I knew that we had months of work ahead of us but I figured I would feel better about the whole thing as we progressed and finished some of the most essential rooms (i.e. living/dining room, our bedroom, the kitchen and the bathroom). I thought we would work really hard to get those rooms done first as they were the most important and then afterwards we could tackle things like the entryway, the hallway, the stairwell, the water closet (because do you really need nice walls to take a shit?), the guest bedroom and my office (because I didn’t need the walls and baseboards to be painted in order to be able to work in there). Boy was I wrong on how this would go. And now, 2.5 months into the renovations, we literally still do not have a single room that is entirely completed. And it is really starting to wear on me and stress me out.
The guest bedroom
The upstairs hallway
You see, I am very organized by nature. I like to sit down, make a detailed plan, make a to-do list, and then follow it as closely as possible. I like to have an idea of when something is going to happen, how it will happen and who is going to do it. I don’t like to jump in head first without having a decent plan. I also am very independent by nature and like to have control over my own life. Suffice it to say that these renovations are far from organized (in fact, disorganized doesn’t even begin to describe this whole chaotic mess) and they have entirely stripped me of my independence and control. I am less than happy with the whole situation but unfortunately there is very little I can say or do about it because, well, first of all, we don’t own the house and we don’t have the means or desire to buy this house right now. Since this is my in-laws house (or at least it eventually will be once they sell another house they own and buy up the rest of the parts of this house from the family), they are in control. They are the ones paying for the majority of the renovations because if we ever decided we didn’t want to live in Bordeaux or Lionel is unable to find a job here, it would still be their house and they would rent it out. They are the ones who want to buy it because my father-in-law grew up in this house. So they are the ones who have to put the money into fixing walls, building a kitchen, remodeling the bathroom, etc. Which literally means that I have absolutely no control over anything that is happening in the house in which I am forced to live. There are only two bright sides - they do not expect us to pay them any rent until the work is completed and my French renovation vocabulary has expanded ten-fold.
Now, seeing as I am going insane and can’t take it anymore, it would be easy to say that we should just go rent an apartment for a year until the work is completed. Except that right now, there is no way anyone would rent us an apartment. My company is still not set up and even then I question whether an auto-entrepreneur status is secure enough to get us a lease. Not to mention the fact that Lionel doesn’t have a job yet. So we are basically stuck in renovation hell with no plan and no end in sight.
But anyway, back to the renovations. Now I don’t want it to sound like I don’t like my in-laws because that is far from the truth. But they are driving me crazy right now. My father-in-law absolutely refuses to sit down together and make a plan of action. He just ignores everyone else’s advice or criticism and he won’t work as a team. It’s his way or the highway and he wants to be the only one to do the work. So, instead of having a well thought out course of action and all working together as a team to get this done as quickly as possible, he shows up every weekend and starts working on whatever he feels like working on that day with no rhyme or reason. It really seems to depend on which way the wind is blowing at any given moment and he jumps from room to room doing a little bit here and a little bit there but never actually completing a single space. He also won’t give anyone else any direction and sometimes tries to keep us from even being able to help out with anything (like when he takes all the tools we need home with him so we can’t do anything during the week). Between all of that and the fact that half of what he does is just illogical and on a whim, I am pretty much ready to explode from the frustration of it all.
A few examples of the most annoying moments of the renovations:
- The day he decided that he would rent a sander and sand down all of the hardwood floors in the house, stopping all other renovation work and making a ton of noise on a weekday when I was trying to work and call clients on the phone. We hadn’t even been talking about redoing floors anytime soon and now all the floors are sanded, but not refinished. We still have plaster to sand and painting to do which is all getting stuck on the sanded floors (because my father-in-law basically refuses to protect anything before working) meaning we will have to sand them again before they can be refinished.
- The day he decided to paint the ceiling in the kitchen but not protect anything. By the time we found out what he was up to all the appliances, dishes, silverware, table, fruits and veggies, etc were covered in paint splatter (because we currently don’t have any kitchen cabinets to store anything in so it’s just a mess anyway). So when he finished we spent hours trying to scrub everything down and get the paint off the food and dishes. Would have been much faster to just move everything out of the kitchen or cover it all in plastic.
- The entire weekend (two eight-hour days, people) he spent sanding two exposed and painted pipes in the kitchen to the point that now all of the original copper is exposed. Great, I knew we needed to sand the exposed pipes so that when we repaint them the paint sticks, but we didn’t need to sand through 3 layers of old paint, down to the copper. It just needed to be roughed up a bit. Not to mention the fact that we lost an entire weekend on two pipes.
- The fact that he has spent at least three full weekends working on the walls in the tiny water closet. Ok, yes, it needed to be done eventually, but I would much rather have a kitchen first. And three full weekends on such a tiny space…
- When I almost lost it a few weekends ago I decided that I needed a project to keep my mind off this disaster, so I decided to start filling holes, sanding walls and painting my office. The walls were in pretty good shape, so getting them ready for paint wasn’t supposed to be a big issue and it was something I could easily manage on my own. At least I wouldn’t have to just sit there and watch the renovation nightmare downstairs. So I worked my butt off getting my office done as quickly as possible and then last weekend, when we went to the beach, my in-laws were going to take the heater down from the wall so we could paint behind it. When we got back Sunday night I thought I would just have to throw some paint up in that small space and the everything but the baseboards and hardwood floors would be done. Instead, my father-in-law decided to literally destroy all of my hard work, filling imaginary holes all over the room and making a mess of the walls that I had already painted. So this week, I’ve spent all of my time after work sanding down his absolute disaster and repainting everything I had already painted. And trust me, Lionel and I both agree it was better before his dad touched it. One step forward, two giant leaps back.
Well, that’s just a few examples, and trust me there are many, many more. Lionel has all but stopped working on the house because he is so frustrated with the lack of organization and logic and I’m slowly going insane and broke down in tears last night from the stress and frustration of it all.
My office, right after I started working on it
The water closet
I knew it was going to be a long process, but I really wish we could just sit down and all talk about it and make a plan for moving forward. I would really, really like to focus on the kitchen and bathroom because I would love to be able to store my food in the kitchen rather than in the garage (I’ve already found spiders crawling on it and it’s just dirty!). Not to mention the fact that I have boxes of kitchen stuff sitting on the floor in my bedroom because I have no where to unpack it all and I don’t want to keep it in rooms that we still have to do a lot of work in. And I’ve missed all the good deals during the soldes for various kitchen appliances because I have no where to put it.
I would also love to be able to store all of my stuff in the bathroom, but at the moment there isn’t enough space because my in-laws have toiletries here and we don’t have any real bathroom furniture. My in-laws don’t want to put any furniture in there until my father-in-law tiles the rest of the bathroom, all the way up to the ceiling. Plus, I would really love to have a sink with a normal faucet rather than one faucet for hot water and one for cold water that never mix together. But I guess for now warm water is just a dream! A shower head that is high enough on the wall for Lionel and I to fit under would be delightful as well! Not to mention somewhere to hang our towels…
Another thing that just makes this hard is they keep getting my hopes up only to dash them. A month ago we rushed over to Brico Depot as soon as I got off of work to go look at kitchens, decide what we wanted, and start pricing it. My father-in-law was also talking about painting the kitchen that weekend. We spent all of Friday night looking at kitchens, planning the layout and pricing the different elements. So naturally, I thought that that weekend we would paint the kitchen and get it ready so that the following weekend we could pick up the elements and start installing. But since then, over a month later, nothing has happened except sanding the pipes. Not another word has even been spoken about finishing the kitchen.
Same thing with the bathroom. Two weeks ago I was dragged out of the house on a Saturday morning to rush over to Brico Depot so we could buy the new furniture and tiles for the walls and shower. We ended up walking out of the store with two boxes of tiles, just enough to complete the shower (because the shower tiles are a different size than the rest of the tiles in the bathroom). The store was out of the tiles we needed for the rest of the bathroom, but the store in Biganos, near my in-laws house, had plenty in stock. So they were supposed to pick them up last week and bring them here to tile the bathroom last weekend. I had my hopes up that if I didn’t have a kitchen, I would at least have the bathroom by now. But no, nothing has been said about it since, no other tiles have been purchased, and the tiles for the shower are still sitting in their boxes in the garage. I’m seriously considering watching a how-to video online and trying to tile myself. I wonder how that would turn out.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat or anything. I do understand that we are very luck to have a house to live in and that we don’t currently have to pay any rent. We are also lucky that we don’t have to pay for all these renovations. But I can’t help but feel like we would be much further along, especially with the essentials, if we had just made a plan first. I desperately want to have a kitchen installed and I would happily pay for it (not a cuisine intégrée of course because I would want to be able to bring the cabinets with me if we ever moved) but my in-laws insist on putting in a cuisine intégrée, though they won’t actually just do it or give a timeline, so I guess I have to hope to have a kitchen before the end of 2013? And it’s not like it’s going to be that expensive because we were going to buy the kitchen elements from Brico Depot and build and install it ourselves. If it means I can have a kitchen next week I’ll happily pay for most of the elements they were planning to buy, I’m just not going to buy and install a four encastrable, des plaques encastrables et une lave-vaiselle encastrable because then I would never be able to take the elements to another place and I don’t want to spend all of that money when we have a perfectly good cuisinière and the lave-vaiselle can wait another few months. Though who knows, in another few weeks I might just break down and go and buy all of it so I can have a kitchen already.
But anyway, in hopes of not sounding like a completely ungrateful little bitch, I think I’m going to stop there. Plus this post is getting ridiculously long and ranty. I desperately needed to get some of that off my chest, and since talking to my parents and friends about it hasn’t made me feel better, I was really hoping writing about it would. Though clearly I was wrong because I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type and all of my frustrations are threatening to explode once again either into an angry fit of screaming or uncontrollable tears of stress. At this point I just feel completely not in control, entirely dependent on others, extremely frustrated and just plain stuck, trapped. But there is nothing for me to do but swallow my pride, keep my mouth shut, continue finding projects that I can do without any help and hope for the best. One thing is for sure though, I never again in my life want to live through such extensive DIY renovations!