This week I am gallivanting in Napa Valley, surprising my sister for her 40th birthday! While Sebastian is braving the heat in Chicago, managing the landscaping at The Oak Brook Project (yep, you read that right!) and coordinating our other projects, we have been driving along the Pacific coast, spotting baby seals, visiting vineyards, and dining to our hearts’ content. We are staying in a beautiful villa in the mountains – complete with an in-ground swimming pool and hot tub. Life really doesn’t get any better.
Such is the life of a business owner that work is never really left at home. I am constantly looking at the scenery around me, visualizing what I would build on these properties – perhaps a stone villa overlooking the vineyards? Or a two-story craftsman style home featuring covered porches and large pergolas by the pool? Or a french country style house overlooking the ocean? My leisure time is consumed with thoughts on the challenges of building these houses and the pacing of our next meal.
While in California, I have had the distinct pleasure of finding a new partner in crime – the owner of our Villa. She has been instrumental in pulling off the surprise trip for my sister and we have become fast friends. The villa is filled with custom antiques, stone tiles, a roman-style shower, a clawfoot tub positioned next to french doors overlooking the property, balconies off the bedrooms, and a large veranda designed for entertaining. As we pulled into our mountainous retreat in 90+ degree heat, one issue became immediately obvious – there is no air conditioning!
If you’ve never tried to fly someone out to an undisclosed location for a week, let me tell you that there is a lot of coordination involved. Specifically, there are a lot of conversations involved – many of which were with my new friend. Over the course of these conversations, she had mentioned that she desperately wants to install air conditioning and simply can’t get a contractor out to do the job. She also expressed some misgivings with single discipline work that has been done over the years. In summary, she stated:
“If I had to do it over again, I would have just saved all of my money up to have a GC do everything at once.”
What a brilliant statement. It’s a statement of experience.
The fact is that there is no easy way to do construction. Both are the “hard way”. If you do the work all at once, then you’re likely saving up for years to do the work – staring longingly at a property without being able to make your dreams a reality. If you do the work piecemeal, you’re seeing instant results; however, the final product will almost always lack the finishing details of a complete project…the work will most likely not be done by the same company from project to project, your tastes may change, your logistical needs may change as you maintain a home of your own over the years…there is no way for any contractor to have the foresight of what you may need in the future and build for those opportunities. That kind of final product requires massive insight, design expertise, knowledge of the trades, and anticipation of potential pitfalls. It requires an architect and a general contractor.
So, here is my advice:
How do you know when you are ready for a construction project? When you have the funds to do everything that you want and the funds to stay out of the house while you do it.
When it comes to construction, play a long game. This is the best way to guarantee that the finish line will be the house of your dreams.
Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!