Tasked with ONCE AGAIN having to locate a builder, I determined that I might as well reach for the stars and try needling one of the largest home building companies in town. Maybe, just maybe, I could extract from them the name of one good, reliable subcontractor who could finally get us through the last few hurdles (I say “few”, but it felt like HUNDREDS) to complete our home renovation.

Well, my friends, it didn’t work …. exactly. Albeit I called a number of times and left message after message, no one from this company would return my calls. So, what then did I do? I turned to my husband and instructed him to reach out to the company. And after having left just one single message, guess what happened next? Yup, he got a return call almost immediately from the owner, himself. Apparently, this is still a man’s world (Grrrrrrr)! In any event, this individual was kind enough to bestow upon my husband the name of a “good, reliable” subcontractor whom he often utilized on his builds. My husband promptly called this subcontractor and scheduled a meeting. Needless to say, the meeting went well, and we are finally on track to having our home completed in the coming weeks. Can I hear an “Amen”!!!!!!

Pictures to follow.

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Energized with the kind of motivation that can only come from being a novice and/or naive, I began my “contractor” career feeling exceptionally confident. Armed with my Pinterest images, which I somehow managed to whittle down from thousands of images to a measly 500, I began reaching out to friends and acquaintances to inquire after any builder they may know who would be capable of transforming my current home into my Pinterest dream home. Much to my delight, I got a few names. Even my in-laws participated, providing me with the name and contact information of the individual who had built their closet addition (an addition that from its inception had been leaking water all over my mother-in-law’s beautiful shoe collection – this should have hinted towards his competency, but alas, I was blinded by the dreamy possibilities courtesy of Pinterest and Instagram).

After almost zero discussion with my husband (who had absolutely zero interest in my grandiose renovation plans), I finally opted to meet with the individual who had built my in-laws’ addition (I know, I know…. insert palm on forehead). After guiding him through my ideas and walking through the house, he confidently determined that he could undertake the project and complete said renovation in roughly 6 months, all at a price tag that was manageable. YES, FINALLY, my dreams would be realized, and life would be utterly perfect (boy, do I need help with my priorities).

I digress, but I should note that we opted to begin the renovation process soon after purchasing the home, and prior to moving in. This, of course, meant that during the week, we were bouncing between my parents’ home and my in-laws’, while weekends were spent at our home on the ranch. FUN!

Alas, demolition day approached! After several of the predetermined walls were removed, I began walking through the home amazed at how open it already looked. Then I began focusing on a few additional walls that certainly were not essential and, if removed, could provide for an even greater open floor-plan. So, what does one do when they begin daydreaming? They call the builder over and ask them to take down a few more walls. After a few months, the walls were down, framing was done, and the massive support beam had been installed (a beam that I’d had designed by a structural engineer – I said I was a dreamer, not an imbecile – I know the value of an expert in some areas).

Well, sometime thereafter, my dreams came crashing up against reality and I learned that my builder was in fact not doing a proper job. (Of course, this was all discovered after I had paid him for his “work”). The framing was entirely off, the beam had not been properly installed, and a number of other issues soon presented. This necessitated my first “big-girl” move since beginning this renovation – I fired him!

Now what? I had the names of a few additional individuals that I had received upon my initial search, so I reached out. One person, in particular, seemed to be very well-informed and had come highly recommended. Surely if he’d done a good job elsewhere, he could do the same for me. I hired this individual and proceeded with showing him my plans. Of course, one concerning issue that immediately presented was his request to be paid a certain amount up-front. Again, being a novice “contractor”, this sounded fine. Shortly thereafter, this individual started failing to show up. Every time I’d call, he always had a reason for his absence and assured me that he would be back at the job-site soon. Once back at the job-site, however, he would again request payment, notwithstanding the fact that very little work had been accomplished. Of course, I stupidly paid him, hoping that this would be the impetus for him to start really chipping away at the mounting projects. It didn’t. This went on for nearly 2 years my friends! I know, that’s BANANAS!!!!! Finally, unable take my constant complaints, my husband stepped in and abruptly fired him (and by “fired”, I’m fairly certain that he had a few choice expletives for this builder).

Fully defeated, crushed that I had been so kind to both the initial and second builder and both had cheated me without a hint of remorse or concern, and with still so much work yet to accomplish before the home could be move-in ready, I wallowed in despair for an eternity. I kid, I did wallow in despair, but only for a few days, as the kids still needed my taxi services to go to/from school and after-school activities, dinner still needed to be conjured up, and the laundry was piling up. Life went on, and so I dusted myself off, wiped away my tears, and began the process of looking for a needle in a haystack – a trustworthy, compassionate, honest, kind builder. Did he/she even exist?????

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Have you ever decided one day that a good home renovation is what you need to fully enjoy your home (and your life)?  Let me tell you – I have!  I purchased a home more than two years ago and thereafter felt certain that while the home had great “bones”, it needed a refresh to bring it up-to-date and aligned with my personal aesthetics.  Oh, the pandoras box I was opening – had I only known!  

With finances sorted, I began reaching out to various contractors in my area (and let me tell you, in Roswell, NM, one’s options are limited).  Perhaps what surprised me the most about this endeavor, however, was how FEW contractors would return my calls, or the even fewer who bothered to show up at our predetermined meeting.  

Surely contractors need jobs to support their business????  Apparently not!  

I was cordial, courteous, I wasn’t asking for the sun and the moon, and most importantly, I was not going to haggle (boy, do I wish I had had the backbone at that time to haggle)!!!  Finally, one contractor reached back out to me! Thank you, Lord!!!!  And then came the bid – it was OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!  I knew he was good, as he had built a friend’s home and had done so beautifully, but I simply felt that this could not be a fair assessment of the cost to complete the renovations I had requested.  I mean I’ve watched a TON of HGTV (i.e., Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, etc…), this is not the price the homeowners on those shows pay, and those homes are literally taken down to the studs and then completely rebuilt.  

Unable to swallow (much less pay for) the exorbitant cost reflected in the sole bid I had received, and totally incapable of haggling to lower the bid, I confidently determined that it couldn’t be that hard to manage the remodel myself (again, thank you HGTV – I say that with absolute sarcasm).  I mean, all I needed to do was parcel out the project to a few subcontractors (thereby cutting out the cost of the middleman/the contractor) and VOILA, my dream home would magically come together.  Oh, how wrong I was!!!!! 

…. more to come tomorrow!

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