Well, it’s been almost 14 months since we purchased The House on High Street. Scott and I have spent the past 11 months supervising and assisting our hired helpers to make this house into a home. We are hoping to move in by December 2014, but before we do, I wanted to share a few lessons that we’ve learned along the way. Most likely you or someone you know will be doing some kind of renovation project in the near future, and so this one is for you…
10 Things to Anticipate During a Renovation Project
1.) Be prepared for the project to take up to twice as long and cost up to twice as much as you originally intend. I will confidently say that Scott and I planned a budget from day one. Yes, we did go over our original budget, but we knew what we were doing before we agreed to take that next step. For example, at one point, Scott stressed the importance of replacing the windows. That was a large expense that we originally did not plan for! However, we revisited the budget and realized that we could make it work. It was a great decision. (Yay, Hubbs!) The house not only looks so much nicer, but we will definitely save on utility costs, as the windows are insulated and super efficient.
2.) Be prepared to have your patience tested. Overall, we have had outstanding workers. Our project progressed beautifully. The biggest hiccup occurred when we chose Investors Bank to handle our Renovation Loan. Not only did they take several months longer than they originally said (thus putting us behind schedule several months!)…they were very evasive and lackadaisical. I had to call or email them several times each week and tell them what they needed to do. Pathetic. Seriously.
3.) Anticipate a Love-Hate Relationship with the project. This, I did NOT expect, but remember, I am working with only two weeks of good health each month. So, obviously, during the times that I was experiencing my monthly symptoms, I had a hard time keeping energy, staying focused, and having the confidence in all the decisions I was making. Scott also went though times when he was stressed and exhausted.
4.) Anticipate a Love-Hate Relationship with your spouse. I realize that most couples would never work together. Scott and I had to learn how to work together, and I must say, we are very good at it, now. Initially, I hated how he preferred to be a part of almost ever decision I made. Now, I appreciate his extraordinary taste. And, Scott originally hated how I would help outline his tasks. (i.e. “Why don’t you go to Lowe’s on your way home from the house each night and write down whatever the guys will need the next day? That way, you don’t need to interrupt your day.”) I would remind him, “Babe, I am really good at coordinating projects.” It didn’t take us long to realize that we needed to utilize one another’s talents. Now, we can say, “I couldn’t have done it without him/her!” And, that’s pretty awesome.
5.) Prepare yourself NOW to settle, compromise, and let go of some things. I have always dreamed of having a pizza oven in my kitchen! Not to mention, I really wanted a marble counter top to complete that authentic, rustic kitchen look. Turns out, the pizza oven was not practical at all. That thing takes up at least 12 square feet! And, the marble was not only more costly, but did not come in a slab large enough to fit our GINOURMOUS island. Since we got so much more than we ever hoped for with this house and reno project in general, I like to think of it as a trade off.
6.) Prepare yourself to LIVE with at least one BAD decision for every fifty decisions. Oh, my gosh! Can I just tell you that choosing tile and granite was, for me, the hardest thing to do? I mean, when you are doing a project from scratch, and you need everything to come together and blend well with colors, texture, and patterns; You need to really spend a lot of time working with all the variables. For example, if/when you realize one particular item will not work (perhaps due to cost, availability, size, etc.) then it changes everything. When it came to doing our Master Shower, we sort of piecemealed all the tile work together. We didn’t budget to do everything in marble, and so after we found a certain marble tile at Home Depot for a great cost, we went with it for our shower floor. Then, after I picked out the granite for the shower seat and the threshold, I realized that it did NOT all go together. This was the only mistake in which we needed to do something over again. Thankfully, our granite fabricator worked with us, so it wasn’t as costly as we thought. It happens.
7.) No matter how particular you are, there WILL come a time where you WILL say, “I don’t care which one, JUST PICK IT DAMN IT!” I reached that point about three months ago. I’m too tired to even list them…
8.) Be prepared to get DIRTY. I am looking at my nails right now. (We have a post-wedding event to attend later this evening.) And, I am wondering how on earth I will get them to look feminine again! We just spent the past six days sanding the trim and applying wood filler..like everywhere. My nails look like those of a nine year old boy.
9.) There will be ONE out of every FIVE professional you hire that will turn out to be a doozy. Yes, we’ve had a few come and go…The most telling red flag is if it takes them a long time to get back to you, visit your home, and/or give you a quote. Look, there are pros out there who are REALLY good at what they do, but sometimes they are just not into the job! Maybe they are too busy. Maybe they don’t want to work that hard. Maybe they lose all momentum AFTER you pay them halfway. The workers that did not return our phone calls, emails, or text messages within 24 hours were the ones who did not fulfill our expectations. (Funny, how they always showed up or responded when it was time to pick up a check.)
10.) Learn how to say, “I’m sorry.” You are human. You will mess up. You will lose your patience with someone. Repeat this after me. I.AM.SORRY.
I can list a lot more, but I didn’t want to go overboard. I realize that most of these are no-brainers.
In the end, your home is such a big part of your life. And, when it comes to making it into your haven, you have every right to aim for perfection. Just be prepared that it will be an extraordinary experience, and it is up to YOU to make the most of it!