Friday, September 16, 2016

Renovation Week 1: A new car too? Noooooo!

Renovation Week One Report 
I'm starting the clock with the day we bought the house. It might be cheating since we planned during that month before, but it is better for my mental health this way. =)

Under the Carpet
We have wood floors under the existing carpet! Hooray!

The master bedroom needs to be patched where the original closet was removed, but they are in decent shape otherwise.  I was told due to the size of the existing flooring, they have to make the replacement floorboards by hand.  Hmmmm. Sounds expensive.

New Car
We had a "fun" surprise on the day we drove over to our new house with shiny new keys in hand. 
Our car can't turn the tight corner into the garage.  The garage is "normal" size. But the alleys were designed before today's oversized vehicles were invented, so they are quite narrow.  Our vehicle is too long to make the tight turn. After about 30 minutes of "Are you serious?" we realized it wasn't going to happen and went back to our condo.  
My friend's SUV fit after a 3 point turn, so not all hope is lost.  Have to say, I am so thankful I was not the one driving that day.  So um, yeah, let's just go ahead and add buying a new (smaller) car to the list.  No. That's not stressful at all. Not at all.

Quotes for Work Needed
Both our designer Elizabeth and myself met 3 contractors out at the house this week so they could size it all up with the plans and provide a bid for the work.

My carpet guy came out to measure for his quote on Monday. I had a coronary when I saw the quote for the new carpeting on the stairs. 
We might have wood stairs withOUT the beautiful carpeting chosen as a stair runner.
They are removing the old carpet next Tuesday. Elizabeth explained a carpet runner is very labor intensive work and we have a LOT of stairs (and price is in the normal range), but we can always do it after we move in aka when we have the money.

I asked Elizabeth if it would be too forward of me to give her a key to the house so she can come and go. She laughed and said lots of clients give her one. That made me feel better, I was afraid I was implying too much. 
In the back of my head, I'm debating to changing the locks for the renovation or just add a punch code key pad.

E & I made a second visit to the cabinet maker I selected to review cabinet faces for the entire home (kitchen, master bath, wet bar and the office). Picking a paint color for the study's painted cabinets was so easy, but I'm struggling with the kitchen color.  I want a blue grey, but not too dark and not baby blue. Internal struggles. 

Kitchen Slab Update
The quartzite slabs we selected for the kitchen were having issues with the finishing, but lucky me, they have a new shipment of the same slab withOUT the problem coming in next week.
The best part? Now I get consecutive slabs that will match end to end. Talk about a happy accident.  
Just hope the new slabs have the same look as my old ones. 

The lighter color slab above is for the kitchen (a natural quartzite) and the dark one is a marble for basement's fireplace hearth and surround. I know marble is all the rage now and lots of people love living with it, but the foods that destroy marble are all of my husband's favorites. Don't trust ourselves with marble in the kitchen quite honestly. 

Next Week...
Past Client Site Visit - I am traveling so Elizabeth will be visiting a past client of one of the potential contractors to see his work in person on our behalf. 
Wallpapers - Hubs and I (or just me?) will be looking at wall paper samples this weekend. 
Review Pricing - Hopefully the quotes from the contractors will come in for our review.
Removing carpet on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

We Bought a House!! Planning a Renovation

We closed on our house Friday, September 9th! The entire process was amazingly smooth. We met some of our nice new neighbors while there for our final walk through too.

The home was built in 1884 and has been well maintained so we didn't hesitate to make an offer the day we saw it. And the best part is a previous owner already moved walls, so the work we want to do at this point is mostly cosmetic.

The kitchen and master bath are in great shape, but unfortunately outdated and not our style so we will be renovating them. Originally we tried to steer away from homes that needed work, but we realized most of them needed something, but I didn't know anything about the process and there wasn't much online. I'm going to do my best to try to document the entire experience in case it helps anyone else with their first major renovation project.

Kitchen (before):

Master Bath (before):

Made Offer - Mid-July 
When we made an offer, hubs and I agreed we wanted 1) a new kitchen and 2) to renovate as many bath/powder rooms as our budget would allow. All before we moved in. My SIL recently lived through a massive renovation and she recommended avoiding it if possible. One visit to her home mid-renovation was enough to convince me she was right.

Researched Designers/Contractors - Late July
I started researching design firms and asking friends if they could recommend anyone. Initially looked for a Design Build firm - where the designer and builder work together as one company. It sounded the safest from my perspective. Ultimately went a different route when I found a designer who's work I loved and who had glowing remarks from past clients. I read a lot of people think Design Build firms can be more expensive over hiring them separately, but I never explored it enough to discover if this is true or not.

Initial Meetings and Selection - Late July
While looking at kitchen photos on Houzz I realized that the ones I liked most, were from the same handful of designers so I started reaching out to them to set up meetings and ask if they were available for a new project.
One firm didn't return my email or my phone call which I think is just plain rude. It's not that hard to copy and paste some verbiage into an email to explain you aren't accepting new clients. I still have a grudge and plan to carry it for a bit longer.  

Contracted with Elizabeth for design work - August 1st
We selected a designer whose style and approach to our project matched us best. Most importantly, I could work really well with her. And this is important. We signed a contract with Elizabeth to start right away so we could hit the ground running after we closed. I feel lucky she had the availability for my project due to another one getting stalled.

What that month was like before we closed...
Within a month we have "bid ready" designs and all of our materials selected. Pretty sure this is not a normal turn around, so add an extra month or maybe two if you are reading this for your own renovation.  It was a whirlwind, but I think looking at all the homes we didn't buy, actually helped me hone-in on exactly what I did or did not like. I pretty much knew what I wanted.  And the Hubs was pretty hands off and even jokingly only requested we be sure to include a disposal in the kitchen. Only having one decision maker made things go a lot faster, as I didn't have to discuss each little thing, or coordinate multiple schedules to go look at tiles/slabs/carpets/plumbing/cabinets/etc.  I mean, I did struggle on some decisions, but it could have been so much worse if there were two of us struggling!  

Although we had to make decisions timely, it never felt rushed. Most of the time was spent designing the kitchen. What I envisioned, didn't always fit in the space or fit in the budget. Like the faucet I thought I wanted. Until I learned it was $2,890. Yes. I am serious. Or that pesky air conditioning tubing getting in the way of my wine fridge.

There will be design challenges for renovation work.  Expect them.
And when the stress of it all creeped in, Elizabeth was super helpful in defusing the process and answering all my crazy questions and making it fun and exciting. Even my husband who has been hands off, admitted to seeing the value in a designer and her work, guidance and experience being worth the fees (vs a DIY approach). This approach works for us, but might not make sense for everyone, I get that.

I want to point out, doing all this work with Elizabeth prior to actually closing on the house was risky. We could have ended up paying her for designs we didn't need if anything happened to derail the home purchase. The sellers and their agent were all so reasonable and genuine, we didn't have any red flags and trusted our instinct and decided the advance progress to be gained was worth the risk.

Next step is for the three potential contractors to walk through with our plans and provide bids.

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