Some clever bloke said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The same could be said about this renovation. While the concept of the addition/reno has been kicking around pretty much since we moved in eight years ago, the first step was last fall when I put pencil to paper and drafted the very rough sketch of what we/I envisioned; a larger space that would allow us to accurate our growing family and give us the sight lines to the back of the property that we desired.
The rudimentary drawing was then taken to a professional who made accurate renderings. The tweaked the aspects of my drawing that were impossible (a window underground anyone?) and ensured the dream we dreamed was possible within the building code.
Once we had the blueprints, it was time to get prices to see if it was even financially feasible. Off to find general contractors to quote on the project. We held off until January because, you know, Christmas.
With a sense of anticipate that can only come with a New Year and a completely unrealistic expectation of what is possible, we started booking appointments with contractors.
The Good News: We had interest from general contractors.
The Bad News: They promised to get us pricing, AFTER they took off the month of February.
Yes, February is not a good month to pin down quotes. We are learning many things with this process, but the first, and biggest lesson so far has been this…
- THOU SHALL NOT EXPECT ANYTHING FROM A CONTRACTOR IN THE SECOND MONTH OF THE YEAR. FEBRUARY IS SACRED AND CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT BUT KEEP IT HOLY.
Finally we heard back from the contractors and they were asking bizarre questions like; “How much do you want us to allot for the kitchen?”
Whoa! This is a chicken-egg situation here. Do you set a budget when you don’t know how much you can afford? Or do you figure out what you can afford then set the budget?
We headed out on a Saturday with kitchen manufacturers. We were beginning to notice a disturbing pattern.
Admiring a granite countertop that we were interested in: $5,000.
Upgrades from the “standard” kitchen display: $5,000.
Sinks and taps combos: $5,000.
Whaaaaaat? DA HECK?! We are tossing around 5K like it’s $20 bills! Yikes.
Now, I realize that we are used to cupboards of cardboard construction, however, we don’t want to go economy on this project. That being said, we don’t want to have to sell a kidney to afford this either.
We’re not sure either of us has a kidney worth $5,000.
The quotes finally come in. Like the Three Bears, we had a price that was too high, a price that was too low (yes, it’s possible), and one that was just right! Fortunately, the “winner” is also a great guy. I think we’ll be able to work well with him and he’s already come through with some great ideas.
It’s the end of April at this point.
With this crucial part of the process locked in, we started looking around and realized, we have a TON of work to do before the first week of June target for the project to start. We have rooms to pack, a deck to remove, bricks to take off and plants to transplant.
This is when Mother Nature joins the party.
She shows up uninvited the second last weekend in April and brings with it a snow storm the likes of which none of us can remember happening in Spring.
Then there was the windstorm the first weekend of May.
This brute brought winds up to 110 km/hr. The barbecue was tossed across the lawn, but, for some reason, the deck was unfazed – which is remarkable, because when we finally removed it last weekend, we learned that the deck wasn’t actually attached to the house. It was more or less sitting on a header which was supported from the ground by vertical posts that were rotten at ground level.
See something off with this photo? I’m sure the perpendicular support REALLY helped the deck.
Yup – whether or not we did this project, that deck was a death trap.
So – here’s where we stand for those of you keeping score at home:
- no deck
- ripped apart dining room
- half packed kitchen
- no flooring in the living room.
Thank goodness we have a long weekend coming up, because the next item on the “to do” list is the brick removal. If you don’t hear from me in a week – send out the rescue team!