Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Renovation Reality

Home renovation.  2 words that strike fear in the hearts of most normal people.  Why?  Because when those 2 particular words are spoken there is the immediate fear of attempting the renovation yourself.  Because so many people have chosen to try and tackle home renovations themselves, the D-I-Y Channel created the show "Renovation Realities".  Sometimes the show makes you laugh and sometimes it makes you cringe because you can foretell the danger or disaster about to befall the DIY'er.

The reality is that home renovation rarely happens the way you planned or in the time you've alloted.  DIY projects can be difficult, aggravating, exasperating, depressing, dangerous, messy, disgusting, and a whole slew of other adjectives.  Heck, depending on the level of the project's difficulty, and whether it's flowing smoothly or not (usually "not"),  you generally start making up your own string of adjectives as you go along.

So, in honor of all those who have gone before us, and those who will follow in our footsteps, here are just a few of my husband and I's "Renovation Realities" moments:

Our first DIY project was a patio extension.  It was the first time we had ever worked with concrete.  We went to the local home improvement store, took a class on building and laying forms, mixing concrete, and how to create a professional looking surface.  You'd think in the course of an entire weekend on the "how-to's" they'd have said "what not to do".  One of those very simple don'ts could've been "concrete is caustic, so don't ever work it without gloves and protective clothing". It only took about a month for the skin to heal over all of the blisters and burns on our bodies.

Our next project was replacing the cabinet bottom under our kitchen sink.  That is one of those "Renovation Reality" moments that is forever seared into my memory.  If you haven't read about that escapade, you can read about it HERE.  My husband still has a few choice words for that particular project and has discussed the need for psychological counseling to get over his fear of that particular insect.

Another project was taking down a brick fireplace and putting up drywall with a new fireplace surround.  The guys at the home improvement store, with whom we were on a first name basis by this time, told us it would be easy and there was really not a lot to the project other than the drywall portion.  Yeah, that wasn't exactly true.  When one demolishes an interior wall of brick, it's advisable to wear a hard hat.  We started with the hearth surround........ and apparently it was actually attached to and supporting the brick wall.  A lot of bruises and a doctor's visit to rule out a concussion later we discovered it's best to start at the top of the wall first.  On the bright side, the demolition took a lot less time than we had originally estimated.

Next up was painting a clapboard wood-sided Cape Code style house.  This is still one of my all-time favorite houses we have purchased. The big project on this was painting the exterior siding.  This is the "Renovation Reality" where the stuff got "REAL".  The house, even though it was a single-story, had a very high elevation.  For my husband to reach the uppermost portions nearly 30 feet high, he had to borrow an extension ladder and lean it up against the house.  He discovered when he was up there that this portion of the siding just so happened to be the slats for the attic ventilation.  It was a very hot, oppressive summer in the deep south, so in hopes of not expiring from heat stroke, we chose to paint late in the evening .

One evening while my husband was painting and I was standing nearly 30 feet below him holding the ladder steady, when we started hearing this odd squeaking noise.  At first we thought it was the ladder.  My husband stood very still and yet the squeaking sound continued and even started to get louder.  We listened intently and yet neither of us could figure out what in the world the noise was or where it was coming from. 

As we shrugged our shoulders and he turned his attention back to painting, all of the sudden there was a giant "whoosh" and thousands of bats came zooming out of those attic ventilation slats all at once!  Bats were everywhere!  It was like the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds".  I was paralyzed with fear when I saw those flying vampires swarming and swooping around my husband's head and flying into his chest and into the ladder. His arms were flailing everywhere as he tried to knock them away from him.

When the bats started swooping down around my head, I broke out of my paralyzed state with a blood-curdling scream and all bets were off as it was every man for himself!  I was not waiting to see whether he managed to get off that ladder safely, I had to get away from these blood thirsty creatures.  My husband must have channeled some inner superhuman power though because he nearly beat me to the backdoor of our house.  He probably would have if I hadn't shoved him out of my way.  From that day forward, all exterior house painting was conducted in daylight hours only.

The house we are currently in was a foreclosure and the home, inside and out, requires extensive renovation.  We've already had a few reality checks and I'm sure there will be many more "memories" being made with this home in the very near future...... and you can bet I'll be documenting our experiences along the way.  So stay tuned and remember:  Safety First!

by: Christie Bielss


  1. Thanks for sharing us your experience, it’s really a mind-opener to the real situation in having a DIY renovation. Renovation can really be overwhelming and dangerous at times, especially if you’re dealing with roofing tasks. It’s a good thing that homeowners can choose whether to do it on their own or ask a professional’s help. The latter may differ in costings and whatnot, but at least everyone is safe and your ideal time frame is being followed.

    Allyson @ DnMRoofing.net

  2. Very, very true Allyson. Personally, we never mess with roofs because it's too dangerous and it really requires skill to properly repair or replace roofing material. Not to mention that being up on a roof is what we like to refer to as "maiming distance". Depending on the height and slope of the roof, if you fall off, it may not kill you but you'll wish it had. Yes, roofing is best left to skilled craftsman.