Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This Old House, the Mag

My first copy of This Old House magazine came in the mail last week.

And is it sacrilege to say I'm disappointed?

What was I expecting? "Before" pictures of old houses. Nitty-gritty techie info. Like Family Handyman but more architectural. Not so much like House and Garden and House Beautiful. Not quite so glossy and high-end decorator-y.

There were some handsome "after" spreads. But show me what it took to get there! I want to see the gosh-awful existing conditions, the nasty surprises discovered and overcome. Encourage me to go and do likewise!

And the article "Picking Out Good Wood" was promising, but in the end didn't deliver. It was helpful to learn what the grading stamp codes mean. But hey, there's more to picking lumber than atmospheric shots of Norm Abrams in an old-fashioned lumberyard! Tell me about checking, warping, and cracking! Tell me what grades are really necessary for what kinds of projects, what I should avoid, and what, if necessary, will "do"! I felt as I were riding down the road, getting somewhere, and suddenly came smack up against a big "Road Closed" sign.

The articles on rewiring and installing vintage fixtures may turn out to be useful. And I had to sympathize with the hapless couple who learned too late the implications of having a "slightly" leaking underground heating oil tank on their property-- I once worked for a city agency that had to deal with removing them. (Really wish they'd had photos of the remediation project. But I guess I can't blame them. There are fools out there who might drive miles to jeer at the householders for the inadvertent environmental damage their UST caused.)

I can't complain on one count. I got the subscription free with my ticket to the local home and garden show last March. But I was looking forward to something a little more, well, down to earth. We're talking This Old House, after all.

And I'm disappointed.


Old House Gazette said...

TOH is in general a disappointment to those who will be working on their houses themselves. Every once in a while they come out with a good article, but usually not. I use it more as a "dream book". Things I see in there might one day end up in my house somewhere. As for actual technical know-how...TOH is sadly lacking. It's even lacking in regards to the "Old" of its name...they usually just rip out the old windows and throw in new ones, rip down walls and put up drywall, etc.

I get a subscription through my involvement with Harris Polls. I wouldn't actually pay for a subscription. Maybe someone who wants someone else to do a $500,000 remodel on their house would find it informative....

St. Blogwen said...

So I'm absolved of sacrilege? ;-}

Maybe I should turn things around with TOH and advertise my services as an experienced custom residential design architect.

Nah . . . rates'd be too high.

Kate H.