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Giving Our Homes A Face Lift - Soon To Be Newly Weds, Spruicing Our NestS.

Updated on February 27, 2012

What Happens When You Do It Yourself

After being an unpaid apprentice to my Dad for a good thirteen years of my life. Yes I started at the bottom rung, so to speak as I was a shorty, actually I still am the shortest in my family. Wait I was taller than my Mom, but there again everyone was taller than my Mom, she was five feet two and a half inches tall, I am still not sure was this with or without high heels.I digress.

I would, as I say stand on the bottom rung of the ladder, and assist by passing him the desired brushes, rollers, and wiping clothes as he painted. Sometimes I would even be asked to wipe a spot off the floor, this was rare indeed, as my Dad was a very careful painter. I learnt that skill from him.

A Week Before My First Marraige

We were betrothed, and had found a perfect apartment in the centre of Johannesburg, upon signing the lease, we were granted our first month, rent free. With this bargain, we then used that month to paint and decorate the entire flat.

This was a perfect arrangement, so at the end of our working day we would have a quick supper, at either of our parents home, borrowed tools also scrounged any surplus useful items that we could, or would need to tackle that nights project.

Let it also be known, that on a couple of weekends, we actually picked up a couple of hamburger, chips and guava juices, all for fifty cents, or even, another occasion, some fish and chip shop, fish and chips for a whole twenty cents, I firmly recollect the we had at least three meals which we supplied during that month, hey we were after all, getting married!

We would tackle our tidying and cleaningup, and redecoration of our nest, which was a very large, flat, with a large lounge dining room, kitchen, bathroom and of course a large bedroom.

All things went like a dream we decorated, trimmed, revarnish, had all the walls painted to suit our taste in colours and accesories. The furniture had been delivered, we had removed the sundry items, from her bottom drawer, the pots, pans and general kitchen appliances, all installed and waiting for us, ready for after our marriage. We did not use any of the furniture or anything else in the flat, this was all reserved for when we got married.

Then, finally all we had to complete was the painting of the window, and door frames. This all needed to be done with enamal paint.Not a daunting task and still two working nights to do it in. The night before the nuptials, I would be sleeping alone in the flat, on the floor in a sleeping bag.

We masked the windows, the area around the doors and were ready. Well I picked up the one liter tin of paint, carefully, I took a step back, my balance was slightly wonky, my foot landed on the newspaper covered floor at a strange and funny angle, and down I went landed flat on my backside.

Do you realise what the floor coverage of a liter of thick enamal is, this is excludeing bits that landed on the toilet door and surrounding walls, well I can tell you, it was about nine square yards, our entire passageway from the lounge to the entance to the bathroom and quite a bit of bathroom floor, then also some of the bedroom floor also had splurge of white decorating the way in.

I rolled onto my side and cried out in pain,agony and frustration. There were also tears of anger and frustration on my soon to be bride, as she surveyed that damned awful mess that was created in a single instant,

Well we worked away that night and late into the next with what amounted to three liters of paint thinners, as we scrubbed snd mopped the floors, me with a very tight lipped, with a partially swollen ankle, well strapped and numbed with sseveral disprins every other hour, this helped me hobble through that ordeal.

My future wife was not very endeared to me for that fatal slip, no indeed those nights were interspersed with curt, instructions monosylibc answers and expressive grunts.

We had brought a thermos of coffee, after the final area had been cleaned up, we sat and drank our coffee, suddenly we both burst out laughing, as we saw the funny side of it as well, funny ha bloody ha, I am still convinced we were high by then, but it broke the ice and we had our wedding within 48 hours.

That night alone in the flat, I had to open up only the bathroom windows to get rid of the smell of thinners, as the joys of fully serviced flats, the cleaner had been in and gone over the entire floor area and scrubbed it again, then polished it up to a high gloss. He was rewarded with several old pairs of shirts and jeans.

Nobody knew about the strarped ankle at the wedding. It went off very well, and every one enjoyed the day with us.

A Holiday Task

Well within nine years after we had moved into our house, we finally had a green garden with some very respectable shrubs, trees as well as some nicely established annuals, as well as two nectarine trees, one which we had planted, the other had seeded it self and was the better beare of fruit..

Now we desperatly needed to have the outside of the house painted. Not a problem, again we trundle off too visit both sets of parents in order to once again borrow or annex some or most of those additional tools, and accessories required for this mammoth task.

Our house was built on a rocky ridge, those of you that have read Green Garden would realise that this could be fun, what with all the rocky levels, added to that, the builder who was living next door had moved to the Cape, taking his scoffolds with him.

Friday evening, of yet another long weekend earmarked for house maintainance we hosed, the entire houses walls down, much to the amusement of our nine year old son, who quipped to his little sister, "silly, they think the house will grow bigger", corney I know but true.

Well Saturday morning arrived and we, the wife, myself and the unwilling junior apprentice got started, we had cleverly decided to start work on the lower levels of the house as those faced the street, also were the easiest to access with ladders.

We carefully masked all glass of the entire window area with sheets of newspaper, and now had to burn all the lights in the house to see! The Apprentice, decided this was too much running around for him, so off to his friends house to play there.

Next open the paint, no not me for some reason, this was handled by the wife, decant into paint trays and off to the first wall, by the by , an old tarpaulin had been laid across in front of the wall to be painted, we had learnt something from somewhere I think.

I started painting at the top corner and across the side wall, my line ended about halfway down the length of the wall, so off we went carefully painting and cutting in. Once a section was completed, handed the paint tray down and then climbed down and then carefully repositioned the ladder, so as to tackle the next section of the wall. The wife would then move into where I had just been, she then painted the lower section.

This continued the entire Saturday with a break to feed the kids and ourselfs, plus a couple of smoke and tea breaks. The front and the one side, the easier of the two had been down by the end of the day.

A well deserved take away from the local roadhouse was collected and devoured while we listened to a drama broadcasted to us by Springbok Radio, which was an English come Afrikaans Radio Station. TV was then still in its infancy, we had not bought a TV set as yet.

The Hub Mob Challanges

Sunday, dawned bright with clear blue skies, a near perfect day, except for one small matter, both of us were stiff, ached in parts that you never knew could ache. I am sure that even all of our aches had aches.

Still a good soak in a hot bath, with a cup full of sea salt in the water, helped to alleviate at least some of the aches, not all but at least the important ones that would be used for the day had eased. Once breakfasted and coffeed, we were tanked up and ready to go. No Sunday School, so we gave church a miss and concentrated with the task at hand.

We inspected the front and completed side, and too our relief found the with the exception of a couple of corners these walls did not need a second coat, did the required touch up.

A cup of coffee and a cigarette, over a long discussion on how to tackle the side of the house. So we decided to quickly do the Servants Quarters, as well as the Wendy House, and the back wall of the house. We switched for the day, I would be at ground level and the wife on the ladder.

With the unevenness of the back garden I would hold the ladder, while the wife painted the upper reaches, we moved along and just did the upper reaches of the back wall. Then with the paint roller wedged into a seven foot length of galvanised pipe, I finished of the balance the wall, good grief was that a strain, muscles ached and the poor old shoulder felt as if they were dislocating with every upward or sideward push of the roller and what now felt like a twenty foot lead barge pole.

Still, had now worked out, partially, how to handle the other side of the house.The day continued and the breaks for coffee and lunch took that much longerBy mid afternoon the kids were bored and wanted to go to Grannies, for a swim and to watch TV, they started to nag, being weak, lame, tired and really felt for the coolness of an ice cold beer, I was easy to convince.

So after a quick bath, we descended on my parents, who as luck would have it they had planned a braai (BBQ) for the evening meal, the kids swam, I had my beer, or two, and the wife her glass of wine they watched TV I cooked the meat, as always, and a pleasant afternoons visit was had by all.

The only thing now left was that long side wall, a very very long wall and at one point the wall was only twelve feet high. Still that was tomorrows problem!

Monday, not so easy to get up the energy for that wall, Completed the touch ups required on the rest of the painting.

Now we really had to work very carefully, the house was on a ridge, and the ground sloped down a quite a steep angle, at least 40 degrees from the yop corner down to the bottom corner, So we panted the top corner first, using three ladders we tried to create a scaffold to work from, this would not work. So we painted using lead barge pole, this nearlly worked for all of it.

There was a stubborn triangle of old paint at the apex of the roof, the two side measure about three feet each, so it stood out like rather a sore thumb. So after lunch and having a reflective cigarette, I watched our one cat while it walked up the side of the roof, balancing on facia board, eureka! a solution to our problem.

So armed with paint tray roller and a brush, I climbed quite easily onto the roof, at its lowest point that was just over six feet, walked across the IBR sheets of the roof, lay down and proceeded to, no not paint, but to scream and curse. The silver painte IBR sheeting, after being exposed to something like seven hours of summer sunshine was by then hot enough to fry an egg, and there was I, in only a custume and a pair of sandles, busy trying to fry myself, with out cooking oil. To say I was off the roof and into a cold shower as fast as possible, is an undersatement, I did not even take off the sandles or costume. Minor burns over 99% of the front my body, with only my face and feet that were spared that fried ordeal. There I sat covered in calamine lotion, as I muttered away to myself as the wife had completed that final bit of painting.

The injuries were only minor and by the next morning you could not even see any thing, but it was very very sore, as well as being a lesson.

DIY Not For Me


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hey awesome web page, just loiokng around some websites, seems a certainly good platform you are using. I'm currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but loiokng to alter one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      N.E. Thanks for the comment, I write for pleasure and therefore it is nice to have appreciation for my efforts.


    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N.E. Wright 

      7 years ago from Bronx, NY

      Hello Just_Rodney,

      I love the way you weave a story.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Take Care,


    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Thanks for the comment, I am pleased that you have read so many of my hubs. I must admit that before reading your comments, I sneaked a peak at your profile first, started following you, before opening up any of the comments. Enjoy your thirst for knowledge.

      I to started to read at an early age as my brother who is 3 years older always had his nose in a book, as did my mother.

      So started to read, and for the first six months, I would read, Aloud only. Drove my brother mad, as we shared the same room.

      So thanks for your comments. Enjoy the rest of my hubs. I must start reaading yours today. Once I have replied to all of your comments.


    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Rodney - Glad that you and your bride-to-be were able to laugh about the spilled paint before the wedding....

      It didn't take as much work for me to realize that DIY and I are not a good match! Fortunately, I now have two adult sons who are willing to help their old ma by doing work on her almost-as-old house when it's desperately needed.

      I really admire those people who love to slap on paint for fun. (My late grandmother was one of those into her 60s--most of her furniture and walls had numerous coats of paint since she changed colors with the seasons). Alas, my creativity does not extend into the DIY realm. If I can't afford to pay to have it done, or talk one of my sons into doing simply doesn't get done.

      So glad I discovered your hubs on Hubpages today. It will take me a long time to work my way through your many hubs, but at least I've made a start.


    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      So true Constant, besides which if you have property you have to maintain and fix. So every so often, instead of just a fix, a remodelling becomes necessary, not really, but is more fun.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Fixing up my environment is an ongoing, non-stop thing. I get ideas from everywhere: magazines, TV, movies, video games, etc. A person's living space reflects the person.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      DIY, is not always so dangerous, sometimes a lot of fun.

      Shortly after my brother got married, he moved into his first house. One weekend my fiance and I went over for a visit. He was busy trying to get some sort of fence up in his front yard.

      He had acquired a whole lot of gum poles, the area in which they lived had rocks for Africa laying around on the undeveloped land across the road. With the wonders of cement mixes, we all pitched in and built this fence.

      Do not know where the plans were, but we built a cairn of stones, placed a gum pole in the cairn horizontal to the ground, at its end another cairn of stones grew, along would be another pole, until the end, and then the cairn was built up and final level level of poles was placed across.

      It looked good, we all piichhed in and worked as a team No injuries to my recollection. A good memory!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      We've had some good experiences and some bad ones with DIY. I actually enjoy the memories we all get. Like the paint in the face.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Trish, its that I know about loosing a spouse, so we carry on. Will let you know when I post the contractors story.

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Sixty,

      I'll look forward to reading it.  I've had a few bad experiences as well with contractors, so I know what that feels like.  Thanks for your sympathy.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Trish, sorry about the loss of your hubby, so only the bathroom, there is another hub in that area, a more recent one I might, no DIY but paid contractors, also no injuries, but neverthess less a tale to be told.

      Sixty, agree with you it is the situation that contractors can cause which you did not bargain for.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Yes DIY might be cheaper but it sure is a hell of a lot harder! But I might add paying a contractor (unless you are lucky) can end up in a much worse situation sometimes!

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago


      I am no stranger to fixer uppper type things. My hubby's and my first house was a fixer upper. There was a point when the floor connecting the living room to the kitchen needed replacing, and what a job that was! We were walking on planks for several days. I'm just thankful nobody slipped thru the planks down to the crawlspace. In 1986, May, my hubby and I purchased another fixer upper which we were going to use as an investment property. My hubby, father-in-law and son tackled the job. The house was totally gutted. Sadly, in August that year, my hubby died, and I was left with a shell of a house. Luckily, my cousin was a building contractor and with the insurance money I paid him to complete the house.

      I'm pretty much done now with having to deal with that, with the exception of my bathroom, which will need a gutting. I'm not sure when or how that will get done and quite honestly, I'm not looking forward to it.

      So yes, we do get through it all, even if at times it feels like we never will :)

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Sixty, yes it does seem as if I am a tad bit accident prone, but it is too bad I could not claim for any of those injuries.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Good interesting Hub, but injury on duty seems to be your thing! Ankle in the flat, severe sunburn in the house - what next. great fun read Rodney.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Trish, the getting through is the tough part always. However the majority of us seem to some how get through it all. Scarred and battle weary, in some cases. but still forging ahead.

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Rodney,

      You're very welcome. I can definitely relate to not having the money for contractors. It's one of the reasons I sold my old house, which I miss terribly. And yes, it's also true that when things are happening they are not amusing, until months or years later you can look back and truly laugh about it. It's the getting through it all that is so taxing.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Trish, when needs must, you really had to DIY, else things would fall apart, especially when your budget does not allow for contractors to do the work for you.

      Sometimes it is the good funny times you reflect on.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • trish1048 profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Rodney,

      I am thoroughly impressed with your committment to get the job done! That is definitely team work at its best, and I bet your home looks lovely. At least you had help. I hate the DIY jobs that end up being done alone. I much prefer help, so, if something goes wrong, I have someone else to blame. Just kidding!

      Sorry for your mishaps, but lessons well learned, I'm sure.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      9 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Thanks G-Ma, no DIY is not so bad, there just sometimes, that something goes a little out of whack.

      Ajucor, 5'2", eyes of blue, we have to watch out, dynamite is dangerous, nearely as bad as DIY, well it could have been a lot worse than it was. Thanks for enjoying the hub.

    • ajcor profile image


      10 years ago from NSW. Australia

      Thanks for this just-rodney - what an experience - I am not a fan of painting - but to burn yourself while painting must truly be a first! BTW what is wrong with being 5'2"? Personally I think that is a good height - you know what is said about small packages? cheers.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      you always write such an interesting hub...and yes DIY isn't for everybody...I can agree with that one...Have a good day and give Goompy a kiss for me...chirp chirp...G-Ma :o) hugs


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