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As we get ever closer to actually starting to build a house my mind lingers often on the thoughts of budgets. I am always looking for a place to find another dollar or three.

long row of portable toilets neatly aligned

A row of portable potties on the Washington, DC park that links the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. It can be very busy there during festivals.

One of the items on our budget, which is required, I believe by the EPA, is a portable toilet. If we had an actual toilet I am sure that would do but we don’t so we have to get one. They are surprisingly less expensive than I would have thought. We have on in the budget for $500. That includes delivery, set up, removing the waste on a scheduled basis, and removing it after the job is one.

You would have to pay me a lot more than $500 to do that job.

I am not saying that it is not honorable work, or that I would not do it if I needed to but I am saying that doing it is worth a lot more than $500 to me. I would need at least $600 so I could get some extra laundry and bath soap for myself. Actually, many years ago when we were struggling financially and we took every bit of work we could find my spouse and I cleaned and painted ski condominiums. Nothing quite compares to the smell of wet wool, old parties and food left out on the counter. As I think about it I am imaging that portable toilets, which are self contained and over which you have some control are probably a lot nicer to deal with than some of the units we cleaned.

So back to the budget thing. There are things in the budget that seem very cheap to me and things that seem very expensive. I cannot say one seems like it should cost more while another things says it should be less. I am doing a lot of the planning and buying for the house and am working on strict budgets that still have large unknowns so every dollar counts.

One of the astonishing things to me is how much floors cost. Even with the least expensive materials floors cost thousands or many thousands of dollars. Decks too. Everyone thinks decks are good. Decks are good. Decks invite us to take time and savor fellowship taking in whatever view or sounds or sights we can see from our decks. Decks are madly expensive. I learned that when we did the remodel in 2010. Our deck was in terrible shape. Part of the front of it had weathered badly in the hot sun and another part of it was the victim of a snowy night collaborating with a friend’s car. And then there were the two clips in the posts that we put in trying to pull under the deck into the garage. Miss that turn just even a little and your car takes a snack on the post holding your deck.

Our old deck got into such bad repair that when we had friends coming over we would string tape across the entry to the stairs to keep people from trying to come that way. No matter how many times you told people to come in the “”family” door they always wanted to be polite and go to the front door. Trouble is that our front door was down right dangerous. We had the intention to fix it but it was just a big job. We just avoided that part of the deck, who really needs a front door anyway? We could always tell when someone drove into the driveway so we always greeted them–quickly before they could try to come to the front door.

It was in this state that one day we heard a huge crash. Of course given the way I am telling this story you know what happened. We, however, never went out the front door and so we had no idea what a perilous state we were in. The crash was big. We did not immediately react since we were used to the snow sliding off of our metal roof in a huge big whoosh. Then we realized it was not winter. We left our desks and wandered around a bit looking for what the culprit might be. After a while we decided we did not knwo what it was so we would get back to work. The next morning when we were driving out the driveway I saw what it was. The front railing had disengaged itself and lept over the edge of the deck depositing itself on the ground about 10 feet below where it started. At that point we decided we had to do something.

Well, it was a really big something. It was or entire original remodeling budget three times and we still needed the bathroom out of that budget. We worked paying for the deck by shifting around some family finances and picking up some extra work. We were really lucky that the work came along.

The work progressed well. During the hot summer the workers would arrive around 5:30 am so they could knock off when the sun got so hot around noon. They arrived with coffee and an eagerness to work that was impressive. The potty situation was impressive too. We did not have a portable toilet. We had the new fancy dual flush toilet we had put into the new basement bedroom/bath. The potty got quite the workout. I think it aged 10 years that summer given the traffic volume.

We need a portable potty: (a) we don’t have any plumbing so the portable one is a really good idea and (b) the capacity of the workers far exceeded the capacity of that poor residential toilet.

So we are full circle. The portable potty for $500 is a veritable bargain. I wonder if the liquid in it will be blue. We have blue curtains for the new house and it would be nice to some matching things.