Friday, February 08, 2002

RECO, a Racket, but not Racketeering

RECO, in our case, stands for Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance. It's a Berkeley ordinance that requires a certain percentage of the selling price be spent on certain energy conservation measures whenever a residential property changes hands. It might apply to commercial too, but I'm not sure. One thing that is nice about this one is that you don't have to spend it if you're up to certain levels in all the areas it covers. That's not true about the seismic requirement, but I'll get to that later.

This covers things like attic insulation, weatherstripping, chimney dampers, low-flow faucets and toilets, and probably some other things. It doesn't cover windows. I suppose I partly understand that because it's relatively hard to measure window quality, as compared to most of the things it does cover. I only partly understand it because it doesn't make sense to me that they want us to do weatherstripping on the exterior doors when the previous owner was enough of a freak to install Jalousie windows throughout the house!

Jalousies are those stupid windows that are like levelor blinds, only they're glass and they don't go up just rotate open and closed. The worst one in the place was one of the kitchen windows that doesn't actually close all the way because the stop at the bottom is too wide! I can stick my pinkie half way through the gap when the window's closed! Oh well... we can cover the requirement with other things, like a chimney damper, weather stripping, and attic insulation.

So, I also mentioned the city's seismic retrofit requirement. In addition to the RECO funds, escrow also has a percentage set aside for seismic retrofitting. If we do the retrofitting work, we get back the seismic money. If we don't do it (as, for instance, when there's nothing to do), we don't get it back. We've done it.

So far, we've changed the locks with much tougher ones, had the roof over our room replaced (and built up to give it a little angle so it will drain better), had the critical pest damage repaired, installed a damper on the chimney (that's part of the RECO - we have a year to get it all done) and had the seismic retrofit done.

We move in this weekend. And then I have to fly to New York for a week, leaving Dawn with Rachel, a lot of boxes, and a cat who can't go outside until he's had time to get used to the new house. That's going to suck.