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The remodeling blues, and reds, and greens, ... by Leah Jean
Geez, here I am with a house blanketed with dust and my hands and sinuses a mess from dealing with it. Ugh. Taking on an old house and remodeling it sure can be messy.

And I really jumped into it! Hadn't planned on having 2 bathrooms and the floor in the foyer being done at once. I thought that the guy I was hiring would be doing it himself and doing one job at a time. Noooooo. I found out that he was the boss of a crew of about 4 guys! So in one day my house went from being relatively empty and clean to utter mayhem and pig pen-osity! You remember the Charlie Brown character Pig Pen who always has a cloud of dust around him? I'm feeling a strong kindred with him right now.

Originally it started off with replacing the dated and dreay red, green, purple, etc. slate tile in the front foyer. Since the contractors were tearing up the tile they had to tear out the wall molding around it. Then there is the living room that branches off the foyer. It had been used as a bedroom and it had had a sliding door at the entrance. Ugh. So the doors were removed which left a track in the top of the doorway. So the track needed to be removed and the molding at the base of the wall was being replaced. Why not widen the whole entrance to give the area a more open feel? ;) Then there is a small bathroom which branches off the foyer also and has the same ugly tile. The bathroom contained (note the "past tense" here) an old fashioned pink toilet and sink. Yuck!

So the dust started to fly.

The upstairs hall bathroom didn't really look thaaaaaaat bad. Its tile was okay but rather bland. But it had a rather strange hand-held shower nozzle in a strange location that made it clumsy to use. That gave me an excuse to redo that bathroom also. And that excuse just went wild!

And dust diluged everything.

What Every Adventurous Person Should Contemplate before Induling Their Artistic Whims.

1. TRY to understand the costs. My plumber, "you should generally take the cost of a project you are planning and double it". Yep. The initial labor cost didn't look too bad. Ha, ha, ha, ....! Things just manage to keep adding up. A lot of the time removing one item can lead to something else. Replacing the hand-held shower unit with a regular shower --> means the tile and pipes will be torn up --> so replace the wall tile and the pipes. Want new floor tile to match the tile around the tub and sink? --> Need to rip up the toilet and cabinet to do that properly. Okay. Didn't like the original cabinet that much anyway so replace that along with sink/cabinet top. Of course, you need matching faucets, shower head, towel racks, toilet paper holder, etc. I did talk myself into keeping the original tub and toilet.

2. Be prepared to immerse yourself in internet research or "butter-up" those do-it-yourselfer types your know so you can pick their brains. For instance, did you know that tile comes in 5 grades of strength with 5 being near unbreakable and grade 1 being fragile? The tile in specialty shops looks expensive but it could be grades 3 thru 5. Home Depot has much cheaper tile. But you may notice that their tile is grade 1. For a front door foyer do you want grade 1? It's your call or ... should I say ... risk.

3. Make sure you have plenty of sheets to cover items or have room in your closets to hide stuff. Or make sure you budget in several hours for house cleaners.

4. Assume that privacy will not exist! Redoing things such as bathrooms will mean that plumbers, elecricians, and general laboreres will be ALL OVER your house. And they will be delving into basements, crawlspaces, ceilings, and any other nook and cranny they can find to chase down an elusive electrical wire or water or drainage pipe. Try to keep your private stuff as out of the way as possible. [Good luck.]

5. If you have a cleaning compulsion (obsessive/compulsive?) you will either be in "hog heaven" because you will have so much to do ... or you will go nuts because EVERYTHING will be CONSTANTLY dirty! Take a vacation during that time? But that could be a problem. Read on.

6. If possible, stick around while work is being done. It is just amazing all of the little unforeseen things that will arise.
Problem -- If you widen a door entrance (cut back a wall), new floor is created. If most of the entrance is wood flooring that could be trouble to match.
Answer -- Cut back the wood floor into the living room and extend the tile in to cover that area and the new floor area.

7. Be prepared for contractors to do unexpected things ... especially if they are not originally from the U.S. and don't understand our customs or behaviors. You may come home to find someone has parked his truck on your lawn because several other vehicles have converged on your house at once. [Try not to gnash your teeth and calmly tell them to move it!] And then there's the time you come home to find the front door wide open on the coldest day of the year. [Okay ... unbreathably dusty air inside the house vs. a blown heating unit from trying to heat the whole world?] I'd recommend not doing major indoor projects in the winter ... or opt to move your pet to someone else's house and embrace igloo living (turn off the heat).

8. If you want the project done cheaply, you might want to take a foreign language in advance so you can communicate more easily with those who don't speak English too well. But not too well because you might understand what they are saying to each other. [Four letter words, gossiping, saying what they really think about you or your house.] ;)

Bottom line -- Have a new house custom built. It may cost the same. [Doh!]

Enjoy your clean air!


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