Man caves are like black holes: What happens there, stays there

Our story so far: We entered the utilities and mechanicals phase of our home renovation project.

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Demolition had revealed the bones of our old Methodist church, and now we needed to run the veins and arteries and intestines through the structure.

This required detailed planning in order to know where to put sinks and drains, electrical boxes and outlets, heating vents and cold-air returns. Tyler and I had been scheming and debating for eight weeks (well, and two and half months before that), and by now, we had a fairly complete plan in place, both on paper and in spray paint on the floors of the church. By “fairly complete,” I mean we would show a plumber providing a bid exactly where we wanted a shower, and then he would ask us, “what kind of shower head do you want?” and we’d look at each other like, “Hmm, what kind of shower heads are there?” Or the electrician would ask, “Are you going to light your bookshelves?” and we’d look at each other like, “What a great idea! Lighted bookshelves!”

Our floor plan had another missing piece, I learned at a regional home improvement show one weekend in January.

A home and garden show is like a chocolate chip cookie. The boring but necessary ingredients like vendors for basement waterproofing, excavators and roofing materials are punctuated by the chocolate chip hucksters of granite countertops, acrylic shower stalls and designer garage doors. Real DIYers like us passed on the booths populated custom home builders, but we were impressed with innovations on otherwise boring details such as solar tubes, remote control operated shades and automatic lawn mowers.

It was at the garage door vendor where I learned Tyler was planning a thirty-six-foot bar along one side of the garage with a clear glass garage door opening. (Didn’t I mention he was a “go big or go home” kind of guy?).

“What?!” I said, my mouth falling open. “This is the first I’ve heard of this!”

“Some things are on a need-to-know basis,” Tyler said, and resumed discussing the options in tempered glass for garage doors and related costs with the salesman.

Over dinner, I pressed Tyler for details on his man cave and encouraged him to draw up a detailed plan. He obliged, and I learned what he thought I needed to know. (A week later, he was forced to rethink his fantasy garage plans. Alas, the zoning set-back requirement would mean a smaller garage would be necessary; a thirty-six-foot bar might not make the cut.)

In any case, we had some semblance of a plan, so now we would spend weeks running plumbing, wiring and all-new ductwork for the heating and air conditioning through the exposed floors and ceilings of the church. The work of all these skilled laborers would commit us to the floor plan and certain fixtures. We’d better know what we wanted, because once all the mechanicals were sealed behind drywall, changes would be costly. We needed a style book and design plan in order to help us make good decisions, and fortunately, I’d had plenty of time to develop one.

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Tomorrow: Chapter 13 opens with the background to our design plan. Read about it here.

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