Project Cleanup: Reclaiming My House After Domestic Disaster

ProjectCleanupGetting your home more organised is one of those tasks that's easy to put off endlessly, but after a pipe bursts and floods the entire place, you don't really have much choice. Welcome to Project Cleanup.

During my recent trip overseas (evidence of which has popped up in various ways on Lifehacker), a pipe decided to burst in my unit back home in Sydney. As I live alone, no-one noticed until water started flooding from under my front door, and the body corporate manager had to pop around with a locksmith, a plumber and a policeman to get the leak plugged up.

I was extraordinarily lucky: the main damage was to the wooden floating flooring I've got throughout the place, which was completely ruined. The flooring installer offered to replace it at very short notice, but that meant that all of the bookshelves in the place had to be emptied first. I own a truly ludicrous number of bookshelves, crammed with books, CDs, DVDs and a disturbing number of VHS tapes. The floor guys were happy to shift furniture around while relaying, but only if said furniture was empty.

My brother Alex heroically put in numerous hours (and co-ordinated other friends and relatives) emptying out my many, many shelves so that the place was installation-ready. Then it turned out that because the flooring had been improperly installed by the previous owner, the replacement couldn't go in until the under-flooring had fully dried — something that wouldn't fully happen before I returned.

So that's how I came home to a house with no floor, lots of empty bits of furniture in unusual places, my numerous possessions crammed (with commendable efficiency) into every single scrap of cupboard space and spare corners in my garage, and a shower that still hasn't had the tiling replaced after the broken pipe was fixed.

As a coming home present, that sucks, though in the grand scheme of things in a country where bushfires and floods are a regular occurrence, it's pretty darn low on the inconvenience scale. I remain heroically grateful to my brother for all the work he had to put in (and recommend that Lifehacker readers sponsor him for Movember). One minor advantage of my endless compact travel is that I'm quite used to functioning with fairly minimal equipment: pretty much everything I needed for work was already with me when I arrived home.

Anyway, I've decided to make an opportunity out of this and grab the chance to completely reorganise and resort everything (and repaint the place to boot). In effect, I'll get to apply the SPACE method to my entire house, something that normally wouldn't happen unless I was moving. Lots of stuff will get ditched, a lot of stuff will get digitised, and I'll try and incorporate some of the useful household organisation tricks I've picked up while editing Lifehacker.

I'll be tagging these occasional posts as Project Cleanup, and with luck we'll all learn a little bit. If you've got any getting-started advice for sorting through everything I own, share it in the comments.


Comments

    Good luck with this Angus.

    Came across this today, it might help (if indeed you actually need to do decluttering, as opposed to reorganising:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/happinessproject/archive/2009/11/11/eleven-myths-of-de-cluttering.aspx

    Without making it too voyeuristic ftw, how about a rundown on progress eg transferring VHS too digital etc Am surprised that a light traveller has so much clutter though.

    I hope you post updates on the progress of your insurance company in meeting the claim -- that'll keep them on their toes!! My recent burglary claim with the business side of AAMI insurance took months, and something only happened when I really pushed them. I should have twigged that they weren't planning on being speedy when they said they'd contact me 'at least every two weeks' over the claim (which they didn't even do.) Commendably, though, they did pay up in the end without 'adjusting' my claim unfairly.

      It's covered by the body corporate insurance rather than my personal insurance -- have had one meeting with the assessor and no major dramas so far. But I'll certainly be covering any "unusual" developments.

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