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Home Improvements versus Car Modification - Moving Up The Ladder

(Literally And Figuratively)

Robert Choo
Feb 1, 2005
Turp_0502_01_z+mr2_seats+tech_logo Photo 1/1   |   Home Improvements versus Car Modification - Moving Up The Ladder

After spending my weekend at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Bed Bath & Beyond it dawned on me I have entered a new stage in my life.

Granted, I still got under one friend's car to investigate an oil leak and I changed the spark plugs on another friend's Integra, but I still did a lot less labor on cars than on previous weekends. Previous, that is, to buying a house. Now, instead of laboring away on project vehicles, I labor away on my house.

Home improvement is strikingly similar to modifying your ride. It beckons the same principle of wanting to do better. I see bland walls and I think, I could pay someone $5,000 to paint the interior of my house or I can do it myself.

Why go stock when I can floss with custom? Those standard gold doorknobs that were everywhere? Replaced by brushed nickel hardware. (I always was a sucker for brushed aluminum wheels.) Instead of going for a cheaper knockoff body kit, I splurge for the real deal.

In the case of my house, I opted for bamboo hardwood flooring instead of laminate. I am concerned with maximizing the power output of my vehicles.

Similarly, I worry about being efficient with the power usage in my home. I converted all the lightbulbs to low-output fluorescents to conserve energy.

Just as I notice every detail on a car and am a freak about clean workmanship, I am the same with my house. I don't want to skimp on anything. I have been eying 1,000 thread-count sheets online as if they were BRIDE Graydation fabric for my MR2 seats. I even touched up all the painting I did with a car model paintbrush. Mind you I am talking about 1,700 square feet of painting and an itsy-bitsy brush. Like with cars, you get what you pay for.

Buying a house is like joining a club, the homeowners club. When new homeowners come into contact with one another, they suddenly have something in common.

I used to spend about 99 percent of my conversations with friends discussing the merits of various cars and performance products; now we talk about hardscaping, crown molding, Kohler fixtures and the dreaded property tax.

Being in my late 20s, most of my friends are also purchasing homes so we are swapping information on lighting, doggie doors and koi ponds like we did a couple of years ago on eBay for JDM parts, body shops and salvaged cars.

Some might think I am selling out, but that is not really the issue. My love for cars is still there, but now I have more projects on my plate-automotive and household. A goal of growing up is to make enough money to fuel both your passion for cars and live comfortably. At some point you gotta move out of your folk's house, right?

I am a hands-on, do-it-myself guy with cars, and I bring that same dedication to my house. I am ready to tackle new tasks and learn new skills. I know when to turn it over to the professionals and when I can take a stab at things (mental note: find out who can cap the firepit gas line so I can install a koi pond). I always have to tinker with my cars and upgrade their performance, and the same goes with my house.

I bet I am not alone; I figure a lot of performance enthusiasts also put this same drive into improving their homes. Being a mechanic is in the blood-whether it's with machinery, plumbing, welding, woodworking or whatever the trade. It's the do-it-yourself gene.

Now if I could only convince my wife to buy the 50-inch plasma TV to sit over the fireplace...

By Robert Choo
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