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THE WEIRS TIMES & THE COCHECO TIMES, Thursday, April 12, 2012


and earth moving last year could have changed the water flow all around the house with new places for run off to accumulate, compromising the founda- tion. You may remember that

by Dr. Debi Warner Contributing Writer

Dear Dr. Debi, We have a problem down

cellar and don’t know how to proceed. Well, I think I know, but I am sure my partner who has taken over the project really does not know at all what to do. Recently there have been cracks and leaks in the floor plus we have had some pests get in too. My partner says the house is just settling, but I think we have big-big problems. My partner’s mind is shut and the cellar is just getting worse. Any ideas? Signed, Cracking Up

Dear Basement Blues, One thing all of us love

is a dry and stable cellar. When that is challenged, it can strike at our core and cause a greatly unsettled feeling. Most of us react to repel that sinking feeling. The psychological pro-

cesses snap into play, and behold denial – the most handy way of coping, rush- es to the front. We close our eyes to the facts and try to find the most minor reasons for our dismay. Very often the one who

is a distance from it may have the objectivity to see the scene more accurately. So do not sound alarms that you are spotting things not noticed by your partner; it is not a matter of their poor judgment, but perhaps distance that lets you see more clearly. So, from your vantage

point, you may notice that the recent landscaping

same earthwork may have dislodged the footing drain outlet too. You may be si- lently scolding the friend your partner hired who borrowed the cousin’s equipment and had no ex- perience, but accepted the money just the same. How about those gut-

ters? Are they up and flow- ing freely? Do they drain away from the house? Have you gone up to check on them? And how about your wa-

ter main coming into the house? A new leak could cause sudden shifting and the results you see. Or, it could just be house

settling. Maybe something minor, maybe. So, how do you talk about these sorts of things? You need to give your

partner a chance to break out of the denial and see the clues to the puzzle. You are talking about a handy person with a talent for figuring things out. So, maybe you need to let your

partner relax and notice what is in front of their nose. Not an easy task, maybe you can help, but not how you think. The biggest cause of

panic in such cases is often fear. In this case, fear that the repair will be costly, that your partner is not equipped to handle the problem, that much good work time and progress will be lost, that it will just get worse and worse into ruin. Wow, no wonder they are afraid! You need to help calm

those seas and they will be more able to open their eyes. How do you handle the

money fear? That is tough but might help to find out how much that kind of work really goes for. May- be you know someone who had their cellar or footings re-dug and you can find out what they paid. You can share the info but not have to talk about your own situation, so at a dis- tance you can start to face and overcome the fear. How do you handle being

in over your heads? You can talk about how ok it is to ask for help. You can identify some pros to ask questions of or even let

them take over some or part the job. You can get out books from the library or do research online and share info together. How do you face losing

your progress if you have to backtrack on your proj- ects? Maybe you have al- ready finished parts of the basement and tearing it up would erase 6 months of good work. But hey – it may not be required to sacrifice all that progress. Look around and see if ar- eas affected are far enough away from the damage zone, that might not chal- lenge all of the pretty wall and rugs. On the other hand, protecting those ar- eas by fixing it will help. How about the fear of

everything getting worse unto oblivion? Really – it is already getting worse while you miss the under- lying problem. The way to stop the decline is to catch the cause and address it.

This kind of realization

will not happen in a flash. As you help quell the fear zones, their observant thinking will kick back in and the problem solver you know will step forth. So, a series of conversa-

tions and kind attention to the background issues, will help denial recede like the old tide. You will notice the rocky truth emerge from the seaweed and be there to help with the star- tling facts revealed. As the tender toes step on barna- cles, you face thesesharp facts together. You will overcome the adversities of your basement to live an- other day, together. Talk. Take time. Ask for help. Encourage your partner even if unable to solve ev- ery angle. You can find out how another way. Happy Home Team!

Dr. Debi Dr. Debi Warner is the Founder of Renovation Psychology® and

author of Putting the Home Team to Work, available now online. Dr. Debi provides advice for greater domestic harmony to folks who are renovating their home – for True Home Improvement. This column is offered for enjoyment and enhancement and is not

intended to replace your personal medical care. Photo by Bob Jenks, St. Johnsbury, Vt. Dr. Debi has a consultation

practice, visiting home sites all over New England from her studio in Littleton, NH at the Tannery Marketplace. © 2012 Renovation Psychol- ogy®

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