Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Battles with Renovation Addiction

Today is a special, yet difficult post to write since I am sharing something that is more personal.  Since I sold The Duplex, I have been traveling on my own path of recovery from Renovation Addiction.
RA is not a mainstream affliction that people discuss openly, but those days are on the horizon and I am honored to be part of the solution rather than the problem.  Pretending that I am above the fray has been unhealthy for me.  I am writing this as part of my own multi-step program for healing, but I also want to help others come to terms with their own circumstances. 

My happy smile was masking the sad truth
... my burning need to build stuff.
It may come as no surprise that my progression down this path was in some ways just a result of my childhood beginning with my early memories of playing with blocks while watching Captain Kangaroo.  In addition, I was obsessive about playing with Legos, I spent hours in the sandbox, I erected towers with my baseball cards, and we built hay forts in the lofts of our barns.  My family didn't intervene and I realize now that they were my first enablers.  I still love them, but as part of my recovery from renovation addiction, I must identify the people in my life that have aided me on my travels down this dirty, dumpster lined road.  I hope it doesn't seem as if I'm blaming my loved ones, I'm just trying to move forward. 

Getting my fix w/ harder
things in the 90's.
Childhood playtime is not the most serious of issues though.  In addition, simple maintenance tasks are not dangerous either.  For example, regularly changing a burned out light bulb, switching the heating and air filter every thirty days, or using a Phillips screwdriver to tighten a leaky faucet...these are routine, normal, and perhaps healthy chores for a homeowner or a renter.  But the gateway tasks that can lead to renovation addiction are the things that DIYers need to be mindful of in a vigilant way.     
If you or your loved one is regularly
covered in grime from demolition or
other DIY endeavors, it may be time
to have a serious talk about
Renovation Addiction.
Like others living with Renovation Addiction, my problems escalated dramatically when I was in college.  I lived in a rented house with some of my friends.  One of the guys punched a hole in the wall.  We were young and needed to save the money.  I was up for the challenge and repaired the damaged drywall myself.  It looked good and my roommates were proud of me.  Once again, I was surrounded by enablers who were unknowingly adding fuel to my renovation addiction fire.  This thrill is part of what comes with the gateway tasks and from there I found myself working summers traveling with construction crews pouring concrete foundations and erecting water tanks.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I was hooked.
Other examples of gateway projects may be wainscoting in a dining room, chair rail in your foyer, or crown molding in the master bedroom.  Replacing things in the house that are not even broken or damaged are other examples of gateways that can lead someone down the slippery slope that is RA.

These gateway DIY jobs are dangerous because for many, they lead to harder and harder challenges; kitchen renovations, master suite additions, as well as decks, pergolas, and extensive landscaping in the back yard or construction of detached outbuildings.  Many people can do small projects recreationally and stop there, but others like myself miss the red flags and lose control.  People like me suffering from RA simply fail to know when to say when. 
Building an 8' house of cards as a way of coping with
the occasional March Madness blowout... this may
be a Red Flag for someone suffering from RA.
Nicole Curtis, the hostess of Rehab Addict on the DIY network and HGTV is the most famous person to step up to the plate and admit that she struggles with RA.  She's not denying what she's dealing with and opening admits that she is 'addicted to rehab.'  Congratulations Nicole.  You're on your way.  As I've written before, I'm a big fan of Rehab Addict, but if you find yourself dumpster diving for building materials like NC (or myself), you may have a problem.

In addition, if you find yourself falling in love with the challenge of buying and saving a condemned house (I'm here as well) then maybe you need to talk to someone; a close friend, a member of the clergy, a counselor, or perhaps someone in your family who has struggled with a DIY compulsion of their own.

The thing to remember is that if you are showing these signs, you are not alone and there are people out there that will help you.  But you have to come to terms with your overpowering desires to fix stuff that isn't broken or your obsessions with re-doing things that already look good.  Admit that you have a problem, look in the mirror and say, 'I am a renovation addict.'  Then, get help.  Tomorrow is a new day and April 2nd, but today is the first, so Happy April Fools Day.


  1. ahahahhaaha! love the photos!! And this part: "Replacing things in the house that are not even broken or damaged are other examples of gateways" OH NO! So renovating my brand new kitchen TWICE was a sign of a problem!?
    My family are enablers too. When I'm on another project that my dad thinks is crazy he says "Well at least it keeps you out of the bars" - like this is better than alcoholism - but we know the truth! ha

    1. Be strong, Katy. You are clearly showing the classic signs of RA. Have that staring contest/convo. w/ your bathroom mirror. Then, consider channeling your addictive tendencies into something trendier & less dusty like Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. Take it one day at a time & if that doesn't help...hit the bars. :)