The real story of home renovation

By Bruce Hartley
Life Columnist

Television programs have become a very popular media source for home renovation dreamers. My fiancé Bill and I have been watching popular TV shows and gathering renovation ideas since we met five years ago. Now that we finally live in the same house; renovation has begun. It is not as simple as the TV shows make it look.

Small projects like painting walls and changing light fixtures have been reasonably simple, but when it comes to demolition and building walls; that’s when we needed to hire someone to do the work. Finding someone to hire is something the TV shows haven’t taught us; how to locate, hire and manage contractors.

We started our search by asking for contractor suggestions from friends and coworkers. Unfortunately, we learned fairly quickly that there are not a lot of contractors in our area. Also, it is hard to find contractors in a directory.

After a few weeks of searching, I noticed a posting on social media for a contractor. I contacted him, and he sent photos of his work. We met with him in person and showed him our projects, and we asked for a bid. It took about a week to receive the bid. We hired him to start work in four weeks.

We agreed to buy supplies and pay half of the labor bid at the beginning of the project and pay the final half of the labor upon completion of the work. We heard this idea from a friend to help make a renovation stay on track and not drag out too long.

We met our contractor and purchased supplies a few days before work began. The next tip is to ask for a full list of supplies before starting the job. We were surprised to learn that our contractor didn’t give us a complete list of supplies and we had to make numerous trips to buy more materials.

Work was scheduled to begin on Monday at 9 a.m. and was scheduled to be done by Friday at 5 p.m. As the week progressed; we realized that our contractor wasn’t an early morning person and the estimated completion date was not obtainable. I tried to explain how we needed it done by the weekend and encouraged him to use his time wisely.

Eleven days later, we had popcorn ceiling scraped, textured and painted in our kitchen, a small wall framed and drywalled with a door, and a doorway opened and trimmed all around. We didn’t know that this would take 11 days, but it was six days longer than the contactor said. In the future, we will write a contract that includes when the contractor agrees to start and end the work each day along with a nonnegotiable ending date.

The final thing we learned was the importance of talking to the contractor about cleaning up his workspace inside and outside each day along with using plastic to cover doorways, floor and furniture with plastic while working. Demolition is a big mess and can impact the entire the whole house when plastic is not hung up. The home renovation TV shows show demolition in empty homes; it’s another story when you live in the home at the same time.

Lastly, my biggest tip is to hire a contractor that you can communicate with well. I know that all people communicate differently and use different tools (text, email, phone, social media). Make sure you have agreed with your contractor on expectations for timing and tools.

Stay tuned for more stories on our home renovation journey.

Copyright The Gayly. 9/18/2019 @ 1:24 a.m. CST.