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“Why Is This Taking So Long?”: An Update on our Renovation + A Hard Deadline

February 10, 2020  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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When last Friday afternoon rolled around, I had a lump in my throat. Looking around, there wasn’t a lot of visual progress made in the house last week despite workers being on site every day. And being on month 7 of this (and 2 months over schedule), it’s not all rainbows of positivity.

That being said, we really do love our contractors and the work they are doing is attention-based and detailed and even though to the naked eye, it might not look like a ton, I started a mental list of the things that we have gotten done and I started looking at before photos (that feel like they were taken years ago, not just 7 months!) and I was able to shift my perspective. We’ve come SO far!!! And the end is in sight.

The second week of March we have a large, 20+ person crew coming to film for a week at our house so we HAVE to have this phase wrapped up and the house completely ready. When we signed off on the shoot, the work was supposed to be wrapped up long before March (See the original to-do list in November right here!) but now we’re down to the wire and I’m starting to feel the stress building.

We reached out to our head contractor over the weekend with a sense of urgency and a reminder about the shoot and a list of everything that needs to be done before the first week of March, including:

 

• Sheetrock on the window wall (they finished framing it out for drywall on Friday!)

• Patching ceiling in living room, as well as around some of the new windows and doors

• Beams added to ceiling in living room

• Beams added to ceiling in dining room

• New baseboard, door and window trim throughout house (we’re about 50% done here)

• Finish trimming out big window (outside as well as inside)

• Large arched door refinished and installed in the dining room

• Chimney built

• Remaining smart light switches installed throughout house

• Fireplace finished (this needs done by February 21st to ensure we have time to get the hearth templated and installed – we are working directly with a stone yard to make that happen)

• Fireplace burner hooked up

• Stair balusters installed

• Painting and caulk (walls, ceilings, baseboards, trim, stair railing, stair risers)

I get a lot of messages every day asking “Why is this taking so long?” or “When is it going to be done?” or “What’s the update?” I don’t know all the answers, but I do know we’re in the home stretch. We’re almost there. This list HAS to be done by the first week of March. It HAS to be so I’m holding on to that firm deadline and, as always, we’ll share progress as it happens!

What do you think?

  1. Dahmer says:

    I know how frustrating and time consuming renovations can be, I share your pain! I’m a handyman, so I know the roller coaster ride of renovation, but I still can’t stand when things get dragged out by complications. Best of luck guys, thanks for sharing!

  2. Carrie says:

    “Why isn’t this project finished?” LOL
    I feel like you are accurately showing the realities of the nature of the beast. One thing turns into another, a problem happens, someone gets sick or breaks their leg, and so on. This is homeownership. That was something my mom always told us when we were kids and they would do house stuff (and teach us things along the way). “However long you think it’s going to take multiply by two then add a quarter.”
    I’m a lover of the deadline! I actually invite people over to my house when I don’t want to clean it, but it really needs it. So motivating! haha!

  3. sarah says:

    gosh! it’s taking so long because you tore up half your house and are putting it back together! i can’t believe some people would give you grief over that. i’m loving following every tiny detail along the way!!

  4. As part of a Design Build Team I can tell you that this is the point in a project when things really start to speed up! So take heart, it is going to get better :)

  5. Liz (OK) says:

    The entire project is looking good.

    You didn’t mention who the photo shoot is with, but, if the project is with a renovation-related group, the fact that the project is not done can be a good point. Life happens and sometimes things are not completed on time. Go with the flow.

    Even if the good dining room – living room view is finished, let the cameras see the not quite finished spots. It’s life.

    I want to do some things in my home and I am getting the idea that I need to adjust time frames. Better to be finished early and happy than late and stressed.

  6. Kimberly says:

    Sometimes I think a deadline is important! I plan parties and invite houseguests to create a deadline when projects lag. Fingers are crossed on this deadline for you.
    One thing I’d love to see in the future is a post about choosing windows. We have a 30 year old house with windows that need replacing. They are casement now and I like the overall dimensions but I think a different style or something might be good. There is so much to choose from and think about, it would be lovely to hear your thoughts as you’ve replaced some of the windows.

  7. Hillary Dickman says:

    I saw a quote this weekend from Adam Grant that ended with, “Zoom out for purpose. Zoom in for progress.” Such a good way to get perspective on a big project!

  8. Kimberly says:

    Hang in there – you’ll be enjoying this beautiful home for many years to come! This is all going to feel like a “moment” at some point. When looking back at the old pics, your progress is amazing. I can’t wait to see what a difference one more month will make. In the meantime, I’m totally addicted – so thank you for taking time to share in so much detail on Instagram stories.

  9. Eugénie says:

    I have done 4 remodeling projects, each one about 1/6 of the scale you are undertaking in your beautiful home. They each took months. 6 at least. We’ve lived in our home during one entire project and have also moved out during a project to see if work would go faster. Still months… I am shocked that your project is going as quickly as it is and that your initial estimate was so short. I actually joked with my husband that we should move to Idaho when you listed your projects to be completed by Christmas. We both wanted to live in a magical place where contractors work that quickly! Perhaps we can find out what region the readers live who have had experiences with this scale of project going faster. I might move there!

  10. Jen says:

    Oh boy that’s a decent sized list! Our 4 month addition and reno took a year. A year! Never trust the estimates. Everyone told us this but ours was excessive imo.

  11. Susan says:

    As I’m sure you know this stress will soon be a distant memory. Hang in there it will be so worth it.

  12. Katie says:

    It is looking beautiful! I hope they finish on time, but even if there are a few items still outstanding I’m sure your house will look absolutely stunning for the shoot. I applaud you for sharing the realities of renovating. We are just replacing our bathroom mirrors and my husband can’t deal, lol. Is it a possibility for you to change order the contractor to take baseboards, painting, etc out of their scope to help ensure a more timely finish?

  13. You guys! The last stretch is ALWAYS the longest! After all, the devil is in the details! I’ve been working on construction sites for over 10 years and I can assure you that you’re timeline is totaly normal and acceptable. Don’t let you be affected by the comments of everyone. Sending you a lot of courage and strengh fro Montréal Canada!

  14. Darlene says:

    Love love love this! Particularly interested in stair hand rail and newel post. Can you tell me your supplier for this? Thanks!

  15. Traci says:

    It’s looking so good. I have to say, I followed you way back (I’m an O.G., lol) when you were at your first place with that waterfall butcher block countertop. You guys have come so far! What a blessing! Can you remind me, the stair railing is going to be black right? So excited to see this come together.

  16. Janie says:

    I feel ya! It looks like quality work is being done in your home. Sometimes a reminder of the urgency is necessary. We are in the final stretch of building our home and the interior details are taking so long but are so good. In the end though we have movers to contract with, mortgages to close on, and a lease termination notice so we had to give a hard deadline too.

  17. Lindsey says:

    You already know this…. but those doors in the dining room were the right choice. 100%

  18. katie says:

    Are you going to be tackling some of the DIY-friendly items that you’re capable of doing (paint, caulk, baseboards, trim, light switches, balusters, etc) to ensure a timely finish and shorten the list for the hired folks?

  19. Sarah says:

    I have a question about your windows. Do you plan to replace all the windows in the house eventually? If not, will you paint your existing windows black to match the new ones?

    We have 20-year old wood windows which need to be replaced. We probably can’t budget to do all of them at once, and I’m wondering how to bridge the gap between some of them being new and others being old.

  20. Kristen says:

    The stairs are looking so beautiful already!!!!!! I cannot wait to see these results in a little over a month!! Y’all got this! :)

  21. Allison Griffin says:

    I think for an entire home renovation you guys have done a ton in 7 months! We did just a room, a gut job on that room, and that was brutal. I can’t imagine a whole house! Actually, after that gut job on the one room I decided I couldn’t renovate a whole house and live there, it was too dusty/stressful/anxiety…so I applaud you! You have done SO MUCH!

    • Julie S says:

      I am with you, Allison! We did a combo DIY/contractor reno on half our house, mostly before moving in but it also continued about a month after we were living there. The stress and exhaustion was enough to make me say never again! If we ever buy a fixer upper again, it will have to be not whole house and where we can pay for it to be done by someone else and when my kids are teenagers who can largely take care of themselves.

  22. Katie says:

    Your perspective is great Julia! Hang in there :)

    Just think, once this phase is down so much has already been accomplished. I know you will get there!

    It is stunning, every detail so thought out. Y’all have nailed it. I have LOVED getting to follow along with the progress!

  23. Ashley G says:

    I can see these things finished and the snapshots of each view is going to be breathtaking. Deep breath. It’ll get done and it’ll be better than you imagined.

  24. Kiera says:

    You guys are troopers. Feels a little like The Little Engine that could and Dori from Nemo, “Just keep swimming.” Watching this process and hearing the tiredness in some of the posts & IG stories makes me so happy that you guys decided against the 10-year plan and went for this big push! You guys deserve a completed home.

  25. Mandy says:

    Oh man! My fingers are crossed for you guys (I know it will all get done!) that it finishes with just a tiny bit of breathing room. You all have done so much in this renovation it is going to be stunning!

    • Jennifer I says:

      And I think just the opposite, how much you have managed to get done! Some huge projects in there, and it is gorgeous. Hang in there. That stairwell! ????

  26. Judith says:

    Oof, that would stress me out no end, too.

    Can you maybe make the ceiling beams the last point on the list, since they are more an additional design element und would hurt less than pretty much anything else if there weren’t enough time to finish it all? Just knowing that, in the worst case scenario, you could delay the beams in one or both rooms might take some pressure off.

    It’ll all look amazing when it’s done, and I wish you much strength and patience until you get there!

    • Julia says:

      Yes! Our priority is the living room, dining room, kitchen sight lines because that’s where the majority of the filming will take place

  27. Eliza says:

    I’m sorry, but WHY would anyone ask why this is taking so long? It’s a massive renovation. The age of HGTV and 30 whole-house overhauls has made us totally lose perspective. You’re doing great.

  28. Karen says:

    OMG I feeeeeeeel your pain! We completed a major interior reno that was supposed to take three months and it took five months. I remember at one point near the end-ish: kitchen cabinets were in, next up was the marble (island/backsplash/countertops)…….there was seriously like a 3 week lull where nothing happened. No one came around. I would walk into the space after coming home from work, my eyes darting for SOMEthing that had been touched, something that had changed.

    Later I found out my contractor didn’t like a cut the stone fabricator made in one of the marble slabs for the backsplash, and how they went back to the stoneyard and bought another slab (all unknown to me at the time). Talk about top-notch quality control!

    And as painful as the end is, it is D E F I N E T L Y worth it, hands-down, to let your contractor continue on his “quality first” quest, and let the timeline be what it is. After all, extra time now for the results you’ll be living with and in for the next XX YEARS is so worth it.

    The folks who scheduled the shoot should well know that construction timelines are loose. Maybe it needs to be rescheduled – stressing over that, when you have no control, is the last thing you should be worrying about. Also, rescheduling this far in advance (i.e., not last minute) is showing respect for all those involved.

    • Jennifer I says:

      I find that many contractors stink big time at communicating. Customers should not be left wondering what is going on. So many are great at the work, terrible at running the business. ????

      • Lucy says:

        This!! I would love a post about communicating with your contractor & how to coax better (proactive) communication out of them. I always feel like I’m being anal or bothering them, but the unknown keeps me up at night!

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