Before I get all geeky about this Deep Energy Retrofit journey we've been on I have some overall reflections on the past year. I've built two houses for myself over the years, but I always stopped working, and focused completely on the construction process. I was on site whenever anything was happening. This project was different. Both Jill and I continued working at our respective jobs. In the other hours we worked on the house project, even though we had a builder and subcontractors (I should say, that given how full our construction schedule was at South Mountain, it was clear that we were going to have to look elsewhere for our builder). I don't think I've ever worked as hard as I did from May last year through January 2014. Jill took charge of the work we did on the grounds. My job was to stay ahead of the workers in terms of providing details and answering questions as they came up, ordering materials, and also to do some of the actual work. In the end, I built the new bulkhead, insulated the basement, installed the HVAC system, and did numerous other small tasks.
Our principal pressure was time. After we sold House 5 we lived in a one room unheated building and we knew cold weather would determine when we needed to be in the house. We got off to a very slow start (the principal task of the owner/general contractor is to get people to show up. Pete D'Angelo tells a story of a woman at a party who couldn't get an electrician to come. Pete told her, if he says he's coming tomorrow, that means next week. If he says he's coming next week, that means sometime in the next month. What did he tell you? She replied, he said he's coming as soon as he can. Oh, said Pete, that means he has no intention of coming at all, at which she burst into tears.) Ultimately the project took about two months longer than my initial schedule. Some of this was due to the amount of work that actually needed to be done to the structure, and some was the showing-up issue. I would have made fewer errors and compromises if I had more time. Perhaps we should have bit the bullet and found a rental house for a year and taken more time to do the project.
In the end (not the real end - we're not done but we're in) we have a beautiful place that's bright and cozy and works well. Yet I could have done better on materials choices, and sending less waste to the refuse district. I'd say we'll do better next time, but I've already told Jill that if I ever suggest we do a gut renovation again she should just shoot me immediately :-)