Whole home renos: Not for the fainthearted or busy

You know what the world doesn’t need more of?
Kinds of faucets.

There are, I can say without risk of hyperbole, about nine and a half quintillion kinds of faucets available within a 30 minute drive of my place. And when needing to shop for some, it doesn’t matter which ones you’re considering, they are guaranteed to be a) more expensive than you expected, b) more expensive than the last time you looked at them but didn’t get them because reasons (which are now being overlooked while you check out the same ones again), c) a decent price but not quite the style or quality you wanted, but given points a and b, you’d better get them anyway so you at least have something, d) suspiciously like the other two to three thousand types you looked at in the last month but with nuanced differences, and/or e) Why are we doing this to ourselves make it stop can we please just pick anything I can feel my soul leaving my body.

And that ain’t nothin. Don’t get me started on tiles.

Here’s the thing I’ve discovered about doing a home reno: You (collectively or as an intrepid individual if you’re doing this on your own) need to master a steep learning curve connected to each component of what you’re changing in order to understand what you’re dealing with in order to understand what your best options are for it, before you strive to find those options (or the best you can get for yourself within your budget), to then order your purchases. And all of that has to happen while bearing in mind that certain things have to happen in certain orders–the layout must be planned before the demolition can start; after the interior framing is done, the chosen and delivered type of insulation must be installed before the drywall goes on, which is then painted, which all has to happen before the chosen flooring goes in, which has to happen before any kitchen parts can go in, etc.–and each part must be ordered in as timely a fashion as possible to keep that flow going. It’s like super expensive dominoes: Each piece must be in the right place to be triggered and to trigger the next piece. If any are missing, or slightly askew, it mucks up everything that follows it.

All of that typical reno stress and strain has been exacerbated by Covid, which not only way increased the price of materials (lumber is three to four times as expensive as it was had we done this reno pre-pandemic, and a whole home reno takes a lot of lumber), but has also caused countless delays in shipping. Incoming goods were held up at the U.S. border for months on end, and at every other border for other shipments coming in from abroad. We’re foregoing ordering a new front door for now because not only had Covid caused delays of production and shipments of them anyway, but there was also an apparently connected meltdown (the specific word used in the explanation we were given) of the factory in Texas that produced 60% of the exterior door industry’s core material. A new door that would normally take perhaps several weeks to arrive is now taking several months. Suddenly our old door, which is still in place and still works, albeit a little the worse for wear through this reno, is looking like a pretty decent option until we can get a replacement we’re happy with and won’t need to be installed during a Toronto winter.

As timing would have it, forest fires within Canada have also caused understandable delays with shipments among provinces as people contend with those horrors. So items which would normally have been regularly en route from B.C., for instance, were of course also delayed. Sometimes with unknown dates for items to be restocked at all.

Dominoes don’t work too well when you’re missing certain ones and don’t know when they will be in place. Or when you’re informed that one is getting tipped over at this time, and no it can’t be delayed, so now you need to figure out how to get the next one in place immediately after that one goes. Back to point c in that upper paragraph, but for everything from vanities to flooring to cupboards.

What animal stress-eats? Because that’s my spirit animal right now.

On the bright side, we’re nearing the home stretch with the reno. Most of what we need to pick and arrange for has been done and it’s getting down to the detail work like paint colours for various rooms (knocked down that today) and being on-site to oversee deliveries of stuff like the bulk of the kitchen cabinet and cupboard components (also some today, more early next month; never underestimate the benefit of having friends and neighbours who are able and willing to let you borrow space in their garages or houses to store items you have no room to store yourself).

In what the architect/contractor estimates, it should all be done mid-October. Which means we should be back home before the snow flies, as we’d been hoping. After that, we still have the extra hydro pole to get removed from the front yard, the Tree Protection Zone to take down, get the paperwork started on getting our nearly $10,000 deposit returned from the City, which they require and hold onto in case all this work kills their tree on our property, the PODS container to have brought back and unloaded…

The reno being done is one thing. Us getting everything back with us and getting our lives back on track–all as my wife continues to work, my daughter is in daily school, and I start looking for a new job (oh, Covid…)–is the next challenge.

But stress and hassles and stress and anxieties and stress aside, we’ve got this.
Short-term pains for long-term gains, and all that.
It’s been another challenge that proves that we may bend, but don’t break.

Now please pass the Doritos.


  1. Nicely done. And I feel your pain. Freedom of choice taken to an extreme is highly stressful, one of the great dumb ironies of our age. Can’t wait for you to be in your newish home. xo

    1. Thanks!
      And yes, there’s absolutely something to be said for having some choice but not infinite choices. Give me twenty faucets to choose from, not an endless array of them. Same with tiles. And countertops (which itself we’ve changed plans for numerous times depending on what backsplash tiles we like, until we find something we like more, which is then revisited yet again once that tile isn’t available any longer, which…).
      Good lord.
      I’ll likely be at least as relieved at being back in the house by being back in the house as the fact that all the stress of what the house looks like is finally done.

  2. What a great read, Reay!! You have outlined, with humour and accuracy, the house reno challenge. That being said, all will be well very soon and I can hardly wait to see the results!

    1. It’ll be great to have you over (maskless, even!) and be able to seat you comfortably.
      Which will be another hurdle once we’re in: “Okay. So… guess we need furniture…”

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