Minimum viable house

You know what it's like when you encounter some code that you know needs to be rewritten but you're nearing launch and there isn't enough time? You're cruising along rolling functions thinking everything is just fine and then...bam. It's staring you in the face and you know the product isn't finished how you want. It's not even a matter of perfection, it's just not done right. But it's functional. At what point do you stop?

This is exactly like that. Here's what's going on:

  • 1) There's a 10'4"L x 7'H x 4"W wall with exposed concrete block at the top that collects dust and bugs. It wasn't as noticeable until we removed a door frame and piece of drywall leading into the room. Now the top of this wall is in the sightline from stairs that lead into the room.

  • (Top drywall section)

  • (Existing door frame. Bars and brass - we didn't do it.)

  • (Gone, thanks Randy!)

  • (New corner, ready for painting)

  • 2) In trying to figure out how to cap this wall I have talked it through with about eight people and the best suggestions were to either skim coat the top with concrete or drywall compound, or construct a shelf along the top and trim the edges.

  • (Top of unfinished wall)

  • 3) Capping with wood seems like the way to go. So after a very long discussion with one of the Home Depot lumbar experts I bought two 6-foot lengths of pine board cut to 4" wide and an 11-foot piece of trim.

  • (Wall with rounded trim along edge. Hey now, look at all of that mahogany.)

  • 4) There was a small bit of trim along the top of the wall which, after being removed, exposed an edge of unevenly cut drywall. And the trim I purchased isn't long enough to cover this extra inch of wall. Also important to note, we've already sanded and painted the wall.

  • 5) Removing the trim made it easier to understand the structure of this wall. It originally may have been just unfinished concrete block. Previous owners may have built out the wall either as an attempt to better insulate the room or to disguise the brick.

  • (Old trim removed)

  • 6) The drywall is new and in fine shape but there's a bit in the corner with some moisture damage where it lines up with the hose spigot in the carport, probably from a frozen pipe sometime in the past.

  • 7) So of course I said, "We should probably replace the drywall."

"I really wish you wouldn't," said Geek #1.

I had a feeling that working on the house would help me be a better programmer. In fact, it's so hip they now have a woodworking shop at Facebook. But I didn't expect my software experience to help the other way around. Project manager, meet construction foreman. Agile coder, meet agile painter. This is House 1.0.

It took me awhile before I realized this. Four hours in the moulding aisle of Home Depot, to be precise. That includes one solid hour trying to find different trim, just standing in the aisle, picking up a piece and trying to visualize how it would look, then putting it back. I'm sure the folks there thought I'd lost my mind. How hard can it be to pick out a piece of trim?

And instead of doing any actual work I spent hours researching how to hang drywall.

"I have no doubt that you can learn how to do it, but the question is do you want to and is there time to do it?" asks Geek #1. "Is this the best use of you?"

There isn't time, or money, or tools, or knowledge, or desire to rehang the drywall. I feel the same way about learning how to hang drywall right now as I do about learning ruby: it'd be fun but am I really going to use it? So for now the drywall stays but it's on the bug list for the future.


Last built: Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 6:32 PM

By Betsy Kimak, Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.