Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things keeping us up at night about Our Renovation

1. Rental house. The renovations will be so disruptive that we decided to take the bold move of moving out while they are happening. We had hoped this would lessen the stress of it all - allowing us to move in all our furniture and belongings instead of storing them somewhere - and give the contractors free reign to do more at the same time. But we signed the lease for our rental house prior to doing a final walk through and the house is SO not ready for us to move in. The owner died and her estate is being handled by her sister in the mid west. She's a farmer so she doesn't quite have the business acumen that your typical landlord might. She's trusting us to throw out or save anything left over from the previous tenant or her sister, clean up the basement (including water damaged mattresses and old cat litter boxes) and fix appliances, etc...sending her the bills of course.....but it's a huge job!! At the moment, it is NOT lessening stress. We are hiring a Basement Clean Up Crew and Movers to pack all the left over things in the house. Once that's done, maybe I can sleep again.

2. Hiring the right contractor. We've got a great architect on board as David has mentioned, Bill Wallace of Wallace Design. He's helping us review bids from contractors using his detailed plans and ultimately we will choose one. But there are so many horror stories about low ball bids and contractors not living up to their end of the bargain. What are we getting ourselves into?!

Punch List. Usually the punch list comes AFTER the work has begun. Ours started long ago due to the whole moving out to not-ready-for-prime-time rental house. Not being a list person though, I've only recently written it all down....the act of which was very helpful in helping me sleep at night. It could have it's very own dedicated Thursday 13. Hmmm, maybe it will be a regular Thursday feature.

4. Our Finances.
Last year when we decided to do this, we were sitting pretty. Two incomes, a good year for commissions, our pockets bulging from our very timely Westchester townhouse sale. Now? David retired two months ago, my client has had a bad year so revenues have not matched our forecast, they changed our sales plan to make it even harder to make any commissions and we've spent lots of the townhouse proceeds on things like the wedding, the honeymoon, the architect.

5. Decisions Decisions!
It's only the tip of the iceberg but we're already having to make some decisions so the contractors can give us realistic bids - where to locate the fireplace, how far out to push the walls, how high the ceiling in the great room should be, whether to put on a screened in porch or finish the basement guest suite now or later.....I've started reading books and magazines on renovating but at the moment it's quite overwhelming! We watched the neighbors build their house over the past year and a half and have an idea of what's yet to come.

6. Saving the gardens.
Many wonderful perennials planted by the previous owner come up here that will have to be relocated or ripped out - including a beautiful lilac bush reminiscent of my home growing up in Rochester, NY, the scent of which makes me cry every spring thinking of my mother. Also there's an amazing clematis that survived a near death from over zealous weeding, tons of purple and yellow iris, thriving spectacular spiders wort, bee balm, multiple rose bushes and climbing roses, rose of sharon, tulips, daffodils, a vibrant yellow daylily, several trees and much more. My uncle who has been a landscaper in his prior life took a walk around with me and told me what he thought was worth trying to save and what was not. But I'd like to try and save it all!!

7. Rental House gardens.
Apparently the former owner kept beautiful gardens but most of it is now overgrown and filled with weeds and poison ivy. Some of this is right next to the house, growing up through planks in the porch, etc. I am hoping to line up my uncle to do a major clean up of these gardens but right now the thought of it all makes me itch!

8. Pests.
Ok so I am bug phobic. Living out in the country, there are lots of them. We have our house regularly treated for ants, bees and rodents. The rental house on the other hand.....standing vacant for months and a bad tenant for the year before that means this place is in sad need of pest control. We went over there the other day in the evening (bad move because it was so close to bedtime) to stumble over a major wasp nest in the deceased owner's car that has been sitting in the driveway for three years. Who knows what's in the basement - i won't even go down there until that cleaning crew comes.

Water. In the country there is no such thing as city water. We are all on wells. While well water is wonderfully rich in minerals and the plants love it, it does a job on pipes and fixtures and sensitive skin if not treated with the right stuff. The water conditioner at the rental house is in sad shape...neglected for who knows how long. We just need to get the water guy out there but until then it sits on the punch list.

10. Cars and Dogs.
There are tenants with two dogs living above the barn at the rental house. The dogs are large but friendly ... so friendly that they jump up on your car if you don't get out fast enough for their taste. The last visit over there left nice big scratches in our BMW drivers door. With the garage full of the deceased owner's stuff, we won't be able to put the car in there as we had hoped. We will need to figure out some way to protect the cars.

11. Cleaning out. Our closets, attic and basement are full with clothes and shoes and stuff that we (especially I) haven't worn or used in years. This move will be a great time to purge the stuff I don't need....have a big yard sale, give away to charity, simplify my life! Yet this is a traumatic thought - what if I need it someday, what happens when I lose that weight and can fit into some of that stuff again, how could I get rid of things that my mom, friends or other relatives gave me even if I don't like it without hurting their feelings or losing a memory?? This has always been an issue for me. I read wonderful blogs for inspiration like Christine Kane's that address this very topic but at the moment it's one of the things that keeps me up at night.

12. Losing our view.
We wake up every morning to a killer western view of the Catskills - purple mountains majesty right our our bedroom window....not to mention the sunset!! The rental house, while sitting on 10 acres and only a few miles away, does not have anything like this view. We will miss it tremendously!!! The comforting thought is that when we get to move back there will be that great room we dreamed of on this gorgeous view.

13. Moving back.
In a year or so we have to that move all over again - pack up all our stuff, decide what to purge, what to keep, where to put it.......of course there will be many more closets and storage spaces by design in the new dream house so this will hopefully be less stressful that the move we're about to do but currently it still makes the things that keep me up at night list.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Christine Kane at

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Jeremy said...

You need to watch the movie the "Money Pit" again... if you don't laugh you will cry..

happy tt

Robin said...

I can sympathize. We did a major renovation last year on just one month's notice (the pipes self-destructed), right down to having to find a short-term rental to move into.

Just try to keep breathing and remember that it will all be worth it in the end.

Kathy said...

Jeremy - can't bear to watch that! it's already feeling like a money pit a little....but the view, I keep going back to the view.... it's all worth it!

Robin - thanks for the words of wisdom. Breathing is good!

Christine Kane said...

Okay, it sounds like it's time for you guys to watch "The Secret" DVD! There's a LOT going on for you! (Though, I rather like wild gardens and bugs and things like that! oh, yea, and dogs too!)

Kathy said...

Christine - yes, The Secret. We have it. I need to rewatch it. Maybe when I'm wide awake in the middle of the night next time. And take action as you say to lessen stress. I know in my heart that it will all be wonderful. We already have our dream location. The renovation is going deliver our dream home. It's just that stuff in the middle that's bugging me :-)