Answers From Ask This Old House If The Show Were Based In Reality And Featured The Kind Of Contractors With Whom I Always Seem To Deal

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Dear Ask This Old House,

My toilet is brand-new, but it’s already leaching some liquid at the base. The caulk is turning from white to brownish and the toilet itself is a touch loose. Is there an easy fix?

Easy fix? You wish. What you have there is a problem. A big problem. I can probably get out there to take a look in say a week, maybe two. But I won’t be able to fix it on the spot. Probably going to have to order some parts. Of course, I won’t know which parts until I see the disaster in person. I can tell you this, between parts and labor, you’re looking at a minimum of $575. Do not use the toilet. If it’s your only one, go to a neighbor’s when you need to do your business. I’ll be in touch at my convenience.

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Dear Ask This Old House,

I love the look of crown molding. It really adds that extra touch of elegance to a house. I’d like to put it in my home. Can you give me some pointers?

Is this Bob Vila writing? No? Then no friggin’ way are you installing your own crown molding. Spend the money and have a professional do it. When I needed to lose 170 pounds, did I perform Gastric Bypass on myself? Learn to respect other people’s skills. Now, even though you’ve insulted me and my profession, I’m willing to take on this project. I happen to do crown molding. I’ll be out there tomorrow sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. or maybe the day after. Not sure. I’ll give you a free estimate, but the final cost will be much more. Always seems to happen that way. Just the nature of the business.

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Dear Ask This Old House,

The crank handle on one of my bay windows is loose. How do you fix that little bugger?

You don’t. It doesn’t make any sense to just “fix” that piece as you so cluelessly put it. I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to take your place down to the studs and start again. The handle for a window is broken, what’s next? The mailbox gets rusty? Your house’s foundation sinks in? Do you hate your family that much that you’d put them in harm’s way like that? My God, you’re a monster. Listen, you’ll move in with your in-laws while we work for the next 18 months or so. You’re going to love your beautiful new house, but it’s going to take a commitment from you. Oh, and my friend is an architect, he’ll be in touch to discuss your custom home. He’s pricey, but when you see his portfolio, you’ll be blown away.

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Dear Ask This Old House,

Someone just told me that power washing your house may void the warranty on your home’s siding? Is this true? My siding is only a 18 months old and I’ve power washed it three times already. I thought it was good for the siding!?

Hi there! I’ll tell you what’s good for the siding: new siding. I’ll have a crew out there to rip the old stuff down. Eighteen months is like a year-and-a-half in siding years. And that’s ancient. Do you have a specific color in mind for the new siding we just agreed to install? If not, I can pick one for you? How about iridescent teal? Why not, right? Push the barriers. Iridescent teal it is! You’ve got great taste. I wish my wife would have let me put the iridescent teal siding on our house. But you know women. Am I right? Anyway, since she put the kibosh on my dream, I’ve got a ton of teal siding in my garage. I’ll pass the savings on to you by giving you the better, higher price than what I paid for it!

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From the Law Offices of Sanders, Harrison & Marshall

Dear Ask This Old House,

Recently you sent a team of workers to my client’s home to do some minor repairs on a loose banister. The home, as you are well aware, no longer exists due to your ill-advised demolition. My client was under the impression that the fix for the banister would be quick and easy. Not traumatizing and life-ruining. Furthermore, pre-demolition protocol requires, among other things, the demolition crew to make sure all living things are out of the building — especially children, It’s also necessary that you get the building owner’s approval before imploding the structure. Your team showed willful negligence in failing to address these and a multitude of other safety issues listed herein. Enclosed is a complaint seeking compensatory damages in the amount of $412,782 for property damage and $10,000,000 for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Your prompt response is appreciated as we want to avoid a costly trial.

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Dear Law Offices of Sanders, Harrison & Marshall,

Thank you for your well-written complaint. The letter may have been typed, but the signature was gorgeous. What penmanship! And I love the letterhead. It’s gorgeous. In fact I’d like to feature your letterhead on our next show by wallpapering an entire home with it.

In response to your complaint, please accept our sincerest apologies. I never intended to demolish any children. The good news is that the house is gone and we can build a brand-new one. One that’s not an eyesore. We’ll even pick up the tab (including lunch and gas, but excluding labor and materials). I’d also like to gauge your interest in a new law office building. If it’s in a state of disrepair or if you’re simply tired of how it looks, we can build you a new one for free. Just convince your client to make this little complaint go away and you’ve got a deal. Between you and me, that complaint is a little frivolous. Am I right?

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