Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Reality Paid Me a Visit

We knew this renovation would be a time and money suck. But fools rush in where angels fear to tread—and visions of grandeur and pools, and columns, and gold and diamond encrusted walkways leading to our door, filled our heads. And we plunked down our money and bought the home. Idiots.

Reality was no where in sight when we first purchased this dump. We had dreams. You, know, your basic "lets-not-really-address-the- "money- issue"- until- we- have-to- sort-of-dreams" that seems to be some sort of sick, mind twisted, mentality that is innate in people dumb enough to take on a project that most normal people passed on.

In the beginning of your project your dreams remain big and vibrant and you actually think you can do it all. Yeah, and someday monkeys will fly out of my butt.

Flush with cash from a previous house sale, you throw caution to the wind…On this house, you tell yourself, you will do everything and get everything your heart throbs for. And in the beginning it is true: You purchase the upgrades, you buy things that aren’t really necessary (or could be purchased later)—because "this house is worth it." But as you start to finish your house, and that pot-o-cash that you had in the beginning starts to look more like a pot to piss in, you know Reality is right around the corner—like a hooker in the Tenderloin. Pretty soon you need to deal with her.

Reality always gets in the way. She met me at the front door as I came home from work and got my latest Visa bill in the mail. Damn you Reality.

Many of the "luxury" items that we had on our "Wish List" are being eliminated or put on the "We'll-Try-To-Do-That-Later" list (AKA, "The Black Hole List.")

Despite the fact that we need to make some tough choices, our house will be lovely when we are out of cash—it will be livable and comfortable and we will have all the "little things" that make a house nice—you know, like a toilet, washer and dryer, and a kitchen. However, we will not get everything we had hoped for…greedy bastards that we are.

All because Reality paid me a visit. Bee-yotch.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So Long To All Our Hard Work....

...It is about to get covered up by sheetrock.

About an hour ago, the inspector came by and gave us the "thumbs up" to our wish to cover up months and months of blood and money with relatively cheap sheet rock...All of our stud re-inforcement, our siesmic retrofitting, the oversized headers, the masonry patching and reinforcement, the lovely foam insulation, the sound attenuation, the smurf tubing, the new electrical, the new plumbing, and our oversized gas lines are no longer going to be visible for our daily enjoyment. So sad.

We are about to enjoy walls...something we haven't had in about two years--Kind of like when we transitioned from 3 years worth of scaffolding to a finished (nearly) exterior. It will take some getting used to, but we'll manage.

Wish us luck in the transition.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Gets You Very Tired

I remember about a year ago, I pronounced to my wife that we have hit the bottom--and this was a good thing. "Bottom," in our case, was the point where we no longer had to destroy something first before things got better. But the days leading up to "bottom" were some of the most taxing days of our renovation experience.

As part of our renovation plan, we had decided to tear down the numerous (and poorly built) "additions" that had been added to this house over the course of years and re-build them. This project was going to allow us to lower and unify the roofline (thus exposing more of the original house) while at the same time allow us to raise the ceilings back to the original 11 foot height...You see in the 1970's the downstairs ceilings were lowered to 8 feet, and we wanted them back to the original height, where possible.

Six 30 yard dumpsters were ordered and the demolition began. Despite my attempts to isolate our "living" portion of the house, the demolition process created holy hell--dust, no dirt, was everywhere--holes in the walls and wind whistling dixie through the house. I had sent my wife and kids away for the day and when they came back, I could see that my wife was not, how shall we say, enjoying the "progress."

"Honey," I said, "Why don't you and the kids stay at a hotel--get room service and enjoy the pool--for the next couple of nights while I get things torn down." I stayed behind because the house was open for the world to enjoy. But about a week later, everything was torn down and packed away...and that was "bottom."

Five years into the project, and the destruction had finally ended. From that point on, things were going to get better...and they have. But that didn't mean things were easy--it just meant that the house was unwalled, unpainted, unheated, unplumbed, unelectrified, and undignified. But the destruction had ended--and reconstruction was beginning.

Since that time we have been slowly bringing this house back...adding many of the elements that were lost or destroyed and restoring those that remained. Since that time, we have crested the hill and could occasionally "see" the finished product. Since that time, the house has "teased" us with glimmers of hope that it will finally end and that we can get on with the other aspects of our lives. Yet at other times, when your skin is encrusted with fiberglass insulation and your nostrils are filled with crusty boogies, you wonder if you will ever finish.

It is easy to forget the progress you have made when you are still living in a "gutted" space. Occassionally (well, alright, daily) I feel as if we are not "getting anywhere." Yet when I see pictures of our progress, I realize that we have, indeed, traveled a long way....A journey of a thousand miles started years ago. We are close to finishing it. One more mile....