June 17, 2024

Over the past twenty three years house remodeling has been an ongoing process of sawdust, drywall mud, and aggravation. Out of literally hundreds of projects it is hard to decide on the one that was the worst. Every home improvement project was a challenge that tested our patience, carpenter skills, and marriage vows. You know, the vow that says until death do you part? Sometimes you just want to kill each other. The God of sawdust must be watching over us because we are still married and have all our fingers and toes. Our dream of the 1990’s was to own an acreage in the country. A quaint little home where we could raise dogs, chickens and ducks, and our two girls. After searching for an eternity we finally found a fixer upper with five acres of land for an amazing $30,000.00. in Southeast Nebraska. It was a Sears and Roebuck bungalow home from 1927. What a deal! We bought it. When we did our first and only walk through inspection of the house there was so much furniture and clutter it was hard to see what we were purchasing. And after purchasing it we had enough debris inside the house to fill the largest dumpster man has made. But this place had potential. The five acres were covered with all sorts of trees. Walnut, hickory, cottonwood, and a shelter belt of cedar trees line the property. It was a place of peace. When we moved we had electricity and running water. We had running water from under every sink in the house. The only plumbing that didn’t leak was the bathtub. And the tub became the place where everything that needed water took place. We did the dinner dishes in the bathtub and then washed ourselves in it at night. Now being a jack of all trades and not proficient at anything has its drawbacks. I decided to start replacing the leaky plumbing throughout the house. The first place I stared was in the basement under the kitchen sink. I started to take apart the drain pipe from the sink but it was so corroded that it fell apart and all the pipes connected to it either fell on the basement floor or on the kitchen floor upstairs. The bathroom sink was in the same bad shape. All the cold and hot waterlines were shot also. Thank goodness for the old reliable bathtub. My poor brother in law just happens to be a plumber. He also has a heart of gold and the willingness to help out someone in need. Although he does shake his head a lot in a state of shock or dumbfounded awe. Anyway, he showed up on the Forth of July 1996 and we had the entire house plumbed and running water in one day. That was nice. Remember I said we paid $30,000.00 for the house and five acres? Well I kept track of all the money we spent of fixing the place up over the next five years. After a new roof, some new siding and paint, new furnace and all electric heat also. Then came two new Cleary metal buildings, a new sewer system, and 150 apple trees I had $78,000.00 invested a cute little place in the country. Life was good. Then at age 50 I had a chance to retire and take another job doing the same thing I was doing in a nearby town. So I retired and took my pension and a raise with my new job and moved again. I did get all $78,000.00 out of the acreage. And once again we moved into what was supposed to be a dream house that needed no repairs. Well think again! We now have been doing projects on this house for the past five years. The worst thing that happened was that when we moved in we didn’t know the former owners had dogs in the house. And apparently they refused to walk these pets. They used the carpets like a fire hydrant! I was working in another city during the week for a wile and came home on the weekends. The smell of dog urine was so bad my wife went to the emergency room with chest pains. I had a few choice words to say as I tore all the carpet out of the entire house and deposited it into the driveway. What was the clincher was that not only did I have to replace the carpet, but the sub floor too! That’s when I found that years earlier they had had termite damage. Do you know that you can only recoup 1% of the sales price of a house that has termite damage? I have leaned that life is full of surprises and there are two things that you can be sure of, death and taxes. Try to have a nice day and try to laugh at yourself, but preferably at someone else.

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