ren·o·ven·tion \ˈre-nə-ven(t)-shən\
To restore to life, vigor, or a former better state using ingenuity and imagination.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Welcome - Making New Friends

Our corgi Trogdor checking out my inspiration wall

When meeting new people, one of the first topics of conversation is “What do you do for a living?” 

I’m not sure I’ve found the right answer to that question. Usually, I say something like “well right now I’m managing our renovation project”. This usually meets with varying degrees of skepticism. “You’re a contractor?” Nope.

At some point I have to make the conscious decision to either give the fluffy answer; “Well, we had some trouble with our renovation so I am supervising things” or to try to recreate a little vignette of what I do on a day to day basis. Generally it goes something like this.

Me: “Ok, do you have recessed can lights anywhere in your house?”
New Buddy: “Sure, yeah”
Me: “Ok good, so you know what they look like and how they work. We have something like 250 recessed lights in our house in 4 different sizes/types. Since we had to gut our entire house back to the exterior walls, I had to work with the architect and my designer (who also happens to be my mother-in-law) to come up with the lighting plan for every room in the house. Then I had to choose the various products (we supply a lot of the building products ourselves and then deliver them to the contractor), count up how many we needed based on the plans, and send in the order. Then once the cans were delivered, I was onsite at the house to OK the placement and location of all of the lights.”
Now Confused New Buddy: “Huh? You mean you stop by to OK things once they are all installed?”
Me: “No, I am there way before that. I go through the house with the electrician and translate the building plan into the 3D space with him. We look at the drawings, and then look at the actual conditions because they tend to vary wildly from what was originally expected. (I can't tell you how often there is an AC duct, or a structural beam right were you thought your light would go.) Then the electrician marks where he will put the can up. Then I leave for the day and the electrician installs those housings. When I come back the next day, I walk the house with him again and I either OK the placement of the housings, or if something doesn’t look right or work with a decorative element we talk about how to change it. Then we go ahead and mark the next floor and the process repeats.”
Incredulous New Buddy: “Wow, that sounds highly custom. Is all that really necessary?”

For us the answer is yes, but it is different for every project. In our situation, it definitely is necessary because our contractor is only taking our home to the “white box stage” meaning to drywall (that whole discussion is a topic for another post). They aren’t installing the woodwork, doors, tile, flooring, or any of the decorative finishes. So when they want install a can light in my ceiling cavity, I have to be there to tell them “No, that can’t go there, I have a decorative beam going there” because they have no way of knowing that.

All of this is a very roundabout way of introducing myself and this project. This blog is the story of how what we expected to be a simple fixer upper turned into a massive gut rehab and custom home. There have been a lot of mistakes along the way, some massive and some manageable. Hopefully, I can help you to avoid the same mistakes. I have learned a lot through this process, and have come to love the work and creativity inherent to a rehab project, and hopefully through this blog I can pass a little of that excitement and enthusiasm on to you.

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