Knowing When To Swipe Right

Ok, guys. I am back at this blog thing. Today’s topic is important! For those of you who have been through this before, then you know that the relationship you have with your GC (General Contractor) is a super important one. You may be footing the bill… but we all know who really has the control here. So… after a horrible experience with my last project (that PS, came to a head in a screaming match that ended with me demanding that my building manager never allow my then-GC on the premises again; yes it was indeed some Telenovela worthy shit!) Needless to say, this time around I decided to do things differently.

Kitchen 02.jpg

Here are my three tips to successfully hiring a general contractor that doesn’t end in a bitter divorce, (that may or may not include having to hire a second GC 2/3 of the way through to come and handle the mess that the first guy left… just saying!).

First of all- be prepared! Just getting a phone number from your coworker, whose uncle’s best friend is a GC out in Skokie is a sure fire way to have a relationship that goes down in flames. Go into the first meeting prepared. Have a clear understanding of the project you are undertaking, including design drawings, product samples, tear sheets etc. Showing that you know what you are trying to accomplish will help you and your GC outline a true plan that is actually achievable. Ask questions! How are they going to get you from point A to project completion? What is the timeline? How many subs will be working onsite on a daily basis? Request an itemized scope of work and breakdown of costs rather than a blanket dollar amount. Finally, on preparation- take notes! This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. Having clear notes outlining what was discussed not only helps you remember the conversation(s) you had with the various contractors but once you hire your dream GC, you may need those notes to reference a past conversation. Oh and Pro-Tip… this doesn’t stop at the first meeting. Keeping clear notes throughout the project will help keep your team on track and salvage at least some of your sanity. So... remember your favorite Trapper Keeper from middle school that you still have in your closet? Well, break that sucker out because it's about to have a whole new life!

Second- Meet with at least three different GC’s…. And let’s take this a step further. Meet with each of them several times! This is a process, not unlike dating! You want to get to know someone, how is their communication style? Are they on time? Do they do what they say they are going to do? Another reason this is important; these conversations (or dates if you will) that you have with each of the potential suitors will [hopefully] spark additional questions that you will take down in your notes, and then ask the others during your second or third meeting. From the GC’s perspective, this shows that you are organized, you know what your goals are and you’re doing your due diligence like a rock star. What that translates to is that you are someone who is not to be taken advantage of. All in all the start of a beautiful relationship!

Finally- The good old fashion trust your gut! If it seems like it’s too good to be true, then guess what? It’s too good to be true! At the end of the day, you have to work with this person. Day in and day out you are communicating, problem-solving, compromising. If your gut tells you that you're not going to mesh well then don’t waste your (or their) time! 

That’s all for now guys! Stay tuned for next week when I break down how I survive getting Board Project Approval from my condo association… OMG I already need a glass of wine! 

The Behind The Scenes

Ok… let me first introduce myself… My name is Jeremy and you are here because, somehow… someway you are found yourself on my kitchen renovation blog. Now, before you get too invested, I want to let you know in full disclosure that I have never written a blog post before. (Not a single one)… However, I have renovated an apartment or two. So… at the urging of my hipster, millennial assistant (who is also my younger sister btw, but that’s an entirely different conversation), I have decided to document the renovation project that I am about to embark on. 

So before I get into the skinny of the actual reno itself, I will give you a quick rundown of the apartment. Charles (that’s my partner) and I bought this classic prewar Chicago high-rise apartment just over a year ago. The space itself has all of the period details one would expect in a vintage high-rise; giant rooms, super high ceilings, and intricate moldings… you know the sort of shit Carrie Bradshaw would totally geek out over. Anyway… the couple who owned the apartment before we bought it lived there for 40 years (yes I said FORTY!), so as you can imagine it was in need of a complete over-hall… Like everything! So far we have done all the floors, all new windows, installed a Space Pak HVAC system, spruced up two of the three bathrooms… and now we are about to start this giant kitchen project. [EEEK]

Kitchen BEFORE.jpg

So, let’s talk about it. The first thing to note is that this is the most oddly-shaped kitchen I have ever seen. (See the floorplan below). Honestly, I’m certain there isn’t even a name for its shape… it is sort of a trapezoid but with a few extra angles thrown in for good measure I guess? I mention this because coming up with a design plan that  A) is practical for two super busy people who actually use their kitchen and B) isn’t going to cost like a million dollars wasn’t an easy feat. But after six months and countless meetings with our amazing designer Garrett, we were able to come up with a plan that we love... and isn’t going to cost quite a million dollars. 

Ok so, this is where I share my first tidbit with you guys. Now I know some of you are going to be like, “of course… that is a no brainer” but I know when I did my first reno project I didn’t think about anything other than how pretty it was going to be. Now don’t get me wrong… I still want things to be pretty, but I also understand the value in functionality, both for me AND for whoever is going to live in the space after me… (did I mention that I am Real Estate Agent, haha). Seriously though it is really important, particularly when reconfiguring a kitchen that you think through not only what it is going to look like but what it is going to live like. And PS... claiming that you don’t ever cook so "function" isn’t important isn’t going to fly here guys, because at some point you are going to want to sell and having beautiful, yet wildly impractical space is going to make your life hell. 

Anyway, back to me and my kitchen… so, this is all I have for now. If you like stay tuned to see how things play out as I take you on my step by step journey from the hot mess I am living with now to (hopefully) the kitchen of my dreams!