The Unwritten Law of Home Repair
One project will inevitably lead to another, then another, and it’s never enough
It’s never just one and done. I know this intuitively, so it is silly for me to be consistently surprised.
No matter what the project is in your home, under your home or outside your home, the laws of renovation and repair state that you will almost always have to fix something completely unrelated as a result.
This is the truth for a number of reasons. The first is that the nearby, adjoining, adjacent or opposite parts of the house will look shabby by comparison as a result of the focused update.
The second is that fixing one thing shows that many other unrelated things are broken. All you have to do is look under the floorboards, the eaves, the gutters or the deck and you will find myriad horrors.
The third is that whoever is doing the repairs says it will be easy, quick and worth the extra money. Since we are doing this, why not that? And you fall for it. Completely.
It is summertime across the western suburbs and the fixing up is easy. Or at least it’s warm enough to fix the outside without fear of a snowstorm.
What I have discovered — and at this moment a ladder is pressed up against my window with someone attached to it — is that whoever you hire for whatever you need will find 10 additional atrocities that need your urgent fiscal attention.
This from a homeowner who only wanted the cornice over the front door replaced. The project has morphed into an external transformation of my home befitting a before-and-after on HGTV’s “Flip or Flop.” None of this had I budgeted for, yet all of which really did need to be addressed immediately to avoid bigger problems down the road, according to my contractor.
Please understand, I am the kind of homeowner that, when informed by the chimney sweep that the remnants of an animal stuck in the flue could be removed for an extra sum, paused for a long while. When I later told him that I had decided to wait on carting off the carcass until a later date, he said, “Did I not tell you there is a dead animal stuck in your chimney?” I snapped out of it in time to sign a bigger check.
A keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type is not who I am. I am not in a race to perfection with folks who present as flawless. They are the ones one who add a snappy outdoor kitchen because their neighbor installed a fridge off the deck.
I am not at all competitive in that way, primarily because I pull myself out of the running on purpose. I would love — maybe — to have the fanciest house on the block. I just have neither the time nor the money to make that dream real.
Yes, a fire pit, cushy outdoor sofas and a gazebo would be fantastic summer additions. But for now I must find my bliss on the patio set I bought on sale at Home Depot, festooned with the outdoor pillows in bright colors for distraction.
Alas, I confess I am all about denying what needs to be fixed if I cannot fix it. This denial and delay process has been a key fixture in my life as a homeowner.
A neighbor pointed out to me recently a few loose shingles on my slate roof. I did my best to appear astonished. I knew all about it, of course, but I also got an estimate and decided my next book needs to be a best seller so I can fix it.
The furnace was turning itself on sporadically all winter — it got down to 60 degrees many days before I finally bit the bullet and called the heating and cooling company.
“Thirty one years is a pretty good long time for a furnace to last,” the repairman told me. I was hoping for 32.
I understand taking pride in a domicile that is in tip-top shape and that sense of calm when you can pull in the driveway with confidence that the garage will not tumble down around you. (I speak from experience here.) There is no covering up of holes or leaks or cracks. No dim lights out of fear of exposing just how broken it all might be.
But I also know that once you get started you really can’t stop — it’s like holding a 2-lb bag of peanut M&M’s in your hands.
Everything eventually does fall apart and needs to be replaced — hopefully not all at that same time or in the same pay period. But alas, it just might be.
For better or worse, when it comes to your house, it’s best to take a breath and with wallet in hand, simply acknowledge that one thing will inevitably lead to another. And then 100 things more.Edit Module