My fiancé and I watch a lot of home renovation shows. While we hope to one day own a home, we don't right now. Right now, we're that couple who say "what were they thinking?" when the do-it-yourselfers on the TV unknowingly remove a load-bearing wall, when we also can't tell the difference between a wall that's load-bearing and a wall that isn't. However, we have learned a thing or two watching other people's mistakes.
1. Get a realistic idea of what things cost before setting your budget.
It seems 9 out of every 10 projects go over budget, and every single of those homeowners is surprised to spend as much as they do. But if you plan to gut your kitchen, rewire, change the plumbing, move walls, replace cabinets, redo the floor, and get all new appliances, $10,000 is not going to cut it. In the worst case scenarios, the homeowners don't realize they're in over their heads until the room is gutted and inhabitable, so they have to find a way to finish the room. Sometimes they have additional savings, sometimes they have to get a loan, but over budget is over budget. You'll save yourself a lot of stress, time, energy and money if you look at costs way before you plan to start. Get realistic quotes and estimates for everything you plan to do; look at countertops and floor tiles so you have an idea what you'll pay to get the look you want. Then set the budget and save.
2. Everything is easy with a pro by your side, telling you what to do.
But unless you are lucky enough to make it one of these shows, you won't have a pro by your side. Do your homework before hand. Look for how-to videos on Youtube, home improvement books. Ask your friends and family if they have any experience doing the same thing, see what tips they have. If you're really lucky, one of them may volunteer to help out.
3. Make decisions and take accurate measurements before demolition.
That "measure twice, cut once" mantra is really important. Measurements need to be exact, or they will create more problems later. You don't want to be the one saying, "I think the door is going to be about...here," demo the wall, then find out the opening you made is too big and in the wrong place. Now, in addition to cutting the opening and installing the door in the correct location, you also have to fix the wall you destroyed.
4. Everything has to be straight, square, and/or level.
And getting it that way is much harder than it looks. If it isn't square/straight/level, it makes everything else you do more difficult. And uneven floors are annoying.
5. Unless you are an electrician or plumber, don't do your own.
This needs no explanation, but I'll give one anyway. If the wiring or plumbing is screwed up, it creates a dangerous home. Bad wiring can start fires. Bad plumbing can create mold problems, or flood your house. If you have both bad wiring and bad plumbing you might be able to put out your own fire, but let's not find out.
6. If you're doing your own construction work while consulting with a contractor, he is billing you for his time.
You think you're saving money, which you might, unless you do it wrong. Then your contractor will eventually swoop in and fix your mess, and he gets to bill you for fixing your mistakes plus doing the job right, in addition to the time he spent giving you "free" advice.
7. Don't start a new project until the previous project is complete.
People who break this rule end up with so many incomplete projects that their homes are barely habitable. You shouldn't need to worry about your toddler falling through the hole in the kitchen floor; you should fix the hole in the floor.
8. Take little kids to Grandma's.
They don't understand the concept of danger, they won't stay in the playroom, they won't sleep through it, and they think they can help you. Take them to Grandma's, drop them off at a friend's house, get them out of the way. Then you can focus on the project without worrying about them.
9. If going over budget will threaten your financial security, don't do it.
No home improvement project is worth bankruptcy.
We've agreed to follow these rules when it comes to our own home, when we have one. We've also agreed that when we're ready to buy a house, it'll be move-in ready. We can deal with ugly as long as it's functional, we can always redo a bathroom at some point down the road. However, I would love an unfinished basement that we could finish ourselves...
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming fall season; it's time for a follow up! What worked, what didn't, what surprised, what disappointed. And for new shows, what got picked up and what got canceled.
New! Ringer(The CW) Tuesdays @ 9 ET. Premiers September 13. Summary: Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a six-month sober ex-stripper in the Federal Witness Protection program, who escapes to visit her twin sister (also played by SMG). Twin sister goes missing, ex-stripper assumes the twin's identity, unaware that twin sis has her own enemies. I said: You had me at Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Now: The first episode was like, "what? what?! WHAT?!" Every scene offered a new twist, you really had to keep up. The next couple episodes slowed down a little bit, picking up this week with Tuesday's episode, where Siobhon's best friend blackmails Bridget into sleeping with her husband, and at the end of the episode, it is strongly implied that said husband has a hand in best friend's disappearance or murder. I say disappearance or murder because it isn't clear. There is blood, but no body. And we will get to find out what happened, because the CW picked up Ringer for a full season.
Score: Us: 1 Them: 0 Dancing With The Stars(ABC) Mondays at 8 ET. Premiers September 19. Dancing With The Stars Results (ABC). Tuesdays at 9. Premiers September 20. I said: I haven't watched the last several cycles DWTS, but I'm excited about this cast. Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), Chaz Bono, David Arquette, Elisabetta Canalis (George Clooney's ex), J.R. Martinez (soap star and war vet), Kristin Cavallari (Laguna Beach,The Hills), Nancy Grace (Casey Anthony-obsessed legal journalist), Ricki Lake (Ricki,Hairspray), Rob Kardashian (Keeping Up With The Kardashians), pro-basketball player Ron Artest, Chynna Phillips, and pro-soccor player Hope solo.
Now: I haven't watched a single episode this season. I really want Chaz Bono to do well. In the last week or two, high-scoring couples have been sent home. When that happened to Sabrina Bryan in Season 5, there was a huge outcry from fans, who had to be reminded that they hadn't voted for her to stay. Now, the reaction is more like, "eh." DWTS has jumped the shark. How I Met Your Mother(CBS) Mondays at 8 ET. Premiers September 19. I said: Who is Barney marrying? How will Lily and Marshall handle pregnancy and parenting? How will Robin address her lingering feelings for Barney? Who is the titular Mother?
Now: Back and better than ever. New! 2 Broke Girls(CBS) Mondays at 8:30. Premiers September 19, premier episode airs at 9:30. I said: Basically, a funnier version of my life. Plus Kat Dennings (Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist).
Now: One of the funniest freshman sitcoms this of the year. CBS gave the show a full season pick up earlier this month.
Score: Us: 2 Them: 0 Castle(ABC) Mondays at 10. Premiers September 19. I said: Castle told Kate he loved her! But she's seeing someone else... And, oh, her boss/mentor confessed his role in her mother's murder, right before he killed himself.
Now: Back. I really hate the new police chief. Especially that she insists on being called "sir." Glee(Fox) Tuesdays at 8. Premiers September 20. I said: Back with more Chris Colfer!
Now: I'm really glad Curt is back at McKinley, and that Blaine followed him. As much as Curt needed private school last season, it didn't feel cohesive for the show. I'm looking forward to West Side Story, but the rival glee club within McKinley doesn't intrigue me at all. It's a slightly different twist on pitting the kids against each other, which they've done. And done, and done, and done. It's time for a new kind of complication. Body of Proof(ABC) Tuesdays at 10. Premiers September 20. I said: Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) is sogood at her job, but her personal life is a mess. Now that she knows her boss is dating her ex-husband, it will be fun to see how it affects her work life as she triesnot to let it bother her.
Now: This season, they're focusing a little more on other characters in the ME's office, and not just in relation to Dr. Hunt. I like it. The Middle(ABC) Wednesdays at 8. Premiers September 21 with a one-hour episode. I said: The characters are very real; they procrastinate, dates and deadline pass them by, the kids forget to tell their parents important things until the last minute, they aren't that good at their jobs, they don't quite fit in, they're awkward, and choose sometimes choose to take the lazy route instead of what they call the "good parent" route. As cheese wiz is to cheese,The Middle is to working-class midwest families.
Now: Back and better. Sue stands up for herself. Brick is just manipulative enough to get what he wants. Axel is a parody of every teenage boy. Modern Family(ABC) Wednesdays at 9. Premiers September 21 with a one-hour episode. I said: If you haven't seen this show yet, which rock have you been hiding under?
Now: If you haven't seen this show yet, which rock have you been hiding under? Harry's Law(NBC) Wednesdays at 9. Premiers September 21. I said: Kathryn Bates is a tough, take-no-shit trial lawyer with a big heart practicing in inner city Cincinnati. She specialized in patent law before being fired for smoking pot in her office. The first season showed her finding her footing in trial and making peace amongst rival neighborhood gangs; she was out of her depth but plunged ahead anyway. Nathan Corddry place Harry's associate lawyer with a complicated love life; Brittany Snow and Aml Ameen's characters, the only weak links from the first season, have been dropped.
Now: The practice is big and bustling, and they are taking on compelling cases, sometimes ripped from the headlines. In the first several episodes of the season, Jean Smart guested as an equally tough prosecutor without scruples. I loved watching her head-to-head with Kathy Bates. Big Bang Theory(CBS) Thursdays at 8. Premiers September 22 with 2 new episodes. I said: Bernadette and Wolowitz are engaged. Priya is moving away and ending her relationship with Leonard; which shows that she didn't take their relationship as seriously as Leonard did. Sheldon and Amy are growing into a more normal, adult relationship, where they may eventually (gasp!) hold hands. Oh, and Raj and Penny slept together. In Leonard's bed. And they weresobusted. Oh and, the morning after, sober Raj still can't talk to Penny.
Now: The Penny-slept-with-Raj-in-her-ex's-bed has been addressed without any lingering awkwardness, which I'll admit is a little disappointing. Other than that, the show continues to thrive, exploring new territories such as the upcoming wedding, Wolowitz's mother, Raj's love life, Raj is loaded, Sheldon and Amy's progression, and Leonards emotional strife. Community(NBC) Thursdays at 8. Premiers September 22. I said: At the end of last season, Pierce left the study group. Only then did the group realize that they were pretty mean to him the last two years, and they would miss him despite themselves. Or they just feel really guilty. Jeff and Annie's sexual tension is explored behind the backs of the rest of the group. John Goodman as the new head of security; the Dean in a pink, sequined dress; and the executive producers promise to "have more fun that we did last year, than the first two years combined."
Now: They are upholding the promise. Parks & Recreations(NBC) Thursdays at 8:30. Premiers September 22. I said: Leslie can either run for city councilor date Ben, her boss. She can't have both; running for office while dating her boss would be quite the small town scandal. In the past, Leslie has always put career before everything, but she's never had anyone as special as Ben. What will she choose? Whichever, the ramifications will play out for at least the first half of the season.
Now: Leslie's running for office, but I hope things aren't over for she and Ben. Hilarious as ever. "Sometimes, when a person gets too chummy with me I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don't really care about them." Grey's Anatomy(ABC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 22. I said: This is a pivotal season for Grey's. EP Shonda Rhimes has suggested that some original cast members may decidenot to renew their contracts, including Mer-Der portrayers Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey. Can the show survive without them? I don't think so. Their relationship has always been at the center of the show. Can they mend their marriage after Meredith destroyed Derek's Alzheimer's trial? They just adopted a baby, how will that affect their relationship while sorting it all out? Also, Cristina plans to pursue abortion despite her husband's objections, Calzona hit minor new family speed bumps, meek April attempts to manage bold, presumptuous residents, and Alex licks his love wounds.
Now: I am not pleased. Meredith seriously screwed up professionally, again, and caught a break, again. Her marriage is still in jeopardy, as well as the adoption of Zola, but even that conflict has been less than satisfying. The show feels aimless. Creator/EP Shonda Rimes admitted in an interview that her process is to figure out what happens in the season finale, and then work backwards to break down the rest of the season; with so much up in the air, she doesn't have a vision of what this season's end will be. It's showing. The Office(NBC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 22. I said: New boss, new CEO and another pregnancy (Pam's).
Now: Disappointing. James Spaders' Robert California isn't interesting. Andy Bernard as the boss feels like a poor man's copy of Michael Scott. I stopped watching. Desperate Housewives(ABC) Sundays at 9. Premiers September 25. I said: I've watched Housewives from the beginning, despite the inconsistencies in writing quality. Some of the middle seasons have been very soap opera-ish; too out-there to be relatable, but not enough to be intriguing. But in it's final season, it's getting back to basics. The neighborhood covers up the murder of Gabby's sexually abusive step-father, while Lynette and Tom finally get the divorce that's been brewing for the last 7 seasons.
Now: Eh. I'm watching for two reasons: 1) Habit, and 2) Seeing the end. I'm not invested at all, it's more of a latent curiosity. If I happened to miss an episode, I don't think I would notice. New! Pan Am(ABC) Sundays at 10. Premiers September 25. I said: Taking place in the 60s, this highlights Pan Am's glory days. When airline stewardesses were glamorized and flying was a luxury. I justreally hope real-life con-manFrank Abagnale Jris incorporated.
Now: The pilot felt fresh, exciting, and promising. The following episodes didn't feel that way. In the most recent episode, the crew is in Berlin for Kennedy's jelly donut speech. It was really important to Christina Ricci's Maggie that she meet the President, but the reason given (she worked on his campaign) didn't justify the degree of importance. Karine Valasse's Colette had a hard time being in Germany after growing up in occupied France and losing her family, but we were left wondering what happened to her parents. She said they left her in the care of a neighbor and promised to come back for her, but did they flee or were the taken? Is she Jewish? Is this something that will be explored again??
As of this writing, ABC has not made a decision on keeping or canceling Pan Am. Happy Endings(ABC) Wednesdays at 9:30. Premiers September 28. I said: The bestFriends copy sinceFriends.
Now: Still the best Friends copy sinceFriends. Private Practice(ABC) Thursdays at 9. Premiers September 29. I said: Addison is the apex of a love triangle between Sam and new series-regular Jake, while taking steps to have a much-longed-for baby. Violet goes away for a weekend, not knowing her husband, Pete, was having a heart attack while he was home alone with their toddler. Meanwhile, the fate of the practice is at stake.
Now: It bothers me that Pete lived. He was alone with his toddler son for over 12 overs, laying on the floor in the midst of a hear attack, and he lived. I like Pete. I really do. But my dad had a heart attack while he was home alone. He was gone by the time my mom got home, "just" three hours later. The rest of the drama doesn't feel compelling, even though the season finale set so many exciting balls in motion.
Things I started watching at my fiancé's behest: Terra Nova (FOX) Mondays at 8. Loving it! Suburgatory (ABC) Wednesdays at 8:30. A hilarious suburban parody. Jane Levy is perfectly cast as Tessa. Up All Night (NBC) Wednesdays at 8. Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudoph at their best. Revenge (ABC) Wednesdays at 10. Waaaaaay better than the promos. Late season debuts: Dexter(Showtime) Premiers October 2. It's early in the season; they're introducing things that will pay off later. Will Deb find out about Dexter?? Very intriguing. House (Fox) Premiers October 3. House is back at the hospital, but with a serious ego check and without his team. And his former supervisee-cum-coworker is now his boss. New! Boss(Starz). Premiers October 21. Bones(Fox) Premiers November 3.
As of this writing, the score is 2 Us, 0 Them. Midseason: Cougar Town(ABC) New! Alcatraz(FOX) New! The Finder (FOX) 30 Rock(NBC) New! Are You There Vodka...(NBC) New! The Firm(NBC)