Are you still working on your house?

Ideally, he’d like to find some land and build a house but his wife, Phyllis, isn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea. She remembers what living in a construction zone was like. At one point her living room served as both dining room and master bedroom.

If you’ve been thinking of tackling an addition or renovation, here’s more advice from an expert: For a large project, start in late April or early May so that you can get the bulk of the heavy labor done before the humidity of summer hits. If you start your project late in the summer, you may find yourself putting in windows during a snow storm. Don’t think of building inspectors as your enemies.

“You have to realize,” says Ed, “that building inspectors are there to guide you. The stories you hear about them are related to people who are trying to cut corners.”

“I had someone dig the basement. I put the footings in and then I hired someone to lay the block,” explains Ed. If you aren’t sure how to proceed with any aspect of construction, visit local building sites to see how the pros do it. Don’t buy every tool you need. Rent those you’ll only use once or twice. If you need concrete poured, a number of small companies only charge for what you use. Ed explains that large companies charge by the yard.

He adds that when the concrete truck arrives make sure you have enough bodies around to help spread the cement as it is poured. When you are ready to do the electrical work, be overly generous with wall plugs, three-way switches, cable TV and telephone jacks. Although high efficiency furnaces are something people think of when replacing an existing heating system, don’t overlook mid-efficiency furnaces.

“You have to look at your overall savings on fuel,” he explains. “A mid-efficiency furnace was better for us. When I looked at the difference in price between the two, it would have taken me 20 years to recover the cost of the high efficiency furnace.” If you are planning to use sheet flooring and you have an irregular-shaped floor, consider tiles learn more. Tiles can save you money because there is less cutting and therefore less waste. If your room is a high traffic area, Ed recommends commercial grade tiles. Watch for clearance items in stores. Sometimes, you can get a great deal.

“One day we were in Sescolite buying lighting fixtures when we noticed that they were selling off their industrial shelving at $2 a shelf,” recalls Phyllis. “We bought $60 worth of shelving for the basement. That gave us three floor to ceiling units that are 12 feet wide. They were a great find.” Recycle things from one area of your house to another. He used cabinets from their old kitchen in their basement. If you are buying kitchen cabinets, stick with standard sizes. Custom-sized cabinets are more money. When you reach the stage where only the decorating is left to do, step away from the project for a period of time.

“You can’t decorate a whole house immediately after doing the construction,” says Phyllis. “It’s too much.” Whatever your project, expect comments from neighbors.

Phyllis says friends will also ask, on a continual basis and in an incredulous manner, “Are you still working on your house?”

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