Our readers' show-and-tell sob stories, plus the best of YouTube's home improvement disaster clips
Blood, sweat, tears, and money, money, money—home renovation can drain you. But, really, you think you've got problems? Compare your tales of woe to these folks' DIY disasters, and you might just feel better.
Christina Sloan, New Castle, Colorado
The property values in this area are so high here that last year I bought a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom 112-year old home that was condemned for $160,000, just to get into the market. Although many people recommended that I demo the house, I decided to try to save it. I had no idea what I was in for. I thought I could afford to lift the house and repour the foundation. What I did not calculate, though, was all the expense in rewiring, replumbing, reducting, regrading, and re-landscaping the house after it was set back down. When we lifted the house, the back 300 square feet collapsed. So, I paid the house movers $12,000 to make my 2 bedroom house a 1 bedroom house.
And we lifted it just before Katrina hit New Orleans, and just before one of the major western concrete factories closed for repairs. So, we could not find concrete anywhere. My house was supposed to be lifted for about 6 weeks. Well, it took me 6 weeks just to get concrete. Then, I had to wait another 30 days for the concrete to set. I was ready to set down the house. But, alas, one of the wettest and heaviest winter seasons hit Colorado. My house was in the air for almost 5 months. I gave my dog to my boyfriend, who lives in Utah, and couch-surfed. I financed the house 100% so that I could put my $25,000 of savings into the house. $80,000 later I'm only half-way done.
Gwenna Gundy, Caledon, Ontario
When we moved into our new house, we knew that we wanted to renovate the
bathroom. The tile was too dark and the appliances were in rough shape.
Thinking we could do this on our tight budget, we got started. That was when everything went downhill. When we started removing the tub surround we found tile behind it. "What a pain," we thought but just a small delay. But behind the tile, we were confronted with more than we bargained for. We could see the inside of the shingles on the
side of the house. The entire wall, including the insulation had rotted
One discovery after another, and we were eventually forced to gut the entire
bathroom right down to the studs. Triple the cost later, we have a functional bathroom.
A boarded-up window in Anne Neumann's 1917 Craftsman
Anne Neumann, Austin, Texas
We were halfway through the restoration of our 1917 Craftsman. There were 13 windows boarded up with various substances. It was spring. It was really windy. The second-floor room in which were sleeping/living/eating had the largest window in the house. It was boarded up with pink rigid foam insulation board. Our bed was nearly under this window. I was napping. Claire, my very old indoor cat, was napping with me.
Suddenly, the pink foam board was noisily and violently sucked out of the window frame by wind gusting at 28 mph. I was yanked out of my sleep. Papers are flying everywhere.
I couldn't leave Claire in the room by herself while I went down to get the board from the front yard—she's been known to crawl onto the window sill. In this wind she could have been sucked out as well. So I picked her up and took her with me out the front door. I was not really awake yet. I stepped onto the front lawn, and BAM! The front door was sucked closed. I was
locked outside with my cat who doesn't go outside. I also happened to be wearing my new men's boxer shorts with Darth Vader on the front and "The Dark Side" printed on the rear end!
Normally we would have hidden a spare key somewhere, but with all the flurry around the renovation we had not. Fortunately, we had the aforementioned boarded up windows, four of which were on the first floor in the kitchen. Claire was meowing and scratching, limbs flailing. I put a lawn chair under a kitchen window. I punched the pink board out into the kitchen. I let Claire down onto the wood sitting on saw horses under the freshly stained window. The chair was too short for me to get into the window without killing myself. So I got the lawn table. I crawled through the window onto the wood without too much damage to the wood, myself, or my new Darth Vader boxers.
The Lesson: Pay the money to rent an apartment while renovating your house. And if you really can't afford it, at least hide a spare key in the yard.
Christina Sloan's house, still lifted 5 months later.
Ouch-worthy Home Improvement Videos
Haven't seen enough yet? Here's more punishment for you: we combed YouTube for the ugliest home improvement disaster videos we could find. From the instructions-challenged Homer Simpson to a couple of guys with a wayward nail gun, these videos are guaranteed to make DIYers cringe: