Excerpts from the Time/Life Books “Amateur Handyman” Series: Vol. 2

July 31, 2009
Not covered: When property lines run through the middle of your living room

Not covered: When property lines run through the middle of your living room

This <choose appropriate time period>’s selection from the Time/Life Amateur Handyman Book Series comes from The Guide to Settling Homeowner Disputes. As with all Time/Life books, the information contained within may be out of date, factually incorrect or harvested from more knowledgeable book series.

In fact, you may find some pages that contain that little “Idiot” guy giving you some boldface advice. If you are not the copyright owner, please ignore and continue reading. If you are the copyright holder, please note the hand-drawn moustache we added which makes him an entirely original creation.

Time/Life editors also recommend that these books be enjoyed in much the same way that they were purchased: late at night in impulsive, drunken bursts. Be aware that the book will not erase the aching loneliness of your life in quite the same way that our Bengali operator did during your 2 a.m. phone call. Time/Life cannot be held responsible for any “buyer’s regret” that may result from your perusal of this volume, which contains nearly 90 pages left blank for notes or doodling while fielding calls from our collections service.

Settling Homeowner Disputes by Mark Shultz, Attorney-at-Law

About the author
Mark Shultz, a graduate of the Upper Dayton, OH Night School of Lawsmithery and Remedial Legalese, has over 15 years experience in real estate law and homeowner disputes. He currently operates out of his law office at: (c/o Mr. & Mrs. Schultz), 4231 Willow Ave., Dayton, OH. He can be reached between 9 AM and 4 PM, Monday thru Friday. Schedule may vary due to Everquest guild events.

A fireman prepares to crush the dreams of yet another home owner

A fireman prepares to crush the dreams of yet another home owner

While it is the American dream to own your own home and burn it later for the hefty insurance payout, home ownership can be a perilous journey down a path filled with faulty city water lines, inept and expensive contractors and litigious neighbors.

The disputes can happen at any time for nearly any reason: erecting a privacy fence, harvesting from the “communal” garden or even during your weeklong bender during which you mistook the neighbor’s living room for your garage.

Most of these expensive disputes can be defused or avoided completely through a combination of “worst case scenario” preparation and lying like a motherfucker. Let’s take a look at some common homeowner disputes.

Property Lines
This dispute will normally rear its ugly head once your fence construction is nearing completion or when a tree falls onto your neighbor’s addition. As these become more and more common, some clear delineation of your property lines is needed, meaning phrases like, “a little past the mailbox,” “as the crow flies…” or “just before the leaking water lines…” are no longer acceptable.

As a property line dispute is the most common homeowner issue, multiple solutions to this problem have surfaced over the years. Rather than battling it out in court or dragging those assholes from the Homeowner’s Association into this, consider these options for dispute resolution:

  • Slap fight
  • Race around the world
  • Pistols at dawn
  • Jarts
  • Internet flamewar
  • Thunderdome
  • Trivial Pursuit: ’80s Edition
  • Facebook Friend-Off
  • Agreeing to disagree
  • Compromise

(Note: These last two are not recommended.)

Resolution Role Play
In this section, we will present a variety of common disputes. Please choose the best resolution.

1. The City calls to inform you that you will be held responsible for the power lines chewed up by your tiller. Your response?

  • “Well, send someone down to help me transplant the bodies.”
  • “No habla engles.”
  • “Tell your crew to stop vandalizing my yard. There’s frickin’ orange paint everywhere.”
  • “I really think the responsibility lies with the Troy-Bilt Corporation’s incredibly powerful and smooth handling roto-tiller.”
  • “Hold on a second, I have a call from the water company on line 2.”

2. The homeowner’s association has informed you that your choice of mailbox is not acceptable. Your response?

  • “Have I shown you my extensive handgun collection?”
  • “No habla engles.”
  • “Why? Because the flag is shaped like a penis?”
  • “I need someplace to test out my pipe bombs.”
  • Sucker punch the representative and ask for a pro-rated refund of your dues.

3. During a fierce storm, a branch from your tree knocks out your neighbor’s windshield. Your response?

  • “Well, that answers the whole “if a tree falls in Parkview Terrace, who starts whining immediately” question.
  • “Here’s a number for my insurance agent. Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak English.”
  • “I would imagine this falls under “act of God.” Like your slashed tires and your daughter’s pregnancy.”
  • “Could I ask you to hold this pipe-ish, bomb-ish looking thingy for a minute while I run and get my checkbook? I’ll be back in 7-10 minutes.
  • Sucker punch him and ask for his insurance information.
To aid in retention of this information, here is an easy-to-follow flowchart having absolutely nothing to do with our subject

To aid in retention of this information, here is an easy-to-follow flowchart having absolutely nothing to do with our subject

4. An electrical fire discolors the outside of your neighbor’s newly painted house. He wants you to pay for repainting. Your response?

  • “No. I’m OK. Thanks for asking, you douche.”
  • “Are you familiar with the phrase ‘water, water everywhere/not doing a goddamned thing'”?
  • “Perhaps my powerful urine will clean it off… although it really didn’t do much to the fire…”
  • “Can you break a $10?”
  • “Remember that time when you asked if I’d seen anyone ‘strange’ lurking outside your daughter’s window? And I said I hadn’t seen anyone ‘unfamiliar’…”
  • “Have you met my insurance agent? He’s not to good with the English but he throws a hell of a sucker punch.”

5. Your neighbor’s daughter is pregnant and all evidence points to you. Plus the homeowner’s association is none to pleased with your choice of exterior paint. Your response?

  • “Look. The plan is to paint the town red and name it ‘Hell.’ I’ll get to the rest of the houses eventually… weather permitting.”
  • “Are you sure it wasn’t the mailbox?”
  • “Sure, it’s easy to point fingers at a time like this. But what are youall doing about the real issues? Like the environment? Or our state’s regression to a pre-Roe v. Wade legal climate?”
  • “It’s not so much like you’re losing a daughter, but rather, gaining an uncle.”
  • “My choices are white, off-white, bone, eggshell or blanco?”

6. Your neighbor calls the police with a noise complaint about your houseparty. Your response?

  • “Look. His daughter is safely at home. If you’ll join me in the shrubs, you can clearly see her through the window.”
  • “Officer, can you break a $10?”
  • “Call my lawyer, whom I have put on retainer due to recent events.”
  • “Ah. So you do speak Spanish. Well, ignore most of what I just said, Officer Vasquez.”
  • “So you can see where it all went wrong. IED, IUD… it all sounds the same in the heat of the moment.”
  • “It’s not a real penis. Oh, fuck it, I’ll head to Spencer’s tomorrow and exchange it for something equally as obnoxious.”
  • “Have you met my neighbor? The insufferable prick? And proud grandfather?”

We hope you have enjoyed this preview of the Idiot’s Guide to Settling Homeowner Disputes. Please remember to keep your window areas well lit and free of bushes or shrubs.



  1. Please explain “jarts”. Sounds like a complex game of farting and darts.

    • An incredibly dangerous game played on the lawn with steel-tipped darts. Since pulled from the market due to heavy casualties at the last Johnson family reunion.


      Great to see you, YnB. Thanks for the excellent question.

    • Come to think of it, jarts probably does involve farting, what with normal BBQ food’s havoc wreaking on many a Johnson’s intestines.

  2. I was wondering about jarts too. Thanks for clearing that one up… kinda.

    So the cops, the utility companies and the neighbors are all ticked off. Start challenging them to slap fights and Facebook friend offs.

    • It’s sort of like the first day in prison. Make them think you’re crazy and you can go weeks without mowing your lawn and no one will ask any questions about the proximity mines.

      Facebook is a good start. A solid slap always gets attention. A jart to the head, fatal. So careful with that last one.

  3. I see in your reference to Wikipedia regarding yard darts there is a link to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornhole

  4. This just might be my most favorite segment.

    • Book excerpts are pretty awesome. I believe you still owe us around another 500 volumes or so.

      Thanks for the props, RR. Great to see you.

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