Friday, July 13, 2018

A Tale of Two Contractors

This post was sponsored by Travelers Insurance; all opinions are my own.

Hey guys!  Whether you’re working on a renovation like the Merc, building a new house, or having some plumbing updated, your contractor is probably THE singular most important decision that you can make. Going into the renovation I wouldnt have thought that, but after almost a year of working with our amazing one, and seeing first hand what happens when you have a crappy one, I stand by that statement.

For those that aren’t fully immersed in the home building/renovation world a general contractor is the guy that runs the show. He hires the sub contractors (like plumbers, electricians, drywallers etc.) and makes sure that everyone is showing up, doing their work, and getting paid. Most subs are pretty loyal to their general, so just like like things attract, if you get a great general, you’ll have great subs.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen first hand what it’s like when you have a great contractor and a not great one.

Being the unconventional space that the Merc is and unconventional level of DIY that needed to happen, we weren’t sure how to even find a general contractor. The bank and the city told us that we needed one. But where do you even start?! Funny thing, we were initially working with a different one at the beginning of this whole journey. At the last minute he decided to bow out, which at the time seemed pretty devastating, but like everything else in the Merc turned into a huge miracle. Our amazing real estate agents swooped in and somehow convinced Brent Ence of Sagewood Homes to take on our adventure. (I’ve got a whole post coming about all the reasons why we love Brent and his son Dustin, I’m even going to try to get them to do an interview!! But I’ll just say If you’re in southern Utah and are lucky enough to get the chance to work with them DO IT!!) I cannot begin to say how fantastic they are.

As most of you know, my in-laws recently built a new house (you can see it here!) and their experience was the exact opposite of mine. Their contractor was unorganized, dishonest, careless, and a complete joke.

So how do you make sure that you get one like ours, and not one like theirs?!

1 . Get references specifically from their most recent projects. Sure, any reference is great, but wouldn’t it be even better to get some from clients that they’ve worked with in the last 6 months, as well as 5 years ago?

  1. Be extremely transparent. There is something to be said about finding someone that you get along with and that understands your vision from the beginning. If they’re not willing to let you outline and agree to specific expectations then they probably aren’t your person.

Travelers has 10 more tips on their site for hiring a contractor, as I was reading through them I couldn’t help but nod in agreement as I was going down the list. There are so many important things to consider to protect yourself and your home. Check out the full list here, I agree with all 10 of them!

What lessons have you learned from hiring a contractor?


The post A Tale of Two Contractors appeared first on Vintage Revivals.

via Mandi at A Tale of Two Contractors

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Where To ACTUALLY Save Money During A Renovation/Build

We all know that there is loads and loads of planning that goes into a renovation/new build right? There are always budgets and big expenses involved. It’s SO easy to go over budget on renovations because what looks like a few hundred here, and a thousand or two there turns into tens of thousands seemingly overnight. it’s really easy to find your dream tile and think “I’ll just take money from something else and put it here”. But where can that extra money actually come from?

That approach, I’ll save on the things that don’t matter, so I can spend on the things that do, seems really logical. But my eyes were opened to what that actually looks like, so lets talk about it!

I’ve got a bunch of experiences to pull from. My in-laws just built a new completely custom home. My sister built a new house with a builder that gives you a base price with limited finish options and you pay for upgrades. My other sister bought a house mid construction, and we have the house we were never meant to build + the Merc. So this isn’t just pulling from our one experience, it seems that everyone has this problem.

When we were planning on building (before we found the Merc, you can read about that journey here) I had never walked down this road before. Everything that we had done to our previous house was on a project by project basis and never really required a huge chunk of cash. At most a few thousand for our biggest projects, but nothing that we didnt save for. One of the realizations that I came to when we were working on the budget for the build was that we were going to spend a ton of cash and I still wasn’t going to get everything that I wanted. In fact, I felt like I was compromising on almost everything. We didnt make it far enough along to have concrete bids, just an idea from the builder of what things would generally be. When we got the bids for the Merc, because of the unique nature of the building and loan situation we had to get a full bid set, as if we were contributing nothing (no DIY or sponsored products) and it was crazy eye opening. The “I want these door knobs so we’ll pull money from something that no one will see” mindset vanished. The stuff that no one will see that you think you can scrimp on turns out, aren’t really that optional. Things like framing, electrical, and insulation are sort of not optional and don’t really have a lot of wiggle room. Short of lowering your square footage, you’re not really going to save that much off of what your bids come back at. So what does that mean!?

Compromise. DANGGGGG IT!!

There are 3 categories that everything renovation related seems to fall into. Permanent, Semi Permanent, Replaceable

Let me first start by saying that obviously walls can be moved or an entire house torn down, so we’re using the term permanent to mean something that you won’t want to change for the next 15+ years. Things that are structural usually fit into this category.

Windows, Walls, Exterior, Wiring, Roof, Plumbing

Semi-Permanent are things that can be changed but you don’t really want to have to change because of time or expense.

Flooring, Doors, Wall Finish, Appliances, Cabinetry, Plumbing Fixtures, Baseboard and Moulding, Countertops etc.

Replaceable are things that can be easily switched out, and usually can be DIYed.

Lighting, Cabinet Hardware, Accent Tile (backsplash etc.), Mirrors,

Trust me when I say, it’s so easy to get frustrated when you want what you want from the moment you move in. But remember, this is going to be your home! If you can’t afford your dream light fixture, that’s ok! Just find something at Restore or cap the electrical until you can! We’ve done that in so many places at the Merc.

I don’t think that you should build a house where you hate everything because you settled. My advice is to start with the permanent category and move your way down. You’d be surprised what you can live without. 😂 As of today we don’t have lighting in the office, either of the bathrooms, or Ivie’s closet. We also don’t have shower doors (shower curtains work just as well), mirrors in the bathroom, cabinet hardware anywhere but the kitchen, and closet systems (just a bar in all of them!) I’ve got walls that still need tile and shelving, and we’ve got to figure out how to hide our water shut off valve. And that is just in phase 1.


Pro tip: did you know that Frog Tape makes a great drawer pull in a pinch?

Guys, renovation/building is messy and complicated and it doesn’t always end when we want it to.

Bite off what you can, wrap the rest in tupperware and put it in the fridge for later. Isn’t the whole point of this to create a space that you love?! Don’t feel bad if you cant do it in one fail swoop.

So where did we actually save money?

Because of our partnerships with some of my favorite companies we were able to save quite a bit. I know that is not reality for very many people, but I also don’t want to not acknowledge that we got a huge leg up on our budget. But let’s just say that you don’t have that option, saving money is still very much a reality.

  • DIY what you can! We saved thousands by doing our own demo, exterior refurb, painting, tile, flooring, and finish work ourselves.
  • Expand your mind a little. I knew that I wanted really detailed wood flooring, and did some heavy research into parquet, when it came down to it our wood floors in the bedrooms would’ve cost $15,000+ but we spent under $2700 because we made them ourselves. That is FREAKING AWESOME!! I don’t even want to know how much it would’ve cost to hire a professional to do the Merc logo in our entryway. I asked our tile guy and he flat out told me that he didnt know anyone who would do it. But because I was willing to learn (and suffer at times) we have this totally amazing statement that we probably couldn’t have afforded otherwise.
  • Get bids! I got bids on our giant metal trifold door from a handful of metalsmiths. They ranged from $1,500-$20,000. The guy we ultimately chose was $3,000 and the door turned out better than I dreamed.
  • Use a KILLER contractor. I cant even begin to tell you guys how much we love our contractor. He was on top of everything and everyone and I was honestly surprised at how many of our subs came in under budget, even with all of the Merc weirdness that we could throw at them.

Do you have any tips to add?! I’m dying to hear more money saving ways!!


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via Mandi at Where To ACTUALLY Save Money During A Renovation/Build