Dreams and Reality: When Fun Renovations Must Be Usurped By Less Fun Renovations

Two summers ago, when we first moved into this house, we tore through two kitchen renovations and a bathroom renovation, from start to finished in about three months. We kicked ass. I was proud of us. I thought we would never be one of those people who allowed renovations to drag on and on, living with dust curtains, rooms full of tools, and patches of mud on our paintless walls.

It’s time to admit it. This time around, we’re going to be one of those people. Dear friends who renovate for months, even years, I have a new respect for you.
Because, here’s the thing: I get it now. I get how it happens. I get how things come up and priorities shift, how budgets get re-allocated, and our time gets funneled away to other things, just as important. I understand: this is just how life works. 
Our attic looks no different than it did weeks ago. In fact, I don’t think we’ve done anything up there in almost a month. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a good many weeks longer. Our priorities have shifted and we have no choice but to turn our attention elsewhere. 
Namely, down here:

This is the front bedroom in our basement apartment. It’s damp. Too damp. Last month, when our tenants made note of a couple puddles of water that showed up on their floor, we knew we would need to do something to solve the problem. Obviously, the room didn’t look like this then. We’ve made some cosmetic changes in the days the apartment has been empty. To diagnose the issues, we ripped down the drywall from the outside walls. We discovered far less water damage than expected, but plenty of speckles and watermarks all the way up the wall, a symptom of the poor condition of our siding and flashing. 
Full-on waterproofing seems to be out of the question: it’s ridiculously pricy – though understandably so – and we have some unfortunate neighbourly relations that are turning my hair grey and would render the project unpleasant to impossible.* Besides that, we’re constantly assessing our home, how long we’ll be here, and what is likely to happen to it when we leave. Our prediction? Our little bungalow will fall into the hands of a builder who will adore the long lot. He or she will raze this little house down to its foundations and rebuild. It’s just what happens to bungalows around here. So, what’s the point of an expensive permanent fix when a well-executed temporary fix will carry us through to the day these walls disappear?
So, we’re prepping for a little interior waterproofing: plugging the visible cracks; painting on a polymer membrane, spray foaming with waterproof insulation, drywalling, and a coat or two of waterproof paint. New siding and flashing will help our efforts significantly, as will new basement windows. It’s not a permanent fix, but it might be a five year fix. If we’re still here then, it will be time to bite the bullet and go for the full solution.
Of course, all of this is going to be a lot of work. And, as seems to be our style, we haven’t got a lot of time to complete it all in. Waterproofing, drywalling, windows, and paint, all of this in two months. Come the last week of August, we’ll be welcoming two new tenants to our little two bedroom apartment. We better be ready for them.
In the meantime, our attic isn’t going anywhere, right? 
* I have thought about writing a blog post about this. But, every time I sit down to write it I find I’m unable to fully express how difficult the situation has become. And then, I talk myself out of burdening the blog world with the negativity of that relationship.

0 thoughts on “Dreams and Reality: When Fun Renovations Must Be Usurped By Less Fun Renovations

  1. These things happen! Just be glad you are in a good enough position to fix this problem instead of having it get worse. No point pretty-ing the inside of your home if the structure is a problem!! Yuck to all this rain we've been having tho. ugh

  2. Thank you for sharing this.
    When life realities “kick-in”, renos can become a burden, get stretched out over several months and cause a lot of frustration. As a reader, I find that it would be beneficial to learn about real stories behind the pretty images on renovation blogs, so that people can assess their finances and other resources to be fully informed before taking on a DIY renovation. I really wish I had learned that from blogs before we started our renos. But as a blogger, I realize that it’s very difficult to open up on those touchy subjects without being scrutinized or judged for even starting up a renovation without a proper planning or budgeting.
    I guess we all learn from our own experiences.

  3. You know, I debate sometimes about this kind of thing. It seems like the blogging world goes in waves of 'I'm going to be open and honest' to 'I want this to be a place of NOTHING BUT POSITIVITY'. I'm not always a positive person. I try to be an optimist, but I can only do that through sharing and shirking the unpleasant side of things. But, I don't want to be too complain-y all the time either! I try to find a balance, but I know that when it comes to renos, the trials and tribulations are just as important!

  4. It's always incredibly frustrating when older houses have plans of their own for you time, energy and money.

    I know that tune all too well. As unfortunate unexpected expenses can be, things like this are better off not ignored for too long.

    Good luck with the fix!

  5. You know what – it's your blog – if you feel like talking about something like a neighbourly relationship that isn't so great do it. You might find someone who's going through, or been through the same thing and will be supportive and offer good advice.
    I too struggled with whether to post something pretty negative (today's post ironically enough), but in the end I found it helpful to put everything I was feeling down – I wrote it mostly for me and decided that I'd be fine if nobody read it.

  6. I'm looking forward to see how you fix up the waterproofing thing! Don't worry about posting things that may seem negative in your eyes because if somebody doesn't want to read it they can keep on trucking…also I believe you have been still pretty positive about the whole attic not getting done as quickly as you wanted deal. That's life right! When we had to make the decision to stop working on our new home I was so bummed(i may have cried, just sayin) but great things happened with building the old home and working on it….we learned so many things that will be beneficial for the new home. Just think now that the basement issue has happened in your next home you will be prepared and knowledgeable if this may happen again!

  7. awww that sucks. pure and simple. Changes that don't make a change to your living space, or that don't make a visible / aesthetic change always bum me out. Definitely seems like you guys are doing the right thing (and sure your future tenants will appreciate it!)

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