Renovations Math, Smiles and Tears

They told us - be careful; renovations always take twice longer than expected, cost twice more than you planned, stress your work and family life to an unprecedented level and double your chances for divorce.  We thought: Nonsense!  It is just the stairs and a suite on the roof; a few months of work, with contractor and architect from our extended family. I thought I could keep an eye on the whole project while assembling the posts from this blog into a book.  Life showed that they were absolutely right.

It all went like in the kids' classic: "If you give a mouse a cookie." Stair redesign led to flooring changes and required a new kitchen layout; while we were at it we extended the kitchen into the garage that demanded new garage doors; since the floors were open we were advised to renew the pipes; then came the bathrooms and the doors. It all got so expensive that we gave up on the roof suite dreams and re-planned for it in the basement. At the end we thought that perhaps the original stairs were OK but with 5 workers and a cement mixer inside the house it was too late:).

Double the time and double the budget but still married, we are now only in the middle of the process. My book dreams were put aside, as well as summer travel.  Museum and park visits got replaced with tile, parquet and furniture shopping. The whole adventure did give us a lot of valuable construction knowledge that unfortunately will not come to use as we swore to never ever renovate again.

As I was immersing in, more and more renovation math shoved on me daily by general contractor and designer. I was trying to keep our kids involved and stimulated by occasionally translating to them these real life math puzzles:

  • If it took 3 days to destroy all the walls, how long may it take to build new ones?  1) 3 days. 2) one week 3) three months.  #3 is the correct answer.
  • Which room is bigger? Calculate the area and compare.
  • Can you help me figure out how much tile will we need for your room?  What about the whole basement (split into rectangles and calculate)?
  • What is the length of the railings that we will need to order for the roof?
  • How many stairs are we going to have? Our old stairs were surprisingly cumbersome: uneven, too high, slightly tilted. To lower the stair height we had to increase the overall staircase area extending it into the kitchen. The new stairs were supposed to be 7" each so my daughter and I calculated the number of these new stairs:  (ceiling height + ceiling-to-second-floor thickness) /7
  • How many 6" tiles could you fit into a 60" x 60" area? 100? We were wrong! There is a 3mm-wide grout in-between every tile connection.
  • How many parts a bathtub shower and faucet may possibly have?  More than you could see and imagine!
  • How many white colors do you think exist in this world? One? Wrong again! But they all would look the same to you if it were not for your designer biasing your perception.
I am sure you all have your own share of renovations math puzzles or experiences that I invite you to share with us to make me feel a little bit better.


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    1. Hey Fritz are you sure mate? haha!I agree with the lifestyle bit though. I have a small handyman company ie. SGH Maintenance, and understand the renovations issues all to well, for us and for the clients, Can be a very frustrating process. nice read though. Thanks, FH

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