Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why it Takes So Long to Remodel an Old House

Friends wonder why it's taking so long to remodel our new old house. After all, they say, it's only 1500 square feet. To answer that, let me tell you about a typical day.

We are still commuting here, from our home about 32 miles away from the new old house. By the time we get up, have coffee, pack work clothes, pack anything special we want for lunch, pack any tools we need that aren't already there, several hours have elapsed. It is Saturday, so on the way in we decide to stop at a local farmer's market to pick up some fresh veggies. Then, since I've had three huge mugs of coffee AND half the contents of a travel mug, we have to stop at a food mart to use the restroom. While there, we peruse the breakfast items, and since I haven't eaten yet, I grab a sausage kolache, Husband gets a breakfast taco and we get back on the road. Today we are lucky; we don't have to stop to buy paint and we don't have to get gasoline since we did that on the way home last night.

We arrive, and realize that our new heater isn't working correctly in the house. After some aggravation and ponderations, and some tests involving a stop watch and peering into the gas jets, Husband realizes that the code on the fancy digital thermostat means that the filters are clogged—our unit has two. Both of them are removed, we write down the sizes, and Husband calls the local hardware store to see if they have these in stock. They say they do, so we plan on a trip there to pick some up. It's getting cold here, and we won't be able to work in the house without the heater.

Since it's the annual city wide hazardous waste clean-up day, Husband goes through the garage and gathers up all the old oil paint, machine oil, paint stripper, etc. that was left behind by former residents. We don't want it, so he loads it into the car. Meanwhile, I'm watering the plants. Back in the car we go, to the hardware store, where we buy filters, out to the waste site, unload the car, then decide since it's 11:30, we'll have lunch out at a nearby Chinese buffet. We do so.

Back to the house an hour or so later. Husband tries to install the filter, but realizes it is 1/2” too large, throws a hissy fit, jumps in the car and races back to the hardware store. Meanwhile, I'm digging holes for flower bulbs and keep the phone handy just in case I have to go bail him out of jail. He was REALLY mad. He comes back, empty handed. At least he got a refund and I didn't have to quit my gardening and go bail him out. Apparently the girl there said she checked the sizes, but thought a meager 1/2” didn't matter. Riiiiiight, missy—this is a top of the line, high-tech computerized piece of pretty darned fancy machinery...1/2” is gonna make a difference. So, we still don't have a filter for the heater.

Husband goes to work on the new kitchen light fixture, which we discover is made for houses built in 2011 with recessed lighting, NOT houses built in 1930 with two wires dangling from the ceiling. There is some finagling to do to make it work. This takes time, new holes drilled, new wiring, something to do with using longer screws, cutting away of the wallboard, more ponderations, etc. It seems that to insert the new type light bulbs, you have to use a special wrench unless your fingers are the size of toothpicks. Luckily, it was provided but it looks like something a gynecologist would use for an exam. With this special tool, it takes twice as long to insert the bulbs. No longer are bulbs just screwed in; they must be inserted and twisted while standing upside down on a ladder. I go outside to dig a hole for a grapevine. Husband finally gets the bulbs in, climbs up to the 9 ½' ceiling and installs the light.

By now it's 3:30 p.m. and time to paint the ceiling of the dining room. This was our “To Do or Else” job for today. I check my e-mail while Husband paints. By now I have a major headache for some reason and don't feel like doing much that involves ladders, nail guns or grout. Just as well, it would not be safe. I ponder going to the Dollar Store for Halloween candy. I think I can manage to drive the ½ mile there and back.

At 6 p.m. it's getting cold in the house and we start packing up to leave. Since we didn't get the filter before, we have to stop at a Big Box store on the way home to see if they have one in stock. By 8 p.m. we are back home, exhausted. We eat a hasty dinner of scrambled eggs then fall asleep after reading two pages of a book.

Next morning, the cat wakes us up at 5 a.m. We lay there and our minds start racing. I'm thinking about the advantages vs. the disadvantages of Formica vs. Wilsonart, and Husband is wondering what we can leave out of the whole process so we can move in earlier. Neither of us can get back to sleep, so we finally get up, and it starts all over.

So please don't ask me again why it takes so long to remodel an old house.

Copyright 2011 by Bobbi A. Chukran


  1. We are painting our living room. We have been painting our living room for a week now. It's half done. Everything is topsy turvy. The room has a half-cathedral ceiling and involves a lot of ladder work. It's so easy to find reasons to not paint today. I so get it about your house... I send my warmest hopes you'll move in while you are still young enough to enjoy it. Great post!

  2. Thanks, Sharon. LOL. The plan is to move in by Christmas. We'll see if that happens. Funny, our last two homes had huge vaulted ceilings, and when we moved to town in Leander, I was happy that finally I had 8' walls I could reach on a stepstool. Then I went and bought a house with 9 1/2' ceilings! LOL. I don't usually repaint ceilings but these haven't been painted since 1950.

    Hope you're able to finish your LR this year. LOL.

    Oh, and BTW, great review of Holy Ghost Girl on the SCN blog. I actually have visited some of those type revivals when I was a kid. Veeeery interesting. :-)


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