What We've Learned From Our Renovation

I owe you guys a long overdue update on how our renovation is going.  I've hesitated on sharing any updates waiting for pictures or news to share that felt like a big deal. To state the obvious, it's been really slow!...and frustrating...and...educational..wearing...and again SLOW. While I wallow over here about our family bunking up with my parents without an end date in sight, I thought some of what we've learned could help others. If you're not thinking about renovating, well misery loves company :)

Where We Started - (Catch up on our renovation so far, here)

This feels like forever ago by now, and I guess it should! I took this photo back in December a few days before Christmas. Even before that, we truly started the process 2 years ago. You read that right. 2 years ago...

Most of that time went into drawing up architectural plans, finding a contractor and unfortunately the city permit. Which leads to me to our first learning....

Get A Permit + Plan Time For Approval

You may be saying to yourself right now, a permit, who needs one of those? You. You do.

Going into this job we asked ourselves the same question, if a permit was really needed. Since we had never renovated before, it felt like something that was optional. If you wanted to pay to have the city check the quality of work, you got a permit. If you wanted to work fast and trusted your contractor, you did without.


Asking around with friends and colleagues who had renovated before, a permit was absolutely mandatory. If you failed to get a permit with the city of Atlanta you risked a permanent hold or demolition of your progress.

So a permit it was for us.

Our contractor ended up submitting our permit about three times, before we got approval for our job. Technicalities, site visits, screening, arborist assessments, you name it. It was done at our house. This process took us four months. The kicker? We had already moved out and moved our things into storage.

If I had to do this part over again, I would have heard the '2 week' timing for the permit and firmly stayed in our house until framers showed up on site.


Plan Your Living Situation During The Renovation + Expect It To Take Longer Than Estimated

For us, this meant moving into my parents house, who were gracious enough to open up an extra bedroom to us and our crazy cat, Luc.

I went into this living situation hearing 6 months until completion and fully expecting 8 months to a year.  Spoiler alert, we are just now on month 9 and the framers have not started.

All this is to stay really think about your living situation during the renovation from both a budget and sanity standpoint. It will always take longer than you think.

We are still very happy that we decided to move out of the house especially now that we've seen what demo and a construction site looks like - dust EVERYWHERE. But being out of our house for this long in someone else's home is definitely wearing on us.

Don't Forget Your TV + Internet Contracts

I will try not to harp on this one too much (we have Twitter for that right?), but hoping you can avoid it! Somehow in the world of AT&T deals and painstakingly long customer service calls, we ended up unknowingly in a 2 year contact with our U-Verse + Internet. A mere few months before we planned to move out. While I couldn't manage to get out of this contract, I did find out that AT&T offers a 'Vacation Hold'. A pause and lower payment for your service, it is still painful, but cheaper than the 'early termination fee'.

If you get into this situation, make sure you don't pack up your AT&T box and remotes in your storage unit. Your contract may expire while you're renovating. :|

Know the Building Marketplace You're Walking Into

This may be one of the most difficult items on this list, but so important. The building market in Atlanta has totally changed since we started house searching in 2015. Now 2 years later, the city is booming and contractors are having a much harder time keeping subs on the job at a cost within budget.

This comes into play if your job is drawn out over a longer period of time because the marketplace increase impacts the price for potentially the contractor and you.

Where We Are Now

Hopeful. After a lot of discussion with our contractor and the engineers on the cost of the steel for the project and some issues with the reality of our first bid, we re-looked at our architectural plan and scope of work.

Coming out of that, we've made some updates to plan that I am actually feeling really excited about. Now we just need to get moving!