These past two weeks I’ve been immersed in the Red Mountain renovations. We were lucky to get a tenant one month in advance, but this meant we had a hard deadline of being move-in ready by September 1. This gave us about a one-month time frame to complete renovations on two units.
I learned a lot in this whirlwind of activity. I was not only the owner, the designer and the project manager, but I was also the general contractor. I was responsible for finding, hiring, and managing subcontractors to make the renovation happen well and happen on time.
Below are three lessons I learned, along with solutions, that I thought I’d share with you:
1. Lesson learned: A tight schedule can be deleterious to recycling goals. Because there wasn’t a moment we weren’t in a hurry, we sometimes would make the expedient choice of throwing recyclables into the landfill because there was no easy way to recycle.
A good solution: Before you start the renovations, set up a big recycling bin onsite. Show it to each of your tradesmen and explain to them what you would like to get recycled. This sets the project up for recycling success.
2. Lesson learned: At first, we tried to do a lot of the tasks by ourselves. Since we’re not professional handymen, progress was slow and painful. This was not acceptable considering our one-month deadline.
A good solution: Get a good team together. It is easy to think that it will be cheaper to do it yourself, which is true when you have all the time in the world. But in this case, it was cheaper for us to get a team of tradesmen together to do the work because time was money. They did it quickly and they did it right the first time. Also, the quality of professional work, and this goes withoug saying, is just plain better.
3. Lesson learned: No matter how much you can’t afford them, mistakes will happen. For example, I chose this red paint color for our interior doors and it turned out to be this awful 80’s salmon color that made our entire unit look terrible. So I paid the painter a little extra to repaint them dark brown the next day.
A good solution: Have a contingency fund in your budget. You might pick the wrong fans, or the wrong flooring, or the wrong contractor whose work needs to be redone. Let me rephrase that, you WILL do something that will need fixing later. Might as well plan for it and have a little extra pot of money set aside to address those issues. Most professional general contractors always have a contingency fund. The process of construction is inherently prone to mid-project changes, mistakes, and things that go wrong!
Photo Credit: The recently completed west unit of Red Mountain. Photo by the author.