Journalist, Author & Detroit-Home Renovator

Of Technology, Marriage and Home Renovation

Working technology makes us happy; sandy beaches make Leroy happy.

Working technology makes us happy; sandy beaches make Leroy happy.

Technology: It’s going to be critical to this renovation project.

In the best of circumstances, Karl and I can have, shall we say, challenges communicating. We process information differently; we often use shorthand the other doesn’t understand. That can all lead to some knock-out fights. (Usually with me throwing my wedding rings on the counter and yelling, “Fine, if you don’t want to be married to me.” No drama here.)

But so far in this process we’ve been remarkably open and communicative. No drama. No fights. We’re loving it! Part of that success has been our use of technology to help us keep lists and ideas together, a way to use a visual language rather than just a verbal one. So here’s what were using now… we’ll update the list as it changes.

FACEBOOK: This was the start of it all. I had a phone number for the sellers, but I hate cold-calling people when I don’t have my reporter hat on. I tried to find an email address but my investigative skills failed me. Nothing on LinkedIn. Nothing in a Google search.

So I looked her up in Facebook. Bingo. Found her. But I didn’t want to friend her because that would be creepy. And if you send a FB message to someone outside your network, it goes to their FB spam folder. What to do? I paid Facebook $1 to send her a private message.

10 minutes later or less, she messaged me back. We continued to chat. Then I called her and we talked for real. And now, as you know, we’re buying the house.

Facebook FTW! $1 got me a house!

Now, Facebook is used for moral support. Seriously. The excitement over this comes in waves. In the valleys, we’re pretty freaked out and depressed – and we haven’t even started yet. But it helps hearing from all of our friends with words of encouragement.

INSTAGRAM: I just started using Instagram and I love that it’s letting me keep a log, essentially, of the project. I have photographic evidence of the house at it’s starting point – and presumably through the stages. And the filters ensure that the photos way better than my normal subpar iPhone shots. Karl is on Instagram, too, so you can see the project from two perspectives.

Follow Karl on Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram.

PINTEREST: Even though Karl and I are getting through this phase of the project, we’re really worried about fighting over stupid stuff. Like tile. Yes, I’m sure that’s when we’re going to act like spoiled toddlers, not when we’re making the big decision to spend our life savings on this. So… we came up with the idea of using a Pinterest board to collect our ideas and inspirations. That way, in six months, when we’re disagreeing over something – or more likely, not remembering the same thing – we can pull up the board and look at samples and talk visually and reasonably.

Check out our Pinterest board.

WORKFLOWY: My friend Donna Ladd introduced me to this online outlining service. It’s free and easy to use. You can share lists with other people, too, so you can work on projects together. Donna and I are doing that for some other things in the works. So Karl and I are going to try it for the house. Essentially, I’ll create a master to-do list on which we can both add to, modify, cross-off items, etc.

I think the mobile interface is better than Google docs. But if not, back to good old Google Docs.

TRELLO: We started by using Workflowy, but that turns out to be better for outlining projects. At our friend Ben’s suggestion, we looked at Trello instead. This app allows us to create to-do boards that include lists, photos, attachments, etc — and assign them to each other for completion. I think this one will help us manage things much more efficiently.

Check out Trello.

SMARTY PIG: We’re cashing out our life savings to do this project. And while this is our own crazy idea and responsibility, I’m not above asking for help in funding our appliances or other items. I’ve Kickstartered a lot of projects just to help people with their dreams, so maybe …

Plus, we got married last June and didn’t make anyone pay for a wedding, so donation are sort of like belated wedding gifts … but more useful than a gravy boat. Rather than just having people send random checks or bags of money, we set up a Smarty Pig account. It’s an online bank with a decent interest rate and a good user interface that allows you to save for goals — like appliances! — and then share your goals with friends/family and take donations. So far, we have $0. But maybe that will change. You never know.

Check out our Smarty Pig account. 

Got any other ideas for tech that will help rebuild a house and save a marriage? Post them in the comments. We’d love to try them.

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