Saturday, October 31, 2009

D.I.Y. Will Power

My renovation mojo has left me. Yes, it done left me cold, and I’m not going looking for it. It can steal my car and go back to its ex-wife for all I care.

This ought to tell you something: I went to the Home Depot the other day and left with the one item I needed and THAT WAS IT. No paint chips or pieces of molding or any other ingredient for whatever projects I can usually cook up that instantly cause my husband's eyes to roll into his head and send him into convulsions about all the lost weekends yet to come.

Back in the day I did it all: paint, wallpaper, drywall repair, drywall hanging, tile work, low-level structural engineering, homemade load-bearing walls, and hydraulic cement application – you name it, I did it and without one of those pesky Class A contracting licenses.

In any other circumstance I might be glad to be rid of this burdensome need to remodel and improve, but the loss of my renovation mojo is a problem because I would not say that my house is actually “attractive” or that many of my projects are in any way “finished.” Things need to be painted and holes need to be patched. Grade C construction plywood, I must remind myself repeatedly, is not a floor covering.

Fortunately I am a compassionate person who does not like to see others make the same mistakes I have made, and in seeking ways to avoid doing any of these “incomplete” projects, I’ve come up with a system that may help you as you undertake your own DIY projects. I'm well aware that there are many guides to home remodeling out there that can tell you HOW to remodel. But only this questionnaire will tell you if you have the mental toughness to proceed. That’s right; this questionnaire will determine if you have the most important thing you need before you begin work: the indomitable will to renovate.

For the sake of argument, I have assumed that 1) you are an American citizen and/or a legal resident; 2) you are over 18; 3) you own your own home and you are not upside-down on your mortgage or for that matter, sideways; and 4) you have asked your doctor if you are healthy enough for sexual activity.

And just because we're friends I’m going to spot you 50 points to start….OK, you may begin:

· Do you have a realistic sense of your project’s costs and enough money in your budget for any unforeseen cost overruns? If no, subtract fifty points. If yes, subtract fifty points anyway because I already know that you’re lying.

· If you would describe yourself as an optimist, add ten points.

· If others suspect your optimism is pharmacological in origin, add twenty points. That's assuming your doctor has a liberal policy as regards prescription refills and is open to middle-of-the-night phone calls.

· If you work well in close quarters with others and never lose your temper AND if you have never, not even once, called a work partner an incompetent assmonkey, add fifteen points.

· When was your last tetanus shot? If recent, add one point. If more than five years ago, subtract six points and sign attached waiver.

· If you don’t necessarily have a big budget but you have a lot of spare time, no friends, and are not active in your community in any way – in other words if you are the proverbial quiet loner but one without sociopathic impulses -- add three points. If sociopathic tendencies are present, we’ll call it a wash.

· Is this home renovation project in any way compulsory or part of a plea bargain in lieu of jail time? What I mean is, do you NEED to complete this home renovation project as part of a court-ordered community service requirement? If yes, add twenty-five points.

· Subtract one point for every year old your house is.

· If you have children -- and I mean even ONE -- take away one hundred sixty-four points.

· If you have a dog, subtract five points, unless it’s a really, really good dog that you are certain will not drink latex paint or run off with a power tool while it's still plugged in, then you can hold steady at your current tally.

· If you have an elderly cat that frequently misses the box, subtract as many points as you feel appropriate. (In my case, that would be 823.)

· Subtract one point for every additional pet in your household, including fish, hermit crabs, and gerbils. Actually, you know what? Forget that. They'd all eventually die of neglect anyway even if you weren't renovating.

· If you have a recurring problem or maintenance issue in your home that you’ve attempted to fix several times without calling in a professional because you believe all carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and general contractors are crooks, subtract eleven points.

· Subtract thirty points if the above-mentioned problem is a roof or leaky basement and an additional five points if remediation of said problem has resulted in a trip to an emergency room.

· And speaking of that, you do have good health insurance, right? Not too big a deductible? Nothing written into the terms of your coverage about not paying out in the event of "self-sustained injuries as a result of failing to read goddamned directions" or "ladder-related fractures"? If not, subtract forty-four points.

· If you have something better to do, subtract ten points. (And, yes, a sigmoidoscopy does count.)

· Are you working on a bathroom remodel? If yes, what would you say is the capacity of your bladder to hold liquids? Are your neighbors close by? Are they accommodating, decent people who could be described as "long-suffering"? If your bladder can hold more than 200cc’s and you can answer yes to both neighbor questions, add two points. If the answer to the neighbor question is no on both counts, but you have a private fenced yard, add one point.

OK then, let’s tot things up and see how you did. If your point total is a negative number, well, then it’s probably for the best that you not undertake any projects until such a time as you can make improvements to yourself that might boost your score. The severing of your corpus callosum being but one example.

If, however, your point total is positive, then congratulations, you clearly have the right personality for long-term home renovation. Of course, I must wonder if you are already under the care of trained medical professionals because if you have enough patience, time, money, no kids or pets, health insurance, and the good sense to leave complicated projects to the professionals, then what the hell are you doing your own renovation work for anyway?

**This blog entry is dedicated to my friends Wendy and Don Skinner, who have the greatest will to renovate I’ve ever encountered, and are, oddly enough, NOT sociopathic loners.**