We’re Infectious!

The past eight months have been pretty epic in our house. We’re by no means done with our giant DIY kitchen remodel, but we’re really starting to make some serious progress and can make a pinhole of light out at the end of the tunnel.

The plan, after moving the wall, and the current state of the kitchen with the ceiling vaulted and drywall done.


After widening the room and vaulting the ceiling, we’ve finally got drywall back on the walls and it’s officially been taped, sanded, and expertly (by a pro!) textured so that the walls look like they were put in that way originally. In fact, the drywall guy did such an amazing job that his texture work looks better than what was originally done 30+ years ago since you can’t make out a single seam after Mr PoP’s efforts filling and sanding the seams, and his efforts texturing the walls using a skip trowel method. In contrast, if you pay attention, you can see seams in the original walls that weren’t properly filled prior to the wall texture application.

Along the way, something a bit unintentional has happened.

We Tried to Minimize Our Impact

We knew the remodel would be a PITA for us, but we’ve tried really hard not to bother our neighbors during the remodel.

  • When disposing of garbage, we try and carry it out the morning of pickup to minimize the eyesore (of items like decomposing cabinetry) even if we’d rather get it out of the house and the garage ASAP.
  • We are cognizant that we don’t use power tools too late at night or too early in the morning. Everyone deserves their beauty sleep!
  • We even brought wine over to our neighbors on the day we would be using demolition hammers to remove 500 sqft of tile from our house. A preventive measure for the possible headaches from the noise.

So really, we have tried to minimize the impact our extended remodel has had on the neighbors. But we accidentally infected some of them with DIY fever.

While not a clinical diagnosis in the DSM, DIY fever is an overwhelming urge to take on projects that would typically be hired out by the average American household. Contracted largely online, small scale DIY fever is often experienced by those perusing Pinterest or Etsy for hours on end, causing the afflicted to take on small, largely decorative or organizational projects. Large scale DIY fever is more often contracted at home improvement warehouses and can cause the afflicted to undertake major home improvement projects, despite not having any formal training in the construction trades. DIY fever can be a dangerous disease, causing the loss of time, money, patience, and (rarely) fingers to those afflicted.*

We’ve been concentrating so hard on pushing through our renovation project (pushing through is one of the best treatments during an outbreak of DIY fever) that we didn’t realize the affect we were having on some of our neighbors at the same time.

The Symptoms Around Us

On one side of our house, the neighbors (an older retired couple) just completed a major overhaul on their landscaping, doing quite a bit of the work themselves! Prior to this, the only DIY project they completed in our six years living next door was painting their seahorse mailbox a new color. But this spring they were out there day after day planting various flowers, palms, and shrubs, and digging a trench for the pipes to their new little water fountain. We were so impressed with not only their results, but also with how much they did themselves!

On the other side, our neighbors (who just moved in around Christmas) were initially inspired by our plans for our kitchen. Since their kitchen shared some of the same “features” that ours originally did (like being small with a dropped ceiling and recessed fluorescent lights – what was it with 1980’s kitchens!), we didn’t blame them for wanting to make some changes. And as they formulated their own plan for removing a wall and moving the location of their laundry (they’ll need to relocated the plumbing much like we did for that), they talked with contractors and even signed a letter of intent with one to have most of the work done for them. But DIY fever must be airborne or something because before we knew it, their plans for having a contractor do most of the work had gone out the window and this weekend we heard the sweet music of hammers** coming from their house. The plans have changed and though they don’t think they’ll be building their own cabinetry, they are proceeding in the project much in the way we did, with plans to do most of it themselves and hire out on the items where they feel they need more expertise.

A small part of me feels a little bad for spreading DIY fever to our neighbors because I know how much hard work and physical labor DIY-ing a big home improvement project (whether a “small” one like re-landscaping the lawn or a big one like the kitchen) is. And I hope they don’t end up saying our names amongst a string of four letter words as they push through some of the more difficult parts that they have yet to tackle. “Those mother-****-****-****-PoPs and their **** ****** ***** kitchen!” (DIY fever is not worth losing friends or good neighbor-relationships over!)

But a bigger part of me feels really proud that we helped inspire our neighbors to tackle new projects on their own and I’m excited to see their finished product – hopefully it won’t take them quite as long as it’s taken us.***


* In case it’s not totally obvious, I made this paragraph up and to the best of my knowledge there is absolutely no medical diagnosis (formal or otherwise) associated with attempting DIY projects.

** Now that we’re done tearing out walls and ceilings, listening to others wield hammers is actually pretty nice. Strange, but it’s oddly relaxing to listen to others knowing they are working insanely hard.

*** The neighbors aren’t modifying their trusses, just removing the drop ceiling, so that will shave a couple of months at least off of their work loan compared to ours. Same for the cabinetry and countertops – those will probably take me a few months at least to complete, but they’re currently planning a trip to IKEA (the horrors) for theirs.


Have you ever caught or spread DIY fever?

18 comments to We’re Infectious!

  • Haha, love it! I bet it’s not just your neighbors. Imagine all the people on the internet you’ve inspired to start DIY.
    Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents recently posted..Death By A Thousand CutsMy Profile

  • Nope! In our neighborhood, most landlords only make improvements if something horrible is about to happen or already did happen. Collapsing walls and balconies, leaky roofs, etc. Actually, our next door landlord, the guy who parks his Maserati in the dilapidated garage, is pretty responsible and has done some upgrades. Not DIY.

    Actually, I shouldn’t badmouth all of them. As I type this the landlord on the OTHER side of us is helping us out right now. His tree fell into our yard Sunday and smashed our DIY fence, and now he’s DIY cutting up the tree, so there’s that?
    Norm recently posted..Cancelling Our Cable with Time Warner, America’s Worst Corporation, Part 3My Profile

    • I kindof understand landlords hiring more out by comparison to homeowners (especially if they have multiple units). When you have a finite amount of time and need to repair your own home and your rental, hire out the rental since that expense is deductible from your rental income and thus your after tax cost is decreased by your marginal tax bracket – which for us is 28%. For some folks (especially in NY, with state tax and higher incomes), that marginal rate is even higher!

  • That’s awesome you’re inspiring others to improve their homes too! Nothing like everyone improving the community to improve property values. Nice job inspiring others.
    Duncan’s Dividends recently posted..Prosper LendingMy Profile

  • Lucas

    Thanks for sharing! Inspiring and empowering others is the true test of a leader :-) Your story is a great example of why this is best through leading by example. DYI is very empowering and helps people see that they really can do a lot more on their own then they thought. It is very rewarding as well (especially when stuff starts to come back together and you aren’t covered in drywall dust anymore 😉 )

    I redid my kitchen as well ( didn’t have to do roof framing :-), but took out a wall, , added an island, redid the ceiling, all new cabinets, vent ducting, flooring, etc. . ), and am currently finishing up my second complete bathroom redo, so i have enjoyed watching your progress as well. Good luck with finishing this out soon!

    • Hadn’t really thought of it as leading by example, but that’s a much nicer way to think about it than infecting our neighbors with a virus. =)

      Your kitchen redo sounds pretty epic as well! I’d love to see pictures if you want to share some before/afters.

      • Lucas

        Well you get mad points for building your own cabinets :-) so i can’t compete with that yet. You did get me thinking about building my own computer desk though as i have some unique space requirements that i haven’t been able to find one that i could buy. I will track down a couple pictures and shoot them to your email.

  • LOL I thought some of the asterisk symbols at the bottom of the article would give me the full list of curse words 😉
    Stockbeard recently posted..Not owning a car is one of the best things you can do for yourselfMy Profile

    • haha – I just pressed *** a bunch of times, so wasn’t paying attention to letter count. Might be amusing to try and fit some choice words in there, but not really how I like to spend my free time. =)

  • I don’t think so. We tend to change stuff when it’s needed or after several years of thinking about it if it’s optional (see: carpet in the bathroom). Usually DH does it himself, but more recently we’ve been hiring things out. Though there is a building boom in our little town, which meant that DH ended up having to DIY our deck (replacing boards, which involved removing and replacing some concrete posts, then staining) anyway this summer after the one handy man we were able to get to look at it failed to give us an estimate. DC1 is now old enough and big enough to help with painting, so that was a fun bonding activity for the two of them. I’ve painted before and I really dislike it– fortunately for me we’ve had a small child who needed to be looked after for the past few years of deck staining.

    We do get a lot of value from watching videos and reading instructions on DIY stuff on the internet. There’s a lot of things we’ve been able to do ourselves that we normally would have had to hire out because someone out there has provided detailed instructions. (See: replacing the mesh on a screen door– easier in the end than finding a new replacement door that was the right size and color.)
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..RBOCMy Profile

  • Your probably infecting a lot of others over the net! Careful over there.
    Adam @ AdamChudy.com recently posted..How to Graduate College Debt Free – Part 6. Financial AidMy Profile

  • You may have minorly infected my husband and I. Although after each project we say, we’re done, this house can be a junker. Until we get sick of it…two days later.

  • We’re going to mostly DIYing our deck next summer when we have the money for the materials. A friend with actual experience building a deck is going to be helping, and we’re pretty much providing the labor. But, we’re expecting to spend a lot less on it than hiring someone, now to just figure out the byzantine borough regulations to get permits and all that other crap.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Credit Security Freezes – and why you might want to consider oneMy Profile

  • Wow, that is looking incredible. Good for you guys! Was there a closet or storage behind that wall that you moved? Increasing the ceiling height was truly inspired. I can’t wait to see it all finished.
    And…I love your idea for taking your neighbours a bottle of wine on a big demo day!
    Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada recently posted..How to Use a Credit Card ResponsiblyMy Profile

  • Don’t feel guilty. Feel proud — think of the money you inspired them to save. Not to mention the sense of personal accomplishment.

    And if it proves to be too much, they can hire a professional. Other than buying some materials, they wouldn’t spend any more than they would have if they hired professionals immediately. And they can always ask the professionals to use what they bought to lower the bill.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted..Pancreatitis. Or kidney stone. Or ulcer.My Profile

  • remodeling is a great past time, when you have the tools and some of the knowledge. It is always fun when you get it complete and can enjoy it.

    I have remodeled many of my rentals, and with the remodel I get additional rent.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted..3 Strategies to Avoid Student LoansMy Profile