Home remodeling blog: How much should you DIY? - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:00 am / Updated at 11:12 pm
Home remodeling blog: How much should you DIY?

World-Herald reporter Roger Buddenberg and his wife are embarking on a major home remodeling project. He'll blog about the ups and downs, delays and accomplishments at omaha.com/living

* * *

----------------------------------------------The How

March 14

We've abandoned the Band-Aid approach — you know, covering up the worst parts of the kitchen and ignoring the rest while turning up the TV — in favor of a remodel. But we need to decide how to tackle that.

Do it yourself?

Out of the question. Even if we hired out the scariest bits, like plumbing and electrical, the DIY route would still take forever. There are only so many takeout pizzas you can eat before you want your kitchen back. And based on our experience with bathroom projects, I don't think our marriage would survive.

How about acting as general contractor, hiring out most of the work but orchestrating it ourselves?

Tempting. It could save a bunch of money. The big box stores and cabinetry places offer free design help (in the hope you'll buy their materials and hire their installers).

But even so, the scale of a full-blown remodel — eliminating walls, moving plumbing, coordinating subcontractors — makes this option too daunting. It'd still take a lot of our time, and we've got day jobs. And the marriage would still give way like drywall under a sledgehammer.

No, we've got to hire someone to do the whole thing. Someone my wife can look in the eye like Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and say, "Make it so."

Because I don't want that to be me.

We need someone we can trust to get the job done pronto. And who maybe will save us a few dollars and my handyman ego by letting me do a few tasks around the edges.

Oh, must love dogs too. Or at least tolerate them. Big dogs, two of them. Good grief, what ARE we going to do with the dogs while this is going on? This is going to get tricky.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The beginning

March 8

Gulp. We knew this day would come.

When my wife and I bought our Omaha home 14 years ago, a friend dubbed it "the Cleaver house." White two-story. Paned windows. Shady yard. The only thing missing, she said, is a white picket fence and a kid named Beaver.

More was missing, in fact. And what wasn't missing was wearing out. In short, it was a fixer-upper. We knew that. That's how we could afford it. We went in with eyes open.

The kitchen has always loomed like a wall cloud over the other fix-up projects. Painting rooms we could do, no problem. Ripping the mint-green disco shag off the wood floors — that we could do. We built shelves, updated lighting, even overhauled a couple of bathrooms, stretching my DIY skills to the limit.

Still the kitchen loomed. If we're going to stay in the house, we said — heck, even if we're going to ever sell the house — then something has to be done with the kitchen. Something big. A makeover, not a comb-over.

Nibbling at its edges — new Formica on the countertops, new light fixtures, a lick here, a promise there — held us for a while. But nothing could disguise the cabinets, site-built in the 1960s and now falling apart in places. Nor the closed-off, galley-style layout, which might have suited June Dear when the Cleavers lived here but did not suit my Current Wife.

"In the kitchen of the future," she has been saying for roughly 14 years, "we will have double ovens. The kitchen of the future will have an island. And a gas cooktop. The kitchen of the future will have a wine rack." And so on.

The husband of the future mostly muttered to himself and tried not to think about it. But because I desperately love her, and because a gas cooktop does sound pretty cool, the day has come. The future is now. The kitchen commences. Both daughters have now made it through college — even snagged juicy scholarships along the way, which makes it easier for Mr. and Mrs. Empty Nest to contemplate the remodel.

This will be an account of our contemplations. Let it begin. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of home improvement.

Contact the writer: Roger Buddenberg

roger.buddenberg@owh.com    |   402-444-1140

Roger helps edit national and foreign news that The World-Herald receives via wire services. He also writes local stories supplementing that news.

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