I’d like to preface this post with a disclaimer about my eye rolling humor on the subject of our house remodel. My sarcasm and eye rolling should not be confused or misunderstood as anything other than humor.(Mostly!) I jest, as I complain and bemoan the trials and tribulations of our remodeling journey,( loonnng, llllloooonnnng, journey indeed! Insert eye rolling here!). But in spite of the’ many’ painful aspects of this project, there’s really no other way I would rather have gone about the process we chose to remodel our home . Challenges, frustrations, and all, I’d do it again exactly the same way! There are many very valuable advantages of not dealing with contractors and sub-contractors . Besides…… there was no other option for us to have been able to afford such an undertaking any other way. $$$$
If you’ve known me and Scott for any length of time then surely your familiar with our never ending remodel. Obviously not a new story to anyone who has remodeled their house or to those women who love a man who is a hard core do-it-yourselfer! 😖. Oh, how I dream of being one of those lucky people with dozens of contractors traipsing through their house working ,( and FINISHING!) various projects . But….. It’s not to be for me.😰 Oh well, I can’t complain about the labor costs! Lol! I believe it’s been at least ten , maybe eleven years since we came up with the diabolical plan to remodel our house. Hear is where the laughing starts,( Crazy laughing!). It was a two year plan initially!( Ha!Ha!Ha!) So………. , our plan was to live in the tiny studio cottage in the back of the property ( Did I mention STUDIO? One Room! TINY! ), while Scott built the house. Remember, Mariah was about nine years old then so it was us three and two cats in a tiny ‘one’ room cottage! Omg! It wasn’t much longer than two years when we moved back into the unfinished , but livable house. Really barely livable but better than the studio, by far! Walking around on plywood sub-floors was much preferable to being squished in a sardine can with a grumpy nine year old girl and two unhappy cats! (eye roll!) I think Scott would have much preferred that we had stayed in the cottage so he didn’t have to work on the house with us under his feet, but my two year sentence was up so he very kindly , and patiently made it work. ( eye rolling for Scott!).
Through the years I’ve gotten to hear countless stories of other peoples remodel nightmares. Everyone seems to have one. Many stories of relationships torn to shreds from the stresses of suffering through all the countess pressures of remodeling a house. Most of the high stress seems to be the result of extremely frustrating interactions with contractors . ( eye roll for those of you who have had this experience!) Its not uncommon to hear tales of nothing going right as well as many mistakes , poor workmanship or costly change-orders that creep up due to bad job management or poor planning or design work from the early design phase of a project. Not to mention the big issue of cost! The majority of home remodels end up costing sometimes double the original estimation. Money is always a huge stress inducer during a major construction project. Also the time it takes to complete the project almost always exceeds any timeline you try to plan for! (Justifiable eye roll here!!). Having total control over all the responsibilities that come with building a house is what I believe enabled us to experience much less stress( not to be confused with NO stress, just less!) . From initial design of the house, to the entire permit process and then demolition of the original structure(Yikes!) leading to the rebuilding of the house from the ground up without hiring any sub-contractors at all was daunting and of course involved its own stresses. But at least we were never at the mercy of anyone but ourselves. No contractor making promises he has no intention of living up to while delivering less than acceptable workmanship . With Scott doing all the work himself, ( and I mean with his own two hands!) we knew that everything was done with the highest quality.
I wouldn’t want to be misleading in using the term, ‘single-handed’, when telling about Scott building our house because he had a very good friend, Brooke, by his side. Brooke is a very talented contractor and old friend of Scott’s who happened to be going through a rough patch in his life and agreed to help Scott with the early rough construction phase of our project . He stayed on our job until all the drywall was finished , then Scott was on his own after that . Although I do remember Brooke teaching Scott how to tile our slate entryway so he was around for a bit longer than just the rough stuff. We were truly blessed to have had such an experienced and talented friend by our side during this time. And I didn’t know Brooke at all before our remodel so I’m so glad to have made a friend along the way! Having him around was good fun, his humor and support was as helpful as his expertise ! I called him our ‘Squatter’ because he actually camped out in our barely built house part of the time he worked on it. We have lots of great memories of having Brooke around during that time.
Since Scott and I decided that having a child together was not in our plans,It turns out, our house project has been our baby. And it has been ever so challenging and painful! Very similar in many ways to the long hard , often painful and scary experience of raising a child. You dream about that baby and what it will look like, what kind of personality it will have, what your life will be like with that new little person. And you make lots of plans about just how it will all go. Then you dive in, naively believing that you know what your getting into. And you believe that you’ve planned well and that your ready! Ha! Let me tell you…… My ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ are very well-worn and comfy! Does ‘Anything’ in life ‘Ever’ turn out the way you hoped, planned and dreamed it would be? Not Usually! But, although it’s often much harder, and ends up taking much more time than you expected , with the right attitude and the right partner, the end will justify the means! ( And never removing those rose colored glasses work for me!) That and lots & lots of wine ! Maybe a Cosmo every once in a while is also quite helpful! Did I mention that much eye rolling and being able to laugh at ourselves makes everything much more bearable and even fun!
I’m so incredibly proud of Scott and all that he’s accomplished. Before he dove into our remodel he knew very little about building a house. He was working in the corporate arena as a finance guy, a controller. And although he’s always been very “Handy”, there was so much he didn’t have any experience doing. Electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, framing, drywall, window installation, cabinetry , tile work, the list goes on and on! Before our house project began he started purchasing books, electrical wiring, plumbing, framing, hardwood floor installation, etc, etc. Although I had faith in him I must admit that along the way, as my house was being demolished before my eyes,(Yikes!!) I had brief moments of panic as I watched him reading about how to wire a house for electricity! Picture big rolls of wire and electrical materials sitting by his feet, book in hand! (eye roll!). And I’ll never forget the day that PG&E reconnected the house to the main power line and I flicked that first light-switch on! Trying to have faith but silently praying that sparks weren’t going to fly when that little switch went on! And low and behold, we’ve never had any electrical issues! Oh, Ye of little faith! ( insert eye roll on Scott’s behalf!). He is truly a renaissance man! When he sets his mind to do something , by God, he’ll do it! No matter that other people doubt his ability, the fact that he has faith in himself is what I believe makes him so good at everything he does! Watching him build our house has made me love, admire, trust and respect him so much. We have both learned so much about each other , and have enjoyed experiencing such a challenging project to conquer as a team.
Endeavoring to design and build a house the way that we did takes a lot of courage, patience, and often an ability maintain your optimism but most important of all…. A sense of humor goes a long way! An experience such as this has been full of endless lessons and has for us, created a feeling of being a team . With each decision , some easy , some hard, we pulled together , learned to solve problems, were forced to trust each other, and accomplished an end result( well…. Nearly the end!) that we are both so proud of. One of the many lessons I’ve taken with me from this experience is that there’s nothing that bonds a relationship like learning something together, side by side. We’re constantly open to signing up for learning about new experiences. Everybody has their story and we all, as humans, face our adventures and life challenges with as much courage as we can muster. Weather it’s learning to sail so we can face a near-death experience in Greece (and by some miracle maintain a friendship with our good friends who survived with us!) , or hosting Hollyween parties in our home for hundreds of people( including preparing enough handmade food that would feed two armies and spending three months painstakingly decorating each nook & cranny of our home!), and although we didn’t choose it, successfully surviving an extremely troubled teen ( an experience we are still amazed to have survived and even grown from!), we always know we have each other and together we can accomplish anything!
So as the time to part from our house ,( our baby😢) approaches , I find myself reflecting on all we have gone through to build it together. Many sacrifices and so much work. On the day we walk out the front door for the last time I’m sure we will have very conflicting emotions. On one hand selling the house is providing an opportunity to move on to the next exciting phase of our life together. On the other hand, every single inch of this house has come from our hearts. We dreamed it and made it happen literally, with our Blood, Sweat, and Tears! It was an adventure …… Now, on to the next one!!!
I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE JUST A FEW PICTURES OF OUR HOUSE WITH YOU. THERE IS A WHOLE LOT MORE HOUSE BUT ITS SUCH A MESS AT THE MOMENT, I COULDNT BARE TO MAKE IT PUBLIC! SOMEDAY, WHEN ITS ALL BEAUTIFUL ILL POST PICTURES OF THE FINISHED PRODUCT.