This “new” house.
You love your ‘hood. Your house… not so much. But after asking the old “Should we stay or should we go?” for long enough to establish roots, it’s time to admit you’re not moving anywhere. Which means it’s reno time. The problem? Even the word conjures up images of the noise, the dust, the expense, the inconvenience, and… did I mention the dust? Sigh.
Plan and then persevere.
If you’ve been reading along since last year (thanks!!), you might have wondered what the heck happened to our basement reno. Fret not, peeps, here’s the low-down. The last time we left off (waaaaay back over here), it looked like this:
It took us six months to get there and that’s how it remained for another six months. Yikes. Our little hockey-lovers were delighted but we. were. not. It’s hard to associate ‘home’ with ‘sanctuary’ when everything’s overflowing.
But I’m happy to report that the basement is donezo and it is AWESOME! Here’s what our first major reno taught us:
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from The One even if he seems awesome. We rarely shop around and almost went with the first Joe to bid on the job who did super-quality work and was relatively affordable (and yup, his name’s Joe… for realz!). The deal-breaker? He told us that a critical element of our plan (a furnace relocation) wasn’t possible. Which really meant he didn’t know how to do it. So we said buh-bye (nicely) and got five more opinions until three months later… The One: Raymond Kerr Contracting. Raymond could relocate/dig/underpin/pour for the right price, and he also knew how to work magic to give us eight-foot ceilings with ZERO columns to ruin our sightlines/furniture placement/fort-building-escapades. The only catch: he had a small and very specific window between jobs so he had to start two months later and couldn’t
make it prettyfinish it off. In other words, we had to shop for a second The One, hence the delay between our concrete hockey rink and the start of the drywall. But we took our time and eventually found the contractor who made our dreams come true: Indy Marway (The Chasewood Group).
- Be nice. It took very little effort for me to offer coffee when I made it, but was so appreciated that our crews went above and beyond every step of the way. Seriously, guys, Raymond’s team played hockey with our boys and Indy shoveled our sidewalk! Similar to the little gestures, the big things count too. Port-a-potties are not cool, guys.
- Stay patient when things fall apart. Dust will get EVERYWHERE and the unexpected happens to the best of us. Don’t blame your GC if he’s behind schedule because of a city inspector/power failure/long weekend, or if things literally fall apart. We had no clue we’d end up with cracks throughout the rest of the house but whatevs, who doesn’t love an excuse for a new paint job? Besides, if you don’t rage/pressure him, he’ll be a lot more understanding when you ask for a change that’ll slow him down, like running a cable across the room after he’s already painted the drywall. Ahem.
- Go legit. Get your permits to make sure everything’s hunky-dory and avoid potential squabbles – thanks to our good friend Derek for your help and expertise on this one!! Remember our grumpy old neighbour who forced our hand resulting in this letter to the city? Of course he complained about our construction, but we had all our paperwork handy… booyah jerk! Also call your insurance company ahead of time so they’re on alert. We didn’t even think to do this and could have been refused coverage if something like this had happened. Yikes!
- Don’t be ashamed to try to save money – it gets easier every time you make the ask. Shop wherever your contractor has discounts and ask your salesperson if they give larger-volume or cash payment discounts. Not in a tax-avoiding way, but in a more legit/good-karma way – stores are often willing to knock off the small percentage they would otherwise pay a credit card company (it may not sound like much but do the math before you scoff). And you can always auto-pilot a trusted YHL fallback: “Is that the best you can do?” when trying to work a deal. As we keep trying to teach our munchkins: don’t ask, don’t get.
- Speak up. We provided detailed drawings and a lengthy doc pre-quote to avoid any scope misunderstandings. Then we chatted daily to talk out any issues/requests. And yet we still neglected to mention our preferences for style details like the toilet, faucets, door hardware, and glass-enclosed shower (you mean they’re not one-size-fits-all?). Luckily for us, Indy’s a mind-reader, so not only are the finishes perfect, but now we get compliments like “I love the wrought-iron pickets with the oak stairs,” and “Good call choosing a skirt toilet.” Thanks for making us look like we have a clue, Indy!
If planning and persevering isn’t working, the safest fall-back for any of life’s problems is summed up with the C-word: communicate. To your friends to find The One, your honey to compromise on wants vs needs, your contractor until the plan’s crystal clear, and your shrink when you’re dreaming of dust bunnies. And channel Gloria Gaynor when you’re picking your theme song. You will survive. And it will be awesome.
Leave a comment below or email us if you have anything to add or ask!
Pssst – we’ve posted a bunch of reno pics on our Facebook page. Check it out to see more of Indy’s handywork and remember to like us so you won’t miss out on future updates!