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THE JOY OF Getting Your Hands Dirty
M y dad was the kind of guy who avoided contractors whenever he could. He took it upon himself to fix up our family home with his own two hands, and anything he didn’t know how to do, he’d learn. Back then, I was his helper, handing him nails, holding a paintbrush, and just generally being a part of whatever new renovation scheme he’d cooked up that month. And though he was pretty much just self-taught, anybody would admit that he had skill. Looking back, though, there are a couple of projects that I’m a little terrified are still standing. On one rare occasion, my dad actually broke down and hired someone to come in and dig a basement beneath the house. However, he neglected to have them build any means of getting down there. So, my dad and I enclosed a little entrance and, step by step, built an entire staircase to access our brand-new room. Later, I asked him how he managed to pull such a complex task off. “We just went to the library!” he told me. “I kept reading books until it made sense.” Apparently, I’ve inherited my dad’s passion for DIY remodeling. For nearly the past two years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours gutting much of our new-to-us historical home and updating it to 2018 standards. Call me crazy, but I love the work. Whether I’m moving
walls, painting rooms, or building a patio, it all gives me a keen sense of ownership of the place. Every day, I get that satisfying reminder of my own handiwork — the sense that in my own small way, I’ve made our house a home. I’ve had to learn a lot throughout the process. For example, the internet was an invaluable resource when it came to the little bit of framing I did. I had to rip down a couple walls and build up a new one. What took me more than four days would probably have taken someone with experience about two hours, but it also would have been about three times more expensive. And, of course, then I couldn’t brag about it to my family. I’ll be the first to admit that occasionally I take on more than I bargained for. One day, my son and I were looking at the ancient ceramic tile in the house and decided, naively, that we could just take it out ourselves. The first day, we spent two hours chipping away at the bathroom floor, and we only got about half of that little room done. The following few weeks, my son and I had a second job, smashing out the tile, loading it into the wheelbarrow, and dumping it into the trash down the driveway. In the end, we hired somebody to actually put in the floors since we were too exhausted.
All in all, though, our DIY projects have been incredibly rewarding. Years from now, I’ll look at all the work I’ve done and see how well it’s maintained its luster. Meanwhile, in the yard, all the little sprouts will have turned into trees. Seeing it all, I’ll let out a contented sigh. For now, though, I’d better go do some spring landscaping. -Luke Kron, PT Managing Partne
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