing - that her father thought women were not capable .... but now, maybe her father was right.

I would have done it if I was taller - before the warning.  Now  bibibibibi
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Lotus Eater on May 20, 2007, 01:55:06 AM
Anything goes wrong here and I call the FAO - and it's fixed as soon as humanly possible.  They replace lightbulbs, fix toilets, airconditioners etc.  FREE.  The stuff I do myself - hang pictures.  And even then I ask a friend to help me with it.  I need the 'up a bit, down a bit' help. (Actually, I usually do that bit and let the friend hold the pics for me!)

If you are living on campus, you may need to talk to the FAO about what you do to their property.
Title: Re: DiY??
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 20, 2007, 11:01:04 AM
Extend the above to generally ANY school-provided housing. Leave the repairs to them.
Even if you're independently housed, your FAO should definitely be able to help you arrange repairs..or argue for them with your landlord.

When I first returned to Suzhou, my good friend Joe kindly allowed me to stay for free in a very cool, very old unused apartment he had. Unfortunately, the electrical system couldn't handle even a single small electric space heater, and it was COLD in there, so I couldn't stay.

Using the heater completely shut down electricity to the entire apartment. Joe came to take a look, and we went to examine the outside switches on the apartment. (These were the HOUSE switches, not power company equipment!) I took in the enormous glass or ceramic insulators, huge scary-looking Frankenstein's-Lab-grade metal blade switches, circuit breakers consisting of a brick-sized piece of ceramic with a strip of heavy copper wire tied along one side, etc. and said "Wow, Joe, this place must have been one of the first in this part of China to get connected to electricity! Is this from sometime in the 1930s?"

Joe looked distinctly uncomfortable for a moment and said "Uh, Raoul, this place was wired for electricity in 1979..."  bibibibibi