I have lived through 11 months of a fire restoration, a couple of kitchen remodels and a bathroom gut, so I am far from a reno virgin. But I had never added square footage to my house, although I had been planning and dreaming about it since the day I moved in 30 years ago.
Of course, the size of the addition, the type of addition and where the addition would go over the years has changed many times.
I finally decided the two rooms that would make me the happiest were a new larger dining room and a laundry room/office.
Having laundry in the garage is very California, but I have always hated it. In the summer, a pair of underwear always ends up in the dirt. Winter with the rain and mud is even worse. Having an in-house space to wash and dry and moving my office to the laundry room, meant my second bedroom could finally be a guest room. (Friends from outside of So Cal, I hope you are listening!). I also want to entertain more, but it was always difficult with a small dining room that didn’t have direct access to the backyard.
So, the decision was made, the finances, after quite a few missteps, were obtained and off I went down renovation road.
Here are some of things I found along the trip.
There are lots of surprises- none of them good
Surprise! The city won’t let you build where you planned so the whole laundry room must move to the OTHER side of the house. Surprise! The deck D-Man and I spent one entire summer building is right where the footings go for the new rooms. (The deck was taken apart and must be put back together once everything is done). Surprise! The electrical panel must be upgraded. And then moved after the upgrade because of the new plan. Surprise! The day they moved the panel, I rented a We Workspace so I could get some work done. Only to be called home less than two hours after I got there because they needed to get to the crawl space in my bedroom. The same bedroom Kody and Aja were sequestered in. (Kody wasn’t having strangers enter a room without his Mommy being home.)
Surprise! The only person who knew how to light my 1948 O’Keefe & Merritt stove after they turned off the gas to do some work was the guy from the gas company. Who was kind enough to come out after the whole kitchen smelled like gas. What surprises me the most, is how anyone who doesn’t work from home ever gets an addition completed.
Let me give you an example. My air conditioning unit had to be moved to accommodate the new dining room. They moved it to a temporary location until a concrete slab and the electrical could be set up to move it to the permanent location. The week the permanent location move was happening was the week we took a trip to Lake Tahoe. I returned home to find it had been put back in its original spot, which was smack dab in the middle of my new dining room. OOPS.
I also was surprised how many questions I had to answer on a daily basis and how hard it was to keep focused on MY work. Which brings me to the next point.
Unless you hire the designer, you are the designer. And it’s a lot of work.
I have binders full of pictures I have taken off websites and magazines. I can look at tile, lighting and paint colors for hours. I have been buying things for this renovation for years. But even I got tired of sourcing (especially with the supply chain disaster), measuring and changing plans every time something we weren’t expecting popped up. I rarely return anything, but I became a regular at the Customer Service desk at Home Depot. A lot of drama that came up should have been caught earlier on. My major complaint about my contractor is that he didn’t always watch the video all the way through. I mentioned to him right after we submitted plans that I had changed my mind and wanted to do a stack washer dryer. “No problem,” he said. “Those are minor details.”
Except it wasn’t a minor detail when where I wanted to put the washer/dryer was right where the window was, along with it being a shear wall. We managed to change it without having to resubmit to the city, but it was stress that shouldn’t have been there.
It ain’t like HGTV
First off, clean and job site are never in the same sentence. That pristine yard the Property Brothers always seem to have while they are working on the house, didn’t happen at my place. You know how they are getting ready to stain or paint something and Jonathan has samples and talks the homeowners through it? The guy who was going to stain the shiplap for my dining room ceiling came with an opened can of stain, slapped it on two boards and said, “This is good right?” I had asked for the stain to be as close to my new dining room floors and this color wasn’t in the ballpark. In fact, it wasn’t in the parking lot of the ballpark. When I said, “No, not good.” His reply was, “Well, I guess we are going to have to try and get a custom color or something.” I walked into my garage and produced a can of stain that once we put it on the board and held it next to the floor was almost an exact match. “You got any more of that?” Mr. Never To Be On HGTV asked. REALLY?
The one thing I suggest you remember is it is going to get bad before it gets better. The pictures above are a great example. The one on the left is the BEFORE. The one on the right is the AFTER. Or at least the current AFTER.
We are already a full month past what I thought would be the end of renovation road but starting to see it in the horizon. Stay tuned.