Navel Vision

I have always been a firm believer in the concept that if you are going to do something, especially something worthwhile, you should do it correctly the first time. This saves you the headache — and potential embarrassment — of fixing it later.

This is especially true of home ownership and home improvement. If you don’t do it right, it’ll look bad, be short-lived, and function like the garbage that it is; it’s far better to take your time, use the right tools, and do the job properly. Not only will it look better, work better and last longer, it’ll cost you far less money in the long run.

I am fortunate. My father (may he rest quietly) taught me a number of things about caring for and improving a home, including taking pride in your work. He must be laughing his butt off right about now.

Not at me, mind you, but at what I have to go through to improve the house my bride and I currently own. You see, just about every improvement inflicted upon our house in the 10 years before we took the reins has been shoddily done by someone suffering from a Grade-A, Type 1, textbook case of Recto-Cranial Inversion.

For example, we have a bathroom wall that has held 10 towel racks in the last 10 years. Do you think the holes were filled? Not a chance; they put a wallpaper border over the offending area. Done. Get out of the shower in the middle of winter and you’ll freeze parts of your body you never thought could freeze.

This guy is a real Bob Vila wanna-be:

“Glazing windows? What’s that?”

“Oh, I thought you wanted a hot attic, not a cold one…”

“Oh, and let’s not worry about priming the bare plaster walls in the kitchen with oil-base primer; just use the latex-base primer and get the job done: who cares if the paint peels off the wall in sheets the size of a semi trailer?”

“You know, this house feels drafty; we should add a gas fireplace in the living room (instead of properly insulating the attic). Wouldn’t that be nice? Just take the basement ceiling tiles down so we can run the pipe; we’ll throw them back up later. Who cares if they’re splintered and won’t fit back together properly?”

This invert, a true Charter Member of the Recto-Cranial Adhesion Society, did all of this — and more.

Currently, I’m wrestling with the kitchen floor. Originally covered with linoleum, and sometime later with linoleum tile, “Bonehead” (the last owner, and not the term my bride and I use for this Invert) covered it with floor leveling cement and then Pergo, a laminate that looks like wood. It actually looked pretty fair, to be honest. Well, all except for the lump in the floor in front of the refrigerator… and the uneven steps…

Then came the day we put in new cabinets: the new floor cabinets have a deeper toe kick, which means we now have 2″-wide ruts in front of each cabinet; the Pergo is old and discontinued, and we can’t get anything even remotely close to match. So my bride and I decided to rip it out and install porcelain ceramic tile.


This Invert — get this — nailed the Pergo in place. Yup! You read that correctly! A floor that is supposed to float on the surface to allow for expansion and contraction with the weather, and this A-Watt nailed it in place! To make matters worse, he also used drywall screws (his answer to everything around the house, by the way) to shim it into place. And just for the sake of totally screwing up the job, he used the wrong cement to join the planks — which permeated the laminate.

Guess what happened when I tried to pull up the laminate floor?

It shattered — like glass.

Hundreds of tiny shards of razor-sharp laminate flew around the kitchen like a flock of birds fleeing an invader. It was so sharp I cut my finger — bad enough, I realize now — that I should have gone to the hospital for stitches (Super Glue, I guess, is what they’re using now).

This Invert must be so far up there that he’s looking out his navel — and the obvious problem with such a posture is the lack of depth perception — or any other type of perception, for that matter.


  • by Lori Kozey 01 Mar 2005 at 9:40 am

    I’ve been lucky enough in my house that for the most part the former (and only) owners took pretty good care of everything. The one boneheaded thing they did do, though, was to adhere the tile in the shower directly to drywall, such that when the grout inevitably aged and cracked, the drywall sucked up the water that got into the cracks like a sponge. I had to take down three walls and deal with mold of a dozen colors. Bad enough on its own, but I was in the middle of a kitchen renovation at the time the shower wall gave way…

  • by Will 01 Mar 2005 at 1:32 pm

    Speaking of which… A-Watt installed fiberglass shower walls directly onto regular drywall in the main bath. The glue leeched into the drywall, causing ripples and swirls in the fiberglass. I will have the same problems you did when we redo the bathroom; I have to gut the room down to the studs!

    Update on the kitchen floor: I’m in the process of removing the linoleum from underneath the laminate. There are two layers of linoleum, the top two resting on a layer of luan, and another layer of linoleum (the original) under that. I cut through the top layers of linoleum and the luan and I’m prying up the layers, as this is much simpler.

    What else did I find? Bonehead decided that the best way to get around the previous height problem with the floors between the living/dining area and the kitchen was to install new carpet and padding in the living/dining area — you guessed it — right on top of the old carpet!

    Note to Self: 30 seconds of ecstasy = 30 years.

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