Disclaimer right up: I am a very, very lucky girl and I am grateful for my wonderful life and everything in it and I know there are people out there who would give their souls to have gripes like mine. Sir help me God (except I think it’s so help me God – is it? I never know). Anyway…
We’re in the throes of building a house and I’M OVER IT. It’s at the stage now when the bloody thing is built and has been for months and everyone’s asking if we’re in yet and we’re not because it’s actually just a nice looking shell of a house with nothing in it but a lot of mess and and no sign of lights at end of tunnels. The not-exciting-anymore bit. Have you built a house? Do you know the bit I mean?…
- When you’re living in one house and trying to keep it semi-hygienic and livable and stocked with food while at the same time trying to finish another? When every spare minute of time is not spare time at all but New House Time, when you should be looking at garage doors on pinterest or ordering bathroom tiles or painting the skirting boards or at least thinking about pavers.
- When you realise that a decision you made way back at the start of things (six months ago) when you were young and keen was the wrong one but have to convince yourself it is right or just not look at it ever again because changing it would mean dismantling the house. And when you think about that person back at the beginning and she seems fresh faced and non-haggard with no dust-in-pore pimples (I know – pimples and I’m nearly 40 – where’s the justice in that?).
- When you no longer can see the dream because it’s hidden behind clouds of said dust all the work that must be done to get in the bloody thing and you can’t imagine ever putting your feet up on a couch in the living room because obviously there is no time to put feet up ever ever again and besides there’s a stack of floor adhesive, twenty paint tins and three ladders in there.
- When you choose said bathroom tiles and stride in to the tile shop order them only to be halted by those display thingies and a sales person who says your choice is too slippery for floors and unless you want children with cracked heads you’d better think again and so you have to go back home and discuss it all over again with husband only to be left more confused and verging on a “let ’em crack their heads” kind of rash decision that you will surely regret later when there’s blood in the grout.
- When you suspect your joiner has begun screening your calls.
- When you suspect your husband has begun screening your calls.
- When you can’t remember the last time you saw your friends and your Granny has forgotten who you are.
- When every single bit of comfy clothing has at least one fleck of paint on it and your black painting coat is now a nice shade of Dulux vivid white.
- When you carry a measuring tape in your handbag, have to get the house plans laminated and start thinking in square metres.
- When ‘cutting in’ is the new C-word.
- When you JUST WANT IT TO BE OVER so you can remember what it’s like to browse the shops with no pressure or wear smart clothes or have your hair done or have a whole day doing something you love.
- When you just say, “fuckit whatever goforyourlife” when your husband says he’s choosing the bedroom wall colour.
- When you think, Oh so this is what people mean when they say building a house is stressful.
- When your hands remind you of a regency washer woman’s.
You know that stage? If you don’t, and you think one day you might like to build a house, consider yourself warned.
Thank goodness for cheery tradies, Radio National and angled paint brushes. If you do build, surround yourself with these is my tip. Other tips when building – particularly for wives and mothers – include:
- If your husband expresses interest in choosing the light fitting for the study, show him literally HUNDREDS of options on the internet. He’ll soon lose interest and leave it to you.
- If you reeeaaaaallllly love a particular shade of blue but suspect it might be just a bit too blue for said husband, show him a few samples, all of which are even more blue that the one you really want. He’ll choose yours for sure.
- Double check measurements.
- Go with your gut – this applies to aesthetic choices, ethical choices and choosing tradespeople.
- You bloody can climb a scaffolding but you most likely can’t lift a large beam.
- If you do try the beam, bend your knees.
- When the task seems too huge, concentrate on one little thing at a time.
- Don’t think you can get painting done with a four year old on site. And never give in and give her a paint brush.
- Avoid trends, they have an over-it date.
- If someone says, “no one does that” or “that’s not so popular” or “no one does that anymore”, all the more reason to do it.
- Buy a radio and a small toastie press.
- Keep a large house file. A small binder with dividers just won’t cut it.
- Tell people you love their work if you do. Tell them you don’t if you don’t.
- And for every spouse – be good to each other and keep it all in perspective; paint colours and cornices are not worth your marriage. Rule of thumb though – the party who does the most washing up gets to choose the kitchen tap and sink, the person uses the oven the most gets to choose that too, the person who does the laundry chooses the laundry fit out, the one who makes the beds chooses the linen and so on… For the most part though, remember how lucky you are; some people have to build an igloo.
- When it’s all finished and shiny and perfect and new, never, ever let the grubby family in. Or at least get a mud room.
- And when it’s done, get a makeover. I am already planning mine – it’s going to go for a whole day, there will be hairs coloured and cut and ripped out and skin done over and nails fixed and I may well be unrecognizable at the end. So help my Bod.
Anyone else have any tips? I still need as many as I can get.