Friday, June 23, 2023

The Over-Amenitized House

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published June 26, 2023] ©2023

I realize we’re talking La Jolla here, but I’ve concluded it’s possible for a home to be over-amenitized. 

Friends of ours were able to get a great deal on a 4,000 square foot showplace that had risen out of the proverbial ashes of a former fixer.  A spec house, it boasted “every amenity”.

Sometimes, even in La Jolla, there can be too much of a good thing.

Ironically, our friends were less interested in amenities than in the great location, the spaciousness of the house, and the proximity to schools.  What they are finding is that there is a fine line between a builder who installs “every amenity” and one who has had a psychotic break.  Our friends spend pretty much all their time reading amenity manuals.

When I visited the new digs after they moved in, my friend asked if I might consult on her refrigerator.   Near as I can tell, this refrigerator would also do her laundry if she asked it to but its built-in digital thermometer was reading 50 degrees. (My refrigerator thermometer came from the baking aisle at Gelson’s.)  Did I agree, she asked, that this seemed a tad warm?  I did, and the repair service that she called moments later agreed as well, but alas, it being a Friday, they could not possibly come until Monday afternoon. 

Not to worry, I told her.  I was sure I could find enough space in my own fridge for her perishables over the weekend.

“You know,” she replied somewhat sheepishly, “that’s incredibly nice of you.  But I think there may actually be some more refrigerators around here.” 

I was stopped dead in my tracks.  The mere idea that there could be refrigerators lying around that one didn’t know about put my imagination into overdrive.  I fantasized Olof coming home from a walk to our 1,600 square foot (including former garage) cottage one night and saying, “So how was your day?” and my replying, “Well, I was looking for my set of Jane Austen’s and guess what I found – a refrigerator!”

Now, the friends hadn’t lived in their new home very long at the time, but lo and behold, a brief search turned up a second refrigerator in the pasta cooking station and even another fridge – with freezer - in the wet bar.  There was a fridgelet tucked into the master bath for those champagne bubble bath occasions and one on the grill patio. One would certainly be required on the roof deck.  And in a pinch, one could always appropriate the wine fridge.

So thanks, she said, but it appeared she had alternate cooling resources.  In fact, probably enough to back up Vons.

The contractor on this spec-flip (see “psychotic break”, above) had decided that there should be every possible lighting opportunity. Hence, there are not less than seven sets of light switch units each with three individual switches in the very large “great room,” which collectively control the myriad ceiling lights.  To date, they have not succeeded in turning off all the lights in their great room at the same time, but have put sticky notes next to each switch unit indicating what combination of lights it seems to control.  Their first upgrade, they note, is to hire an electrician to do a major light switch reduction. Because it is driving them completely, totally bats--t crazy. 

The downside of amenities, of course, is that they break – even brand-new allegedly still under warranty amenities.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the garbage disposal in the auxiliary prep sink stopped working as well. My friend had a repairman out to look at it and he agreed it was under warranty and also that the same problem was likely to recur.  However, he added, it was more economical for the warrantors to keep fixing it than replacing it. 

Huh? I said, as my friend related the story.  Every disposal I’ve ever had cost $100. 

No, she said, turns out that this is the Lamborghini of disposals.  According to the repair guy, it could “do a small dog”.  Olof heard this and said if it were him, he’d upgrade to one that does a medium dog.  I’m guessing you could probably also do a husband if you cut him in dog-sized pieces first.  (See imagination overdrive, above.) 

In fact, I was about to suggest to the friend that this house could be the site of the perfect crime.  The industrial-grade mega-hertz central vac system would easily suck up even the minutest husband fragments and the disposal would make sure he was thoroughly chummed long before he hit the treatment plant. CSI wouldn’t stand a chance.

But then it occurred to me that those husband fragments could be friend fragments.  Note to self:  keep mouth shut.



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