Sunday, October 28, 2007

Searching for a stud and other adventures in remodeling!

Sorry it's been so long! I really want to be good about posting at least once a week; otherwise, I'm afraid I'll get out of the habit. But the past two weeks have been so busy. We came back from our holiday and, like most people, we had so much to catch up on. And by 'so much to catch up on' I mean we had so much recorded television to watch. No, just kidding. There was a lot to catch up on at work and we came back to the unfinished house. And then, on top of that, a friend asked me to write the essay for his exhibition catalog and it had to be written in a week! It was such a great opportunity so I said I would do it even though I was feeling really overwhelmed with everything else I had to do.

Anyway, I finished the essay; that's what I did last weekend instead of blogging. Then this weekend Eric and I were going crazy on the house, trying to finish up a few more major projects before next weekend, when his parents come to town. They aren't staying with us but we want the place to look somewhat finished so they don't think we're living in a total shithole.

There were a couple of things I've been putting off for too long. One was putting up bookshelves. It didn't seem that high a priority but I knew that once I put them up there would be so much less crap sitting around on the floor. The shelves actually came with the house but they were in another room. They were nice solid wood and they perfectly fit the wall in our second bedroom so I thought I would reuse them. I got a stud finder at Lowe's and nearly drove myself crazy searching for the studs. Maybe the $100 stud finders work well but this $10 piece of crap was really annoying. It took hours and I still wasn't sure where they were.
Can someone tell me where the studs are?!
Larry Craig: "Why does everyone keep asking me that? How would I know? I'm not gay!"
Whatever. Anyway, I got the damn shelves up today and I was on to the next job.

I still haven't gotten to the lighting in my bathroom (in other words I don't have lights in my bathroom) but there was one major lighting job I had to get done. We had been putting it off for months, trying to figure out what to do about the lighting over the kitchen sink. I had torn down the hanging cabinets between the kitchen and dining room, which really opened up the space and looks great but it left a hole in the ceiling and a metal electrical tube hanging down (Eric referred to it as the elephant dong).

We decided we wanted three recessed lights over the sink area. It didn't seem like a big deal. We had a big electrical company come out for an estimate, which cost $99. Now I know why they charge to come out: because they know nobody is crazy enough to have them actually do the work. Never pay for an estimate! This was a major company and we wanted it taken care of so I decided to just try them but their prices are outrageous.

So the outrageously expensive electrician came out and I told him I wanted three recessed lights and this is what he said to me:

Outrageously Expensive Electrician: "You know what would look really hot? Three pendant lights hanging down over the breakfast bar. I think that would look really hot!"

I am not Paris Hilton. I do not need my kitchen to look hot. So I told him I just wanted three recessed lights and, after telling me all the amazing things he was going to do (like replace the outlets and switches), he told me it would cost ... wait for it ... TWENTY FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!

Yeah; that's not hot.
I can't afford that! So after outrageously expensive electrician left, the guy plastering the ceiling in the garage from the repaired pipe (we had water pouring into the garage from a broken pipe the week we moved in) said he's a handyman and I should call him if I ever need any other work done. So I had him come upstairs and he said he would do it for about $300. That seemed more like and I told him I'd probably give him a call.

I tried calling him when we got back from our holiday but his phone message was so unprofessional I didn't leave a message. The message was something to the effect of "If you called, you know who this is. Do your thing at the tone and remember..." I don't remember what the last part was. Something like "keep it real" except the kids don't say that anymore, right? Actually, after I hung up I decided to just leave a message anyway but when I called back someone yelled at me. It sounded like a woman saying "he's not here!" but I'm not sure.

So then I was back where I started. I decided to try to do it myself:

Other Eric: "You can do it!"

That's just the support I needed! OK, I'll give it a try!

What happened next was me standing in the lighting section of Home Depot staring blankly at hundreds of different pieces of recessed-lighting equipment, none of which seemed to go together. Seriously, you need three different pieces but I couldn't find the three pieces that actually match each other:

Other Eric: "Why don't you ask someone?"

And surrender my manhood? Never!

Instead, we grabbed a kit that really wasn't what I wanted but at least all the pieces were there. Putting it up was much easier than picking it out. First I shut off most of the circuits because I didn't know which one controlled the light (I couldn't test it because there was no light there anymore). Then I cut the hole in the ceiling with a keyhole saw and it almost replaced the hole that was already there. After I hooked up the wires it went up into the ceiling pretty easily. I turned all the breakers back on and ...

The light worked! Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was! So it's only one light instead of three but it lights up the sink area and I saved about $2,480 by putting it up myself!
But I can't help looking at it and thinking, "You know what would look really hot? ..."


Ms. Place said...

Oh, you two lovely boys,you are discovering the joys of home ownership. Knowing that I would be creating a fire danger in my house if I combined my amateur's skills with electric wiring, I did the next best thing: I dated an electrician. It's amazing how many pendant lights, recessed lights, motion lights, and ceiling fans my house now has!

Cliff O'Neill said...

So proud of you! I certainly couldn't have done that.

Which reminds me, I need to change my outgoing message and catch up on the hours of recorded TV that have accumulated since I was on vaycay.


Aimee said...

I think one light looks hot. You're keeping it real...real hot. that's hot.

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

Wow I needed that laugh. Just returned from a condo/townhouse/house hunting tour in Florida that was hellish. note: if you see a gorgeous picture of of a low maintenance condo/townhome in Florida it means quite literally no maintenance or cleaning has been done for the life of the condo.

That was a great story and cheered me up greatly!

cb said...

i am jealous of you that you actually got contractors to come to your house. i've been stood up repeatedly by contractors (i want a bathroom floor and new sink installed, please). the one guy who did come to do an estimate never gave me an estimate, and whenever i tried to call, the phone just rang and rang.

i just want my new sink and floor. and unlike you, i have neither the skills NOR the encouragement to try it alone.


my bathroom is about seventeen shades of ugly pink as a result. meanwhile, my sink sits in enormous boxes in my front hall.

i need to date a contractor - what a GOOOD idea!

Eric said...

Were we going crazy on the house or was the house making us crazy. You did good work this weekend!

eric3000 said...

ms. place, how clever of you to date an electrician! I always thought it would be a good idea to date a mechanic, too.

Cliff, suddenly our stupid DVR isn't working, which saves us from watching all that recorded television!

Aimee, no, you're hot!

laura a, sorry about the condo hunt. I thought it was a good time to be looking in Florida right now. Aren't the builders selling brand new units at huge discounts because they have too much inventory?

cb, don't get a contractor unless you want to spend two years remodeling your bathroom. Contractors are the worst. Just hire a plumber to put in your sink and get a flooring place to come out and do the floor. You don't need a contractor.

Eric, well, the house was making ME crazy. You seemed to be doing OK.

Marius said...

I would have totally surrounded my manhood. But that's just me. Yeah, I'm pretty hopeless. We're proud of you, Eric (and other Eric).

Oh, and Ms. Place, you are very wise. You know, my car needs an oil change; I need to date an mechanic. :)

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you're brave! I'm such a weenie when it comes to electricals. (First time I visited, my mother-in-law said: Who keeps unplugging the coffee-maker?...)

Ms. Place is very smart as well as beautiful, isn't she? Brilliant.

-- desertwind

BigAssBelle said...

hahaha!!!! so funny. the $300 is what an "outrageously expensive" electrician would cost in these parts. guess your outrageously expensive electricians have to make the mortgage payments on their $5,000,000 houses :-)

"You know what would look really hot? Three pendant lights hanging down over the breakfast bar. I think that would look really hot!"

your guy has SUCH an eye!! this is the very thing i have over my own kitchen peninsula/breakfast bar/semi-connected island thingie and it looks HOT!

actually i never thought of it as hot, but it is a really cool look, especially with the antique deco schoolhouse globes i found for the (insanely expensive) pendant lights i ordered from this addictive place:

home ownership is SUCH fun!! such fun. glad to read your update.