Renovation Log #1

After exactly a year of dormancy, breathing some air into the dead lungs of this site.

Catching Up

We’re planning to:

  • re-do our kitchen (blowing out a wall to absorb the current dining room into a much larger kitchen, destroying the awesome 1970s styling, getting a much better grade of semi-pro apppliances)
  • convert the existing (essentially unused) living room into a new dining room
  • replace all the (drafty, leaky, un-openable) windows on old downstairs part of the house)
  • gut and re-do the bathroom shared by the kids’ rooms.

We started working with an architect in the late winter of this year, hoping to start construction in the Spring, and be done by the time that school started in September.

I hate my kitchen.
I hate my kitchen.


Where We Are

We received the bid drawings from the architect in June, and finally got a strangely drafted bid from a single contractor in mid-August. We went back and forth trying to edit that proposal into something that we could treat as a set of separate items that could be kept or removed to fit the project into our available budget, and just before sitting down to sign a contract and write a deposit check for the work, we realized that the advice we had received to not worry about bidding the project competitively was not the best choice to have made.

We’ve now met with three additional contractors who all specialize in the special problems and challenges of working in old houses like ours (as the last builder we met with said, “Heck — anyone can do new construction. That’s simple.”), and are waiting to receive bids from them.

The interesting thing at this point (well, one interesting thing) is that each of the people we’ve talked to has identified parts of the project that are of serious concern to them. None of their areas of concern overlap. Each of them identified lists of code violations that needed significant work or potential areas where we’ll be surprised by various disasters once the work begins, and those lists have surprisingly little overlap.

What Were We Thinking?

To quote future president Trump, “You tell me. You tell me.”