“Double It” – or The ‘Building Your Own Home Mathematical Cheat Sheet’


exterior almost doneThis will serve not only as a Mathematical Cheat Sheet, but also a Glossary of Vocabulary for the population of people crazy enough to consider building their own home…and the poor suckers who have to listen to them whine about it later. If you happen to think you may end up in one of those two categories in the near future, perhaps this will list will help you decide to run the other way!


Steps to Building a House:

  1. The ‘Should We?’ Stage: commonly experienced as a brief period of time where a happy couple who is frustrated with the local housing market and over-confident in their renovation skills starts contemplating building their own home. However long you think you want to be in this stage – DOUBLE IT! (One of the only parts of this list where you will look back happily after doubling it, or even tripling it). Special vocabulary to master: construction mortgage, HST, “Is there a pond or water source?”.
  2. The ‘Here We Go’ Stage: a super-exciting time where rainbows and sunshine abound, everyone says Yes, and your euphoria blinds you in to signing contracts and emptying bank accounts. How much will this stage cost you? All of your money … and your soul. Purchasing land? Surprise costs 24 hours before closing: HST (if you are American reading this and getting confused you can interpret HST as standing for Helluvastupid Sales Tax)! Need your out of town partner to sign a form = double lawyer fee, double-time it to the office down town that will only see you at 2 pm (and part 2 extra blocks away because they are filming a movie in front of the lawyers office – SURPRISE – watch out for horses). Special vocabulary to master: “Well, we must have told you” is bank-speak for Ha!Ha! suckered you in, too late now; “The seller is a bit difficult” – translation – back out now!; “Don’t worry about it” – translation – Worry about it….double-time!
  3. The ‘Pond’ Stage: if you were smart enough to heed my warnings about ponds you may skip this step, and go directly to GO Stage (and collect up to $60K – depending on how big the pond was that you DIDN’T buy). For those of you stuck in this literal HOLE…you will be here twice as long as everyone tells you, you will spend 4x the amount you can afford, you will need 6x the patience you currently have, and you will consider drowning yourself in the pond beer more times that you want to admit. This stage may also be called The Bedrock Stage, The Suddenly Discovered Endangered Species Breeding Ground Stage, or something similar, depending on what sins you are being punished for. Special vocabulary to master: geo-technical engineer (over-educated, over-paid man with a goatee who pokes a stick in mud for a living and fears your house will sink); Swale: man-made long ditch that ineffectively diverts water; diesel generator: noisy money-pit that promises to break-down at 10 pm the night before your 3rd monsoon-rain in a week.
  4. The ‘Behind Schedule’ Stage: this will continue for the rest of the project, which is now at least 2x as long as you originally planned. Vocabulary to master: deadline (see also unicorn, leprechaun and centaurs); budget (see previous sarcastic response); contractors hours: 10 am – 3 pm, Mon-Thursday; ‘your drywall is all finished folks!‘: 16 three-foot tall piles of drywall pieces thrown into the middle of your rooms, drywall dust pushed (not swept) into the corners of the rooms where it is the most difficult to pick up, half-empty Tim Horton’s coffee cups on every window sill that will leak through your garbage bag and make a not-so-cute Hansel and Gretel trail to your front door, a 6 day old turkey-drumstick and orange peel rotting on the floor, …and a partridge in pear tree.
  5. The ‘Finishing’ Stage: do not misinterpret this stage to mean that things are close to finished, or will ever finish! During this stage you will order your paint, your trim, your tile, your flooring – and forget to order your primer, your ceiling paint, your finishing nails, your grout and your underlay. Then you will call back and DOUBLE your previous order because you forgot to count the closets, both sides of the doors, closet doors, hallways and that paint needs more than one coat. You will then estimate the amount of time it will take to do each project, divide it by the amount of friends and family who have offered to help…then you will TRIPLE the time (because you forgot about drying time and sleep) and then divide your helpers by 3 (because no one means it when they offer to help, and the ones that mean it have lives, too, moron!) Vocabulary to master: ‘PLEASE’ – only moderately useful (but more effective than DO IT NOW) for begging for help, convincing the delivery guy to come in the morning, sweet-talking the paint guy to shake your cans even though the store is closing in 10 minutes; ‘estimate’: a number of hours, cost, or measurement that cannot be counted on, ever, and should be re-evaluated by someone who has not been awake for 36 hours straight.
  6. DONE – hahhaaaahhaaa, just kidding. basement painted exterior night time hardwood day two- 2

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