27 September 2010

In Hindsight

Here are a few things we've learned so far about fixing up a house:

Two Variations of Brown

1. I knew that paint, when applied to different surfaces, will look slightly different. What I hadn't accounted for was just how different - we experimented on wood but once it was on cement, it looked like a completely different color!!!

The painter was able to match the brown paint color I chose (which you can view here) but when he applied it to the walls, it looked positively PINK! Turns out there is a red-based brown and a yellow-based brown. The problem is that he already did the first coat all the way up to the second floor! I actually complained that he worked too fast...

What we learned: Whether you buy ready-mixed paint from a store or have your painter mix the color you want, paint a small section of the wall first and LIVE WITH IT FOR A FEW DAYS. If you feel something is wrong, make your opinion heard RIGHT AWAY or have someone else, who is not involved in either the paint selection or the actual painting, take a look. This will save you from wasting a lot of paint.

2. More than a year before the renovation, we asked around to see just how much we would need to spend. And while we were able to save up for the estimated figure, we underestimated the cost of the miscellaneous items such as sand, cement, bathroom fixtures and the lights! Yes, I thought I had everything covered but I forgot about the lights and found out too late that they are quite expensive.

What we learned: Once you get a copy of the house plans, ask a contractor or an architect to advise just how many tiles are needed, what sizes are recommended and the amount of cement and grout you will need to buy. This will enable you to shop around at leisure instead of zooming like a chicken with her head cut off! You'll also be able to budget for the tiles you actually want.

Another thing is to start looking at light fixtures and ask your electrician what type to buy. For the bathroom, budget and measure for towel rods and mirrors - especially if you will install lights on either side of the said mirror. You will then immediately know how to answer the electrician when he asks where you want to position the wall sconces.

Same Tile, Different Layouts

3.  We opted for ceramic tiles that look like wood (see here) but when the workers first started installing them, the layout looked a bit weird to me. So I decided to experiment and the pictures above are what I came up with. The image on the left is the original layout, the one on the right is what I opted to go with as it looks less chaotic.

What we learned: Try to be at the site on a daily basis. The workers could end up doing things that you might not approve of and once the cement dries, there will be little you can do to fix it.

4. To quote Celerie Kemble from her book "To Your Taste," "No matter what a person has to spend on a project, it never seems to be enough to do everything he or she wants. They forget to allow room for errors. Inevitably, they underestimate the cost of labor. In some cases, people experience taste inflation: as they learn more about their options, they start to care more about the quality of details that previously held no interest for them. Beware! Knowledge can be the gateway to financial vice!"

We are finding this to be completely true!

What we learned: Whatever amount you have estimated for expenses, add 15-20% more for inflation or things that might come up unexpectedly.

We still have a long way to go and if you have pointers you'd like to share, please do so as we definitely want to know what to look out for!


Maxi said...

Hi Nicole,

Here's my honest suggestion.
1. Experiments are expensive and time consuming. Learn from other's experience.
2. Suppliers are good source of information on latest trend and techniques. Use your network for supplier discount.
3. Buy quality materials. It might be costly on initial investment, but you'll reap the benefits soon.
4. Don't rush things especially when purchasing materials. Your contractor might ask materials they don't need now. Every peso counts.
5. Monitor your expenses and buy what you only need using computer tools. Try to buy by bulk, its much economical and cheaper.
6. Return unused items to supplier in exchange for other items.
7. Look for SALE with quality items.


Nicole said...

Hi Maxi,

Thanks for the tips =) You're right about how every peso counts! We've already had some items exchaged so that helped. But we missed the sale months of July and August so we'll try our luck again once we start looking for furniture.


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