Monday, July 7, 2008

We Were Feeling Capable

Those of you who have been reading "At Home...." for awhile will remember that we had a flood at the end of last August. I had been out of town and was driving home the day the Farmer called and said, "There was a horrendous storm last night. The electricity was out and the sheer amount of water overpowered the back up sump pump."

"Did you fire up the generator?" I asked.

"No, I slept through the whole thing." he answered

"OK, it was the storm of the century and you slept through it?"

"Yeah, well anyway the basement is flooded and I'm going to work. Just call somebody to come and clean it up when you get home."

"Okay. Un huh."

He figured there was nothing he could do and that I could simply call our friend who operates a disaster clean up business. Unfortunately there were thousands of other homeowners in the same spot and the waiting list was up to six months. Yeah, we're just going to let the water recede and watch everything turn into a giant science experiment.

It was after I returned home and determined that the cavalry wasn't going to come and help with the clean up that I had the first "we are capable" moment. I determined that the Farmer's Son and I could handle the job. Maybe.

First the remaining water was wet vacuumed out of the carpet. Then I called and arranged for the biggest dumpster available.

"It's as big as a BUS," the lady told me.

"Haven't you got anything larger?" I asked.

We removed the carpet, threw away everything that was damaged and demolished the drywall up to four feet above the floor.


We hired a designer. Isn't she cute? The Farmer's Daughter was hired on to design and manage the project. It only cost us the price of a college education. She's working it off one project at a time!


We used a heat gun to remove tile. It was tedious.


Not as tedious as what came next. I personally scraped an insane amount of carpet glue off the concrete floor. This involved chemicals and alot of back breaking boring work. I am patient. Remember the fishing lessons? Each three foot section contained at least 2 lbs. of carpet glue! The former owner must have gotten a deal on it and he went a little crazy.


We swept and scrubbed and disinfected and scrubbed some more. There was lots of plaster dust to contend with.

We know when we're not capable so we had someone update the lighting and hang the drywall.


The Farmer's Son replaced all the ceiling tiles.


We swept drywall dust for awhile and ordered 4,000 lbs. of porcelain tile. No more carpet down here!! No way, no how. The guy who delivered the tile promised that the garage floor would not crack under the weight.

At this point the project came to a standstill because we were getting quotes for the installation of the tile. The quotes were quite hefty, much more than the cost of all the tile. It was at this point that my sister and my best friend assured me that laying tile was not brain surgery and that we were capable of doing the job ourselves. Choose your friends wisely because they will lead you down some interesting paths.


But here's where the Peter Principle might come into the picture. If you're not aware, the Peter Principle basically says that you rise to your level of incompetence. In other words you'll continue to progress until you reach a level when you are incompetent. So my suggestion to you is, if you're feeling capable, take a walk around the block and the feeling will pass. Or in other words, when faced with a really large task, think twice.

We've started the tiling. It's possible as long as you have a working knowledge of geometry, know how to snap a chalk line and the isoceles triangle test to confirm the walls are square. You lay one tile, and the next. Every new tile adding to the foundation already set. This represents one evening and two afternoons of work. It also represents approximately 1/5 the of the tile to be laid.


Take a deep breath. Collect your thoughts, reaffirm your capabilities and dive back in. What else is there to do but continue?

Thanks for following us along on this project. Please, please let me know we're not in this alone. Surely there are others who felt themselves capable and got in deep.


jazzi said...

You can do it, Suzanne! Just think, you're already a fifth of the way finished!
We took a tiling class at one of the home improvement stores when we had to learn how to put down tile in our bathroom. It was a great help. And it was free!


Two words come to mind: Delegate and Hire.

Heidi said...

You are NOT alone - Milk Man taught himself how to tile by doing his moms bathroom floor. That was a bit hairy, but he did a great job and has been hired by others since to tile for them. The hard part is to map out the floor/wall so that it is 'centered' as much as possible -MM always made a 'grid' on the floor starting at the center because he claims that ALL houses are not square.. what does he know! LOL

YOu can do it and make sure you keep taking pictures!!!

Bobbi said...

You've still got a job ahead of you, but looks like you're in good hands!

Mary said...

You are amazing and inspiring! I am totally aware of my capabilities (or lack thereof). It is this self-awareness, coupled with an undeniable lack of ambition, which leads me to believe that I would still be living in the middle of that science experiment. LOL

Jill said...

Wow - look at that! You hear about this kind of damage, but if you've never had it happen to you, it's hard to imagine what its like.

That's a heck of a lot of work. I would be up for some of the "fun"... my husband wouldn't. His motto is, "I Got A Guy Who...".

Heather said...

They make tile laying look so easy on HGTV. I've never laid tile, but based on a misleading hardwood floor commercial telling me I could "do it in a weekend" I've tried my hand at hardwood floors. DISASTER!!

I have faith in you. You can do this, Suzanne!!

Anonymous said...

We've done alot of tiling -- family room, kitchen, entry and two baths! Putting the tile down is the easy part -- wait for the grout! Grout is actually what makes or breaks the job, so take your time and do small sections at a time. Also, pick a grout that's grey or brown (the color of dirt!) You'll be glad you did! Good luck to you and congrats on taking on the project!

Thirkellgirl said...

I've never personally tiled, nor has Mr. Thirkell, but we got in over our heads a little when we redid our (only) bathroom two Thanksgivings ago. I started removing the old tile on the Wed. before Thanksgiving, dh was going to do all the cement-board and toilet work over the long weekend, and then our friend would tile for us the following Monday. Went ok until we found a vent pipe that had been covered by 50 yr old *bent drywall (just bent it over the pipe), and dh hit an electric line with the sawzall... AND we discovered our shower plumbing was obsolete. It was quite a marathon... and finished the following Valentine's day. This too shall pass. :)

Louise said...

I don't know anyone who doesn't think I'm EXTRA capable, but that project would scare the %$#* out of me!

GREAT JOB, though. A lot of courage and capability.

Rue said...

Oh Lord, Suzanne! You ARE capable, but what a project!! The basement is looking great though. YOU can DO it :)


chocolatechic said...

Looks wonderful.

At least it isn't orange.

GemStateMom said...

I'm so proud of your tiling accomplishment thus far! Keep it up, girlfriend!

I suspect past generations of women would encourage you, without being quite as impressed as we modern-day ladies. Most of the women who settled this country quickly learned that 'capable' was spelled S-U-R-V-I-V-E.

I have less-than-successful tales of projects attempted. One year the farm that employed my husband got into the fields late, so everyone worked like madmen to get crops planted. He clocked 120 hours in a 6-day week, with lots of 100+ hours in many others. We had three children under age 4. Insane.

During this grueling time, the front door's knob broke, and I determined to be 'capable' and fix it myself instead of piling more work on my tired man. Handyma'am purchased a new lockset, removed the old one, discovered that the striker wouldn't line up, holes didn't was one problem after another. There was a hole in our front door for several days! Hubby had to fix it on his next day off (he did get Sunday's off, thank goodness.)

I had a similar experience with replacing the washers in the bathroom faucet during this same season.

Though hubby appreciated my 'can-do' spirit, I suspect I made more of a mess of things on both projects by my fumbling attempts at home maintenance.

It all pales compared to what you have undertaken.

Hats off to capable women!!

Simple Answer said...

I am beyond impressed with your abilities! You rock!

I love the Peter Principal. Right now, my Peter is trying to fix the fence in his parent's backyard so the dogs can go live there next week. The look in his eyes this AM? Utter dread.

lifeinredshoes said...

My question is, how are your knees my dear? Mine hurt just looking at the job! Also, you need more Diet Coke, lots more. I admire your capabilities, I should follow your lead. Thanks for the offer of your collections, I'll let you know!

lisa said...

Think of it this way . . . It's going to look great!

BittersweetPunkin said...

Oh my...that looks like quite the job.It looks like you are making great progress though!

The mattress we got was a SpringAir Eurotop called Honeymoon. It is delightful!
Have a great day!

Jeanne said...

I FOUND OUT I AM NOT CAPABLE IN A FLOOD SITUATION! we had a laundry hose failure and my house looked like a river flowing through. Since we did not have to compete with other people having the same problem, we got professional help. It was weeks before we got back to normal. I slipped and fell in all the water mess and had to get five stitches in my head. I feel for you so very much. Hope normal returns soon.

Thinking of you with blessings. You need them.:)


diane said...

"Choose your friends wisely because they will lead you down some interesting paths."
(can't stop laughing)
Well, being the friend that hooked up with your sister and assured you that you could do this, allow me to continue reassuring you. But first a little story.
Remember that project I was on last winter that we dubbed "love shack"? HUGE bathroom. Heck, just the shower with the wall jets and sound system was larger than a normal size bathroom. I watched very capable, professional tile guys lay an incredible amount of tile. One day I watched this pro cut not once but nine tries for one tile. And he had a diamond tip blade!

Was he frustrated?
Was he capable?
Was he doubting his capabilities? Yes.
Did he feel there was no end in sight?
Did he eventually finish?

Will you get frustrated? Yes. Are you capable? Yes. Will you doubt your capabilities? Yes. Will you feel there is no end in sight? Yes. Will you eventually finish? Yes.

You have prepared as much as someone could. No dry run, no practice floor and that would bother anyone with a project this size. Truth be told, you have an additional 80-100 hours to go. (Don't forget, you need to seal the grout!)
I have also assured you that you would find your groove. I still believe that. I know you have a strong worry over your lines. Eventually you will start trusting your chalk lines and that will be part of finding your well deserved "groove". But more importantly, it really will look great when your done. It already looks good. Looks straight too...I swear,lol. Not only will you save thousands, you'll have bragging rights! Not to mention an wonderful sense of accomplishment.

By the way...the pic shows bright lights, the un-tiled floor, no furnishings, no decorations and yet that wall color warms that area so nicely. Your designer daughter was worth every penny!

StitchinByTheLake said...

At this point I would be in the corner curled into a fetal position. You are my hero. Blessings, marlene

Suzanne said...

jazzi - I'm probably going to nominate you for official cheerleader. I took the tiling class at the local home improvement store also. Unfortunately the kid that was giving the demo had to read the instructions first. That did not instill my confidence in his abilities!

Liberty P.E. - Unfortunately the Farmer wants to spend the money we are saving to buy LARGE AMOUNTS OF ELECTRONICS!!!

Heidi - I'm glad to hear that he was successful. I read everything available on the web and watched some videos too. We did the center lines and used the triangle method to made it square. I'll continue to take advantage of photo ops. I can tell you for sure that I'm NOT hiring myself out for tiling jobs. But Heidi, seriously we need to win you a digital camera.

Bobbi - My son is really good at spreading the goop. I follow behind with the tiles and the little spacers. We're finding our groove.

Mary - Talk to me again AFTER the project is finished. Perhaps it's like forget the pain quickly.

Jill - This was pretty minor. Can you imagine having to clean several feet of mud out first? Yeah, that happens. Here's one of the secrets of our success....we keep the Farmer as far away from the project as possible. He is a horrendous handyman and he micro-manages the projects. So he goes to work and earns the money.

Heather - Hardwood floors are hard, except for the snap-and-click floors. But they're not really hardwood. I finished my bedroom closet in that.

Quiltzing - You don't know how I'm NOT looking forward to grouting 1,200 sq. ft of tile. Maybe I'll hire that part out. Maybe the Farmer can get half of a big screen TV behind the bar.

T-girl - I'm always afraid to do demolition, you never know what lurks behind those walls. Usually it's more work.

Louise - I'm naive. I just dive in.

Rue - Wait until your hubby sees the projector and the 100 inch screen!!!! You'll have to do a road trip.

chocolatechic - Well..... actually there is a little orange in the tile but certainly nothing like your neighbors porch. YIKES.

Paula - I'm so glad I'm not alone. The pioneer woman spirit is alive and well. It lurks in the hearts of those who believe they can.

S.A. - Never forget the Peter Principle. Try to anticipate it smacking you down.

Red Shoes - Thanks...oh gosh I needed a Diet Coke in the worst way. My knees are fine. I haven't had any problem at all. My hands and arms are hurting.

Lisa - I have high hopes.

Punkin - Thanks for the info on the mattress. I need a good nights sleep and the dumb one we have is like a rock.

Jeanne - Injuries are a worry. My son has already had four stitches this week. He moved the old cracked sink and the sharp edge cut his arm. ACK.

THERE SHE IS..... DIANE - my best friend. I knew she'd show up. Oh Di, with your encouragement we jumped into this and really it's not that bad. Just tedious. We've really gotten into a groove. Evan is great at mixing the thinset and spreading it ahead of me. I follow with the tile and spacers. It's moving much, much faster than that first day. We are working off those chalk lines and have only had to adjust a teenie tiny bit. I'm hoping the long wall will not go crooked on us.

She picked the darn wall color in like 20 seconds. I would have agonized for weeks. I was blown away after I painted the wall and realized that the wall color made the tile look like a million bucks. It really picks up the main colorway. I love it. That's the most expensive wall you're ever gonna see!!

Marlene - Thanks for visiting. Nah, come out of the corner. I'll show you how, or maybe you can hand me the tiles. OK? I sent you an e-mail because it seems we have alot in common.

I want to thank everyone who takes time out of their busy day to spend a few minutes here "At Home". I truly appreciate your friendship.

- Suzanne

Cottage Rose said...

Suzanne you go girl. I know you can do it. and I is looking beautiful.I love the tile floor. I can't wait to see it when it is finished. I get myself into the same fix. I always think I can do any thing. So chin up and get knee pads. :}


Karen said...

Oh yes, I've been there.

From experience, the only thing that you can do now, is take a deep breath and keep on plodding along, one tile at a time.

Once you finish, it will look great and you'll be so proud of yourself. And think of all the money you'll have saved!!! :-)

J'Ollie Primitives said...

WOW ~ I am SO IMPRESSED! The "mile of tile" looks awesome. The grout may be a booger to lay right but do it like the pros and start in an inconspicuous area ~ or one that the couch will hide :)We have a mile of funky "seafoam green/robins egg blue tile with white grout. hint hint ~ run far away from white grout!You all are doing a great job!

Rhea said...

What a project!!

Shelly G & Hope P said...

I have felt "Capable"... Just ask my older kids... Many times in our old house did I think... Hey... I could just remove this and add this... Many walls and windows later my advice to you would be ... Friends... They come in all forms of real capability... We would have a put it back together party and everyone would come over for a simple meal and to work on the "project"... I hope your project comes together real soon... It looks great so far:)

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Well one of us living at my house raised telephone poles all by equipment but the brawn of his back. (All that to save some cash.) But I am definitely not that capable nor am I capable of doing ANY of the things that you've been doing. Let's just say that I'm definitely impressed. You're a powerhouse!