Tag Archives: frustration

5 years!

This year has kind of felt like a slog. But when we look back to where the house was a year ago, I think we have cause for optimism.


Can you spot the changes?


I’m excited about having the table set. That means Year 6 is starting out right. But back to last year… I started off Year 5 staining the handrail and prepping and priming the rest of the stairway and paneling. It was a tedious job and I was ready for a break.

wood filler

Instead, I let the Irishman build cabinet doors for my kitchen. (Did you notice how messy it looked without them?) This was bar none the most mismanaged project anyone ever took on at my house. The cost overruns had me in the hole from June to December and for months and all I could do was train myself not to care about the mess that took over my first floor and the public sidewalk in front of my house. This was definitely not legal so I’m just glad no one turned me in.


When the Irishman was done, I’m not sure if there was a single door that was actually in acceptable condition. Some had surface flaws that became evident after they were painted over, some were the wrong size and didn’t close right, and some got scratched before they were installed. For the time being I ignored it all because I couldn’t stand the sight of them.


Once again, no break. I went head on into another project that was far more annoying than I expected: stucco.


Or really, the annoying part was the building paper, lathe, flashing, and casings. On the bright side, this makes the house look a lot more finished and less scary.


At this point, I sincerely wanted to leave the house a pigsty forever and never touch another project again. But I also wanted to get those cabinet doors off the floor (and make them look closer to what my money should have bought). I participated in a 30 projects in 30 days challenge in September. A lot of the things I actually wanted to close out were too big to average a project a day, so I went with it and found smaller projects to do. The odd pieces of not-yet-installed moldings and the piles of unused building materials.

And in October, my dad and I worked a miracle on those  cabinet doors. It took about 2 weeks of hard work, a little too much to average a project a day.


Then after a good long Christmas break, I tackled the Leaning Tower of Pyrex. I’ve added enough extra shelves inside my kitchen cabinets that some of them are only about 5 inches apart. It’s great and I don’t understand why more people don’t do this.


And the work I stared on the linen closet? It should be done by now but instead it’s… on hold.


I thought it would be done by now, and that right about now I’d be taking a good look at each of my linens/life choices as I moved them back into the closet where they belong. What got in the way? A friend who needed to get out of a bad living situation, fast. It was messy but it works out. I was planning on looking for a short-term roommate again anyway.

Another Delay, What’s New?

Last week, the Irishman made me a big request and a big promise. Could I hire him all week? And if so, I’d have all the woodwork in the house installed along with all the kitchen cabinets, the countertops, the sink, the vestibule door, and strike plates for all the doorknobs by today. How much did he actually do? Nothing.

Mind you, he has had some difficult things happening lately. So I knew that there was a reasonable chance that this promise was outrageously unrealistic. But “Kitchen Friday” was also a powerful drug. The high was magnificent, but 3 days of it clouded my judgment. Meaning, it made me believe that this thing was actually happening and that I should stay away and not work on the place myself. Needless to say, coming down from this high made me irritable.

So the old plan from last week was to have 2 weeks to paint baseboards and make other finishing touches at a not-too-frantic pace, furnish the bedrooms as the get finished, and bring the sofa into a nearly complete house on the 5th. That last part is still happening. My sofa can stay where it is until my parents get ready to decorate for Christmas. The major adjustments are the not-too-frantic part and the nearly complete part.

The old plan was that I was going to prep and get rid of random crap tomorrow and Sunday my parents would join me and do lots of cleaning and start painting trim. The new plan is I’m installing baseboards and other trim all day tomorrow, my dad will prep and touch-up-paint Sunday, my mom will do all the cleaning by herself, and I’ll focus on getting rid of random crap. That’s right, my way of coping with all this is to dump more work on my parents. Son of the year I am.

So the goal is shrinking. I still hope to paint all the trim in the back bedroom except the windows. They can wait until it’s warm next year. I want to at least get the front bedroom’s trim in but could wait till Phase 2 when the room gets major rework to paint it. And in the living room, one radiator is going in without baseboards behind it. Which is sad, but I can’t get the baseboards in until after the kitchen is done and bringing the electric radiators back would be even sadder.

So now I’m back on the stick. In 2 weeks I should have sorta finished bedrooms, a thoroughly unfinished kitchen, and a really pretty wood shop with a nice couch in it. I still hope to have a Christmas party, but I’m giving myself till the 12th Night.

The Archaeological Dig Begins

Having all the floors done at once may have saved me money, but I also had to plan ahead for years to have the house empty now. And then I was ridiculously late with everything and now it’s time to stop doing this to my poor parents.



So even though I can’t really furnish the house yet, I’ve started to bring things in. I also brought things up from my own basement. What, did you think my living room was done being a wood shop? But it’s better than it was.


I thought my sofa had to go first because when we couldn’t get it into the basement or any of the bedrooms it invaded the holy of holies. But my mom’s friends were impressed and now she says let it stay till the Christmas tree is going up.


But in their basement where the hoard is really bad, I borrowed a friend’s Suburban and loaded it up with bedroom furniture. Nothing to big to move around.


And the basement already looks a little better! That secretary desk didn’t fit in the truck, but Moving Day number 2 is this weekend again.



Getting that first round of stuff out was like working with a puzzle. The next round, when I’ll want some things from the back, should hopefully make it look like a real room.

So then there’s the real work. I had a snag with the baseboards. Back up in the front bedroom where it was impossible to attach anything to the wall. No surprises here.


I tried driving trim head screws into the brick but none of them held. So then I tried screwing them down into the floors, but the screws sucked the boards in so much at the bottom the tops pulled out. Then I tried a whacky idea of shimming out the bottoms with little pieces of dowel to prevent them from sucking in too far. This sorta almost worked.


I’m also getting geared up for the rest of my kitchen! So I mapped out the rest of the cabinet layout and picked them up! And I got a pleasant surprise. At IKEA, you put the drawer fittings in after the cabinet frames. This was really, really fantastic news because I can’t afford the drawers. So for now I’m going to have a copy room look with stacks of boxes in open cabinets with no shelves or drawers. It’s gonna be awesome.

Then I went to the ReStore and picked up some inoffensive Formica countertops for 50 bucks. I’m gonna have to cut them up to make them fit so they’re probably not gonna look quite right. But they’ll be usable!


And anyways, it looks like I’m getting some more Irishman help soon. I think. One can never be certain. But if he does come, I’m really, really almost there!

Getting my own house in order

Now that I’m getting toward the end of my burnout, it’s time to remember that the to do list before having the floors sanded is getting tantalizingly short. And none of it is going to cost me much! That’s important right now.

I basically have to spray paint the radiators and furniture that I’m doing for my parents. Then there are the doors that I have to strip, stain, and varnish. And I’ll strip my railing, get some woodwork up, and hang the bathroom door. That’s about it! Now the bed is back in the green bedroom. And it turns out I do like the green. Either the color changed or it just looks different when it’s up in the whole room. But I swear, there was something I didn’t like about it before. It glows in bright light just like I wanted it to, but is also soothing when the light is dimmer. Which is good for a bedroom, right?


Then the doors and radiators are all in the front bedroom now, where I can start stripping them. (Only one radiator needs DIY stripping.) This will be tedious but it’s almost done. I might cut corners by sending one of those giant doors out and by leaving the sliding closet doors unstripped on the back sides.


Then I have a list of chores for my plumber to do to make up for the fact that I patched the walls. He says next Wednesday, so it looks like I have one more weekend without a fully working bathroom. But with the holidays and my frusturation I haven’t been staying there much anyway.

  • I want these broken parts replaced and my sink reinstalled. After getting finding the source of the leak, I went through a little bit of dysfunction. I used the bathroom sink, forgetting that the drain wasn’t hooked up. Then I realized what I did and hooked it up. Then I realized water dribbled behind the cabinet, so I pulled the cabinet out and snapped the drain.


  • Then there’s the shower handle. It wouldn’t stay attached. I was gonna fix this myself but it’s not my job anymore.
  • And there are the toilet bolts. I think they were brass plated because they got rusty after just a few months. I specified solid brass this time around.
  • Then I want the manifold mounted to the wall, but not with a family heirloom. I want everything except the kitchen sink hooked up and labeled correctly. More important, I want the pipes that aren’t working disconnected. I’m terrified of my own plumbing now. When this first went in it was exciting and wonderful and inspired envy from my dad.


Here’s what the bathroom looks like now. Once again it’s dirty, everything is out of place, and the water is shut off. But Wednesday (the 15th) my plumber is coming and fixing it!


So, we’ll see if I get back into the swing of things now. Hopefully something fun to show by the end of the weekend.

Progress, thwarted again

Time to share my plan for May. I am mostly ready to Sheetrock the second floor now. Finally. But I decided that compared with other things to do this is a low priority. One of the top priorities at this point is getting things ready for the roofer to finish up. I now have a flat rubber roof, which is the best. It needs to be painted white a few months after it’s installed so the powdery residue that comes on it (which contributed toward clogging my downspout drain) He’s going to redo the fascia, ripping off this ugly faux stone asphalt siding and covering the wood under it with white aluminum. The wood is in excellent condition despite being partially exposed to the elements up there. The only explanation is that whatever clear coat is on it is made entirely out of lead, asbestos, formaldehyde, VOC’s and PCB’s. That toxic shit really kept things nice.

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Frustration, Forensics, and Future (kitchen)

A week or so ago I got really frustrated with this project. Since then, I’ve done a lot. Easter dinner, several rock climbing sessions, quizzo, a quick trip to Newark (Delaware). Lots of time with friends, lots of beer. What do these things have in common? None of them has anything to do with the house. Except drinking beer. I feel much better today. This means I have no progress to show you, but we do have a few things I’ve been wanting to share for a while.

First, let’s look at my imaginary kitchen:

kitchen rendering
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My Happy Place

I’m getting fed up with how little is getting done. Somehow, this frustration is leading me to do less. At this point, I’m trying to decide exactly how I should detail the insulation on the front bedroom wall. If you want to help give me ponder over bringing together modern insulation and old fashioned masonry, please read the next paragraph. If not, you may be bored and prefer to skip to the following one.
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