And the Basement Goes On and On

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Getting renovations done has been an interesting experience. Having never done this before, I am learning a lot. Meeting with the company principal was fun. Designing the basement with the designer was a fun experience. Seeing the final estimate was not fun. Meeting the general contractor was fun. Having him notice a few problems with the design was not fun. Having him resolve most of them was fun.

We're now in the second week of our basement renovation, and it doesn't really seem like much progress has been made. If you went into my basement, you would be surprised at what you would see. There's a bit of framing around a few walls, a subfloor, and a big hole in the concrete where the bar will go.

The whole first week of the reno, there one labourer here, sometimes two, along with a parade of 'trades' like the plumber, the electrician and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) guy. One suggestion I will have for the renovators is that the trades all come through before the reno starts to give true estimates, and to have some lead time to schedule their work.

As a project management professional, I am using this reno as a bit of a case study. On any project, scope, budget and time are the three main variables. Only one can be fixed. If scope is fixed, that means the budget and the time can change. If the budget cannot be changed, that means that the scope of the project or the length of the project may change when the unexpected arises. In the case of my renovation project, the budget is fixed. What this means, is that the contractor will attempt to absorb unexpected costs. What it also means is that they expect us to be pretty flexible on the end date. I'd say it's a fair trade.

When we were first meeting with the principal, he told us the project would take between 2 and 3 weeks. When we signed the final design documents and put our 50% down, we were told it would be 3-4 weeks. On the second day of the reno, the general contractor told us it would be at least 5 weeks, and the week before Christmas doesn't count, effectively putting it at 6 weeks, or more.

So far, so good as far as tolerating the disruption, the mess and the noise. The guys working downstairs are really considerate, but when they were attaching strapping to the ceiling yesterday, I could have sworn they were going to send a nail right up into the bottom of my foot! When they cut out the basement floor to move some plumbing, the amount of dust was absurd, and when they attached the subfloor to the concrete, they used a nail gun that is truly a gun in that it uses gun powder! It is inevitable that a renovation will be loud and messy. I just have to keep my eye on the prize - a beautiful basement that we'll be able to use - once we can save up enough to buy a couch for down there.

I know that in no time at all, I won't even remember the inconvenience of the reno, but come Christmas day, it should be interesting as I'm hosting 30 people for supper. I've rented three 8-foot tables and 30 chairs and plan to have them all set up in the living room, but the room is now filled with boxes, extra furniture, a cabinet full of extra paint for all the rooms in the house, and all of the fixtures for the new powder room! Hopefully the downstairs storage room will be finished in time for me to move everything in there so we will have somewhere for people to sit! The contractor has even promised to help us clear out the room before they leave for Christmas holidays. I will hold him to that!


San Diego Momma November 29, 2008 at 9:54 AM  

My husband is a tile contractor and runs into project management issues all the time on his jobs. There's so many trades that come and go, that if even one doesn't do their job correctly, the whole renovation is set back.

Sounds like you have a healthy attitude toward all this (i.e. dream client). I'm sure your basement will look beautiful. I'd love to see pics.

Now, as for your 30-person Christmas dinner: what are you going to cook? I must know how you're going to do it all. I could use the advice.


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