Useless Renovations

My husband and I bought a place at the height of the market. It’s not that it was stupid; we needed a place, we didn’t get in over our heads, and we could have waited forever for the market to take what some suspected would be a bubble bursting in 2008. What bugs me is not that our place is assessed slightly lower now than when we bought it. Like any investment, you have to expect highs and lows. What annoys me is not even what the market or circumstances or our useless realtor did to us – no, it’s what WE did after we bought the home that still gets to me, two years later.

Our unit needed a facelift real bad. Everything was tacky, dirty, uncared for, horribly maintained and cheap. What a bargain for several hundred thousand dollars! Why, oh why, did we not get two?

Let me show you this listing, my dear clients: the carpet has clearly not seen a vacuum in months and is worn down to the plywood, the walls have so many holes and other damage that it may be better to just re-drywall the whole thing, the kitchen and bathroom are original from thirty years ago, the subfloor in said bathroom is rotted, the electrical switches do not correspond to any outlets, there are no main lights in any rooms so you’ll have to buy a crap-load of lamps, the closet doors don’t hang or close right (and if you’ve never tried to fix that kind of problem, I only have two words: GOOD LUCK), every square inch of wall and ceiling will need several coats of paint, every window will need blinds, the broken tile floor will have to be removed but you’ll also discover a treat of four layers of linoleum underneath, the load-bearing wall will need new studs because it’s seriously wonky, oh and least (but certainly not last) the backyard meadow of old weeds, cracked cement and fence gate that won’t open will also need your attention. Sign on the dotted line!

And we did. Please, please…give me a minute…this is one of those things that’s hard to reflect upon.

Okay, I’m alright. What’s past is past, right?

We did all the work ourselves, and by that I mean with the help of the numerous tradesmen in our family. Every single thing we did from the major (kitchen gutting) to the minor (vent replacing) presented a challenge. There was not one project we undertook where everything proceeded as expected. EVERYTHING had at least one aspect that was unforeseen, unusual or downright disastrous. There was not one wall we opened up that didn’t have issues underneath. There was also not one wall that didn’t need hours of plaster/sand/repeat before we could even think about painting. There was not one surface that had even so much as been wiped down to prevent the buildup of a sticky layer of dust and hair that must have taken years to accumulate.

And would you know, even after we had torn it all down, rebuilt to code, done everything properly and made everything new, I STILL look at the paint that took me several trips to Home Depot and countless hours to choose and I think, dammit that colour is ugly.

But because I am trying to look at the glass half-full, let me congratulate my husband and myself for becoming really, super handy.

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