overestimate ability
Illustration: Ryan Heshka
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overestimate ability

We plunged into demolition on day one, tearing out plaster and drywall, and made a huge, satisfying mess. As we stood there covered with dust and dirt, grinning from ear to ear, we slowly realized that we had taken out the walls surrounding our only shower.

He says: "That first day my sledgehammer was flying. We had the bathroom demo done by lunch. Putting things back together? That turned out to be a little more complicated."

She says: "At first he said we'd just demo one wall. Before I knew it the entire room was dust and rubble. Three months later it was still dust and rubble."

Survival tip: Don't even commit to a fixer-upper unless you've talked to someone who's done it already. Invite them over, open a bottle of wine, and ask them to tell you the entire ­story of their renovation in excruciating detail. If you're not scared off by that, then take a workshop, help out on someone else's house, or volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build. Only then will you know what you're getting yourself into…sort of.
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