Part 1: What We’re Learning about Remodeling a House

We’re about one month away from our projected move-in date, and here are just a few things I’ve learned since we started the process in October.

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Create your vision. When we were in escrow, I created vision boards for each room to have general ideas. I’m a huge planner and these vision boards were a great way to start projecting what was possible within our budget. Plus, our families were hyped to get a first look at how we would transform the house.

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Nothing will go according to schedule. Inspectors will cancel on you, window specialists/gas installers/kitchen island designers/etc. will show up late. As a result, your timeline will likely be delayed, and it’s gonna annoy the hell out of you.

You will get into fights. It doesn’t matter how much you love each other or how optimistic you are. You’re making permanent and often very expensive decisions. Just take it day by day and remember that it’s an investment for your future together.

It’s not like “Fixer Upper.” I’ve watched my fair share of renovation/DIY shows, and it still could not prepare me for what we’re going through now. There are tons of phone calls, messy number crunching, and meetings with your contractor in the morning or during work hours. 

You will learn new vocabulary. Rough in-valves, jambs, side lights, waterfall islands, jumbo slabs, bypass doors. It’s not “the big wall thingy above the sink”... it’s a soffit.

Finding hardware and appliances will not be easy. They will be out of stock or not follow specific guidelines. For example, California passed a law this year that requires all newly installed shower heads to be 2.0 GPM or lower. The vast majority were 2.5 GPM and seriously limited our options.

It will be expensive. We installed gas (yes, the house didn’t have a gas line), re-did all the electrical and plumbing, and are remodeling the kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Also replacing the front door and all the windows. The cost of the labor and materials is one thing… but there will always, always be unexpected costs. For us, we were hit with extra charges to remove molded walls. And because of that, we'll need more drywall and stucco to patch up all the holes. $$$

You’re going to think about things you never thought about before. Where do you want the bathroom sinks? Which windows do you want to keep or close up? Should they swing open or slide open? Do you want the door to open inwards to the right or left, or outwards to the right or left? Where do you want the light fixtures and switches?

Brushed Nickel vs. Stainless Steel. The finishes of your hardware will dramatically change the look and feel of the room. Also, there are huge price differences between finishes and matching them all together can be tricky.

Take lots of pictures. Even though it may not feel like it, you ARE making progress. Try to document the journey with lots of pictures and videos. It’ll make the final transformation that much sweeter.

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It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Our learning continues this weekend when we pick out our quartz countertops. We’re also purchasing our kitchen sinks and toilets this weekend and trying to pack up our apartment as much as possible so we’re not overwhelmed with the move at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the inspector has cancelled twice on us this week and is supposedly scheduled for tomorrow. Ugh.