The home improvement superiority complex

There is a cruel, unintentional , sort-of-boring peer pressure that goes with home ownership. The particular aspect of this peer pressure that I want to address here is the Home Improvement Superiority Complex (HISC). Here is a template for activating and demonstrating the HISC:

Hubby 1: What did you do this past weekend?

Hubby 2: Well, we went to Lowes and picked out samples for our new flooring.

Hubby 1: Oh yeah? Yous gonna put that down next weekend?

Hubby 2: Oh no, we’re having Lowes do it for us.

Hubby 1: Oh, don’t do that! That’s SUCH a waste of money. You can do that yourself. It’s so easy. We finished our whole basement on my lunch hour one day, and the flooring part was definitely the easiest. Don’t pay someone else to do that.

Implication: Hubby 2 is a schmuck. And Wifey 2 must be a spoiled nag.

A cursory examination of any conversation you’ve ever had in your sad adult life about—GASP—paying someone to do something for you—quickly reveals the HISC, although the reasons behind it are probably endlessly debatable. Yet sadly, we have had to fall for it THREE times. Fool us once, shame on us…wait…you…I mean…you can apparently fool us THREE TIMES.

Time 1: Crown Molding. This will have to be a second post. This was a subtle HISC because Hubby 1 from conversation above wasn’t quite so blasé about it. And he recommended spending the money on a good miter saw. Asshole.

Time 2: re-caulking in the bathroom. This requires no second post because I can sum it up in several words: “doesn’t color within the lines.”

Time 3: New vinyl tile in the kitchen. WHAT?!

The flooring-related HISC example above, in our old home, is what drove us to consider doing this ourselves in this place. AND we felt like we really pulled one over on the kitchen contractor by taking it upon ourselves, since—and I’m NOT KIDDING—although their kitchen estimate was right in line with everyone else’s, they quoted us $12K to do ceramic tile the kitchen and family room, which is probably not much more than 400 square feet.

Well folks, it’s ended pretty badly. We read up on it and thought we really understood everything. Hubby went to prime the floor, which entails mixing water with this cement stuff, or buying it pre-mixed, and pouring it on the floor to level out all the uneven places. Apparently, the pre-mixed stuff isn’t all that, well, pre-mixed. Hubby had no way of knowing that the stuff was supposed to be more like WATER than caulk. Particularly because you supposedly need a trowel to work with it.

See me, coming home from work to find him 75% finished covering the floor with what basically amounts to spackle. Thinking, “this is really not how I thought this stuff worked based on the pictures I saw.”

See us both staring at one another, and then the floor. Not saying anything because we can’t say anything nice.

Fast forward 13 hours to the following morning. Repeat the staring back and forth and not saying anything. Only at this point the spackle is about 30% cured.

After some frustrating deliberation…
Wifey 2: Screw this crap. We are going to Lowes.

Hubby 2, reluctantly: Ok.

In the car:
Hubby 2: I’m SO DISAPPOINTED.

Wifey 2: You’ll get over it.

Halfway home from Lowes:
Hubby 2: I’m SO GLAD we went to Lowes.

Wifey 2 pats Hubby 2.

Hubby 2: I think I didn’t really want to DO this. I just wanted to SAY I did it.

Wifey 2: Just lie. Hey, do you want to go home and scrape up all the wet goopey spackle stuff? That could be kind of fun. Like working with clay! But on the kitchen floor!

Hubby 2: OK!

I think this is the last time we will fall prey to the HISC. Our new strategy is to figure out how much it would cost us to do the work if we were a) competent and b) interested; then get an estimate from Lowes, and THEN offer to pay those HISCy jerks half the difference to come over and fix our crap for us. Just as long as we don’t have to listen to them brag…

Patricia A. Powell

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