The Trials and Tribulations of DIY-itis
DIY ruined my life. I could have had a normal life. I could live in normal, finished houses that we bought without any intentions of changing, instead of opting for the fixer uppers with “potential”, which are just the dogs nobody in their right mind buys. Other people do it all the time. They buy a house based on what it looks like as they are standing there deciding whether or not to make the purchase, not based on some starry eyed vision of what “It could be.” They don’t know what they’re missing.
Myself, I started out small, some wall papering and flooring and that faux brick stuff that was popular back in the 80’s when we bought our first house. Somewhere along the way, though, things went badly astray and I developed DIYitis. It’s an addiction, an obsession, it’s definitely a form of mental illness. Only insanity could explain the way your mind works when you have DIYitis. Take for instance the last five days of my life.
I could have spent New Years Eve getting dressed up and going out for dinner with the old man and coming home, drinking a bottle of Pinot and falling asleep on the couch by ten pm. But no, I have DIYitis. It’s just not that simple.
So, instead, we spent the day tearing apart the living room in preparation for a little DIYing. Moving furniture, boxing up books and photos, moving the entertainment center the size of a fiat out the front door, into the back of the pick up and down the driveway into the shop. Whew!
Why? Because the front door is in the wrong place. There is no entry way closet. The window is too small. It all has to be changed. Now. Which is why we stayed home New Years Eve, pooped, eating a hastily prepared pasta dish instead of a dinner that started with mussels in tarragon cream sauce and got better from there.
We celebrated New Year’s Day at Home Depot purchasing lumber and a new door. It’s a lovely little Craftsman number which will look great beside the cedar siding and shingles we will be installing next summer.
Then we began tearing up the temporary rug that covered the temporary plywood floor in the living room, which was expanded a few years ago when we tore out the closet sized bedroom (that did nothing for the floor plan), and found a moldy floor, which we pulled up and replaced with new plywood, and then tore out some more dry wall while tracking down a little mold that had spread up the walls. We spent the last four or five years looking at the bare walls and exposed wires and plywood floors and scarred ceiling where the old walls used to be, so, obviously, we just had to DO something about it, on New Years day.
ACTUALLY, we decided to do it now because we have an addition we have been building for over a year that is almost ready for dry wall and since we will need to dry wall the adjacent living room walls when we move the door to the old window location, replace the old front door with a new window, and build the entry way closet with a little nook for the grandfather clock and a nook for books on the other side in the guest bedroom, which will be a guest bedroom when we get the master bedroom/bath/laundry room/computer nook part of the addition done, and of course we need to build a little dividing wall where the old bedroom wall was that will now create a little entry way/foyer and then we will place a nice cozy little wood stove against that wall, which we will need to tile, along with the floor, well, it just made perfect sense to tear the living room apart even more than we already had so we could have all the walls finished at once.
Which is how we ended up with a four foot square hole in the house on a 25 degree night that we barely got covered before dark because the header over the old window was too low and had to be trimmed to accommodate the door which was problematic and took a long time but at least we had a couple of full sheets of plywood on hand that we had pulled up off the floor and screwed up over the opening outside so we could keep the bears out overnight, but not before the breaker for the one existing fully functioning bedroom tripped out and refused to stop tripping, which got the old man busy trying to trouble shoot why the AFCI breaker tripped, to no avail, so we had no power in the bedroom and we had to sleep with our heads at the foot of the bed and plug our C-pap machines into an extension cord running out to the living room, but at least we slept and didn’t disturb each other snoring all night because we needed to sleep after all that activity, and we still didn’t have a front door!
And then, low and behold, we woke up the next day to snow! Our new door was sitting out leaning on the back of the pick up truck parked in the front yard waiting patiently in the snow to be installed, but we had to install additional framing around the door opening and cut out the knee wall that was below the old window and extend a new sill and patch in some new siding and install house wrap and window-and-door tape and caulk, and the snowy view from the big hole in the wall was pretty, in the spirit of the holidays and all, but alas, the house was freezing, well not really freezing but 50 degrees, which is really cold for some reason inside but not that cold outside. But then everything was ready and we finally got the patient little door and dusted the snow and most of the ice off and put it in, and installed the doorknob and dead bolt to keep the bears out and it was much warmer than the sheets of plywood from the night before, I’m happy to say, but we still hadn’t fixed the AFCI Circuit Breaker issue, so we slept with our heads at the foot of the bed again. But we had a new front door!
So today, the old man got to crawl around the attic trouble shooting wiring, and was able to fix some faulty grounds and other issues, which is a good thing, and the Arc Fault Circuit Breaker is happy now, and I love the craftsman look of the new door and how it will mimic the grids on the top of the single hung windows and how it matches the door on his shop and it’s all going to be so nice, once we build the closet walls, rewire the switch for the overhead light, tile the floors, build the wood stove wall, tear out the old door and rebuild the opening to accommodate the bigger and better new window (that will also look lovely with the new door), get the dry wall done, install new floors, and lights, and paint the walls and ceiling and there’s that little plate rack I want to build on the dining room wall to camouflage the terrible transition the framer made between the addition and the old wall and quite honestly I wish I never started writing this because I haven’t even mentioned the work we have to do to finish the Master Suite addition and the new wall of kitchen cabinets and sink and the mud room we have planned, and damn, I’m sure I’m forgetting something but it will come to me around three or four a.m.
If you’re a DIYer too you know where I’m coming from. We could have normal lives, the kind where you spend your weekends, vacations and spare time going fun places and doing fun things and having friends drop over without being embarrassed by the dry wall/insulation/saw dust that coats the walls, floors, furniture and dog, and we could walk through the house without tripping over extension cords and stray two by fours, we could even safely drink a glass of water that’s been on the counter all day without worrying what kind of remodeling related detritus we might be choking on momentarily. But we can’t, because DIYing ruins your life.
And yet, I’ll forget all that someday when I’m sitting on the couch in my freshly painted living room with the tiled wall and the cozy wood stove and shiny new windows and craftsman door and brand new floors, and I’m sure I’ll sigh happily and think “Hey, why don’t we build some bookshelves on that wall next to the plate rack and install a reclaimed wood wall behind the TV and build a banquette in the corner of the dining room and…