The Renovator’s wife Blog

Renovating with your partner and living to tell about it

Renovating and NOT Going Crazy March 22, 2010

It’s good to be slightly crazy to begin with if you plan on renovating. Whether on your own, with your spouse, or a whole family project, renovating brings out ‘the crazy’ in people. By starting off slightly on the edge it will be less noticeable when you lose it. And you WILL lose it.

Ronda’s rules of renovating:

1 – it will cost more than budgeted, no matter how much you budget

2 – something will go wrong

3 – It will take longer than expected

4 – you will go crazy at least once. And by crazy, I mean a crying, hair-pulling, “I don’t know how to deal with this” rampage

Some things take longer than expected, like our family room

Some things take longer than expected, like our family room, but I can shut the door!

What brings on rule #4? It varies, but as mentioned, it is inevitable, so it’s best to limit the number of times it happens and learn to recover quickly from it. My trigger is one large ‘issue’ after a string of small ones. Case in point – House # 2 was taking far longer than I could tolerate (see rule # 3 above). I was finishing some painting and The Renovator was working in another room. It was pouring (some of you will remember the torrential rains that caused the avalanche in North Vancouver, BC – same rain storm), but I wasn’t worried, we’d fixed all of those pesky water issues, right? I checked the crawl space and completely lost my mind when I saw 1/2 inch of water. I was crying, screaming and as far as I recall was generally inconsolable. Fortunately, The Renovator explained to me that with the amount of rain we were having it was likely that almost everyone’s crawl space was flooding. He was right, the water wasn’t an issue again. But, in hindsight, I see that I really needed that outburst. It was the peak of my frustration of the house not being finished and things not going as planned.

Since house # 2, I’ve learned to take it in stride a bit more, but to also accept the ‘freak out’ when it comes. Just let it happen and then move on. This is important when you’re living in a construction zone. Right now, we live in the ‘Mother of Ugly’ house. There are things here that I don’t want to look at let alone live with, but we can’t fix them all right now. So, to stay sane, I do three things: 1 – shut doors where possible to avoid looking at it, 2 – remember that this is only temporary, and 3 – take things one room at a time to prevent too many rooms in flux at one time.

either rip it up or leave it in!

The carpet was like this when we moved in – we just ignore it because it will all be removed!

In house # 2, I remember an evening of watching TV and coming slightly unglued when I looked around and realized that there wasn’t one single room that I could go to that was finished. This can be really hard on you because everywhere you look, you see work to be done. The Renovator and I now do our best to keep at least one room out of the path of construction until another room is completely finished. This way we always have a small ‘sanctuary’ to hide out from the mess around us. Even now, the house we are in is far from ideal, but we have a few rooms that are set up comfortably. They might be ugly, but we make them as cozy as possible and ignore the ugly – like the pink walls everywhere.  Then there’s the carpet at the end of the hall – or lack of carpet as the case may be. The previous owners ripped the section of carpet out and left a small triangle of underlay. Weird, but we ignore it. We know it’s all going to get ripped out and thrown out soon, so we keep it clean and smile knowing it’s temporary. Even the stairs have an issue – the carpet has pulled so badly that the ‘tack strips’ are exposed – not good when your toes get too close! Ouch! But this too shall come to pass, so I save up my ‘going crazy’ for a time when it will really count and that’s why I love being The Renovator’s wife.

Brandie on stairs

Even Brandie can see that the tack strip showing on the stairs is bad

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4 Responses to “Renovating and NOT Going Crazy”

  1. Kristi Ferguson Says:

    Brandie is just beautiful! She looks like she could be Bosco’s cousin.

  2. Jessica Blackbourn Says:

    I too am a renovator’s wife, and have not yet reached the stage of “letting go and moving on”. I grapple with fear and freak outs, and live in survival mode. It’s not fun, and I need some tips… How do you “let go” of all the money/crazy/ messy/ insanity????

    • renovatorswife Says:

      Jessica, it takes A LOT of practice. And perspective. Keep your mind on what is coming in the future. That concept of taking things in baby steps is huge when renovating because the project is so big we forget that it takes a lot of small steps and we tend to freak out looking at the one big mess.

      As best you can, once you’ve set the budget and are doing your best to stay within it – forget about it. Yes, that’s impossible, I know, but while you’re working on the house, keep money out of your head. The two are a sure storm when combined.

      Have a rule that only one of you can freak out at a time. Even when you both want to freak out, one of you is in charge of calming the other down. You’ll want to take turns with this. Taking the time to talk about how great it will be helps. So does looking at what you have accomplished so far – no matter what it is. Dwell on that and not what isn’t done. And wherever possible, shut the door on the mess. Just keep out of there when you’re having a ‘moment’. And most important is to have a place close by to run to. A favorite coffee shop, friends’, anywhere that isn’t under construction.

      You will make it! Think of all you’re learning as you’re going and stay focused on the big dream! 🙂 And, drop a note anytime you need to. 🙂


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