Over the last several days I have received many angry letters from readers who were upset over a statement I made in my previous column—the one about taxes. I know exactly how you feel. I would be upset too if I had just learned that the government requires us to pay taxes! It’s a good thing my readers pay attention to the outside world. Actually they were complaining about my depiction of Republicans and Democrats; the former being all-too-ready to kill a harmless, defenseless, disease-infested rat, and the latter jumping up on a chair to avoid it, yet desiring to let it live and name it Rusty. Before I get into today’s topic, allow me to apologize.
The death threats are right; my depiction of our nation’s political parties is off-center. Allow me to correct this mistake. The Republicans wouldn’t be trying to kill the rat; they would be unleashing about 10 tons of nuclear weapons on it, while the Democrats give over their bedrooms so that the rat may be as comfortable as possible. Of course, the Green Party is pounding on the front door, screaming “Let me in! Let me in!” And that brings us to our topic of today…home-improvement.
Spring is upon us and just as every other home-owner in our credit-breathing country, I want to improve my home—except that I don’t live in one, I rent an apartment. So, in reality, I am no help. But before you go running off to that gigantic warehouse depot, listen to some timely advice. I want to help you make the wise decisions that are necessary in order for you to get worked over properly by the inspector when you try to sell your home. That’s why I’ve decided to bring in everyone’s favorite home-improvement guru, Bob Vila. No, wait, he’s unavailable. I believe it has something to do with an unfortunate mobbing incident outside of a Barnes and Noble on his latest book signing tour. Instead, let me introduce you to America’s second favorite home-improvement maniac, Mr. Fix-it Guy. He is going to respond to your questions using the always-popular question and answer format.
Mr. Fix-it Guy, I want to improve my home (mainly because my wife keeps threatening to make me sleep with the dog if I don’t), but it’s hard for me to get excited about home-improvement when the prices are so high. What can I do to save money while improving my home? That’s easy! Most people think that in order to “do the best job” you have to hire a contractor or landscaper to do the work for you. I say that’s poppycock. Everyone has the ability to do it themselves. So what if your lawn turns into a spawning ground for countless insects and rodents, that’s the way Mother Nature intended it. And if you’re putting in a fire-place, a few large holes in key places can make the difference. You’ll be able do anything if you have the right tools.
Mr. Fix-it Person (I prefer to use non gender-specific terms so I can always be politically correct), I want to build a porch off my back door. What steps do I need to take so that I do it right? Hire a contractor.
Mr. Fix-it Guy, I am an incredibly rich, over-paid executive who likes to waste money. I want to redecorate my home. What do you recommend I do? Allow me to give a plug to the best furniture store out there for the over-paid money wasters—Nebraska Furniture Mart (“I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you, let me find a supervisor.”). This retail establishment is phenomenal at making you pay insane amounts of money and somehow managing to not give you any product in return. I’m just impressed that they found a more efficient way to throw money away than just throwing it away.
Mr. Fix-it Guy, what’s the difference between a load-bearing wall and a “stud” behind the dry wall? That is a great question. Imagine the load-bearing wall is like Wal-Mart (“We’ll be taking over your small town next!”). You wish you could get rid of it so you can turn your basement into suburban pool hall, yet it’s not going anywhere. Of course, you always find yourself going to it at three in the morning for a late-night snack craze. The “stud” is more like Hollywood. It’s there, but if it weren’t, you’d never know the difference.
Mr. Fix-it Guy, are you available for private contracts? Absolutely! I am available any time, except for Monday-Sunday. My prices are on average with other contractors, but I give you the added advantage of never having to actually deal with me. I make you feel like I was never there. When it comes to payment, I require it upfront. I found that if I waited until the job was finished before collecting the bill, I would have to work a lot harder. I take checks, cash, and all major credit cards (except for Discover, that’s a fake company set up by the National Football League so they can spy on their viewers).
That’s all the time we have for today, but make sure to thank Mr. Fix-it Guy for coming and sharing his wisdom. I certainly learned a lot, and I even hired him to paint my apartment for me, but he seems to be running out the door now rather quickly.
“Hey, come back here, I just gave you my credit card!” Oh well, I’ll try to catch up to him. Those contractors are wily characters.