Journal of a Remodelee, Part 2 of 11
Originally appeared in Hills Publications, Dec 16, 2005 and ANG Newspapers, Dec. 10, 2005
My wife, Sonia, and I are in the midst of a major remodel of most of our home. I am sharing our experiences to help you avoid problems should you embark on a similar process.
Our first mishap: Sonia went into the master bedroom this morning to see the completed framing. It was not what we expected. The architect had added a decorative bump-out to the middle section of our wall-to-wall closet. This eliminated about five inches of floor space and looked weird.
When questioned, our foreman, Sam, showed Sonia the closets on the plans. Apparently, the architect, without ever consulting us, decided to add this “flourish.” Sam quickly agreed to remove the offending closet addition. To our chagrin, the electrician had already run electric wiring using the unwanted section. This will be changed, but it will cost us extra for the redo. We are not pleased.
Work was proceeding nicely today until we encountered mishap number two. Sam called us outside to show us the new foundation work being done for the master bath expansion. We found that our architect had cut nearly a foot off the addition without discussion or explanation.
Further, contrary to our specific request to keep them, the architect called for the existing toilet and sink, both in excellent condition, to be replaced. Fortunately, the crew checked with us before throwing them out. The architect’s oversight would have added the unnecessary cost of new bathroom fixtures.
We called our contractor, who is very accommodating. He promised to come over and help us make the bath as we envisioned it. He repeated what he had told us yesterday regarding the closet faux pas: architects make these errors all the time and our problems are minor compared to what could go wrong.
So far, we have been around to catch the mistakes. Nonetheless, we are holding our breaths that some irreversible glitch does not take place while we are out earning a living.
First thing this morning, two men began work replacing doors on a storage shed so we could add locks. I noticed the hinges to be used were the kind that are easily removed and offered no security. Sonia saw there were no provisions for pull handles.
As always, Sam was quick in offering to exchange the parts for what we wanted. In addition, our questions led him to suggest sliding latches, floor and ceiling, for the stationary door.
Had I returned later, the doors would have been up, but not to our liking. I noticed some items that needed changing while Sonia picked up on other issues. We make a great team, but the pressure to cover every detail is immense.
Luckily for us, in most instances, one of the crew shows us what he is doing and asks if it is okay before it is too late. As we knew from the real estate business, we cannot rely solely on the architect’s plans nor the fact that they were approved by the city.
Another potential problem was avoided today. We are relocating the washer and dryer from an area in the kitchen, where they were side by side, to a closet that is being expanded so they can be stacked. If we had not caught it in time, the hot and cold water faucets, gas shut off and electric outlets would not have been accessible once the washer and dryer were in place.
Sonia and Sam have come to a compromise on the size of the bathroom so that a new foundation trench does not need to be dug. Sam assures Sonia that we will not lose as much on the inside as we first thought despite the fact that the outside does not extend as far as we believe it should. Sounds illogical, but we trust Sam.
Today, we received a call from our kitchen designer, Suzanne, who has been phenomenally helpful. She was checking on our kitchen progress to coordinate cabinet delivery. After consulting with our contractor, we scheduled delivery for the week of November 7th. The kitchen will not be ready for cabinets before then.
Suzanne is doing us a favor by extending the delivery date. If we do not accept delivery by the 7th, the storage cost is some outrageous fee per day.
Aside from the obvious quality of construction, the men always clean up very well and leave things neat before leaving. Despite this, the amount of dust in the house is amazing. When they start sheet rocking and sanding and then, later, refinish the floors, dust will reach a new level.
Coincidentally, as I write this, I smell something burning; it is the motor of our HEPA air filter, the only thing between us and suffocation. Getting a new machine has just risen to number one on our “to do” list.
This is a busy day. First, we are dealing with the heating contractor, later, the window replacement people.
Initially, we expected to pay for relocating registers and cold air returns due to moving walls around. After lots of thought, we realized that replacing the furnace and all heating ducts was the most sensible thing to do. The heating man gave us a good bid, but it still adds quite a bit to our ever-expanding remodeling budget.
The furnace has been on our minds because we have lived in this home a long time and it was not new when we arrived. We are ambivalent about replacing it because it is still functioning well. The ducts, conversely, are the original, asbestos-covered ones. They are separated in many places and are losing a lot of heat.
The window situation is another story. Fortunately, we know the window guy from when we remodeled our front room, about three years ago. He came today to see where we need new windows. Last week, our contractor alerted us that the window dimensions in the plans for the master bedroom do not meet code for a sleeping room.
The architect’s windows could only have worked if they were almost floor to ceiling, which made no sense to us. Following much discussion, we made yet another compromise and will have the windows widened.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 1 – It begins; we know there will be the inevitable surprises, but optimistically hope previous experiences will help renovations go smoothly.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 2 – Holding our breaths that some irreversible glitch does not take place while we are out earning a living.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 3 – An eliminated window is mistakenly left in the plans while miscalculations in light fixture placement increases costs.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 4 – Even with a great construction crew, once again we learn you can’t count on them to think of everything.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 5 – Mislabeling of tile grout almost results disaster.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 6 – We are reminded how important it is for at least one of us to stay close at hand to answer questions as they arise.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 7 – Back from a holiday break, we experience more surprises and a frustrating accident.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 8 – Surprises and scheduling conflicts can’t detract from enjoying our new kitchen.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 9 – It is all coming together…almost.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 10 – City inspections and the finish line.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 11 – Eight months’ worth of do’s and don’ts.