House in total disarray - need advice, am I being unreasonable??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bought a house in 2003, we gutted it, and have slowly fixed some of it. DH is a home improvement contractor so he had plans for this house and basically tore apart every room. He has a HUGE habit of starting projects and never finishing them fully. So right now out of a 9 room house we have ONE complete room. I knew I was in trouble when he said "we have 30 years to fix the house" right after we bought it. The playroom is missing a door knob, has been since he put the door on 4 years ago. I have no shelves in the closet for games etc. Bathroom has a missing bi-fold door on the closet. The screw fell out 5 years ago. Toilet paper holder was ripped from the wall almost 6 years ago and it finally has mud on it. You get the idea. Our kitchen is awful, poor design, multiple layers of wallpaper/paint, old cabinets but working. He was home one day over a year ago and tore of bits and pieces of wallpaper and never did anything else with it, kept putting it off. I hated the wallpaper but at least it was better than partially covered. Well I finished removing it on Saturday. I would like to paint the kitchen and he's fighting me on it. He says why waste money when we'll be replacing the cabinets, floor, etc. I would agree if we were planning on replacing the kitchen in the next year but that's not in our budget or our plans, probably not even the next 4 years. I'm sooooo mad right now. I asked him last weekend if we could paint and he said sure. I come home last night and he really doesn't think we should do it and it turns into a fight. I don't think I'm being unreasonable. Do you? Maybe I was a little mean when I mentioned how many projects he has started but never completed but I'm so frustrated. He told me if I'm so unhappy with it all then why don't I do it, why does he have to. I guess he doesn't but he knows what he's doing and he has all the materials/tools. I also work 60 hrs a week outside of the home. UGH. I'm tempted to go to the store and buy brushes, mud, caulk, drill etc and just do it all myself.
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#2 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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I have to say (being in the middle of remodeling he!!), that remodeling is only slightly less hard on a marriage than having an affair. Wish I was joking.....

I would come up with a priority list (maybe you each should do one separately), look at what you have time/budget for, and try to come up with a plan together to get some things done without completely losing time to play as a family. Some of the things you're talking about don't seem that hard, expensive, or time consuming....maybe go room by room, so you can have one more "Done"?

I'd love to do this myself, but can't. I'm too busy remodeling....

I'd compromise on painting the kitchen now and doing little projects and put off the kitchen until the rest is done, or you will go nuts.
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#3 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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I think I'd pitch a big fit. Take care of what you can. Hire someone to take care of the rest. No way should your children grow up in a partially finished house. That sounds dangerous to me. Not to mention unsightly, unworthy of playdates, parties and the like.
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#4 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 12:13 PM
 
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Take some time and go from room to room with a pad of paper and pencil. Write down everything that needs to be done in each room. After you do that, prioritize the tasks with in the room from easiest to hardest or least to most expensive.
After you do that, share the list with your dh. See if he is willing to make a plan with you to knock out a job or two each week. Plus, consider what you are able to do on your own. Maybe you can tackle the little projects like the door knobs or re-attaching the toilet paper roll. If you're not really particular about the color of your kitchen, maybe you could buy remnant or miss colored paint and mix a pretty color yourself on the cheap and get it painted yourself for not much money.
Let him know how it feels to be home all day looking at the unfinished work, looking at the half covered walls, trying to make a home for your children that they will remember with pride. Of course you have the next 30 years to work on it but that shouldn't mean that you live in a disorganized fashion for the next 30 years!
Hang in there!

Mother of two. : 4/05 and 1/07 Wife of one. : 7/01
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#5 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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Just separating out points as I see them.

1) No, your husband is not solely responsible for doing the house.

2) He is, however, responsible for completing projects he chooses to start in a reasonably timely manner.

3) Further to above, he is responsible for refraining from starting new projects until he has completed the ones he already started.

4) It's time to hire to get the stuff done.

5) While the above is not manipulative in intention, it MAY spur him to complete a project himself. If so - fine

6) Remodeling is HARD. All DH and I did together was install a new countertop. It was not a good time!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the more reason to hire and just get it done.

This behavior is apparently really common among contractors and otherwise handy guys. My neighbor works in construction and he also has tons of half-finished and just-started projects, it drives his wife crazy. I'm blessed to have a husband who is actually compulsive about finishing projects, though sometimes even that can be annoying (because it means that once a project is started, he'll be working on it day and night till it's done, and he can't handle delays, and if he finds a complication he can't "think it over" he has to decide RIGHT NOW how to handle it, and then immediately drive to get the part he needs, etc.... well, I can't complain but he does have his ways!!).

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#6 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 12:42 PM
 
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you're not being unreasonable. we have a lot of unfinishedness in our house - a lot of the same stuff even! i don't blame dh, but actually i think he blames me because i handle the finances and do all the shopping. otoh, there are plenty of projects that only require work and stuff we already have.

i agree with the idea of making a big list of everything that needs to be done. highlight the ones that require no money. use a different color to highlight projects under $50. you pick your top three and put your initials next to them, and dh picks his top three and puts his initials next to them. those six things are your priorities, followed by things you can do for free/cheap. if there are safety concerns, obviously that ranks high. if there are things that will require outside labor, make a plan for how and when you're going to address those. but you don't have to figure out everything right now - just decide what you're going to start on.

if dh isn't willing to put in the time right now, do you have friends or family who would?
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#7 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 01:10 PM
 
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We're remodeling.

What I've learned:
  • Don't be afraid to do things yourself.
  • If it's beyond your abilities/don't have the time but actually have the money, I would start asking around for quotes.
  • Don't ask for permission, just do it. (like painting the kitchen, if he walks in while you're painting "Oh, won't this look great?! I found a can of paint for $10. A great cheap fix while we're waiting to remodel the kitchen!"
  • Sometimes there are more than one way of doing things. When you're working with someone else (like DH) it can be a bit hard if you each have your own idea, causes arguments, accusations of "You think I'm stupid" etc. Sometimes in these cases, I prefer to work alone.
  • If DH gets cranky and says "Why bother to do this when we're just going to tear it out next year" usually means "I'm tired, I've had a long day at work and I can't even *think* about house stuff right now, never mind actually doing anything."

I would try to make your DH understand that you want things to look nice. You want to live in a relaxing home. Some of our projects will come in stages. Stage one is quick cheap fix to make things look nice for now. Stage two will come later (years from now?) when we're more settled in, have gotten used to our home and know what we want. But we've only been here 6months. I can't imagine living 7 years like that!

Blogging about renovations in our first home
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#8 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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I think you have good advice in this thread. We went through a really similar experience on our first house. I learned that FOR ME it was better to put the energy into doing stuff rather than being mad about stuff.

I'd start by installing the doorknob myself. It might make you feel better, and it's not that hard. And if you want to paint, go ahead and paint, although with a 60 hr/wk job it might be tough to find the time (Easter weekend?).

Remember too though that a home is the people that live there too. It's totally understandable that you're burnt out and want things done. Chances are he's burnt out too. Try to ease up a little, but attack a few things - basically lead by example and see what happens. If nothing good happens you can always yell about it in a few months.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#9 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 01:46 PM
 
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You are married to my husband....
We started remodelling the attic in December. We hired someone to come and do the drywall because we knew that we wouldn't be able to do a very good job at it. I painted it the next weekend. It is still waiting for the electrical to be hoooked up, lights installed, railings, baseboards, a new shelf for the tv, touch up paint (that I can do but not until the rest is done!) And that's just the attic. It will probably get done the last weekend in April because my mom is coming the week after.

There are no baseboards in my bathroom, there are no transition strips between any of my rooms (except the bathroom/hall, go figure), there is no kickboard attached under my kitchen cupboard (there is one laying there that ALMOST fits, but needs to be trimmed, maybe I'll do that today). The stairs are half-sanded and need to be finished so I can clear-coat them. And the list goes ON and ON and ON; and then there's the yard.

I realize that my husband is busy, so am I, but I am still irked that we don't get these projects finished in a timely fashion. The kickboard in the kitchen has been laying like that for 3 years now.

I do a LOT of stuff around here myself. I worked as a plumber for two years so I do all the plumbing (kinda hard to not finish those jobs!) and am fairly handy so I do a lot of other stuff myself. I am quite capable of doing some of the things that are undone but I don''t have the time most of the time. HE doesn't have the motivation. He doesn't have to look at it all day long.

So, in short, yes, do it yourself. Do you have a right to be annoyed, yes. An important life-skill is follow-through. Maybe put it in terms like that, that you are concerned that you are teaching your children that they don't have to follow through on things that they start.

ETA: I used this as incentive, the kickboard under my kitchen cupboard is now installed. (and yes, I did it myself) Also, wanted to mention that I TRY to think about all the odds and ends that DH DOES do... like his obsession with emptying the canister on our Dyson, changing the oil in the cars... etc.

Mom to Kayleigh (05/07) Jacob (05/09) and Ned decluttering 615/2010
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#10 of 14 Old 03-17-2010, 07:38 PM
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yup, i think if you DIY then you will feel more comfortable and accomplished.

here's the thing. when it comes to things that bother me--eg clutter--DH is slow to move on it. he actually likes clutter (to an extent) or really, he's just used to it because it's how he was raised.

so, when his little clutter space gets to be too much for me, i just go through and organize it. i then tell him where those things are. i feel better, he still has his stuff, etc.

i just do it myself. if it's important to me, i do it.

i make the bed every morning. it's important to me. DH--not so much. in fact, he "hates" making the bed because "it's hard and it never looks right when i do it." it's because he just moves the blanket up, he doesn't smooth it out or smooth out the sheet underneath or whatever.

so, you know, it's important to me so i do it.

if this is important to you, then just do it. do it when you can. and he'll either help out or he won't.
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#11 of 14 Old 03-18-2010, 09:29 AM
 
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There's really good advice here, and I wanted to throw this out from my own experience: we moved into a house two years ago that simply needed a little work to "update", etc., and I've found that what pps have said is true --- DIY if you have the skill and time, but don't be afraid to get quotes and have someone come in to finish.

I realize that this is coming from a place where we have been able to save little bits here and there for our "basement fund" and able to put a big chunk from our tax return there -- and that this isn't realistic for everyone -- but it has really, really, really helped our marriage that I am not waiting for my dh to get the Black&Decker books out to figure out how to finish the drywall project.

He did what he knew how to do (install subfloor, put up walls, etc.), and we got a reasonable quote to finish the room. It will be completely done in two weeks. We're both really excited about it -- me because we will have a lovely new living space downstairs and him because he isn't spending weekends trying to learn how to drywall/do cosmetic carpentry after he's just worked a 70 hour workweek.

Anecdotally, my girlfriend and her husband are total DIY'ers ("we can do it, why pay for it?") and they're just about at the divorce stage because she feels like he should be finishing the bedroom project while he simply doesn't want to spend every weekend working on the house.

Mama to A 8/05 and S 11/06
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#12 of 14 Old 03-18-2010, 09:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JsJa2002 View Post
. The playroom is missing a door knob, has been since he put the door on 4 years ago. I have no shelves in the closet for games etc. Bathroom has a missing bi-fold door on the closet. The screw fell out 5 years ago. Toilet paper holder was ripped from the wall almost 6 years ago and it finally has mud on it. You get the idea.
well...install a door knob, hang shelves, put a screw in the door and mud that wall! All easy peasy stuff!
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#13 of 14 Old 03-19-2010, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies. I will start this weekend. I've written a "to do" list for myself and will take care of it. It might take me twice as long but at least it will be done and I'll be happy.
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#14 of 14 Old 03-19-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JsJa2002 View Post
Thank you all for your replies. I will start this weekend. I've written a "to do" list for myself and will take care of it. It might take me twice as long but at least it will be done and I'll be happy.


You can do it!!!!

You've already gotten good advice, so I'll focus on something I didn't see mentioned already. It seems that you have certain expectations of your husband and they may or may not line up with his understanding of your expectations. After you have cooled down a bit and maybe after taking on a few of the "easy" projects yourself, it might behoove your marriage for you and DH to discuss your expectations for the house. Meaning you discuss YOUR expectations, then listen to HIS expectations. They sound miles apart on this thread. It also sounds like you expect him to do the house on his own while you work 60-hour weeks. I can see frustration on both sides of that. Airing out your respective frustrations and really listening to each other can help your marriage long-term in more ways than the house.

Something else, and I am trying to be kind.... If you are working 60 hours a week and DH is a contractor and y'all cannot afford a can of paint as a temporary solution for the kitchen, then there are bigger issues at play here. Solving those issues will go a LONG way towards creating the home you want to live in.... I'm just saying.

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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