saucy's reno tips

This is what they don't tell you on HGTV... this is what a real saucy chick needs to know to flip a house:

Book your tradespeople as soon as you decide to renovate. Give them an estimated start date and try to stick to it. They have other customers, be respectful of that.

Put the phone numbers of all your tradespeople into your cell phone as soon as possible. You may think you won't need to call them, but you will. Get their emails too.

Send out email reminders to your trades one week before their start date. Let them know exactly where you are in the project and ask them "what you need from me" in order to keep things running on schedule. Trust me, they'll tell you.

Call your trades the day before they are scheduled to arrive to "check in" and "make sure you're ready for them". Don't make it sound like you are reminding them, but really, you are.

Also for your cell phone: the number to Home Depot, the lumber yard, your local Wal Mart, any business you will be frequenting during your project. You just might need it. Don't forget the pizza places and takeouts that you like.

Sign up for an Air Miles card. Ask everywhere about contractor's pricing or discounts before you start your project. This also might entail carrying cards to get special prices. Punch holes in the cards and start a little ring of them for your purse. You're going to be spending lots of money, you may as well get something out of it. Make sure you get a spouse card too.

Before you start renovating, load up on the following items (the dollar store is a great place for this) masking tape, painter's tape, plastic drop sheets, pencils, felt markers, a notepad, plastic drop sheets, inexpensive tape measures and cutting knives (they walk off). Get lots and lots of light bulbs, it is horrible to have to run out for a light bulb at night so you can finish something. Buy a cheap calculator and a flashlight. Put all of this stuff into an emergency box somewhere on site and keep it to yourself. You might not even want to tell your husband where it all is, you can just look like a super-prepared hero when you can produce these things as needed.

Write or scribe your name onto all of your tools. For a real Saucy trick, paint the handles pink. Don't be afraid to bedazzle your tools. It perks up the workday and no guy ever walked away from a job with an extra hammer if it was painted hot pink.

Before you begin, start a notebook that holds the measure of every room, the length of every wall, the number of doorknobs, the number of cabinet doors and drawers, switchplate and outlet covers, everything! You will be in a discount store and floor registers will be one dollar and you will need to know how many - and what size - to buy. Ditto for window sizes and closets.

Take tons of before, during and after photos. You may need during photos for insurance or to show someone off-site what's going on so they can give you a quote, etc.

At the start of the reno, get a prepaid cash card at Tim Horton's or someplace like that. Load it up with several hundred dollars. I am not kidding about this. Build it into your budget right off the start. You will be glad not to make a pit stop at the bank for cash to buy yourself a quick bite when you're on the run... you'll also do well to bring doughnuts regularly to the work site. A couple of bucks on a Starbucks or Booster Juice card never hurt either, just for you! Keep 'em stashed in your purse.

Offer plenty of beverages. Put a coffee maker on site with a bunch of mugs or cups. Fill the fridge with bottled water and multi-packs of soda. Everybody works well when they are hydrated. When a new worker starts on your site, show them where the beverages are and tell them to help themselves. Mean it.

Set up a recycling spot for the cans and bottles... handy even if your workers are bringing in their own lunch. I put up a sign that says "we recycle on this construction site".

Put together a first aid kit. Nothing fancy, an old shoebox with all the staples should do the trick. Invest in lots of dollar store bandaids. Don't forget the Tylenol and Advil.

Collect supplies early. Gather as many rags as you can and buy a huge stock of paper towel from Costco. You will also need buckets and pails, so gather old ice cream pails. Collect empty yogurt and sour cream containers, too. They will come in handy when painting and so many other times, I can't begin to tell you. Generic ziploc bags are also a lifesaver when you don't want to lose the screws for a door or little things like that. Store all of this stuff near that box you don't even tell your husband about.

When you've decided on paint colours, get extras of the sample cards. Punch them with holes and put them on an old binder ring or a keyring. Keep this in your purse (in one of those ziplocs to stay clean) at all times. You will stumble upon something that might work for you, and you will need those colour samples. Keep a set in the dash of your car too, just in case.

Ask your trades for a business card (or two). Hole punch them and slip them onto a binder ring. Keep that handy somewhere on site where everybody knows where it is. You'd be surprised how many times electrician decides to call plumber about something... on his own, without you having to do it for him. Hallelujah!

Keep an old phonebook on site and also in your vehicle.

Every single time you make a purchase for your project, put the receipt in a certain spot. Every night, if you can, tally up the receipts. Things will get crazy near the end of the project and you won't have time to do this anymore but you will be glad you did when you and your bank have the day of reckoning. I keep a ziploc in my purse (big surprise!) and before the receipt goes into it, I circle the total amount of the purchase. This makes things super fast when I am sorting and adding.

Buy or make yourself a sweet work apron. Use a decent weight of material and keep it cute but sturdy - it should have lots of pockets for your tape measure, a pencil, lipgloss and your cell phone.

Prebook your regular personal maintenance before you start your project. This includes your manicure, pedicure and highlights. This is not a glamorous life, renovating a house. You can quickly spiral into "I haven't shaved my legs in three weeks" territory. The interior is not pretty, you can try to be. It will help you stay sane. If you don't have acrylic or gel nails, may I suggest getting an overlay on top of your natural nail in order to add strength and protect it from damage. Schedule this time well ahead into your day planner and stick to it. Stock up on deodorant, razors and shave gel before you start also. Ponytail holders and hats, too. Oh, and get a nice pair of ladies work gloves to protect your little hands from getting raw and sore. Put good hand cream on before you put the gloves on, that's my little trick.

Make sure you have a portable CD player or radio on site (with batteries for when there's no power) and that it has music that is acceptable for you and for most people. What is acceptable for twenty-year-old carpenter is not likely acceptable for you. Be prepared to change the music to something everyone can agree on.

Make several copies of the house key. And by several I mean about six or eight. You and your spouse each need one and some of the trades that you know and trust may as well have them too, that way you don't have to run over to let them in if they want to start early. Just make sure you get all the keys back when they are done, so keep a record of who has keys. Some trades, if they have a key, will come to work in the evening or on weekends to keep things going.

Ask your trades if they will work for cash. And by this I mean work without charging sales tax and service fees. They may jump at the chance, meaning you will save money and they will do the work during off-hours... it may get done sooner rather than later.

Introduce yourself to the neighbours immediately. Sweetly let them know that you are renovating a house on their street and that it will in turn increase their property value. This will eliminate complaints about noise and traffic. Explain that there will be lots of activity but you have instructed your trades to keep noise to a minimum and not to abuse the parking, but that there will be lots of traffic, and by traffic I mean trucks. Some people won't like this but it's part of the job and the sooner it's done, the better. Decide which neighbour is most trustworthy and by this I mean snoopy and give them a key for safekeeping also. Get their phone number and make it available on site. This may come in handy if there is an emergency.

By all means, be a good neighbour for the time you are there flipping the house. Keep the work site clean. For example, Veto made sure that the shared driveway with the next door neighbour was always swept off when ours was.

Finally, when the work is done and the dust has cleared, write each of your trades a thank you note. If you were happy with their work, mention so. Offer to be a reference and include some of those "after" photos of their work. Veto often tips the trades with cash, gift cards or bottles at the end of the job. When you need to hire trades again, you'll not have a problem at all.


Linda said...

That my dear, is probably the most important piece of literature I have EVER read. Really. Having been through the flip mill a few times, this is my bible for the future - Thank you Saucy!

Starshine said...

Oooo...the air miles smart! You and Vito can probably take a trip to Europe now! :)

MJ said...

Interesting: I have never thought of tipping the trades (aside from hairdresser/esthetician of course!). Our basement cement floor contractor was phenomenal & he'll be back to do our drywall. I'll keep this in mind for him and possibly other future contractors!

I baked and had fresh coffee/lemonade/juice for the cement floor contractor and labourers. They are probably so used to having to do this work in homes that are either vacant or where the homeowner is at work all day.

Junie Moon said...

Every bit of this is excellent advice. Thank you!

sweetfunkyvintage said...

wow! what great tips!