Morningside Renovation

Our Journey Through The Renovation Process Of Our Future "Forever Home" In Morningside (Atlanta,GA)


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Does Anyone Really Know Their True Purpose?

So I somehow came across the below article which gives tips on blogging.  Not sure how I found it being that 1) I never have nor are my aspirations to make money from this site (humorous even thinking about it), 2) it is a site created and tailored for moms.  Nothing against moms, but it’s just not a site that I would normally find myself stumbling upon.

My personal feeling is that everyone has a purpose, that there is a bigger reason than the obvious as to why someone was born. Of course I understand how someone could oppose that statement as I’ve heard some very valid arguments, however I stand firm in my belief.  And while I have absolutely no idea as to my own “purpose” I’m determined to eventually uncover that ever elusive question – hopefully.

Anyway, #1 got me thinking.  Originally I created this site to update friends and relatives about our construction (remodeling & renovation) project while of course showing numerous pictures of our progress as well as the occasional ones of our boys. Unfortunately that all changed.  We experienced a horrible nightmare with our first general contractor and while we came close to abandoning it all we decided to press on and try to accomplish our original task knowing that it will be a huge up hill battle.

So currently and going forward what is the overall purpose of this site?  I have no idea.  I’ve read my past posts and I’m all over the place.  Of course I could continue on the same path but does that really answer the question?  One thing I do know, I’ll probably have the answer as to the purpose of this site before I discover my own. 

Blogging Tips


Grading the Backyard

Not a lot to report due to the rainy weather that we’ve had in Atlanta this past week  but I’ve included a few pictures of the backyard which was recently graded/leveled and now gives us a more visual idea as to its size, although the purpose was to give them a place to unload the upcoming framing packages. 

 

Little Brendan (22 mo) just had to get involved

 

Of course Max was quick to volunteer in helping me spread some hay to prevent erosion as well as start re-stacking the wood pile which had to be located.

 

 

Good things are happening, just need to find ways to cut down some of the upcoming expenses, as this is where the $’s start to be spent.


Batman and Robin

What a week.  Halloween and continued progress on our house, this blog has been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last several months. 

Halloween!!  If you know our oldest son or if you’ve read some of the previous post then you know that Max is crazy about Batman.  So of course that is who he dressed up as for the big day.  But his biggest feat was convincing his little brother that they didn’t make Elmo costumes in his size…only costumes of Robin.  So our sons were the Dynamic Duo: Batman and Robin

At first it was a challenge convincing Brendan to try on his costume, but once he had it on he took to it better than anyone could have expected.

  Of course we had to carve a Batman pumpkin and since Bren didn’t get to be Elmo I ended up trying to at least carve one for him.

It was a long night but the boys had a great time.

As for our house; all of the plaster has now been removed from the walls and ceilings as well as all of the old corroded plumbing and original wiring. It’s amazing the amount of work that has been done in what feels like such a short period of time…or at least from what we were use to with our prior GC.


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Interior Demo

What a week, after having gone through so much frustration in the past it’s refreshing to actually be making progress.  Unfortunately we had a horrible experience with our last GC however it’s refreshing with the progress that’s been made with our new GC.  He’s cleaned up the mess which was left behind,

 

 

 

cleaned up the basement,

These stairs will be removed and are being relocated into the expansion space

 

and then finished removing all of the plaster as well as laths from the walls and some of the ceilings. 

 

One of the surprisingly interesting finds was the condition of the brick which has been hidden for years behind plaster. 

 

We’re seriously contemplating letting the exposed brick become part of the “decor” in the dining room however we would also like to find a way to incorporate the brick (2nd above photo) into what will serve as a hallway/corridor.  We’re still not sure what we’ll do with the fireplace in the foyer, however thankfully we have a couple of weeks before we need to decide. 

I feel somewhat foolish celebrating the demo, however it’s been a long time coming…can’t imagine what we’ll feel when they start driving nails. 

I wanted to share another interesting article, What to Look for in a Contractor’s Contract, (this one is from Houzz)  that is certainly worth a few minutes if you’re about to enter into a contract with a General Contractor.


Hard to Trust Again

Personally this next step has been one of the toughest.  Tough mentally as well as emotionally.  Some people automatically trust others until proven differently, while others are only willing to extend that gift once it has been duly earned. While I strive for the former, unfortunately the latter is more of my nature.  Regardless, it’s been extremely tough to move forward and hire another GC, even though it’s imperative if we’re going to achieve our original goal. 

There’s probably very few people who have never been the recipient of some sort of betrayal…at least once in their life.  And while I was taught early that “you’re only as good as your word”, I’m often reminded of how differently some have been raised.  Our original GC we initially “loved” and trusted, he was the one who would ultimately deliver our dream.  We did our due diligence and trust was rightfully given, however that trust was shortly shattered and as a result our dream was almost abandoned.  Trust is the basis of any healthy relationship, business or personal, and for me it can at times be challenging to readily “re-extend” that gift after it’s been recently, and in my opinion, abused – especially when it’s been so costly mentally, emotionally and financially. 

I’ve been told that how you respond to life’s challenges is what defines you. Not really sure how I or we’ll end up being “defined” – but I am somewhat curious.  I do know that while it could be so easy to waste needed energy getting bogged down in our past experiences it would ultimately only prohibit us from moving forward. To begin our next step of moving forward we’ve met some incredible GC’s, ones that are undeniably competent enough to finish our project.   In the end our criteria for choosing a new GC went beyond experience and we decided to leave the final decision to our gut/heart. 

So this past Monday we began our next phase/step, the crew from our new GC showed up an hour early and progress has resumed!!!  While it’s disheartening that some of the sacrifices which will now be required will affect/alter our desired finishes, appliances and basically the green features of our home, it is beyond exciting to see progress once again being made.  The vast majority of this week will be literally cleaning up the mess left behind by our former GC and if possible they might start demo’ing the interior of our house.  While it’s scary stepping back out on this “limb”, it’s comforting to see the organization of our GC and even more that there’s someone on site with a real understanding of the project and actually supervising the work. 

As for our past experiences, I truly believe in Karma and have no doubt that those with poor intentions will more than receive what they have once dealt.

But the one thing I’ve learned over this past year which is more valuable than anything else is that we’ll be okay…we can make it through whatever lies ahead as long as we stay focused on what’s most important.


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Not Throwing in the Towel – Just Yet

As for our little project, if you’re a glass half-full type then you could say that we’ve made a wee amount of progress. Wee as in tiny, small, minuscule,slight, etc… But, at least we’re moving forward.

Interesting last several days which I’ll try to recount: first I received an interesting call from two past clients of our former GC.  One just wanted to compare notes as to the various issues which they’ve uncovered as well as their past experiences with him while the other wanted to get my opinion on our experience with him and if we would consider using him again.  Pretty easy guess as to my answer – I really can’t believe that he’s still out there marketing himself, hopefully through various efforts that we’ll be short-lived.  

Now, on to that which is positive.  As you may know I’ve tried to divorce myself from this house and our dream quite a few times and while I’ve come so very close numerous times, presently I just can’t find the strength (sense) to do it.  So even though there is a significant financial gap as to what we’ve budgeted and what it will now take to complete the task, I’m determined to make it happen.  How? I’m not totally sure, but I have faith that somehow we can get it done without sacrificing quality of finishes or our initial plan (maybe there’s a little touch of insanity). We have a couple of highly competent GC’s that we’re deciding between which have thankfully offered to assist us in various ways, however I still have a fairly large hill to climb.  No doubt that it’s going to take more than a team effort so please feel free to offer any advice, tips, suggestions, etc…but Please- only positive talk.  I know 99.9% of the population would have abandoned this “dream” weeks ago but it’s something that I just can’t let go of, at least not yet.

First step, the architect which was hired by our GC contacted my wife and offered to assist in any way possible.  He had heard about all that had transpired and volunteered to do whatever he could to make it right and assist in any possible way.  His first task, re-draw our roofing plan. We’ve been told by numerous contractors that our current roofing plan was a little extreme, basically it required over double the amount of materials as to what a similar home with a comparable square footage would require.  His second task is to confirm all of his past measurements as we’ve had questions arise as to the inaccuracies of them, not sure if this will reduce the overall costs but hopefully it will help to eliminate some of the future surprises. Last, review and look for inefficiencies and ways we can achieve our overall goal that could also reduce the construction costs, not expecting much with regards to the last request.

Truthfully, after discovering that a few of our past issues were created due to the architect’s inaccuracies I haven’t been his biggest fan but almost everybody deserves a second chance.  We gave our former GC 3 to 4 “second chances” so Julie talked me into granting the architect a second one.  We shall see but I’m not really sure how it can hurt.  We need to utilize every resource possible so hopefully this will prove fruitful.

Second Step…hopefully coming soon


Reality Check

Patience is defined as the state of endurance under difficult circumstances. Blah, Blah, Blah!!!  I’m ready to move forward!!

Beautiful day so I decided to knock off a little early. Julie and the boys were at a “play-date” so I thought I would take advantage of the weather and split more wood – by now I probably have enough firewood to last us through 4 or 5 Atlanta winters.

Of course this provided me with a little Reflection Time.   I received a thank you note today from a guy who interned with our company this past summer. This is a kid who lost his dad when he was 6 months old and mom when he was in high school, both tragically unexpected.  Prior to his mom’s death he lived a life that I’ve only read about or seen in movies; there were times when they had no utilities and the only food in this growing boy’s body were those provided by his school.  His mother worked 3-4 jobs as life continued to present them with challenges that would sink most. So one day over lunch I asked him how he managed to stay out of trouble and not get caught up in such readily available negative influences, his response – that wasn’t his focus.  It was there, all around him, he easily could have taken another route and more than likely ended up being a statistic that we all pay little attention to on the nightly news, but that wasn’t his focus. 

We’ve communicated a few times since he left to go back to school but this young man who is half my age left quite an impression on me.  The odds were more than against him, life couldn’t have dealt him a worse hand but he never let that stand in his way.  Today he’s a sophomore at Harvard and one of the standouts on their defense; one amazing and determined young man, a true inspiration.

Sort of puts life into perspective for me…Best of Luck Zach and Thank You!!


I Fix Things

Great weekend with the family,a lot of pure quality family time which was definitely needed.  We have so much going on and so many decisions that are on the cusp of being made that getting lost in our boys is a welcomed oasis. 

I was able to sneak away for a few hours to split some wood at the house.  I’m not really sure why I find it so therapeutic to sling a 12 lb sledge-hammer but for some odd reason I love it. The exercise as well as sweat is great and the results are rewarding, however it’s the quiet time that affords me the luxury to actually think about everything. 

This past weekend was no different, it was an absolutely beautiful day and I had been at it for a little while when I started thinking about our current position with the house which shortly led me to reflect on the last 14 months and all that we’ve been through as well as experienced.  For 2 people who share the mindset that you create your own road and it’s solely up to you to do so, we’ve been taught through experience during these last several months that there are times in life when you’re thrown a  Sandy Koufax curveball.  We can’t change what has happened, but we can learn from it and then decide whether to move on or step back up to the plate.  Personally I feel that we’ve handled everything remarkably well but at times that just isn’t enough for me. 

You see up until now I’ve had a fairly successful track record of fixing things and I thrive on it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken toy, a gate, an old wheel barrow… I fix it.  Of course this mindset might have slipped into our relationship at times but I tend to think that’s pretty much the norm for guys and I’m hopeful that I’ve gotten better on the listening and validating front.  Not sure if this “fix it mindset” is derived more from nature or nurture but it’s there.  Hurry up and make things right, get it back together or on track – fix it.

I was taught years ago that the key to hitting a curveball is patience.  Of course determination and focus is imperative but patience is the key.  You have to wait, wait until the ball starts to break before you swing.  Patience is not one of my strengths.

Also, I came across a short but great article recently on remodeling – definitely worth the 2 minute investment: 3 Ways to Keep Your Cool During a Remodel.