Meridian Star

February 22, 2013

How to survive house renovations ...

By Anne McKee / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —    Here’s the thing … RUN FOR THE HILLS.  That’s right, there is not a person alive, who will completely survive home renovations, while living there. Listen carefully and take notes.

    It all started innocently enough. There was a little bump on the weather radar and we thought nothing of it – just a stray shower or perhaps a tiny bit of wind. WRONG! The storm came upon us in late December, like white on rice. Whack! Whack! Whack!  Within 10 minutes the huge pine limb landed on our roof and then it rained, and rained, and rained, and … well you know.

    The first menacing drip began that night. By the next night (and the next rain front), the drip became a dribble, and two days later, we hauled out the buckets. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day — all became a marathon of sorts in the McKee house. I admit it was pretty good exercise. We poured bucket after bucket, wherever we could – down the sink, bathtub, out the window and front door, backdoor too. Oh, it was a bad way to celebrate the holidays.

    We sloshed around the house throughout the remainder of December and part of January too. Did you know most repair folks do not work during the December holiday season? At first I thought they wanted to spend time with family, but then, I heard the words – DEER HUNTING. That’s right; we treaded water throughout the holidays and deer hunting, too. I must quickly add there was one dear person who came to our rescue – God Bless him! By then, I think I was going down for the third count.

    Finally the insurance adjuster arrived. Now that was a trip! The little guy drove all of the way from Texas. His truck was equipped with computer, printer, appraisals, plus other stuff to pronounce the amount of our insurance claim. This traveling-insurance-appraisal-truck reminded me of the old “rolling store” my granny talked about from a bye-gone era.

    I must mention the insurance adjuster was kind and patient (you see my husband is retired and had plenty of time to counter the offer presented). Yep – I actually have photos of the little guy trying to leave our house, but … it was five hours before a compromise was accepted. Good grief — this is our home, our main/most investment and we pay a bunch of homeowner’s insurance, we deserved a good appraisal. Our agent got in on the final figure. My husband accepted and the little guy was allowed to drive into the sunset.

    So that is when the misery began – even more so than the filled buckets.

    Sigh – the kindhearted roofer who came to our rescue (thanks, Jay Mackey) began his job and that wasn’t so bad. We selected new flooring and paint, light fixtures, plus a few new pieces of furniture and battened down the hatches for the inside repairs to begin. At least that’s what we thought we were doing.

    You know the drill. Here today, gone tomorrow, maybe back the next day, maybe not … wrong size, wrong color – blab, blab, blab. The cats moved under the bed, the dog barked and barked and barked. I mean that’s what she is supposed to do – bark when strangers arrive. Just one thing, the strangers were there every day and all day long – bark, bark, bark.

    The ceilings were replaced and that’s when the dust took over. It teamed up with mildew and mould, both my deadly enemies. Add the new paint, and I thought I was having a heart attack. What actually happened were my lungs filled with the dust and debris and I developed bacterial infection. As I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for the verdict of my condition – chest pressure and gasping for breath, I was totally relieved to learn of the lung infections. That’s so much better than ticker-problems.

    Now the doctor recommended I move out of my house until repairs completed. What? Where to go? That’s when my sweet church friend, Ruth Ethridge, stepped up. You see she has a lovely cottage. It is located near Okatibbee Lake. YES! I immediately moved my duds and essentials to the cottage.

    Oh, the cottage – small and compact, inside walls painted a bright, sunny yellow, with a rocking chair on the front porch, TV and cable, washer and dryer, microwave, full kitchen – quiet and charming, scenic and relaxing. I may NEVER go home!

    Oh, back to the house repairs. I’m not sure of the progress. I had left my retired husband to tend to things – you know like not missing a nail driven or paint brush gliding across the walls. He’s good at it, too. Gee Whiz, by the time I rock on the porch, enjoy the view, wave and chat with my neighbors, watch the horses across the road, and pick up occasional supplies, I am pretty busy and I LOVE it!

    Earlier this week my husband mentioned he had instructed the workers to finish the job by Friday. I said, NO HURRY, and I suggested the workers slow-down. Don’t we want a good and thorough job? Yes, it seems I will endure (wink, wink) two or more weeks in the cottage. Uh-huh …

    I started this column giving tidbits pertaining to the survival of home renovations. My best advice – move to the lake!  Thank you, Ruth.

    Anne McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her website: