When I first suggested to Heather that we needed to do a few major repairs and some remodeling to our house, she said, “Why don’t we move instead?” Now that we’re about to start the work I’m wondering about the wisdom of having talked her out of that idea.
We live in one of those, “Eichlers.” In the 50’s and 60’s this guy named Joseph Eichler built about 11,000 homes in California designed in what is often refereed to as, “Mid-century Modern,” or “California Modern.” The homes are light and airy with an artistic style that just appeals to me. Most of the time it appeals to Heather too.
Except when it needs repairs.
Eichler was an inspired man with a mission. He wanted to design stylish homes that average family could afford. His homes did that. However, one thing didn’t get built into his equation – maintainability. That went out of the window, as the needs of style, and the need to keep the cost low, drove the builder to make decisions that makes the homes a nightmare when things go wrong.
This may surprise the builders of this home but we’ve found a number of issues. The biggest being the 80 amp electrical service. Over the years there have been a number of attempts by previous owners to fix and improve the house. Some done by pros and some done by a “do it yourselfer” who should be separated from their tools. One of the many smart things they did was to have the roof coated with insulating foam which both insulates and keeps out the rain much better. The one really bad thing they did was to connect all the electrical outlets on the north half of the house to one single 15 amp breaker.
The problem with any remodel is the phase that comes up in almost every conversation when discussing what to do, “Well, if you’re going to do that you might as well…” or “It wouldn’t be that much more to do the whole thing.”
or, “Maybe we should just move.”
I started this whole thing by just saying, “The electrical service needs to be replaced.” Which then turned into – since you have a concrete slab floor you’ll have to run the wires under the foam which means you’ll have to redo the whole roof. Of course while we’re doing the roof we should install new gutters and replace the skylight. Then I was told we also have to cut open parts of the walls to pull new wires. Which led to, well why don’t we redo the kitchen at the same time since, we have to tear off the wall. Since the bathrooms don’t use much electricity I’ve been able to avoid putting them on the project list – well most days anyway.
At heart I am an optimist and steadfastly overcame all of Heather’s objections to the project and have in hand contracts from the electrician and the roofer. We have a drywaller standing by to open the walls and then repair them and we’ve identified the company who’s going to do the kitchen work.
It was all starting to look very good until Sean, our electrician, causally mentioned, “You know you’ll have to move the bookcases so I can get to the walls. I’ll need at least three feet of clearance in front of each wall.”
At this point I’d like you to take a moment to look around your house and answer this question, “How much stuff do you have against your walls?”
Turns out we have a bunch – all of which need to be moved three feet inward. Well, how hard could it be? A few boxes, a bit of heavy lifting and presto new outlets in every room.
So a couple of months ago, in our innocence, we drove to the box store and bought what we thought were a lot of boxes – around forty, plus a couple of rolls of bubble wrap and six rolls of packing tape. Heather decided to pace herself and set about the task of boxing up the house at a rate of three boxes a day. To get the boxes out of the house along with all the bookcases and other furniture we decided to rent one of those storage containers they plop on your driveway.
At the time it all made sense and seemed so easy. I scheduled some vacation time to move the boxes Heather packed into this nice storage box.
Since that faithful decision, we’ve gone back at least four times for more boxes and packing supplies. You know, when full boxes show up at a rate of three a day and get stuffed into corners and out-of-the-way places it doesn’t seem like much.
I spent half a day yesterday and couple of hours today moving the seemingly endless number of boxes – I lost track of the number of boxes at around fifty but suspect there are at least twice that many. Now I understand all the complaining Heather’s been doing about packing the boxes.
I figure that by the time I finish moving enough furniture into the storage container to give Sean room to work, I’ll have moved about half of the house and will have filled the sixteen foot container. When the work on the house is done, I’ll get to move it all back and Heather will have at least two months worth of unboxing.
Tonight I am reminded that the container is designed to be loaded on the back of a truck and moved.
“Maybe we should just move.” Well, the idea is starting to grow on me.
Till next week,