Tuesday, May 19, 2015


We have lived in our house for more than 30 years and there have been a lot of changes to the appearance and setup.  In the early days, we would decide we wanted to change things but were unsure what to do.  Teresa’s dad was very helpful in giving us direction (and free labor) and over the years we developed skills that allowed us to do much of the work ourselves.

Teresa and Hayden are digging in the 'crypt' -- another project

Teresa is patient and stubborn and she eventually learned how to ‘mud’ and sand sheetrock so it looked nice after painting.   My talents were developed in electrical installation (with a few ‘shocking’ mishaps) and plumbing (not my favorite, but I can do it).  Between us we could ‘wrangle’ most other parts of construction and complete a project that looked at least passable (yes, there were times when we had to seek out professional help but they were few and generally secret).

In all this learning we discovered one great truth when it comes to remodeling/construction.

No matter how much you plan, prepare, save, and scheme there will always be more than you expected to any project.

Here’s a modern day example:

We are currently redoing what Teresa calls the ‘RUMPUS ROOM’ on the southern side of the house.  This is a large room, 29’x14’, that was used as a daycare for 30 or so years.  With no daycare we decided to make it more comfortable and appealing.  Our plan was to do some repairs on the walls, fix a couple of things in the ceiling (cracks in sheetrock mud – early Whitmer effort before we got better) and upgrade paint and carpet.

What we will end up doing is:

1.      Scrape all the texture off the ceiling and replace it with better texture

2.     Take all the sheetrock off the south walls and rewire the electrical

3.     Replace the insulation on that same wall (an outside wall)

4.     Replace all the moldings and sills for the windows

5.     Take out all the brick that covered the south walls (who knows why the former owners put it there)

6.     Put in two new ceiling fans to replace the one that never really helped such a big room

7.     Remove some random wiring that we found inside the walls – can’t figure out where it is going or why it was there

8.     Replace the back door and side windows so we can stop the wind from coming in through the cracks

9.     Level the floor on the south side so it doesn't leave a dip in the new carpet (where the brick used to be)

10.  Replace all the carpet

11.   Paint all the walls a pleasant color that will let us sit in peace as we slowly devolve into madness and advanced age

12.  Maybe more, if we find something else that needs fixing

Many years ago, while doing another project like this, we were bemoaning the fact that there was more to the work than anticipated.  Upon reflection, we decided that remodeling work is like trying to rid the body of dangerous foreign substance.  Every time you open up one job, you find two or three or seven others that need attention before they grow to something more unpleasant.

Since those early days we have prepared differently. Each project is expected to be more than we planned.

We are confident that construction work on an existing home will always reveal more defects than we considered in the planning.

There will be extra time and money spent to control the spread of problems.

We don’t like it, but we accept the need to take out the bad, repair the remaining structure, and move forward. It’s the only way to continue living in our home with any confidence.

And that is why I say remodeling is LIKE HAVING A DISEASE!!

Disclaimer: I have never had a difficult disease and hope to avoid that experience.  I am confident that the true nature of these afflictions are much more devastating than repairing/remodeling a home.  The examples given are not meant to offend or detract from the seriousness of maladies that have been part of many of my friend’s lives.  May you all battle on and know I love you in your times of need.

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