D-I-Y Mushroom Factor, F-Y-I

The Little Project That Grew

Every home remodeler and renovator runs into it at some time, the dreaded mushrooming of a simple project into the monster money pit.

It is what you come to expect when working on an old house project.

This is not about fungus- at least not in that way. It is about DIY projects and how they magically grow, but not in a good way.

One of the most common complications of a do it yourself project, especially when remodeling an old house, is the Mushroom Factor. If you own an old house, or if you are considering buying one, even one that you think will only take a few simple projects. —Welcome to the Mushroom Factor Zone—

Even simple remodeling jobs on newer construction can find the job mushrooming right before their very eyes. Now of course, we are not talking about the cute as a button fungus that we see growing at the bottom of the garden, instead we are talking about something that grows like that: that mushrooms, the verb….

Old Houses Sprout the Mushroom Factor Most Readily

My husband and I have chosen to live in old houses. We bought a fixer upper more than twenty years ago and it never ceased from demanding that we “fix it”. That is OK, because I like the character and history of an old house, but my husband, resident handyman here, is a bit frustrated with the mushroom factor of it.

It is time to paint the house again, and that is normal maintenance for any homeowner, but what he found was that moisture has been doing damage to the wood siding of the house. It is most problematic under a couple windows. So in order to paint the house, should there be a temporary fix to the siding? Or should we just “bite the bullet” and replace the siding? And since it is an old house, that type of siding is no longer sold. So the whole side of the house might need replacement.

That, my friends, is how the mushroom factor works… no longer is there one simple job… it is multiple jobs springing from multiple sources….

What would you choose to do in this case? ( And saying “Move” is not an acceptable answer…. for now).

lurking in old houses

It Crops Up Unexpectedly

usually found in older homes

Now that you have some idea of what is entailed in the mushroom factor, it is time to delve into the nuts and bolts of the occurrence of it, the part and parcel, the name of the game, the meat and potatoes of this stew we might find ourselves in. When one starts a new construction, theoretically at least, the building can go along logically and in an orderly way…. following standard procedures with standard measurements. In other words, one knows what to expect of the work and estimates the outcome fairly accurately. Theoretically. However, the older the house is, or the more people have decided to “do things” to it, the more complicated a job can become. enter… the Mushroom Factor.

The variables are countless, in each case unique situations and needs for materials arises. There are possibilities that something has been done poorly, or has gotten rotten, and then several new jobs spring up before the intended job can be begun. It is that proliferation of new little jobs, or some rather large ones, that defines whether you are looking at the mushroom factor in action. It can involve new consultations, plans, experts, materials, any number of things…. and it extends the time and the efforts, not to mention the costs of what the job was originally figured to entail.

It seems to crop up in old houses and anything that was purchased with the moniker “Fixer-upper”. Just so you know. I am not trying to discourage anyone from getting the home of their dreams for a song and then fixing it up. I am just saying “forewarned is forearmed”, and telling you what the mysterious mushroom factor is in the meantime.

Thwart the Mushroom Factor – Be Prepared -for anything!

Get some good remodeling advice and keep your books handy. Get good quality tools, too, while you are at it.

Pink Tool Kit- High Quality, Essential Pink Tools for the Self-sufficient, Independent Woman, Handywoman and Wannabe Empowered DIYers. With a Balanced Fit for Women's Hands, Do House and Home Repairs and Remodeling with Confidence.
Pink Tool Kit- High Quality, Essential Pink Tools for the Self-sufficient, Independent Woman, Handywoman and Wannabe Empowered DIYers. With a Balanced Fit for Women’s Hands, Do House and Home Repairs and Remodeling with Confidence.

Rule of Thumb

Have you estimated the time and money that this project is going to cost? Add half again, or no…make that double just to be safe if you are new at this.

Do not underestimate how nuts the previous owner of the house may have been.

You are about to enter…. – The Mushroom Factor

mood music for the home remodeling Twilight Zone

Mushroom factor

A correlation of Murphy’s Law

The Mushroom Files – You Will Believe,Believe Me

  • my old house
    My remodeling blog- I know whereof I speak
  • The Old House Journal
    The old house renovation magazine where the term was made famous.
  • Day 181: The Mushroom Factor
    Someone is coming to view the house on Saturday. (Don’t hold your breath – I’m not, haha.) Himself i…
  • Keeping Up With the Mushroom Factor
    Volunteering has been a wonderful experience and I won’t ever stop, I’d miss the people too much. My gardens and home would like to have a robot come take up residence. The weeds think they’ve found heaven and the dust bunnies are multiplying almost

Expert Advice is Your Best Defense – a home remodeling book will help

The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling, 3rd Edition

The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling, 3rd Edition

For All the Handymen

Remember: If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy. -Red Green

The Mushroom Factor: Advice from The Experts

My Own Stories

Coming up next…. I have a lot of them ( most are borrowed from my husband – the Handyman). I publish them in this old house blog.

You should always put your writing on the wall right before you seal it up forever (or until the next remodeler comes along).

Anyway, I’d love to hear your stories of encountering the Mushroom Factor in your own remodeling ventures.

Tell me about it.