Our Christmas Dinner in the Driveway - tips on renovating
Before my family and I relocated to SC, we decided to tackle something most couples try to avoid in their marriage: renovations! I always looked at doing renovations like putting together Ikea furniture it will either make or break your marriage. To take away the suspense because I am sure you are wondering – yes, we are still married after we renovated our house. It can be done but it is not easy. I wanted to share my experience in hopes that people can learn from our mistakes.
First mistake: I was 5 months pregnant (I would try to avoid doing it while pregnant because of the stress) and we decided to renovate our kitchen which meant – no stove, no sink = no cooking. We all know pregnant women love to eat – what we were thinking I will never know. I was pregnant with my first child, the combination of not having a kitchen (which meant take out every night) and coming home after a long day of work to a disaster of a house was honestly a nightmare. I remember finding out I was pregnant I was looking forward to the days of the end of my pregnancy where I would be laying on the couch eat bon bon being waiting on hand and foot. Yeah that glorious vision along with our time line went out the window. Since we were pretty much renovating the whole house there was no place to relax and honestly, we probably shouldn’t have really lived in the house looking back at it now.
Second mistake: Once we decided to tackle renovating we got our construction loan (this I highly suggest), made our timeline and decided with our contractor the start date which was in June. Silly us must have been watching too many HGTV shows because that timeline you have on a piece of paper you might as well make it into a paper airplane or better yet light it on fire. June ( I forget the exact date) but I do know it was early June was our start time and guess when we actually started….drum roll please…. OCTOBER! So if we started in June when we thought I was a little over a month pregnant which is doable. However, in October right before Halloween we started I was 5 months pregnant and I was due in February. Our contractor's other project before ours got held up which is what started that chain reaction. I share this point because I really think with renovations you don’t ever stick to your time line especially when you find surprises in the house once you start doing work. If you go into it knowing that and expecting it to finish later then it is not so bad. Silly us we thought we would finish on time. Well, guess what, our contractor was the first one to meet our newborn in her unfinished nursery. There is so much more I could go on about but the biggest thing is to be prepared that the project will go past your deadline and have a plan. We only thought we wouldn’t have a kitchen for 3 months max turned out to be 5 months. My point is have realistic expectations and just because it is written down on a piece a paper doesn't make it so.
Third Mistake: We went into the renovations only wanting to do the kitchen and add a bathroom to the master bedroom. Once we started renovating we kept adding things on that needed to be down or decided might as well do this now while we can. Of course, this is what made the 3month project turn into a 5-month ordeal. My advice for this is again going back to having a plan. We thought we did but really didn’t which lead to longer timeline and more money spent. If you know exactly what your budget is and your “must have” get done list then it will make the process that much smoother. We were too relaxed and indecisive on what we wanted done. This left a lot up to our contractor ..big mistake.
The last few bits of advice I have is don’t always buy the cheapest material because in the end you pay what you get for.It is all about getting the best for the best price Along with this point, always get at least 3 different quotes from contractors. It may not always be best to go with the cheapest quote or most expensive. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean better quality. We went with the contractor that came somewhere in the middle.
The whole process can sometimes feel like THE AMAZING RACE is emotional, exhausting, expensive but for us well worth it in the end. Remember you are a team and you need to get to the finish line together do what I did and scream into a pillow!
Here is a great article on items I didn't get to touch upon 25 biggest renovation mistakes
Happy Renovating! Below are pictures of my house before and after renovating