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Watch Out for Loose Seal and Other Things I Learned about Home Building from Arrested Development

June 19, 2014 8:40 pmc
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Few houses are more iconic than the Bluths’ Sudden Valley model home – and few houses can claim such poor planning and extensive damage from their builders. Below, a few of the lessons we learned about home building from Arrested Development.

Have a plan. One that works.

Make sure your builder is trustworthy and reliable.

Father and son Bluths










George Bluth Sr. was an entrepreneur through and through, but his shady business dealings got him incarcerated in Orange County Prison before Sudden Valley could be fully developed.

Choose your investors wisely.

All of the Bluths have been known to make some poor decisions in regards to the family’s legal representation and other business associates. The model home in Sudden Valley bears a striking resemblance to one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces – because George Sr. did business with Hussein.

Later, Michael sells the Bluth Company to Lucille Austero, who renames it the Austero Bluth Company.

Think through your development’s name…and get a second (and third) opinion.

We get it: there are only so many combinations of [appealing adjective] + [nature-related noun] that you can slap together and come up with an original name for a neighborhood or street. “Sudden Valley” met the formatting expectations, but it might have given the wrong impression. (Actually, it gave an accurate impression: the development’s hastily constructed model home suffered a sink hole later in the series.)

Build it right the first time.

Don’t hire inexperienced contractors – even (especially) if they’re family.

Your contractors might have impressive knowledge of modern-day cartography or complicated illusions, but you can’t fake construction experience. When the company’s short on money, Michael decides to build a new home in order to drum up interest and raise funds with a publicized ribbon-cutting ceremony. Michael hires on his brothers, Segway-riding G.O.B. and a recently enlisted Buster, to help build it in a very short two weeks. The family ends up building a dummy house – and when the ribbon is cut, the house promptly falls apart.

Stick to standard insulation.

Properly installed, quality insulation will keep your home’s electric bills lower and your family comfortable. And while insulation will, in a sense, help you save money…it should not be made of the money you’re saving away.

The Bluth family owns a frozen banana stand on the nearby boardwalk, and one of George Sr.’s most famous lines is, “There’s always money in the banana stand.” George Sr. had lined the walls of the stand with $250,000 in cash – which did nothing but make the structure more flammable. Michael burns the stand down, and costs the family a quarter million dollars in the process.

Moral of the story: choose the fiberglass. Put your money somewhere else.

Watch out for loose seal.

That insulation will only work if your house is properly sealed. Also, loose seals (and Lucilles) are recurring dangers throughout the Bluths’ lifetimes – mostly, Buster’s.

Keep up the house once it’s built and ready for buyers.

Don’t try to live in the house you’re trying to sell.

At the beginning of the series, Michael and George Michael are living in the attic of the model home. When George Sr. is incarcerated and the assorted family members take pay cuts, everyone moves into the model home. The home suffers all sorts of damage over the next few years, due to both its careless residents and its poor construction. While he’s auditioning for the Blue Man Group, Tobias gets blue body paint on the walls; the kitchen fridge falls into the garage; and quite a few walls give way after being tapped, knocked on, or just…touched.

Don’t allow wild animals inside.

Cindy the Ostrich didn’t make it into the model home, but she did quite a bit of damage to Lucille’s penthouse.

Ostrich vs. Lucille 2If you’ve got large, potentially destructive pets, keep them outside until you’re in your own place.

Consider investing in a housekeeper.

If you’re trying to sell a house, chances are your free time is short. Hire an experienced, reliable housekeeper, and your home will be perpetually ready to show to potential buyers.

Mrs. Featherbottom was definitely a good housekeeper, in spite of “her” frequent flubs – and her ulterior (though not bad-intentioned) motives. Her time with the Bluth and Fünke families was brief, but her impact was great.

Have a solid support team.

There’s something to be said for keeping business and family separate – and the Bluths don’t do that very well. A few of their less-than-stellar choices:

  • Barry Zuckercorn was a favorite to everyone except Michael. The Bluth’s family attorney paid a lookalike to take the California Bar for him, went to law school in the Virgin Islands, and his legal advice is consistently far off-base. He’s a famously sketchy character, always late to meetings and sometimes in trouble with the law. But Zuckercorn is family – and to the Bluths, that’s what counts (sometimes).
  • Bob Loblaw replaces Barry as the Bluth family’s attorney. By the end of the series, Loblaw has turned on the family and spent more time working on Lindsay and Tobias’s divorce (which never comes to fruition).
  • Gene Parmesan is, essentially, the Cato to Lucille Bluth’s Clouseau. Lucille hired Gene as a private investigator to find out whether or not George Sr. was having any affairs; Gene turned up nothing, which was a strong indicator of his incompetence. His stunts are cheesy (!), but – again – he’s practically family.
  • Carl Weathers appears as himself: Tobias hires him as an acting coach, and Carl Weathers (who is never called by anything but his full name) turns out to be a shameless opportunist, flirt, and mooch.
  • Kitty Sanchez acted as George Sr.’s personal assistant – and after her boss is incarcerated, various members of the Bluth family try to gain access to her intimate (ahem) knowledge of the company dealings and secret documents. She’s manipulative and prone to frequent bouts of public flashing.

The final takeaway you’ll get from watching Arrested Development: don’t try to build or sell a house – or be productive in any way – when you get started on this series. 

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This post was written by Jennifer Blunt