Welcome to my Lessons learned from remodeling journal. I thought it would be fun and instructive to share our remodeling journey week by week. I hope you can learn from what we do right- and more importantly from what we mess up!
You begin any project, be it planning a trip or gutting a kitchen, wide eyed and hopeful. After a week I’m beginning to realize how frighteningly naive our assumptions going in were. Let’s discuss, shall we?
You don’t realize you (and your spouse, and your kids) are hoarders until you have to box up your crap.
- Deal Kid found two bags of rocks in our basement. Not stones, not gems, rocks. No idea why.
- Guidebooks from the 90s? Not terribly helpful. Ditto for the over 200 paperback novels when we have Kindle Unlimited. And the bookshelves they are held upon- which we got for free from someone else trying to clear out their junk.
- The kids are 13 and almost 10. Are they gonna pull out the Play Doh anytime, well, ever? Do we need a collection of coloring and activity books? (OK, this one is partly me- I kept the grownup coloring books.)
- What about the collection of plastic containers that come free with lunchmeat- 1/2 of which have lost their lids? Or the Elmo sippy cups? I confess I found an Elmo sippy cup lurking in my kitchen- which hasn’t fed a toddler in 8 years.
Last Saturday the charity truck picked up over 200 pounds of stuff from our lawn and I felt physically lighter and so proud- and our house didn’t look at all different. We could put out 10 more loads and it wouldn’t make a dent.
On the upside- I cleaned out the gift closet of all the 90% off toys I bought over 13 years (kids over 10 give gift cards). Turns out some of the toys I held on to by accident became collectors items. There’s the farting space suit Phineas and Ferb toy I paid maybe $2 for that went for over $20. I’ve collected over $500 from eBay- and made a huge Toys for Tots donation to boot.
We (meaning I) will be spending much more time and money on this project than we budgeted.
Piggybacking on the hoarding topic- the mere task of packing up the house to remodel is taking a whole lot more time than I budgeted. Although to be fair I budgeted no time to packing up at all! In the same vein we didn’t budget the $250/month for the Pod we’ll need to put our stuff in while the bulk of the work is going on in the house. We completely missed that line item. It’s one of many line items we’ll miss in the coming months, I’m sure.
In the near term I’m feeling the time sucks even more keenly than the financial ones. Even though we’re one week into having the money and “officially” remodeling, we’ve been preparing and I’ve been interviewing contractors for about three weeks. I expected at the end of week one we’d have someone actually working inside the house.
Yeah, not so much. Of the long list of projects we have a contractor hired for exactly one, that spends about 10% of our money. That project, assuming I get the permits, takes place the first week of January. Read that again. Assuming I get the permits. I have to teach myself how to write a permit application for a new bedroom and get it approved in the next three weeks.
Long story short: the contractor is putting in a basement window and would charge me $500 to get a $90 permit that would only cover the window. I’d still need an additional permit for the bedroom, which a 2nd contractor would charge me an additional $500 to get. $1000 vs. $90 and my time? Worth it, at least on paper. Watch my journals to come to find out how that decision turns out.
I’ll probably also be doing some of this work myself- I taught myself how to paint and putting in laminate flooring looks fairly straightforward. It just didn’t occur to me that it would be cost effective to DIY with my lack of skills- but I’m gonna have to get up to speed and save where we can.
The contractors and the kidney
I’ve now had eight contractors in the house, with three more coming this weekend. I’ve spoken to another five, and reached out to at least another 15 who never returned my call. The only people who have merited a call are referrals from friends or companies that scored an A on Angie’s List (from which I bought the Gold subscription). So I thought I was being smart.
Well, of all the people I’ve met so far I’ve had two (from large, well regarded companies) come to the house, take measurements, and two weeks later I’ve yet to even get an estimate. One sent me an estimate that told me what I wanted was simply impossible (without going downstairs to look at the plumbing).
One contractor, who was referred to me by two separate friends, came to the house, spent two hours and I would have hired him in a heartbeat…until he encouraged me not to file for permits. Once I insisted that we needed permits he ran out leaving a Looney Tunes shaped hole in my front door.
…which leads me to the kidney. The firm, recommended to me by a friend, gave me the warm fuzzies the moment I walked in. The sales rep spent an hour with me in the showroom, then two hours in my house yesterday. As he left he ran into my next door neighbor who was a college friend. To be fair I don’t have the firm quote yet, but I just know.
What’s the going rate for kidneys these days?
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