New House: Time To Fix Previous ‘Repairs’


So, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, we bought a house. We hadn’t intended to buy anything else three days before a fairly expensive holiday, but a five-bedroom, three-bath home for $50,000 is hard to pass up. So, on Dec. 23, we signed the papers.

For most people, getting the keys to a house is exciting. Unfortunately, we’d bought “fixer-uppers” before. We accepted our keys with a fearful smile and a prayer.

The guy who had owned this home had obviously been watching too many of those remodeling shows — you know, the ones where they show 25 minutes of high-dollar commercials, 10 minutes of selecting finishes, five minutes of unexpected problems, 15 minutes of hired help whizzing through the actual work and five minutes of a huge payoff.

Our house looks like it’s going to be zero high-dollar commercials, five minutes of selecting whatever is on sale, 10 days of unexpected problems, no hired help and doubling our money somewhere down the road if we’re lucky.

In the meantime, every available minute is spent simply making it worthy of a renter. Let me detail the “remodeling” we’re working feverishly to undo:

• Woodwork that has been painted white, brown, blue and tan (all in one room).

• Kitchen cabinets that have been similarly painted and also antiqued (but only every other one).

• A dishwasher that has been painted tan but not around the instructions (thoughtful).

• One major appliance each in white, stainless steel, cream and the aforementioned tan (with a black microwave for good measure).

• Walls that have been painted tan (except where the previous owner couldn’t reach).

• And my personal favorite, an unfinished kitchen floor with smashed tiles glued down to look “just like flagstone” (which they most decidedly do not).

On the plus side, we got a complimentary barometer and 16 bottle caps by freeing them from between the window and screen where they had been trapped for years because the window latch had broken off. A screw and a few nails had been put in, you know, for security.

The two kitchen windows are cute. They feature those six-over-six panes like all the English cottages have. You know what six-over-six really means? It means you’re going to need 48 strips of blue tape on them before you paint — times two. That’s 96.

I took down the curtains in all the rooms before I did anything because the stench was unbelievable. If you’ve been smoking for 30 years, you really need to bury your face down inside this batch of curtains and take a deep breath. You’ll never need another cigarette. You’re set for life.

None of the toilets worked, so our remodeling genius tried to replace them. When he couldn’t get them unscrewed, he just bashed into the porcelain with a hammer. Nothing good comes of that, and we have the water stains to prove it.

Ditto the showers. If Mr. Fix-It encountered a leaky faucet, what better way to discern the problem than to crawl into the adjoining linen closet and attack the problem from the backside? Hammers are fun! You guessed it: more water stains and a bathtub full of broken tiles to boot.

That’s the downstairs. I’m afraid to go upstairs, but our renter is slated to move in Feb. 1.

Do you hear that loudly ticking clock? I do.