Fresh Ideas: Giving our home a little (costly) TLC
For the Nevada Appeal
My husband, Ron, and I have embarked on a home improvement project: a new deck behind the house. Though doing home improvements that aren’t necessities is like opening a vein and pouring my blood into the dirt, at my age I’m doing what feels good, even if it hurts.
So we got bids for the deck, which made me secretly wish I had married a general contractor. One contractor pointed out that our new deck will call attention to the cracks in the trim and peeling paint on the siding.
That’s the problem with home improvement: Whatever you improve makes the rest of the place look like the Addams family lives there. So Ron called a house painter.
The painter warned that the old shutters might break when he removes them, so Ron went to purchase a few shutters, just in case. But the home improvement store where we originally purchased the shutters changed the sizes from “standard” to “standard”— not the same measurements, of course — so we can either replace all the shutters or hope no one notices the different sizes.
That’s not the worst of it. The deck design interferes with some lawn sprinklers, so the sprinkler guy came out and concluded that our 23-year-old drip lines, tubing, and bubblers also need to be replaced, and by the way, the sidewalks that meander through the lawn and garden are dangerous because tree roots displaced several sections of cement.
When the tree guy came out, he frowned upon removing mature trees; we should have the cement guy jack-hammer the sidewalks and pour new ones, he decided.
The bid to replace the sidewalks made Ron and me both wish we had married cement guys.
Then it rained, which reminded Ron that we need rain gutters to prevent ice on the new deck when snow melts off the roof. We’re expecting the rain gutter guy to give us a bid soon; we hope he doesn’t insist on a new roof.
Did I mention our sliding glass door? I never noticed how beaten up it is from 24 years of kids, pets, and Nevada weather; it wouldn’t be an attractive portal to our new deck. I’ve always wanted French doors, so we ordered them and were instructed to select hardware.
After studying door lock brochures, we chose lovely and affordable hardware only to be told it isn’t available. So Ron is on a quest to find available hardware, regardless of the price. Last night he mixed a martini with Bombay Sapphire gin instead of drinking his usual bottle of beer.
When I asked Ron if he thinks we should just buy a new house instead of improving this one, he looked at me like snakes were growing out of my ears. We’re going ahead with the improvements, though that means we’ll have no money left for our children when we die. But they can sit on the deck and tell sentimental stories about us after we’re gone.
Marilee Swirczek is professor emeritus at Western Nevada College. She lives in Carson City where she enthusiastically contributes to the economy.