Thursday, July 23, 2015

Last Night

Tonight will be the last night sleeping in our bedroom before the renovation takes place.

We've done pretty well with our depopulation plan.  The guest bedroom is completely empty.  Tonight we will move the second chest of drawers out of our master bedroom.  Tomorrow Laurie will take the remaining clothes out of the closet and the built in drawers, and we'll bring down the lamps and the end tables.

That will leave only the bed.  We will do that on Sunday when we get back from Up North,  The double bed is already set up in the East room for us to sleep starting Sunday night.

There are a few miscellaneous odd and ends to relocate, but we're in pretty good shape.  I'll get final "before" pictures Monday evening.

Because of the timing of the sanding and staining of the hardwood floors, we may lose access to our shower for a day, maybe two.  Laurie is none too keen on that, but we have lived through much worse.

Overall, this looks like it will be pretty easy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


We had a good meeting yesterday with Sara and Carlos, who put together the schedule.  They start work next week Tuesday, 7/28/2015 and finish on Monday, 8/31/2015.  That's about the length of time that Sara thought it would take when we first met.

We went over a lot of specifics with Carlos, e.g., what fixtures are they saving, where to store the radiators while out, what to do about art in other parts of the house, etc, etc.

We got a very positive feeling overall.  They are very contentious and have everything covered, as you'd expect.

7/28 - Begin
8/2 - Rough electric
8/6 - Drywall (second payment due)
8/12 - Painting (third payment due)
8/19 - Floor refinishing
8/28 - Stair carpet installation
8/31 - Punch list stuff (final payment due)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Depopulation Plan

From Sara:
Hi Matt,
Carlos was on vacation last week and he makes the schedule. We are also waiting for conformation on exactly when the windows will be here. The window man said 3-4 week lead time. Our plan as of this moment, is to start July 28th. We will keep that date unless in the next week we get a conformation of later than we expected. I will keep you updated!
Have a great night.

We still need to depopulate the rooms in question and will start tonight.  It always was going to be disruptive. Having dressers in the living room will be a hassle.

East Bedroom
  • Uncle Milton's Bed
    • Dismantle
    • Frame to garage
  • Coffee table to garage: curb for recycle?

Master Bedroom
  • Move chests of drawers downstairs
  • Move shoe rack to Dressing room
  • Clean out closet
    • Purge clothes
    • Non-essentials to basement for storage
  • Bed
    • Frame to garage
    • Mattress & box spring to Dressing room
  • Move carpet downstairs
    • Have cleaned
  • Empty built-in drawers

Guest Bedroom
  • Bed
    • Dismantle
    • Reassemble in East room
  • Clean out closet
    • Air conditioner downstairs
    • Purge clothes
    • Non-essentials to basement for storage
  • Move chest of drawers downstairs
  • Move cedar chest downstairs
  • Move buffet to dressing room
  • Move carpet downstairs
  • Empty clothes chute closet

Stairs & Hall

  • Remove art
  • Move plant

Friday, July 3, 2015


Here are the colors we chose for the Master Bedroom:

Here's the guest bedroom colors:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Schedule

We met with Sazama last week to go over colors, hardware, and closets.  The windows are still on the critical path, and we needed to determine what hardware to choose.   In order to do that we needed to choose the room colors.

Sara came over with their main color guy, Tom, and we picked out the color for both rooms and the trim in each (don't ask me what they are - that's Laurie's department).

Sara also was back last Thursday with the electrician and was over today to check on some more window stuff.

We have a tentative plan for moving things out of the bedrooms.  I think we'll take the chests of drawers out of the master bedroom and move them downstairs.  The furniture in the guest bedroom will go into Laurie's dressing room.  Our bed will go there, too.  The guest bed will go into the addition and we'll sleep in there.

Laurie is taking this week off to purge stuff from our closets.

Monday, June 22, 2015

"Before" Pictures

Here are some pictures of the two bedrooms as they are now.  They looked pretty much this way since we moved in back in 1993.  I guess it's time...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Good Meeting

We had a good meeting with Sara yesterday.  We had to make a change to the window in the guest bedroom (technical details that I won't get into) and discussed closets and colors.

Sometime next week Tom, their main designer, will stop over to discuss paint colors for the walls, trim, etc.  Then we can choose the hardware for the windows.  Once that's done, they'll order the windows.  We can then nail down a start date that will be about the third week in July.  Our goal is to be done by the first Packer game.

When you're in a project, you get involved with decisions like the color of your window hardware.  What color is it now?  Who knows.  What do your sister's cabinets look like?  Exactly.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's Official: Project On!

We signed the contract and put a down payment with Sazama LLC!  (pronounced “Saz-ma.”)
On Monday Sara, our designer, or Rhonda, the production assistant, will come over with the window guy to measure the windows and get them ordered.  The windows will be the critical path and could take up to six weeks to arrive, but probably not.  We’ll know that sometime mid week.  They’ll also install blinds on all seven windows.
First item will be electrical followed by windows and dry wall.  Floors are last.
In addition to the two bedrooms we will also  have the stairs, landing, and hall refinished and a new runner installed on the stairs only.  We’ll buy a runner for the hall on our own.
We decided not to do the air conditioning.  That would be an additional $13K, and it’s just not in the 2015 capital budget.  But that will be an easy stand alone project when and if we decide to do it.
The closets are still undecided.  We’ll probably end up with something fancy in our bedroom like a couple sets of shelves and three poles, paint, refinish the floors, and a new light fixture.  The geometry in there is a little complicated because of the roof line, but it will work out.
The guest bedroom (we’ll need to come up with a new name for it.  The “boy’s room” doesn’t work anymore and the “guest bedroom” sounds too cold) will be something simpler.  We’ll eventually take some of that closet and make it part of the one in Laurie’s dressing room, so we can’t get too carried away  TBD.
I’ll take the official “before” pictures this weekend.
I’m not looking forward to the process, especially clearing everything out of those rooms.  We’ll take Uncle Milty’s bed out of Heather’s room and move the double bed in there for us to sleep.  That will be strange.

The whole project should take 6 weeks.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sara's Answers

Hi Matt,

I will answer the questions below in red.
As soon as I hear back from the bids I’m waiting for I will let you know.
Sorry for the mistakes.



A couple things:

11.1 I assume that the "stairs" adder include removing the carpeting.  What would installing new carpeting cost? I am waiting for a bid from the carpet place.

11.1.  I am having a hard time getting my head around $5k for two closets.  What other options do we have? I know. I understand. I have 2 other options.
1. We could do no painting in closet and just add in a shelf and a pole. $2565
2. We could just take out the painting for the closet. $3100

11.1 AC.  I assume that the electrical all was adequate?  I am so sorry I totally missed the electric part. I’m so glad you caught that. I have a bid request into the electrical people.

You were right about the cost of the stairs and hall floors - not that expensive.

9.1, third bullet point should reference the 7 windows, not 6 done

8.1 Let's discuss the hardware.  I don't recall what it looks like, but we may want to replace it. We can add a hardware allowance of $40. The hardware there is often seen in old houses. It is hard to find and thought maybe you might want to keep it.

7.1.  I assume that includes removing any miscellaneous carpet remnants, tacks, etc. yes

Laurie and I will discuss over the weekend.  Looking forward to hearing back from you.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Second Contract Review

We haven’t signed a contract yet, but we are close.

We met with Sara, our designer, to review the initial contract and made a number of changes.  After contacting her subcontractors she made the appropriate changes.  She also came out with an HVAC guy to get a quotation to add air conditioning to all 5 of the upstairs rooms.

I really need to think of that as a separate project that’s being done in conjunction with the remodel.  But somehow my brain can’t help but adding those two sums together.

We got the revised contract.  I still have some open questions to Sara:


A couple things:

11.1 I assume that the "stairs" adder include removing the carpeting.  What would installing new carpeting cost?

11.1.  I am having a hard time getting my head around $5k for two closets.  What other options do we have?

11.1 AC.  I assume that the electrical all was adequate?

9.1, third bullet point should reference the 7 windows, not 6

8.1 Let's discuss the hardware.  I don't recall what it looks like, but we may want to replace it.

7.1.  I assume that includes removing any miscellaneous carpet remnants, tacks, etc.

Laurie and I will discuss over the weekend.  Looking forward to hearing back from you.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Initial Contract Review

We met with our contractor yesterday to review the proposed contract.  There were a number of changes we needed to make, mostly for things that were excluded:
  • Repair of both bedroom doors
  • Plan for the closets
  • Ceiling fans in both rooms
  • Correcting the number of radiators involved from 4 to 3
  • Replacing the built in drawers in the Master Bedroom
Additionally, we wanted her to price out two things for us:
·         Installing an air conditioning unit in the attic that would feed the bedrooms.  I don’t think that will be too expensive, and I know that we’ll regret it if we don’t do it now.
  • Removing and refinishing the carpet in the hallway.  This will get done sometime.  It just depends on when it makes the most sense, now, or when we do the next phase.
There is some question regarding what type of windows we should get.  If we change the outside windows, we may need to go through the Wauwatosa Design & Review board because it will change the front of the house.  The back windows won’t be an issue.  She will check with the City.

She will contact the appropriate subcontractors and should have an updated cost Monday.  If all goes well, we’re looking at an early July start date and about five weeks to complete the whole thing.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Contract Meeting

We're meeting this Wednesday, May 27th, to finalze the details of the project and to, hopefully, sign a contract.

Details of the meeting to follow.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Last Friday, 5/8/2015, we had a walk-through with a contractor (I won't say who until we decide to proceed) and some subcontractors.  Laurie went through with them.

They looked at the electrical, the floors, the HVAC, and the plaster.  The window guy couldn't make it, but photos should be sufficient for them to bid.

Sara emailed me over the weekend to ask for a few clarifications (bring electrical up to code or replace existing? What to do with the radiators?).  She said that she should have bids from her subs this week and should be able to give us a proposal next week.

We've scaled back the scope of the project to the master bedroom and the guest room.  The other two rooms can wait.

Monday, April 27, 2015

No Decision Yet

It’s always good to not make a decision too quickly.
We really reflected on the cost of this project over the weekend.  Is it really worth using a general contractor or would it be better to manage it ourselves?  In general, GC’s do provide a valuable survive in moving projects along, and it is certainly easier to deal with just one person.  But that comes at a price.
I think we've ruled out the second firm we met with.  They were just two expensive for what we need.  They're bedrooms, not intensive care units, for crying out loud.
I exchanged emails Sara, the first contractor we met with.  They are still pricey, but much more in line with what we’re thinking.  Our next step will be for them to walk through with subcontractors to get a firm estimate.
That’s assuming we decide not to coordinate the project ourselves.

This indecision has stretched out our timeline..  We’re eager to get it done, but there is no urgency.  If it’s done by September I’ll be happy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Initial Meetings

We met with two contractors (independently) this week to discuss the Bedroom Project.
The process was the same with both.  We discussed the scope of the project, then showed them the downstairs areas we had already remodeled so that they could get a sense of what we like.
We went through each bedroom and discussed what are envisioning, asking for their thoughts throughout.  In addition to the things already listed, we are considering:
  • Master bedroom -- most work here.  Closet makeover, built in drawers enhanced
  • Dressing room – closet remodel, remove carpet & finish hardwood
  • Guest room – closet remodel, cabinet rework
  • Heather’s room – complete redo, maybe including a balcony.
  • Hall & Stairs – remove/replace carpet, refinish as needed.

Both of the designers were nice and seemed thoughtful, with pretty good ideas.  They both indicated hat my proposed budget was not adequate.  Both figured that they could start work at the end of June.  That timeline works for us.
The first personsaid that she would start working on the plan and if it got way beyond what I was proposing, she give me a call to revise the scope. Hopefully I’ll hear something from her in the next couple of days.
The second guy said outright that I was way off.  We discuss the project in more specific detail and discussed trimming the scope to just the Master and Guest bedrooms.  He gave us a number that he figured would be good within 10% either way.
He had a pretty good grasp of the process, but he also was higher pressure.  He wanted us to sign a contract and put some skin in the game ($2,500) right away.
I suppose we should talk with a third contractor.  You know what they say about a man with two watches.

We will discuss the whole thing tonight over dinner, and answer the big question:  Are we in?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting Started

2015 looks like the year to begin our long-delayed 2nd floor remodeling project.  We already did the bathroom up there in 2008 (I think), so it will only be the four bedrooms.

The project will include:
  • Refinish the hardwood floors
  • Replace doors as needed
  • Replace windows
  • Upgrade electrical
  • Replace fixtures
  • Add ceiling fans to two rooms
  • Replace carpet where appropriate
  • Paint
  • Enhance closets
  • Convert Heather's room into something to be determined, maybe a solarium.
We will do this in two phases, starting with the two southern bedrooms and finishing with the two on the north side of the house.

This is everything on that floor, so I don't think that there is a lot of potential for project-creep, but you know how that goes.

We'll meet with a few different contractors.  The first one is scheduled to stop over next week and I'm waiting for a call back from a second one.  Unfortunately the people who did our kitchen, den, and powder room are no longer in business.  That's too bad - we liked them.

This is going to be more expensive than I think, as these things always are.  But, we plan on living in the house for another ten years at least, so if not now, when?