Here are some things that I learned throughout the process, and things that you might want to be aware of if you think a home (or remodeling) project is in your future. I've also included some pictures throughout the process including some sneak peaks of what it looks like now.
- One of the questions that people often ask me is how long the whole process took. About 99% of the work was done in three months, from October through December. This doesn't include my backyard, which currently needs to be landscaped (we are taking that on ourself). All in all though I think that the process took so much longer than that. It's been about a full year since we started planning our project, securing funding, getting plans drawn and approved through the city, and then finally the construction.
- We hired a contractor who was well recommended by a few friends who had had work done on their houses. This contractor also had a good relationship with our city. I've heard horror stories about contractors before, so I knew how important it was to have a reputable one. That said, I don't think I fully appreciated certain aspects about choosing a contractor until after the project was finished. We had a few bumps along the way, and there were times where we had to work out issues with our contractor. Good communication, the ability to work out problems, and keep a level head are all so HUGELY important characteristics in a contractor. Bottom line: choose a good contractor with a level head, because if your project is large enough you will have problems, and you will have to negotiate through them. There were a few moments in our project where things could have gotten so messy--and they didn't, purely because everyone involved kept a very level head.
- Keep on track of your project. I have very little experience with construction, so I felt somewhat intimidated by the whole process and in some ways wanted to just leave it up to my contractor to mange. I quickly learned though that even with a good contractor, mistakes happen. Catching these mistakes earlier on saved time and money. Ask questions if things don't seem right.
4. Our addition's at the rear of our house, so we'll be minimally disturbed during the whole process, right? WRONG. SO WRONG. Painfully wrong. The workers did a great job trying to keep our lives as normal as possible, but the three months were anything but smooth. At some point of our project we pretty much had to empty every room (and closet) in our house. That means living with a house that looked like this for weeks on end:
6. Sometimes you just have to settle. I would have loved to have french doors or special sliders along the backside of our addition, but ultimately we had to go with a low cost option of sliders and windows. Nothing fancy, but being willing to compromise was so critical for being able to make our project a reality. If we had an unlimited budget we might have done things differently, and that's ok. It's all about trade-offs.
I feel like there are two different types of changes. The pretty ones and the functional ones. For example, I'd love to change my kitchen (especially my backsplash) but we decided that these cosmetic changes can happen later. Having a craft room and larger place for our family to hang out off of the kitchen changes how our family interacts. My kids are able to create freely with their crafting supplies while I cook, and the new space is a place for crafting, school projects, and a central place to work from home.
Alright, finally a picture of our new space, all painted and waiting for trim molding. It's coming together, don't you think? I've started decorating the space and I can't wait for you to see it!