Less than three months from when we started the house renovations we will move into our new home and begin our new life.
From first deciding to leave Connecticut and then exploring areas in which to relocate and finally deciding to make Jacksonville our home, it has been an interesting experience. We have met many wonderful people. Some have lived in Jacksonville for all their lives; some have come from other Southern states and a few from “up North”, which can mean anywhere north of North Carolina. We have seen a lot, too.
Our renovations have brought us into contact with people we might otherwise not have had the chance to meet: men that work with tile and wood and concrete; men that start work at 6:00 A.M. and often work until 7, 8 and even 9:00 P.M.; men that work 60-70 hours a week and yet still have to weld bumpers onto their cars to keep them going; men that offer a handshake stronger than any written contract. And we have met a few that know the inside of several jails but who wouldn’t steal a slice of bread if they were hungry. There have been some interesting ladies, too. Some are our new neighbors – wives of Navy officers. They raise their families often in the absence of their husbands. Unlike some of the families of corporate executive we knew in Connecticut who commuted to NYC or elsewhere, these women say goodbye to their husbands when they leave for Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere not to be disclosed. These are some strong ladies. There are other women that we have met that have made this such a comfortable place for us to live. Some are business owners such as Marni of Duval Tile, some are folks we meet in our day-to-day business , some are friends for the Redhead, some friends for us both. New friends, yet not replacing those we love and long to see from “up North”, wherever that may be.
So, we are nearly at the end of our renovation work – at least the interior work. The painting is done; the various floors have been replaced with new tile throughout, new doors have been put in and this weekend the new kitchen is being installed. In just over a week we will move in – ready or not! The sun room is being started next week. But, we can live in the house while that is going on. Hopefully!
During all of this work we have learned and noticed a few things. First, it has been better to deal directly with the folks that are actually doing the work rather than working through a middleman.
The kitchen cabinet project is a good case in point. While it does require the efforts of several trades, communication has sometimes been not as easy as when we have dealt directly with the tradesman doing the work.
Secondly, we have noted that those folks that have communicated primarily by text or email have been the least accessible. I’ve written about this before and it becomes more apparent everyday: nothing can replace direct contact – voice or in person. Sorry, Google, Twitter and Microsoft, etc. – you have your limitations – even if the new internet connections will be through ones pants (http://fusion.net/story/141560/google-and-levis-are-teaming-up-to-make-computerized-pants/ ) Yikes!
Thirdly, shop around. Since we are both frugal (where it counts) and love to poke and pick, this wasn’t too hard for us. It is amazing how very often we found better quality materials for 40-60 % less than that found in “designer” showrooms. Beware, too, we found, of sources often suggested by middlemen such as designers. There are built in markups. If you have the time, as we did, shop around. Don’t be swayed by fancy showrooms and sales reps in la-di-da outfits. The best sources for product knowledge often come from someone that has just buggy-loaded a bunch of tile, paint or hardware.
And, lastly, talk to everybody and double check references. You may meet some wonderful folks and might save yourself some grief, too! But, most of all, trust. If it’s right and good, it will happen. So, we may as well not worry.
See you soon!