Screw Ups and Sage Wisdom

I’ve been thinking about compiling a list of things that might help make life easier for other people doing a project like this. Whether your project is bigger or smaller, I hope that these tid-bits can make your life a bit more simple. I’m not saying that we are pros by any stretch, and I know that we will have problems along the way. This is what we’ve learned thus far.

These aren’t in any particular order, but more in the order that they have come up.

  1. Spend at least a year thinking about what types of things you want in the house. Not only in terms of layout, but spend a significant amout of time thinking about the details. Do you want rocker switches or dimmers? Do you want pulls or knobs in the kitchen? 3 panel or 6 panel interior doors? 2 1/2 inch flooring or 5 1/2 inch? Knowing 90% of what you want in advance will pay huge dividends down the road when it comes time to picking things out. Your decision will be made with less stress and your project will stay on track. Everyone that we talked with told us their project was delayed more often because it took too long for them to decide what they want.
  2. Spend as much time thinking about the layout of the house. Draw your exisit house and then trace what you want over top. Come back a few days later and modify. The more you have your act together, the better off you will be going into the project.
  3. Don’t put white tile in an entry way.
  4. Take your time picking out your contractor. This is essentially a marriage based on a few meetings that will end up costing a sum of money equal to a kings ransom in 90% of the world. Don’t take it lightly and don’t go with the lowest bid, unless you know he is the best. There are tons and tons of documentation discussing how shady contractors are. Do your home work and pay an extra 10% for someone that isn’t going to rob you.
  5. Happy wife, happy life. Unless you are a designer, default all aesthetic decisions to the person with the best taste. If decorating decisions were up to me, we would have a pool table / dining room table and milk crate end tables.
  6. Admit what you don’t know. This is generally a good rule of thumb in life, but in this case, it will make your life a lot easier if you don’t question all of the details.
    1. Since I’m a pretty detailed guy to begin with, this is pretty tough for me to do.
  7. It is important to think about the return of your money, but you have to be sure that you can make the monthly payments too.
  8. Don’t move and start a new job in the same week. It seems obvious, but I did it and don’t recommend it.
  9. Take lots of pictures.
  10. Don’t forget tax. We hadn’t considered tax and delivery when it came to figuring out budgets. Depending on your location, this could be 10 – 15% of your allowed budget.
  11. They are only human. Our contractor forgot to put a window in. It wasn’t the end of the world, but when I pointed it out, the readily acknowledged that they missed it on the window schedule and cut it in the next day. They are only human and will make mistakes. Remember what I said in step 6, but don’t be afraid to point out any thing that you think is a mistake.
  12. If you are accustomed to living in a stand alone house and you have to move out, if you have the means, don’t live in an apartment. Spend the extra couple of bucks and rent a house. We hate it. Our neighbors hate it. Everyone we’ve talked with hates it. This isn’t a dig on people who live in apartments. Our apartment is great, we are just very accustomed to living in a house with a yard and no elephants living upstairs.
  13. Be nice to your foreman.

4 responses to “SU & SW

  1. Mike Klein


    Must be great to see such progress on your new place. It’s been a few days since I checked your website.

    Seems as though things are moving along nicely.


  2. What a great set of advice. The main thing I’d add from my own current situation is to cut yourself a break if you end up not being able to do as much as you had expected, or do it as well as you’d hoped.

    I’d also add that it’s probably not the wisest thing in the world to casually keep saying “well the only thing that could really go wrong at this point would be if my step-d had her baby way early, like right before we move, HAHA.” Closing, moving, and visiting a new baby granddaughter in the NICU 80 miles away isn’t fun! Though I doubt this would apply to most folks. 😉

    Nice house blog, btw!

  3. Pingback: SU & SW - Be Nice to Your Foreman « Scott’s House

  4. Pingback: Don't Do This « Scott’s House

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