Guest Post – DIY Gone Wrong

A few weeks back I wrote a post called When To DIY & When To Buy.

This sparked a Twitter conversation between my new friend, Alexa Thomason, and I. She reminded me that while she’s had many DIY mishaps in her past and with hindsight can now see when she should have DIY’d and when she should have bought (or called in the pros), that each and every DIY mishap has left her with a funny story to tell.

So, Alexa is here today to share some of her DIY blunders with us as a warning to be prepared and not bite off more than we can chew. She’s right… She now has more than a few funny stories to tell!

I recently bought a house, an 80-year-old fixer-upper in a historic neighborhood. I was apprehensive at first, as there was brown shag carpeting in every room, a dropped ceiling in the spare bedroom, and a bathroom that needed to be completely renovated, but I love watching DIY shows and doing mini at-home projects. I felt I was up to the challenge. Little did I know how wrong I was…

The first thing I did was pull up the carpet. I had pulled up an edge of the carpet and spied hardwood floors beneath, and I was excited to get started. After hours of backbreaking work, I discovered that the floors were scarred and covered in what looked like white paint or plaster (the ceilings had been stuccoed). Furthermore, there was a large spot in the master bedroom that was rotten from repeated water damage. However, I borrowed my dad’s floor sander, and was able to make the floors presentable.

My next challenge was the dropped ceiling. As I removed the panels, dirt and cobwebs fell everywhere. It took me more than a week to finish this project, and then I was faced with a room where the top foot of wall and the true ceiling were filthy. The previous owners had installed wood paneling up to the level of the dropped ceiling, and I removed that as well, revealing cracked plaster walls. It took me several weeks to renovate this space to my satisfaction.

My final challenge was the bathroom: the sink leaked, the flooring was extremely old, and there were mushrooms growing out of the shower enclosure. I made a list of everything I would need to make this space presentable and went to the nearest home improvement store. The store had to use expedited shipping to get the flooring I wanted, but I was confident that I would succeed at this project.

Alexa’s Bathroom

Nothing could be further from the truth. The flooring came in…and the store had ordered the wrong style. I had already torn up my old flooring, so I went ahead and bought what was shipped. I removed the water-damaged subflooring and replaced it, but for an unfathomable reason, there was a dip in the floor that I could not level out. I was out of money, so I used an old yoga mat to make the floor even. This appeared to work until I laid the flooring; the dip was still there, but squishy because of the mat.

The sink I bought came with the necessary plumbing, but I soon realized that the piping did not reach far enough, and I was unable to make it stretch enough to reach the water supply lines. I was getting frustrated by this point, so I put this part of the project on hold and tackled the enclosure. This went fairly well, although it was disgusting behind the old enclosure, until the next day, when the enclosure started to buckle and come unfastened from the wall, eventually crashing into the tub in the middle of the night.

I finally called my dad, and he came and helped me the best he could. There is still a squishy spot in my floor, and the plumbing for my sink had to be rigged to stretch, and currently looks like the work of a second-grader, but my bathroom no longer smells like mildew, the rooms are beautifully decorated, and my stubborn attitude and hard work coaxed my home into the 21st century, rather than being stuck in the sixties.