I know there are a million DIY and interior design blogs, but nothing beats personal experience. Even though we have both a designer and a contractor, I've still felt like I've been fumbling my way through this process. I thought I'd give you a little update and a few tips to anyone who is perhaps starting their own renovation. Keep in mind that this is not a DIY, that being said I've still been surprised by the amount of time it's taken on our end to get to this point. We did about half the renovation ourselves and even that was a lot of work. Huge props to people who completely DIY their spaces.
Anyway, here are some of my tips for any other first time home renovators.
1. Lower your timeline expectations, and then lower them a little more. Even though we've now surpassed my super-lowered-expectations timeline I'm still really glad I went in with them as low as I did because I basically allowed myself not to stress out about it. At this point, the only thing that would be different if I had expected to hit our timeline is that I would be a ball of angst and stress. The bathroom would still not be done, so I might as well keep it in perspective.
2. Be a squeaky wheel. Yes, keep those expectations low, but not that voice! Before I started this project I was under the mistaken impression that my designer and/or contractor would be the ones making sure everything keep chugging along. NOPE. Don't get me wrong, they are both great (and if you're a Cincinnati local, I'd be happy to give you their names) but they have other projects and things going on. I'm finding that I the more I text or call, the more stuff seems to happen. Which brings me to #3...
3. Have a conversation about expectations. I really wish I had done this. Sitting down in the beginning and just saying, "I'd like to talk about expectations so I understand where you're coming from and you understand where I'm coming from," I always find to be extremely helpful in almost every situation (including marriage!) Who is going to be my main point of contact? If I'm not happy with something what is my recourse? What is my role in all of this? Even though I didn't do it in the beginning, I'm starting to ask for a weekly and daily overview that way I know what to expect each day and if it doesn't happen, I can make a quick call and see where we're at.
4. Be cool. Honestly, I really do like my contractor and designer, but it's still business and sometimes you have to have uncomfortable conversations. It helps that over the past few weeks we've built up a good rapport-- we chat a little, I show them videos of my kids eating worms, and overall I just joke around with them and try to keep it light. That way when we have awkward conversations I feel like we're already standing on good ground. Being a jerk about things is not going to help anything. That being said...
5. Stick to your guns. We had our tile done a couple weeks ago and while the walls look amazing, the floor looked horrible! The spacing was way off and basically you could see the grid of each individual sheet of tile because of the extra wide grout lines at those intersections. It was really, really obvious. Luckily our contractor agreed and was just as concerned as we were about getting it right. But had he not been concerned, or had he tried to talk us into just going with it, we would have insisted that it be fixed. We're spending a pretty penny on this bathroom and we have the right to expect good results. It's still in the process of being fixed--fingers crossed for a good outcome.
6. Random surprises or issues come up. One of the things that you can't anticipate and one of the reasons it's taken so long are just random surprises. Having watched a plethora of HGTV in my day I was expecting this, yet I was still caught off guard when it happened to us--ha! For example we lost an entire week due to one tiny plumbing piece that wasn't ordered. We couldn't move forward until that piece came in but still, a whole week with no progress. Then with the tile debacle--the tile should have been a 1 week process in total, but fixing it took another whole week while everything else was on hold. Also, we spent probably 2 hours yesterday just figuring out how our vanity, mirrors, sinks, faucets and light fixtures were going to fit in the space. On paper we had this all measured out, but in reality it wasn't working! An inch! All we needed was one tiny but critical inch! The mental gymnastics to come up with that extra inch was exhausting, but we did it. While we didn't lose time on that one it was crazy to me how many issues I couldn't anticipate until we actually had to put things in place.
OK, ready for a little sneak peak? (You can see before pictures here)
We might as well get some use out of the acoustics right? You can see the tile back splash, floor and the glorious skylight. I will say that it's been really fun seeing the transformation and I'm getting more and more excited by the day. Especially now we're finally onto the fun stuff and should have a working bathroom in a couple more weeks. (I just jinxed it didn't I? So maybe a month?)
Any other advice from those of you with a little renovation experience under your belt? I'm all ears!