Home improvement for the married couple. Always sounds like a good idea. Watch a little Property Brothers, DIY Network, and your everyday numskull has delusions of grandeur. I’m going to get the Palace of Versaille from my 3 piece 6′ x 7′ bathroom They suck you in with drop dead gorgeous twin hosts and words like “cheap, easy, save time, and any idiot can do it.” The problem is they have dozens of experienced, amazing, and constructionally expertic tradesmen working behind the scenes making it possible to redo a gourmet kitchen from the ground up in 36 hours. And I’m pretty sure these guys don’t have other jobs, kids’ soccer practice, dinner to make, or homework to oversee that impedes the construction process. So what do we have in our house? We have uh-mazing Brendan, who is a man of few words when it comes to home repair. Those words being “shit, fuck, damn it, and seriously?” And then there’s me, I look pretty and can paint. I’ve also recently deemed myself Caulking Extraordinaire. Oh, we also have 3 boys who are relatively adequate at taking debris to the curb and fetching water for clean up. So right from the get go, we are at a serious disadvantage to achieving success.
But yet we continue to undertake the seemingly impossible. Over the last 17 years or so, we’ve done myriad of home projects, and we’ve done them all ourselves (including friends and family help), with the exception of a few downright dangerous tasks and jobs that require ladders; we are Happy F-ing Family Construction, Inc. We’ve torn out and rebuilt a kitchen, 3 bathrooms, a deck, a tile floor, and millions of other little projects. With grit, some basic know-how and a shit-ton of youtube videos, there isn’t much that Brendan isn’t willing to tackle. He’s been in the scary attic several times, done some fairly disgusting plumbing, been doused with water, almost killed Alan with a flying hammer, slightly electrocuted, sliced, bruised, stained, pinched, and I think at one point, he had an unexpected colonoscopy. He truly is inspiring, he has the patience of a turtle. That is, until he doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame him. Construction is an art, you can’t manhandle plumbing pieces, or hammer an electrical socket; which are both things I feel like doing after a solid 90 seconds trying to get something to work. He will work for hours, often doing and redoing the same task until it’s perfect. There comes a point sometimes though, when he’s had enough. Then I call for backup or buy a new one, for whatever issue that has pushed him over the edge into Mr. Hyde territory.
This weekend it was a sink faucet. 3 of them. 3. And each one is differently made with fun, new, peculiar parts and mechanisms. The print size on the directions is as tiny as some of the plastic pieces that are as critical to a working faucet as pot is to Cheech and Chong being funny. To save money, we wanted to use the old faucet that we purchased a few years ago. It went in the new sink ok, but one handle was a little too wobbly. One piece needed replacing…trip 1 to Home Depot. Put the sink on the new vanity…water lines too short…trip 2 to Home Depot. Then the other handle started wobbling…insert cursing…..trip 3 to Home Depot–to buy a new faucet. Installs new faucet, attaches water lines, one comes flying off, spraying water everywhere. Turns out, one piece on the new faucet was already broken, not fixable. Trip 4 to Home Depot to buy same faucet. Sold out. SHIT! SERIOUSLY!?!? Closest store that has one in stock? Egypt. At this point we are considering going back to the bowl of water from the pump out back days. But we don’t have a water pump. So instead of figuring out how to install one of those, we buy another new faucet. Brendan declares he is not laying head to pillow tonight until that bathroom has running water, through a faucet (not the leaking kind of running water).
7:00 pm, almost 11 hours after starting work on the bathroom that morning, the faucet is in and working and very pretty. He and I did lots of other finishing touches on the bathroom, and it takes another 1 1/2 hours to put up the mirror and medicine chest. Did I mention the new floor is 1/2 inch lower than the old floor and so now the toilet is kind of a weeble wobble experience, resting on a flange that sticks up way too high? Hoping the plumber can fix that, along with the shower head that has a mystery coupling stuck on it. Sorry for throwing out all this technical jargon, I don’t mean to confuse you poor laymen. There were 2 other trips to Lowe’s involved for miscellaneous forgotten items. The stack of receipts for this bathroom remodel rivals the height of the leaning tower of Pisa. Which incidentally is probably more plumb than our bathroom walls.
What does doing a bathroom remodel with your spouse mean for your marriage? He got the blue paint he wanted, but not the slate flooring he has tried to install during every remodel we’ve ever done. I got the bronze fixtures I wanted, but not as much glass tile in the tub that I would have liked. I don’t work nearly as fast as he does, he drags me alongside him on the timeline, whereas I’d rather browse and meander. In the end I appreciate his need to quickly finish every project he starts. He HATES unchecked boxes. I don’t like them either, but I am definitely more apt to let time slip by in front of the TV or Words with Friends. Like anything in marriage…compromise. It’s the name of the game.
So, things to consider before taking on a home remodel project with your significant other:
1. Plan at least 50% of your timeline for trips to your local home improvement store. Possibly THE most annoying part of every project we do. Our car can drive itself there.
2. It’s true what they say, you budgeted $2500? Plan on $3500. I’d say a solid $100 of that was spackle. An important tool for the “do it yourselfer.”
3. Have friends and family with skills. Likewise, it’s important for YOU and your spouse to have skills you can offer in trade for their help. After this project, Brendan has 7 computers to fix and I have 4 lap dances to perform.
4. Buy a brand new house instead and then move at the first sign of peeling paint.
The bathroom is 98% done and I have Brendan to thank for all the hard work he put in to it. It looks fabulous and our marriage is still in tact. I’m gonna call this one a win.