If there is one thing that I have learned well about home remodeling it is that the initial planning stage of the project is the most important. This includes detailed estimates, budgets, schedules, scope of work, financing, and cost-overrun contingency plans.
So many projects fail because this step is either done incorrectly or is done in denial; what I call “the dream state”. So often, once you decide to do a remodeling project and move on to the next stage, the brain goes into a hypnotic, almost paralyzed, state. That’s when normal functioning folk seem to turn into village idiots.
I raise my hand under this scathing indictment. In fact I could be there leader.
I have learned the hard way. For several years there were several villages looking for their idiot. I am the missing idiot these folks were looking for. I admit that I am ready to take my well earned position as chief idiot.
Let me explain why I say this.
It is very easy to become so excited, enthused or consumed with a remodeling project that one almost immediately begins to display some of the initial signs. A few of these signs are as follows:
• Unrealistic expectations
• Illusions of grandeur
• False pride
• Wish full thinking
• Self absorption
This by no means is a complete list. Feel free to add any others you may have experienced. Again, it is only a sampling of some of the initial symptoms.
I learned quickly that just because I could see in my minds-eye a thing or a project, there was little connection between what I envisioned and its actual completion. This was especially true if it included the project being fully completed on time, and within budget.
I can’t count the number of times I have started or seen a project in the past and got to a ‘near completion stage’, or the famous stage called, ‘it’s good enough’ or, the ‘it will have to do for now stage’.
I am convinced this is the reason so many projects have been killed before they even start. I can hear the words loud and clear. They go something like this, “No, you’re not going to start another project. You have not finished the last three!” Then, going right for the juggler vain, “A garden hose is not plumbing for a dish washer.”
Then the look follows; it’s the one that’s not only impossible to misunderstand but like slow poison. It stays with you like body odor.
Of course, there’s the, “You have 500 projects on your honey-do-list that have you haven’t even looked at for eight months.”
I have often wondered why these people seem so black and white. Don’t they understand we are “artists, craftsman extraordinaire in training? Well, in our minds, anyway.
These ‘creative blockers’, as I call them, usually are also wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, family members, who seem to delight in derailing our grand remodeling projects. Oh, the torture we endure on our way to becoming the next Norm Abrams.
I have always wondered what they don’t understand about my philosophy that consists of: trust me, be reasonable, see it and do it my way. Anyone who understands what is like to be a gifted want-to-be woodworker or carpenter understands this. No explanation is necessary. And for those who don’t understand this line of thinking, no explanation will ever suffice.
Now, back to the story.
As a result of being guilty of every sin possible in remodeling and a few not even invented yet, I have had an equivalent of a “spiritual awakening”.
I now have a ridged outline that I follow like a well-worn path to the refrigerator when hungry.
The rules are simple; I don’t deviate from them, period. They follow.
Every job or remodeling project will include the following.
1. Detail plans and an outline the scope of the project. It’s unimportant whether the plans are hand drawn or done by a professional. At bare minimum, any project needs a rough plan with the overall dimensions.
2. A material list with current and realistic costs verified. (Not based on wishful thinking or prices that you paid ten years ago.)
3. Scope of work. This is an outline of the steps broken down by each room or part of the project.
4. A realistic time schedule.
6. A list of all subcontractors or suppliers with all the necessary contact details and relevant information.
7. A ‘Who’s Responsible’ list, with names assigned to who will complete the task and when.
8. Brief backup plans or descriptions of alternatives.
9. A tool-list needed to complete the project.
10. Expected delivery dates of materials and products.
11. Permits and inspections needed for project.
12. Digital camera or video along with an notebook for daily notes and journal entries.
I have learned to do all this and more, not because I like lists, but because I have made every mistake possible and more. I have extensive experience being the village idiot. This list is a good start and will cover most of the things needed to complete any project.
I use simple yellow and white legal pages and spiral notebooks.
I use yellow for estimates and white for the final draft. I use the spiral notebook for all my contacts, daily job notes and journal.
When I began my comprehensive overview of the scope of work that needed to be done for “This Old Mold House’, it was an eye opener.
I didn’t like the conclusion.
Long ago, I learned to trust the process.
With two days to complete the planning phase, and armed with my tape measure, several notebooks, and pencils I started the comprehensive scope of work and estimate process.
I would deliver the message on Tuesday as to the outcome.
What would it be?