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Tales from the reluctant renovator

Renovating is like pulling a loose thread on a cheap sweater – the job keeps unravelling.

~ Margo Kaufman

Previously a quote like this would have made me chuckle. Not so much lately.

We started renovating our new home in the Wilderness in the Western Cape on 1 November 2022. A quick little three week renovation. And yet here we are, mid March 2023 and the work drags on relentlessly. We are constantly chasing deadlines. Our fabulous builder is big on ideas, low on admin. I am big on getting things done, low on the finer details. We finally got to a point where we needed to do a recon on what was ACTUALLY spent.

  • The support pillar under the house that was a last minute addition thanks to the doors starting to pull apart slightly (true story!)

    • Quote R3,200 –> final cost R11,050. Urgh…

  • The little cottage makeover?

    • Quote R33,490 –> final cost was R51,640. Gulp…

  • Let’s do a retaining wall and create a braai area around your stunning fig tree!

    • Quote: R5,000 –> final cost R21,440. Faint…!

How did it happen? When work starts, there is ALWAYS more to be done.

  • Support pillars need 3 gum poles instead of just one. The basic cement base needs to be bigger, wider, costlier.

  • The walls in the cottage weren’t aligned and all had to be redone. The shower walls had to be replaced and retiled and that ‘lift and shift’ in the kitchen? Well, that turned into a Lego builders nightmare! Did I mention the deck that had to replaced?

  • The wall around the fig tree needed way more bricks than imagined which then led to a new retaining wall being built to ensure the braai area (on a slope) remains solid.

How can YOU avoid this?

  • When you find out, please let me know!

Seriously though, renovations are always going cost more and take longer than you ever imagined, no matter what the brilliant builder promises and no matter what your attentive architect assures you. Take your building budget and double it. Take the timelines, multiply by three. That might get you slightly closer to reality. All this made you feel anxious about building? Nah, you are made of tougher stuff AND you get to learn from my mistakes. After all, how hard can it REALLY be? 😊






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