10 Things I Learned About Home Maintenance This Year
You have a house? Apartment? Fancy yurt?
It doesn't matter what your home looks like, you have to keep the walls around you in one piece or things will go south in a hurry.
These are my lessons.
1. To-Do Lists Are Futile
Sure, you can make one, but it will never end.
It's the abyssal hydra of memory devices. You cut one task off, two grow back.
Just put your head down and do the work.
2. There Is an Ocean of Serotonin for You to Sail
The rush you get from your family and friends after you improve their lives through hard work and attention is like no other.
3. Hardware Store Employees Will Start to Recognize You
Some people might find this embarrassing. "How many times do I have to screw up and go back to Home Depot before I get it right?"
The answer is: Fewer than you think because someone who has the knowledge is right in front of you. Take advantage of your new community and mug their experience for everything it's worth.
Make some friends while you're at it.
4. It's Not a Competition
Maybe I'm competing with Father time or the shelf life of pressure treated lumber from the late 70s, but mostly I'm not competing with anyone else on how good or bad my projects look.
Not my neighbors, not Instagram influencers, not Bob Vila.
It's just a thing I have to do, and I'm happy to do it as best I can.
5. Cheap = You're Doing It Again Way Sooner Than You Want To
The saying goes: "Buy once, cry once."
You don't need to break the bank on every purchase. You don't need the top-tier best tools for the job.
But, you do need the tools for the job. You need materials of reasonable quality and reputation.
If you go bottom barrel, you will end up with temporary results at best. Expect to have to redo whatever it is upon its early and explosive failure.
6. If It Ain't Broke, It Will Be Soon and You Should Plan for That
If it looks like someone did a lazy-ass job a decade ago, someone definitely did a lazy-ass job a decade ago and it's your problem now.
Or, it will be soon.
Don't panic. Just don't expect that it's as simple a fix as you want it to be.
In other words, reframe the situation as a challenge and you'll always be ready for anything.
7. Someone Else's House Will Always Look Nicer
You're going to work yourself to the bone for many days, nights, and weekends. And you'll be psyched about your results.
Then you'll go to your neighbor's house and it's like you were making stuff with Play Doh and they were chiseling it out of marble.
This is not a time to wish you had it better.
Remember: everybody's situation is different. If they've been in their house for 40 years, it's likely theirs looked like yours when they started. You have a lot of time to work with.
8. Proper Safety Gear is a Must
I don't care what your dad or uncle or manager or boss or whoever said you could get away with all those years ago.
Chemical burns suck.
Wear your protective gear.
I'll leave it at that.
9. Perfection is not an Option
You aren't filming a fixer-upper show on Magnolia.
Those are all gimmicked (like other "reality" shows) to make the job look better than it is. Also, they hire top-level contractors and designers. Also, you can't see the seams or the cracks or the lazy half-assed jobs that those guys did either because they pan a camera across a well-lit room for 2 seconds and that's it.
You will not achieve perfection. Nobody's home is perfect. Yours is not the exception.
10. Learning is the Key to Success
You can't wing it. There are too many moving parts, spinning blades, sharp edges, caustic chemicals, permanent dyes, and ways to kill yourself and all the woodland creatures within a 5 mile radius.
Watch the videos. Talk to the people at Lowe's. Ask your parents (but ignore their dumb safety "advice"). The world is full of people who've done it before. You have no excuse to be uneducated on proper technique. Learn. Do. Achieve.