We were prepared for a few leaks and some wood rot. Maybe some crazy wiring or funky plumbing that we'd have to fix. We weren't prepared when things also began to fall off the house—all within the same week. A door. A storm window. The knob in the shower. A gutter. Part of the bedroom ceiling. The house was expressing itself, and what was it saying? It wasn't going to submit to any renovation without a fight, even if that meant hurling its shingles at us from the roof.
He says: "I like to think we are performing a public service by letting our project serve as a warning to the uninitiated."
She says: "It became a game to guess what was going to go wrong next. When we came back from a trip to the hardware store and the front doorknob fell off in my hand, we were sure we were doomed."
Survival tip: You need two things when unexpected problems arise: padding in the budget—and a good punch line. If a change in plans or a hiccup in your daily routine puts you in a panic, be wary of buying a fixer-upper. Once you're committed, the only thing routine about the next few years will be the every-other-day trips to the hardware store.