Home repairs is a phrase that some revel in yet cause some to run screaming from the room. A good husband will accept the challenge of a stuck drawer and immediately spring into action grabbing a phone and calling someone else to do the job. There are husbands who can accomplish all types of household fixes and those that don’t know the business end of an implement. This is the kind of person who almost knows how to utilize 2 functions of a 6-function tool. This is me.

What started out as a stuck kitchen drawer turned into an entire kitchen renovation. (Warning: if you have a stuck drawer, don’t let anyone know about it. Your life will be much simpler) I honestly don’t know how we got from one to the other, but it was more than a slippery slope, it was the vertical wall of ‘El Capitan’ and we had greasy hands.

The only relevant comparison is if you buy a new pair of pants and then see the need for new shoes, shirt and jacket to go with them. We unstuck the drawer but chipped some paint, so we needed to re-paint the entire cabinet. That made the rest of the kitchen look dreary so we decided to change the kitchen’s ‘look’ because as Americans, we grow weary of the same old thing.

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To prepare ourselves, we watched as many home make-over shows as we could although nothing was as easy in real life as it was through the magic of television. Did we expect a team of professional carpenters, electricians and plumbers to pop out of the woodwork and perform miracles? No! Our learning curve was higher and scarier than Sheikra; the roller coaster at Busch Gardens.

Real life took on a surreal feel as the generally recognized rules of “I’ll do that in this amount of time for this price” came to mean anything but. It was like expecting your phone provider to give you a bill you could understand. The three months of kitchen renovation seemed longer than 4 years of high school and it’s not over yet. I’ve come to realize how a few of the more common terms are defined:

For example: the estimate.

An electrician and a plumber can only give you a best-case scenario estimate on what something will cost. ‘Best case scenario’ means it will only happen if not only hell freezes over, but creates an ice follies theme park with Mickey, Minnie and all of Snow white’s dwarves dressed in bright pink tutus. They’re working on the premise that when walls are torn away there will be evidence of generations of creatures who have taught their young to eat everything in sight that could be of use to you. Case in point, wiring.

Running late, not the name of a tardy Indian companion. Here are the rules: If you’re lucky, a contractor will arrive more than half an hour late for anything. A sub-contractor will show up when he’s ready. We dealt with a sub-contractor who agreed to do part of the work and he arrived with 2 people with whom he contracted. They sub-contracted with someone who did the actual work. At this point the sub-sub-sub-contractor showed up so late it was the next day, late in the day. I’m told I was lucky. The genealogy in this flow of workers looked like a family tree bereft of leaves.

Throw in a lack of communication skills and it starts to get fun. This is where venting comes in, and that doesn’t mean taking smoke and smells from the stovetop.

Actually, venting at the workers does no good during the renovation because you don’t want to have to tear down a wall a year from now to find out that funky smell was a sardine sandwich carefully stashed behind the wallboard wrapped with a note addressed to ‘dear jerk, this is why we charged you so much’.

We moved into Green Acres meets the Money Pit. The best part of this house is the yard which utilizes tools that function without a lot of thinking. This house had been constructed wrong, piped wrong and electrified wrong. It was a living test kitchen for ‘Find 127 things wrong with this picture’. Were there no codes when this place was built? I’m glad we didn’t find Jimmy Hoffa behind the old cabinets, because we found every other bad situation there. The house, built on an ever shifting and fragile water-based ecosystem that does not tolerate concrete easily, shifted so much it can enter a twist contest and beat Chubby Checker. I can visualize the end result of our labors as clearly as when we all can finally get back to normalcy.

Yesterday Kathy said, “I saw that a couple of tiles were loose in your bathroom floor; how about if we…..” I didn’t let her finish; I just ran screaming from the room.

 

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