"Your windows are set to arrive on Thursday," my contractor, Benny, said to me.
After months of gloomy, rainy winter construction, I was finally going to see the new downstairs rooms without boards over the openings. Cliff and I hadn't originally planned to replace our windows but the unexpected discovery during demolition that the ceilings were actually a foot and a half higher than we thought, meant that our home's original windows were really too short for the new family room and bedrooms now underway (plus they were single-pane. Yikes!).
Having gone back to Design Review for approval, and then mandatory neighborhood input, had cost our project a month, and manufacturing the casement windows had added five weeks more. In the meantime, our job site had essentially been shut down while Benny took his loyal band of merry men and "filled in" with smaller projects. Now, we were - at long last - back on board and the beautiful, new, TALL, wooden windows would be installed by Friday.
Let there be light!
As a "serial renovator," I have learned that home construction projects are always full of unexpected surprises. In this case, the added height was a positive - as was the extra three feet behind my sons's previous closet space (although the added expense was not)! Still, with windows in place, and inspections signed off, we were finally in a position to start closing up walls and laying floors.
This is when it gets really exciting!
You would think that after four previous home renovation projects, I'd have the construction process down pat AND be able to anticipate the "unknowns" with more precision, but I don't. The truth is, that until the demolition is complete, it's virtually impossible to know what will actually reveal itself behind walls and in ceilings. I learned long ago that if I stay open to the journey, these unexpected "surprises" aren't mistakes - they are often opportunities. What's more, I know that it is completely appropriate to refine as we go!
I like to remind buyers that the house-hunting process is essentially the same - we refine as we go.
My colleague here at The GRUBB Co, Karen Starr, sums it up beautifully when she compares house hunting to solving a Rubik's Cube. "It's a matter of shifting, shifting, and shifting until click, it all falls into place!" (She's right, of course.) None of the "rejected" properties are wasted; each "nonstarter" helps carve out the ultimate destination and helps me refine your search criteria as well. So while you refine, I adapt in response. The more feedback I receive, the better I am at directing you toward appropriate choices.
Now that the Spring Market is upon us, it is once again time to start sharpening those Rubik Cube skills and putting them into action. This is where the Sunday Opens really come into play in a way that online shopping can never replace (not that the INTERNET isn't an incredibly useful tool).
So dust off your shoes, pull out your maps (does anyone actually use old-fashioned maps anymore with the advent of GPS and Google maps?) update your mortgage pre-approval letter and get out there. (I will happily send you a Sunday Open Home Guide each week to guide you on your journey.)
Until you personally place yourself in the homes, walk through the rooms and envision your lives there, you will never be able to feel the all-important "click!" When you do, it's as if the boards were removed and new windows suddenly appeared.
Let there be light!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.