Every evening I look at my blog and try to wrack my brains for something intelligent, useful or entertaining to say. I attempt to glean some kind of reasonable fact out of my day that may appeal to SOMEone, usually to no avail. Tonight may still prevail as that kind of evening, but at least I thought of something I could write about – (beyond the daily writers block.)
I will guarantee that either incited a giggle or a groan from you. The giggle would be in commiseration and the groan may be as well, but more likely it stems from the remembrance of the trials and tribulations of the home improvement process.
Step 1 – You look around your home and decide that something needs to be repaired, replaced or changed. (Sometimes valid, but oft times your just sick of what you see)
Step 2 – You do research on your project which includes much comparison shopping and many choices for the project, all throwing you into chaos because there is soooo much to chose from. You like this and that and this, and what you like, the spouse doesn’t, and what you and the spouse like, the kids threaten to retch over. Once a choice has been made, you begin the dilemma…
Step 3 – Do I do it myself or do I hire someone. Home improvement stores have great marketing. They make everything look easy and do-able. HGTV is evil. They show shabby rooms and fabulous makeovers all within a neat and tidy 30-60 minute time frame. From conception, to completion. Now, we would ALL love it if that happened in the real world, but lemme tell you people, if you heft your sledgehammer thru a wall, you won’t be able to sit in your new living/dining/family/mega spa room complete with mood lighting by dinner time. Which leads me back to DIY or hire someone.
Step 3A – If you chose to DIY, now you have to go invest in all the tools you will need to get the job done *right*. Everyone knows it’s better to be prepared, true? So off to the Home improvement store to buy your necessaries. DOH! Forgot to tell you that the HI store doesn’t carry the same items you have on your shopping list, but look!!! There is something similar on the shelf that looks kind of the same, so you throw that into the cart, just certain you can make it do something it wasn’t designed to do, but *you’ll* be able to morph it with your superpowers. But wait! ThereÃ¢Â€Â™s more… the evil HI store has more in store for you.. literally. As you were perusing the aisles, looking for that elusive tool, you stumbled across a plethora of other items you just HAD to HAVE for those “other” projects you’ve been thinking about, ballooning your one project into 3 or 4 “little things” that for sure you can do in “a weekend”.
Step 3B- If you chose to hire someone, you are now in the “who do I trust” realm. Do I go with the guy my friend raved about, but who gave her a great price because they are friends? Do I look on the net or in the phone book? Do I hire a handyman or a contractor? And just like the HI store, while you are scanning web pages and sample photos you are smitten with adding just a few more dimensions to your project, for home improvement projects are destined to multiply like rabbits.
Step 3c – (If you are paying attention here, you notice that we are still on step 3, just the third part of it. Well, now you are getting the idea of what a home improvement project is like! It NEVER goes from step 1 to completion without meandering through a whole sub list of items that the HI store and HGTV never tell you about.) If you did choose to hire a person for the job, and you found a few likely candidates, you now have to play the estimate game. Home Improvement estimates are a lot like buying a car. It depends on who you know, if the salesperson liked you, if the salesperson judged your net worth by the condition of your home and the price of mushrooms in a remote village in Nepal. You are lucky if you get a person to come to your home at the appointed time. (some don’t show up at all) Then you explain or show the estimator what you are considering doing, laying bare your fondest wishes for their scrutiny. After walking around the space, rattling the tape measure around your floor/wall/yard/cat/shoes/ and making many noises such as deep sighs with raised eyebrows, a clicking noise with their ballpoint pen as they look around and shake their heads, a low hum of thought like, hmmmmm, while they scribble equations on their legal pads, the one hand on the hip while the other hand is being run through the hair in what seems to be frustration and the cell phone ringing constantly or the pose and question that are a prerequisite, which is legs braced apart and arms folded across the chest while they quirk an eyebrow at you and say, “You sure you wanna do this?”. After this little tableau has unfolded, you now feel unsure, frightened, silly, and apprehensive and on the verge of screaming, “just tell me the amount!!Ã¢Â€Â� If you are lucky, they will give you an estimate on the spot, but more than likely they tell you they will have to go back to their office and look up a few things and they’ll send you an estimate or call you the next day. Thus, the tension mounts and you are no closer to seeing your project completed.
Step 3D- 2 days later and three more estimates and you still have no idea how much your project is going to set you back. Now you start to panic. (this is what the contractor wants…) Finally they call and you are floored (no pun intended) by what you heard. Your project is estimated to cost 3 times what you had expected and the guy sounds less than enthused about working on it. (Note: I have made the assumption that the contractor ever bothered to call you back, many do not.) Repeat steps 3, 3B 3C and 3D until you find someone who can work with your budget with a straight face, or convert to step 3A.
Step 4 Ã¢Â€Â“ Work begins. Well, sort of. If you are DIY you are armed and ready to go early on Saturday morningÃ¢Â€Â¦ or if you are like my house, you start to think about starting work after you have your second cup of coffee, meaning youÃ¢Â€Â™ll start about 11:30 or so. Just in time to stop for lunch. But I digress. You start your project full of hope and enthusiasm and quickly find that you hadnÃ¢Â€Â™t read the instructions very thoroughly the first time so you are missing a few things, your situation is not precisely the one that the instructions were written for and that tool you thought you might be able to morph with your superpowers isnÃ¢Â€Â™t cooperating.
Step 4A – Your contractor calls and says they over-ran on another job and needs to reschedule.
Step 4B – You contractor calls and says theyÃ¢Â€Â™ll be there a little later, but have you gotten X, Y and Z done yet? You will be amazed at the amount of work that needs to be done that was NOT part of your contract and usually not discussed beforehand, so you begin your prep work in advance of the crew. Strangely, this is where the two different modes of home improvement converge. The contractor also didn’t foresee some of the problems he came across while working on your house, so what you agreed to have done has now changed ever so slightly into what he can/wants to do, or what you have now made a choice to change. All in all it amounts to the same thing. This project will now take more time and more money than originally thought.
Step 5 – When the *real* work begins you now are living in something akin to a war zone. There is debris and dust and deafening noises throughout your home. The cat has disappeared and the work being done may or may not look like what you thought it ultimately would, but you are just happy that there is progress being made.
Step 6 – Completion or something like it. There always seems to be one or two things that don’t get finished. Either the contractor says they have to come back in a few days and take care of them or you notice these issues once you have completely cleaned up. (I think this is what really happens with the contractor, too.) Either way you are still not completely done. If you were silly, you paid the guy the full amount and believed that he’d come back and finish up. Even if you weren’t silly, it will take not only a few days but a few phone calls as well before the guy comes back out and finishes the few odds and ends. Again, if you are in my house, these little niggling ends will still be there waiting for completion when you finally blow your top and they become nagging fodder the next year.
Step 7 -You swear you will never do this again, however, just like childbirth, you quickly forget the trials and tribulations of home improvement when you notice that the work you had done now makes the rest of the house look shabby and worn and thus the domino effect has begun and like me, you’ll soon find yourself in the 3rd year of a 1 year project.