Our first winter kicked off on a high note, with the two of us spending New Year’s Eve converting one of our three refrigerators into a kegerator. We finished just in time to have a cold, frosty draught beer at midnight to usher in 2008. We considered the kegerator vital to renovating the house, since having beer on tap makes it easier to lure friends over to donate a weekend of intense physical labor.
Sure enough, our friends Josh and Alessa came to spend a weekend in July helping us with demolition. They were quite excited to smash stuff up and drink keg beer, as evidenced by this excerpt from an email from Josh just prior to the event:
“Once upon a time, in a land far, far to the south, a friend rented a dumpster in hopes that his other friends would help him fill that mystical dumpster with debris. A wonderful debris of hope and wonder.”
The goals for the weekend were ambitious but achievable: remove a kitchen, a bathroom, and the wall that divided them. It may seem wasteful to remove a kitchen and bathroom, but consider: (1) the awkward layout, with the bathroom taking a huge chunk out of the kitchen, (2) the rotten kitchen floorboards, indicative of water damage, and (3) the toilet sinking into the floor and canted about 15 degrees from vertical. This stuff had to go.
Before you’ve started, demo looks like a great time. Get some good exercise, smash some stuff up, and maybe even achieve catharsis while busting through plaster and wall studs. At the end of the day, you enjoy pizza and beer on the patio with your friends. Once you’re into it, though, you realize the truth. It’s exhausting, messy work. You have to wear goggles to keep the plaster dust out of your eyes and a mask to keep it out of your lungs. Oh, and if your house is old, it probably has lead paint. Brilliant!
We slaved away on that hot July day, removing fixtures and knocking out walls. Alessa and I smashed up the walls and shoveled the debris into trash cans, which Aaron and Josh carried out to the dumpster. Aaron and Josh also dismantled the plumbing and wiring and removed the bathroom and kitchen fixtures. (A note about electricity for the previous owners: it is NOT okay to force a 25 amp fuse into a socket meant for a 15 amp fuse. That’s how house fires start.)
At some point during the afternoon, our friend Andrew came over to help with the demo. We were so crowded in the small space, however, that poor Andrew got the miserable task of cleaning out the basement. Our basement has a dirt floor and was full of junk when we moved in. (There’s also a large pile of sand in one corner, which is most likely concealing a dead body.) Andrew hauled up cans and cans of old (and probably very toxic) paint, several huge bags of perlite, and various other relics of people before us.
By the end of the day, we had demolished all that we set out to do, but we had no energy left to enjoy each other’s company. Instead of relaxing with keg beer, we wanted only Gatorade or ice water. Perhaps our friends will come back for round 2 on a less hot and humid day, and we’ll drink our delicious keg beer then?