If, like me, you’ve watched a lot of Grand Designs, you know that in order to renovate your house you need to go through some hardship, but then 42 TV minutes later you will have Kevin McLeod wandering through your house admitting that it has all worked out quite well…despite his reservations. Although if you’re watching the Australian version, you will know that a renovation involves 42 minutes of people so excruciatingly smug and self-obsessed that you want to throw something at the TV.
Well we are now 2 years into our renovation, and we still haven’t actually done a single thing to the house…so Now I’m No Expert, But here’s some key questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of renovating.
1. Do you have money?
Good. Now double it. OK, now we’re talking. This is probably the most amount of money you have ever spent. Now prepare to have this amount of money laughed at by everyone from the Architect, to the builder, to any other person looking to take this money from you.
At the same time, expect the bank and anyone else you talk to, to reel in horror at this amount and make comments like ‘What are you building, a MANSION?!’
2. Do you have children?
If yes, then clearly you lied when you answered the first question.
This is the renovation paradox, you renovate because you need more space for the kids…but if you have kids the bank won’t lend you money. Here is an example of a recent conversation with the bank we currently have our loan with:
Me: Hello, I’d like to borrow some money.
Bank: Do you have a loan with us?
Bank: Let’s see, ah yes here are your details. Based on this we could lend you approximately eleventy billion dollars. When can you and your wife come in to sign the paperwork?
Me: Well my wife’s at home with our kids, so we’ll have to…
Bank: Sorry, your what?!
Me: Our kids.
Bank: You have kids?! How many?
Bank: Oh…in that case we can lend you…negative $12,000.
Me: Done…I’ll bring the money in shortly.
3. Do you have time?
We started this whole thing because we thought we might have a third child some day…and if we did we would need the space. If we didn’t we could have a room for piano teaching/ video editing.
Then we became pregnant, and we were thinking ‘I hope we’ve moved back in before the baby comes’.
Then it became ‘I can’t believe we wont be living in our house when the baby comes’.
Then ‘Oh my God we’re going to be living in my parent’s house with a newborn!’
Now it’s pretty much ‘I sure hope we can celebrate the baby’s 18th birthday in our new house!’
4. Are you going to go over budget?
In my version of the ‘Grand Designs drinking game’ you get to drink each time someone:
A) goes over budget,
B) decides to project manage the whole thing themselves (their job in IT is pretty much the same anyway), or
C) or reveals that they are expecting a baby.
I guarantee that you will be drunk by the halfway mark of the show…and why?
A) Because everything costs so much that things inevitably go over budget,
B) so you try to find things you can do yourself to save money,
C) and you can’t afford to go out anymore so you have to find things to do at home to entertain yourselves…next thing you know you’re pregnant.
So far the exclusions on our job include a roof, the floor, the painting, the deck and the cabinetry…take out the walls as well and we no longer have a house!
5. Why are we doing this?
Good question. Considering all of the grief we have gone through over the last two years on this, and this is before we have to pack up and move out, and before we have to decide if we want to rent locally or live with my parents, and before we discover that our house is built on an ancient burial ground/fault line. The answer is; it’s better than the alternatives. In our case the alternatives are to just patch things up around the house and hope that Josh feels ready to move out of home when he’s 8. Or to sell the house and buy somewhere that already has what we want. But the real estate reality is that if you want more than you have, then you have to move further out. Seeing as we feel very much part of the local community we don’t really want to have to do this. Even if we do choose to move, we’re probably going to have just as many problems borrowing money.
On the positive side, if everything goes to plan, we will have an amazing house that we can live in for the rest of our lives. What’s more it will be a home that we feel is truly ours.
Which is good…because at this rate we won’t be able to afford to leave it for a looong time.