Sunday, April 17, 2005

Gather 'Round All You Home Renovators

Since, in my mind at least, I have some expertise on renovating old homes, I am going to impart a few words of wisdom for those of you who think this is something you would like to do. And so...

1. You're wrong. This is something you think you want to do, but you are sadly mistaken.

2. There is no such thing as a "small project". A project you think will only take a day - or weekend - will spiral into some great time and money consuming endeavor. You think you want to paint the bedroom? Well be prepared to dig up the septic system. Planning on installing a gas insert in the fireplace? You better buy about 30 squares of shingles. You think you want to put a GFI in the bathroom? Sorry, you will have to move the garage first. What you will find is that every single item in your old home is inextricably tied to every single other item. That roofing nail in the uppermost corner of your peak is directly in contact with the foundation walls. You want to replace one, you better be prepared to replace both.

3. Before you start your project, go to the local bars and find the oldest home builder/contractor you can find. See what beer he/she is drinking. This will now be your beer. If you think a case of your favortie micro brew will be enough to see you through to the end of the project, you are a namby pamby beginner and you will be broke in no time. Your project is going to take so long that, by the time it is completed, you will have spent enough money on beer to purchase that micro brewery. You had best adjust your taste buds now and find something cheap that you can stomach. If you are lucky, you will have a good, cheap local brew (such as Yuengling) and you won't have to resort to Pabst.

4 Whatever you think your project is going to cost - in time as well as money - multiply that by 5 or 6 or 12 and you will start to be in the ballpark. If you are trying to specifically figure cost, make sure to multiply that figure by 1.054. This number is known as the Beer Factor. For every $250 dollars spent on home improvements, you will spend approximately $13.50 on a case of beer (if you followed Rule #3). This is the only mathematical rule I've ever invented but it's pretty darn good and I'm figuring it will win me a Nobel Peace Prize somewhere down the line.

5. Remember carbide. Suppose you are aimlessly wandering through the ailses of your favorite hardware store and you happen upon, oh, let's say a paint scraper. If it doesn't have a carbide blade, you are to immediately cast it to the ground and sing praise that the Lord has delivered you from buying a cheap but ineffective tool. Don't waste your money on crap. Your mother told you that years ago.

And finally...

6. You will have lead poisoning before you are done. Get used to the idea now because you probably won't be able to understand it later.

So there it is my fellow renovators. Good luck and good luck.


Brooks said...

You go, girl. I found your blog because it was cited in another random blog I was scanning. I love your writing and you make life's little shitty surprises very, very funny. Do you make your living this way? You should.

anne said...


Thank you so much and I'm glad you enjoyed what you have read. Unfortunately, I do not get to make my living this way - the creativity of my current job ends with deciding what to bring for lunch each morning. Oh, well - at least I have this outlet to subject perfect strangers to my odd thoughts.

cuz E said...

You know you are about 3 months late on this bit of wisdom. Sorry I never made it by to get the "dam" book. Go to Nan's blog and you will see why.

Gave myself food poisoning on top of the poison ivy --- needless to say I was good for nothing except hitching the hyundai the the ford.

anne said...

cuz e-

I was actually thinking of you while I was writing this. I did check out Nan's blog - sounds like you two had a rather eventful visit.
And I'll buy you a Yuengling next time we're out.

Jozet said...

Ah yes...I'm in the process of another project myself, which is why I'm light on my own blog. Hopefully, I'll get it up today. It will either be called I Need Caulk, Baby or Random Thoughts While Painting the Porch and Listening to Classic Rock.

And you are dead on regarding carbide. I just got the carbide lecture from a Home Depot employee who I can only guess was a heavenly intermediary in disguise.


BTW, I agree. Your writing rocks.

anne said...


So good to hear from you! Are you painting the fornt porch or the back? I swear, it's this weather - it makes you just want to accomplish things! I'm painting daughter's window frame and hanging a storm window for her. She's very excited - finally no more plastic!
The Father-in-Law is the one who clued me in on the carbide. He's the man!
Please update soon - I need some stuff to read!