It feels so powerful to start tearing down walls, that shiver of anticipation, that new beginning…dust flying….progress being made. It’s still my favorite part of the construction process. Alas, It is but a moment in the life of a project. While I’m all for living in the moment, it’s the moments that follow that you really have to live with. I call it: “Hurry up and wait”. The excitement fades, the dust settles, literally into every crack and crevice in your home. It seems to have a regenerative quality about it – if scientists could decode this mystery they could be using it to solve the world’s problems.
The anti-climatic wait can happen for any number of reasons, many taken directly from the Contractors Big Book of Excuses. Know that at some point you will be responsible for the delays. Your inability – OUCH, and mine to make a decision doesn’t just slow the process, it costs you money. So practice being decisive. Hire people you trust and whose opinions you respect, and remember paying a little more up front will save you a world of hurt later.
Back to the demolition. For me its like the metaphorical clearing of the chess board. When selecting a space, I want to be able to see what I will do with it. Sometimes I can’t see it. It becomes a panicked voice in my head. I can’t see it. I can’t see it. In these cases I have to let other factors drive the decision:
- Location, Location, Location: IT WILL NEVER FAIL YOU
- Square foot price: it will tell you the investment you can put into the property and still make a profit
- Intuition: in the end you have to trust your gut
Still when the sledge hammer falls, pulls down the walls, and exposes the possibilities, sweeping away the distractions….I can see it. It’s beautiful, except when it’s not. There are few things as ugly or disappointing as an unforeseen condition. By definition, they were not invited to the party, and they are most certainly not welcome. Simply put it means the discovery of something unexpected… a rotten sub-floor, termites, a pipe where no pipe should be. Money will be involved, briefly as you part ways with it, sometimes tears, certainly a good deal of frustration. Likely a why me or two. Sadly unforeseen conditions and the change orders that ensue are the norm. Tack an extra 10 – 12% on to the construction budget you are given at the onset of the project. If you don’t have the money in the bank, either cut the scope, or delay the project until you do. Don’t be fooled into thinking the guy with the low quote will keep you whole. You’ll be a shadow of a human being when he’s through with you.
On proceeding with caution, I recommend it. Beyond the problems that may or may not lie below the surface is the value in preserving what others have painstaking put into place before you. Work with your architect, if you are fortunate to have one, and/or your builder to try to understand the decisions that were made, and examine the potential for preservation.
Ultimately, if you decide that the Hard Rush is the only way for you, don’t miss the thrill of what’s revealed below the foundation, hidden in the walls, secreted away in the ceiling, it’s a veritable time capsule. As my father is so fond of saying: “The history, when you think about it….Incredible.”