The House Challenge

Handsome Fiancée and I bought a house that we are now renovating. It’s a 1947 rambler that’s in terrible shape and hasn’t been touched in 40 years. It is in our perfect location, but yes, it needs a lot of work! When I tell people this, they can’t wait to regale me with stories of their renovations gone awry. Why? Why do people feel the need to tell me, “Our renovation was such a nightmare, by the time we were done I wanted to hang myself from my overpriced chandelier.” Or, “I will never renovate a home again, a hot poker in the eye sounds more appealing.” Oh, here’s a great one: A friend asked what my budget was, and when I told her, she scoffed and said, “That won’t even get you a kitchen!” What? If you need a six-figure kitchen, something is wrong with you. Building a home, a new place for a blended family to start a new life is supposed to be exciting, fun and happy. The naysayers are really cramping my style.

Because I love a challenge, I plan to build this house within our budget, and plan to be positive about it the whole way through. Negativity is for the weak—I’m not going there. I am also realistic and know when you buy a house that is older than the State of Israel, you may run into a few problems. We already have. We basically purchased a foundation. We are changing the entire floor plan, adding a second story, and redoing the exterior.

So when the builder found cracks in the foundation, water damage, and sinkage of 3 inches on one side of the house, that wasn’t a fun day. (Stop wagging your finger at me—yes, we had an inspection. The cracks were hidden and under drywall, and the damage was undisclosed by the buyer, who has since passed away.)

We got screwed.

I did not throw a fit (although that would have felt good). I paid Jesse Trebil a lot of money to fix my problem and jack up the house. A few days later, the builder notified me the deck we want to build was denied by the city. This could be viewed as another problem, but, negativity being for the weak, I thanked him and now had the money to move from the deck to the basement fix.

I have made a promise to myself and to Handsome Fiancée: By the time this house is built, I will not want to hang myself from the chandelier, hopefully just swing from it at our housewarming party. Yes, you’re invited. I also won’t tell you horror stories about building a home, a family, and a next phase in your life. Nothing ever goes as planned. If my life went as planned, I wouldn’t be building this house or picking tile and cabinets with a new, handsome fiancée. But I’m so grateful I am (he has great taste).

Building anything is a challenge. This week, I wish you the perspective to view your challenges in a positive light and keep the hot pokers for a fabulous new fireplace!

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