Second trip to the courthouse, plus, how our contractor reminded us why we hired him in the first place

After a night of little to no sleep, my boyfriend and I stumbled out of bed to make an 8:30 am court time. This time, we are fighting two tickets, or at least hoping to fight two – one had a court date of 3/1, the other a court date of 3/21. Hoping I can sweet talk my way into letting them hear both today.

The first ticket was about a water meter being blocked so the water meter guy couldn’t read the meter. Which means not only was he an asshole to us in person when he first came by, he was an asshole behind our backs too. And even though we had an estimate read a few weeks after the first time the guy came, we still had to fight the ticket.

The second was about loose debris that some inspector saw at 2:30 am (yes, in the morning, wtf) in our front yard on 1/22, as in the night after a long weekend where we couldn’t get a garbage truck to come clear the weekend debris until the next day.

Somehow, it takes 50 minutes to call my name this time and when I get to the judge’s office, she opens both folders that have each ticket and the first thing she says about the water meter violation is, oh, I’m not ready to hear on this one.

Oh. Okay.

We need a rep from DEP on these kinds of tickets. Hold on.

She runs out of the room before I can ask why and five minutes later comes back and says the DEP rep is around and can hear the case.

Why does a DEP rep need to be here?

She looks at me, clearly annoyed already, and says, why don’t we save those questions for when you’re on the record.


She moves her mouse around on her computer screen and clicks around a few times.

We can hear this other ticket first, she says.

And this is when I realize that dates and times on the tickets are really just suggestions. No real sweet talk necessary.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for this ticket as much as the other because I was anticipating rejection.

First she asks me if I admit or deny the violation.

Deny, I say.

So there was no garbage there when the inspector came by?

Oh, well, it was the day after mlk weekend, so we couldn’t get a garbage truck out there until the next day.

So there was garbage there when the ticket was written?

Well I mean, yes, but…

She thrusts the ticket at me. Have you looked at this at all?

I read through the ticket again and thats when i notice the time on the ticket was for 2:30 in the morning.

Oh, well that’s why we had garbage out. See, we are in the middle of a gut renovation on a house that is a bit of a target on the block. It was a total mess before we bought it.

Well the rules are to not have loose debris so tell your contractor that or you will get another ticket.


Do you have anything else to add?

No I don’t think so.

All right, you will receive a notice in 30 days as to what my decision is on your case. Now you can step outside while I find the DEP rep.

I come out and tell my boyfriend we still have one ticket left to fight and can he come with me this time because he was the one who talked to the water meter reader guy and because I might crumble under the angry gaze of my judge.

After a few minutes, she calls me back in and swears in my boyfriend and DEP rep.

The DEP rep has a bunch of exhibits to show the judge, one of which is an old violation given to the previous owner.

That’s impossible, I said. We ran a title search before we closed and had our expediter run violation searches to clear them all.

We had to write $9,000 worth of checks to clear everything, my boyfriend added.

The DEP rep shrugged. Well this one slipped through the cracks.

Wait, but when I talked to the water meter guy, he was treating me like I was the old owner.

Those guys don’t know who the owners are, the DEP guy said.

No, the guy was acting like he had already had this conversation with me. I had to tell him we are new owners.

The DEP rep shrugged again. According to the rules, all new owners inherit old owners violations.

We understand that, I said, we had a list of 24 violations that we paid off at closing.

The judge interjected, how could this have slipped through the cracks?

We ran a title search on the house twice, I said, and once right before closing in August. This didn’t pop up.

The DEP guy shrugged again. This one was still open.

What do they need to do to make sure they don’t get the violation again? The judge asked on our behalf. Maybe she wasn’t so glare-y after all.

They need to call and make another appointment to get their meter read.

We already did. I pulled out my smoking gun – the bill that had all the adjusted readings and left us with an $1,800 credit.

Oh, okay then. Well, then just make sure your AMR box is hooked up. That’s the satellite box so we can do meter readings without having to come to the house.

We got the wires, but no box, my boyfriend said.

Just run the wire from the meter to the back of the house. Then call to get someone to come by and put in the box.

Okay, thank you.

And then we went off the record. Ugh. What a mess of a morning.

In other news, we are *this * close to getting walls up in out house. Went to visit the house the other day to catch our contractor and he ended up giving me an impromptu tour of his vision.

Yes, he has one.

He helped me visualize what the kitchen would look like, talked about adding 42 inch high cabinets since our ceilings are 10 feet high, and gesturing to where stoves and refrigerators and toilets were going to go.

The shower upstairs needs to be custom built because we have a small, unusually shaped bathroom. We are going to nix the dishwasher on the second floor to give way to more cabinet space.

Oh, also, he put in our first new door 🙂 Weird fact – it actually costs more to buy a door with no panels than panels. Our contractor not only had to special order this door, it cost $50 more than paneled doors.

We went down to the basement where he showed me where he still needed to do some framing. The wouldbe bathroom (that turned out to just be a closet with a toilet in it), I explained to him, would probably be a booth for Brian’s studio, and he suggested, volunteered the idea, you could say, to put a piece of plexiglass next to the door so the person recording could gesture to the people doing the sound. Cool.

And he found our AMR box:

Now we are just waiting for our architect to tell us he filed this plumbing amendment so we can schedule the inspection, insulate, and close up the walls.

Why does it feel like I’ve been saying this for the last three weeks now?

*This* close.


3 thoughts on “Second trip to the courthouse, plus, how our contractor reminded us why we hired him in the first place

  1. I feel your pain. We started our renovation around the same time-frame and are still plugging away. If you want to run any issues by us feel free to contact us. Misery loves company.

  2. Good luck with the judge’s ruling – what a pain! We found out that one way of getting rid of a ton of debris (for free) is to put it by the curb on garbage day and then keep an eye out for the sanitation truck. They let us throw a ton of stuff in the truck, as long as we helped them toss it in.

    • That is an AWESOME tip! I will tell my contractor to do this when they have another load of garbage to dump! Thanks!

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