Gloss: Adventures in home improvement | Features

Gloss: Adventures in home improvement | Features

When pondering your favorite Tom Hanks flick — as one occasionally might — there is an assortment from which to choose.

Movies like “Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump,” “The Green Mile” and even “Toy Story” tug at the ol’ heart strings, while “Apollo 13” and “Saving Private Ryan” appeal to our inner action heroes.

However, the image of Hanks pouring a bucket of water into a clawfoot bathtub as it plummets through the floor, smashed chunks of porcelain scattering, always has put “The Money Pit” at the top of my list.

Lately, I find myself commiserating with Walter Fielding, portrayed by Hanks in the film. After purchasing an older home in need of a little TLC, each project he encounters undergoes one comedic hurdle after another before he finally calls in the pros. Every specialty contractor assesses that work will be completed in “two weeks.”

“Two weeks,” in the case of my home, has stretched into 10 years, with nearly every project taking much longer than it should because of the home’s quirks.

In the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I decided to dive into several long-awaited projects for our 94-year-old abode — just as everyone decided to do with their homes in the past year.

We tackled rebuilding our basement stairs once we discovered they were not secured to, well, anything. We replaced the closet doors in our master bedroom, which had an opening that didn’t appear to be constructed with a level, so we had to resort to a vintage plumb bob to establish the true center of the doorway. We also upgraded our toilets to models that didn’t require the occasional hand down the tank to manually flush.

But several other items on our laundry list required a professional’s touch.

We had our gutters gutted after small maple trees began sprouting from them last spring, then began changing colors in the fall. We called in a tree service to remove several “weak trees” from our property that could rarely handle a bird perched upon them without dropping a branch but could withstand a derecho. That project made way for a newly constructed garden shed that my husband took on — and that rang in at double what we budgeted due to the ever-rising cost of lumber. We also had a gas fireplace insert installed, as well as the exterior of our home painted.

The latter has yielded probably the most dramatic and most costly change — and for all the neighborhood to see.

After leaving for work one morning from a home that could use a fresh coat of paint, I returned to one that appeared as though it was being used for missile testing.

Brown wood peered through the remnants of white paint clinging to the last of its life upon the siding. Our quaint window shutters had been removed, and tarps and ladders were strewn about the yard — along with dried sheets of paint that didn’t survive the tyranny of the pressure washer or scraper.

In tribute to “The Money Pit,” I sighed and offered Walter’s memorable line, “Ahh, home crap home.”

My husband and I contemplated hanging a big sign in the front yard that read, “Don’t worry. It’s going to look beautiful. Really. Two weeks.”

Anyone who has owned an aging house knows such undertakings tend to wander down the path of “much worse” before arriving at “much better.” In fact, upon purchasing the home a decade ago, I recall having a minor breakdown in the dining room after my husband and I had to resort to using razor blades to slice and peel away wallpaper when nothing else would remove it.

You really don’t know the sweet taste of success until you have conquered wallpaper. To this day, I can’t look at the stuff without becoming irrationally enraged.

My husband and I have suffered minor injuries in our attempts at home improvement and beautification — him with his hand in a cast after an incident that left an elongated drill bit bent and a bone broken in his hand and me taking a nail through the foot, resulting in an emergency room visit and a tetanus shot.

Although there is some satisfaction (and savings) to be had in being do-it-yourselfers, we have appreciated the aid of local pros as of late — particularly our house painters who weathered the 90-degree heat and humidity to make our home look like more of the gem that it is.

And true to form, it only took two weeks.

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