Friday, November 29, 2013

Architects & Contractors

Okay, so as I'm writing about architects and contractors, I have to admit we are halfway through the project.  I'm a techno-idiot and I didn't think it would take me this long to get the blog up and running.  So, I'm going to move quickly through these next few posts to get you up to speed.

We started interviewing architects, all of whom came to us by word of mouth, in April.  Three architects to be exact. All seemed very competent.  One was more interested in throwing his ideas into the mix rather than listen to what we wanted.  One was easy to talk to, got what we were looking for and seemed like a good fit.  Then we met our architect, who immediately sat down and starting sketching during the interview everything we were talking about and added a few ideas of his own so we could actually visualize.  We were sold - Bob got the job. It didn't hurt that his rate seemed much more reasonable than the other two, but truly, it didn't matter what he was charging (not totally true) we liked him the best.  Of course, when it all shook out, he brought on a structural engineer for some of the heavy lifting, so when we added that into the mix, the cost wasn't too much cheaper than Architect #2.

When it came time to interview contractors, Bob gave us some helpful tips, along with the name of two contractors whom we called along with two other contractors that we knew.  Bob is a marvelous architect, but his two picks were duds.  Our two, were both very good, but one stood out way above the rest.  They looked at the schematics that Bob put together and listened to what our vision was for the project.  Then they scheduled every tradesman that would be touching our project and had them come within a two hour window to get costs so that their bid would be as close to accurate as possible. 

The thoroughness of the bid accounted for everything right down to the cleaning service at the end.  He attached a booklet filled with references and comments from previous clients and when we checked on a few, they all said that this builder was dependable, on-time and stayed within budget.  We were sold, so Bill got the job. 

We knew we made the right choice when Bill and Bob met to go over the final schematics before Bob did the final drawings for the permit set and they both seemed to work very well together.

The whole process took us into September.  Final drawings were submitted the first of October and we broke ground (literally) on October 22nd.

I have to say that both the architect and contractor had some scheduling issues that pushed the project back probably four weeks, but they both were worth the wait!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The second part of the face lift was pulling out the front porch and walkway along with the grouchy, monster bushes and landscape. The best money we ever spent!! The curb appeal went up dramatically and for the cost, which was about $10,000, we got a brand new porch with tinted concrete, new columns which replaced the rusty, outdated wrought iron, new paver walkway and all new landscaping. That also included new light fixtures for the porch and garage from Lamps Plus.

Our next task was to interview architects for the remodel and addition.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Face Lift ...

It has to be said that our "renovation project" truly began about six years ago when Scott, my husband, painted the entire outside of our house.  It was the best birthday present I've ever received and it took two and a half months to complete during a summer with a record number of ninety plus degree days. 

Scott and his older brother had painted houses during their college summers, so he had not only the patience for such a project, (something I have very little of) but the knowledge to boot.  We were also trying to save money by doing it ourselves. And when I use the term "ourselves" I'm usually referring to my wonderful husband! What we didn't count on was the brick being so porous.  It slurped up two coats of California Paint tinted primer.  To keep things even, Scott painted two coats on the siding as well.  That, coupled with two coats of exterior paint in the California brand plus the chocolate brown paint for the shutters and front door ended up costing us about $500 less than what was originally quoted by a college student-run painting company.  Of course, they never would have used the brand of paint we chose nor the number of coats we used, but we were surprised at what our DIY project cost us in the end.  However, six years later and there isn't a chink or chip in the paint and although we'll have the addition painted once it's finished, we won't have to repaint the entire house again because it's in such good condition.

But the bottom line is that something as simple as paint can change the entire look of a room or in our case, a house.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013

Where We Began ...
Thirteen years ago we moved into our wonderful blue house.  We were previously squeezing six of us into a small cape cod, so this baby blue seemed like a castle by comparison.  We maxed out our credit to purchase the house, so there was very little leftover for cosmetics.  I promised my husband that it was practically move-in ready and we wouldn't need to do much but slap some paint on the walls and carpet.  And I was pretty true to my word ... for thirteen years, anyways.

Now that our kids are older (and bigger) we were debating either a move into a larger home or renovate and stay put for a while.  It was an easy decision - we love our neighbors and neighborhood, so renovating it is.

Just to be clear, I/we have absolutely no experience or knowledge in renovating a home.  We've gotten lots of advice (good & bad) from friends and family who have gone through the process, but we're green when it comes to all things remodeling.  So, I thought it might be interesting and hopefully helpful to chronicle our remodel journey for anyone thinking about taking the leap.