Morningside Renovation

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


Bathtubs have Arrived

Just thought that I would give a quick update on what progress has happened at our house during the last several weeks.  As you can imagine the holidays basically brought everything to a halt and if it wasn’t the holidays it’s been the rain.  However the rough plumbing was recently completed and just last week our GC finished installing the tubs.

We were originally going with a standard tub in all of the bathrooms, except the master, however our GC, amazing guy, was able to secure these awesome Kohler Devonshire tubs which have a 20″ depth and gave them to us for the same price as the standard ones. This guy is incredible.

 

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The hole(missing concrete) in the above picture was where our former GC originally put the plumbing…in a bedroom…bright guy huh?

 

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And for the Master Bath (below) we decided not to go with one that was jetted, so we chose a 41 1/2″ x 70″ Bathcraft tub manufactured by Craftsmen, model A97040-00.

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It’s funny, it will be a while before the house is ready and we’re able to actually utilize the tubs but it’s still pretty exciting having them installed.  Plus, it’s the first time I’ve seen the boys excited about taking a bath – we’ll see how long that lasts. 

The holidays are behind us and even though we have rain forecasted throughout the end of this week I’m hoping for good weather in the near future…we still have a long way to go.


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Velux Sun Tunnels, Are They Worth the Added Expense?

The Velux Sun Tunnel

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Originally I was planning on having these installed in the Master Bath, our walk-in closets, Kitchen, Boys’ Bathroom, and Laundry Room but since can lighting is less expensive and we’re cutting costs this is one of my “wants” that had to be eliminated.  Unfortunately I can’t seem to let it go, meaning that I’m trying to find a way to justify the added expense.  Of course I know the argument that “they’ll pay for themselves overtime with reduced electrical use however that just isn’t enough. So basically I’m asking you, “are you familiar with them, have you used them and are they worth the added expense?  I’m also concerned about the potential of them leaking.  They seem to be an amazing product, adding a lot of natural light and at this point I’m totally sold on them, I just need either more information, a cheaper alternative or to know that they’re not worth the it. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find very many contractors around the Atlanta area that are familiar with them. Let me know your thoughts if you have any experience or history with them.

So we’re moving along with framing, completed the majority of the interior frame-work, closets, baths, fireplace, stairs, etc…as well as the sheathing on the roof.  It is beyond exciting to see it actually all starting to come together.

Fireplace in the Great Room

Fireplace in the Great Room

Stairs - landing in the new basement area

Stairs – landing in the new basement area

View from Great Room into the Kitchen Area
View from Great Room into the Kitchen Area
Great Room

Great Room

       

Back of the house
Back of the house


Maybe a Virus Gave Me Some Clarity

Not Really – I’m a little behind on posts being that my computer had a nasty virus that basically destroyed my hard drive, but I’m back.  During the “down time” I realized how time-consuming it can be to actively blog.  Of course I entertained the thought of abandoning it altogether, but that time away was actually good.  It allowed me the ability to reflect on why I’m even blogging.   As you know a few posts back after reading an article on blogging I wrote about my concern with this site/blog not having a true purpose.  This site was originally started as a way to keep our friends and family updated on our renovation/remodeling/expansion project – basically an online journal with updates and pictures.  I thought this site would be active for 5 maybe 7 months at most.  Life(shit) happens and nothing against professional bloggers but I never expected that 12 months later I would still be typing away.

This “journey” has taken us from our initial excitement – to watch our progress, we’re so excited – to crap I can’t believe this is happening, what do we do – to Ok, we’re committed to this, we have to somehow find a way to pull this off. 

Shit happens, we had an incompetent as well as less than honest GC and to now accomplish our original goal (or as close as possible) we’re going to have to do it with an even tighter budget. Unfortunately I don’t have the experience to “Super Man” the job and singlehandedly save us.  We’ll have to rely on our new GC to value engineer areas, hopefully I can assist by doing a little DIY work where it’s appropriate, but mostly  it will depend upon us making wise economical decisions and choices.

So maybe I’ve found (uncovered) the underlying purpose of this site.  From our past misfortunes and during our forward journey my hope is that we’ll be able to share a few areas where we’ve been able to make up ground – create savings.  It won’t be easy and there’s quite a gap to bridge but someone once told me to never underestimate determination.

Last, I would love to be able to provide a proven method on how to assure that you won’t get screwed or taken advantage of by an unscrupulous contractor, or at least minimize the risk.  However I’ve come to realize that a guaranteed method just doesn’t exist.  We read and followed all of the various articles, tips and advice but it still happened. So what do you do if you find yourself in our position? Is it worth pursuing?  I’ll try to journal that as well.

So there it is – any bets on if I stick to it?


Framing Work

Since so much framing progress has been made over the last several days I thought it might be best just to share some of the pictures.

Also & fortunately during framing our GC discovered that the vast majority of the rafters and joists in the original house are still in good condition so it was great to learn that we won’t have to replace those.  Also, because of all the water damage to the original hardwood floors due to our former GC not tarping the roof correctly  we thought we would have to replace all of the ORIGINAL hardwood floors – fortunately it looks as if we will be able to salvage the ones in the foyer, dining room and one of the bedrooms.  My hope is that the transition from the original to the new won’t be too noticeable…

Trey Ceiling in the Foyer

Trey Ceiling in the Foyer

Trey Ceiling in the Foyer

Trey Ceiling in the Foyer

Trey Ceiling in the Master Bedroom

Trey Ceiling in the Master Bedroom

Future Family Room

Future Family Room

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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


Hurricane Sandy

So it’s the day before Halloween and our boys are beyond excited, at the same time our new GC continues to impress us by staying ahead of schedule (Yes, despite what our former GC stated, they do have schedules in residential construction).  However it’s challenging to get geared up to write about our progress when all I can think about are the millions of people being so adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

If you’ve read my blog long enough you know that the experience with our previous GC was beyond a nightmare.  Besides the emotional and mental strain that we experienced he ended up costing us a lot of money and we’re having to become overly creative and value engineer every part of the process going forward.  We can’t go back and change our experience but my hope is that maybe I can somehow prevent someone else from having to go through the same living hell.  We thought we dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” but obviously there are things we could have done differently.  Being a “Monday morning quarterback”  has always been my specialty. 

That being said, I’ve attached 2 articles, the first is from Mike Holmes giving tips on how to hire a competent contractor, while the latter was recently featured on msn.com and is super informative with regards to contractor warranties and how to handle defective construction.

Make It Right® | Resources.

Unhappy Homebuyers Face Double Whammy

 Thoughts and Prayers are with are with all of the victims of Sandy.

 


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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.