Sunday, February 01, 2009

House Thoughts

Wow. 2 posts in 3 days. I am starting to set records over here.

I have been pondering much about our house renovation(s) of late. So I am going to take this opportuninty to sound off on this subject, cause, well, cause I damn well feel like it.
Before we bought this place, both Clare and I watched HGTV like fiends, me moreso than Clare I think. It got to the point that I could spot a re-run in 30 seconds or less, but that's what you get when you watch for 6 hours a day. Let's just say I wanted to be in the know.
Fastforward to our home purchase. Having some backround in tearing up houses and then putting them back together, I had a pretty good idea of what is involved in a remodel, renovation, and maybe even a partial rebuild. The one thing I was not prepared for, however, was going it alone, doing the large share of the work by myself.
Many good people have volunteered along the way to assist me. But it has been sort of a right of passage for me in remodeling this bathroom, for example, quasi-alone. It's one thing to show up to work everyday and put in 8+ hours on a remodeling project you don't live with. It's entirely another to come home after 8+ hours of that kind of work to home with no plumbing and boxes everywhere, because you thought you were a total tool time bad ass and could be finished in 5 days.
LOL. Well, maybe not finished finished, just father along than demolition.
Anyway, I've learned as I go, so to those people who would have gladly helped and volunteered despite their inexperience, I say thank you. To my dad, who helped save and kick my ass, I say thank you times infinity.
You see, the one thing you want to have when tackling a big home project is a friend or family member who has some experience building things. No offense to the inexperienced. It's just that that person who has more than semblance of clue boosts your morale more than words can say.
There have been many times I looked at the bathroom, see unfinished plumbing, a pit with the some old walls, and experienced despair. My morale plummetted to the depths. No amount of HGTV could have prepared me for that! It wasn't because I didn't have a plan, just that I didn't have my crew of 15 craftsman to make it fun and get everything done in a week and under budget.
SO, my first recommendation of someone thinking about going it alone in fixing their house is to be very generous with yourself with regards to how much time, effort and money you think you are going to spend. While it is far superior to do work yourself, save money and insure a kick ass job, paying a contractor to do the work has the benefit of getting it down quickly and hopefully right. But if you are like me, then you will only be satisfied when your hand is behind the project because you know it was done right, or that some things were and some things weren't. But you, not some contractor who doesn't give a damn, makes that decision.
Secondly, even if you have a new house, be prepared for the unexpected. When you feel that sinking feeling and are saying "oh shit, oh shit" to yourself over and over, just know that someone else, many, many people have gone before you in experiencing the same thing and lived to tell the tale.
The other thing, especially for anyone considering a fixer upper in addition to family and a normal 9-5, is that you can only go so far alone before you burn out or get sidetracked with something more urgent. For example, Anastasia's room needed carpet replacement immediately, but because I was burnt out and still had no plumbing, I delayed longer than I would have liked. We made her accommodations work, but it was less than ideal in my opinion. She has a new floor now, which looks and seems to work great, but I wanted it done a while ago and I wanted it done my way, so I know the quality of the construction underneath and the job itself.
All homes are a work in progress. Maintenance starts now and is a never-ending process. It can be overwhelming to stand before everything that needs to be done, see it as such, and not even know where to begin. I wrote a long to-do list for the house for 2009. When I got to item 25 or so, I just threw the damn thing away. You can only do so much. You only have two hands when you are going it solo. And that means, you can only do what you can do and that's it. If you push too hard for too long you will burn out, grab the oh shit bar and put on the brakes. Hopefully, though, if that's you, it won't happen.
All right, I just wanted to put this info out there for that one person who is facing or will face a daunting home task and has no where to turn except Lowes.
I promise you if you act like you're a bad ass who knows what they're doing, you'll impress somebody. And who knows, you might know more than you think!
Over and out,
--The Dominator

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