Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Home Remodeling: Ms. Blandings and her Dream House

Cary Grant and Myrna Loy with the plans for their home in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House. Hilarity ensues.

Don't know if you've ever seen the 1948 classic Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, but the movie has been on my mind of late as I stepped over workmen, appliances, cable cords and paint buckets in my new/old home. Sans the hilarity, my experience has been very similar to the Blandings': suffering through the daily grind of dealing with a phalanx of workmen who are constantly underfoot and are chronically installing everything upside down and backwards.

I was so out of my head from entertaining these dunderheads, I cleared them out late yesterday and indulged in some retail therapy, something I'm pretty much against these days as it generally serves to add stuff to my already too-large collection of same. But it turned out to be a relief--wandering in and out of stores, tears streaming down my cheeks, clerks saying soothing things to me as I bought junk I didn't need and blubbered into my linen handkerchief.

Now that my equanimity has returned--or the meds clicked in, whatever--I thought I would list the best and the worst of the people I've dealt with during my move and retrofit/remodel this past week.

From a neighbor I received a recommendation for Fred Murray of Murray Electric Co. who is an independent contractor. What a terrific worker this guy is! From changing a light fixture to installing the Miele to putting a baby spot on my Dad's flagpole for night flag flying, he turned out to be the best of those I met during this experience. He works quickly, knows what he is doing, installs things and makes sure they work properly. Best of all--besides all those other things--he is neat and tidy and always cleans up any and every mess he makes. Actually, he makes things look better than they looked before he made the mess. His wife has trained him well: she should contract him out for housecleaning services on his off days.

He works out of San Mateo, California. You should Google him.

Alas, Home Depot, with whom I worked on a remodeling project ten years ago to much success, is not the company it used to be. Every single thing I worked on with them followed Murphy's Law--and those were on HD's good days. My clerk was a very nice lady who was misinformed about practically everything--or, and I hate to think this--misinformed me in order to help her make the sale.

My HD delivery guy was Freddie Krueger, only with a lower IQ.

Returning and/or exchanging at HD had a certain quality that can only be said to have originated somewhere back in the SSR days of Roumania.

As soon as possible I'm divesting the family of Dad's stock in HD. As Warren Buffet says--bad product+bad service=bad investment.

Movers: I think they should all be sent to Guantanamo.

Comcast? This company, alas, has very limited technical ability. They know how to plug-in your cable if you are already wired. Anything else that is way beyond their bandwidth, intellectually, technically and otherwise.

I could tell you the long story about trying to "port" over the telephone number my family has had since 1950 to Comcast and how, with the help of Comcast, it turned into a Dali-esque experience.

I could tell how I had visits from three different Comcast's technicians in four days, the last one of which went something like this: "Excuse me, ma'am? Would you mind if I move this big chest here from the living room into the kitchen where you can stumble over it all day while I drill fourteen holes in your wall and leave sawdust everywhere and by the way they don't give us a vacuum so I can't clean up my mess and I won't move the thing back as we are really not supposed to move furniture. That's okay isn't it? Oh, and that number we ported? You can call out on it, but calls can't come in. Okay, we've closed the ticket. Goodbye."

For now, only my cell phone is working.

On the appliances side: GE, as always, makes terrific appliances. But someone ought to tell them not to contract out their deliveries to Chucky.

Miele makes a wonderful oven. But somebody ought to tell them to make a trim kit for retro fitters such as I.

But, looking on the brighter side, my experience was not nearly as trying as, say, the one Cary Grant and Myrna Loy suffered through in Mr. Blandings. But some of it did seem strangely familiar. Especially the exchange between Mrs. Blandings--Myna Loy--and her painters. It goes like this:

Loy:I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong! Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There's some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room - in here - I want you to match this thread, and don't lose it. It's the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me... (she has to walk away to deal with another crisis.)
Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie?
Charlie the Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.
Mr. PeDelford: Check.

Still, going through a house remodeling with Cary Grant would have had its consolations.

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4 comments:

steve said...

Robin,
Have you researched or considered AT&T uverse?
Compared to Comcast most people I know prefer the uverse package.

Robin Chapman said...

I'm back with AT&T so as soon as that is assured and Comcast knows my family's long-held number is back with AT&T also, I will ask them about uverse and see what's what with that.

Thad and Polly said...

The paint conversation of Mrs. Blandings is one of our favorites, and we used to have lots of opportunities to remember and quote it. Thanks for preserving it in full! And thanks for continuing to keep your friends smiling about the adventures of home ownership. Love your blog!

Robin Chapman said...

I've always loved that exchange because I swear I've seen it replicated in my own experience with contractors (not to mention the whole man/woman thing: "Honey? You want it WHAT color?"). Plus, with all this chaos around here for the last ten days, I've been feeling somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan myself.