Your Neighbour's Home Renovation Feels Like A Never-Ending Saga
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Your Neighbour’s Home Renovation Feels Like A Never-Ending Saga

It started with the bathroom and ended with everything but the kitchen sink.

By Kris Frieswick
Fri, Aug 20, 2021 10:44amGrey Clock 4 min

You know that house down the street that’s been undergoing renovations for five years?

You and your neighbours are judging the owners. Don’t deny it. “The house isn’t even that big,” you say. “They could have rebuilt it four times over in the time it’s taken them to do whatever the hell it is they’re doing in there.”

In your sarcasm, you have stumbled upon the truth.

It actually would have been faster and cheaper if they’d just knocked the whole thing down and started from scratch. But they didn’t do that because when they started, all they wanted was a new bathroom.

Let’s take a trip in the Way-Back Machine to the moment when the five-year renovations began. The bathroom is old and dingy and needs a major refresh. Budgets are set, quotes are received, timelines are created.

At this point, one of three things happens.

In our first scenario, construction begins, budgets are exceeded, deadlines are left in the dust. But, eventually, the new bathroom is completed. What a thing of beauty it is! There is joy in the household. Well, not the entire household. Someone has decided that the rest of the house now looks dingy and old compared with the bathroom. Maybe, one spouse suggests, a quick remodel of the living room would be in order so that the superiority of the bathroom does not remain so glaringly evident. Again, budgets are set and exceeded, deadlines made and left in the dust. Finally, a spiffy new living room emerges from the clutter, immediately revealing the dining room to be outdated, unfashionable and, let’s face it, sort of depressing.

Eventually, five or more years later, everything in the house is replaced, including the veranda, the roof, the septic system and one of the spouses.

In our second five-year renovation scenario, we learn early in the bathroom renovation that things are going to be a whole lot more complicated than anyone planned. On day two, the contractors discover that the home’s wiring is so old that there is no point in connecting the spiffy new electrical outlets to it because the first time someone uses a hair dryer while the electric oven is on, it will overload the feeble electrical system and possibly burn down the house.

The electrical wiring, the contractors announce, must be upgraded, house-wide, or else they can’t be held responsible for what happens. This is a job that can be done without tearing out every single wall in the house, but one of the spouses decides that since the walls are all horsehair plaster, they should be replaced as well “while they’re at it.”

The contractors start tearing down walls and guess what those walls aren’t—horsehair plaster. Nope, they are made using once-ubiquitous, currently banned asbestos. This discovery legally requires immediate remediation by a certified asbestos removal team and involves wrapping the house in a giant plastic bag and setting up a self-contained air filtration system that…. oh, screw it. All you really need to know here is that this bathroom renovation has turned the house into a Superfund site that will cost approximately 250 times the cost of the bathroom remodel to clean up. Only then can the electrical system be replaced, or the walls rebuilt, or the bathroom completed.

Scenario two isn’t always asbestos. Sometimes it’s massive termite damage that essentially requires the entire house to be rebuilt. Sometimes it’s foundation subsidence that requires a very complicated repair in which piers are driven into the ground around the house so the foundation can be connected to stop it from sinking like the Titanic. It’s scary. And expensive. Sometimes it’s worse. You get the picture.

In any case, fast-forward five years. The owners, now impoverished, finally get their finished bathroom. They plug in the hairdryer while the oven is running. It blows the circuit breaker.

Scenario three involves the simple bathroom remodel and nothing more. That’s all the owners want. That’s all they can afford. They set a budget and build in a 30% budget allowance and a 50% timeline overrun. They interview multiple contractors until they find The One. The One requires a 50% deposit up front. Although the owners are doing everything right so far, they forget two crucial things—always check references and never pay a contractor 50% upfront.

The contractor gets done ripping out the appliances, fixtures and walls in the old bathroom and then vanishes with the deposit. For the first month, he pretends he’s sick. For the second through sixth month, he assures them he’s coming tomorrow. For months six through current month, he’s just gone. Meanwhile, the owners are trying to work around the giant hole in the middle of their house where the bathroom used to be. Finally, at month eight, they start looking for another contractor to complete the work but their budget, now just 50% of its original size, causes at least two of the contractors to bust out laughing. The owners are exceedingly dejected. The home remains a work site until they are able to scrape together the remaining funds, which takes them four more years.

The next time you see that house down the street that has been under renovation for the past five years, don’t scorn the owners, as is your way. Instead, bring them a casserole and sit quietly while they tell you the story of their five-year hell project. Bring some tissues. They’ll probably cry.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 19,2021



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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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On the Market for the First Time, This Hamptons Beach House Is Listed for Nearly $26 Million

The home in the village of Sagaponack has plenty of balconies to take in the surrounding water views

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A waterfront home in the Hamptons village of Sagaponack, New York, is on the market for the very first time.

Asking $25.95 million, the gray shingle-style home was built in 2008 by the seller and has since been available as a summer rental, but it’s never been up for sale.

Designed by architect Faruk Yorgancioglu, the “waterfront home offers privacy and panoramic beauty that cannot be duplicated under today’s zoning laws,” said co-listing agent Marilyn Clark of Sotheby’s International Realty – Bridgehampton Brokerage.

Jaime Lopez for Sotheby’s International Realty

The seller bought the property, which at the time had two small structures, at auction in 2005 for approximately $2 million, according to co-listing agent Deborah Pirro of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Mansion Global could not contact the seller.

The home hit the market Thursday, and in addition to Clark and Pirro, it is co-listed by Raquel Lopez of Sotheby’s International Realty – Bridgehampton Brokerage and Diane Anderson of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.

Spanning 6,000 square feet, the home is filled with bright interiors, which were designed by New York-based interior designer Steven Gambrel. The open gourmet kitchen flows into a casual dining area and a living space with a fireplace, which is one of two double-sided fireplaces in the home, Pirro said.

A sunroom overlooks the water.
Jaime Lopez for Sotheby’s International Realty

“The placement and scale of fireplaces throughout the home is perfection,” she added.

A separate dining room has French doors that open onto a deck, listing photos show.

There are six en-suite bedrooms, including two primary bedrooms. The larger of the two is its own private retreat, outfitted with a fireplace, a sunroom and a large balcony, offering a space to watch the sun set over Sagaponack Pond, according to Sotheby’s.

Jaime Lopez for Sotheby’s International Realty

The home sits on a little more than an acre of waterfront land, bordering Sagaponack Pond, where there’s a private dock, and looking out at the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

“The location on the pond with the view of the ocean waves breaking is spectacular and unique,” Clark said. “You are close to beaches and the Sagaponack General Store. It is a quick paddle to the famous Sagg Main Beach.”

Other outside amenities include a gunite swimming pool and a hot tub, which are surrounded by a spacious deck, as well as a pool cabana, which has a full bathroom, changing rooms and a sauna. There’s also multiple balconies, decks and a screened porch overlooking the pool, striking a balance between indoor and outdoor living.

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