Alright! Time for the promised "problems, solutions, and things we've learned so far" blog!
Thankfully, we haven't run into too many problems so far. I'd like to think we've had more "challenges" to deal with than problems. These challenges have been related mostly to aesthetics, and luckily nothing integral to structure of the house... well, except the drain issues! Since the drains have been re-plumbed, we've discovered that we will indeed have to dig up the asphalt in the front of the house to tie in the new sewer line, and possibly the city street. The biggest problem with this: The house is so old, the city really doesn't know where the tie in is. Cha ching!!
We have had really good luck so far with almost all of our subs and vendors, but we did have an issue with Hayward Lumber when it came to windows and doors. After the windows and doors were delivered, we found that three of the doors we had ordered were mounted in their frames incorrectly (or the order was placed incorrectly), and they swung the wrong way. During this same time frame, the windows were installed, and we discovered that the windows we got weren't exactly what we'd expected (this was pretty much our fault - beginner's mistake, we didn't do enough research) and some of them weren't latching properly - unless you slammed them. Consequently, the windows needed to be adjusted (Milgard windows have a lifetime warranty, so we weren't too worried about those), and the doors needed to be fixed/replaced before we could move forward with their installation. No biggie, right? Wrong. Our salesman was not returning phone calls from Nick (or Mike), and when he finally did, he never showed up when he said he would. In the end, Mike took a trip to Hayward Lumber to sort things out, and I must say, everything has since been handled satisfactorily. Needless to say though, we won't be going back to Hayward any time soon.
So, what have we learned from all this?
A) Research, research, research. When it comes to building products, all are not created equally. Sounds like a no brainer, but just because a certain brand has a good reputation doesn't mean all of their products are top of the line.
B) There are a lot of choices out there! Make sure you have a pretty good idea of the style of home you want to end up with and keep things consistent from the exterior to the interior.
C) When choosing the aesthetic style of your home, make sure it is consistent with the structural style of your home. There's a fine line when it comes to blending styles - it can end up looking very deliberate and elegant, or horribly out of synch.
D) Keep padding in your budget for those "What ifs." Had we not done that, we'd be up a creek as far as the issue with the sewer goes.
E) Finally - but certainly most important - choose a general contractor that you are comfortable working with and check references. Since the moment we started talking to Nick about our remodel, we were confident that we would be happy with his work. Best of all, he has managed to exceed our expectations.
Up next... We're coming into the home stretch!