Sunday, August 21, 2011

Guest Post: My Sister The Dream Killer

Brother in the newly drywalled kitchen, writing some critical notes on the wall from me
 before I headed out of town.....

Between New York and Toronto I've been feeling completely drained from from the sweltering muggy heat of the city - so I headed up North to spend a few days at a cottage on a little lake near the town of Rosseau.  Once there my plan was to do no planning but just to spend a lot of time in a Muskoka chair doing a whole lot of nothing!  Before I post the new proposed plans for my Brother's house I thought while I was away I'd ask him to do a guest post here to share with you what its like as a new home owner to embark on a full house reno and experience the daunting realities of timelines, budgets and design decisions.

So here's a little recap of what the initial experience of buying this fixer-upper was like for my Brother and his Girlfriend and the dreams they had for can see the before pictures here and the existing floor plans here.

[ GUEST BLOGGER - My Brother]

Hello CREED readers! As a follower since day 1, it is quite a thrill to be here, "on the inside", of our favourite blog! (You should see it, it's much more spacious than I thought....but I am sure that's just an illusion created by one of Carol's fancy design tricks!) I am honoured to be a guest blogger for Carol, my big sister! Everyone calls me 6, as that is my order in this Reed clan! (FYI, Carol is 5).

I am here because, as you may have read in a previous post, my Girlfriend and I recently purchased a house. (We'll refer to her as 6+. “6” because she is with me, and “+” because she is better than me in almost every way!).  Since we weren't seriously looking for a house when we stumbled across this one, we have been in a state of frenzied shock since the day we signed the deal. I suspect a 30 day closing on a spontaneous house purchase will send just about anyone into such a state. Oh, we also had to get the condo we were living in prepared to go on the market and pray that it sold quick so we could actually pay for this new house! (It did sell quick, btw…..whew!) Needless to say, we were super excited!

The first person we told after the deal was done was my sister of course. We sent her pictures and told her our dreams….um, I mean plans, and would appreciate any guidance and advice she could give. Which reminds me, the main purpose of my role here as guest blogger is to share with the readers (particularly the non-designers amongst us) the benefits of working with a designer (Carol in particular) and the role they play in guiding you thru a successful renovation. The designer plays many roles but the first role is that of DREAM KILLER! Now that may sound harsh, but allow me to explain. Don’t get me wrong, Carol is by no means mean, (bossy pants - yes, but not mean), what she'll do is listen to your wants, nod in agreement, then bam! A couple hours later she emails you a budget……Dream Killer! Then the reality starts to set in and you start to manage your dreams so they comply with your finances. Trust me when I tell you, this is a very important aspect of the whole process, especially for DIY’ers. No point starting something you cannot afford to finish, and finish properly. The budget is your guide and Carol takes the budget VERY seriously…..more seriously than the clients do in fact……(guilty!). While creating a budget may not seem like that hard of a task, (cause you don't know half the things that are supposed to be in it) a designer will always do a more thorough one than your average homeowner. Why? Details, that’s why. Carol thinks of every little thing - it really is annoying actually.   The average person thinks mostly about the things you see when the project is complete, goes to Home Depot and prices those things. A designer sees it all, including what is not visible, and knows what all that 'invisible' stuff costs!

So that sums up the first and very important role my Sister/Designer played in this process. Future posts will track our progress, but before we get too far into that, I should outline the key players
and circumstances that make this project unique from the average homeowner:

Me: I have undergone 2 renovations of this magnitude before and lived to tell about it! I am a somewhat capable DIYer, but know my limits. (Electricians and plumbers are licensed for a reason!) For this project I will be doing the site measure and the base AutoCad plans, some demolition, and installation of some trimwork and hardware.
6+: Is a trained designer and works in the commercial sector. Currently she manages multi-million dollar projects for corporate facilities. For our house reno she'll be the project manager, co-designer, co-general contractor, chief negotiator, keeper of the schedule and chequebook!  In other words, she's The Boss.
Carol: No introduction required obviously. We are getting a special combination of Carol’s service levels. You might say we are getting enhanced E-Design services with the bonus of personal visits. She is our first resource when we have any design related doubts or questions.
G.C.: General contractor. Actually, co-general contractor. With 6+’s contacts in the industry, we have been able to source certain trades and suppliers ourselves that normally the GC would take care of. So far we like and trust our G.C., which is good.

Circumstances: We have exactly 20 days to finish the job! That is when the condo we live in closes and we must vacate! OK, well we don't require 100% completion in 20 days, but we are aiming to have the entire 3rd floor liveable by then.  The whole 3rd floor is the master suite, and if we could just have that on day 20, we would be happy!   What does the Dream Killer think,,,,,,she just smiles and nods, and reminds me the term 'liveable' is very subjective.

Sound impossible? Maybe….maybe not? The photos below were taken after we owned the home for 2 days!  Demolition of the interior was almost complete.

 Living/Dining area looking toward front hallway staircase.

Kitchen after all cabinets and fixtures were removed.

 Living Room after all finishes were stripped.

Third floor master ensuite completely stripped.  Old hot tub sitting in the middle of the floor waiting to be hauled over the balcony.

Next up we'll post the new floor plans and some of the initial purchases and finishes selected.  By the time this post was published all the new framing and rough-in work has been completed....


  1. How wonderful that you have a dream killer in the family and one with a discerning eye and taste level that will turn your home into an incredibly livable place in no time.

  2. Very enjoyable read. How fun that you are up for sharing your journey, and even writing about it here. I'm a designer and my husband a GC, so we can relate to being pulled in to family projects.


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