It's been hard to find contractors who'll work on an 80 year-old apartment building that hasn't seen an abundance of maintenance. I'm being nice. There's an icebox in my kitchen. A real ice box, like a safe with a drawer. The paint in my closet pre-dates lead-based paint - it's some weird stuff that peels if you paint over.
So we're upgrading the vacant apartment but just the functional stuff, like electrical. While getting bids, one electrician came by, noticed all the breakers were forced open, fixed them, and didn't charge us. He got the job and he got the permits to do the work.
The good thing about a detail-oriented electrician is that he'll save your apartment from an electrical fire without charging you. They'll also find the junction boxes plastered over, hidden in walls and above the garage, installed when electricity was the hot new thing and who needed standards, code, and inspections? The bad thing is the same hardship working with anyone detail-oriented: anal people are annoying.
Charlie talked one of his friend's workers into pulling off the old earthquake (yes, the 1989 earthquake) damaged plaster and re-walling the kitchen in this vacant unit while the workers had some down time. Charlie would have had to do it otherwise. It's their first day and they've already done more than Charlie could do in a week (or more - let's be honest. A 55 year-old man isn't a match for two crazy-for-work hungry kids).
The electrician sees they're doing work and says something about permits. The workers don't speak English but they know this word. Charlie gets a call.
All they're doing is tearing out crappy plaster and replacing it with drywall, putting the electrical work inside the walls this time (seriously - our apartment's electricity is stuck in metal tubes against the wall). Nothing's being changed except that instead of having an 80 year-old kitchen with a tiny doorway fit for a tiny housewife like you would build in 1930, there'll be a normal-sized doorway allowing kitchen access to all sizes and genders. It's an exciting day for men in kitchens everywhere.
Now, since the electrician asked, we have to find out: is there a permit for kitchen access equality?