As our home renovation project of doom is coming (hopefully) to a close I have been thinking about what I’ve learned from this whole experience.
When we moved into our new-to-us home two months ago with only our three kids, a few bags full of basic necessities, and a plan…leaving all other worldly possessions in storage…we thought we knew what we were doing.
Boy were we wrong.
However, I think we have gotten a lot accomplished in those two months…in that time we have repainted every ceiling and most walls in the entire house, torn down walls, built new walls, replaced all the flooring in the house, removed old plumbing, reset toilets, replaced subfloor, installed new lighting, as well as entirely finished the previously unfinished basement…minus the painting..which will be finished by the end of next week.
What we haven’t accomplished is getting a lot of sleep, spending quality time with our family, and officially moving into the home we have lived in for 8 weeks.
But would I do it all again? You bet. Although….I would do a few things differently…
So here is some advice to my future renovating self or to any of you who are thinking about embarking on such an adventure:
#1. Expect the Unexpected…or Hope for the Best Expect, the Worst.
If I have learned anything from this project it is to expect the unexpected. Do not plan on everything going smoothly! For real. If you do you will just get disappointed, frustrated, and angry. From removing linoleum only to find all the subflooring rotted out to having our fridge flood all over our newly installed wooden flooring (which then needed to be torn up and reinstalled) we seem to have encountered a lot of obstacles. BUT, it’s part of the package deal. If the home didn’t have problems you wouldn’t be renovating right? So expect problems…a lot of them…and then strap on your boots and get to work.
#2. Plan on it Taking Longer than You Planned.
From back ordered carpet to workers who don’t show…things will happen that you didn’t account for….and it’s annoying…but if you can’t figure out how to go with the flow you will go crazy. (Trust me I know.) Set a completion date and then work like a beast to meet it…however…if that date comes and goes while you are on your hands and knees scraping texturizing mud off your concrete floors while waiting for the duct cleaner to arrive don’t be too hard on yourself. Find yourself a pile of nachos to drown your sorrows in and work twice as hard the next day.
#3. For the Love Spend the Extra $2 and Buy the Real Painters Tape.
Really that extra few bucks is well worth the time you will spend touching up your paint if you buy the cheap stuff. And while I’m talking about paint….paint before you redo your flooring…that alone is pure awesomeness and relieves a ton of stress. Oh and unless you love to curse, pull that extra nice painters tape off of your walls BEFORE the paint dries. NO matter how late it gets or how tired you are!!! Pull those bad boys off before your paint hardens and comes right off with your tape strips!
#4. Just Because You Can DIY Doesn’t Mean You Should DIY.
My husband is really handy and I think he can do almost anything but there are a few things we never DIY (no matter how many tutorials come up on google searches) and two of those things are messing with electricity and texture. When it comes to texturing walls I know it’s cool to do it yourself…BUT…no matter how precise the craftsmanship is beneath that texture…if it isn’t done well all that work looks..well…not so precise…so we hired that job out. It cost a few extra dollars but it was money well spent. Which is how we feel about the electrician we hired. He wired our entire basement, fixed a few problems in other areas in the house, and added a ridiculous number of canned lights. And then to top it all off he gave us a few more suggestions with plug placements and lighting that we would have never come up with on our own…BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ELECTRICIANS. So my point is DIY where you can…but when it comes to unfamiliar territory…call a professional.
#5. Take A Break.
During this project we have been working late into the night, getting up early, and starting the day again often forgetting to stop for meals. Before long this hectic pace started to take it’s toll and even our children started falling apart. One especially rough night we stopped right in the middle of everything, loaded everyone up in the car, and went to the movies. Enough was enough. It did our family a world of good and from that time on we have tried to give ourselves and our children breaks from the non stop painting and hammering construction zone of doom that our house had become.
#6. When You Get Tired Mistakes Will Happen…BIG Mistakes.
Like repeatedly falling off a ladder at 1:00 in the morning while trying to paint a ceiling. Know when you’ve reached your limit. Scarlett was right, tomorrow is another day. When you get tired go to bed and start over in the morning. When you are working with heights, power tools, saws, and sledge hammers you should be on top of your game…working when drowsy just isn’t worth the risk.
#7. Not Everyone Will Be As Excited As You Are About Your Renovation.
It’s true. You will be so excited…but you will get a lot of advice, opinions, one uppering, and snide remarks. And while that isn’t cool just keep going. You made your decision, it’s your home, so go for it! Make this property exactly what you want it to be…and take out your frustrations tearing out that bank of old cabinets instead of opening a can on the person who “just doesn’t understand” why “you are doing that”.
#8. Budget. Budget. Budget.
Make a budget…a budget that has some extra money built in to pay for those unexpected expenses…and then stick to it. Even if you reeeaaaaaallllly loved that real hard wood floor stick with the pergo you can afford. It is hard…there are so many beautiful things out there…so many…but set a budget that is realistic for you and your goals and then stick to it! If I can do it I swear you can to!
#9. As Long As You Are Making A Mess…
As long as you are making a mess, make a mess. What I mean by that is if you already have a room torn up make sure you take care of all it’s messy problems before you start putting it back together again. For example: if you are getting new carpeting take advantage of not having to care about the flooring and repaint or cut out holes in the ceiling for canned lights or touch up your baseboards.
#10. Do It Right the First Time.
Don’t cut corners or do mediocre work that will need to be fixed, replaced, or discarded in a year or two. Just do the job right the first time. Your future self will thank you for it.
Share your plans and visions with those sharing your house…and invite them to do likewise. Being on the same page with your renovation plans will save you hours…so so many hours…
#12. Let the Kids Help.
They really can help…for real. Let them help paint (I’m not kidding), rip out carpet, and carry out debris. It’s good for them and as we’ve seen allows them to “own” their living space.
#13. Don’t Be Shy…Be Annoying.
When you hire a professional, company, friend, whoever to help you work on your renovation you have to be in charge…make them keep appointments and end dates…if not…this project can go on and on and on. And don’t feel bad. If they promised a completion date…hold them to it. Call, text, call again. Get the work that you have paid for completed.
#14. You’ll Miss Your Couch the Most.
Folding chairs and plywood floors covered in dust just aren’t the same. Oh how I want to curl up on the couch under a blanket and watch some TV….We still don’t have our couch….and I want to cry. But in a few days I get to bring them home and then make up for a whole lot of lost time!
#15. Have the Insight to Realize When You Have Done Enough.
I honestly believe that you can work on renovating your house forever. But everyone (including me) needs to realize when you have done enough and it’s time to stop. That time for me is coming very very soon. And I for one am looking forward to turning this house we have worked so hard on into a home.