preparing for life in a tent

When we bought this house, I knew we’d be doing some remodeling. It’s not a surprise to me. And I am often reminded of this fact. I signed on for this; I knew what I was getting into; I was completely on board. Except as it turns out, I had no idea what I was getting into. And if someone had told me that I would be living in a construction zone for several years, with plywood floors, and huge holes in the walls through which the freezing air merrily blows through, and plastic sheeting draped everywhere, and no furniture, and all my stuff packed away in boxes, and construction work to look forward to every day for the foreseeable future, I may not have been so eager to sign.

When we were considering buying the house, P. brought up the idea of remodeling. He didn’t like the brick floor. I actually liked the brick. My grandparents’ house has a lot of brick and it reminded me a bit of that. (I have a soft spot in my heart for their house since it’s really the only constant in my life. It’s the first home I remember living in, and the one place from my childhood I can still go back to.) But OK, I was good with the idea of replacing the floor. And he wanted to paint the walls, and I was cool with that too. I used to be a paint manager at a hardware store, after all. I know how to paint. It’s slow but doable. And perhaps we should revamp the bathrooms. That also seemed reasonable, especially since in the version in my head, we wrote a check to a plumber and like magic, the bathrooms would be snazzy, modern marvels.

But then we moved in and actually started the remodeling. And somehow, the scope got a little bigger. It wasn’t enough to just paint the walls. Now we had to sand them all smooth first. And that turned into replacing almost all the drywall because the old drywall job wasn’t good enough and some of the seams showed through. I had this crazy notion that we’d be doing one room at a time, but apparently I know nothing about the right way to remodel, because before long, nearly the entire downstairs was gutted.

And replacing that brick turned out a little more complicated than I expected too. We couldn’t just replace it. We had to replace it with heavy stone. And P. decided, after much Internet reading, that we had to reinforce the foundation with lots of concrete and beams. I suggested that we have a professional come out and give us, oh I don’t know, a professional opinion. But who needs professional opinions when you have the Internet! So, we got to concrete pouring. Which meant we had to cut big holes in the floor. Obviously. What house is complete without big holes in the floor?

One of the many troubles of not doing one room at a time is that the rooms you’re working on remain in a state of mid-construction for a really long time. P. and I have this TV problem that I naively thought would be solved with this house. He likes the TV; me, not so much. When I have free time, I like to spend it somewhere quiet, reading a book or writing. This house was perfect for that. The big bonus room upstairs could have the TV and the living room downstairs with the cozy fireplace and nice view could have the quiet. Only the living room was the first room we started working on. And this multiple room approach to remodeling means that it’s been draped in plastic and full of construction supplies for a year and a half. With no end in sight.

And the scope just keeps expanding. A while back, P. decided that since we were tearing up all the walls anyway, we should put in structured wiring. This would give us coax and ethernet connections in every room. I wasn’t won over by the idea. We have wireless Internet. We don’t need a TV in every room. I don’t want a TV in every room. But I was overruled. Clearly, structured wiring was required. What was I thinking even questioning this? So now, even the rooms we haven’t started on have several huge holes in them.

Apparently, the kitchen is next, so it’s currently draped in plastic. And it joins the living room, hall, laundry room, bathroom, pantry, and dining room we’ve already destroyed.

Yesterday, it finally hit me. Yes, a year and a half is a long time for things to sink in, but hey, I can be slow sometimes. We were in the car and P. mentioned his plans with home automation. I quite logically asked him what the hell he was talking about. He explained about how your light switches can have Internet and you can talk to them from work. Because sometimes, when I’m at work, I just really miss my light switches. And I think to myself, if only I could talk to them right now, my day would go so much better! Then, he told me about how when we’re on vacation, we can program the lights to come on as though we were home. I mentioned those timers you can buy for five dollars. He looked at me like I had told him we could replace our bathrooms with an outhouse.

But the home automation plan was the moment I finally got it. What I want is for the house to be done. What he wants is to work on the house. It’s like how some people put together model airplanes as a hobby. He thinks of new projects for the house. I fully expect that soon, we will be living in a tent in the backyard, with a camp stove and sleeping bags, as the remodeling completely overtakes us. And the tent will have a TV, with a cord running from the outlet on the deck, likely with home automation so we can turn the TV on and off while at work. And P. will explain to me how what we really need to do next is put in recessed panels in every room for the plasma screens. And perhaps, once that’s done, we can consider turning the electrity back on. Heat and light being of course secondary to things like communicating with your appliances.

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