Conversation I had with my new plumber today:
Me: So how big do I need to dig that hole?
Plumber: Big enough for my ass to fit in it.
Me: [Reaching for tape measure] Well, hold still a minute then.
On the list of qualifications I expect in my subs “sense of humor” falls just under “knows better than to clog the one working toilet in my house and leave it for me to find out the hard way,” Clearly it’s been hit or miss so far on the people I’ve had working at the Liberty House, but I have high hopes for a guy that let me measure the size of his ass before 8:00 on a Tuesday morning.
The fact that I was having a conversation with a plumber at all tells you that I finally had to sit myself down and have a little come-to-jesus talk about progress on the house and how many projects I can take on at the moment. I’ve got three months left to tackle the rest of the “repairs” mandated by the bank so that I can get my money out of escrow. Here’s the list I made back in march, with a few updates:
Bank mandated repairs:
- Scape and paint interior (specifically upstairs full bath ceiling, master bedroom walls)
- Repair exterior wood, scrape and paint
- Repair or replace cracked window in bedroom*
- Replace missing windows in basement*
- Install missing outlet covers
- Repair missing guardrail on rear deck
- Restain front porch and rear deck
- Replace roof on home
- Replace roof on outbuilding (aka Future Donkey Barn)
- Re-side garage
- Remove debris – In progress
Must-do repairs the bank didn’t know about:
- Repair radiator pipes
- Replace all improperly winterized (and now broken) faucets
- Install new locks on all doors
- Remove skylights
- Replace window in master bath*
- Install new garage door on back of garage*
New repairs that have cropped up in the last three months:
- Install flooring in downstairs bedroom
- Cap off broken spigot in debris pile*
- Patch skylight holes and other holes in ceilings*
- Replace gaskets in about-to-explode boiler*
- Fix leaking drain in downstairs shower
- Remove broken elbow from upstairs shower plumbing
I just looked at that list and wondered what the hell I’ve been doing for the last ten weeks. Then I calculated how many hours I’ve spent chasing a chipmunk around my basement (he’s still down there, laughing at me) and added it to the 10 hours of working time I’ve lost each week to my new extra-long daily commute plus all the hours I spend careening white-knuckled around my property on the mower these days and all of the sudden everything made sense again. And, yes, I had a little project ADD going on there for a minute, but this list just up and drop-kicked the little devil that’s been whispering in my ear about that dresser that needs refinishing right off my shoulder.
It also inspired me to do what my dad has been telling me to do for the last seven years of my life, and call in professional help. In the last two days I’ve talked to a drywaller, plumber, glass block installer, historic window restoration specialist, and a guy that installs garage doors. Plus my HVAC guy who—bless his heart—is in the #2 spot on my speed dial because I have to call him almost weekly to come and talk my temperamental boiler down off the ledge.
Asking for help, even when I’m paying for it? It’s not what I do. The part I love about DIY (other than using power tools, obviously, and being self-reliant, and the smell of sawdust) is figuring things out as I go. The downside is that for a lot of projects it still takes me at least twice as long as it would take a (good) professional to do the same job. Of course, getting stuck with a bad professional—and I’ve been down that road a time or two–means it will cost twice as much for a guy to do a job half as good as I would, and may result in me going to jail if anyone ever finds his body buried in the back yard.
But right now I’m at the point where it’s either time to call in the troops, or I’m going to have to take a leave of absence from my day job for the next few months, and hey… mortgage to pay. So I spent a lot of time with Angie’s List and the BBB last weekend, and there is going to be a veritable parade of subs in and out of my house over the next couple of weeks hopefully tackling the asterisked projects above.
The projects left for me include quite a bit of scraping, staining, painting, and general miscellany, plus the two biggies—roofing the donkey barn and siding the garage. So plenty of opportunities for me to a.) capture my ineptitude on video, 2.) fall from a great height, and 3.) learn a few new things that I can write about. That last one is awesome because I kind of felt I didn’t have enough going on at the moment and also just signed up for a few new writing gigs. More details on that bit of fun coming soon.