Home improvements

diy-gone-wrong-5

My friend Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week, besides being a poet, humorist, author and wise (cracking?) sage, is quite the woodworker and handyman. Show off.

His current project is building an enclosed raised bed garden. But, in the course of my following his blog, he has reported on completing a myriad of other projects around the house. I get exhausted just reading about his DIY exploits. Show off.

But really, I do adore him. In a jealous AGMA sort of way…

Hubs and I used to be handy around the house. Real handy. We did a lot to our first house, purchased in 1978. We were young, strong, foolish and broke back then. AGMA remembers the agony of steaming the wallpaper off of the first floor plaster walls then sanding the walls down to get them smooth in order to paint them. We must have eaten plaster dust for the next 2 years…

Yuck.

We put an island in our kitchen and installed a new countertop on all of the cabinets. We built shelves and installed tile around the fireplace. I made our curtains, and stained and installed interior shutters.

We did plumbing and electrical projects too. With some very mixed results… There always seemed to be elusive leaks that defied detection on the plumbing projects. The good news about the electrical projects is that nobody got electrocuted.

But we needed a larger home when our family went from two to three to four in a short 18 months.

Our second house was an upgrade. We went from 3 to 4 small bedrooms, 1 to 1.5 bathrooms and driveway parking to a 2 car garage. But the house needed work so we rolled up our sleeves and went at it again. It was just a bit more challenging this time around with a baby and a toddler.

We were restless though. Like many other young families, we were in search of that panacea, “a good school district”. And we found it. And moved again…

We stayed in that house for the next 15 years. Still 4 bedrooms, but we scored a tiny master bathroom so we were up to 2.5 bathrooms. AGMA was in 3 toilet heaven.

And you know how I feel about toilets.

But home improvements in this house were few and far between. It was a season of busyness with kids, work, volunteer “stuff” and aging parents, so there wasn’t time for DIY. And $$ was still pretty tight so we couldn’t pay anybody else to do the work.

So the dismal kitchen that was in the house when we moved in in 1987 was the same dismal kitchen when we sold the house in 2002.

We did replace things as they “died” (dishwasher, garbage disposal, carpeting, etc), but we did very little by way of improvement. We did make a half hearted attempt to finish the basement. Clearly an amateur effort, but good enough for a gathering place for kids and friends.

2002 started our new, innovative approach to home improvements.

We literally improved our “home” by trading up. As in going from one home to another on a regular basis. We moved and upgraded before things had time to die or break or go out of style.

Brilliant!

Since 2002, AGMA’s lived in 6 – count ‘em – six different homes. Other than the home we’re in now, the longest we’ve ever lived in any of of them is 3.5 years.

Therein lies AGMA’s current dilemma. This past June, we celebrated 4 years in our lovely townhouse.

Waaayyyy too long if you ask me.

Things are starting to need attention/improvement. Our alarm system hasn’t worked for the past 6 months. We have like 20 foot ceilings and our tallest ladder is 12 feet so we have multiple burned out light bulbs in closets. A door in my bathroom cabinet is catywhampus. And we have a built-in, inoperable Jacuzzi tub in our bathroom. Nothing says 2001 like a Jacuzzi tub…

The roof and all of the kitchen appliances are 15 years old.   As well as 2 of the 3 (count ‘em three!) HVAC units.  It’s past time to replace the 3 year air filters (to the tune of $500 each) on the fancy, smacy air filtration units that are attached to 2 of our HVAC units. When we put them in 3+ years ago, AGMA had no idea we’d still be living here and have to replace them yet again.  Ouch.

Our town home has great bones, but the flesh is starting to sag a bit.

Just like AGMA.

So the question is, do we do it the old fashioned way and actually replace/upgrade things. Or do we move. Again.

The moving on a regular basis strategy really worked for us. Even through the housing crisis, we managed to upgrade in amenities and location, and still be in the black. Our home now is probably the nicest we’ve live in and is in a fabulous neighborhood in Atlanta.

But moving is hard. Really hard. Especially as you get older. Even when it’s a “corporate” move and somebody else does most of the packing and moving.

The last move nearly did AGMA in.

So I guess it’s time to put on the big girl AGMA pants, and start dealing with that sagging flesh. Hubs checked out of the DIY thing years ago, so I’m going to be on the hunt for a good handyman.

I forget, where do you live again Andrew?

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10 thoughts on “Home improvements

  1. If you can get Andy, go for it. Hiring a handy man can be iffy – IF they show up, IF they know what they are doing, IF they don’t charge as much,or more, than a contractor. We need work done here AGAIN, and I really don’t want to deal with it. If I could move, I would, but moving would kill me. Like you, the last move nearly did me in. Not sure I could handle trying to find anyone worth his salt either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Iffy is right!! A neighbor down the street has a handyWOMAN she uses… I might try her! I think Andrew lives in California which just wouldn’t be practical. Ha!

      I know that we’ll have to move at least one more time before we are in “the” place. Our townhouse is full of stairs (3 flights of them), and it’s getting tougher and tougher for Hubs to get up and down them. I think we have one more move (the retirement move) that will be covered by the “company” so we need to make sure that is “the” move and that we don’t have to move after that. Aside from being terribly expensive, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pack everything up without keeling over!

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  2. Hubby played handyman this past 2 days… plumbing work! We still do a mix of DIY and call-in the professionals. It’s a challenge to decide where the line is at times, but hubby has always been pretty handy and I’m OK with handing him tools. For big or complex, we usually go with the professional… who often just has the right tools!

    I guess I’ve been lucky in finding contractors, one for each of our houses. My Ohio guy is reliable, solid quality but not stellar, reasonable price…. getting older. Not sure how much longer he’ll be in the business! My Florida guy (yeah, both are men) is great quality, reasonably priced, and slow as molasses in January. People tell me that’s Florida. I’ve learned to live with it. I found both of mine through word of mouth… so start asking friends.

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    • Ohio AND Florida? You are living large Pat! I get a headache just trying to wrap my head around the idea of having to take care of two homes…

      We have a pretty good network in our townhouse community and neighborhood so I think I can find somebody decent. It’s just having to go through the motions that I dread. I’ve become a terrible procrastinator (as evidenced by the 6 month non-working alarm system that we continue to pay a monthly monitoring fee for…) I think it would be a bit easier if Hubs would get a bit invested in some of this, but he’s just not interested. It doesn’t bother him that the flesh is sagging. He’s never been one to be proactive. So it’s all up to me. I hate that! Whine, whine, whine… I know, a serious first world problem.

      I’ll get my stuff together one of these days. In the meantime, I guess I’ll blog! 🙂

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  3. Oh AGMA, I hope and pray you have better luck with hiring someone to work in the house than we have. We don’t hire out much, and we know tons from decades of DIY living and just because the old man is a genius, strike that. super genius. We are almost always disappointed in the stuff we farm out. I hate paying someone else to do a shitty job. We can do that ourselves for free, and often do a much better job because we have to live with it. I would ask around and then try to discern if the people who are referring have any idea what a good and proper job is compared to a shoddy one. There couldn’t possibly be so many shysters out there if people knew more about how things should be done. Good luck kid. Stock up on the wine.

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    • Ha! I loved the “stock up on wine” advice! I’ve had to cut way back on my alcohol consumption because of the meds I’m taking so I need to find some new coping mechanisms…

      We actually had a lot of handy person suggestions from neighbors and community (through a website) – some of whom I think know a good job from a bad one. It’s just getting the energy to call them and vet them that I’m having the problem with!

      While I was away this past weekend, Hubs actually took care of one of the issues. Who said miracles don’t happen…??!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. First I am impressed by that picture – a manifold that only a DIY plumber like me could envy. I am nearly next door to you in California. My rates are reasonable: $100 per hour (two hour min), plus parts, tools, medical insurance, and travel expenses. Looking at my calendar, I could get to you in say late April.

    Or, here’s a thought: Move, but just buy all new stuff in your next home, don’t take anything than a change of clothes. Go to furniture stores that offer free delivery and setup. Most every thing else can be ordered on-line and delivered right to you. I haven’t don’t the calculation, but I’ll bet that just buying all new won’t be anymore expensive than moving your current stuff.

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    • True dat! It’s all of the “other” stuff that’s the problem. The stuff that doesn’t fit in the clothes or furniture category. I have boxes and boxes of it and am not quite ready to part with it yet. But that day might be coming sooner rather than later!

      I think you’re rates are very reasonable… I’ll get back to you…

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  5. Oh, the stories I could tell, about both moves and DIYs on various previously owned houses! Guess I’ll save most of them for my memoirs, though, and just say that I have been a lucky homeowner for a very long time, starting with one of the very first lovely things Spouse did for me when we had just barely started dating. He came and snaked out the washing machine drain in my condo, quickly followed by the installation of a new garbage disposal in my parents’ house. I married him shortly thereafter, a very handy man much like my dad, whose skill level in that area had deteriorated a bit by the time the aforementioned garbage disposal in the home of my youth had died. Amazingly, Spouse accepted my hand in marriage even after Mom had greeted him on that occasion wearing her sleeping outfit of ratty housecoat over flannel nighty with socks and slippers finished with a hairnet over her do which was wrapped in TP for preservation purposes! He endeared himself to her there and then by making this repair after which she felt comfortable enough to inquire if he could make little blonde baby boys. Our first dark and curly haired girl arrived less than a year later!

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