Kent and I turned to look at my brother. Kent was the first to respond. “Lori was just telling me that we may never get paid for doing any of the work here.”
I gaped. “This is why I didn’t want to be rushed and to do the work one my own.”
Andrew dumped the bag of groceries onto the bench and moved to grab the last clean bowl from the cupboard. “We know sis.”
“And?” Please be nice and say something like the money means nothing to you and you just won’t buy any Christmas or birthday presents for me for the rest of time.
Andrew smiled over his shoulder at me. “Getting paid for this would be nice but we made a deal when I moved in. I would work on the house for you and you wouldn’t charge me and kids rent, and you would pay for all of our living expenses. Within reason.”
“Within reason.” I agreed. Thank fuck for brothers like mine.
“I mean, I could’ve gone to mum’s and even though it would be rent free also and all that, I would’ve been sitting around the house going over shit in my head constantly. This house,” he smiled as he looked around the room. “Might just be my sanity. Just like what dad said; fixing something can fix your problems.”
Kent and I groaned at the saying.
“What?” Andrew spooned out spag bowl.
“That’s such a dad thing to say.” I teased my brother.
“I am a dad and it came from dad.” Jabbing a fork into the mess in his bowl he moved to the table and began to devour. “Anyway, why the talk about getting paid all of a sudden?”
Kent sighed. “I’m thinking I’m going to go travelling again soon and I need to save up some cash.”
I stared at the table top. We had also made a deal where he wouldn’t pay rent or anything for food as long as he helped renovate. Did I have a right to insist that was followed and not pay him? But then I would be exploiting another person.
Family I could exploit.
Friends, even if they were like family most days, that just seemed wrong.
But even with my budgeting skills, I couldn’t afford to pay his wage and do everything that the house needed. I wanted to extend the kitchen and make the laundry into something usable and do a deck out back. Everything I made that wasn’t spent on the mortgage or on our living expenses went into an account and when that was full I would spend it on materials.
“Maybe you should look for a part time job. The bakery is always looking for shop assistants.” Andrew suggested through slurps.
I blinked at my brother. That would be a good idea for Kent, though it didn’t help with the fact for months I had been using and abusing him.
The next day, Kent met me at the door as I came home. “I did what Andrew suggested and went to the bakery. They want to give me a trial tomorrow.”
“Wow. Good for you.” And it was.
“I still want to help on the house.”
“I know; you just need to have an income you can depend on for other expenses.” I bumped my shoulder into his as I moved by him. “It’s all good. I’m just sorry I can’t afford to pay you.”
“Yeah, that’s a real shame.” Coughing he changed the subject. “Andrew and I got the kitchen and bathroom gutted. Looks like we’re roughing it from now on.”
Sure enough, the walls were gone around the bathroom and the pipes were exposed. I hurried down the hall to stare at my bare kitchen with no stove or counter space or cupboards. “Kent, we were going to save this for last.” Once I bought all of the things I needed on a clearance sale from the hardware shop.
“We’re going to start extending the kitchen space tomorrow, putting in piers and joists and then gut the laundry so we can add that space to the kitchen.” He looked proud of himself.
Andrew waltzed in through the back door. “Hey sis. What do you think? We’re knocking through it, right?”
My head spun. Knocking through it as right. They were powering full steam through the house and destroying my carefully constructed plans to go slow and do what I could afford.
“Everything will be fine,” Kent said over my head. “We’ll get all of the major structural shit out of the way and then sit on the project for a while. The way you had planned it meant that the front of the house would be finished and we’d be destroying the back and having other trades come back to do their first fix outs again.”
Logical… sort of.
I sighed. “Don’t forget to add bearers for the deck so it’s attached to the house, tomorrow.” Might as well go in with every intention to complete the structural stuff. “And once that’s done we have to get the floor, walls and roof on asap. Winter is coming and that weather will fuck with the rest of the house if left exposed. I’ll call around and see who will do the roof frames for us.” And then get in contact with the steel guy to get some tin for the roof. Fuck, no I was going to leave that and order the whole house… maybe.
I again pulled out the computer and started to trawl the internet for second hand shit.
“Whatcha doing?” Kent looked over my shoulder.
“I don’t want to order the tin for the whole house just yet. I just need something to keep the back water tight.”
“My dad would probably have some good lengths we can use.” He frowned.
I removed my fingers from the keyboard. This was going to be a big ask. “Do you mind asking him how much he wants for it?”
He swallowed, his adam’s apple bobbing. “I can try.” Leaning in close so his breath fanned my face he smirked. “But you’ll owe me.”
My heart skipped a beat.
What the fuck?