Archive:  Year 4 - August 13th, 2009 "Don’t Sweat the Equity"


Incredible luck has visited The Road!  My little 1974 houseboat is getting a major face lift - I’m talkin’ new carpet, new paneling, custom furniture and (gasp) pipes that won’t freeze in the Winter...  It’s going to be a whirlwind of hard work and frequent trips to both Home Depot and West Marine – but She’s going to be transformed!


The opportunity (and deadline) to remodel the Boat is all coming about as part of a television show on the DIY Network called “Sweat Equity”.  The show demonstrates how homeowners can invest time and money, in the most effective way, to increase the value of their home.  This show also happens to be hosted by a friend of mine, Amy Matthews, who suggested that I send in some photos and descriptions of the Boat to her producers for consideration.  ‘They’ve never done a boat before… it might interest them… who knows.’ 


I sent in several photos and descriptions, including a link to this blog, and two days later I got a phone call.  A couple days after speaking on the phone, the producers came aboard to meet me and look around; and days after that, they were back with a full crew, shooting the “Before Shots”.  


No shit.  My head is still spinning.


So here’s the deal:  Amy and the camera crew have walked through the boat with a broker to asses the value right now, as is.  We then talked about what sort of repairs and improvements would most increase that value.  We’re now in phase 2, when I get a little bit of money, a little bit of technical support, and a little bit of time to make as many repairs and improvements as I choose.  I can hire contractors, do work myself, bribe friends – whatever.  The show stops in periodically to see how I’m doing and lend a hand.  Then, in approximately a month, we reveal the finished product and calculate how much money I spent.  The broker then returns and re-prices the Boat and we see how I did.  


In truth, there’s no way that I could lose.

Because while the equitable value of the Boat is of great interest to me, I have no intention of ever selling Her.  It’s comparable in my mind to selling Gracie.  The idea of accepting an amount of money and then handing over the keys is unfathomable.  I’d make the Boat into a planter or playground first…  That being the case, I feel totally free to design the improvements specifically around what will make living aboard more comfortable for me. 


If the stars, schedules and shillings align just right, I think that the collective effect of the changes I have in mind could be jaw-dropping.  Hell, even just having running water all year and new curtains would make a stark difference… and I’m doing so much more than THAT!


Since first hearing that the show might be a possibility, I’ve been fantasizing about what could be done.  At first, I imagined an extreme boat make-over involving gutting the whole interior and rebuilding from the hull up.  Time and money being finite, however, this is what I am going to do instead:


Take up the carpet, and take down the interior paneling.  Remove and reseal all of the windows, fix any water damage in the floor, and lay a laminate hardwood floor (or cork, maybe…) in the galley.  Why anyone would put carpet in their kitchen, I’ll never understand...


Then, while the walls are open we’re going to replace my copper pipes with ones that CANNOT freeze.  I haven’t selected my new interior paneling yet, but it will be something fabulous…  I’m also going to replace my kitchen table and chairs with nook-style furniture with built-in storage, and swap out curtains for wooden venation blinds…


If I can do all of that in the 4 weeks allotted, it will be as much a surprise to me as to the viewers.  My ace in the hole – Capt’n D.  


Together, we went through my wish-list of projects and he helped me approximate the time needed, essential list of tools and supplies, and about how many people should be there to assist.  I really, really think I can do it.  We are starting to tear up carpet and paneling tomorrow night… I’m so excited I’m going to throw up.    


In the meantime, of course, life aboard is going to be hugely inconvenient for the next month - but, then again, I’m used to that.  No TV?  No running water?  Please…  At least this time the inconveniences are a result of improvements and not losing a battle against Nature.  Not to mention, it will probably be in my best interest to be unable to escape the immediacy of the unfinished repairs – the clock is ticking.   


In addition to Capt’n D, good friends and fellow boaters have also volunteered their time and expertise to the project, if needed.  The other night, Robert roasted chicken over the fire-pit and invited all who were available to join him.  Over chicken carcasses and a GIANT bottle of Maker’s Mark we solved the world’s problems, learned a new song, and brain-stormed some other possible improvements I could make to the Boat.  I liked the catapult idea the best, but think that faux-finishing the exterior to look like a submarine is the most practical…  


One exciting development already – I have drawn a to-scale blueprint of the whole boat!  I was quite chuffed with myself for that and put it on the ‘fridge like it was my first hand-outline-turkey from grade-school.  Who says that a liberal arts degree has no purpose?  Thank you, University of Minnesota.  The checks in the mail.  


Stay tuned for developments (and tragedies) as they unfold.


Next Post: August 24, 2009 "Demolished"

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Spoiler alert:  

WATCH THE FULL EPISODE of Sweat Equity featuring me and The Road:  First aired - DIY Network, 2010.

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