No matter how run-down the house when you buy it, there’s an unequal-able delight in fixing it up…making it your own. Whether you begin outside, in the yard that has been neglected for decades, or inside, where the wallpaper is peeling down off the walls all by itself, there are few things that bring the same satisfaction as seeing the night-and-day “Before” and “After” pictures.
For some of us, any delays in this makeover lie in the shortage of time and materials. For others, it’s a matter of finding a general contractor or specialty subcontractor that can be trusted. Still others get held up by indecision, which is always becoming more of an issue, as the list of options, for almost everything, grows longer and longer. From the rough materials, to the fixtures, to the finishes, you have to determine the appropriate building blocks for your application and then coordinate everything for a cohesive whole.
Despite the work involved, or maybe because of it, the end result is overwhelmingly, sometimes, worth it all. Kind of like dusting, though, the worse condition it’s in at the start, the better it is when you’re done with the fixing up. Some of us do tend to get in a little over our heads, with eyes bigger than our pocketbooks. It’s easy to underestimate both the time and cost involved in transforming a fixer-upper, especially when there are hidden issues that have to be repaired. It can get frustrating, when one thing after another shows up and with each step forward, there are several sideways and backwards. The cost of those “issues” can pile up faster than the demolition debris in the back yard.
For even the most skilled home builder with the widest range of talent and expertise, though, there are times when someone else has to be called in to help. It may be because time is running short, or it may be because one of those “hidden issues” has suddenly catapulted the home owner out of his (or her, for that matter) league. Although it may seem it, at the time or before the need arises, there’s no shame in getting help. Many of us are far too proud to consider the possibility, but “pride [does] go before a fall,” and it would be a shame to end up with the kitchen in the basement, especially if someone was underneath it, just because Joe Homeowner was too proud to ask or hire someone to help him with the floor reinforcement. Granted, there are D-I-Y projects that, during the doing, can teach you new skills, but there are others that will blow up in your face—sometimes, literally—if you don’t know what’s going on (consider the defense tactics of the bombardier beetle…no room for “Oops!”).
Whether you do it all yourself, you get help on one little thing, or you hire someone to do all the work, from the planning to the finishing, it’s a wonderful thing to do, to renovate and/or remodel a home. It’s something akin to giving birth to a child, though a little more under your control, at times, and a usually much longer, potentially more painful process (this, from a new mother, who still remembers, quite vividly, twenty-two hours of back labor, and is in the middle of helping her husband renovate their new home). From my childhood, I remember sharing the joy with my parents, in one house after another; now, I look forward to sharing it with my husband, in his our very first.