Today marks exactly 365 days since we bought our home. On one hand, it feels like it’s been a decade in the making. On the other, it feels like we moved in earlier this week. Time has flown and time has dragged and we’ve experienced possibly every emotion along the way. But on the whole, so much has changed, so much has happened, and so much has been accomplished.
We really have come so far. From closing day, to the first night spent in the house (and some scary realizations), to the first – and possibly worst – project I did myself. I remember the first time I realized that the renovation was taking over my life and changing me as a person. I remember feelings of fear, excitement and utter exhaustion. We had no idea what we were getting into, but our innocent optimism of last summer is why I will always look back on those memories and smile. The early days, now a somewhat faded memory, really were something special.
Here’s a few Before/Now pictures to show our progress in the last year. I wouldn’t really call these ‘after’ images, as we’re not done in most of these rooms – but Before – Now seems to work just fine!
I thought for our one year anniversary that I would do a sort-of Q&A highlighting the most common questions we get asked about renovating a house. People are always asking us about it and there are a lot of repeat questions so I thought I’d share some of them…
1. How is it going?
Amy: I hate this question (you can read why here)! There is no real answer, some days it’s going great – other days it’s awful and I want to burn it to the ground. On the whole though, I’d have to say it’s going pretty good – we’re (somehow?) not that far behind schedule and still have a little money left and most of our sanity – I think those are good signs.
Ian: It’s almost on schedule, we’re only about one project behind where I wanted to be by this time so that’s good. And overall I am very pleased with the way things are turning out. Amy’s a good designer.
2. Would you renovate a house again?
I: I would definitely do it again. Although I would try not to live in it while renovating, that part isn’t fun. And I probably wouldn’t take on as large of a scope.
A: I have to agree with Ian. I’d definitely do it again, but not a ‘whole house flip that we live in’ like this time. For the next go-round I wouldn’t think twice about ripping down walls, gutting a kitchen or updating every bathroom.
3. What’s the hardest part of doing a mostly DIY renovation?
I: The hardest part is stopping the rest of your life to a get a project done and keeping focus when you want to do more exciting things on the weekend. Next behind that would be finding the point of diminishing return. Whenever your are fixing or rebuilding something it is sometimes hard to tell where a good stopping point is. Sometimes the last 10% of the effort takes the longest, sometimes it makes all the difference in the world, but sometimes you are just wasting time.
A: There’s a lot of things that are hard, but I think the top spot is a tie between staying motivated and living in filth. Like Ian said, there are a thousand things I’d rather do every weekend or weeknight. I cannot wait to have my life back (guilt-free)! And as far as living in filth, it is a huge component of a renovation – nothing is ever clean. And you can’t shake the fear that it may never, ever be clean again.
4. What were your favorite and least favorite projects?
A: My favorite is whatever project we just finished. Honestly. Something I’ve noticed in a renovation is that you appreciate the sh*t out of each little thing as it all comes together. You love every little change so much. My least favorite project would have to be scraping the walls. (I even wrote a song about it!) We put a lot of work into making them look normal. Not great, or awesome, or amazing – just normal. No one ever walks in and says, “omg your walls are so flat!” but we spent weeks on them…
I: My favorite project has been the kitchen. Everything came together as planned and we put in some extra effort that really made a difference. I like the built in refrigerator and the built in bench especially. My least favorite project would have to be the stairs because it was the project that just would…not…end.
5. When do you think you’ll be done?
A: Another question I hate! I think we’ll move into the master (a big step and a sign of ‘done’) before the end of summer. Then hopefully we’ll slowly renovate the remaining (and less used) rooms through the fall.
I: Never!! No but really, an old house is always going to need little things here and there, but the major projects should be done by the end of the year. The master suite should be habitable by August and after that we can take our foot of the gas for a little bit and ease through the rest in the fall.
6. What was the hardest single project?
A&I: The stairs!
I: They just took a LOT more time than expected due to the level of detail necessary to make the project look really good.
A: It’s the only project where I had a complete break with reality. I had an emotional breakdown that still haunts me to this day.
7. did you run into any unexpected problems?
I: Almost every project contains a surprise of some sort. A couple have been major but most have been pretty minor. The funniest was the drain pipe from the old servants sink that has been inoperable for quite some time but still had a ton of water in it which gave me and the nursery closet a nice bath.
A: Haha, I forgot about that! But yea, every project has unexpected problems – it’s unavoidable. None were major that I can think of, which is probably a good thing!
8. Is it tough on your marriage?
A: I am asked this ALL the time! Anything this stressful, expensive and overwhelming is going to push both people to the brink. But I always giggle when I get this question because I’m sure it’s not nearly as stressful, expensive and overwhelming as having kids. And people don’t go around asking new parents, “so is the baby tough on your marriage?!” Seriously! But yea, I think it’s made us much stronger as a couple – which is pretty awesome.
I: It certainly can be but I don’t think it has been overly tough. We set some ground rules upfront about who was in charge of what and do our best to let the other person manage their ‘islands’. Of course we have had our fair share of minor disagreements but very few that have escalated and really become an issue. I have to say that it’s definitely brought us closer as a couple.
9. How do you keep up the motivation?
I: It is almost July and the attic is hot – I’m ready to move downstairs! Really though, the end of every project and seeing the before and after is what’s motivating to me. The feeling when I see a project come to fruition is always worth it and it gives me enough juice to start the next project. It is always somewhere in the middle when I start to lose my motivation and have to force myself to keep going.
A: Yea, I’m with Ian – the before and afters keep me pushing on. Plus, I like the sense of accomplishment. If you had asked me two years ago if I’d ever even consider doing something like this, I would have laughed. Now the fact that I am doing it (and doing it pretty well) is inspiring on a daily basis. Oh, and beer breaks motivate me too.
10. What advice do you have for people considering a renovation?
I: It always takes at least 20% longer than expected and costs 10% more. I have definitely realized through this process that time is my most valuable asset and you only get a limited amount of it. You can save more money or rethink the scope of a project to bring costs down but you only have so much time. It can be really stressful not be able to do things that you really want to because you’re in the middle of a project.
A: I could go on forever, but I think my most valuable advice is to keep your sense of humor. Sometimes things go so horribly wrong all you can really do is laugh, so laugh. Also, you have to enjoy the process. You must embrace it and know that you’re in for the long-haul. And it is a very, very long haul. So do your best to enjoy it.
Stay tuned, everyone! And big thanks to our friends and family who have helped us through this process and put up with our inability to do anything, ever. We do still love y’all and we’ll be back!