Design, Lifestyle

Our house is a very very very fine house

We don’t have two cats in the yard and life was never really that hard.  Hopefully you know the song and the reference to Crosby Stills Nash and Young.  We do have a fine house and love our new community.

After living for 7 years in new communities in the SE of Calgary we got out.  We had had it up to here with road and housing construction and with the soul-less feel of those neighbourhoods.  This isn’t to say that we hate new and so should you.  In fact, we love new, but we were really unsatisfied with lot sizes, lack of trees and the noise that comes with new neighbourhoods.  There are some great features with communities such as Auburn Bay and Mahogany, but even the lake couldn’t keep us.

We started our search in the neighbourhoods where we grew up – Lake Bonavista and Lake Sundance.  Sundace was taken off the list after two open house visits.  The access into that community is less than ideal and for my husband who travels to the NE for work, we were concerned with the commute.  Bonavista seemed perfect and I had a great time being a kid there, but after several homes, all being above our price range and needing work we turned to picturesque Parkland.  What’s not to love about Parkland?  It isn’t a through community, unlike Bonavista, so those that are driving into Parkland typically live there or are dreaming of living there.  The access to Fish Creek Park is ideal and so is the ridge walk and Park 96 is amazing.  No, the Park doesn’t have a lake, but it has a kids Splash Park, musical performances every Sunday during the summer, tennis courts, a hill for tobogganing and of course a skating rink.  Have I sold you yet?

In the summer of 2012 we found our home! Our realtor had been sending us listings and we had been perusing.  Tony was out of town on business when this gem came through our email.  We called each other immediately and both agreed that we had to see this home.  We, in fact were both sold before we walked through the door, and had mentally moved in well before we ever set foot in the actual space.  I contacted our realtor and he laughed a bit when I asked him to set up a showing for us.  He was surprised that we would want to see this house, given the current state and the fact that the home had been carpeted throughout – even the kitchen!  We saw it two days later and fell in love with the opening of the door.  I was a bit surprised myself, because given its state I would have normally walked out the door, but there was something different about this place.  Maybe it was the vaulted ceilings in both the living and the family rooms, or the fact that all the bedrooms could house a king sized bed, or even the fact the owners loved art deco and the 50s ( I was meant to decorate in that era)? Regardless of what it was, we fell in love and made an offer. After weeks of negotiating (3 to be exact) and going back and forth with them, we settled on a deal and took possession two weeks later.   We packed our home in Mahogany, moved everything into the garage in Parkland and moved in with my parents for the 4th time over the summer.

We had 6 weeks and a giant list full of wishes and must dos.  I was at that house everyday checking in with our project manager and with the trades.  People have asked how we managed to do everything in 6 weeks.  Here are some tips:

1.      Be there!  Make yourself known to the people working in your home.  They are more likely to do favours for you, arrive on time, clean up after themselves etc. if they know that you are invested in your home and in them.

2.      Be firm! I would call contractors within 30 minutes of them not showing up for their scheduled arrival.  I was never mean, but definitely firm with my expectations.

3.      Have a plan! We went into this renovation with a plan and we stuck to it.  We weren’t changing our minds every two days and you really can’t if you have a firm deadline in mind.

4.      Be flexible! There are times when things won’t work out in your favour, even if you have called and even when you set expectations you may have to just roll with the punches.

5.      Create a budget and really really really try to stick to it!  It’s so important to know your finances before embarking on a large project, heck, and really any project.  We set ourselves a limit, with a little wiggle room and came in slightly above it; by slightly I mean $5,000 only.

6.      Lastly, cry if you have to! I don’t usually suggest crying on the phone or in front of contractors working in your home, but with anything when you are pushed far enough sometimes you get emotional.  My granite probably would still be delayed if I hadn’t totally broken down on the phone.

Here’s a list of what we did for a budget of $75,000:

–          Brand new master bathroom including reframing and new HVAC

–          Reframing of three doorways

–          All new casings and baseboards

–          A paint job throughout the entire home and all the built ins

–          A new furnace, air conditioner, humidifier and thermostat

–          New flooring throughout the entire home (tile, carpet and laminate)

–          New kitchen/backsplash

–          New appliances

–          New lighting including recessed lighting in the kitchen and hallway

–          Rewiring of whole home, and a new electrical box

–          Demo of everything

–          Rental of 3 bins

–          Hiring a project manager

If you are thinking of remodeling BE SMART, BE KNOWLEDGEABLE and BE PREPARED for anything!

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