Demolition Man (#142)

IMG_9165I’m not very handy. I’m super competent, yes, in small ways: I can change a tire, hang pictures, put up window treatments, paint, tape trim, move spiders outside, clean lint out of the dryer vent, plunge a toilet, and get plant cuttings to root.

But Do It Yourself projects? Uh, no. I didn’t even know what studs were until I met Andy. (Yes, ha, and yes, true.) DIY scares me, probably because my father’s efforts at anything beyond caulking involved profanity and fears of an untimely death. In Dad’s defense, though, any DIY project such as cementing the bannister back down undoubtedly had to be undertaken because of child-related mayhem.

But my husband? Very handy, thanks to years as an unpaid laborer for his father. As Andy says, “My dad taught me how NOT to do everything.” Besides, why would Jay pay for help when he could save money and do it himself (translation: have Andy do it)? Contractors were only hired after Andy left home. Every time we visit Andy’s parents, though, Jay puts Andy to work.

After we married, Andy and I moved to a house built in the 50s and remodeled in the 70s. The main bathroom had puke-green walls. A cheap vanity and a glorified plywood box holding recessed lights over the sink added to the cave-like quality of the room.

Andy said, “New toilet. New sink. By-bye linoleum floor. And that lighting box has gotta go.”

I groaned. “But who are we gonna hire? How will we know they are trustworthy?”

“What are you talking about? We’ll do it ourselves! It’ll be much cheaper!”

“What are YOU talking about? We’re not qualified!”

“The bathtub is fine. It’s really just demolishing and then putting in a whole new floor, patching drywall, putting in light fixtures and the new toilet and sink. It’ll only take a week – are you listening?”

“No. You lost me at whole new floor.”

Andy dragged me off to Home Depot. We picked out a new toilet, a pedestal sink, and a cabinet. The salesperson asked if we wanted their certified plumbers to handle the installation. I said yes.

Andy said no.

I said, “We have to move the pipes in the floor to pipes in the wall for the sink.”

“I can do it,” Andy insisted. “I already tiled the townhouse bathroom and I’ve installed multiple toilets.”

“And have you moved plumbing pipes from floor to wall?”

“I’m sure I could do it. There are YouTube videos–”

“Ahem. We have ONE full bathroom. Until the work is done, I have to share a tiny half-bath with you. You have a full time job. I want this done ASAP.” I turned back to the salesman. “We will take your plumbers.”

“Even though they cost a fortune,” Andy muttered.

“Cheaper than a divorce,” I muttered back.

Andy cheered up when we picked out a sledgehammer. (I didn’t ask what he visualized swinging at.) He bought a cement board, tiles, and grout — after I’d approved the colors. We got drywall patching stuff, a tile cutter, and a bunch of other thingies. And then we got to work.

Well, Andy got to work. Our bathroom really only has room for one. He spent hours removing the toilet and vanity. Then he sat in the mess and drank a beer. Andy believes in pacing himself.

I do not. Show me a project and all I see is the finish line. There is no food, no drink, no nothing until the work is done.

Also, I was in a terrible mood because a) my college football team was losing a game and b) clearly Andy had underestimated how long the project would take. So I picked up the sledgehammer and beat the crap out of the lightbox.

Very therapeutic. Even though Andy made me stop and put on safety goggles.

Then we tore up the floor. (Well, Andy tore it up. I mostly carried debris to the trash.) All that was left were the wooden boards above the crawl space. And there were spaces between the boards. Huge ones.

“Black widows could fit through those EASILY,” I informed Andy.

“No black widows are going to come in.”

“You’re kidding, right? They love dark, wet places. Our only bathtub is right here. Can’t you put the cement board down?”

“I have to cut it to fit the bathroom floor, and I can’t do that until the plumbers come and redo the plumbing. If I had been allowed to the plumbing myself— where are you going?”

“Gonna shower at the gym. You can tell those black widows you’re already married…for now!”

When I came back, Andy had cut a piece of plywood and put it in as a temporary floor. He never admitted the black widows had come calling, but I know. I know.

The plumbers came and redid the plumbing. Andy fitted the cement board and worked on the dry wall repairs. Andy began spacing tiles. I took over, inserting whimsical fish tiles in with the plain cream ones to spice up the bathroom. Andy grouted. He refused to let me help. I picked out paint. We repainted. Andy cut baseboards. I painted those. Our boxes with the cabinet, the toilet, and the sick arrived. The plumber returned to complete the installation.

I directed him to the boxes. The plumber opened them and came back to me. “There’s no tank.”

“What? No, no, the fish tiles are just there for decorations, we’re not actually putting in a fish tank.”

“Not a fish tank. The tank for the toilet. It’s not here.”

“Oh, the TOILET tank, oh, that makes more – those bastards!”

An hour later, Home Depot promised that the tank would be arriving in two days. I unpacked the other boxes, and discovered that the bottom portion of the cabinet – the part with legs and feet – was also missing. I called Home Depot again. I may have had a bit of a tantrum. They promised the legs would arrive in a week.

The cabinet piece showed up in two days. The toilet tank? A week. And the plumbers couldn’t return until a week after that.

Andy, of course, said, “You know, if I you’d let me do the plumbing we’d have been done by now.”

“Maybe. Or maybe it would have been harder than you thought and you’d only be halfway through and drinking beer.”

“And I would have been able to drink craft beer because we’d have saved money…” Then he stopped talking. Cuz he likes being married.

At least the floor was done and we could shower spider-free.

IMG_3756When the plumber finally came back to finish the job, he stopped short when he walked into the bathroom. “Wow! These tiles look great! What company did your tiles?”

“Oh, my husband did those.”

“By himself?”

“I helped.”

“Very professional job.”

The plumber was equally professional, and our new sink and toilet were soon installed and gleaming. The plumber handed me his business card when he left. He said I could call him if we had any trouble, since his work was guaranteed for a year. I could also call him if we had any other plumbing issues.

He did a good job. I never had to call him about the bathroom. But several months later, the pipe broke under the kitchen sink.

As I held the flashlight for Andy, I said, “Hey, I still have the Home Depot plumber’s card.”

“I can do this,” Andy insisted. “I just need to replace this one part.”

I opened my mouth. Shut it again. And said, “Knock yourself out, babe.”

It actually took TWO trips to Home Depot, but Andy fixed the pipe.

With a lot of profanity.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

27 thoughts on “Demolition Man (#142)”

  1. My husband is very handy. He can do most things including toilets but he doesn’t like plumbing. He will gladly contract that out. I redid a bath once. It was the only one I had and it took a full week. I wanted a specific tub and vanity mirror. I wanted to pre-order and have it before the job started. The contractor said not to worry they PROBABLY were in stock. They weren’t. I had to pick something else. As for the mirror he picked out something I hated while I was at work. Had to move but the bathroom looked great (except for the mirror).

  2. Did you change your theme or is this caused by an error? o-o It looks… so different. (I liked the other one a lot better)

    Well, it’s good that Andy got to learn all those skills. It helps with the savings. (I’m also the kind who likes to save money and tries to learn how to do SOME of the things myself. Especially since most men who worked and installed my counters, for example, did it all wrong. And this is just one example.)

    DIY can be lots of fun sometimes~

    Do you find owning a house to be worse than renting one?

    I personally like the idea of having my own house better. A few years back, I used to live in a rented apartment and it sucked. I mean, whenever I called the landlord to fix the stuff that wasn’t working, he sent poorly qualified professionals or unqualified people or whatever, and of course the problem persisted. Like, a few days after I moved in, there were issues with the boiler. At first, I had no idea, and I only figured out that it wasn’t working properly after a month or so. He sent some men. Really, they acted like gorillas. I mean, they were supposed to arrive early in the day, or at least before 7pm. They came at 10 pm. -_- And I was not able to answer their calls or “knocking” on the door and instead of them leaving, they decided to disturb the whole building and almost take down my door! Seriously, some people. -_- (I could write tons on this theme, but I better not. T-T I don’t think my family will react well to such a post… Or maybe I’ll find a way to sneak it in there. >.<) Oh yeah, I would have brought qualified people myself if it wasn't for the man to say that I dunno what happened to his stuff because of them. *Sigh*

    1. IS my theme still purple? I used some pictures of flowers for background. Maybe I should change it up for summer.

      I do like owning a house and being able to do whatever I want with it. You know, typical control freak. I like having flower beds and I love my yard except now when it is too hot to go outside. Then I wish I had the apartment with central AC.

      If I didn’t have Andy to deal with the sprinklers, though, I think it would be a lot of maintenance. Maybe not worth it. 🙂

      1. Yeah, now it is back to what it used to be. Twenty something. (I think it was a glitch or something before.)

        Hahaha, I am more or less the same. “Control (small) freak”. xD

  3. We just bought our first home and I swear one of us is at HD at least twice a week. Pre-marital counseling should involve some sort of discussion on what kind of impact DIY projects and HGTV can have on a couple during the first year of marriage.

    1. An excellent point! We had to do premarital counseling in order to qualify for a religious ceremony, and there was no discussion of home improvement. Ministers need to up their game. Less talk about kids. More talk about sledgehammers.

      1. Was Andy ok doing premarital counseling? Let’s just say my dad is a crazy Catholic and Richard just popped a question, so this might be something I need tips on! As a fellow white woman joining a Chinese family (ach!!) and planning a wedding, I will need your almighty wisdom.

        1. Oh, since Andy’s parents were the ones insisting on a religious ceremony, and we couldn’t have one unless we did counseling, you’d better believe the man was okay with it! 😉 Yet I was the one who had to find the minister, etc. Sigh. And now…

          OMG!!!! SQUEAL TO THE ROOFTOPS! Richard proposed! Congratulations and confetti and ALL THE CELEBRATORY THINGS!

          My advice is, as always, to NOT do everything I did. Actually, you are way, way, ahead of me, and it will be clear sailing for you because you already researched the culture and nothing will take you by surprise.

          My advice would be to smile and nod and pretend you will do exactly as they say and then do whatever you want. It works for Andy. 🙂

  4. Dang Andy is super helpful!!! Who knew that putting your son to work would create the ultimate handyman. I’m not very DIY either, but like Andy, my boyfriend doesn’t want to spend money unless it’s absolutely necessary… which has forced him to pick up a lot of handyman skill sets. Very useful!

    And wow, I want to sledgehammer stuff. That sounds fun!

    1. Men kill me. I mean, given how much money Andy makes an hour, does it REALLY make sense for him to spend three hours shaving and bathing a dog? IT DOES NOT.

      Plumbers, though…plumbers are expensive. He might have a point on plumbers.

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised if people called him Handy Andy 😀 No matter the profanities – he managed to get the plumbing fixed in the kitchen. And I hope the plumbing still stands today in the bathroom and nothing went wrong. But if it did, I’m sure Andy could have held his own.

    I’ve never had my own home before, but I look forward to it and all the DIY, both big and small, that comes with it. As Andy said, there is YouTube..

    1. Nothing went wrong with the bathroom’s plumbing. The main line to the sewer, though? Something went quite wrong. But that’s another post.

      I love all the finishing touches that come with redoing a room — window treatments, pillows, candlesticks, candy bowls…I could mess around with those for hours. 🙂

      1. You left out messing with and picking out bed sheets. New bed sheets… I’ve been telling myself I’ve want new sheets for a year now. Still haven’t found the perfect one yet 🙂

  6. Wow, Andy is so pro! Here hiring people to do it is so cheap that doing it yourself is really too much trouble. However the results are not exactly ideal. The cold water in my bathroom tap comes out when you turn the knob to the left, although the knob is red in that side (so, should be hot).

  7. We hired a plumber once who combined swearing with praying. He was all — “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” He considered it a form of praying too.

    My dad was a carpenter, so, yes, I knew how to do a few things. He even let me use his big skill saw a few times. Mostly, though, I did painting, varnishing, and sanding. One of my summer jobs was to paint the trim on our two-story house. I’m surprised he let me do it because he was so safety conscious.

    My husband was another of those unusual DIY Chinese guys. He would try anything. We did a lot of remodeling when we moved back to the States. The only problem: Because of my dad, I knew what perfect looked like.

    Now I just hire a professional.

      1. Mostly I bit my tongue. He was pretty handy, but … you know, not as good as my dad. When there was something I cared about and knew it would be hard to accomplish, I suggested hiring someone.

  8. It’s great to have a handy man about. Truly. Somehow that makes them more – manly. I know, that is horrible to say and unfair to those who are not handy. But seriously, I get so turned off by a man who doesn’t know how to fix or do things. I suppose I was spoiled with a father who was an engineer and a stepdad in construction…yes, I blame it on them 😉

    1. I think that competence — in whatever form it takes — is exceptionally attractive. But unless you work with your spouse, you don’t always get to see them being competent. If a guy is handy on the stove or replacing window screens, it’s instantly visible. And so very hot.

      Just like the folding of the laundry or the cleaning of the bathroom would be. If I saw that.

    1. The fountain is an elephant mother holding an elephant baby. I need a better camera!

      Yes, that is the fear that all owners face when they rent. A house trashed. Ugh. I hope you kept their security deposit!

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