Hood River, OR 97031
This story appeared in the
inaugural Spring 1998 edition of Oregon Home magazine.
Tips for Do-Yourself-In Types
By Stu Watson
I could've killed myself. No, seriously, I almost did kill myself. I've got the fried wire cutter to prove it.
If I hold that wire cutter up, I can see through two holes where the edges of the snipper thingies are supposed touch. (To do your own remodeling, you need to know technical terms such as "snipper thingies".)
My wire cutters look like a kid's smile -- with two missing teeth. Round holes, the size of 14 gauge wire, evenly spaced, the same width that wire is spaced in the plastic that wraps the "hot" and "cold" strands into one electrical temperature, called the "volt."
I was in the midst of ripping the hell out of the old kitchen. Sticking out of the floor, right where the new counter and eating bar would go, was this wire.
Without a second thought (without a first thought, actually, which was the heart of the problem), I reached over with the wire cutters, and ....
Sparks flew. I jerked back and landed on my butt. And my heart did the lambada.
So there I am, looking around, glad to be alive -- ALIVE, I tell you, ALIVE!! -- and the only other thing I can think is how damned glad I am that no one was with me at the time, to see what I just about did. No, what I did did, but what I almost did, too, which was DIE.
Thank God someone (not God, but I thanked him, her, it anyway) had wrapped the handles of those snips in rubber.
So you see why I love insulation? And why I hate remodeling?
Take it from someone with far too much inexperience: When you decide to do your own remodeling, you stand a slim chance of retaining control, saving money, and gaining creative satisfaction.
You stand a wonderful chance of killing yourself. If "wonderful" is the right adjective.
Still, I would hate to advise against doing your own remodeling. It's such a wonderful learning experience. But if you simply want to save more money, here is what I learned:
€ Spackle. Also called "joint compound," a glob on a brick in the garden makes a wonderful candle holder. You will need a candle holder on a brick in the garden when you have done something to the electrical service and are waiting for the fire trucks.
€ Kitchen. As a place to chop up vegetables and cook and clean dishes, the kitchen is best left where it is. If you decide to remodel yours while continuing to eat, you might think about moving the refrigerator and an electric frying pan and a microwave and maybe a toaster and blender and Cuisinart into the bathroom. Why? Because that is where you go to make yourself smell like garlic and liver and onions before you go to work. Silly.
€ Plumb. This refers to a piece of string with a weight on the end, like a yo-yo, only it's just a yo. You attach the string to a high point on the wall, let the weight hang down, then note how much the wall looks like a rhombus. You know, a parallelogram. A tilting rectangle? OK, here's a formula to help you: R2xPi/7.04%APR=Ensign. (Something like that. Whatever.)
€ Plumbing. Different from plumb, because it leaks. Remember that when you're finished with plumbing, 1) the hot water is now on your right, and 2) you kept the nails from falling down the drainpipe by stuffing it with spackle, so what makes you think water's gonna go down? Duh-uh.
€ Swatches. We're talking little pieces of paper with paint on them, not goofy wristwatches that turn into folding picnic tables. You will spend hours staring at swatches, but it will do no good. All paint looks good on a swatch. No paint looks good after you apply it to every inch of your house. Not even white. Whatever you do, don't ... trust ... swatches.
€ Sheetrock. This wonderful material is good for all sorts of things, such as closing in water heaters, patching accidental doorways, and filling between where one piece of duct tape ends and another begins. Some people use sheetrock for flooring, but I'm not too hip on that idea. For one, it doesn't take a shine. For two, the dog. And third, it's also called "wallboard." Get it -- wallboard.
Now, to close, an upbeat note. Wallboard is seldom if ever used for wiring. So, if you feel the urge to whack off a hunk with your wire cutters, go ahead. It won't kill you.