HOME TRUTH

THEY MAKE IT LOOK EASY ON TV, BUT AF­TER HALF A DECADE OF HOME “IM­PROVE­MENT”, OUR RENO RE­AL­ITY IS NO BLOCK PARTY

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page - WORDS// RACHAEL JANSEN

Try­ing to fin­ish a home ren­o­va­tion on a bud­get is like play­ing a cross be­tween Tetris and Pac Man. It’s like try­ing to build a wall and pack all the bricks and the bits and pieces in nice and neatly while, at the same time, a greedy lit­tle so-and-so takes great chunks out from un­der you, threat­en­ing to un­der­mine the whole struc­ture.

Where the chunks are miss­ing, you race back to fill them, only to find out the yel­low bud­get chom­per is chew­ing away on a dif­fer­ent sec­tion of your wall, or house, as the case may be.

Just when you think you’ll be able to fin­ish one sec­tion of wall, that lit­tle chom­per shows up in another sec­tion and you re­alise you have a bloody great gap in your house. Or bud­get, as the case may be.

We’ve been ren­o­vat­ing for more than five years now. By ren­o­vat­ing, I mean putting off ren­o­vat­ing and liv­ing in a house that is part 1978 and part 2011.

When we bought the place five-and-half years ago, we went in (nail and glue) guns blaz­ing. Walls came tum­bling down, as did ceil­ings and in­su­la­tion, and we spent three over-ex­cited months tak­ing our then very young off­spring to a con­struc­tion site ev­ery week­end while we played DIY

At the time, it seemed a good idea to only tackle the ab­so­lute ne­ces­si­ties and get through the “first stage” of renos as quickly as pos­si­ble so that we could move in and worry about the rest at a later date.

That date is yet to ar­rive. Like any sen­tence that starts with “it seemed like a good idea at the time”, it prob­a­bly wasn’t.

With a limited bud­get left and sev­eral ar­eas that need at­ten­tion, the sec­ond stage of the reno is turn­ing into a slow process, pri­mar­ily be­cause, as any home­owner knows, one job leads to another – which leads to another.

I re­alise now that a reno will never be fin­ished – not as long as you live in the place any­way. Es­pe­cially when you have kids... the walls are no longer An­tique White USA and have in­stead turned more of a Muddy Mis­sis­sippi, as have the car­pets.

While hubby and I ar­gue over pri­or­i­ties (his is new bath­rooms, mine is a trip to Hawaii), the renos com­pleted five years ago are com­ing due for a re­fresher any­way.

At the rate we’re go­ing, we’ll just have to start all over. Which begs the ques­tion: Why bother with stage two at all? We may as well just go to Hawaii – swap lay­ing car­pet for a flower lei – and sell the house in another decade’s time as a “fixer up­per”.

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