One of the downsides of buying “fixer-upper” houses is that they require a lot of work. Over the years my husband has become adept at hanging dry wall, replacing basic plumbing fixtures, doing light carpentry, etc. My job is usually painting and assisting, although once I surprised him by widening a doorway with my trusty crowbar. (Sadly, my husband wasn’t impressed.) But some jobs require a professional, and that’s when things get a little tricky.
The problem is while I love home improvement projects once they are finished, I hate the process of actually having the work done. It’s not fun having to live with the noise and dust of demolition, and I’m not a fan of having workers in my house, no matter how nice or professional they are. It never fails that if I get up extra early to be showered and dressed before the crew arrives, they don’t show up until around ten in the morning. But if I dare to venture down into the kitchen to get my early morning Diet Coke, three carpenters are sure to come in the back door, calling out a cheerful “hello” while pretending not to notice I’m still in my pajamas. You get to know the people who work in your house, but we don’t need to know each other quite that well.
Our latest project was supposed to be tearing out the carpet in the small family room off our kitchen, leveling a small section of the floor and laying down a new laminate floor. What it turned into was the complete demolition of the entire floor (you could see the slab the room sits on), redoing most of the joists and then laying a new sub floor, laminate floor, baseboards and thresholds. They also repaired some hidden holes in the exterior walls (we were wondering how a chipmunk got in our house).
None of this was easy. I know because I could hear the workers complaining as they struggled to remove wood that was rock hard and nailed in with what seemed to be a thousand nails per square foot. And just to make things extra fun, the nails were so old that the heads often came off when they were trying to pry them out. I thought the worst was over when they began laying the new floor, but soon discovered that involved using the loudest nail gun I’ve ever heard. And of course the sound of it terrified our dog Finn, who promptly took refuge on our antique and recently-refinished dining room table.
The project is just about complete as I write this, and the new floor really does look good. It’s nice to know that the chipmunk entrance is now blocked off and new insulation has been installed. A few hours with a good vacuum and a few dozen dust cloths should clean up the last of the mess, and then we get the fun job of moving our heavy furniture back into the room and finally placing my Christmas decorations where they belong.
Right now I’m swearing we’ll never tackle another home-improvement project, but I know that isn’t true. Time has a way of making bad memories fade away, and eventually we’ll add that dormer to our bedroom I’ve been wanting for years. All I ask is when that day comes, please ignore my whining and complaining. Because no one likes to be reminded they really should have known better….