Measure twice, cut once.


When Alan started work in Detroit and I was back in Fort Wayne getting us ready to move, I became enamored of a show called “Sell This House,” in which a reliable supply of clueless would-be home sellers learn — yes, learn — that before you put a house on the market it’s a good idea to remove your 500-piece teddy-bear collection from the dining room and maybe dust a bit. The usual professionals with mystifying job titles (“staging expert”) give them tips on how to do quick-n-dirty spruce-ups that will get their house sold.

Alan came home for weekends that month, and I tried to get him interested. He found it unbearable. He has bottomless contempt for quick-n-dirty, at least when it comes to home improvements. “They’re PAINTING WALLPAPER?” he moaned, five minutes into the first episode, just before stalking out of the room. I’m sure he’d support a bill that would sentence wallpaper-painters to lengthy prison terms.

So this week we’re working on my office, formerly the baby’s room. Yesterday the peaceable-kingdom wallpaper border bit the dust, and yes, as per our luck in all wallpaper matters, it was seemingly affixed with superglue. Then he set to work on the outlets, which had never, ever been removed for painting, at least not in the last 15 years. You want to see what drives Alan up the wall? Look at this specimen, clotted with layer after layer of very un-Alan-like workmanship. His lip curls with contempt. There’s just no substitute for doing it right the first time, is there?

P.S. When he dismantled the existing shelving system in the garage and found that, paradoxically, he was actually able to store more stuff without shelves than he was with them, he said, “I suspect this was the work of a General Motors engineer.” No idea, so no comment.

Posted at 12:13 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

11 responses to “Measure twice, cut once.”

  1. colleen said on July 24, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    Wow. Quite a lot of waxy buildup you have there.

    What always gets me about that annoying show is the open house people who walk in and go “I hate that sofa”. Well guess what, you’re not buying the sofa!

    My husband is also a perfectionist at home improvement. But you should get a look at our front porch…worth every painstaking hour he’s spent out there!

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  2. Dorothy said on July 24, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    Wow. I’ve seen that show only a couple of times, but yesterday we happened to catch it – first time in a long time. Guy in Boston was trying to sell his townhouse for close to $400,000. I started yelling at the screen when the helper bees were painting one of the rooms, and they had NOT removed the face plate from the light switch. HELLO!?!! You’re doing a t.v. show and supposed to be doing it RIGHT!! I did learn something, though. To mask a musty odor from his basement bedroom, they put in some Febreeze brand plug in smell-good contraption. I had never seen one of those before. I guess it gives out a steady stream of Febreeze as opposed to emptying a container or two every couple of days.

    They try to do things as cheaply as possible on that show. Yesterday they only re-arranged furniture in two of the rooms, repainted two and ZING it sold the next day they had an open house. I think they spent $305 total on fix-ups.

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  3. brian stouder said on July 24, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Pammy and I like the show where people are shopping for a new home (not to be confused with the one where well-off folks are shopping for a “vacation home”).

    They narrow it down to 3 places, each with pluses and minuses, and then they select.

    ‘Course, the fun is trying to guess which one they’ll go for, and also whether what they went for is what you would have selected. I correctly guess only about as often as blind chance would come up correct….but the show is a hoot

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  4. mary said on July 24, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Woo Hoo. My son’s high school is number 404 in the country according to Newsweek. That’s with 75% of the kids qualifying for meal subsidies. Yay Marshall. Go Barristers.

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  5. tom truthful said on July 25, 2006 at 8:22 am

    What I especially like is that the two colors (wall and outlet) don’t match, meaning that multiple layers of paint were applied without removing said wallcoverings.
    Like some men, I may be the world’s slowest painter of houses, but that’s because I spend so much time on prep – something I’ve noted the college-pros largely dispense with.
    Now, if only I could find an exterior trim paint that lasts more than a couple of winters….

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  6. Pam said on July 25, 2006 at 9:01 am

    Hey Brian! The next time you watch that home selection show, note how many times people select a home based upon the amenities that it offers their pets!! Nancy, I also cannot watch Sell This House or Designed to Sell. It’s a bunch of eye fooling, cheap updates designed to con the not so savvy buyer into thinking a house is better than it is. Also, most of the “tips” involve normal things like simply cleaning for a change. Those people don’t deserve more money for their crappy homes. The new owners will likely be faced with lots of repairs because if you don’t clean, then you don’t maintain. And painting over outlets!! Aiye, carumba!! Not done!

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  7. Kath said on July 25, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve been tagging along on house hunting trips with my brother the last couple of weekends. Too many people have been watching “Flip that house” and think that they can buy a house, slap a few gallons of pant on it, and sell it for $50K more than they paid for it 3 months ago. (and this is for houses in the $200 to 225K range)

    The workmanship is horrible. One owner replaced the countertop with a nice stainless steel one. However they put the old sink back in, which didn’t fit. You can stick your fingers in between the metal edge of the sink and the countertop.

    In Minneapolis, the city’s website shows whether any building permits have been pulled in the last 10 years or more. Not one of the houses we looked at had pulled a permit for anything.

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  8. Dorothy said on July 25, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    We’re not selling our house but we are painting the master bathroom this coming weekend. Look for pictures at flickr (I’m truvy57 there). And I guarantee all face plates will be removed and proper taping procedures will be in place!

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  9. Danny said on July 25, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    Guys, I know this was a topic way back, but you gotta see this. Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy! champion has a pretty good sense of humor!

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  10. Garry said on July 26, 2006 at 12:45 am

    Why do you still have those ancient ungrounded outlets?
    The one shown has to be at least 50 years old!
    Change allof the rest of them.
    Plusyou shouldn’t remove the plaster ears, they put the outlet at the correct level with the wall.

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  11. Bob said on July 26, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    My dad used to drive me nuts with his painting. He’d paint the light switches, the doorknobs, the registers, everything but the glass in the windows. I used to drive him nuts with my masking things and removing hardware.

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