At first, it always sounds like a good idea. We’ll replace the old bathroom floor, which was installed so poorly that the tiles were starting to pop up, with a new one that we actually like. We’ll fix the mantel on the fireplace in our living room, and while we’re at it, let’s fix the broken water spigot on the side of the house that leaks every time we turn the hose on and replace that broken closet door in the basement, too. We’ll just call our handyman, and he’ll take care of everything! Nothing could be easier.
Then comes the morning when the handyman shows up with his tools and equipment and gets to work. Soon every flat surface in the house is covered with a fine layer of grey dust, and my front bedroom has been converted a storage room for the toilet and vanity, as well as a shop vac and various other equipment I don’t even recognize. Stacks of new tiles and bags of grout are piled in the back bedroom, and our garage is converted into a temporary workshop, complete with a wet saw and sawhorses for working on the doors.
I’m used to having the house mostly to myself during the day, but renovations mean sharing my house with someone who spends his days smashing tiles, cutting copper pipes and ripping mantels out of the wall, as noisily as possible. He gives me frequent updates of his progress, usually when I’m trying to write a blog post or rushing out the door because I’m late for an appointment. And at the end of each day, I spend at least an hour cleaning up the dust and dirt that were created from that day’s work.
I find myself beginning to think that we should have just done the work ourselves, until I remember all those times before we could afford to hire someone and we actually did the work ourselves. I remember how much fun it was to help my husband carry 22 sheets of drywall from the backyard to the basement because a storm was coming. I remember the time I wallpapered my son’s bedroom, only to have all the wallpaper fall off the next day. Mostly, I remember the time I helped my husband take down a dying tree in our back yard. He tied a rope around the upper trunk of the tree, gave it to me and told me to pull hard when he told me to. Then he went to work on the base of the tree with a chainsaw. After a few minutes, he yelled “pull,” so I did. And looked up to see that the tree was falling straight at me. I did the only sensible thing: dropped the rope and ran. Later I checked with our insurance agent just to make sure my husband hadn’t taken out an extra life insurance policy on me.
Eventually, the work is done, and our handyman packs up all his tools and leaves. He’s actually a very nice man, and very good at his job, but I’m still glad that he won’t be back next week. I love our new fireplace mantel, and the bathroom floor looks even better than I thought it would. We have new closet doors in the basement that open and close easily, and I can now turn on the hose without getting sprayed by a jet of water from the spigot handle. And sadly, I know it won’t be very long until I find myself thinking, maybe we could ask our handyman to get rid of that popcorn ceiling in the upstairs office, and maybe it’s time to finally put that dormer window in the master bedroom….