You may have followed the 1,200-square-foot addition to a Burbank, California, home as chronicled on the lively and well-written Park Haus Blog. It's been quite a ride, and this is what the homeowners have to say (the last item is most illuminating):
Sixteen months. That's how long our 1200 sq. ft. addition took. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think it could get that bad. It would be easy to say that we have an incompetent contractor, or terrible weather, but neither of those is true. Here are a few things I've learned, for those of you out there who are thinking about embarking on construction or are in the midst of it.
• Do whatever you can to keep a good relationship with your contractor. Vent to your mom, your dog, your best friend, but try to keep things cordial with the guy in charge. It'll take you a long way.
• But. Call him at least every other day if you haven't heard from him. I think one thing that went wrong in our project was way too much downtime. We weren't aggressive enough in making sure that we were at the top of the list. We lost weeks and weeks in November, December and January. When I made it my goal to start calling him every day to check in, guess what? Things kept moving.
• It really, really helps if you trust your contractor/architect's taste. There are so many little things to pick out, and we were lucky that we could trust their taste. With a new baby and a three-year-old, we didn't have a lot of time to research every last grout color.
• Don't underestimate the mental toll. It was really, really hard to be home with kids while this was happening. Imagine random workmen wandering around outside in your yard at 6:30 in the morning, clearly waiting to get in. And you didn't know they were coming. And they're just wondering, do you know what color this trim is supposed to be? Now multiply that by 400 days or so, and add in the trucks blocking your driveway, the constant dust on every surface, the loss of any outdoor play area, and oh, let's not forget the noise. Would it have been better if we had just moved out? Perhaps, but then our budget would have been completely blown, since we went so far over schedule.
• Keep a spreadsheet of expenses. We thought we were saving money by, say, picking way less expensive tile than was budgeted, but somehow that "extra" money always went to something else, and we still ended up over budget.
• Don't do it. And I'm only kind of kidding. Honestly, I wish we had looked around at what was on the market a little bit before we did this. The house is growing on me, but it's going to take me a long time to forget the pain.