The Reno

Ms Soapbox is on week six of an eight week renovation. The sad little room in the photo is what is left of her writing room. She’s taken to working in the basement wrapped in a blanket and her energy is flagging.

While this situation lends itself to all sorts of clever analogies of life in Alberta under the UCP, at this point Ms Soapbox is simply going to wish everyone a happy Sunday and go watch some golden statues get handed out to people she doesn’t know in movies she hasn’t seen.  

Talk to you next Sunday.


PS Feel free to share you reno stories with me…as they say misery loves company.

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39 Responses to The Reno

  1. Leslie Sage says:

    I employed “Euro Design Remodel” for my bathroom renos. Big mistake. These clowns had no idea what a “drop dead” deadline was. They dragged out to 6 weeks what should’ve taken 2.

    • ingamarie says:

      As I said elsewhere….the reno space in albaturda is crawling with guys with trucks who don’t often actually know what they are doing. Been there….experienced that.

    • Leslie, your note reminded me of something a friend recently told me. They redid their bathrooms only to discover the contractor screwed up the light in the shower which shorted out and shocked someone. After that they had someone come in and check every single socket the guy had touched.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Light ‘in’ the shower? Nice, maybe I’ll call the co. and see if they’ll install a toaster in my bathtub, because I like toast anytime.😜

        Seriously, I would want to see an electrical engineering degree, or at the very least a Master Electrician’s ticket before I allowed anyone to install an electrical appliance in my shower.

      • GoinFawr, I see your point. I believe in this case it was one of those ceiling pot lights that (if properly installed) are safe to use in the shower, although in this case the electrician didn’t know what he was doing. My friend complained to the owner of the company.

        You know since we’ve started this reno we’ve heard so many stories about projects that ran three times longer than planned and were ridiculously over budget (you’re at the mercy of the contractor when your house is ripped apart!)

        One of the more bizarre stories I heard was the poor guy who bought windows which, when delivered, were too big to fit into the existing openings. The window supplier used his own guy to do the measuring, the guy screwed up, and the window company gave the homeowner a choice: buy new smaller windows or break into the exterior walls to make the opening bigger. What the company didn’t do was swallow the cost of their own mistake. .

  2. Just think how FABULOUS it will be soon!!!! Hang in there!

    • Thanks Linda, I must say I’m looking forward to getting back into my study. My books, newspapers, everything is scattered from one end of this house to the other. It’s driving me bonkers!

  3. John Sinclair says:

    I recently had tile flooring installed on about half our main floor. The tile flooring is actually very nice. But when they were doing it they managed to soak the living room carpet, gouge the hardwood staircase, and punch a hole in some wallpapered drywall. Now that the tile is finished I have the wonderful job of finding new wallpaper, fixing the drywall, and waiting on the fix to the hardwood staircase. All this while my wife was critically ill and undergoing surgery in hospital, it was a very stressful time. I am not even thinking of doing the repairs until my wife’s medical issues are resolved.

    • Oh John, that’s dreadful. I hope your wife is feeling better. It’s stressful enough to be dealing with illness in the family, let alone add the stress of home renos gone wrong. All the best to you and your wife.

  4. mikegklein says:

    I always like to cheer my heroes on. You’re one of them. Then there are reno heroes, gotta cheer them on like crazy! But, (Why does always seem to be a butt involved?), try doing a reno job on your life, that’s brutal! , or pronounced more like broodle these days. Sorry about misspelling but. I try to keep on online language civil.
    You will succeed and it will then be “The Room”. It’ll put you at ease every moment thereafter.

    • mikegklein says:

      By the way, from the picture, I’m guessing this is DIY. Patience is a key ingredient no matter. DIY, you will feel wonderful, even though eventually you will notice little niggling things that may or may not deserve to be addressed. By the way, Ingamarie and Lee Neville offer what I judge to be valuable advice, DIY or otherwise.

      • Mike: not DIY (thankfully). When we were younger we did all this stuff ourselves but we’re past that now. My youngest daughter is quite the DIY-er, she painted the interior of her entire house, did the wallpapering and and some plumbing. She says it’s all there on YouTube. (I’m not so sure about that!)

    • Mike: gee thanks!
      And you’re right, there are reno heroes as well. Our painter is a wonderful guy, he shows up when he says he’s going to show up, checks with me if something is unclear, just a lovely man. He’s so conscientious that everything is covered in tarps and plastic sheeting, even the inside of the closets, which came as a surprise when I opened the linen closet door and ran smack into a plastic sheet!

  5. Ingamarie says:

    Do take care with those renovations….in Albaturda, as a commentator on Tyee calls us, scam artists patrol the reno space. We know….we’ve been had a time or two.

    But do persevere….and make it climate sustainable if possible. We don’t have a lot of time to stop emitting and start preserving

    • That’s good advice Ingamarie. When we lived in Pennsylvania we were warned about scam artists who’d come to your house to clean your gutters, then “fall” off a ladder and sue you for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone said you absolutely had to see an up to date copy of the workers compensation insurance.
      PS thanks for the reminder about sustainability.

  6. Sharon says:

    Ah renos! This was supposed to be a six week job, but….Took a whole year to have two bathrooms updated. Had a large bin on the driveway. It was there for so long the neighbours thought we were redoing the whole house. In the process, a newly installed wall mirror cracked…scary but no one was hurt. One of the workman stuck his foot through the subfloor into my kitchen. And let’s not forget the water that started to drip into the kitchen from the shower above – poor connection with the shower drain. Enjoying them now but won’t be doing that again.

    • Oh my God Sharon! Your story sounds like the movie the Money Pit.
      We heard about a couple who bought a new house built during the last construction boom. On their first night in the house they were lounging in their big soaker bathtub with glasses of chilled champagne, they pulled the plug and the water ran straight out of the tub and wrecked the custom kitchen cabinets below. The plumber forgot to connect the pipes.

  7. Bob Miller says:

    Hey Susan – Bob Miller here (from Briar Hill

  8. Lee Neville says:

    You have all my best wishes to success in your reno work – they always follow “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” arc.

    Living amongst the mess of the reno is also part of the joy/horror as very few of us have the luxury of being able to move into alt digs while the work is being done where we live. My only suggestion is forgive quick the mistakes/errors, be prepared to change plan/approach as warranted, acknowledge its going to cost at least twice what you budgeted and take 3 times longer than planned. Red wine helps!

    Oh, take needed breaks from the work if you’re doing it yourself – be sure to get the hell out of the house with loved ones and live/recreate/recharge/rejoice anew the positives of the personal relationships involved than stay squatted down amongst the mess and chaos that seemingly never ends.

    Its cold cold comfort to have completed a desired reno and find everyone involved is exhausted, resentful of being exhausted and mad as hell at one another – my first marriage fizzled out completely after finishing an expensive, grueling multi-facetted/multi-year renovation of a neglected property. Wouldn’t wish that kind of horrible travail that on my worst enemy.

    • Lee thank you for your words of wisdom. They could be applied to life as well.

      As you said, it’s easy to become focused on the task (is it being done right, is it being done fast enough, is it too disruptive) and stew about it when in the end it will be finished one day and like everything in life it won’t be perfect but it will be better than where we started.

      This is especially true in an old house. This project came about because our insurance company decided we had to rip out the last of the knob and tube wiring. And we said, well if we’re going to have to bring in an electrician and a drywaller and a painter to repair the holes in the walls why don’t we redo the upstairs bathroom and repaint the entire second floor. What started “small” quickly became a whale.

      Luckily we haven’t suffered the misfortunes some of the others have outlined here, our project is on schedule (but not on budget). C’est la vie.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful advice.

  9. SHEILA King says:

    I love your column and look forward to its arrival

  10. Dave says:

    The current Alberta UCP version of the reno, is to spend some money, paper or paint over all the cracks and make it look nice and hope the buyer (ie. the voter) doesn’t want a close inspection or doesn’t get a good inspector.

    The main stream media could in theory be that good inspector, but ideologically they lean conservative and don’t have the inclination, energy or resources to do much. So I suppose it will be up to those who can see the sham to loudly and clearly point it out and hope the message gets out enough.

    Reno’s are draining and not always fun in reality unlike the happy ones I sometimes watch on HGTV. Awards shows where fairly well spoken generally pleasant people gratefully accept awards are a nice break too and as a bonus no slaps this year.

    If you want more awards shows, the Juno’s are tonight on CBC this year with a focus on Alberta.

    • Well said, Dave.
      As it happened we missed the Academy Awards, but caught some of the results in Twitter screen grabs that others were sharing.
      I was thinking about what you said about renos being draining and would add that politics are just as exhausting, especially here in Alberta. It’s a really good idea to take a time out now and then, to catch a breath and regain our equilibrium before plunging back into the fray.

  11. Linda says:

    Renovations are so exciting when one is planning. Then the actual reno begins & life takes unexpected turns. It has been 19 years since we last renovated anything & I am only now willing to venture into it again. Something about living nearly 4 months without a working kitchen, eating out or eating something off the BBQ, huddled in our basement like some kind of mole people, surrounded by our belongings covered with plastic sheeting – aaaaaahhhhh! To be fair, we were pretty much renovating most of the house. It had all begun with removing one wall to open up our living space between the kitchen/dining area & expanded from there. We had those awful ‘popcorn’ ceilings, which I’d never liked & in order to scrape them down & put in lovely, flat, washable ceilings meant most of the house ended up having something done to it. We loved the end result – still do, so money well spent. However, neither one of us wanted to eat out or BBQ anything for several months post reno. We totally understood those folks who work in chocolate factories who never eat chocolate! Best of luck with your reno Susan – hope it all goes smoothly & you love the end result:)

    • Linda, I smiled when you talked about life with no kitchen and being huddled in the basement like mole people. We renovated our kitchen in 2016, it took about a month and, like your project spread into the dining room and the living room. At one point one of the workman was trying to jackhammer out the concrete base to the hearth. He said the concrete was tougher than anything you’d see on our city streets. But, like you we loved the end result. We forgot all about the nuisance of it all and plunged back in 7 years later.
      It’s like the pain of childbirth, you forget all about it after the baby arrives and like an idiot you get pregnant and do it all over again.


    Well, just focus on how lovely it will be when it is done.

  13. Carlos says:

    I am sorry for anyone doing renos !
    Gosh it is hard to have a place in renovation and unfortunately John Sinclair just had the perfect storm – I am sorry John and I hope your wife will be well soon.

    I have had similar experience and I DREAD renos unless I am doing it and I break something myself.

    One time we had an electrician fixing a light in the bathroom and he was a fairly big person and he fell on my shower stall and broke the doors – well I will not talk about the sequence of events. NO FUN

  14. Carlos says:

    Lets try one more time

    On the political side I could not agree more with this post

    It astounded me that while in power they did not do much to define themselves but in the opposition is not any better and that alone defines them as not being ready to govern. To be honest I am not sure they are.

    They are good at getting money which is our favorite sport in Alberta but not much has helped since Danielle Smith started barking lies day in and day out. Suddenly she went a bit silent and I am sure it is because her handlers must have convinced her that so much crap can really discourage the voters.

    The fact of the matter is that the UCP has none of those problems – they lie every time they say anything at all and Albertans love a snake oil sale event much more than real issues and the UCP knows it.

    I apologize to all Albertans but deep inside we know we either are profoundly uneducated, rednecks or both.

    The NDP assumed that the Danielle show alone would give them the win but they forgot that at least half of Albertans live in a virtual reality.

    • Carlos, thanks for this comment and the link to David’s blog. I too worry that the NDP’s election messaging isn’t clear.

      David mentioned Brian Mason who said it was important for the NDP to define the UCP in the voters’ minds. I agree with that, but also remember that pundits said Notley made a mistake in the 2019 election by attacking Jason Kenney (frankly I don’t remember that, but that’s what they said).

      I wondered whether this complaint was rooted in the fact that conservatives expect the UCP to go negative, but high minded NDPers don’t like it when their leader does the same. What they fail to realize is that negative campaigning works and it might be very effective when you’re up against an opponent like the UCP and their perfidious leader.

  15. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. I hope all goes well with your home improvements. Alberta does need improvement, by removing the UCP from power. I’ll share some more music. Here is a composition, written by Graham Nash, with the supergroup, Crosby Stills Nash & Young. It is Our House. It is from 1970.

  16. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my next song pick. It is from 1968. It is a composition from Aretha Franklin And Ted White; Be As Good To Me As I Am To You. Eric Clapton is on guitar here, as a musical guest. This is in my music collection and it is very fitting.

    • Dwayne, isn’t that an amazing sentiment: be as good to me as I am to u. For some reason it brought to mind RStar…some of us obey the law for free, others demand payment to do the same. Something is terribly wrong with that mentality.

  17. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. This is a Joni Mitchell composition, from 1970, Big Yellow Taxi. It is still so relevant to today. Joni Mitchell is one our great Canadian singers and songwriters.

  18. Dwayne, I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell. The line about putting trees in a tree museum and charging people $1.5o to go see them reminded me of the UCP’s fee to enter provincial parks. My daughter does a lot of hiking and said they may say the fee goes to park upkeep but from what she’d seen that’s not the case.
    We have to be on guard all the time with this government. They were ready to sell off the Rockies (or a part of them) to the coal companies until we caught them and forced them to stop.
    As Joni Mitchell says: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

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