Friday, March 23, 2012

The nightmare on Shelby Avenue continues

Original run date March 6, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press

Ever look around your home and think to yourself, “Imagine that?” I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I mentioned in an earlier column that we are making some changes at our house. I didn’t want to call it remodeling because most of the changes we are personally doing are not major – well they weren’t anyway. We had reluctantly relabeled our project from some redecorating to a minor remodel. After this weekend, we have moved into full-blown repair mode.
We bought our home in 1990. We were excited. We knew it needed some work but it was a big house with lots of room to raise kids in. In the first few days after we purchased the house I spent lots of timing planning to repaint; deciding which rooms to redo the flooring in, which could wait, picking which rooms to work on before we moved in and which I could close the door on for now. Two weeks later one of those doors had to suddenly be opened and worked into the plans as we found out I was pregnant with Joni.
We knew when we bought the house that the previous owner had treated it for termites. They pointed out any visible damage and we put that at the top of the list of repairs to be made before moving in. Twenty years later we have found all the hidden damage those nasty little buggers caused.
This past Sunday morning, I was up bright and early, eager to start preparing the walls to repaint. I have lived with walnut trim and dark paneling highlighted by black and red linoleum for almost 22 years. I was so happy to see the dark, drab colors moving out. As I was getting all the painting supplies ready and get my paint mojo in high gear, I heard a sound that sent my mojo flying out the door and hiding in the barn. A resounding, “Oh crap” from Larry dashed my hopes of a quick first layer of paint. He pulled the paneling off the wall and the damage was staring at me like a beagle at a nest of rabbits.
As the day wore on, Larry’s vocabulary took a nosedive. One wall we planned on leaving came crashing down. The cabinets that had served as a catch all over the last 22 years had to be emptied and removed. By the time the evening rolled around, we ordered Casey’s pizza and sat staring at the mess of what was left of walls and floor.
I’m pretty sure we have a very tired guardian angel at our house. I mean, all these years it has been holding the floor up so the washing machine didn’t sink into the basement. The kitchen cabinets on the other side of the wall have been hanging by a thread – the thread of the screw in the rotten stud.
After repeatedly hearing me utter the words, “We’re in over our heads here, dear,” my dear sweet husband and son have continued on with the repairs. Hopefully by the upcoming weekend, I will have walls to paint. My alternative idea of getting rid of the wall completely and expanding the kitchen met with a glare that managed to keep me quiet for about 30 minutes. Note to self – Larry does not want to expand the kitchen.
The sound of hammers and saws continues every evening. I don’t mind helping with these projects for the most part but this one has hit the overwhelming stage for me. Larry and Jake have been diligently working every night to make the needed repairs. The site of Jake in his shorts, work boots, and tool belt is Facebook material but I want the repairs done correctly so I keep my phone in my pocket.
As I was working on taxes the other night in hopes of getting enough of a refund to pay for the truckload of two by fours, subflooring, and sheetrock I brought home, I peeked over my monitor to another frightening sight. They had moved from the utility room into the kitchen and hammers were flying. My laminated flooring was being removed. It was like passing a wreck on the highway. I didn’t want to go look but I had to.
The men had found damage going all the way into the subflooring in the kitchen. They just kept pulling up flooring until they found the end of it. The sawzall (that Larry borrowed so he didn’t have to break out the chainsaw again) fired up and the damaged area was removed.
I watched as the guys went to the garage to cut a piece of flooring to fit. Jake told me to keep an eye on the cat. My thought was, “She isn’t stupid enough to try and jump in the basement,” so I headed back to my computer to finish taxes. When the guys came back in the colorful vocabulary once again caught my attention. Apparently, Jake wasn’t worried about her falling through the floor.
Both cats have spent many hours inspecting all the holes in the floor and this time, Chloe decided to see what was down there. She had walked across the floor joist and was now comfortably watching the action from a perch above the ceiling in Jake’s room in the basement, just out of reach. The guys took a 20-minute break from repair work as we tried to coax her out with some leftover chicken from supper. As much as Larry would have been perfectly happy just laying the subfloor down and letting her figure out how to get out of that predicament herself, Jake and I decided listening to her cry all night was not a good plan.
Eventually, at about one in the morning, the floor was fixed and there were no holes left big enough for any sleep walkers to injure themselves in. The guys gave up for the night and vowed to finish up the walls before the weekend so I can finally get to the redecorating end of the project.
Once I finally have strong, sturdy walls with a fresh, bright coat of white paint and light color tiles installed I’ll be even more thankful for all the time and sweat the men have put into making the repairs. The house will be safer and I’ll love the updates to my utility room. The mudroom with the door that I can close the mess on will be much appreciated. No more scrambling to hide dirty clothes in the washer and dryer when unexpected company pulls in the driveway. I can just slam the door shut and get the dirty dishes from the sink thrown in the oven that much faster.
With spring on its way, the inside projects will soon turn to outside projects. There are two barns that need to be cleaned out, fences that need repair, all the tack needs to be cleaned, checked, and some replaced before riding season hits. Larry will give the truck and trailer both a good tune up. When the sunshine warms up the days, we’ll forget all about the damage that had to be repaired in the house and saddle up the horses and go.
We’ll be living the dream that all started when we signed on the dotted line and became homeowners – and with any luck, the nightmare of ever having to do home repair like this will be over forever.

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