Tame remodeling chaos with small wins

Kit Stansley

July 3, 2012

By: Kit Stansley, DIY Diva

In: General Remodeling

I build things and live in a perpetual state of tearing apart and reassembling houses because I love it. For me, when I'm doing something I love, I tend not to be very strict about the rules and timing of the projects, because hey, this is supposed to be fun, right? You can see how this might backfire when "doing what you love" happens to affect things like whether or not you a.) have a working toilet in the house, b.) are sleeping on a pile of sawdust with a sheet thrown over the top for form, and c.) have come close to accidentally coating your skillet with spray foam instead of PAM while making breakfast. More than once.

I recently bought a 150-year-old farm house that needs no small amount of attention and was the perfect excuse for me to indulge in a few -- read, dozen -- projects at once.

Remodel old farmhouse

There's a part of me that loves living in the chaos and believes starting a bunch of projects is a good thing. It assures me that at some point in time I'll get tired of repeatedly puncturing my foot on that tack strip on the stairs and will eventually remove the rest of the carpeting. However, the part of me that sits at a desk during the day and does project planning -- oh, the irony -- occasionally feels the need to step in and straighten things out.

My July projects list looks something like this:

  • Week 1 - Mask off master bedroom and spray prime walls, trim, doors
  • Weekend 1 - Begin siding garage (demo old wood, cultured stone)
  • Week 2 - Refinish old headboard
  • Weekend 2 - Continue siding garage (install soffits & trim)
  • Week 3 - Sort old barn wood for wall art and bonfire
  • Weekend 3 - Continue siding garage (install T1-11)
  • Week 4 - Create wall art for bedroom
  • Weekend 4 - Continue siding garage (finish T1-11, install battens)

With a house older than my great-grandparents, there are some big projects that will take several weeks, if not months, to complete. I spent eighteen months living in my garage while I essentially rebuilt my last house, and what I learned was that it's easy to get burnt out on those big projects if they aren't interspersed with "small wins" to keep my energy and motivation level up. And to indulge my project ADD, of course.

I like to plan for smaller projects during the week when I only have an hour or two to dedicate to them per night, and I save the big projects that may be going on over several weeks for the weekends. Usually I can finish those "small wins" each week, and hey… who doesn't like starting a weekend of installing siding on a garage feeling a little like Superwoman?


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