Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's Official. I'm a Grown-Up.

Hi everyone, I'm back. I swear I'm not dead, despite how I felt the last 5 days or so; I got the flu. And what a miserable 5 days. This time, I decided I would stay home for the time I needed, to get better because last year I skipped it and I was sick for way longer than I wanted to be. Today, I feel human again. That said, the Universe decided to kick my butt and not only push some things along, but give me a break on others. And when I didn't listen, I got into trouble (more on that later).

First thing, I do believe I've mentioned once or twice that I'm the proud owner of a new (to me) home. +ADW and I have spent the last month getting basic renos done and now it's time for the big move. Since the renos were not super extensive, we figured we'd be able to handle them ourselves... and I became our own general contractor. I also have become our life's project manager and coordinate and book all the necessary tasks that need to be facilitated. While I was in a feverish delirium this weekend, ADW moved into our home but not without enduring some of the biggest inconveniences.

The renos we've elected to do are relatively minor in nature and include the necessary electrical updates and then some "freshing up", which had us ripping out the carpet, finding painters and hardwood flooring specialists and carpeting people. Then, I had to find us movers since February blossomed like an awkward teenager. The ridiculous deep freeze, the snow, the busy work schedules (particularly ADW), the sickie (me), the need for a general contractor, my parents' (that's right, both) birthday and lunar new year have all made things more ... interesting. But, success!! We've survived (more or less intact!) and we've gotten ADW's stuff in the house and the contracting is mostly done and we can start putting the house together enough to start living there like normal people.

Here are my top 10 lessons learned, that may be helpful for those who have not yet had to do any of this so-called 'grown up stuff':

  1. Demolition can usually be done on your own: we pulled out the carpet (and padding) of this home ourselves. This saved us at least $300 and gave us the opportunity to 'bond' over working on our first home together. It didn't require a lot of supplies (nor skill, per se) but really teaches you about real hard work.
  2. Do your research: this sounds pretty obvious but knowing what one's options are will help you make better decisions and potentially save money. Had we really looked into the whole refinishing hardwood flooring thing, we would have made a different decision. It is also imperative to know what you can and can't do (safety or legal or otherwise). There's a lot that a home owner can do on their own, but there's equally a lot they probably shouldn't attempt either.
  3. Know your limits: we had to have things ready for end of January and December was a wash. While in theory, these things are straight forward enough, we did make a few over estimates on our part that cost us time and money as well as causing friction and frustration.
  4. Get referrals: this is something we do regret not doing on one of the contractors we got. You can probably find someone who doesn't come with referrals but when that happens, there's less accountability. When someone vouches for another, they're also putting their own butts on the line. It also helps when the person doing the work is also the one giving you the estimate on site.
  5. Be tough and expect perfection: nobody is going to do it as well as you would; that's a fact. The same goes for trades people. Unless you are picky, they'll take a shorter route where possible. You're the one living there, not them so you have to be okay with the job outcome.
  6. Build a buffer: originally I had things planned to finish for end of January. It was a massive miscalculation even with all the scheduling I was doing.
  7. Try to be on site: this one is tough unless you get a general contractor. For the amount of work we were getting done, it was fine to have just me do the coordination. But, where possible, it made things much clearer to them, what I wanted done--no more broken telephone!
  8. Get local movers: make that 'get movers, period!'. We weren't too sure about this one because it was tough to justify paying money for people to do something that we could technically do on our own... in theory. But let's face it, I'm getting too old to lift that couch more than maybe 5 steps. Plus, had we not had movers, ADW would be stuck moving on his own because I was out of commission. The BIG thing: find movers local to your area... if you're moving within the city, the best thing is to find someone who's either located in between both locations (that's what we did) or a company that focuses on moving within a specified region. Movers charge their time (often) from the moment they leave their warehouse and charge time for how long it takes for them to return to the warehouse following the job too.
  9. Plan, plan, plan; and stay organized: have a plan. Take the time to research, assess, review and 
  10. Stay healthy: don't get sick. Pop vitamins and pills and get sleep--whatever it takes but make the effort. I got the flu at the worst possible time and it made things really tough. Not only was I feeling miserable, I made some major misjudgements that cost me. The flu fog is real.
The bonus note? Ask for help when you need it. Clearly I was not in any shape to meet the duct cleaners on the Saturday morning so I mustered the gumption to ask my mom to get up early and head over to the house for me.

The end is drawing near and I can taste the conclusion of this last crazy year. I am looking forward to getting my old life back and starting the new one too.


  1. good luck getting it all wrapped up - it seems like renovations always balloon out into much better projects than we ever expect

    1. thanks! it's project management to the n'th degree. i'm just glad that the scale was pretty low!

  2. Congratulations on your new place and getting the renos done. I agree with all your steps, particularly 8. Once I hit 30, I decided I would absolutely never move my own stuff again.

    1. thanks! movers were definitely worth it... albeit a little bit more expensive than i'd like to pay for something that we could 'technically' do... but the value is so there.