How to Live Through a Remodel: Part I

The other night, Kevin was busy tapping away on his computer while I watched TV. Suddenly, he looked up.

“So … I’ve done some calculations and we’re going to have to live outside the house while it’s being remodeled for about five months,” he said.

“Which probably means more like seven months, right?”



“So,” he continued, “I think I have a solution.”

I braced myself.

“I’m thinking there’s plenty of space in the backyard for us to put some sort of structure, maybe a tent, that we can live in. And then we could still use our living room and sometimes the kitchen!”

A tent.

“You mean like Out of Africa?” I offered lamely. I couldn’t help it. Whenever I hear the word “tent” I immediately think of this scene from one of my all-time favorite movies.

Out of Africa

Ah … Robert Redford.

Ever the devil’s advocate, I poked holes in Kevin’s suggestion: lack of insulation, the rain, no floor, the complete lack of privacy.

He turned back to tapping on his computer. A few minutes later he came up his next brilliant solution.

“Ok, how about this?”

“Um, is that a carport?” I asked politely.

“I would put up some walls!”

“And some insulation … maybe a floor … a window …”

I couldn’t help but feel a little bad. Obviously, my husband was worried about the budget of our remodel. And he was trying to come up with some clever “out of the box” solutions. So I told him I would keep an open mind.

“I like the direction you’re heading, but let’s keep going,” I said encouragingly.

Both of us started typing on our respective computers. Soon, we were looking at pre-fab studios.

And then I got excited!

How cool are those things? And lots of them have insulation (in addition to windows, doors and floors). We would even use it as a cool kids hangout after the remodel was done. Everyone would think, “Wow! I can’t believe they lived through a remodel! And in such style!”

We lived off of that high for about two days before reality — sweet reality — set in.

First of all, in order to avoid permitting, our studio could only be 120 square feet. We would be so on top of each other it would be ridiculous. As it is, two of our three kids wake up bright and early at 6 am, and while Big Sister currently does a fabulous job entertaining Little Bro before the rest of us rise for the day, we would be forced to wake at dawn every. single. day.

Second of all, there’s a good chance we’d be without a working toilet, shower — or both — for some long stretches. At first, my husband, offered to solve this problem with installing an outdoor shower.

“I’ve always wanted one! This will be the perfect opportunity!”

But then I imagined what it would be like living without a toilet. Or even having to walk through the backyard and our house in the dark looking for a working bathroom in the idle of the night. Perhaps we could stash one of those emergency toilets in our shed for such an occasion.

In the end, it really only took a couple of hours of all five of us trying to watch the World Series (Yeah, Giants!!) in the same room to convince my husband (because I already knew this) that we would literally kill each other if we only had one room to run around in in addition to our little shed in the backyard.

As usual, my husband was bewildered by how loud three kids under 9 could be. And I just sat back and let that feeling soak in.

Whew! Close call.


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