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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Canada
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    719

    starting major renovations this week ...

    .. nothing else to post, really, other than I am super excited/terrified. The renovations will be to our cottage, which was built on the cheap in the 70s and is really a disaster. We are hoping to redo the entire top floor - at a minimum, the ceilings have to be properly insulated (Canadian Winter) and drywalled, but in the long-term we want to move a few walls, so it makes sense to do it all together, if we can. The top floor has a small kitchen, a tiny bathroom, one normal-sized bedroom, two teeny bedrooms, and a staircase from hell (super narrow and steep). After the renovations we plan, there will only be one bedroom upstairs, but it will be a sensible size, we will have a reasonable staircase (not a deathtrap) and a big kitchen and big bathroom. The boy and I love to cook, so the kitchen is really our focal point - and the bathroom is really "romance" central for us, so we want to really enjoy those rooms.

    The scope of the work is so daunting to me - everything from figuring out how many light fixtures to what kind of tub/shower to where I want the kitchen lights to where the recycling will go ... utter pandemonium. But, I'm excited, too - at the end of all of this we will have our "dream" retreat - we bought the cottage very affordably last year, and have been waiting to make what we want out of it. It's been a place of happiness and solitude and centrality in our hectic relationship and crazy lives - and a way to have some solace from tne nuttiness of a tiny apartment in the city.

    so - any renovation stories, warnings, suggestions? One of our biggest dilemmas is countertops. I think we will do ceramic tile, with big, 24" square tiles, to minimize grout, but any crafty countertop suggestions would be much appreciated!

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  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    456
    Good for you! We're about 2/3 finished with our house and shopping for a faucet set for the bathroom was two hours of pain. So many styles and prices.

    For our kitchen, we're setting up some kind of cheap countertop for now because in the future (I don't have a design, yet) I want to make a mosaic design and seal it off. One of the counters, we're making a butcher's block.

  4. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    822
    Our home renovations consisted mostly of repairing crumbling plaster. Lots of dust...HUGE mess! And of course, painting over it all.
    All I can say is, expect the unexpected. We also had to take down really ugly acoustic tiles and rip out carpeting. One ceiling was in bad shape, so I installed the nicer square foot tiles. And none of the hardwood floors is in decent shape, so we've recarpeted some of the rooms.
    You just never know what you'll find sometimes.

    I'm totally jealous that you have a cottage!! Best of luck in your remodeling!

  5. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    los angeles county, CA
    Posts
    566
    Baby steps.
    Step by step. Just look at the steps and don't get overwhelmed.
    Plan it out. Stick to the plan if at all possible.

    And for gawd's sake don't let anyone throw something in there in the middle of it that you didn't plan for at the beginning. My husband and our planner threw in a bathroom renovation when we redid our house this summer and it was a HORRIBLE experience, wasted tons of desperately needed money. The bathroom turned out okay, but we didn't need it done just then, and now we have to borrow more for my tuition. ~~~sulk~~~

  6. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Canada
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    719
    Quote Originally Posted by Sewlittletime
    I'm totally jealous that you have a cottage!! Best of luck in your remodeling!
    (blush) ... yeah I feel very priveledged/guilty about the whole thing - but it was purcahsed from my parter's mom who was very excited to have it stay in the family (so she could continue to use it!) so she gave us a very reasonable deal.

    We live downtown and could never afford a "house" here - one day maybe we'll be able to afford a two-bedroom condo - but we could afford the fixer-upper cottage, so we decided to live in the country and just commute on the weekends. It works for us.

    our "designer" (our cousin who is a new designer and who is giving us a deal but organizing things for us) is going there today to do the final meet with the contractor so we can get FINAL estimates and then hopefully demolition will start this weekend ... yikes!!!

  7. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Braintree, Massachusetts
    Posts
    361
    I'm living in my grandparent's house that my grandfather built himself. It's a Cape Cod style which in today's world is small and we need more room. Especially now since we're expecting our second child.

    We plan to dormer out the entire upstairs in a couple of years--we'll see. Money is the hard (very hard) part!!

    So far, living there for almost three years, we've done:

    changed heat from steam radiators to forced hot air and put in central AC. Hubby's uncle worked in HVAC--luckily!

    New plaster ceilings all over the entire house. We hired out for that too. They did a gorgeous job. The ceilings were old paperboard--had to go! My hubby also had to plaster some walls.

    New toilet.

    New hardwood floors in kitchen and back office. Hubby and FIL did that.

    Walled in mudroom with all new windows--FIL and hubby also did.

    All new windows in the entire house. Ugh.

    Ripped up wall to wall shag carpeting to reveal some beautiful wood floors (pine, maple) that had to be sanded and polyurethaned.

    Vinyl sided entire house -- hubby and FIL did this Fall--LOT of work but saved us a bundle.

    Took fireplace out--not insulated and too drafty.

    Had insulation blown into the house. Plus the vinyl siding and new windows helped.

    All new wiring--again, UGH!

    The list will continue and you have to learn patience, believe me. There'll always be things to do on a house and at some point you have to just ENJOY it!

    We already have a list for this Spring!

    congratulations on your home!!!

  8. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    appalachia
    Posts
    285
    one thing about renovating while living in your home that sometimes takes people by surprise is the long-term mess they have to live in. i'm talking, daily layers of dust all over your kitchen (or wherever you're working). and when it comes time for the kitchen to be done over, cooking can become a big hassle. and of course, the constant noise gets old quick.

    but as long as you're aware of the pitfalls and challnges ahead, it's really exciting to see major changes happen, so congrats!

  9. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Canada
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    719
    Oh, thanks, honeybee. It will be much easier for us since we do not live there during the week (and also harder because we will be less able to "monitor"; but I think I can live with that!)

    Thankfully there is another bedroom / 1/2 bath downstairs so we can still stay there if we need/want to...

  10. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Braintree, Massachusetts
    Posts
    361
    Quote Originally Posted by honeybee
    one thing about renovating while living in your home that sometimes takes people by surprise is the long-term mess they have to live in. i'm talking, daily layers of dust all over your kitchen (or wherever you're working).
    TRUE!

  11. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    719
    Ugh. Things are not going well. I'm actually in tears this morning with frustration with this! THis is totally going to be a rant, but I need to get it out somewhere - I don't remember the last time I was this angry!!!

    We know the long-term plan for the upstairs, but from the beginning we did not know how much we could afford to do right now - as well as how much we could NOT afford to do; we had to do some work right away (replace insulation in ceilings and wiring) and the question was, how much can we do, can we afford to do it all for upstairs, or if we do just a portion, what portion can we do indepently without having to tear it up and redo it when we complete the reno work later?

    Well, our "designer" who I mentioned in my second post way back on Jan 17 is not working out AT ALL. It is really frustrating, since she is a family member, a great friend, and a very talented designer. She has TONS of imagination - but her organization and communication skills are, sadly, nonexistent.

    Trouble started whent he first quote we requested from our contractor did not arrive at the appropriate date - which was very odd because he is normally reliable. We had to meet with the designer several days later, and we commented that it was odd the contractor had not called us as promised, She said, "Oh, I called him and got the info direcly. Here's an overview: etc etc etc." At the time we were slighly irritated, but kind of let it blow over - BIG MISTAKE.

    Since then, she has called him and keeps requesting quote after quote after quote for more grandiose concepts that we don't even want ".. oh, just to see how much it would be." We were very clear that our budget was already at the limit with the first work, and the "large plan" was just a shot in the dark ... so all of the over and above quottins is really NOT appreciated. Plus, she has told the contractor to bill us for the estimation time! WITHOUT TELLING US! so, she is asking him for infomraiton we neither want nor need, we STILL do not have the basic quotes for the basic work we are SURE we will have to do (as our insurance company is requesting it) and we are getting CHARGED at $40 an hour for his time, plus $40/hour for her time calling him, asking him, and follow-in up on his requests!

    Earlier this week we were so frustrated with trying to figure out how much what we actually want would cost that I made a table itemizing every work item in every room (from light fixtures to drywall to demo costs to nails) with estimates on materials pricing and labour costs. I generated this from what information I could piece together from our innumerous frustrating phone calls and random e-mails. I forwarded it with the comment, "This is what we have concluded/inferred from the information we have received in all of the different e-mails to date. Can you read it over and let me know if we have missed anything or if we have incorrectly estimated?" I colour coded all of the estimates in the table to correspond with numbers the contractor had given us (blue), numbers that we knew from shopping (green), numbers she had given us (purple), and numbers that were total guesses on our part since we did not have the info (red). As you can imagine like 80% of the table was "painted red", so to speak - not good. She came back and told us we had underestimated by over $10,000!!! I almost had a heart attack. This was the info we were looking for at the beginning - why did I, who so far have been billed $1500 in costs from her, STILL had to generate the estimates MYSELF to have an idea of what the costs would be??? And how could the info I have been receiving since Jan 5th, three weeks ago, be sooooo off-base?

    I just want to strangle her right now! I literally want to STRANGLE her. Not only is she interfering between us and the contractor without our permission, she is sabotaging things with him!!! I have to see her this morning at 1 pm to pick up revised plans (she had made a mistake in an earlier version - and oh yeah, we are charged for the new copies and for her time) and I just don't know how I will be civil. I spoke to her last night by phone and tried to be as clear as possible, without saying "You're FIRED!" that she is to do no further planning / organizing (HA) / or plan work unless we explicitly request it - that everything is on hold at present.

    The only good points are tha the plans she did geneate really are excellent, and that the Speical Boy and I are in complete agreement about the problems. We're essentially going ot have to stop her involvement in the peojct, pay her for the work she has done so far and then and any further involvement on her part. Luckly, the Boy, who is level-headed, will handle this communication. I am a total hot head and would probably tell her off (NOT GOOD For long-term friendship!).

    AARRGGH. ANyway, I just wanted to rant. Blah. Wish us luck


 
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