Saturday, April 27, 2013

Home Improvement 101

Lately our family has been remodeling our main bathroom. Well, more accurately, my mom has been remodeling it while the rest of us pop in at lunch to check her progress. We also picked out the new shower curtain for her. I think it's the only job she trusted us to do.

I think she enjoyed taking a sledgehammer to the old tile and drywall around the shower, but after that things slowed down. Everybody knows it's not a real home improvement project unless you make at least three trips a day to the hardware store. I think every worker in Home Depot has given input on our project, although nothing is ever as simple to install as the guy at Home Depot tells you it will be, especially when you live in a house where nothing seems like it is a standard size or shape. The other day we walked in and someone was immediately like, "Oh hey, you're back!"

Some projects require the expertise of a professional, but oftentimes someone in the family is just as capable of wandering back and forth from their vehicle to the house several times, asking to borrow a flashlight, fiddling with the leaking faucet and then declaring it "fixed" because it leaks less than it did previously (actually, that was our old plumber. We now have a good one).

Of course, one benefit of having a professional look at your home improvement project is that they can tell you what will happen if you don't follow the instructions on the box or the side of the hot water heater. I've always thought warning labels should come with an explanation of what will happen if you ignore them. Now that companies are getting sued for things like making their coffee hot, there are warning labels for just about every possible scenario. Some of the actions warned against are obviously a bad idea, like eating a package of peanuts when you're allergic to nuts. But sometimes I really want to know what will happen if I ignore the warning to, say, keep metal objects away from my electroplasma lava lamp. Is it a bad idea like refilling disposable plastic water bottles is a bad idea? Or like sticking a metal fork in an electrical socket is a bad idea? Is there a slight chance of a freak accident if you're a total idiot about it? Or will something definitely explode?

This overabundance of stupid warning labels causes people to wonder if they are a legitimate warning or just the result of a "What is every possible way we could get sued?" brainstorming session. It causes incidents like the time my brother almost burned down the missionary training center because he and his companion wanted to know if you could recharge regular batteries in a battery recharger. It turns out you can't, unless you count turning them into a melting, toxic, smoking mess counts as "recharging."

Anyway, my mom finished remodeling the shower last week and next comes the new floor. My parents seem to think the floor will be an easy one-day project since there isn't much real estate, but I remember when they put in the family room floor. I came home from working all day one Saturday and they were like, "Man, we've been working so hard all day!" I looked and they had the step leading down to the family room covered. Fortunately it took them about the same amount of time to do the entire rest of the floor, otherwise they would still be working on it five years later.

Next week, stay tuned for what happened when we tried to install a new toilet ... it could be fun.

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