Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Project Completion

It's done. Finished. Completed. Culminated. Ended. Mopped Up. Finalized. Wrapped Up.

After about eight months of work, the house we have been rehabbing in downtown Grand Rapids is complete. The last thing to be done was a re-build of the chimney (I hired that job out). Our work included painting entire exterior and most of the interior, gutting and redoing two bathrooms, refinishing hardwood floors, rebuilding the concrete steps on the front porch, replacing most of the wiring and most of the plumbing, installing four new windows and several doors, new heating system, new water heaters, tearing off six layers of shingles and putting a new roof on (hired out), and a list of other tasks that would probably fill a good sized book.

About halfway through the project, I started to maintain a list of tasks to be done. As the project progressed, that list grew as we thought of more tasks. There came a time when the list started to get smaller. About two months ago, the list could be printed on a single page. At that point, it seemed we were "almost done". We also discovered that "almost done" can last a long time. It seems that the list doesn't seem to get any shorter, the details on the list just get smaller. For example, list items like "install tub surround", and "rebuild kitchen cabinets" gave way to "trim the bedroom door so it actually closes", and "caulk the bathtub", which gave way to "trim the strings on the blinds" and "replace dining room window lock". And then we kept finding new things that needed to be done. Many of them were little things, but new things nonetheless. Loose outlet plates, missing shoe moulding, slow running hot water (those plumbing details will drive ya nuts!), coat hangers, and a zillion other things all cospired to extend the time from our original September estimate to February.

Part of the problem was that the labor pool shrank dramatically. First, Josh started college, and then David ended up having enough homework to where he was often unavailable. And Abigail was usually able to con Grandma into taking her to Grandma's house on the days when we worked. And then she wondered why she wasn't making any money.

So it came down to Deb and I, with occasional help from David. It was the two of us that would don the old paint-spattered clothing after supper on a Tuesday night, throw a few supplies in the car, and drive downtown to spend a couple more hours working at the Joe (as we called the property). On Saturdays, I would go early and Deb and David would join me later on in the day. We would get home in time for our traditional Saturday home-made pizza meal.

These sorts of projects tend to take on a life of their own. Part of that life is to prevent many other tasks from happening. Our vegetable garden this past summer was a mass of weeds because many spare moments were spent with paintbrush or hammer in hand. Perhaps the hardest hit was the barn, which became sort of a dumping ground for anything that needed to be stored indoors, as well as many "deal-with-it-later" items. Now that it's later, I'm having to deal with it. I have spent the last couple of weeks sorting through the piles of stuff on the table and the floor. I've started remodeling the interior of the barn at the same time, so the mess is still there. But it's a good kind of mess now, a mess that means progress.

One of the effects of finishing a big project like this is that David's income has suddenly dropped to zero. He is now having to look for a job. It was very convenient for him (and us) to be working for me, as we could be very flexible. We took time off in the summer to spend on family vacations. There were several evenings where we just didn't feel like working, so we stayed home. There was always plenty to do, but we could ignore it if we felt like it, or if the calendar had other activities listed. (This was another reason for our February instead of September completion date.)

That was nice, but it's not gonna happen again real soon. It's time for a real McJob.

As a reminder of our neglect of many things at home, on the day we officially declared the project done, our microwave oven died. Time to catch up on the home front...

The Finished Product

The boys spent many hours refinishing the floors in this picture and the next picture

1 comment:

Chris and Celeste said...

Beautiful home, i would live in it. Great job guys.