As I sit here typing this entry I am surrounded by dust. Dust on my keyboard, on the table, on the floor, benches, walls, and seats. I’ve got dust in my hair, ears, nostrils and eyes. I’m literally covered in a fine layer of dust. Physically I’m tired and weary, emotionally… wrung out. I’m at ‘that’ phase of a big job. The phase where you just wish it was over, that the job was done, or that you hadn’t started it in the first place.
What was the job? Well, the tiles in our house were a little off colour, dated, and some were damaged. The carpets in the bedrooms needed replacing as they were stained beyond cleaning, manky, and basically looked like crap. Ok, the tiles I could live with, but the carpets had to go. So off we went to the various carpet stores to get some samples. The selection available to us was ordinary to say the least. Plus, for the first time ever, we had painted a feature wall in each of the rooms, and trying to select a carpet that would match the colour schemes was surprisingly hard.
Then the more I thought about it the more I started warming to putting tiles in the bedrooms. “Ok, go fetch,” I said to my wife, I’ve got other pressing things to do…
A month of visiting tile shops, bringing home samples, humming and haa-ing, and we finally decide to… give up. That’s right, we’d had enough. This was getting out of hand. But we had to do something, the carpets needed to go, and we had to replace them with something. In the end we persisted and found a tile we both liked, so we decided to tile the entire house with them. All I had to do now was rip up the carpets, and ‘get one of those tile removing machines’ to rip out the old tiles.
The Tile Removing Machine
In my overly optimistic mind, I’m thinking of something big on wheels, with a spinning ceramic blade and a dust bag. A machine I would simply start and follow behind sipping a cup of tea while it almost casually removed our old tiles. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no…
The tile removing machine, as it turned out, was a depressingly heavy jackhammer with a spade bit. As I lugged it over to the car I had my first misgivings. Later in the day I had removed all the furniture from the house into my once clean and tidy shed, and sat in the echoing dining room and pondered what I was about to do.
I was about to rip up perfectly good, but ordinary looking tiles. Why?! Because we wanted to ‘improve the look (and value) of our house. As it was late in the day, it was decided that I would not start jackhammering just yet, but would make a start first thing in the morning.
The First Skirmish
It took nearly 5 minutes to lift the first tile. Underneath the tile was another floor covering, a layer of green lino. I couldn’t have been more surprised to see this. Our home is 14 years old, and to see a layer of lino that was looking dated in 1979 lying underneath my tiles was a bit of a shock. Because the tiles were stuck to the lino, and the lino was glued to the concrete, the jackhammer, and my knees and back, were in for a bit of fun.
It was at this point, with two tiles lifted, that I found my wife and told her that I wasn’t going to do this job. It would take too long, be too hard, and I wasn’t all that keen on ripping up the tiles anyway. She didn’t look too happy, but said, “Ok, well you cancel the new tiles that we ordered.” I rang the shop, and was basically told that they’d fast tracked our order, and that this was very inconvenient, and really, what was the problem with ripping up the tiles, ‘How hard could it be?’
Harden Up Nancy Boy!
Okaaay. I had lifted two tiles by this stage. If I lifted another one, then I’d have to take the rest up because we only had two replacements. At this point I made a cup of tea and had a think. “Just do it!” called the Positive Side of my brain. “You’ll be sorry,” warned The Realistic side.
“Ah, don’t listen to that moaner,” replied Mr. Positive, “just think of how good your house will look, how nice the new tiles will be to walk on, no more carpets to clean, just get in there son! Swallow a spoon full of concrete and harden up! How hard could it be mate, just DO IT!”
Mr. Realistic wasn’t going to lie down and take this, “Greg,” he said, shaking his head from side to side, “how many times has HE lead you astray with that last comment, ‘How hard could it be?’ Usually very hard, and how many times have jobs turned into nightmares, and think of the cost, do you really ‘need’ these tiles? Your grandparents lived in the same houses all their lives and never once improved them, why must you do this to yourself?” Mr. Realistic was leading by a mile.
Mr. Positive pulled out his trump card, “It will make your wife happy.”
Mr. Realistic went very quiet.
I finished my cuppa, picked up the jackhammer and pulled the trigger, I was now beyond…
The Point of No Return
Well, by the end of the first day I had removed the tiles in the loungeroom and still had the kitchen, dining room, hallway, and laundry to go. I was in deep shit here folks.
By the end of the first day, my hands are numb, my back and knees are aching, and I’ve covered the entire house in a layer of ceramic dust. I am not a happy man. I’ve rung my wife at work and simply said, “Bottle of rum.”
Visited the good chaps at Flexihire and got a clay breaking attachment for the jackhammer. The tile lifter they had given me was a shattered wreck, so they replaced that as well. The clay breaker turned out to be very good at smashing up the tiles, which I had to sweep up and load into the trailer, before returning to the house and using the tile lifter to remove the layer of lino and glue. It was peeling off ok, but very slowly, and took a lot of pushing on the jackhammer to get it up. My neighbours were wondering what the hell was going on, but were smart enough to stay away lest they were enlisted into the living hell my life had become.
That night as I lay on my dusty lounge, twitching and spasming, I thought about my options. At this stage I was prepared to pay someone, anyone, a thousand dollars just to come in and remove the rest of the tiles and the underlying lino. No names sprang to mind though.
It was my final day off. Saturday would see me back at work, the happiest man in the factory I would be, just glad to be at work and not jackhammering floor tiles! Today was the final burst. Whatever tiles were left had to go today. I steeled myself and fired up the jackhammer. Oh God it was bad.
By midday the last tile smashed apart, shards ricocheted off my goggles, and I gave a ragged cheer through my dust mask. Gazing around the house, I noted that everything, every surface, wall, window, knicky knacky object, etc. was covered in an inch of dust. The only things left to do now was rip up the lino, and have a bit of a clean up. With a bit of luck, by 3pm, I’d be sitting on the back deck enjoying a well earned beer.
By 3pm, I was a screaming wreck. The lino wasn’t peeling off anymore, it was coming up in a thin layer, which meant double the work as I had to go over it, and over it, to get the remaining vinyl and the layer of glue up. At 6pm the job was done. Throwing the jackhammer through the back door and myself to the floor in agony I felt slightly relieved, but determined. Determined that this was the last time, EVER, that I would do this sort of work. And just as determined to ban my wife from EVER watching another show featuring Jamie Durie, Steve Bisley or any girl in tight clothes doing a yard or home make over. EVER!
“Ok, Jamie, I’ll just rip up these tiles, remove this wall, and replace the kitchen,” says some big boobed, white toothed bimbo in designer work clothes, “And Voila! It’s done, now to give the new kitchen a bit of a spruce up with some nice colours… and look at that! Finished! Doesn’t it look great?!”
“It sure does Jan! Now while you were doing that, me and the rest of the team were whipping up a retaining wall, putting in fountains, rebuilding the garden, re-sewering the street, helping a crippled kiddie across the road, and even gave the car a tune up. Aren’t we just fantastic?!”
No you’re not. You are cheats, and liars. Your jobs go to plan, you have all the right tools, you don’t discover nightmares from previous owners reno attempts, you have a team of crack professionals at your beck and call. You make us envious. You make the rest of us feel that we are missing out on a life of wonder and magic because our homes are functional, not pretty, and not filled with the latest gadgets and crap that your advertisers demand you plug like the whores you are. In short, you people are bastards, I want you out of my house, and off my tv screen…
You reward slack arsed home owners, who should be pointed at and mocked for being lazy and shiftless, with new homes and yards.
How do I get onto this bloody scam?! “And here’s Gb folks. He bought this house several years ago, and hasn’t done a thing with it. He mows the lawn twice a year so he can find the dogs, and inside he hasn’t even banged in a nail to hang one picture. We so have to help him! While he takes a well earned break in Hawaii, we’ll do all the work the lazy sod should have been doing in the last 10 years, and double the value of his house. Let’s just hope he can summon up the energy to water his plants once a month after we’re done. Maybe his grateful neighbours will do it for him and hopefully keep the value of their homes up as well while they quickly bang in ‘For Sale’ signs?”
Am I sounding upset?
Stage 1 Complete
By 9pm, my wife and I had managed to clean part of the kitchen, and the sitting area of the loungeroom before collapsing into bed. The smell of dust and lino fills the air, my body is in a state of shock. So, stage 1 is complete. Surely it couldn’t get any worse. All we have to do is lay the bloody tiles, clean down the walls, mop, replace the furniture… I mean, ‘How hard could it be?!’
And you can shut up as well Mr. Realistic, I don’t want to hear the words, ‘I told you so’, right now! Geez I’m glad to be going to work tomorrow…