Giving thanks while renovating
November 12, 2013
If you’re a social media participant, you’ve probably recently noticed many of your online friends posting what they are thankful for. November is funny that way. People like to express their gratitude in 140 characters or less each day of the month. Ironically, those who take part in this little exercise tend to be the same people who spend the other 11 months of the year bitching about their lives on Facebook. But for 30 days out of 365, the vast majority of us happily post sincere and deep expressions of our appreciation, like: "Today I’m thankful for my flat-screen TV."
While I tend to mock more than partake, this weekend, after spending all 20 hours of daylight painting my house, I figured now is a better time than any to give thanks. So first, I’m thankful to my boyfriend who really did the vast majority of the work while I just made continuous trips to the Home Depot and said encouraging things from my position firmly on the ground like, "You missed a spot."
I’m also thankful he didn’t fall off the roof, which might be premature since we still have a second coat to apply. But mostly I’m thankful for this fact: I am not a professional house painter.
I have learned a lot during the course of my home-renovation project. Mostly that I am not cut out for manual labor. But when manual labor is combined with the possibility of falling to your death? Let’s just say I am definitely a boring-office-job kind of girl. It beats being stranded on your roof, paralyzed with fear, any day.
Other lessons I’ve learned through this process include:
- Doing your own demo work is not empowering. Someone told me at the start of this I’d be all "I am woman, hear me roar" if I tore out the tile on my own. That person is no longer a friend and also probably a drug addict and pathological liar.
- When your contractor calls you and says, "I have never seen this before." It’s never going to be followed with "We found a bag of gold in the floorboards!" It means: "This is going to cost you a lot more than expected."
- If the world ended tomorrow and the only thing left was drywall and my dog, he wouldn’t starve to death. He can put away two full boards in the time it takes me to go the hardware store.
Of course, the lessons I’ve learned extend far beyond these three highlights. There are far too many to fit in the space I’m allotted. I’d love my take away from this experience to be a long list of "I’ll know better for next time" morals. But still covered in paint and having just cleaned up the dog’s drywall barf, right now, I’m convinced I am going to die in my house. It will be finished in a matter of weeks and it will not be altered in any way until I’m dead. There will not be a next time.
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But getting back to the "I’m thankful for" part of this column, this has all been a bearable experience because dear friends let me and my house-painting honey and our sheetrock-eating dogs live in their unoccupied Deer Valley home for a few months. So I am eternally grateful for generous friends with second homes.
I am also thankful my contractor, despite his inability to find gold in my floorboards, is a guy with integrity, who truly looks out for his clients’ best interests. He knows I’m on a budget and it’s nice to have someone who is respectful of your bottom line — making sure projects get done at a fair price, within your means. Even if it means less money for him in the end. It’s really a shame he’s a contractor and not a congressman.
And finally, I am most thankful for my job — which is neither as a house painter or an inspector for the city.
The first I can’t do because I get nervous standing on my tippy toes. There’s zero chance I could spend eight hours of my day on a roof. The second job I couldn’t do because I could never pretend to actually care how close together the staples are in the insulation.
Park City has a really long list of what must be inspected during the construction process. Most of it seems pretty stupid and time consuming. So I guess I’m also thankful my job doesn’t include sitting around a table and making up new rules like, "All flooring orders must be written on yellow, legal-sized tablet paper with a number 2 pencil and submitted to the building office 127 days prior to construction."
That’s about how illogical some of the city’s rules are. I am so thankful this project is almost complete.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.