Maria's home buying journey started about a year ago. She closed on her new home last week and I joined them for the final walk through, to take photos and finally see the inside of the house. Maria is beyond thrilled with the renovations planned for this house. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to document a home renovation, from start to finish.
The renovations are expected to take about six weeks. Our goal is to talk every day, and I'll visit several times each week to take photographs to help tell the story. We only decided to create this diary of Maria's home renovation yesterday, so it will take time to catch up on what's already happened.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Yesterday's discussion about the drywall contractor gave me the idea to create this diary of Maria's home renovation. Most home renovation projects are a bit crazy so I wanted you to see that you're not alone, and to offer ideas to reduce the chaos. Notice I didn't say eliminate it, as that's rarely possible.
Maria's brother-in-law, a custom home builder and formerly director of construction for Mesa Schools until he retired, is supporting Maria's home renovations. They've prioritized her wish like using Dennis's estimates for what each item on her list will cost. Dennis will do a lot of the work himself and manage the sub-contractors they decide to hire.
- Problem – The drywall contractor wanted to be paid in full before starting work. That's a red flag and something you should never give a contractor more than a third up front. They talked and agreed that a contract would be a good alternative. This would document responsibilities and the price agreed to up front, including a payment schedule which is pretty typical. The contractor drew up the contract and they fired him because the contract was full of holes like who was buying materials.
- Lesson Learned – They found the contractor through Angie's List, so they were surprised at how unprofessional he was. They instinctively knew if he was that much trouble before he started working, he would be nothing but trouble throughout the project.
- Lesson Learned – Removing popcorn from the ceiling is a very messy job, so it has to be done at the beginning of the project to minimize it's impact on other things like new flooring. Here are tips related to popcorn ceilings:
Friday, February 24, 2017
This home renovation started with demolition. You can see where all the kitchen cabinets were removed. What Maria “is amazed at how open the room is now … feels twice as big as before”. While there will be an island in the new kitchen, there won't be any cabinets over it.
What changes did this involve?
- All kitchen cabinets removed, which is standard for most kitchen remodeling projects.
- Door from the kitchen into the garage is gone, and the space is framed out for drywall.
- New door into the garage will be through the combination laundry/pantry (we'll show this to you in a few days).
- There's now an open floor plan – one large space for the family room, dining room and kitchen.
When I talked to Maria today, I got a huge list of activities so here they are …
- Decision – to use can lights instead of the pendants planned over the kitchen island, to make the room more open.
- Decision – to move the kitchen light fixture to the dining room, as it was the only light Maria liked in the entire house.
- Decision – found a finish carpenter who's going to install all the new baseboards after the flooring the new laminate flooring is installed.
- Decision – found a new drywall contractor who's estimate came in almost $1,500 less than the original price from the contractor they fired.
- Lesson learned – you should always get two, preferably three estimates as they will vary quite a bit and you'll also get to judge who you want to work with.
- Decision – has to be made on new bathroom faucets (brushed nickel). The plumber recommended Moen or Delta. Here are a few Moen brushed nickel faucets to pick from, or there are more if you visit Amazon.
Moen Two-Handle Bathroom Faucet, Brushed NickelTwo-Handle High-Arc Bathroom Faucet without Valve, Brushed NickelOne-Handle Bathroom Faucet with Drain Assembly, Brushed Nickel
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Today was a busy day at the new house. It was time for Maria to finalize her flooring order. She picked out Shaw's Summerville Pine about a month ago. She negotiated discounts on top of Costco's already attractive pricing. Today Christina from Costco's local installer, Western States Flooring, came out so Maria could review all the flooring choices in the actual house.
This is really important because lighting makes a huge difference in how things look. Like paint colors, you really need to see the colors in the space where they're going. Maria had to look at the flooring with direct sunlight, in the shade and … hmm, not sure what she did to simulate night time with artificial lighting.
Can you guess what she picked? The last two contenders were Summerville Pine and Eastlake Hickory, and she stuck with her original pick … the pine (below). She's also replacing the baseboard as there are three different kinds in the house and it's driving her crazy. She was able to pick the style she liked but her carpenter has better pricing than Western States Flooring.
So what else happened today? Some more decisions were made although a number of things landed on Maria's “to be decided list” so here's a recap:
- Research – alternative solutions for the kitchen door into the laundry room. Right now Maria's mothers walker is 29 inches wide, so it won't go through the 27 inch doorway. Maria would prefer a smaller walker. If they can't find one, they'll have to widen the pocket door that's there.
- Decision – on where to place the kitchen lights. That means Dennis marked them out on the floor. As long as the joists in the ceiling cooperate, that's where the lights will go. Maria is going with recessed lights that are flush with ceiling, except for the trim as shown here.
- Decision – on storage plans for the expanded laundry room. One side will have built-in cabinets, and maybe a counter top for folding laundry? The other side will have some of the rolling, metal plated shelves typically used in the garage (See: Organizing Your Garage for Multiple Uses).
- Decision – to replace large rectangle filled with stones in the front of the house, with concrete to provide more space for sitting and relaxing outdoors.
- Decision – to add more outlets to Maria's office, on the new wall while it's open and easy to access. Maria still has to decide on the number of outlets (electrical, USB charger and Internet wiring). It won't be an easy decision given all the new options there are.
EnergyPal Dual USB Charger OutletAdapter-Spaced 6-Outlet Tap6 Outlet Swivel Surge Protector6-Outlet Wall-Mounted Outlet
Want to read Maria's entire home renovation story?
- Finding My Dream Home on Maria's blog
- Week 1 – Diary of Maria's Home Renovation (this article)
- Week 2 – Maria's Home Renovation Ideas
- Week 3 – Goodbye Popcorn Ceilings (coming soon)
What a great resource! I learned something every time I read an update. I can’t wait to see the finished dream.
Nichola, Thanks for the motivation to get caught up with Maria’s amazing renovation. She actually moved in 2 days ago, so I’ve got all the photos and now need to organize and share the story.
Now that the flooring is finalized, it’s time to make a final decision on countertops, paint and light fixtures. And I get to knock down the 3-foot-high pony wall to the right of the front door that spells “1950” and just has to go! Always new adventures when renovating!!! I’m really enjoying your account!
I can’t believe how much bigger the family room feels now that those upper kitchen cabinets you see in the photos above are gone. That open space made me decide to skip the pendants! It’s nice to be able to make decisions as I go. I am lucky to have a skilled contractor like Dennis as project manager!
Maria, It’s so nice to see you excited about your new house & thrilled that you’re sharing your journey with me and readers of this blog.