5 Tips for Dealing with Contractors

It’s that time of the year when contractors start to come out of the woodwork, random projects or emergencies pop-up and we’re at the mercy of depending on someone else coming into our home to help us complete vital projects.  To be honest, we hate working with contractors, they all seem to be the same in one way or the other and try to avoid whenever possible… but at the same time as handy as we are, there are a few projects where we just draw the line. So here are some pro tips for dealing with contractors!
Contractor Tips - the bee life
Ask Questions. It’s important to ask questions before you commit; How much? What is this price inclusive of? Are there any extra material costs? What are payment expectations and timing? How far out are you scheduling, how long will this take? And then it’s important to ask questions during the work; How’s it going? Have you run into any roadblocks? Why are you doing that?

Set Expectations. One of the things we’re often at the mercy of when it comes to projects is times and dates – often being inconvenienced during the work week or the weekend waiting around for untimely workers to show up. So not only it it important to set expectations for the work being done, but also set expectations around schedules. We’ve had contractors stay as late as 9:30PM on a Friday night… which was completely longer than they initially said and we were held captive, but also our faults for not asking or speaking up sooner.

Get It in Writing. This may be a no brainer, but it’s easy when you know someone or have a family friend contractor to want to make a commitment via phone or in person. But! These projects can often lead to unexpected things and it’s not uncommon for extra materials, additional time and added costs to creep in. Having the price, expectations, and deliverables in writing helps for peace of mind and something to point back to if things get shaken up.

Don’t Assume. Sometimes when you’re working with a contractor, they don’t aways do the work but bring in guys who do – it’s important to run through everything with the workers as well, even if the contractor already did. We ran into that with our patio this past year – they were going to completely miss a HUGE portion of the project and I called it out… they totally wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t mention it and then A LOT of rework and probably additional money would’ve been needed.

Create A Dialogue. Don’t be afraid to check-in with these contractors as work is being done, it may even be beneficial to set the president of checking in at the start of the day (What are you planning to accomplish today?) and then before they leave (Did you accomplish X, Y, Z? When will you be back?)  B and I often tip-toe around not wanting to hover or get in the way, but guess what! It’s your house, your money, and you can’t be afraid to offend someone, ask questions, or simply check-in on the process – because at the end of the day you’re living with the end product.

Working with contractors and home renovation projects in general is exhausting, expensive and always seems to take longer than originally planned – so that is why it’s crucial to set up the project with these tips to help with some of the headaches!

Image Sources: Bathroom | Kitchen 

House Tour – Backyard Patio

If you’ve been reading along, you may have gotten hints of our latest home project/renovation… our backyard patio!  This project was 100% a want on B’s end, and maybe about a 55% want on my end.  Sure I’ve wanted and dreamed about a backyard patio in our blank slate of a yard, but we’ve gone this long, so why not wait some more? But once B started getting quotes and kept moving the project forward, I jumped on board and helped from an aesthetic perspective to help pull it all together and finish it off.

The space we picked is off the back of the house, and connects seamlessly to the driveway for a universal flow for expanded living space. We’ve got plans for the house in a few of these areas so we designed with that in mind. Last summer we were looking into doing a square paver patio, but after numerous chats with family/contractors, it didn’t seem like it’d last for the price we’d have to pay. Plus it was WAY more than we were expecting at the time.  So we started exploring stamped concrete this time around figuring out textures and colors we liked.   It all came together just how we envisioned it!
House Tour - Patio(7) - the bee life

Since we only had one piece of furniture, the dining table a hand-me-down from B’s aunt & uncle (2-years ago!), we went shopping for some pieces.  We had our eye on black iron chairs that matched the table pretty well and found a similar base for the umbrella, so we were able to use the table. The dining space works out perfectly and we’ve already had a few dinners out on the patio.  The conversation set was a find that I fell in love with thanks to Emily Henderson, but luckily we were able to take advantage of some Memorial Day sales and got a great price on everything!

The last finishing touch that really pulls the space together (besides the super comfortable wide chairs – that I am OBSESSED with) are the bistro lights!  I’d bought almost half of the lights we needed when they were on sale last season for a steal of $8 each compared to $24.99 *WOW* – moral of the story, always buy more than you think you’ll need, especially if they’re $8 and you don’t have a use for them at the time!

We’ve spent so much time outside in these last few weeks now that we have this additional living space.  It was definitely worth it and I’m glad B pushed for this, because we love how it turned out and having another space to entertain in!

// Want the look?
Dining Chairs; Lowes || Outdoor Fire Pit; Lowes || Table Umbrella; Target || Umbrella Base; Target || Bistro Lights; Target || Conversation Set & Chairs; Target 

Weekend Recap – College Showers

This past weekend was a good mix of work and fun.

We started yet another house project Friday afternoon, even though we’re working with contractors, so we aren’t doing too much of the heavy lifting, just heavily babysitting. *winks*  But that should be finished up by tomorrow, so fingers crossed we got all the snafu’s worked out.  Don’t worry I’ll share the full project at a later date! Friday night we attended a watch party to watch the Cavs murder the Celtics in game two of the Eastern Conference finals, only to watch them loose at a buzzer beater last night. *grrrr*

Saturday after some of the babysitting stress subsided, we made it out of the house, over to our friend’s to celebrate her 30th! The theme of the night was “party like you’re in college” so there was plenty of drinking games and even a keg of beer.  In order to keep on theme for the night, we gifted the birthday girl with a t-shirt that read; “I Can’t Adult Today” it was perfect! We of course partook in some of the “college party” fun and ran the beer pong table for a few games before we retired and became spectators, mainly because we lost to a few cheaters (you know who you are.) It was a lot of fun, although B and I definitely didn’t party like we were in college. #adulting

Sunday was one of my bestie’s bridal showers.  It was fun catching up with friends and meeting a lot of her family! It was a beautiful shower with mimosas and lots of sweets, so it was extra perfect. A was spoiled with all of her beautiful gifts, because she has amazing taste. I can’t wait for her wedding in July!

On a side note, I can’t believe this next weekend is Memorial Day – where did May go?! What are your favorite May memorials of 2017?

XO

DIY – Side Entry Tile

Our latest home project was tiling our side entry and the stairs that lead up to the kitchen area.  When we first moved in, the space was drab with gross stick-on tile with wood panels and layers of wallpaper.  Well our quick fix was an easy paint job and removing the wallpaper and floor.  We painted the revealed wood floor white and added some grips on the stairs – but as you can imagine white floors for an entry is not the cleanest or the prettiest. So, like I said, it was a quick fix in need of more help.

So it was Bentley’s idea to finish this space and add tile to the landing and to the stairs. This was the first time we tiled a space, so it was a little daunting at first figuring out what we needed, what tile we wanted, and when we would be able to do this.  The biggest piece that helped save us and this project, was being able to borrow my Dad’s wet saw to cut the tiles. B and I split up tasks, he would cut the tile and I would lay the tile!

The stairs went surprisingly well, but because we used large tiles there was a lot of cuts involved, although less pieces. I’m not sure if the stone we picked was the most cost effective (actually I am fairly confident it wasn’t) but we were going mainly off of aesthetic. Once we got to the platform it was very messy and hard to maneuver in the tight space without stepping on the tile! But we finished with only three trips to the hardware store once we got started. *smiles*

We waited the appropriate amount of time and then some before B finished the space with the grout and once that was dried he added some trim work. We finished off the space with a new storage piece to hide shoes and we were wrapped up!  It was fairly easy project once we got going, and we definitely feel like we’re tiling pros now.  This space has been instantly upgraded, it’s more durable, weather resistant and easier to clean up. We love how it turned out!!

DIY – Coordinates Sign

Remember our big attic renovation into our master suite?  Well the little details have still been a work in progress, as they usually are. But we are getting closer to getting the little details finished up. I am finally happy to share one of the last pieces to the gallery wall puzzle. It’s a coordinates sign that I made using old wood from our house and the renovation! IMG_4970IMG_4972I love the way it came out, the old wood is what brings this simple sign to life. The metallic silver lettering also pops on the wood grain with a nice mix of old and new. I wanted to keep it simple with the text and not do anything to fancy to really rely on the wood to pull this piece to life with the metallic accents. One of my goals for the gallery wall if you remember wayyy back to my Gallery Wall Inspiration was that I wanted to add color, textures, and different elements that represent B and I without it getting too girly.  I feel like the earthy wood grain in the coordinates sign helps balance the ‘girly’ along with pulling in the other wooden frames used on the wall.
IMG_4716IMG_4972For now the gallery wall is feeling pretty complete. There may be some additional pictures added below but for the longest time there was this awkward section where the coordinates sign ended up going, so order has been restored! And I am loving the piece of our home that we’ve been able to restore in more than one way.

Spring Projects

It’s April 1st! Can we officially think spring, yet?

I’m going too, and to help think spring here is an oh so exciting list of some projects at and around the house that I want to accomplish this spring.

  1. Install new doors: We purchased new doors for our back and side, that are a little more hearty and will hopefully keep some drafts out.  Installing these will give a bit of a face-lift, boring project but a nice upgrade.
  2. Window tables: We had glass block installed over the winter in our basement and have these awesome 100-year old windows that were taken out, I want to clean up at least one or two and create a little coffee table for our sun-room.  Whether it be simple, or have an extra shelf for space.
  3. Paint the Exterior of our house: As much as we would love to get new vinyl siding, that just isn’t in the budget for us right now.  So I’m starting to look for some estimates to see how much a fresh paint job on the house would be, would give it the face lift it needs, as much as I’d like to think B and I could do this – I don’t even want to try.
  4. New lattice in the front: The current lattice is attached to the support underneath the front porch, and it’s so heavy that it’s causing everything to sag. So we  need to clean this up a bit and secure it in another way. I’ve also been thinking about some different options other that your standard diamond lattice pattern… like these below.
  5. Landscape the front: Once we get the lattice complete, I would love to get our front professionally landscaped, mainly because I have no clue where to start and trust me I’ve tried. But we have a blank canvas that is just dying for some life and a little extra privacy for our front porch, although I am scared to see how much this might cost.
  6. Scrapbook! Although this isn’t a “house” project, I am in desperate need to catch-up with my scrapbooking, I am over a year behind and have plenty of photos to start posting into a page. This is the perfect rainy day project on the weekends.
  7. Wallpaper Built-In’s: With the left over wallpaper from the stairs going up into our master, I’d like to wallpaper the insides of our built-in’s in our living room, we did this in the dining room and it makes an understated pop to the room and brightens it up!

The list could go on… I am sure there are a handful of other projects we will come up with, I know B has his own little list of things he is already planning in his head, like doing some updates to the laundry area in the basement and organizing that!  The projects are endless, and I knew after the attic was finished it wouldn’t be long before he started itching for a new one! Come on warm weather, we’ve got some things to do!!

Attic Update – 8 months

Exciting updates with this post on our biggest home renovation to date! Our attic turned master suite-oasis, and ohh boy did we out do ourselves this time. Attic Update Month 8 - the bee lifeSo I’m probably getting you all excited for a big reveal, sorry folks, not yet. But I do promise a few sneak peaks! The perfectionist in me has a few things that still need to be purchased and a DIY that is going to make a big difference – so until then we will all have to wait for the big reveal!

We are up and living in our master suite, and it’s awesome! It came out exactly how I pictured and more! Not to mention our second floor is now fully open to family and friends for a weekend visit. Now for the sneak peaks…   Our DIY mini barn door, strictly decorative to cover an uglier door heading into a storage space. We used old gas pipe we had found in the demo and threw together the rest!  If you’re interested in the specifics, leave a comment below, but I saw inspiration for a full size door and we just figured out the measurements for our custom piece.

Textured wallpaper on the stair backers. We had started with deciding to paint the backs white and the tops grey, but the white backs just weren’t cutting it. Adding this pre-glued wallpaper was beyond easy and  an amazing upgrade. Totally worth the $20 and 40-minutes after work!

A little sneak of the gallery wall! I am loving the way it’s turning out, however it still needs a few extra final touches! I am a firm believer that you can’t rush these types of projects you have to look and do what speaks to you and the wall. (Nerdy, I know)

Our little seating area!! Obsessed with these chairs. Obsessed with these pillows. Still need a few final touches like a light for the side table, a foot ottoman and maybe a few other pictures.

So yes, we’ve been busy! A lot of this was wrapped up a few weekends ago, the day B proposed we had put a solid 10 hours in, since then we’ve been able to dial back, slow down and work on the smaller things as we can- oh and enjoy the finished product!

Stay tuned!

Attic Update – 6 months

We’re just over the 6-months into this project, yes definitely longer than both B and I anticipated – but hey! What can you do? Attic Renovatoin Update - Month 6 - the bee life - emilyboylan.comAs fantastic as the holidays were, they definitely helped delay progress as two back-to-back weekends were filled with parties, family, and endless amounts of food and drinks. Two, back-to-back weekends where virtually zero work took place in the attic.

Since, B has been back at it and focusing the weekends on mudding! Damn, mudding. Oh and then there is the sanding… and then more mudding… oh and then you sand again! The endless messy… messy cycle.  All “joking” aside, progress is being made, there are complete sections that’re ready to go and they look so great!

The bi-fold doors for our closets have also been installed, since the last update, and it really makes the space feel like a room. Since we bought the house the closets have been wide open so that was an awesome piece to finish!

Another update is that we ordered furniture for our sitting area along with nightstands, it’s getting us really excited (and anxious) to get on to the next part of the project; painting and trim work – so that we can decorate and live up there! I am obsessed with the chairs, they’re absolutely perfect.

As many times as we’ve wanted to hire someone to get this done, mainly because it would be much faster than our time frame, it’s truly awesome that we (but really, mostly B) have done 95% of the work, building a room from the studs, to insulation, to drywall, to paint, to life.

Hopefully next month we have a fresh coat of paint on the walls!

 

 

Attic Update – 5 month check-in

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A month ago we were just getting started with drywall but now the drywall is complete! Yes, all 40, 8-foot pieces were used up!  Although there were a decent amount of big pieces, there were also a lot of small random nooks and crannies and grooves.  I can’t say this enough, but B has been doing an amazing job, I know he is completely sick of working on the project – he has put in a lot of long days and nights! But it’s going to look incredible and is already looking awesome!

Since then the mudding has begun.  Which from what EVERYONE… yes, everyone says is the worst part.  So far, it hasn’t been too bad, but then again no sanding has taken place yet.  Which again, I’ve been told I’ll be finding dust in our kitchen 3-floors below, months from now! With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, I am not sure how many useful weekends we will have! But we do have a lot of PTO at the end of this month, so we hope to start painting before 2016!

The important part is that progress is being made! We can’t wait to get up there and start using that space!