Why, hello! Long time, no chat. I’ve been busy in sleeping in my bed, in my bedroom, in my house, in my neighborhood. Totally awesome.
This will be kind of long, so bear with me. We need to catch up. I’ll keep posting for a few more weeks with some wrap up posts.
Party, Party, Party
First things first, we are having a House Re-Warming/Open House party next Saturday, Sept. 24th from 3 pm – 11 pm. Stop by whenever you can and for however long you can. We’re getting a keg (Ninkasi IPA or Lompoc C-Note — any preferences?) and making pizzas. Send me a message if you need the address.
At 3 pm today, the last remaining room, which thus far had resisted the enemy paintbrush throughout the Summer 2011 Campaign, fell, on this, the intended last day of painting. Yes, that’s right. We repainted the ENTIRE house. The last room was the downstairs bath, which shed its Pearl White/cruddy walls in favor of Devine Steamer. The bath is still cruddy, but it looks slightly better.
Painting is done, other than some touch-ups and a second coat in the aforementioned bath. The kitchen is now blue (Devine Storm), the dining room is a darker red (Metro Paint in Barn Red), and I can’t remember what else has been painted since we last spoke. But we are very close to packing away the paintbrushes for a long, long time.
We’re still settling into our new space. I didn’t think the rooms themselves had changed that much until we started putting things away. Lots of old spaces no longer exist, and we have new better ones in their stead.
The best part of the new house? The Shower to End All Showers. It’s the best shower I’ve ever showered in. Including the one at the Mandalay Bar Spa where I have been known to shower 4 times in one day. Ahhh.
I know what else is new. We got a custom copper gutter-downspout-thingy, which turned out really cool. The back stairs interfered with the existing downspout, so we needed a way to divert the rainwater to the far side of the stairs. We had a fancy downspout extender built, with curved copped pipes to support it over the stairs. It ends in a fish rain chain. I don’t have any pictures of it but will post some next time.
The cats are very happy to be back home. Lots of chatter from them. Arnold gets overstimulated, so he’s had to remove himself from the activity in order to sleep. One of his hiding places is the baskets in the mudroom bench. Mikey likes all the windows and attention. He’s a flopper. They both like the many circular pathways through the house now — endless running in circles and chasing each other down.
Alrighty, onto the main topic of the post.
How DID We Do?
When you tell people you’re doing a remodel, they delight in telling you horrifying stories about projects than went went over schedule and budget. Really reassuring. So common questions we got were, how far behind schedule were you and how far over budget did you go? I will attempt to answer those here.
This one is easy. The general contractor came in on time or faster. In fact, if we needed to move back to the house earlier, I believe we could have. Some of the last tasks were drawn out because we had to wait for the shower door and M’s back stairs to be completed before final inspection anyway.
When the contractor bid the project, they estimated it would take 20 weeks. They added 3 weeks padding to the schedule in setting our start date at March 28th to be sure to be complete in time for our firm September 4th move back date. After hiring the contractor, the project manager put together a detailed schedule, and he estimated 18 weeks total, which ended up being about right.
No regrets on the extra padding in the schedule. Despite what you hear about projects running over, there was no stress that we would not be homeless when our housesitting gig ran out. In addition, as you may have surmised, we greatly underestimated the time we needed for tasks we were responsible for following the contractor’s completion: cleaning, paining and moving back in. So the extra time was actually a very, very good thing. And both of us hugely appreciate that our contractor understands that staying on schedule is of paramount importance to the homeowner.
This one is harder. Technically, if you look at the budget we told our financial planner and architect, we were over budget before we started. To be fair, that number was somewhat plucked out of the air, and through the bid process, we learned that 3 out of 3 contractors thought our project would cost significantly more than the budget number. After that, we scaled back and removed some things from the contractor’s statement of work. Ultimately, the initial contractor’s bid we signed onto was approximately 8% over our initial “thin air” budget. This did not include many of the materials that we planned to source ourselves, like the tile, wood floors and carpet, architect fees, and moving and other additional expenses caused by being out of our house, so we knew the true spend would be much higher.
For the most part, we managed those additional expenses (other than the wood floors) in our normal cash flow, after drastically cutting all other categories of spending, other than apparently eating out. That’s what we expected (or hoped) would happen, so I’m not counting those against our budget. In some cases, we paid for these expenses before work even started on our house (e.g., most of the architect fees were incurred in 2010), so it was pretty well spread out.
Everyone talks about the dreaded change orders. Maybe our contractor was better at communicating than others, but I didn’t find these to be all that bad. These were largely changes we consciously decided to make, like changing from a bathtub to a shower or doing more cabinetry than originally anticipated. A couple were unexpected things with the house, like repairing the foundation, but we knew our house well enough to be mentally prepared for that (and, looking back, I thought there would be more in this category than there was). There does get to be a point where you get tired of a few hundred dollars getting added to seemingly every sub’s final bid, but it really wasn’t that bad considering that the initial estimate (done 8 months ago at the time of the overall bid) has to make a lot of assumptions about endless details that we hadn’t yet decided.
All told, we had 5 change orders, which raised our original not-to-exceed ceiling by about 18%. However, our contractor came in under budget, so we actually spent 95% of that.
The credit cards and bank accounts are still smoking, but our debt load from the remodel is within a few thousand dollars of what our financial planner accounted for in our master plan (based on the “thin air” budget), so we feel very good about our ability to pay it off. We may even take a vacation in the winter. (Back to the Big Island or check our Kaui? Suggestions?)
There you have it. On time? Yes. On budget? Since our debt load is more-or-less as expected, I’m going to say yes.