For the first time since we started the renovation project in October 2011, and before that, we have a fully functioning filing system set up. All the papers that have drifted around the house in amorphous piles have been sorted, sifted, and put into labeled hanging folders. All the documents pertaining to the renovation have been collected and organized in their own two file drawers, including finalized permits, architectural drawings, product information and renovation notes.
In the process of setting up the filing system I also took down every book from the bookshelves and removed the renovation dust from each one.
Knowing what we know today, there are many, many things we would have done differently if we were to start over from scratch. This is knowledge that can only be accumulated through experience. What surprises me is that there is no way that homeowners can actually share their hard-won experience with other homeowners preparing for their first renovation journey. Yes, there are plenty of how-to sites, books, and videos available to get some idea of how to do certain tasks or procedures. There are also plenty of renovation nightmare television shows that purport to prepare the homeowner for renovating their home, but actually do not prepare them for the realities of planning, destruction, construction and recovery.
There is a dearth of writing or information about the psychological experience of undergoing a renovation: individually, in a marriage partnership, on families, pets, etc.
And another part of the renovation experience is planning for the aftermath: what were you able to afford to accomplish at this time? What are you planning to do in the next phase? What can you do now, while walls, floors or ceilings are opened up, that will prepare for that next phase, that will add very little to costs today but would be very expensive to re-open later on?
This is why I have conceived of a course for homeowners, called, “Homeowner 101”. To provide a social learning experience for homeowners contemplating renovating their houses.