Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Renovation Realities

There comes a point in every home remodeling project where it feels like it’s not worth it and undergoing surgery without anesthetic would be less  painful. You can probably tell I’m ready to schedule that surgery. I’m not delicate. I love a good project and I’m hyper-organized so I thought renovating would fall right into my sweet spot. But it doesn’t because it doesn’t work that way. For instance, my attention-to-detail is a fine trait but being a control freak is not. Renovation takes a set of personality traits I don’t have, specifically, the let-it-go, trust-the-universe, in-the-moment mindset, which makes me batshit crazy. Honestly, how many people do you know for whom that works all the time? Be honest. NONE. It’s adorable but not bloody likely.

Here are a few of things I've figured out; if you're about to start a home project, hopefully, they'll help. There will be more in the coming weeks.

p.s. Updated house photos at the end so you can skip the words and I'll never know. 

1. Expectations. They’re lovely and everyone has them but unlike the foundation of your home they should not be set in concrete. Unless you have an unlimited budget and no timeframe, in which case I want to party with you. For the rest of us, that’s probably one of the first things that has to be adjusted when doing a renovation. The keyword is compromise. 

2. Make sure YOU understand the process. Construction is a male-dominated realm and whether it is meant to happen or not, there will be a lot of talk that goes over your head. This cannot happen. Even if it makes you queasy (which it does for me) you have to say, “I don’t understand” when you don’t. I let things slide because I didn’t want to seem difficult but, hello, it’s my money so I should be difficult! 

3. Agree upfront on scheduled communications. This kind of ties into 1 and 2 but deserves its own space. It also has a subheading of Pressure for Specifics. This means before the project begins you agree how things will proceed and by what means. Contractors don't like email- they like verbal but guess what? It means things get forgotten and misunderstand and you are left with no ground to stand on. They KNOW how a project works so they should be able to tell you what you need to address when so you are not left driving all over town to find floor tiles in 24 hours. Our house sat untouched for 3 weeks because they didn't have a crew to work on it so if I had known it was an early part of the process I could have been looking back then. 

There is a massive amount of wiggle room and variables in every aspect of construction and renovation but while it may feel like an uphill battle, get as much in writing as early as you can- even just a list of what you need to shop for and when. 

Enough talk. Here's what we found when we went by the house this weekend:


The walls are back up in the kitchen and the new peninsula has been built. Also, the subfloor is down, ready for the new floors.


The guest bath with the walls, tub, and subfloor in place.


The carpet has been pulled up! This is an area that has gone exactly to plan- the floors underneath are in beautiful shape.

 My future room- the wall to the left used to be a closet but was removed to give the kitchen more space on the other side.


Our first glimpse of the stairs to the basement. We had thought they might be cheap plywood but they are actually fir- the same wood we're using for the doors so with a bit of refinishing they'll be perfect.


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