If you’ve been following along you have probably noticed that a) I haven’t blogged in quite a while and b) it’s because we are full force into finishing our home renovation. Now that we are on the other side and have a chance to step back and look at the process, I thought baring all about the expectation vs. reality of a home renovation would be a good way to get real.
Expectation vs. Reality of a Home Renovation
I’m not going to get real in telling you that it’s expensive, that it takes knowledge, etc. I want to get real and share that though it is so amazing and satisfying, it’s also a damn rollercoaster. This post is not to scare anyone away from taking on a fixer-upper. If anything, I hope it helps to prepare you more than I was!
Time Time Time
Right before I sat down to write this post I received a text from Joe. He was letting me know that the electrician is done after today, the rest of our contractors have about a day’s work each and it’s time to make our “Punch List”.
The end of this process has been dragging along, a waiting game. So, to finally be able to say those things seem long overdue. Joe always said the end of a construction process is slow because it’s those little things that don’t stick out. It all needs to get done but is less important than putting up walls and floors etc. Caulking the shower hardware so water doesn’t leak in or out of the wall, caulking the seam of tile to the wall, connecting and installing the appliances, getting the gas connected to the fireplace just isn’t a high priority, even though they are part of the deal. Luckily Joe is handy and did a lot of it himself the past few weekends. The first reality on the list of “expectation vs. reality of a home renovation”.
Another “time” related expectation vs. reality of a home renovation is how long it takes things to be delivered. Yes, it was custom, but our range took almost five months to be delivered. If you want custom pieces, sometimes you have to decide if waiting is worth it. Had we waited to order until closer to the end, we wouldn’t be cooking for a while. This happens a lot with furniture too. You expect a lead time but the more modern, high-end designers make items to order. Our sectional from West Elm is still in the process of being delivered. It’s just something to be aware of. I’m not saying order everything right after demo day but try to time it. Luckily we knew we could order the couch and keep the pieces in the house wrapped and secure by the time they started arriving. Just be conscious of your timeline when ordering things online. Feel free to ask me questions on this considering we ordered every single thing via the internet.
Designing with a Grain of Salt
Alright, let me just start with the fact that Joanna is so damn lucky she has Chip there to watch over the renovation all damn day. Don’t get me wrong, Joe did such an amazing job watching over where things go and making sure all of our design decisions were carried out. However, both of us work full-time jobs, and we simply cannot be there 24/7.
Big reminder: no human is a mind reader.
Sometimes, things might get installed a few inches more to the left than you wanted, or maybe you will have to go back in and lower some lights. It’s just all part of the game. I think I knew this, having some experience with seeing renovations go down in my 26 years, but it’s still something to remember. I’m a designer who has an image in my head from day one. Having tile extend to the edge of the counter makes sense for easy cleaning, but in my head, I did not picture it that way. This is another expectation vs. reality of a home renovation. The reality is not always what you expect, or picture, it to be.
Just be specific with your contractors, and be sure to ask the right questions. How are you finishing the tile? Where are you centering the lights? What’s the distance between the doors? Etc.
The Emotional Roller-coaster
Money is an obvious expectation vs. reality of a home renovation because often it’s expensive, it’s risky, and therefore stressful. However, this reality is not so much about the money but more about the emotions that come into play. Your emotions go on a real-life roller coaster during a renovation, especially if you are working with and making decisions with your significant other.
And especially if you and your significant other are both psycho perfectionists.
*Cough* Joe and I *Cough*
I’m going to be completely honest, we got into some really, really, big fights over the past 8 months. Obviously, we get through them all but it was definitely a test at times. Whether it was over paint colors or not having decisions on time, because of the expense and permanency, tensions run high. I went into it thinking it would be a breeze making decisions together because we have similar tastes and styles. We typically communicate really well. Let me tell you, it was not easy.. It felt like we clashed on almost everything and when we finally made a decision one of us was a little unhappy.
Looking back now, I realize how much the house is both of us combined because we were forced to compromise. It ended up being a perfect balance and would have been a lot easier if we (I) realized there had to be some give and take. My advice: just be prepared to give in sometimes, fight for your opinion sometimes, explain your reasoning, give each other space, back up your reasoning with examples, stay calm and confident that what you end up with together will be awesome.
You Can Do It
Taking on a renovation is no joke, but people, don’t misinterpret, it’s so much fun. I personally believe transforming something beautiful and old into something beautiful and new is incredible. Choosing to go the fixer-upper route is gutsy and even though Chip and Joanna make it look easy (they are such a well-oiled machine) it’s a whole lot of work. There will be bumps and bruises but so much pride when it’s done. I know because we are finally on that side. I wish someone gave me a list with each expectation vs. reality of a home renovation, but in the end, you’ll only ever really believe until you’re in it.
The compliments and encouragement along the way helped us get through, so thank you to all of you that have been following. When you get to do your big renovation I hope this will help just a little bit.