How to motivate a husband to finish his DIY projects

polly929November 13, 2010

Well it has been 3 full years in our fixer upper home and my kitchen island is still unfinished, the undercabinet lighting has yet to be installed, (there are just hanging wires) and the trim and stair hallway is still waiting to be painted, the list goes on, but I may run out of room here.

We have 3 kids (ages 7,4, and 1), and 2 full time jobs, and it leaves very little time to get the punch list finished. You see- my husband has renovation ADD. He never finishes anything before starting another project. Which leaves many unfinished projects throughout our home. But I've reached my breaking point- I just can't take it anymore.

So I just volunteered us to be a host house for our neighborhood progressive dinner. He has until January 29th to get the kitchen completed. Am I crazy? My husband works really well with deadlines, but if he thinks he has an infinite amount of time, that's how long it takes to finish.

How do you all light the spark under your husband's butts?

If you have a DIY husband, I know you can relate. It seems to be a common ground amongst all the DIY men I know. I am ready to break out his power tools and try and finish the projects myself. Instead, I've invited the neighborhood over to see exactly what we've been doing the last 3 years. Our house has been the talk of the neighborhood since we moved in, and very few have seen the inside.

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This one is easy. Get another man involved. Father, fil, friend, cousin, it doesn't matter. It's a man thing. Have "that man" come over and say "BTW how's that kithcen island coming along, can I see it?" It will get him moviated more than you because "it's a man thing". Try it!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 7:42PM
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Three years is nothing! LOL My sister's house has been under construction since they bought it almost 12 years ago. He's a contractor and works on the house in his spare time.
It's gone thru some really wonderful transformations. Well worth the time it's taken.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 7:44PM
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I feel your pain - DH and I have 2 little kids, full-time jobs and we just moved into a fixer-upper, much of which will be done DIY. DIY stuff when you have kids and full time jobs does take years from my experience so know you are not alone in this! Having personally worked on a lot of home projects myself it is really hard to get things done with little kids under foot (particularly a 1 year old). I have a 7 and 4 (almost 5) year old also - so I know they are capable of helping on some projects - For example, my kids helped me rip up a room full of old carpeting this weekend and pull out all the staples left on the floor. However, during this they still need to be supervised and have stuff to do when they get bored, wander off, or start fighting :-). My advice to you (if you are already doing this then I apologize but here goes...)is for you get up early on a weekend morning and plan a full day for you and all 3 kids away from the house as much as possible and give your DH some long stretches of uninterrupted time to get these things done. Make it clear that he is to use this child-free time to get stuff done :-)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 8:48PM
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Usually I just buy some new lingerie and cook a pot of ribs and the stuff gets done. YMMV.

Really, though? I'd hire a handyman. Three years is way too long to have rooms full of unfinished projects. And a house with hanging wires and kids is a recipe for disaster. I'd get out the Yellow Pages and my checkbook, if I'z you.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 9:14PM
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I told my dh that the many unfinished projects were creating stress for me, and that they were interfering with our relationship, which is true. He realized that I was very serious, and said he would commit to finishing everything before he got involved in anything else. We don't have young kids and 2 jobs, but he just goes off in too many different directions.

I made a list of every job that needed to be done. Then we sat down and prioritized some of the many unfinished projects. Once a week I get out the list and ask him which jobs he's going to do next, and does he have what he needs to do them. It's hard to keep this up, but he's gradually knocking them off, little by little.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:17PM
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You don't "get" him to do anything. If you want it done, you do it yourself or you pay to have it done. Painting isn't hard at all, and neither is under cabinet lighting. These are all doable project by YOU. Have him watch the kids and get busy! That might motivate him to finish other projects in the end, but really, there's nothing wrong with you doing some of this. Men needn't be the only handy ones in a family.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 11:44PM
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I like live wire oak's solution. Have him watch the kids while you work. I mean, really watch the kids; like feeding them and taking them to the park. After he does this once or twice, he will probably opt for finishing the jobs.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:15AM
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I hate it when I agree with live wire....why I don't know, but it irks me that the man is always wiring for's a good book...and do it yourself. As to painting...I would never allow dh to do it.

And at my house if I don't do it, I hire a pro. My husband is an engineer (chemical) and like all engineers thinks he can do anything, and like most engineers I know, overcomplicates the job then screws it up, leaving it to me to fix it.

I normally wait till he leaves town and then call in a pro.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:21AM
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Ha! Boy did I laugh when I read Igloochics remarks. I'm married to a ChemE too, and a color blind one at that! I can relate to your experiences. "Directions?? I'm an engineer, I don't need to read directions." seems to be the belief even if they can't get all the pieces to fit. He's smarter than almost anyone I know but not a star DIYer (and not the guy you want to ask for decorating input). I paint and do minor things but have a great carpenter/builder do the more complicated things, sometimes with our help.

But he's a wonderful husband who cleans the kitchen, rakes the leaves, and generally agrees to my fix up plans and doesn't squawk about paying the resulting bill so I'll keep him. He's a big improvement over his predecessor who could fix your car or build and addition but didn't know much about being a good husband.

And, yup, I often do a lot of it when he's gone. He usually likes the results even if he was originally skeptical.

Maybe the civil and mechanical engineers are better DIYers with their more practical orientation?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:43AM
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ah, engineers! my first husband is one, and in our first home he undertook a winter long project of building a doghouse. that's right, it took him all winter to design it and get it built to his exacting specs. and in vermont our winters are lo-o-ong!
only to find come spring that he neglected to remember it needed to be brought up the basement stairs to get outside.
wonder if that doghouse is still in the basement of that house?!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:49AM
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Mine is an engineer as well. Really I would do the painting, I have in the past. I just don't have a block of time long enough without the 16 month old under foot to get it done. I am not good with following instructions from books, and I'm afraid I will do it wrong, causing a fire hazard with the wiring.
It's a moot point now. This did not end well. DH is angry and says I manipulated him. We are barely speaking. I am crying. And my kids are listening. I should have just continued to grin and bear it. I would love to hire someone, but we don't have the extra cash. We are in over our heads with this house. It was probably the biggest mistake we ever made.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:15AM
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I am sorry Polly. I don;t have a lot of advice, but do have a DIY DH that can take a long time on projects (leaving messes everywhere along the way) I was going to offer advice but instead I will offer (((hugs)))

Times seem to be so stressful right now.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:35AM
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If you really want it done, you can at least do the painting--hire a babysitter and do it yourself. As for undercabinet lighting, it's not a necessity so you could maybe hide (tape up) the wires so it's not seen during your party? Otherwise, get an estimate from an electrician and tell hubby what it is and give him the choice--do it in the next month or you're calling the electrician to do it. As for the island--without pictures, it's hard to tell how unfinished it is, so call a carpenter and get estimate for it too.

When there's little things I want done that usually falls under "his category", I eventually say "well, it's not rocket science---where's the drill, I'LL do it." More often than not, he'll follow me to the garage and then do it himself. He hates the thought of me using his power tools.....except the lawn mower (and I wish he hated me using that!).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:52AM
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Mn I think we are married to the same man.....did yours go to school in mn as well? Mine is also a chef quality cook....I haven't cooked much since we began dating. Wonderful long as I hide my power tools from him.

Polly I'm sorry this has been so stressful. On those wires...if they do not have caps on the end and are possibly live, go to the local hardware store and ask for some caps...they will help out, then put them on the wires individually (don't try to figure which go together) and then tape them with painters tape to the bottom of your cabinets. That will be fine for your party and not seeing them will make you feel better.

I know the he'll of trying to paint with a small child in the room....just don't do it lol but get a babysitter to take them or have dh do it and then keep them out if your work area. Even if you have to do a wall at a time, it will gradually get done that way.

As to the neighbors.....perfection is not necessary in a home to have a good time. If your neighbors feel your house is the talk of the town because of some level of perfection or wonderfulness in the house....let them see that a real family lives there.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:08AM
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Thanks everyone. I emailed the lady coordinating and pulled out. It probably would have been fun, but it's not worth the stress.
The wires have the caps. I am taping them to the bottom of the cabinets, but you can still see them, because he never finished the moulding on the bottoms of the cabs,
By the way, the whole blow up started because he decided yesterday would be a good day to start yet another project of digging a trench from the house to the garage so he could put electric in it. I work 24 hour shifts at the hospital. His mom helped him for about 3 hours with the kids. When I got home this morning, there was a sink full of dirty dishes and bottles. Right now I am in the middle of doing all the laundry from last week I was unable to get to because my pre-schooler was sick. I normally don't confront him about much because he is so thick headed he never sees my side of things. I just reached a breaking point, and couldn't take it anymore. Now I have to put on a happy face this afternoon to go to a friends house for dinner. At least there will be wine there.

Really, I am so tempted to post pics of the disaster area we call a home to show you all why I am so frustrated. But if he ever found out, he'd probably never forgive me.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:37AM
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I don't know..... I'm married to a Mechanical engineer who happens to be in the remodeling/repair business. I live life as the shoemakers wife IYKWIM! Some projects I tackle myself and sometimes that makes him itch enough (seeing me not do it the way he would!) that he jumps in and it gets done. But more often I take a far simpler approach. I think you ladies are making this way harder than it has to be! livewire may not like it, but it gets the job done!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:37AM
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It's such a male pride thing. I really feel for you. Is your husband really capable or did he bite off more than he can chew? Do you have the funds to hire a handyman? How easy is it to find a handyman in your area who is willing to take on "minor" jobs? Does your DIY-husband have DIY friends in the trades who are willing to work on the weekends for pay?

If you can get quotes from tradespeople, you can present them to your husband and have that discussion that you need to have with him....alternatively, you can suggest hiring another DIY inclined friend to assist your husband on the weekends; by committing to paying someone, suddenly you're forced into getting a budget and timeline together.

My poor sister shares your woes and with a job and two little kids - the youngest aged 1 - she doesn't have the option to tackle projects herself. It's a pride thing with her husband and consequently is causing her a lot of stress.

I'm very lucky I don't have this problem. I, too, bought a fixer-upper house. My husband is a "Mike Holmes" and for that I am incredibly grateful. My sister wants to hire him but because of the potential awkwardness between brothers-in-law, she's going to hire my husband's cousin who is in the trades and is willing to work on weekends.

That cousin is right now banging and making headache inducing noise along with my husband in our master bedroom upstairs. This is weekend #6 for yet another DIY project. I am tired of the mess and inconvenience but I know I'm lucky. My husband who currently has a professional desk job during the week, got out of the trades because he disliked working outside in the winter. But it really is his first love.

My handyman won't pay for convenience but will insist that he can do a better job than a paid contractor. And I know he's right. We paid for some jobs, like installing a new kitchen, but for others, my husband is the contractor. For those jobs we pay somebody to do, he closely monitors their work. Like I said, I am very grateful for the slow but sure progress that is taking place.

But I admit, three years on, to some fatigue. It's not like HGTV, where additions and kitchens and interior decorating all takes place in one hour. I've stopped watching Sarah Richardson, who - with a seemingly blank cheque - completed a back-split, her cottage and a country home in the same amount of time as I've had my house:(

Hey....maybe you can apply to one of those HGTV reno shows...I have a friend who did just that to get her new kitchen.

Good luck and I hope you get some resolution soon. ((HUGS))

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Well, this is an all too familiar syndrome. You have to work full time and come home and work full time. It's not fair, and it's not what most women "expect". It's just what happens when you do those "little things" for him to make his life easier and it becomes more than a favor. It becomes "expected behavior". If you have to come home from work and work, it's only fair that he does too! Or pays for his half of the housework/home improvement to be done.

Stop doing HIS laundry and dishes. Switch to paper plates for you and the kids for a while. Stop serving him his dinner like he's one of your kids. If he's hungry, he'll find something to eat. Find an evening activity that you enjoy, even if it's just strolling around the mall, and go out and leave him with the kids while you do it. DOn't disappear into "the mommy" caretaker role that fixes all of his boo boos.

And, get a "Wiring for Dummies" book and attend your local "How To" classes at the local box stores. Get busy making your home the vision you want instead of expecting him to do it all. Either he'll be happy and proud that you're "contributing half" of "his" work and things will get smoother, or he'll be resentful that you expect him to be an adult and share his half of the household load and things will get worse. But, YOU will feel better empowered rather than always "waiting on him" to do something. Right now, you're resentful of him and unhappy. That's no place to be, and especially it's no place to "smooth things over" so that his life is stress free again with zero complaints on the home front.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:06PM
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(Igloochic saud, My husband is an engineer (chemical) and like all engineers thinks he can do anything, and like most engineers I know, overcomplicates the job then screws it up, leaving it to me to fix it.

ME TOO! What is it with engineers? My SO doesn't think he can do everything, but the guy would hang an 24x18 painting with lag bolts.

Overengineers EVERYTHING!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:23PM
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Figure out which projects you can physically do - painting is EASY - and make sure you have the supplies.

Give the kids to the DH for the day and tell him to get out of the house with them and have daddy time for at least 6 hours. You can knock off one room in 6 hours. Or wire the lights, or whatever. But the uninterrupted, child-free time is key.

Do that once a week for a couple of months and you should be really close to done.

You can have the 7-year old do some things. I was helping my mom paint when I was that age. I only painted in areas where goofs were not a problem, but it's not beyond the kid's skill level.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:29PM
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Just chiming in here. I really don't have much cause to complain as I am doing very little to help things along. My DH is also an engineer -- electrical, software development manager. When we met at Xerox I was a product planner, and he still likes to joke that he is taking direction from me. I design, draw, select, source, and he implements. I guess our deal is -- he does everything and I get to do nothing but I just have to be patient. If he wants to spend a week fastening a shoe molding (that no one but our little bitty dog might ever see) with biscuits instead of more expeditiously nailing it on, I just smile on my way into the other room. The irony in all this is that there are nail holes, warps, non-matching wood everywhere, and that's fine with me, it's part of the "charm" of the old wood. I just find the juxtaposition of aged rusticity here and meticulous craftsmanship there to be kind of amusing -- but this is his baby. It will all be fine in the end (we should just live so long)! There's not a thing I can do to make him go faster. So I just have to make myself not stress. So what if the holidays come and go, and my son brings his new girlfriend home for the first time, and the dining room is filled with boxes and the kitchen is still a work zone. What was that about "serenity to know the difference . . ."?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:39PM
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Like several others have commented, consider completing these projects yourself. Educate yourself by reading books (the library is a great resource) and researching online. Also, have you considered working on these projects with your husband, rather than expecting him to complete them by himself? I typically do most of the renovation and repair work around my house. And I must say, sometimes there is nothing more daunting that having to work on a project all by yourself. Renovation projects are much more fun with others. Even if the other person is simply a helper grabbing tools, fetching rags, helping with clean up, etc, it really helps a job progress. Can you talk with your husband and tell him you really appreciate the work he has done so far and you would like to help him bring the projects into completion? Look at your schedules together and find some time to work together to complete the tasks that are important to building your home together. You might find yourself really enjoying the time with your husband.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:34PM
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Polly - You sound overwhelmed and I will offer up a cyber-hug also. If I've read correctly - the whole point is that you don't have a whole wad of cash ready to spend on hiring someone to do all of this in lieu of your DH? My big recommendation is to breathe and realize that as much as all of us would love to live in a beautiful finished house - in reality our children (and their story-time, their homework, their clean clothes and healthy meals, snd play time and so on), our relationships, our careers, our personal fitness/health and our savings - those take priority first before the "fun stuff" of having a beautiful finished house. I don't say that to be mean (I have to live by that mantra too!) As for the suggestions to pick up a book and teach yourself wiring, well... :-) I don't know if those come from people who actually currently have a full-time career (one which spills over into your 'home time") plus a spouse with a full-time career, and 3 young children! I am a very driven person who has done a lot of DIY projects - including building most of a house ourselves without contractors and I know how mentally and physically time-consuming these projects can be. The bulk of that stuff I did pre-children. Now that we have young kids, I realize how few hours there are -not even in a day- but in a week or month left over to do that kind of thing. As a working mom I know how hard it is to turn away your young children in order to read up on a home improvement manual. I can't even remember the last time I turned on the television to watch TV for myself. If you are lucky, you can catch a few minutes of time after the kids are in bed and the dinner is cleaned up and the bags are packed for the next day to find a few minutes to read something (or read gardenweb :-). If you can that is great - but don't beat yourself (or your DH) up if takes you a longer time to get DIY projects done. You are just in a phase in life where this kind of thing has to go on the back burner. If your DH is wasting hours a day watching TV or playing video games or stuff like that - then I can see you getting angry. But if you are both tied up with careers and kids and there just isn't a lot of leftover time then well you just need to realize there will be more time later and it will be okay!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:27PM
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What stuck out to me was his mother came and helped with the kids while he started a new project. Sounds familiar. My mother in law will watch the kids on the weekend, while I work, so that dh can go play baseball or wiffleball tournaments. I bet she thinks she is watching the kids for "us" but it really is just to enable him to play his games while I am at work. If she did not do it for him, he'd have to give up some of the teams he is on. When I used to watch the kids while he worked, I did not hire babysitters so I could go shopping, to the movies, golfing or otherwise playing with my friends. I worked part time, but took care of the kids and the house by myself. Now that I am working full time, the scenario had to change.

Is there any chance your mother in law sympathizes with your unfinished house? I know that is a major stretch, but she might actually be an ally (mine, never, lol). Maybe you can ask her to watch the kids so you can paint. I would never attempt wiring as a hobby, but painting is something most people can do. I know money is tight so a 6 hour babysitter would cost you too much.

Your dh probably gets overwhelmed by how much is left for each project and is overly optimistic until reality sets in. Maybe if he sees you making his list easier, he would do some of the list himself. If you said you are wanting the stuff done and willing to help him with the list, either as a helper or taking some of it on, it would show some teamwork and reduce some of the stress.

After the work is done, you can take that approach to housework and each knock stuff off a master list each week or work on your own lists. When I went back to work full time just over a year ago, dh mistakenly thought I'd still be doing everything a SAHM is able to do. Well, after a few times of coming home to a destroyed house on a Sat & Sun, I had to make clear that when he is home with the kids, the house needed to be in at least the shape it was when I left in the a.m. and hopefully, improved, such as a load of laundry done or straightening up. The kids need to be kept up to task with not being human tornadoes indoors. I hated (and still do) walking in the door to a disaster and handing down orders to clean up after themselves, like I am the meanie. It really ticks me off to come home after 5 and see the breakfast dishes and lunch stuff out on the table, counters and floor! GRRRR! We all butt heads with our spouses over stuff like that, so you are not alone.

Working with children is a tough go of it and sometimes you just need to get out. Can you call a gf for a night out? Even if it is just to borrow a movie from the library and have some wine together, it feels good to dress up and go out alone. You will feel better for having some time like that and will be a better mommy and spouse.

My first inclination when I read the first post of your is to simply tell your husband it makes you hot to see him complete the projects. Seriously though, if you tell him it will make you happy to see it done and a happy wife is a lot more fun to be around, wink, wink, he may get the idea. I find either food, something else or both can be tremendous motivators. You just need to approach it as a win/win and not a barter system.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 1:43AM
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My DH is a carpenter by trade and I can understand why he is disinclined to come home from work and go to "work" on our house. He's also an artist, which makes him a perfectionist. That trait in him leads straight to procrastination. He takes forever to complete a project, although it's fabulous when it's done.

I bought a can of paint for the living room this June and told him I was aiming for having the 12 x 12 walls painted by the first of November, in time for my college reunion. He started immediately. "I bet you didn't think I'd get right on it, did you?" he crowed, while moving all the furniture into our large foyer. I was indeed surprised and heartened by his motivated industriousness.

Fast forward to the last week in October. At this point, he had gouged all the cracks in the plaster walls (creating clouds of dust) and taped them, but had abandoned the project. All the furniture and stereo equipment was still in the foyer (now covered in aforementioned dust). Deadline looming, he leapt into dramatic, stressed action but finished the job beautifully. After 4 months, he actually said, "I sure wish I had one more week on this!"

He loves our house and enjoys the improvement, but has trouble prioritizing. A chronic procrastinator myself, I've learned to break down jobs into manageable pieces; he tends to do a job all at once, spurred by a deadline.

So I know this and try to work around his method and be patient. Party deadlines really get him moving, although he pushes it. "Don't hang the toilet paper in the powder room yet--I just painted that wall!" he'd cry. "Honey, the guests are here. It's over. Stop!" LOL

My other strategy is to announce that I'm going to tackle a project myself. After a few "Where are the pliers?" and "Do you think I should remove the hardware to paint this door?" it doesn't take long for him to take over. Mostly because he can't stand the idea that I might not do the project as perfectly as he likes.

My last-ditch method I've only used once: crying. He had torn up a stairwell (more dust!) and was repairing it and painting it, only it had been 3 months since he started and we were having 90 guests coming within a week. I pulled in our driveway and saw him mulching the garden. I burst into tears and wailed about the unfinished stairwell, the dust I couldn't tackle till he was through, the people coming and that seemed to get his attention.

Polly, I'm sorry you've been so frustrated by feeling helpless about unfinished projects. Maybe that would be an approach to your husband. "I feel help-less," as in, "Won't you help me by working on this some?" Maybe plan a small dinner party as a deadline to motivate him? Try to ignore accusations of being a nag or of manipulation. It's perfectly reasonable to ask him to address some lingering projects.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 2:26AM
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Polly, You said it was too hard to get a block of time with 16 mo. old. is there a neighbor with a child or a friend that 1 week you could take her child for 4 hrs & next week she take yours. You need to create some blocks of time occasionally so you have time to get things done or for yourself. MIL might be helpful if you told her you really could use some help as you aren't sure what you should do to make the kitchen look good(if she has good taste that is) she might be thrilled that you want her input & be eager to help the work get done. Electrical stuff I won't touch. Son turned off electricity to kitchen to fix the outside light. It is on wall between kitchen & backing LR. well, the light switch was "hot" while the plug part of the same outlet was cold. The builder realized too much power in kitchen & some people put in 100 watt bulbs & leave side yard light on all the time so he switched that 1/2 of outlet to LR wiring! I remembered that they had told us that when we moved into our brand new home, never wrote it down as never thought it would short out. Son had years of electrical experience as did it for a living so he didn't get electrocuted.I thought since he had pulled the breaker?? in garage & microwave & fridge were off that the outlet was safe to work on. Not so. Anyway good luck & hope you can come up with some better options.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 2:52AM
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Jenny from the get it. Life happens leaving very little time to work on the house. I work 24 hours every other Saturday, so we even have very little time on weekends. I also work one 24 hr shift during the week, so I can be home with the children most days. I am able to attend school functions that most working moms cannot. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I don't want to miss anything. They are only little once, and my parents divorced when I was a kid, and my childhood wasn't really fun. But since DH works a traditional job, most of the household stuff falls on me. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, food shopping, school drop offs and pick ups (3X a day since my middle child is in pre-school), dance class, soccer, play dates, mommy and me, changing diapers ALL are my job as well. I used to handle the finances and pay all the bills as well, but I was having so much anxiety after going back to work after DS was born, I started getting frequent migraines with visual disturbances, and DH finally took that job over. He occasionally pitches in with laundry and food shopping when time permits. He is a wonderful father, and when he gets home in the evenings, I am often at the end of my rope with the toddler, and he dives right in to help with getting the children bathed and ready for bed while I clean the kitchen after dinner. I understand our busy schedules do not give us much time to work on the house, I have been very sympathetic to this, BUT what is driving me nuts is his ADD! He keeps starting new projects, and it's making me CRAZY. He doesn't make the best use of his time, never thinks ahead, and like may of you have mentioned, he has an engineers brain and he overthinks everything while doing a job, which makes the job take FORVER. WHen I say he never thinks ahead, a perfect example is his new project he started Saturday. He started digging a trench in our grass to place an electric line to the garage. All of this so he could set up a wood workshop in the garage so he could finish all the moulding and other projects. Anyhow, he didn't have enough time, OR the right shovel, and now we have a lovely muddy dirt trench next to the driveway. Forecast is calling for rain tomorrow, and I'm sure the mud will be all over the driveway AND all over the dogs paws- I'm sure you know where this is going. Also, it's NOVEMBER!!! Why start this in November- we live in NJ, by Thanksgiving the temps are usually in the 30's -40's and the ground will be frozen in no time. Which means our trench, will be there till spring.

Dianalo- As for asking my MIL to help out, it's more trouble than its worth. She doesn't drive, and FIL has to drive her everywhere, OR DH brings the kids to her (which is what usually happens because she won't leave her husband for too long). They live 30 minutes away, so just the trip there and back takes an hour, and having to do it twice wastes 2 hours. Also my in-laws are Italian, DH has 2 sisters, Italian mother's loyalty is always to the daughters. She is usually with one of my SIL's and DH's younger sister just had a baby. My MIL will now watch the baby when SIL returns to work full time. That will take her out of the equation completely. We have never really been able to rely on them anyway. I actually really like my MIL, but it is frustrating the preference that is given to the daughters. This is just a whole 'nother can of worms, I choose not to open.

Skywatcher- I understand completely. When we bought this house we knew we were going to have a lot of fixing to do. The entire house was paneled. Most of it was knotty pine. I was planning on just painting it, and he was on board with that. But after we closed, he started taking down the paneling, which led into cracked plaster underneath, and so on and so forth, and before I knew it the whole first floor was down to the studs, and we had no kitchen and a giant whole in the floor because he decided the floor needed to be replaced, and we were living out of one bedroom and one bathroom and a make shift kitchen next to our back door. My girls were 3 and 1 then, it wasn't very fun. But we had a deadline to get it done, we were having all our family here for DD's 4th birthday in Novemeber, and he somehow got most of it done and live-able by then. He started all the demo in May. Thats why I thought if we hosted a dinner here it might motivate him, but this time it backfired.
So last evening in between getting the 8 loads of laundry folded, after the children went to bed, I took out the scraper, and a flashlight and started prepping the back entry way. Yes- I needed a flashlight because he never connected the wiring to the light fixture there. I went to bed at 11, and DS woke up at 5. Tonight I will paint it, with my flashlight. But really- I will not take a class on electric, I'd rather go to yoga or the gym, I'm NOT learning how to do woodwork, I already do ENOUGH!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 7:11AM
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Grab some tools and start working on it yourself, or at least act as if you are doing just that make sure he knows or hears you!!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:19AM
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Polly, this is what I would do, my 2 cents only. I would make finishing that trench number one priority. Because if your DH can get the electrical to the garage and make that garage his workshop, that opens up the possibility of him being able to finish your island, and the moldings, and other stuff over the winter months.

I would sit down with DH when you both are calm, and tell him what a good idea it is to get electrical to the garage, and set up a plan to get it done ASAP before the ground freezes. Also mention that leaving an open trench is a safety hazard for someone to fall in and break a leg. Rent a trench digger? Have a trench digging party? Will you need to hire an electrician to get the wiring done? Get MIL to babysit for just one day so you can help DH?

In the spring you can seed over the trench. In most of the intervening time, the area will be frozen and so not such a mud mess

I also fully agree with those who say that at this time in your life, having a finished house is probably a pipe dream. And also, having open houses for the neighbors. I had a bit of deja vue reading your post. Two careers, young kids. Only we had just 2 kids with the elder child old enough to help out with taking care of the younger when we had projects to do. And we built a new house (didn't have time to agonize over details- I remember telling the painters that I wanted yellow in the living room, green in the hallway, but didn't specify which yellow or green! Forget about specifying which paint brand! And I have to say our two elderly Italian painters did a wonderful job of selecting the colors. I still don't know what colors they are. And thank goodness there wasn"t a Home Dec forum, or at least I didn't know about it, it would have driven me over the edge seeing other's finished homes, or how they were attending to every detail. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

No, speaking from experience, you can't have it all, so be happy with what you do have. You are not a failure because you don't know how to do electrical wiring. IIRC, you have spent years learning how to care for premature infants. That is quite an acheivement!!! And someday there will come a time, when the kids are grown, or at least old enough to go to camp for a week or two in the summer, when you and your DH can turn your attention to acheiving your dream home.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:33AM
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Polly - it's SO obvious to me what your main problem is -- you're married to MY husband! I'm sitting here in the sunroom that's 90% done. Next to me is the kitchen, which is....90% done. Upstairs sun porch? Yup, 90%. I've got curtains but no window trim. Do you like that gorgeous hand-built rock wall at the back of the driveway? 90%.

And yes, he's an engineer. I have no advice for you, only commiseration and cyberhugs. I just emailed a friend back to see if their family can visit in December, since that might light a fire under DH. But by then he'll find some other project to begin but not finish. The friends are used to our permanently undone home, even though they move every few years from one turn-key showplace to another.

Don't try to paint while holding a flashlight. Find an old table lamp and use an extension cord and bring it out to your painting area for light. Good luck, Polly!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 1:34PM
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Guess what?
Because I prepped the entryway Monday night with a flashlight, DH hooked up the electric in there and now- after 3 years, I have light! (I had also bought tap lights last week and attached them to the wall at the top of the basement stairs)

He's still giving me the silent treatment- and I'm giving it back to him. I know it's juvenile, we are both very thick.

Barb- you did remember correctly, yes I do care for premies, not exactly a stress free job. And yes, I actually want him to finish the trench and electric. You're absolutely right, it might make him set up a workshop there and in turn have a place to work to finish all the other projects. I wish I could get on garage mahal on TV. He could really use some help in fixing the garage up. Anyhow, In the heat of an argument, I told him to prove me wrong and finish it. I think he will, he came home with the conduit pipes last night.

Folk- thanks. I knew there were others out there that shared my frustration. I really don't want anyone to think he's a bad guy. He really is a wonderful father and husband. He just has what I've termed "renovation ADD!"

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 7:05AM
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