The thing is, if you have a handy man, do-it-yourselfer kind of husband, you will probably end up doing-it-yourselfering with him. Big sigh.
Well, to tell the truth, it can be rewarding. We once bought a fixer-upper, renovated it, and sold it for a profit of $25,000. Although we worked on it almost every evening after working all day at our full-time jobs, we plucked away at it every weekend, and I spent all school vacations working on that house for nine months, the experience and profit were very rewarding.
Our rentals had plumbing problems for years. R fixed faucets and drains and made temporary repairs to pipes. I slapped stain sealer, texturizer, and paint on ceilings and walls where water leaked through. We called plumbers, Roto Rooter, and handy men whose ads we found in local newspapers. The “last straw” consisted of chicken noodle slop splatting all over us (right in my face) when we answered an angry call to clean out an inexplicably plugged drain in the basement of one of our duplexes. (Characteristically, the tenants who stuffed the noodle mess down the garbage disposal blamed the folks on the attached side for the drain clog, until we presented them with the evidence.) Finally, we started replacing all the old cast iron pipes in the rental units, one unit at a time. The jobs were tedious (we’re not experienced plumbers) and sometimes harrowing. One time R almost lost his hand when he cut out the main cast iron stack (the three-story-tall one) a bit at a time, starting from the bottom. He rigged a device which held the stack up while he pulled out the section he had just cut. Then he let the pipe fall so he could cut another section. During one of those drops he pulled his hand away 1/100th second before the pipe fell. I, standing by for tool handing and clean-up, almost fainted. However, today he still has both hands, and we hardly ever have plumbing problems at the rental properties. Hugely rewarding.
At our own house, we have built new decks together, painted the whole house inside and out, build two new bathrooms, tiled walls and floors, gutted and rebuilt the family room, and replaced rotted wood siding. I have helped carry tons of dry wall and cement board siding and am not yet crippled or herniated. This summer, R decided the front of the house needed a redo, and we were just the workers to do it.
I pleaded with him, “We’re retired. We need help with this huge job. We have a teenaged neighbor boy who is strong and eager to earn extra cash.”
But, no, this was R’s baby. He spent weeks designing his plan, and I became his helper.
First, we had to take off all the old shingled siding and cover the front with tar paper. The old shingles fell into the bushes below, and guess who was in charge of gathering them all into piles, removing the nails, and transporting them to the trash.
We placed each panel on a board equipped with a pulley. A rope was pulled through that pulley and then through another pulley attached to a board screwed into the overhang below the roof. The end of the rope was then tied to our trailer and pulled by our lawn tractor. I drove the tractor (slowly, carefully) away from the house as the rope pulled the panel up and R maneuvered it into position. Then R dropped the tall ladder against the panel and nailed it to the house in a few places before removing the boards with the pulleys. It was not a smooth operation. Getting the tractor to pull ahead or back up just a “tiny bit” in order to place the panel in precisely the right spot was like asking an erratic bull to inch back just a bit from the cow of his dreams to let her adjust her skirt. Two of the panels fell in the process, and several times we had to take the whole thing down and start over.
Meanwhile, summer decided to give us a great drought and heat wave. We had to quit by noon each day before the sun fully hit the front of the house, or risk being broiled alive. Our neighbors had to put up with the messy looking, partially finished project for several weeks.