Renovation Horrors

Home renos, what a pain in the butt. It’s Day Two and my nerves are already jangled. Can people answer these two questions: Why does anyone do home renovations? And how do you cope? Tell me the secret – what drugs are you on to calm you down when people don’t turn up or do something you don’t want?


AFTER a recent storm it came; dribbling down the wall, delicate as a tear drop. A trickle from my ceiling which became a stream, then a small torrent.

After a series of panicky calls, the roof expert arrived. Tiles had been damaged during the high winds, he said. Hours later he came down carrying his tools and a soggy bill. “All fixed,” he declared. But that evening, when the rain returned, I heard the dreaded drum of water splashing on the floorboards.

To my shock, the roof man refused to come back. “I checked everything. There’s nothing more I can do.” Through the night my partner and I nursed buckets, waiting for the SES emergency workers. A team arrived and workers went searching for the problem. Confused, they ended up tarping the whole roof to be safe. It was like a movie: sandbags being passed in a line and up the ladder; lots of screaming; ropes; neighbours in the street watching on. My house now looked like a ship on the high seas.

Two new roof experts from a reputable company arrived. They charged per hour, per man, to detect the problem. After a lot of stomping about, the verdict was bad. They would return and do “major work” pending approval from my insurance company. They put the tarp back but only over the area they identified as damaged. No water would come in, they assured me. That night the water came in. No, they wouldn’t come back to put the tarps back where the SES had them, because they were right and the leak was wrong. I called someone else.

A lovely man arrived. A self-employed, salt-of-the-earth bloke. He jumped up on the roof and immediately shouted, “Here’s our problem love!” Regardless of tiles dislodged, there was a crack made when something heavy hit the roof during the storm. So small, it was missed by the big boys who were searching for the dramatic, the mega. He said he found it by looking directly above the leak (Duh!). After it was sealed, he hosed the area to check the job was done (how logical) and yelled, “She’s right!” And she was.

There are those who think simply. Live simply. Fix things swiftly. No baggage, light on their feet, they resolve matters easily, plugging the leaks of life – be they in roofs or relationships. I’m reminded of this tradesman each time it rains on me, literally and metaphorically. It reminds me of an adage I once read: “A big problem is just a small problem that wasn’t handled properly at the time.”

Tell me your renovation horror stories

Please comment



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9 Responses to Renovation Horrors

  1. Philip 8 October 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Hi Ruth just wondering how your renovations are going is it as easy as all those TV shows make it out to be! (ho,ho)!

  2. Ruth Ostrow 29 July 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    The last time I renovated was many years ago and I swore I would NEVER do it again I had an apartment on a cliff over the sea. I had a clever idea for immediate capital appreciation – make the sea facing window which was in the lounge-room much bigger. The builder knocked out the window and half of the wall, and then decided he couldn’t work for the rest of the week. Meanwhile a storm was brewing out to sea: “The tarps will hold the weather back” No no they wouldn’t. The winds on the Tamarama cliffs of Sydney are notoriously severe.. The rain had already started. “Please come back as soon as possible”. No, he has a tooth ache and needed to get his tooth fixed on Thursday. No he wouldn’t be able to come Friday because it was “the Jewish Sebbatt” only he wasn’t Jewish and the word is Sabbath; and it doesn’t start till sun down on Friday night! You lose a year of your life for each renovation. He finally came but I had turned grey and needed hair renovation.

  3. Ruth Ostrow 29 July 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    I believe you!

  4. Ruth Ostrow 29 July 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Thanks Yael, yes the disruption is dreadful I have been vacuuming dust off the walls for days!

  5. yael 28 July 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Hi Ruth , first time writer. Loved your view on renovations. We have wanted to re-do our bathroom for ages. its looking shabby and sink is scratched ,and all over looks dated. But. I cant get over my worry about having our lives disrupted and people all over the house etc. You are brave to try it, I cant!! Thanks, I guess its worth it in the long run,

  6. hymie 23 July 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Been thru the repairs farce, ours was as frustating as yours. Quotes, half finished work, stil leaking!!!! It’s no fun and the bill was astroamical. Its over now but wont do that again in a hurry.Also had a blocked drain, after digging up half our garden it was fixed, but the mess wasn’t. This is true dinks.

  7. Ruth Ostrow 20 July 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Life is too short for home renovations! Let alone all the one’s you’ve been through. Enough, she cried!

  8. helen 20 July 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Learn to love the chaos, the comedy, you thought it would be over a week ago, and its three months later.Extensions more of time than of space.Is it worth it? I have lived through kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, extensions, twice over, once as the matrimonial home and secondly in my separated family unit. At some point I said, THAT”S IT! and the rest lays unfinished for years. And the philosophy is Yeah one day I’ll finish it. BUT NOT NOW OR ANY DAY IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

  9. Ruth Ostrow 20 July 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Hi guys comment here

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