I’ve been waiting to really post about our construction until I have some better “after” pictures, but that might not be for a couple more months so I thought it might be fun to see a few updates. And of course, I’ll try to think of any tips/ tricks we’ve learned along the way… Just to recap, we’re adding a bedroom over our garage which will bring our laundry room upstairs from the soggy basement and will get us another bathroom. Cue the choir of angels…
Granted, we’re only a few months in, but here are some things that have been amazingly helpful to us as we negotiate the world of construction, contractors and carpentry.
1. First and foremost, our contractors have been wildly respectful about building temporary walls when possible, taping off any cracks between the construction site and our living area, and sweeping their work area at the end of the day… if you’re in the market for carpenters, then this should be Request #1. Construction is invasive enough so having a crew who is willing to keep your life somewhat in order has been a godsend.
2. Don’t hesitate to ask about deadlines. Again, I adore our general contractor, but even the greatest of GCs will show up and ask for your decision on something by the next day. I’ve been obsessively asking about the timing of things so that I haven’t been caught off guard by a request for light switches or bathtub choice or door hardware.
3. We’re lucky that our architect is in regular communication with our contractor, but I’m quick to ask the same question of both of them as they have different answers and different perspectives on construction details. I.e. the contractor has one opinion about the lighting layout and the architect has another. It’s been helpful for Mark and I to have both perspectives when ultimately making the final decision.
4. Make sure you know which things are part of the plans and which things will be your choice. In our plans, the recessed lights were something that the architect had already specified. Turns out, we wanted to go with a different color (white vs. black)… If I hadn’t asked the question, we wouldn’t have known this was something to change. Other examples: light switches, doorknobs, hinges, molding… these might not be details you’ll be asked about so double check.
5. Check, recheck, and double check. Construction is the ultimate game of telephone. Architect communicates our needs to contractor who then communicates to the sub contractors… and so on and so on. As the homeowners, we care about and notice the nuances way more that they will, so don’t hesitate to keep a careful eye on things regardless of how many times you think you’ve communicated your wishes. E.g. we wanted to swap out a pair of recessed lights in the front hall for a pendant light and had to remind the team of this detail a number of times.
6. Any kind of major work on your house will be stressful and messy and inconvenient and disruptive. But this is what you signed on for. As much as you can expect your crew to be neat and tidy and respect your space, we’ve also had to make some concessions so that they can go about their work (i.e. making our house awesome). We don’t always have a parking spot, every once in a while the smell of cigarette smoke will make its way inside, the flowers we were assured wouldn’t be affected have been damaged… that’s the deal. There are days when I just pack up the kids and leave so I’m not inundated with the noise and the irritation of people crawling around my space, but there are other days when the happy hum of workmen is actually sort of exciting.
You’ve already seen my vision for the guest room decor, but I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned about bathroom tile, where we had to compromise on form vs. function and how we tried to make three very small spaces interesting yet functional.
Any lessons learned from other construction vets out there? We’re not out of the woods yet!