April 16, 2023
In November of 2021, I shared the news that we had bought a home in this post. This YouTube video gives a sneak peak of the work we had cut out for us and the plan moving forward. Here, a year and a half later, we’re still a long ways out from completion and y’all, when I tell you this renovation process has been the most trying, revealing, frustrating, eye-opening and humbling process I’ve ever walked through, it’s an understatement. Our first estimated move-in date was December ’22. That quickly changed to summer ’23 and now, “before the end of the year” is the best finish line we’ve got. Anyone else currently building a home might be nodding along with me, but to be honest I had no idea the amount of delays someone could face in this process.
As you can see in the photos above, the house is pretty much a brand new house with a brand new footprint. We leveled concrete, poured more to change awkward spaces, redesigned existing layouts and stripped everything from the exterior stone to the whole roof. The most difficult thing about buying a house that was fully gutted and 90% demoed is that despite months of work, it looks virtually the same to anyone who doesn’t spend every day in the architectural plans. We bought it with almost no walls and it’s current state still has no walls. People politely say “Wowww! It looks so different!” But in their eyes, I can see that they can’t quite place what has changed. I get it.
One of the longest parts of this process was the work that needed to be done before we could even get permits to begin work. A truly horrible experience with a tradesman (I wouldn’t wish it on the world) delayed us three months from our hopeful Spring demolition day and we didn’t end up beginning the process until July 11th. Demo, pouring concrete for the addition and altering of awkward spaces, passing inspection, finding the right roofing company now that prices had doubled from our initial bid, waiting on the windows to arrive after 25 weeks since the purchasing date…its. a. LOT. A lot a lot.
All the while, design decisions need to be made constantly. I spend anywhere from two to four hours every day working on the house which is bizarre to say but explains where my time has gone this past year. We decided to work with House of Jade Interiors for a few of the main spaces since I’m not a professional and didn’t feel comfortable with the CAD and space planning skills it took to reconfigure an unusable layout and this was one of the best decisions we made. I’m designing about 70% of the house by myself and I’ve learned so much in the process but I truly couldn’t have done it without their help in the kitchen, primary suite, entry and my office. I had a vision I didn’t know how to properly execute and seeing it take shape in the framing process has been the sweetest reward!! I’m proud to say that I’ve designed nearly all the cabinetry myself and seeing that come to life might just be my favorite part.
But here we are. Months and months into the process and still surrounded by framing. O is the project manager so he spends a good chunk of every day at the house while I only make it there once a week or every two weeks when we have a meeting with our carpenter or builder. These meetings usually fall on Mondays when all the kids are home which means they have to tag along and entertain themselves for hours and hours until the meetings wrap. They’re such troopers I could cry, you guys. They’ve called the new house “the broken house” since the first time we walked it and I look forward to the day they don’t dread going there. When I look at the kids playing between tools in the driveway or watching Hercules in the car for the 300th time, I tell myself “One day this won’t be a site visit at the broken house. We’ll just be home.”
We’ll be sharing a video soon about the hardest parts of the process thus far, but for today I’d like to give a very honest and real update about where we’re at today.
What’s Currently Being Completed:
In the past couple months, we’ve been in the last stage before drywall. We’re waiting for the inspection approval for plumbing, moving the last of the electrical to be in proper position and lining HVAC up with the lights.
What Comes Next?
In the next four weeks, the last 10% of the roof will be finished, brick laying will begin and insulation + drywall will-Lord willing-be complete. I can’t even begin to tell you how long I’ve been looking forward to drywall day. I know that once it comes, we’ll still be many months from completion, but it’s been a beacon of hope for months and I just need it to be here to let me know this is really happening, you know? In a couple weeks, the designers are coming for their first visit since September 2021 (!) to select countertop slabs for their spaces and do a final measure before we order furniture for the spaces they’re designing. The pretty stuff is coming so, so soon.
So that’s where we’re at. When we bought a house that looked somewhat complete from the outside, people couldn’t believe it’d take “a whole year!!” to complete. I knew the entire structure needed to change, I knew we’d be moving walls of all the main spaces, I knew we’d need to wait for new architectural plans and designs and fixtures (and…and..and) for every single surface of the home so I got it. A year-long renovation felt like a lifetime, but it made sense.
What I didn’t know was that we needed an entirely new roof. That we’d completely lose most of the existing walls. That trades and builders and the unknown would delay us for months on end. That every bid would come in hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what they were initially. That we’d have to finally bite the bullet and switch builders. That we’d end up renovating for somewhere around an entire year longer than the original estimated deadline.
We had no idea what we were in for, friends. Now that things are moving along with a bit more momentum, I look forward to sharing the process here because up until this point, most of the progress has been behind the scenes. For example, we’ve had the exact designs, faucets, lights, fixtures, tile, trim and everything in-between completely finalized since last February. Yep. Fourteen months ago.
I’m so grateful to be designing and building a home with my husband. I’m still pinching myself that I get to plan out spaces specifically for my own family. That a decade and a half of studying designers, putting design books in the copy machine to make file folders of inspiration and dreaming of making our space my own has become a real life fairytale I get to live out.
But for anyone who looks on with envy or assumes it has been the pure rainbows and butterflies situation like every designer on Instagram, HGTV and Netflix make it seem, please know that’s not the full story. The build has been more expensive than we ever could have even wrapped our mind around. This has meant a pivot in spending in every other area and we feel the sacrifice like never before. I’ve been brought to my lowest lows and have wrestled with doubts, fears, hurt and anger like I never have before. And having your husband be the project manager for your first build is every bit as wonderful–but also every bit as challenging–as you might imagine.
It’s been the best and the worst, the hardest and the sweetest. All the things, all the time, every single day.
I’m excited to invite you on the ride.
If you’ve missed my more personal, in-depth writing- be sure you’re subscribed to the weekly newsletter. It’s where my best work has lived and I’m so grateful for my community there!