5 Renovation Guarantees...That Will Suck

I do my best to make every project as predictable as possible and yet, in every job and every customer complaint, the same things come up. So to be completely transparent, here are the five things that will suck about your renovation project.

1. The Mess

There is no way around this one. There will be a mess! Saw dust, drywall dust, normal dust...we do everything we can to keep it clean but inevitably, we will not get it all. In addition, subcontractors will eat lunch at the job or have a big gulp. I would like to say we are perfect and this always ends up in the trash, but that is not always the case.

However, we do strive to keep job sites clean. We keep trash receptacles on site so it is obvious where the Coke can goes. Each sub-contractor cleans up after they are finished so the next contractor has a clean work area. Outside areas are cleaned up daily, so that loose material is not blowing all over neighborhood. 

2. The Unexpected

I wish I had an x-ray machine and could see through walls. However, I do not. I have opened up walls and found that 60% of the framing was chewed up by termites. I have finished beautiful projects only to find that some backwoods plumber, without a clue or a permit, improperly tied into the sewer main. If you expect anything expect finding this, haphazard wiring, backwards plumbing, irregular framing, asbestos or mold.

It will suck. You will be angry. It will add to your cost. But I will patiently walk through it with you.


3. The Cost

First, the cost of a renovation can be expensive and there is often major sticker shock. If you are considering DIY, I would do some soul searching first. Someone else's DIY could could be the reason you have unexpected costs.

Remember, you get that for which you pay. If you hire a handyman, chances are your base cost will be low but your cost overruns will be high. I once took over a project that the owner had paid the handyman and affordable $18/per hour and there was no material mark-up. Sounds like a great deal! Until you realize that he had been on the job for five years! That is a total labor cost of $187,000!!! Then, you add in the materials...YIKES!! 

I always try to fall in the "Goldilocks Zone"...Not too low. Not too high. 

4. The Delays

I have tried praying, cussing and wishing...but there are still delays. 

First, there is the weather. If any exterior work is part of the project, you should just expect delays. Second, life happens. People get sick, have babies, vehicles break down. These things just happen. Third, things change. The copper farmhouse sink is six weeks out instead of two. Fourth and final, it's not a delay...it's down time. There are unavoidable down time periods. Waiting for city inspections, utility companies, scheduling of subcontractors and delivery of materials. 

When we start a project, we have a detailed plan and schedule. It generally includes a level of expectation for delays and down time. And most projects are completed within 2 weeks of original scheduled completion.

5. The Punch-out

The house is almost done. You're ready to move in. That day is so close you can taste it! Press the pause button...there are still a few loose ends. Inevitably, there will be a few things that need to be done. Things like paint touch-up, final cleaning and minor hardware adjustments are very common. These things should not delay the project (See 4). The mistake most people make is that they move in too quick and a weeks worth of punch out items becomes a month of working around furniture, pets and people.

I always recommend doing a walk through with a project manager using a camera, note pad and blue masking tape. Identify what finished looks like and allow the project manager reasonable time to complete.

These are not avoidable, but reasonable expectations. Clear communication between the home owner and the project manager can make them manageable and able to overcome.