Friday, June 29, 2007

A Moving Experience...
(an ongoing series) — Part 3

And so it begins…
Okay…I’ve got just about an hour before I have to be out of the house. Let’s see if I can pump this bad boy out in one sitting.

If you’re thinking that I might be writing this early in the morning, trying to get a post off before work, well, you’d be wrong. Actually, it’s already mid-morning on Friday. I’m off work today, here at home, but needing to be someplace else an hour from now.

Where, you ask? Well…anywhere, really; anywhere but here.

You see, our house officially went on the market this past Wednesday afternoon; a full day past the already once-postponed target date of Tuesday, but it’s all good.

Actually it’s great!

Within two hours of our MLS listing hitting the Internet, the realtor gals were receiving requests for showings from other agents; three yesterday, one so far today (which is why I need to vacate the premises this morning). Four showings in less than 48 hours: not bad…not bad at all.

And though we’re hoping this initial frenzy of interest becomes fruitful soon, there is still at least a little bit of work yet to be done. Small items, such as replacing the rotted, split post capitals on our front porch and steps railing (which I need only to go out and screw on). Also needed is one final coat of paint on the built-in drawer unit up here in the bonus room, which looks good enough to show, but also which my dogged anality won’t allow me to leave unfinished.

Likewise, the baseboards are all painted, but none of them are caulked, leaving an unbecoming look of untidiness that just won’t fly in AJ’s book. My good friend Kelly, who did a fabulous job laying down new kitchen linoleum for us last week, has agreed to help me do the caulk-job, which is something I’ve always been reticent to even attempt, for fear of doing it badly.

There’s a real art to caulking and producing that neat, straight, manicured-looking seal between baseboard and wall, that’s the true mark of a professional paint job. However I’ve never actually seen it done, and as simple as squeezing the trigger of a caulking gun may seem, I have enough trouble squeezing out a straight swath of dental creme on my toothbrush; so forgive me if I’m more than a little gun-shy to just jump in there and go it alone.

Fortunately there’s my pal, Kelly, who has answered my cry for help. I want to learn how to do the job right, from a master-handyman and floor-covering craftsman like Kelly, who I am deeply grateful to have as a friend, not only for his professional abilities of course, but because he’s just a great guy.

(I’d actually, like to write a lot more about him in this space, but methinks I need to clear it with him first…)

The Reluctant Do-it-Yourselfer
I’ve not afraid to admit that I’m not the most enthusiastic DIY’er, and with good reason. In California, Michelle and I rented a house for eleven years before moving here to Nashville. That place was more than enough of an object lesson to cure me of the notion that ‘doing it yourself’ is necessarily a good idea.

Our landlord for that house was an itinerant welder, who fancied himself a general contractor as well.

Um…no, Tony.

He may have been able to wrought iron with the best of ‘em, but his building chops left a lot to be desired.

Room additions, elaborate wall coverings, funky ‘indoor-outdoor’ carpet installations, a gawd-awful-looking wooden lattice treatment across the font of the house (which I absolutely hated), everything this guy did by himself, and most of it absolutely screamed ‘amateur.’ Dude never wanted to spend a dime to have anyone do anything to the place.

I determined that when I owned a house of my own, I would never be that short-sighted. To this day it’s a point of contention at times between Michelle, a born-again HGTV enthusiast, and me, treading that fine line defining when it’s prudent to try something yourself, or to hire someone who does it for a living.

I’ve seen so much of the phenomenon in my own line of work as a graphic designer; people often have the notion that merely owning a computer and a few graphics programs makes them a designer.


Tools may facilitate the work, but they can’t replace the expertise that manipulates them.

As far as I’m concerned, I want things done right when it comes to my house. I have nothing against doing things that I know I can do as well, or nearly as well as a professional, but also I know my limits.

My motto has always been, “if you can’t do it like a pro, don’t be a schmoe: SPEND THE DOUGH.” Problem is, we’re about as tapped out on the financial end of things as we can be right now. We’ve already spent well over a grand on supplies, fixtures, and services to get our house to this point. And we additionally have a most pressing financial commitment for which we HAVE to be ready next month (which I’ll talk about in my next installment).

So Kelly’s willingness to help me do it right is a read godsend. I’ll end up insisting that I pay him something for his trouble, but I imagine he’ll probably refuse to accept it.

It’s those gremlins, itellya…
Finally the other remaining task, albeit a fairly low-priority one, will be to straighten up the garage. It’s a frightening proposition to consider that for the past four to five weeks, Michelle and I have been moving crap out of that garage, both to our storage unit and to the dump, yet it still looks as though we’ve hardly put a dent in de-cluttering its appearance.

I think the gremlins are playing with our minds…

In fact, we’ve now realized that we’ll need to rent a second storage unit when we eventually move into an apartment, following the sale of the house. While I’m reasonably certain we’ll be able to squeeze our remaining furniture pieces into one of the two-bedroom flats we’re considering moving into (hopefully soon), I’m just as certain there’ll be no place at all for the garage stuff.

We have all but completely filled the current 10 x 10 unit we have under contract. There’s no way we’d be able to fit any of my larger tools, (including both a table and mitre saw), a large industrial drafting desk (which weighs well over 200 pounds), all of the kids’ stuff that we’re holding for them, our camping gear, Michelle’s assorted ‘project’ furniture pieces, garden tools, etc, etc, etc, into the existing storage unit. So add yet another $60-$80-per-month expense to the budget. However fortunately for us, that will kick in only after the current big-ticket expense we’re saving for has been paid off.

But as far as the garage is concerned, all I really want to do is make the current mess a relatively neat one, perhaps stacking everything up against one wall, to clear as much space as possible, in order to show off what is actually a pretty spacious double-car garage.

So that’s what’s up this weekend, although if things keep going at the present pace we may have to abandon ship during much of the daylight hours over the weekend for more house showings. In fact, our lead real estate gal just called to let me know she’d scheduled another showing for this Sunday afternoon, and she expects several other requests to come in today for more showings throughout the weekend.

She mentioned that one of the prospective buyers who saw the house yesterday was very impressed, and wants to be alerted as to any offers being made on the house. So it appears we have at least one serious contender. Hopefully a few more of that type of sentiment will be rendered toward good ol’ Casa AJ in the days to come.

And as far as getting the last-minute projects done, there’s always the 30-day escrow period following the sale, while we’re in the actual process of moving. So we’ll see; I can only do what I can do.

Good thing is, most of the work is already complete. Now the waiting game begins; all we can do is sit back and observe what kind of fruit our month-and-a-half of labor will bear.

Hey lookie there…49 minutes. Who says this kid can’t produce under pressure?
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