Friday, February 22, 2008

After-Project Musings

It is finished.
The basement, I mean.
By my last two posts, you can probably tell.
Now that I have had a few weeks to digest the completion, I have some thoughts I wanted to get down. Nothing earth-shattering, mind you. Mostly to remind us what this big project was like when we decide to do the next one. (And there will be a "next one"!)
The basement project was the first large-scale remodel project Sean and I tackled together, and probably the biggest project either one of us has worked on in our own homes.
In comparison, our other projects seem like cakewalks. Painting the exterior, tackling the exterior wood rot, replacing the plumbing, even replacing the dining room ceiling- seem simple. They were all relatively straightforward. See, we didn't exactly plan what we were going to do in the basement. We started at the most natural place: demolition. And we figured we'd work our way from there.
We had some general ideas, sure... new kitchen, new lighting, new ceiling, new floors... eh, more accurately, we had a list things in our heads that had to be done, in no particular order except the obvious (like- lay the plywood before laying the laminate floor that will go on top of it). We also didn't have a clear timeline, or even a real budget. We had more of a timing and budgetary "philosophy" that went something like this: "Spend as little as possible for the best stuff we can get, bargain hunt, and finish as soon as we can without making ourselves crazy."
Yes, this philosophy has some pros and cons. I imagine it's a pretty common first-project philosophy. But now that we know better....
I'd like to do a few things differently the next time around...

* Make a list of all the tasks we think need to be done and put them in a logical order- and not just the big, obvious tasks. Include all the little things- like mortising hinges on doors, touching up paint, touching up paint again, and set-up and clean-up. Show the list to someone to add all the things we have forgotten. (ok, we made a list for the basement. but we missed a lot of very little but time-consuming things and then wondered, "Why on earth is this taking so long? Shouldn't we be done with this yet?".) Maybe even get technilogical and put it in a Gaant chart or something.

* Be realistic about how much time it will take to actually finish each job- including time to shop, return things, shop again to get the right things, and shop more. Then add more time. It will take more time. Especially if we are bargain-hunting- And unless we win a major lottery between now and the next project, we will be.

* Hire people to do the things we hate. Like drywalling ceilings. Rent tools that make really hard physical projects easier on the body. Be ok letting someone else do it. Budget for it.

* Speaking of shopping- Plan ahead for a place to put the materials we get, so they are in the most convenient place possible and we don't have to move them around.

* Make a wishlist of all the things we could possibly want at the beginning. Even if it seems out-of-the-question. Because you never know. We never thought we'd have a nearly new stainless steel fridge in the basement, but when Sean found one for an unbelievable price, I was glad he new I would approve.

* Schedule breaks in the timeline for sanity's sake. It's ok to spend a whole week NOT working on a project and not feel guilty about it. In fact, it's highly recommended. Adjust the timeline every time we get off track, so we don't always feel like we're playing catch-up.

We don't know what the next project is yet- Sean has taken a several-month hiatus from anything relating to carpentry at the house. It may be the back porch/kitchen renovation/bath addition. But for now, we're not even thinking about lifting a hammer.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Congratulations! Enjoy your respite. :) It's well deserved!