Tag Archives: Home Ownership

The HGTV Drinking Game

Ever since we got into the market to buy our first home, we’ve been watching a lot of HGTV. Whether you’re looking for design and decor ideas for your own house, or just want to gawk at the way other people are living, Home and Garden’s got something for you.

We especially like to watch on weekend days, which is prime time for domestic projects and a time when there’s typically very little else on the air worth watching. Of course, weekend days are also the best time for brunch, and it’s this happy coincidence that led us to invent the HGTV drinking game.

The Chop's favorite HGTV show? The Unsellables, of course.

HGTV features dozens of different shows, but they all basically fall into one of three categories; interior design makeovers, buying and selling, and total renovation. As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of crossover among those categories, so you can still play the game effectively whether you’re watching Color Splash, Bath Crashers, or Property Virgins.

Since we’re talking about brunch and daylight here, it’s important to note that this game is best played with a Bloody Mary, French 75, Madras, or similar cocktail. No Jameson shots or canned beer shotgunning here.

Take one sip when you hear the words:

  • backsplash
  • lifestyle
  • entertaining
  • neutral
  • ugly
  • green
  • distressed
  • repurposed
  • walk away from
  • mid-century
  • counter space
  • stainless steel
  • surprise
  • granite
  • short sale

Take two sips if:

  • the homeowner overpaid during the boom
  • anyone complains about anything in relation to ‘double sinks’ or ‘a true master suite’
  • a homeowner is hit with a surprise added expense during a renovation
  • the room makeover is < $50 under budget
  • anyone demands an open floor plan
  • you spot anything from ikea
  • someone uses a dining room as anything other than a dining room
  • the show is filmed in Canada
  • the homeowner has a stupid hobby
  • anyone makes a cheap headboard from scratch

Three sips if:

  • anyone has to design around a big screen TV.
  • someone’s parents are paying part of their rent/mortgage
  • there’s a marriage proposal involved in the episode
  • anyone thinks they’re in a ‘bad area’ or ‘dangerous neighborhood’
  • a property is priced over $1,000,000

Drain your drink if:

  • the show is filmed in Baltimore
  • a real estate transaction falls through at the end of the show
  • someone sustains a fairly serious injury during filming
  • someone cries for any reason

These are just a few suggestions. You can add more of your own, or even subtract a few if things get out of hand. Ideally, you shouldn’t be passed out by mid-afternoon, but should be just buzzed enough to say “Why yes, I do need to go to Pier 1 and buy a creepy glass head like right now! That’s exactly what I need in my life.

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A Side By Side Comparison of Baltimore Roofers

Most of you may remember that there was a torrential rain about two weeks ago. It rained hard for 30 hours straight. It was the sort of Baltimore downpour where Thames Street threatens to flood, gutters back up with Utz bags and hair weaves, and broken umbrellas are forsaken all over city streets.

The Chop was dismayed during this rain when a teeny-tiny spot on our bedroom ceiling increased in size several times over. It was clear that water was coming in somehow. Not much of it, but better to stay on top of these things early. We were going to have to call a roofer.

Abell Row House by local artist Robert McClintock.

Now, we’re still relatively new at this home-ownership business. We haven’t got a lot of experience in hiring contractors, so we thought we’d seek out the best we could find. In their best of 2010 issue, Baltimore Magazine printed a ‘throwdown’ among two area roofing contractors, and declared Fick Brothers the best roofer in the city.

So we called Fick Brothers. The lady who answered the phone (a secretary? a receptionist? Who else would answer a phone?) wouldn’t or couldn’t take our appointment for an estimate. She insisted that so-and-so would call us right back, which she did… more than two hours later. By that time, we had already set up an appointment with another company.

The runner up in the Baltimore Magazine article was Brothers Services. They were at least capable of taking an appointment, but that’s about all they were good for.

Now, the Chophouse is a rowhouse of the type illustrated in the picture. There is a small bit of roofing over the bay windows on the second floor, then a parapet wall, then behind that begins the main roof. The stain on our ceiling is near the bedroom windows, and it’s clear that the leak is not in the main roof, but somewhere near the front.

On the appointed day, Brothers showed up two hours late. When someone did arrive, it was a kid who couldn’t have been more than 22, tops. The card he handed us said “assistant manager.” We were pretty dubious about this at first. Even if this kid was totally competent at actual roofing work, he was certainly not a professional estimator. When we call on a company that is so well regarded, we’re calling for someone with many years, or decades of experience.

The kid went up the ladder, and when he came down our suspicions were confirmed. He pointed out 3 areas where water could be coming in, and recommended tearing out and replacing the entire section of roofing above the windows. And this was at a minimum. Then he started in with the “Well, we have an in-house mason we could call for that wall and blah blah blah…” He couldn’t even give us a proper estimate, but had to “talk to his boss” and said he’d email it to us. We suspected he was trying to get us over a barrel, and when the estimate came in the next day it was $2184.

Thanks to social media, word of mouth travels a hell of a lot faster than it used to. We put word out that we were looking for an honest roofer, and by the end of the day a friend came through and recommended Horizon Roofing. He said that Ken (the boss) had come out to his rowhouse and assessed a problem, and ended up telling him how to fix it himself. That was all we needed to hear.

When Ken came out for an estimate, he wasn’t two hours late but actually two days early. We were running out the door just as he arrived, but he left a detailed estimate in the mailbox that highlighted all the same areas over the windows, but his repair recommendations came to a mere $395. With a free servicing if it should leak again within 30 days.

We know who we’re about to hire, and we’re sure we’ll be writing Ken a thank you note in the very near future.


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The Baltimore Chop’s One Year Anniversary

Today, Baltimore, the 28th of October, is a day of tremendous moment and importance. It’s a big red letter day for us, because exactly one year ago today we launched our humble little blog with this post about the Office of Future Plans at the Sidebar.

Now that we’ve turned 30, a year will go by really, really fast. It’s true that we spent half the year abroad and not writing, but still, it feels as though we’re just getting started. When we began we had very little idea what sort of shape this blog would take. We’re still pretty much making it up as we go along. We’ve got to say, we’re fairly pleased with how things have turned out so far. We didn’t think we’d be able to hack it putting up a post every single day, but we haven’t missed one yet. Most of all though, we didn’t think anyone would actually read this, and we’re still kind of shocked when we find out that people really do. Monday’s post about getting dressed properly produced our best day yet, and month-over-month traffic continues to grow steadily.

The Chop greets throngs of ardent admirers on the occasion of our one year anniversary.

We want to thank you for that, Baltimore. We also want to call your attention to the new share buttons that WordPress has installed for us, as well as the subscription panels in the sidebar. They work quite well, try them and see.

This month also marks the (roughly) one year anniversary of the Baltimore Sun’s Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs (Mobbies) contest. Like we said, we spent a good deal of time reviewing the field last year, and that contest was largely responsible for getting us to go through with making this blog. We’re writing the exact blog that we would want to read every day, because we couldn’t find it among the nominations. We’d definitely recommend you check out this year’s nominations, because there’s some pretty interesting stuff in there, and a few that had escaped our attention until now. As of today though, some of our favorites are still missing, so we might have to do some nominating ourselves if they don’t turn up soon.

Finally, we’re late on this one, but September 30 marked the one year anniversary of our buying the Chophouse. Our mortgage now says “one year down, 29 to go.” This is another thing that still feels brand new and strange, and which we’re kind of making up as we go along. We’ve always sort of secretly braced for the worst of home ownership. A little part of us has thought it was only a matter of time before the roof caved in or the basement flooded or someone seized the deed over a water bill lien or missed ground rent payment.

We’re just now starting to realize that that’s probably not going to happen. When things break, we can fix them. When bills come, we can pay them. The neighbors are nice and the streets are safe and there hasn’t been one single day that we’ve regretted buying here. To the contrary, we wake up every morning (noon) and immediately think of how lucky and happy we are to live here.

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