I Bought A Total Dungheap Of A House: Scatterbrains and Drywall

I’ve been going to the bathroom in a Home Depot bucket for months at this point, usually in my future bedroom closet.
Publish date:
April 19, 2013
home, renovation

No matter how finely (or not, whatever) you try to plan a home renovation, there is slip slidin’ all up in there. How well we planned is open to debate.

After all, we originally saw the house on a Friday night, bid on Saturday afternoon, and owned it Sunday night. This ship moved fast and I kind of just let myself go along with it. I’ve mentioned before, D’s done a lot of renovation work before (even a whole other house) so we weren’t complete boneheads. But like my father always told me: Do as I say, not as I do.

So, officially, don’t do this, unless you are really rich and beautiful and super bored in life. It will eat all your money and time and you will need your glowing good looks to get by from then on, because everything else will be taken from you by the time you are done. Perhaps even any looks you once held. Got it?

I only half mean that. So realize, half of me is totally serious, mmmmkay? You will be poor after this, probably for a long time (but you will always be a beaut, I was just kidding about that part hot stuff). BUT at least you’re not paying rent anymore, right?

Who cares if you end up looking like a demented creepy squirrel eating a salty meatloaf sandwich out of give-away Bud Light cooler on the front stoop of your still-half dilapilated future home. I mean, I’ve been going to the bathroom in a Home Depot bucket for months at this point, usually in my future bedroom closet. Dignity, we were once friends.

As soon as the fumes from insulation had cleared, we got to work cleaning up the huge mess caused by its installation.

We had to mega-hustle because we were already a week behind schedule, and we only had about two weeks until move-in. We decided to hire a team to install drywall. If you’re not familiar with drywall, it’s large and heavy. And we needed an entire house of it -- walls, ceilings, etc.

Since I’m practically useless, D would have been pretty much on his own. Six months of unending work, and we were tired. And anxious as the clock boomed in our ears. We just needed to start getting some serious stuff checked off our grand to-do list. We had drywall delivered (they used a crane to put it through our second story windows, so bummed I wasn’t home to see it) and the small team got to work, promising to finish in three days. (Hindsight advice: just times anything anyone says ever by two, at least, especially when concerning time and money. In this case, it was only time because we had a contract already sorting monies).

The sweet thing about drywall is that the results are pretty instantaneous. So just one day of work made a huge difference in the feel of the house. In that, it actually started to resemble some place I could live (which is good since I was going to have to live there either way).

A few days later, they got around to spackling, which is basically smoothing out the walls and getting rid of the creases from all the different pieces of hung drywall.

It was pretty amazing to watch the progress, even if it took an entire week and NOT three days. It was so exciting to see it come together that I really didn’t care about the time stretch though. Having real, live walls after a long six+ months without them is rewarding, to say the least. All the white brightened the house up and meant we could actually paint. It also made it really dirty, because sanding and spackling drywall makes a fine white dust EVERYWHERE.

I didn’t think we’d actually paint before we moved in because we had major things to take care of before then -- mainly flooring, a toilet and a sink. Those were what I deemed essentials before move-in so that I could carry on with normal things, like going to work every day in an office without being a total stinkrat.

But all those long dark months will do stuff to your mind, and you’ll suddenly decide painting is totally necessary immediately. Or D did anyway. In a single thirteen hour day, he wielded his best paintbrush skills and slammed the entire house with his brother (who’s actually a professional painter, so that didn’t hurt), and a friend.

We went with bright white everywhere. Since we only had one day to dedicate to it, it was easier to just grab big tubs of all the same color. White just felt so clean and bright after spending so many months in a dark, dirty construction zone. We won’t leave it all white, because color is cool, too, but it’s a good place to start.

Once we officially had walls, we were able to start sorting out the ragged wood floors. The second story only had subflooring (think thick, splintery plywood) and the downstairs was the original splintery, old, grungy wood floors. We knew we wanted to do the floors ourselves to save money. We reasoned we would just rent a sander from Home Depot.

D’s pop came down to spend a day sanding the floors with him but they ended up gardening. I don’t know why, because I wasn’t even the one doing all the super hard labor on the house, but it was a surprise gift for me. True to idiot fashion, I strolled up to the house after work one day and saw them sitting on the stoop, completely walking by the garden without notice.

When they finally had to like, literally turn my shoulders round to look at it, I swooned. It was the first "pretty" looking thing we’d done to the house.

Even though the inside was full of disrepair and remainders where everywhere of how much we still had to do, the flower garden gave me a strange reassurance that this would be home. I stood admiring it for a few minutes before they called me indoors to help collect the debris that had accumulated inside the house that day (see, ALWAYS on clean up duty).

They slipped out back to get some bigger wood trash and I meandered around, picking up cigarette butts or something equally small and dumb. They called me out back and I once again crushed their sweaty spirits when I overlooked the second garden they had created.

They stuffed this organic beaut with tons of tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs -- all of my favorites. Sidenote, have you ever had chocolate mint? I didn’t know it existed but there I was growing it in my own garden. It smells just like chocolate and I imagine would be great to bake with. I didn’t actually have a kitchen so I haven’t tested this theory. I just ate the leaves right off the vine because I love fresh herbs that much.

The garden gift eased the chaos we had been swept up in the past few weeks. Sure, there was tons of stress about getting, getting done before move-in but at some point it’s like, you still have to breath you know? The renovation had rattled all of our days, and I was so thankful for not just the gift, but knowing D had gotten to chill out and just dig in the dirt for a day (actually it was a really hot day and probably didn’t entail much relaxing but STILL).

We went and got properly drunk that night and I awoke to a raging hangover. Perfect day to go pick out bathroom flooring AND lay it, right? Well hell, we only had like five days to go. Getting a bathroom floor laid was priority.

We planned to get it done so the toilet could be installed. And since the plumbers had to come over to do that (hey permits) we’d have them install a sink in the basement, too. The last week was lined up to be a major push. One thing definitely left off the list was a shower -- that wasn’t going to happen in a week no matter how fast we worked.

We had legit one week to go. The following had to happen fast: bathroom floor, toilet, sink, fix wood floors, figure out how to cook without a kitchen, figure out how to shower in backyard with new neighbors all around, find a storage unit, move all our stuff into storage unit, and help Quinn make a music video. NO PROB BOB.

I was just born on Twitter like 2 days ago, come celebrate with me @rachel_yard