Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Spaces for Life: What I regret from our remodeling project

By Lance McCarthy

A few weeks ago my family celebrated our 1 year anniversary of being back in our house after a devastating fire and then full remodel of the house.  One of the strangest things about the process was that I have always been the contractor on projects, but never the client.  Deciding to use a friend’s fire restoration company instead of being my own contractor was a great decision.  Instead of trying to negotiate change orders in bed, it meant my wife and I could have a common enemy!  

Now, with some distance, the stress of a large project has worn off, and we have had time to live in the house and get to know it.  And with time, my perspective has evolved into some regrets and some unregrets.  It’s a word.

What do I regret?

  • I regret not asking more questions.  I know what you are thinking, “Lance! you are a contractor.  Don’t you know all the answers?”  First of all, thanks for the compliment, but no.  What I didn’t know was all of the differences between what my contractor was expecting from the project compared to what I was expecting.  More questions would have helped to prevent both of us from having unmet expectations.
  • I regret being such a stickler on the budget.  (Please don’t ever tell my wife I’m saying this.  If you do, I’ll totally deny it.)  It is funny how the added costs feel really big at the time, but now I am just left with these little details that would have been really nice to have.  Like replacing the front sidewalk.
  • I regret where my toilet is in the hall bath.  We had to relocate it at the last minute because of–well, it’s a long story–but it is now right by the bathroom door, and it just feels really awkward to try to reach any sort of zen state when the risk of a kid pounding on the door 6 inches from your face is such an imminent threat.
  • I regret believing the contractor when he said “two more weeks”.  Remember that from Tom Hanks’ Money Pit?  


What do I not regret?

  • I don’t regret not trying to DIY.  I know it’s not technically DIY when you are a Class A Licenced General Contractor, but not having to work on my own personal house allowed me to focus on my family as much as possible as we went through that stress.
  • I don’t regret all the built-ins.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but right now I’m typing this from my built-in banquette, across from my built-in bookshelves that are across the room from my built-in closet wardrobes.  Worth every penny.
  • I don’t regret the floors.  We were supposed to use normal plain ‘ol oak hardwood, but we opted for some maple that we just clear-coated.  It looks incredible.
  • I don’t regret my wife’s open shelves in the kitchen.  I thought I would.  I tried to convince her that having some of the upper cabinets be open shelves would end up making the kitchen look messy, but she didn’t listen to me, and now it looks pretty cool.

There’s lots more where that came from, but I’ll stop for now.  I’ll try to post some pictures soon so you can see what we have.  It is ours, and we absolutely love it.  


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