A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Neverending Project

I look back at me, twelve years ago, and wonder how I marvel at all I have learned since that time. About lots of things, of course, most important amongst them, how to be a good husband and father. But also in how to DO things. Around the house and yard, I mean.

In the first apartment I rented out in California, at the age of about 26, the toilet that backed up one night and I had no idea what to do about it. Seriously-- I didn't even know that the there was a turn off valve for the toilet in the bathroom. I was pretty much clueless.

Enter the fixer-upper. When I got the job at UW-Parkside, we had just enough to buy a house at the bottom end of the housing market. Just enough. So, we wound up with a house that needed: walls ripped out, floors ripped out, other walls built, floors replaced. The bathroom was a disaster. Seriously, in retrospect I'm not sure how we lived with it for the first month we were there.

We gutted it. Found an old mouse nest in one wall-- one of the most vile smells I've ever encountered, disintegrated rat mixed with really old mouse urine and poop.

Over the last eight years I have learned how to do all of the following: Plumbing (sweating pipes, installing waste lines, replacing the rusted out crap water lines we had with all new copper lines, installing hose bibs, you name it), electrical (a challenge, since we have concrete block exterior walls and no basement), flooring (I can tile like a pro, baybee!), cabinetry, painting, siding, installing doors, removing doors, caulking, sealing, adding walls, finishing walls, trim work, planting trees, adding a garden, adding a firepit, and probably many other things I've totally forgotten we have done with the place.

I have tools now-- power drill, circular saw, jigsaw, sawzall, ratchet set, table saw, miter box, many screwdrivers, chisels, wrenches and various other hand tools. I spend a decent chunk of my time at Menards and Home Depot.

But after eight years, I'd like it to feel done, one of these days. Which it almost certainly won't. So, every now and then I have to go back and look at how awful the layout and construction, or lack thereof, was on the house when we bought it. And think about how much better it is now-- probably nearly unrecognizable to the previous owners.

Also worth about 50% than what we paid for it, even in today's soft housing market. And the kids are getting old enough to help me a little and to learn some tips and tricks. Which is very cool.


Where's my saw?


You want to come to Madison and build a fence with my hubby this summer?! ;) Our neighbor just got quotes on doing a fence and they were like $13,000. Ouch. Aaah, the joys of home ownership! Just think, soon enough your kids will be out of the house and buying their own fixer-uppers... and it goes on and on and on!
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