Turkey Day = T-6 Months

I haven’t updated in about a week.  This isn’t because things aren’t happening or I don’t have things to post about.  We’ve been spending a lot of time working at the house and there’s some cool things to share.  I just haven’t had the energy and time to sit down at the computer.  We’re about 6 weeks into the project.  I kind of expected things to even out at this point, some kind of routine to develop.  Instead, there’s a weird tempo to the project.  Like a car with oblong wheels.  There are times when things are really going and times when things seem to straining just to get over the next hump.  Our big accomplishment of late is finishing the joist work in the addition.  It felt like I was working on shimming, bracing, and leveling forever.  Now that the area is properly gutted and there’s floor on which to stand (and frame), suddenly 30 different jobs are ready to go and I have my pick of the list.

The end of November means we have 6 months left in our lease.  That means in 6 months, the house needs to be ready to go.  It seems like an enormous amount of time.  Time in this project is a funny thing.  We have a working spreadsheet that we visit every week to update on the timing of various aspects of the project.  This is a really helpful time for our team.  For myself, it forces me to prioritize time and examine things that aren’t going smoothly.  For Em (I’m hazarding here), it helps her stay plugged into what is and isn’t getting done as well as brainstorm around potential obstacles.  This time highlights the complicated nature of timing.  As we move along, any given week has ten or so to-dos that might be as simple as a phone call or an email, or as intricate as planning a plumbing system (you might have noticed that some items last several weeks).  Sometimes one or more of these branch out and become different tasks, then those different branches get their own timing slots.  For example, we knew we needed to replace or reenforce floor joists.  This project led to removing about half of the existing floor in the addition.  We have to replumb the entire house as there was no copper in it when we took it over.  Since the floors were open, it made sense to do some work on the plumbing.  So all of a sudden, we went from “we’ll just pop in some joists” to plumbing time.  All of it has to get done and we have yet to be so gummed up that we didn’t have something to so (there’s always pulling carpet tacks out of the stairs…) but timelines are squishy.

When we started talking about this project, I heard more than once from people who would reference an old Tom Hanks movie called “The Money Pit” about a couple that buy a house and find out that it’s more work, time, and money to fix it up than they were expecting.  This comment would be in the form of some off handed remark or joke about renovation projects always coming in late and going over budget.  I don’t understand why this kind of expectation exists.  Why bother to write a budget or develop timeline if you’re just going to fail to stay true to either?  It’s caused me a deep seated ire over the idea of being late on anything.  I feel like I’m playing into some preconceived notion planted by Mr. Hanks that we were doomed to failure before we even started.  This gut response mixes with our timeline stratification in unexpected ways.  Are we late?  Are we on time?  Are we ahead?  Yeah, pretty much all of those.  Are things different today than they were last week, definitely.  Things get added, things get dropped.  Do I think we’re going to be ready to move in May…yes I do.  It’s only 6 months away after all.


About Nathan

Originally from central Florida (near Orlando), I've lived in the Cleveland area since 2008. When I'm not caught up in the life project de jure, I paint, sculpt, play games (mostly board games and video games), and run a small hobby import/export business.

2 thoughts on “Turkey Day = T-6 Months

  1. To possibly set your mind a bit more at ease regarding The Money Pit, IIRC the protagonists bought as much house as the bank said they could afford. In any case, they didn’t have the proper planning or funding for the work they needed, so not your situation at all.

    Re: schedules and budgets, I think your in a different situation than most. Imagine if all of these day to day changes weren’t a part of your personal plan but we’re being related to you by a contractor and each came with a corresponding price “adjustment”. Not all qualify because, like you said, a lot of things just happen in a different order than originally planned. The point being that it probably isn’t as worrisome because you are the ones making the decisions and they are for reasons you fully understand (you don’t have to worry about incompetence, deliberate hidden price jacks, or other poor motives of another actor). Still, it takes a certain temperament to deal with a fluid schedule. I’m tempted to say that Em is lucky to have you dealing with lots of it because I know she likes plans, but I’m not sure that I actually know her temperament in regards to changing them on the fly; I just have a vision of her getting crunchy-faced at these times 😉

    Work has calmed down a lot. Let me know they next time extra hands would be useful and I’ll try to come over for a half day or so.

  2. From what I have read here, I think you have an amazing balance of sticking to a plan and knowing when it is better to branch off and handle something that comes up! Flexibility with focus on the goal is a good thing! You are savvy enough to know that there has to be a little bit of wiggle room in a budget. I think you have a good shot at coming in on schedule.


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