When you purchase a house that's 80 years old and hasn't been occupied for 10 years, you expect to expect the unexpected. But even with this mindset, our home renovation has taught me a lot! Before even moving in, the opinions started...
"That furnace will last 10 more years - it's a monster for this house!" versus "The furnace is unsafe and needs to be replaced"
"Don't let someone tell you you need a chimney liner because you do not" versus "You absolutely need a chimney liner"
"In my 27 years of work I have never seen an exhaust like that" versus "I see this every day in these old houses"
"These floors are worrisome" versus "Don't let someone scare you with that flooring"
"I have 30 years experience and I can guarantee you that you need a sub pump" versus "It would surprise me if you can't fix this with some top soil...don't even talk about a sub pump yet"
It's a lot to take in and consider to say the least! But as is anything in life, home renovation is a learning experience. Here are some of the things we've learned so far in the first few weeks of our renovating our new (old) house.
I was shocked to see how greatly opinions varied (and the costs ranging from $100 to $25,000!) and how quick some subs were to jump to the worst case scenario - some without properly looking at the problem or even looking at it at all. Thankfully we filled our team with subs that wanted to troubleshoot first and consider multiple options before deciding on solutions. At this point, we are still in the wait and see on many of these issues, which means I will learn even more across the next few weeks!
Opinions aside, there were some hard facts we learned once construction started and I'm a little disappointed I didn't anticipate some of these finds before we broke ground! Given my design experience and schooling, one would assume I considered the contents of the load bearing wall we took down between the kitchen/dining room, but truthfully, other than electrical (easy fix), the contents didn't even cross my mind.
On day 2, we learned that the wall contained all the HVAC ducting for our second floor, and rerouting this would crush our clean kitchen plans (as the required soffit would be an eye sore). Ultimately we decided to add a second HVAC to the attic to serve the second floor, which will be more efficient and will solve the potential basement furnace issues discussed above. But this added $12,000 to our total, which I am sure will not be the last unexpected large expense (esh!). File that under "expect the unexpected", especially when it comes to creating a budget for your renovation!
Masterbath Demo & Rebuild
With these mechanical decisions made and construction underway, I turned my attention to finishes (yey!). I have always dreamed of renovating a house to this level - starting from scratch and being able to create exactly what I want. So I was truly surprised when I found myself not enjoying it...I am serious, I really started to dread sitting down to work on my own house. I know I am a designer and I do this all day long for clients but something changed (maybe it's the baby?!). By the time I completed the finish schedule, I felt like I may throw up if I looked at another sconce or another bathroom faucet. I tend to hold myself and my home to a bit of an unrealistic standard so its possible that the endless searching with endless access to wholesale products coupled with the sudden indecisiveness pregnancy has brought me was all just a terrible combination! But now that I've completed these decisions, I am getting excited:)
While all of these changes are exciting, another unexpected response to all of the above is that I actually feel a little homeless right now. Spending the last part of summer at our family cabin in Pennsylvania has been a great break from reality filled with lots of family time, laying around in our PJ's on rainy days, and eating way too much ice cream from dairy valley but when I think about home, it feels empty. I know this will change once the house actually has walls again and we are settled, but for now I'm expecting the next few months will feel weird (and massively inconvenient). But there's no doubt in my mind it will all be worth it in the end!
Stay tuned for more lessons learned as we continue down this journey!